The Horse Ritual of Emperor Dasharatha is started on the banks of Sarayu River. The details of the arrangements for the participants, and visitors along with some aspects of the Vedic Ritual are narrated.
अथ संवत्सरे पूर्णे तस्मिन् प्राप्ते तुरंगमे |
सरय्वाः च उत्तरे तीरे राज्ञो यज्ञो अभ्यवर्तत || १-१४-१
1. atha samvatsare puurNe = then, one year, on completing; tasmin praapte turangame = that, on regaining, ritual horse; sarayvaH uttare tiire = Sarayu river's, on northern banks; raaj~naH yaj~naH abhyavartata = emperor, ritual, commenced.
Then after completion of one year and on regaining the ritual horse, the Emperor Dasharatha commenced his Vedic Ritual on the northern banks of River Sarayu. [1-14-1]
In aswametha yaga , a well-decorated horse will be let out with an insignia on its forehead challenging any king to capture it and face the wrath of releasing king. If any one captures the horse, he shall be strong enough to incite a war. Otherwise, the valour and invincibility of releasing king are well established and he may proceed with the ritual proper. Now that the ritual horse released during last year by King Dasharatha has come back without being captured by anyone, thus establishing the invincibility of King Dasharatha, as such he can commence the ritual proper.
ऋष्यशृंगम् पुरस्कृत्य कर्म चक्रुः द्विजर्षभाः |
अश्वमेधे महायज्ञे राज्ञोऽस्य सुमहात्मनः || १-१४-२
2. su maha atmanaH = of that well, noble-souled king; ashwamethe mahaa yaj~ne raajnaH asya = in Horse ritual, great ritual, of king; R^iSyasR^ingam puraskR^itya = Rishyasringa, keeping at helm of affairs; karma chakruH dvijarshabhaaH = works, commenced, Brahmans, eminent ones.
Keeping Rishyasringa at the helm of affairs those eminent Brahmans commenced, ashva medha , the Horse-ritual of that noble-souled Dasharatha. [1-14-2]
कर्म कुर्वंति विधिवत् याजका वेदपारगाः |
यथा विधि यथा न्यायं परिक्रामन्ति शास्त्रतः || १-१४-३
3. yaajakaaH veda paaragaaH = ritual conductors, in Vedas, well versed ones; karma kurvanti vidhivat = works, performed, customarily; yathaa vidhi yathaa nyaayam = as per canon, as per rules; parikraamanti shaashtrataH = conducted, as per scriptures.
Those well-versed conductors of Vedic rituals called ritviks , have started to perform works relating to ritual as per canon and rules, and conducted them scripturally and customarily. [1-14-3]
प्रवर्ग्यम् शास्त्रतः कृत्वा तथा एव उपसदम् द्विजाः |
चक्रुः च विधिवत् सर्वम् अधिकम् कर्म शास्त्रतः || १-१४-४
4. dvijaaH = Brahmans; pravargyam shaastrataH kR^itvaa = pravargya ritual, as per scriptures, on performing; tathaa eva upasadam = like that, upasada ritual; cha vidhivat = also, customarily on performing; adhikam sarvam karma shaastrataH = many more, all, rituals too, as per scriptures; chakruH = they performed.
On performing pravargya ritual as per scriptures, like that upasada ritual too, those Brahmans have customarily performed all of those other rituals incidental to the main one scripturally. [1-14-4]
अभिपूज्य तदा हृष्टाः सर्वे चक्रुः यथा विधि |
प्रातः सवन पूर्वाणि कर्माणि मुनिपुंगवाः || १-१४-५
5. tadaa = then; muni pungavaH = sages, distinguished; sarve hR^iSTaaH = all of them, are contented with; abhipuujya = worshipping those and those gods; praataH savana puurvaani karmaani = early morning, savana rituals and its ancillary; yathaa vidhi chakruH = as enjoined, performed.
