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Encyclopedia > Asvamedha

The Ashvamedha, or the horse-sacrifice is one of the most important royal rituals of Vedic religion (1st millennium BC, the last recorded performance dates to the 4th century AD), described in detail in the Yajurveda (books 22–25) and the pertaining commentaries. A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value, which is prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. ... The religion of the Vedic civilization is the predecessor of classical Hinduism, usually included in the term. ... (2nd millennium BC – 1st millennium BC – 1st millennium – other millennia) // Events The Iron Age spread to Western Europe Egypt declined as a major power The Tanakh was written Buddhism was founded by Siddharta Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (6th century BC) Jainism was founded by Mahavira (6th century BC... As a means of recording the passage of time, the 4th century was that century which lasted from 301 to 400. ... The Yajurveda (Sanskrit , a tatpurusha compound of sacrifice + veda knowledge) is one of the four Hindu Vedas; it contains religious texts focussing on liturgy and ritual. ...


The Vedic Sacrifice

The Ashvamedha could only be conducted by a king. Its object was the acquisition of power and glory, the sovereignty over neighbouring provinces, and general prosperity of the kingdom.

The horse to be sacrificed must be a stallion, more than 24, but less than 100 years old. The horse is sprinkled with water, and the Adhvaryu and the sacrificer whisper formulas into its ear. Anyone who should stop the horse is ritually cursed, and a dog is killed symbolic of the punishment for the sinners. The horse is then set loose towards the North-East, to roam around wherever it chooses, for the period of one year (or half a year, according to some commentators). The horse is associated with the Sun, and its yearly course. If the horse wanders into neighbouring provinces hostile to the sacrificer, they must be subjugated. The wandering horse is attended by a hundred young men, sons of princes or high court officials, charged with guarding the horse from all dangers and inconvenience. During the absence of the horse, an uninterrupted series of ceremonies is performed in the sacrificer's home. The Vedic priesthood is the collective term for the priests of the Vedic religion. ... For other uses, see Sun (disambiguation). ...

After the return of the horse, more ceremonies are performed. The horse is yoked to a gilded chariot, together with three other horses, and RV 1.6.1,2 (YV 23.5,6) is recited. The horse is then driven into water and bathed. After this, it is anointed with ghee by the chief queen and two other royal consorts. The chief queen anoints the fore-quarters, and the others the barrel and the hind-quarters. They also entwine the horse's head, neck, and tail with golden ornaments. The sacrificer offers the horse the remains of the night's oblation of grain. Chariot was the name of a WW2 naval weapon, the British manned torpedo. ... The Rigveda (Sanskrit: , a tatpurusha compound of praise, verse and knowledge) is a collection of hymns (, plural ) counted among the four Hindu religious texts known as the s, and contains the oldest texts preserved in any Indo-Iranian language. ... Wikibooks Cookbook has more about this subject: Ghee Ghee (Hindi घी, from Sanskrit ghṛta घृत sprinkled) is a type of clarified butter important in Pakistani and Indian cuisine and tradition. ...

After this, the horse, a hornless he-goat, a wild ox (go-mrga, Bos Gavaeus) are bound to sacrificial stakes near the fire, and seventeen other animals are attached to the horse. A great number of animals, both tame and wild, are tied to other stakes, according to a commentator 609 in total (YV 24 consists of an exact enumeration). Species See Species and subspecies A goat is a mammal in the genus Capra, which consists of nine species: the Ibex, the West Caucasian Tur, the East Caucasian Tur, the Markhor, and the Wild Goat. ... Binomial name Bos gaurus H. Smith, 1827 The Gaur (Bos gaurus, previously Bibos gauris) is a large, dark-coated ox of the hilly areas of India and Southeast Asia, which may be found wild or domesticated. ...

Then the horse is slaughtered (YV 23.15, tr. Griffith)

Steed, from thy body, of thyself, sacrifice and accept thyself.
Thy greatness can be gained by none but thee.

The chief queen ritually calls on her fellow wives for pity. The three queens walk around the dead horse reciting formulas. The chief queen then has to copulate with the dead horse, while the other queens ritually utter obscenities.

On the next morning, the priests raise the queen from the place where she has spent the night with the horse. With the Dadhikra verse (RV 4.39.6, YV 23.32), a verse used as a purifier after obscene language.

