Research Article written by London Swaminathan
Date: 23 August 2016
Time uploaded in London: 6-35 AM
Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks for the pictures.
(Tamil version of this article is posted yesterday)
Dharma’s Rajasuya Yagna in the Mahabharata, the longest epic in the world, is well known. But very few people knew about the great Rajasuya Yagna performed by a Choza king 2000 years ago. Four Sangam Tamil Poets sang in praise of the great King Peru Nar Killi.
Pandarang Kannan (Krishna), Vadama vannakkan Perunchaththan (Maha Sastha),Avvaiyaar and Lochana (Ulochanar). Their verses are in the oldest part of Sangam Literature in Puranaanuru verses 16, 125, 367, 377.
(A Yagna is a fire ceremony in which Soma juice, melted butter (ghee) and certain types of wood were placed in the fire as offerings to Vedic Gods).
Tamil Kings always fought among themselves. Tamil poets tried to calm them down, but yet the wars continued. So when Tamil poetess Avvaiyar saw three great Tamil Kings of three Kingdoms at one place she was very happy. Chera King Maari Venko and Pandyan King Ugra Peruvazuthi attended and approved the Rajasuyam conducted by Choza Perunar Killi. She wished them a long life – as many years as the number of rain drops or the number of stars in the sky.
Ancient Tamil Nadu had three Kingdoms Chera (Kerala), Choza (East coast and Rice bowl areas) and the Pandya (Southern Tamil Nadu) kingdoms. Lot of chieftains and local leaders were under them.
Mahabharata has a very detailed description of the Rajasuya Yajna performed by the eldest of the Five Pandavas- Dharma alias Yudhistra. But Tamil verses give only the minimum details.
We came to know from Avaiyar’s verse (Puranaanuru 367) that Brahmins were given gold coins on that occasion as Dhanam (fees and donation). Avvaiyar says, “Whatever good you do in this birth only will help you like a boat ( to cross to the next world).
Interesting Facts about Rajasuya:-
The fees for the Rajasuya was amazing number of cows! This is recommended by the scriptures. No one would know how many were actually given.
32,000 cows for each of the four principal priests.
16,000 cows each for the second line priests.
8000 cows for the third liners and 4000 each for others.
I guess Brahmins would have received gold instead of cows, because maintaining them would have been a big problem.
What is Rajasuya?
Rajasuya means birth of a king (generate a king). Actually this is a rite of royal consecration. All the minor kingdoms would approve him as the chief. It was performed only by the Kshatriyas – the ruling caste.
The time required for Rajasuya was two years. The king had to undergo lot of rituals and fasting during this period. There were many smaller Yagnas (fire ceremonies) involving Soma plant and Ghee (melted butter).
Rajasuya consisted of several events:
Soma rite (performed with a mysterious plant from the Himalayas. Please read my article on the Soma plant for more details).
Abhiseka (pouring or bathing the king with holy waters accompanied by Mantra)
Seizing the cows and releasing the cows (Ancient Hindu kings will raid the cows in the nearby country first. This means “Let us fight”. This was practised by all the rulers from Kanyakumari to Kashmir). In the Rajasuya it was done only symbolically.
King ascending the throne.
Followed by ritual dice play
Reciting of Sunashepa (Dog’s tail) story
Avabhrta snana (bathing)
King observing certain vows for a year.
One more concluding fire ceremony (Atiratra Type)
Stepping on the tiger skin
The details of this Yagna is found in Srauta Sutras of Asvalayana, Latyayana, Katyayana and Apastambha.
In Rajasuya the king is praised as the protector of the Brahmins, sacker of the cities (in war).
Spoons and laddles used in Vedic Rituals
Vedic Index by Macdonell and Keith gives the following information:
“Raja-suya is the name in the Atharva veda and later literature of the ceremony of the royal consecration. The rite is described in great length in the Sutras, but its main features are clearly outlined in the Brahmanas, while the verses used in the ceremony are preserved in the Yajurveda.
Besides priestly elaboration, the ritual contains popular ceremonial. For example, the king is clothed in the ceremonial garments of his rank and provided with bow and arrow as emblems of sovereignty. He performs a mimic cow raid or engages in a sham fight with a royal. In a game of dice, he symbolically ascends the quarters of the sky as an indication of his universal rule; and steps on a tiger skin, thus gaining the strength and the pre-eminence of the tiger.
My Comments: –
Tiger is found in the Indus Valley seals. The number of cows as sacrificial fees corresponds with the Indus valley weights (in proportion). The dices are found in the Indus valley too. All these point towards a Vedic Culture in the Indus/Sarasvati valley Civilization.