Then all of those distinguished sages are contended with what they have performed by worshipping gods already summoned, they also conducted early morning savana ritual and its ancillaries as enjoined. [1-14-5]
ऐन्द्रश्च विधिवत् दत्तो राजा च अभिषुतोऽनघः |
मध्यंदिनम् च सवनम् प्रावर्तत यथा क्रमम् || १-१४-६
6. indraH cha vidhivat dattaH = [oblations addressed to] Indra, as ordained, having given; anaghaH raajaa cha = flawless, king, also; abhiSutaH = soma raja creeper, well squeezed for the juice; madhyandinam savanam = in mid-day, savana ritual; yathaa kramam pravartataH = as per sequence, has happened.
The oblations addressed to Indra are well given as ordained, and the flawless king Dasharatha also crushed the Soma creeper to squeeze Soma juice, and thus the mid-day savana ritual has come to pass according to sequence. [1-14-6]
Soma creeper is from Sacrostemma Brevistigma of Asclepiadacea family and some other scholars hold the view that it is from Sarcostema Viminalis family.
तृतीय सवनम् चैव राज्ञोऽस्य सुमहात्मनः |
चक्रुः ते शाश्त्रतो दृष्ट्वा तथा ब्राह्मण पुंगवाः || १-१४-७
7. tathaa te braahmaNa pungavaaH = like that, those, Brahmans, proficient ones; shaastrataH dR^iSTvaa = from the viewpoint of scriptures, having examined; su mahaatmanaH asya raaj~naH = of that highly, exalted soul, of that, king; tR^itiiya savanam cha eva chakruH = third, savana ritual, also, like that, they performed.
Like that those proficient Brahmans have also performed the third savana , ritual of that great-exalted soul Dasharatha according to the viewpoint of scriptures. [1-14-7]
आह्वान् चक्रिरे तत्र शक्रादीन् विबुधोत्तमान् |
ऋष्यशृङ्गाअदौ मन्त्रैः शिक्षाक्षर समन्वितौ || १-१४-८
8. R^iSyashR^i~Nga aadau = Rishyasringa, others; mantraiH = with Vedic hymns; shiksha akshara samanvitau = when trained, letters, who have them [those that still retained the pronunciation of letters though trained much earlier]; shakra aadiin vibudha uttamaan = Indra, and others, gods, best; tatra = to that place; aahvayaam chakrire = invoking, the made.
Rishyasringa and other best scholars with their well lettered and intonated Vedic hymns have invoked Indra and other gods to that place. [1-14-8]
गीतिभिः मधुरैः स्निग्धैः मन्त्र आह्वानैः यथार्हतः |
होतारो ददुरावाह्य हविर्भागान् दिवौकसाम् || १-१४-९
9. hotaaraH = Hotaa-s, conductors of this invocations; giitibhiH madhuraiH snigdhaiH = with singing, sweetly, harmoniously; mantra aahvaanaiH yatha arhataH = with hymns, invited are, as befitting; aavaahya = having welcomed; divaukasaam haviH bhaagaan daduH = to partaking celestials, oblations, they gave.
The hotaa -s, invocators, have welcomed the celestials for partaking oblations by singing saama Veda hymns sweetly and harmoniously, and on inviting them with Vedic hymns they have offered oblations to them. [1-14-9]
न च अहुतं आभूत् तत्र स्खलितम् वा न किंचन |
दृश्यते ब्रह्मवत् सर्वम् क्षेमयुक्तम् हि चक्रिरे || १-१४-१०
10. tatra = there in the ritual; a hutam = unburnt oblation; na abhuut = not, resulted in; kimchana na skhalitam vaa abuut = a little, not, slipped away, either, is there; sarvam brahmavat dR^isyate = all, appeared, to be hymn oriented; kshema yuktam chakrire hi = secure, enough, is performed, in deed.