The three queens with a hundred golden, silver and copper needles indicate the lines on the horse's body along which it will be dissected. The horse is dissected, and its flesh roasted. Various parts are offered to a host of deities and personified concepts with cries of svaha "all-hail". The Ashvastuti or Eulogy of the Horse follows (RV 1.162, YV 24.24–45), concluding with:

May this Steed bring us all-sustaining riches, wealth in good kine, good horses, manly offspring
Freedom from sin may Aditi vouchsafe usl the Steed with our oblations gain us lordship!

The priests performing the sacrifice were recompensed with a part of the booty won during the wandering of the horse. According to a commentator, the spoils from the east was given to the Hotar, while the Adhvaryu a maiden (a daughter of the sacrificer) and the sacrificer's fourth wife. In Hinduism, Aditi (Sanskrit - limitless) is a goddess of the sky, consciousness, the past, the future and fertility. ... The Vedic priesthood is the collective term for the priests of the Vedic religion. ... The Vedic priesthood is the collective term for the priests of the Vedic religion. ...

Vedanta and modern Hinduism

In vedantic interpretations, the Ashvamedha is understood as a ritual to get connected to the "inner Sun". In this tradition, it is claimed that the ashva of the Ashvamedha originally referred to the Sun, and that sacrifices of actual horses represented a degeneration of the spiritual ritual. Vedanta (Vedānta, वेदान्त, pronounced as ////) means the anta or culmination or essence of the Vedas. ...

The Ashvamedha is referred to in the Shatapatha Brahmana as well as in the epics Ramayana (1.10–15) and Mahabharata. When the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata were televised, the description of the nature of the sacrifice was significantly toned down to make it appropriate for television. In Modern Hinduism, there is little or no knowledge of what the sacrifice involved. Shatapatha Brahmana (Brahmana of one-hundred paths) is one of the prose texts describing the Vedic ritual. ... The Rāmāyana (Sanskrit: रामायण, march or journey (Ä€yana) of Rāma) is part of the Hindu smriti, written by Valmiki. ... The Mahabharata (Devanagari: महाभारत, phonetically Mahābhārata - see note), sometimes just called Bharata, is one of the two major ancient Sanskrit epics of India, the other being the Ramayana. ...

The last historically documented occurrence of the Ashvamedha is during the reign of Samudragupta I (d. 380), the father of Chandragupta II. Special coins were minted to commemorate the Ashvamedha and the king took on the title of Maharajadhiraja after successful completion of the sacrifice. Samudragupta, ruler of the Gupta Empire (c. ... This article is about the year 380 AD. For the aircraft, see Airbus A380. ... The period of prominence of the Gupta dynasty is very often referred to as the Golden Age of India. ...

The bestiality and necrophilia involved in the ritual disgusted the Dalit reformer and framer of the Indian constitution, B. R. Ambedkar and is frequently mentioned in his writings as an example of the perceived degradation of Brahmanical culture. This part of the ritual also caused considerable consternation among the scholars first editing the Yajurveda. Griffith (1899) omits verses 23.20–31 (the ritual obscenities), protesting that they are Look up Bestiality in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up Necrophilia in Wiktionary, the free dictionary Necrophilia according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, is a paraphilia characterized by a sexual attraction to corpses. ... Dalit may have the following meanings. ... Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (April 14, 1891 - December 6, 1956) has been called the most prominent Indian Dalit leader of the 20th century. ... Young Indian brahmachari Brahmin A Brahmin (less often Brahman) is a member of the Hindu priestly caste. ... The Yajurveda (Sanskrit , a tatpurusha compound of sacrifice + veda knowledge) is one of the four Hindu Vedas; it contains religious texts focussing on liturgy and ritual. ... Ralph Thomas Hotchkin Griffith (1826-1906), scholar of indology, translated the vedic scriptures into English. ... 1899 (MDCCCXCIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ...

"not reproducible even in the semi-obscurity of a learned European language"

(alluding to other instances where he renders explicit scenes in Latin rather than English)


Ralph Thomas Hotchkin Griffith (1826-1906), scholar of indology, translated the Vedic scriptures into English. ...

See also

  Results from FactBites:
The Queen-Horse Copulation Ritual of the Asvamedha Yajna (765 words)
The Queen-Horse Copulation Ritual of the Asvamedha Yajna
asvamedha yajna was the grand horse sacrifice which Aryan (Hindu) kings conducted to celebrate their supremacy and for the prosperity and fertility of their kingdoms.
asvamedha yajna, in particular the queen-horse sexual portion of the sacrifice.
  More results at FactBites »



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