Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Ashwamedha - The Horse Sacrifice


Ashwamedha, the horse sacrifice, is also known as haya-medha sacrifice. It is said to be the most difficult Yagna to perform, having many onerous requirements. Indeed, it is often said, that he who performs a hundred such sacrifices shall be rewarded with the post of Indra. For this reason, Indra keeps a jealous eye on those who seek to perform this ritual.

The usual reason to perform this Yagna, is to establish a King as the overlord of the World. (The Raja-Sooya Yagna also performs a similar function.) The horse is an important part of the ritual. A flawless horse is sanctified as the sacrificial horse. It is then set loose, with the armies of the King following it. Whenever this procession enters the realm of another King, that ruler either has to fight the army or has to agree to pay tribute.

Once all the Kingdoms have been conquered, the horse is brought back to the sacrificial altar. It is unclear whether it is slaughtered or set free. In either case, it clearly is the star of this sacrifice.

In [Rama:1.8], Dasharatha makes preparations for this sacrifice, but not to conquer other Kingdoms, but to obtain progeny. Indeed, sometimes that sacrifice may be referred to as the Putra-Kameshti (Son-giving) sacrifice.

Last Modified At: Sat Oct 9 17:07:53 2004