There is no unburnt oblation resulted in that fire-ritual nor even a small mishap slipped in the performance of ritual. Everything appeared canonically correct and hymn oriented. Indeed the ritual is performed in a secure way. [1-14-10]
न तेषु अहस्सु श्रान्तो वा क्षुधितो वा न दृश्यते |
न अविद्वान् ब्राह्मणः कश्चिन् न अशत अनुचरः तथा || १-१४-११
11. tesu ahassu = in these, days; shraantaH na dR^ishyate = weary person, not, to be found; kshudhitaH vaa api = hungry person, or, even; na = not seen; a vidvaan braahmaNaH = no, unscholarly, Brahman; na = not there; tathaa = likewise; a shata anucharaH = one without, hundred, followers - apprentices; na = not seen; kaschin = anywhere.
In these days of ritual none found there to be weary or hungry, and there is no single unscholarly person, nor any Brahman without at least a hundred apprentices. [1-14-11]
ब्राह्मणा भुंजते नित्यम् नाथवन्तः च भुंजते |
तापसा भुंजते च अपि श्रमणाः चैव भुंजते || १-१४-१२
12. braahmanaa bhunjate nityam = Brahmans, fed, anytime; naatha vantaH = masters, having [persons who have their masters i.e., servants] bhunjate = are fed; taapasaa bhunjate cha api = sages, are fed, also, even; shramaNaaH cha eva bhunjate tathaa = pilgrims, also, thus, are fed, like that.
Given anytime the Brahmans, servants, sages, and pilgrims are fed with food for their arrival at the place of boarding is unpredictable, and that arrival is dependent on their duties for Brahmans, and by their masters for servants, and for pilgrims that do not have a particular time of arrival or departure. [1-14-12]
Some scholars tend to conclude that Ramayana might have been written in post Buddhist period by finding the words like shramaNa etc., the famous wandering Buddhist monk sect. The word shramaNa in Sanskrit means only a pilgrim, and pilgrimage is an ordained aspect of salvation as per Indra is the friend of traveller. Therefore wander - aitareya brahmaNa [VII.33.3] The Buddhist shramaNa -s are the wandering monks in search of converts whereas Hindu shramana-s are pure sanyasi-s wandering for their own salvation.
वृद्धाः च व्याधिताः च एव स्त्री बालाः तथा एव च |
अनिशं भुंजमानानां न तृप्तिः उपलभ्यते || १-१४-१३
13. vR^iddhaaH cha vyaadhitaaH cha eva = elderly people, sick ones, also, thus; strii baalaaH thatha eva cha = women, children, like that, only; anisham bhunjamaanaanaam = always, dining on thus; na tR^iptiH upalabhyate = no, satisfaction to complete the meal, attained.
Elderly people, sick ones, women and children though dining on always thus, no satisfaction to complete the meal is attained for themselves, as the food served is that pleasant.
Elderly people, sick ones, women and children though dining on always thus, there is no satisfaction to Emperor Dasharatha, for it appeared to be too meagre a serving and a lot more is to be served.] [1-14-13]
दीयताम् दीयताम् अन्नम् वासांसि विविधानि च |
इति संचोदिताः तत्र तथा चक्रुः अनेकशः || १-१४-१४
14. diiyataam diiyataam annam = 'Be given, Be given' food; vaasaamsi vividhaani cha = clothing, variously, also; iti tatra samchoditaH = thus, there, directed by; tathaa chakruH anekasaH = accordingly, done [distributed,] in many ways.
"Food be given abundantly, clothing be given variously" are the directives, accordingly the king's men have distributed numerously there at the ritual place. [1-14-14]
अन्न कूटाः च दृश्यन्ते बहवः पर्वत उपमाः |
दिवसे दिवसे तत्र सिद्धस्य विधिवत् तदा || १-१४-१५
15. tatra tadaa = there, thus; vidhivat siddhasya anna kuuTaaH = customarily, made available, food stuff, heaps of; bahavaH parvata upamaa = many, mountains, in similitude; divase divase = day by day; dR^ishyante = are appearing.
Heaps of foodstuffs are also appearing there, many of them and mountain similar, which is made available customarily, day after day. [1-14-15]
नाना देशात् अनुप्राप्ताः पुरुषाः स्त्री गणाः तथा |
अन्न पानैः सुविहिताः तस्मिन् यज्ञे महात्मनः || १-१४-१६
16. mahaatmanaH = of great-soul Dasharatha's; tasmin yaj~ne = in that, ritual; naanaa deshaat anu praaptaaH = from different, countries, arrived; puruSaaH tatha strii gaNaaH = men, like that, women, in masses; anna paanaiH su vihitaaH = food and drinks, well, pleased.
