Asvamedha: New Explanation (Post No.3163)


Written by London swaminathan

Date: 17 September 2016

Time uploaded in London:21-41

Post No.3163

Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.

Interesting Titbits about Asvamedha Yajna- Part 2


The Asva medha is performed by a king who is assisted by his FOUR wives and FOUR different priests address them with mantras.


Description of the sacrifices as follows:

It is a three-day Soma sacrifice. It is done in spring. Six or seven days before the full moon in the month of Phalguna, the four priests, the Adhvaryu, the Hotr, the Brahmin and Udgatr meet. The Adhvaryu cooks rice meal and the king gives the rice meal and gold plates to four priests. The four queens are also present and  the horse is purified with Dharba grass (SB 13-4-1/8, 13-1-1/2)

My comments:

Vedic society had kings and that too, rich kings with lot of gold. Rice is used so they were not from Europe or central Asia. They were sons of the soil i.e. a tropical country like India. The mathematics behind the construction of altars show their mathematical skills. So they are advanced in knowledge and they were not nomads as projected by half- baked foreign writers.


400 soldiers

The horse selected for the Yajna is black in the forepart and white in the back part. It has a mark on its forehead. It is allowed to roam for a year. FOUR HUNDRED soldiers followed it!

(look at the mysterious 4, 400 etc)

The horse is surrounded by 100 more horses and the king is surrounded by EIGHT councillors.


The horse can wander into any country. If it is not challenged by the king of the country that means he accepts the sovereignty of the performing king. If he challenges the horse the Yajna performing king will fight with him. After a year the horse returns and then the fire sacrifice is done in which horse or a figure of horse is sacrificed. Some rites such as the chief queen lying with the straggled horse for one night and other queens speaking obscene dialogue is also in the scripture. The priests exchange lot of riddles.


Mysterious numbers!

A lot of numbers are used and the reason for such numbers is also explained in the scriptures. This shows their obsession with numbers; some examples:-

Prajapati -17; 16 and 13 represent domestic and wild animals; queens weave 101 pearls into the mane and tail; primary numbers linked to Asvamedha are 21, 260 and 337 representing the number of stakes, the number of wild animals and the number of domestic animals. So lot of organisation is required to do an Asvamedha.


Since Rig Veda links King Traiaruna with Asvamedha, the Vedic society was highly civilized and organised.

The hydraulic research in the Sarasvati basin and the precession of the earth mentioned in the Vedas scriptures show the Vedas must be composed before 1900 BCE or 3000 BCE. Latest news says that even the Indus valley civilisation is older than 3000 BCE. All the dates must be recalculated and Max Muller’s date should be thrown into dust bin.

My comments
The numbers show that they were highly literate and numerate.

According to Apastamba Srauta Sutra (20-15) each of the four wives of the king should hang 1000 pearls around the neck of the sacred horse. 4X1000 = 4000 pearls!


The use of 1000s of pearls for all the horses show that they were sea faring people. If they had imported from other places that shows their vast geographical knowledge and maritime trade.

The Darba grass used in the Vedic time is still used by the Brahmins in their ceremonies. It shows a continuous tradition followed from Kantyakumari to Kashmir for thousands of years. No culture in the world has such a long tradition on such a vast land. If any other religion shows any other custom like this, we know the date is long after the Vedic period.

The presence of women in all Vedic ceremonies is a must. This shows the highest respect shown to women by the Hindus. No other culture insists that women must be present and participate. From the Vedic days till this day women must be present for all the Hindu ceremonies.

Until today no one can say for sure what Soma plant was. Because the Western society is highly addictive to drugs they can’t think of anything other than narcotic substances. But the eighth mandala of Rig Veda which is fully devoted to Soma, speaks of magical powers of the Soma plant. No culture in the world will dedicate one full section/chapter for narcotic drug, that too in praise of it!



Lepers in the Ceremony

Why a leper is involved in the Asvamedha remains a mystery; no can explain it or justify it. A leper is washed in the same place where every participant bathes and he is honoured with dakshina (fees); actually he is also one of the objects of sacrifice. This shows that no one is thrown into fire, but it is only symbolic.

In various groups 609 animal victims were listed for the sacrifice; 312 of them were domestic animals and 260 of them were wild animals. But they were all released at the end; may be a symbolic sacrifice of a goat or ram was done.

Catholic missionary Abbe J A Dubois who lived in India from 1792 to 1823 gave a detailed description of this yajna. He says the King of Amber (Jaipur) did an Asvamedha and gave one lakh rupees as dakshina to the chief priest. In today’s money it would be millions of rupees.


Puranas talk about another king called Asvamedhadattan. He belongs to Lunar dynasty and his mother was Vaitheki and Janamejayan was his grandson.


Satapata Brahmana gives details about Asvamedha yajna. The general impression is that a horse was sacrificed in the fire at the end. But Satapata Brahmana (here afterwards SB) itself says that prior to King Syaaparna Saayakaayana, sacrifice of several animals took place, but now it is limited to the Aja (goat)—SB 6-2-1-39.

In Sanskrit Aja means grains as well. SB also adds that plants are appropriate for sacrifice. So we can conclude that at one stage animal sacrifice was completely abandoned and only plants or animals made up of flour were sacrificed.


Mahabharata explains what is happening in the world (12-5):-

“I see no being which lives in the world without violence. Creatures exist at the mercy of one another; the strong consume the weak. The mongoose eats mice, just as the cat eats the mongoose. The dog kills the cat, and the wild beasts eat the dog. Man eats them all. Everything that moves and is still food for someone”

This is very true until today. SB and scriptures like Bhodayana (22-1) and Aupamanyava (16-6-2) Srauta sutras say that a clay or golden replica of animals were sacrificed. More over Atharva Veda says that Inner Yajna is superior to outer one (AV 7-5-4/5). So even at the Vedic times Yajna attained several meanings.

Some people even interpret astronomical events are given as Yajnas. That is how we got all animal signs in zodiac. SB speaks of creation of the universe by Prajapati (6-1) where Asva, Rsaba, Aja, Kurma come before the creation of the earth. RV 1-164-2 and Nirukta (4-4-27) define Asva as the Sun.


My Comments:

Vedic literature is very vast. But here we see a big leap from animal sacrifice to symbolic sacrifice with clay model and late lot of astronomical explanations. But the foreign authors date them within a short span which is impossible. No culture in the wold changed that quickly. Foreign writers select some passages which suits them for their novel revolutionary theories and hypotheses. And no two foreign “scholars” agree on any topic! So Indian tradition is the best to follow.


Aurobindo’s Interpretation

Aurobindo explains Asvamedha in his Vedic Glossary as follows: –

Asvamedhaaya means for the horse sacrifice. The Horse Sacrifice is the offering of Life Power with all its impulses, desires, enjoyments to the divine existence. The Life-Soul (Dwita) is itself the giver of the sacrifice which it performs when by the power of Agni it attains to vision on its own vital plane, when it becomes, in the figure of the hymn, the illumined seer Ashwamedha (RV 5-27-4)


Books used:-

The Asvamedha – by Subhas Kak; 2002


The Vedic horse sacrifice –  by Stephen Fuchs

My Old Article on the same subject

Horse headed Seer: Rig Veda Mystery No.1; Research Paper written by London

No.1255; Dated 27th August 2014.




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