Ashvamedha - a Vedic Yajna of Royals
Ashvamedha is a vedic ritual most important for the royals. It is meant to assert, extend the power and authority of a raja [king] over a region. This yajna could be conducted only by royals.
The horse, a stallion between 24 and 100 years old is selected for the sacrifice. Water is sprinkled over the horse by the Adhvaryu and the sacrificer recite mantras into the ears of the horse. A dog is killed before the horse is set free. The horse wanders into various regions and those regions come under the rule of the king. Any one who stops the horse has to face the king in a battle. The horse is accompanied by hundred men of the king say princes or and members of the royal court. And these men ensure the welfare of the horse. The sacrificer continuously performs rituals while the horse is wandering. The horse returns after one year. The horse is ceremoniously received. The horse is yoked to a chariot together with three other horses while vedic hymns are chanted. The horse is driven into waters and bathed. After this the chief queen and two other royal consorts anoint the horse with ghee. The horse is decorated with golden ornaments. The sacrificer offers the horse the night's oblation of grain.
After this the horse, a hornless he goat, a wild ox are bound to stakes along with other
animals [ hundreds of them ] and then the horse and other animals are slaughtered.
The chief queen and the other wives of the king pity the horse. The queen recites mantras while walking around the dead horse. Then the chief queen mimics copulation with the dead horse while the other queens utter obscenities. The chief queen spends the night with the dead horse. The next morning vedic priests arrive to raise the queen and to purify her from the obscene language by reciting Dadhikra verse of the Vedas. The horse is dissected and the flesh is roasted. Various parts of the roast are offered to a host of deities and personified concepts with cries of svaha.
A part of the booty earned by the wandering horse is given to the vedic priests.
The Ashvamedha yajna is mentioned in rig veda and is detailed in yajur veda . A detailed commentary that explains the importance of Ashvamedha is given in satapatha brahmana.
The king Dasharatha and queen Kausalya performed Ashvamedha. The king Yudhishtira and queen Draupadi also performed Ashvamedha. After slaughtering his mauryan king, Pushyamitra Sunga, the Brahmin who took over the kingdom is reported to have performed the Ashvamedha yajna.
You reminded me of my yet to complete linked stories of Harappa, Mandodari and Ayonijaa...........
sampat sb, i posted asvamedha in connection with my story on harappa.
pl. tell us the story of sagara and baghiratha. thanks. dmr sekhar.
sagra and baghirath story on aswamedha will make an interesting read.
dear palahali sb,
no, it is not atharva. it is yajurvada [ ts 7.1-5 and vsm22-25] and the commentary in shatapatha brahmana [sbm13.1-5] and also briefly told in rig. veda [1.162-163] as any body can note from wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ashvamedha_yajna]. well it can be cross checked from the book by dr. br ambedkar titled "who were the shudras" page 69. i hope your friends will not tell that ambedkar is a foreigner. there is no need to hide any thing. i touched this as i wanted to know
as far as i know this is supposed to be in atharva veda. i had read about this quite some time ago and when i narrated this to some friends, they recoiled saying that it must be some western propaganda since our culture is pure(?) civilized etc.! why cant we accept things for what they were ? interesting series. not heavy since they are short. regards
this article was really informative. have heard of ashvamedha, but did not know till now, the horse will be slaughtered.. that is really painful
thanks for sharing this information