Ashvamedham (was Re: [Advaita-l] A lost Vedic ritual is brought alive)

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rama.balasubramanian at
Wed Nov 2 23:56:39 CST 2005

It's probably a typo and the ashvamedham is not a smaarta karma. It is shauta.

The ashvamedham can be preformed only by kShatriyas. So, I have no
idea what these people are up to. There are no kings these days. Also,
letting a horse loose, etc.,  is just not feasible.

However, the benefits of the ashvamedha can be obtained by merely
chanting the mantras. The 8th and 9th prashnas of the 3rd aShTakam of
the taittiriiya braahmaNa are known as the ashvamedha prashnas.  The
taittiriiya AraNyakam states that yaM yaM kratuM adhIte tena
tenAsyeShTaM bhavati, i.e.,  Whatever sacrficial rites which are known
or studied will give the same benefits (as doing them).

The shatapatha braahmaNa also has similar passages. Consult Mahoneys
excellent book, "The Artful Universe", for many references.

Of course, this does not mean one can neglect obligatory karma and
claim study of them will bring the same benefit :-).

Shankara also points out in the very first brAhmaNa of the
bR^ihadaaraNyaka (called the ashvamedha braahmaNa) that the effects of
this sacrifice can be obtained by proper meditation alone. The inner
principle of the ashvamedha yajna is beautifully explained in this
upanishad. I suggest you look that up and also shankaras commentary on

It should be noted that any karma has some ritual acts associated with
it. At the beginning we just blindly follow the procedure. But each
act in the karma corresponds to a particular "meditation",
illsutrating cosmic and also inner truths. Gradually the karma is
"interiorized", as we get the mental maturity to do so. Thus, the
upanishads point out in many places the deeper meanings of many karmas
such as ashvamedha. Even common rituals such as puNyAhavAcanam,
udakashaanti, etc., have deeper meanings associated with them. Not for
nothing are Bhagavaan Bodhaayana, et. al., considered supreme

Coming back to the taittiriiya yajur veda, the prashna 7 (called
acchidra suuktam) , 8 and 9 (ashvamedha prashnam) are typically
chanted on ekaadashii and the taittiriiya upanishhads (last four
prashnas of the aaraNyakam) are chanted the following day. The
tradition is that it cleanses sins and purifies the mind.


On 10/26/05, Abhishek RK <rkabhi at> wrote:
>   Could the scholars on this list elaborate about this Yagam? What is a
> "Snarta" Yagam? Is it "Smarta"?

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