To that ritual of that great-souled Dasharatha masses of men and women have arrived from different countries, and they are all well-pleased with the sumptuous food and drink supplied. [1-14-16]
अन्नम् हि विधिवत् स्वादु प्रशन्सन्ति द्विजर्षभाः |
अहो तृप्ताः स्म भद्रम् ते इति शुश्राव राघवः || १-१४-१७
17. dvijarSabhaaH = Brahmans, the eminent; vidhivat = systematically - prepared by perfect cooking; svaadu annam prashamshanti = relishable, food, they appreciated; aho raaghavaH = oh, Raghu's descendent - Dasharatha; tR^iptaa sma = satisfied, are we; bhadram te = blessed, are you; iti = thus; shushrava = heard.
"The eminent Brahmans have appreciated the food that is prepared by perfect cooking to be relishable, and it is heard as they said, "oh, Raghava, blessed are you for we are satisfied..." [1-14-17]
स्वलंकृताः च पुरुषा ब्राह्मणान् पर्यवेषयन् |
उपासन्ते च तान् अन्ये सुमृष्ट मणि कुण्डलाः || १-१४-१८
18. sva alankritaaH puruSaa = well, decorated, men [caterers]; brahmaNaan paryaveSayan = to the Brahmans, served food; sumR^iSTa = having lustre; mani kuNDalaaH = well decorated, gem-studded, earrings [worn by those helpers.]; anye cha = others, also; upaasante taan = helped, them.
Well-decorated men have served food to Brahmans, while others who wore gem-studded and lustrous earrings have helped them. [1-14-18]
कर्मान्तरे तदा विप्रा हेतुवादान् बहूनपि |
प्राहुः सुवाग्मिनो धीराः परस्पर जिगीषया || १-१४-१९
19. tadaa dhiiraaH vipraaH = then, intellectual, Brahmans; karma antare = rituals, in interludes; paraspara jigiishaya = each other, to defeat; bahuun hetu vaadan = many, intellectual, debates - arts of reasoning; su vaagminaH praahuH = good, debaters, have debated.
Those eminent Brahmans that are good debaters have debated many intellectual debates to defeat each other, during the gap-periods of ritual works. [1-14-19]
दिवसे दिवसे तत्र संस्तरे कुशला द्विजाः |
सर्व कर्माणि चक्रुः ते यथा शास्त्रं प्रचोदिताः || १-१४-२०
20. samstare = in ritual; te kushalaaH dwijaaH = those, expert, Brahmans; divase divase tatra = day by day, there; pra choditaaH = encouraged by [Vashishta and others]; sarva karmaaNi = all, works; yathaa shashtram = according to, scriptures; chakruH = have performed.
Day by day those expert Brahmans have performed all ritual works as encouraged by Vashishta, and others and as contained in scriptures. [1-14-20]
न अषडङ्ग वित् अत्र आसीत् न अव्रतो न अबहुश्रुतः |
सदस्यः तस्य वै राज्ञो न अवाद कुशला द्विजाः || १-१४-२१
21. atra = there; a SaDanga vit = not, in six branches, knower; na asiit = is not, there; a vrataH = non-vowed scholar; na = not there; a bahu shrutaH = not, in many [scriptures,] one who heard; na = not there; tasya raaj~naH sadasyaaH = that, king's, members of ritual; a vaada kushalaaH [vaada a kushalaaH] = in debating, inexperts; na vai = not there, indeed.
There is no scholar without the knowledge of the six branches of Vedas, none who is an unavowed scholar, none who heard learnt less scriptures, and none among the members of the ritual of that king Dasharatha is an inexpert in debating, thus all are scholarly Brahmans. [1-14-21]
The six branches of Veda-s are: 1] sikSa - phonetics, 2] vyaakaraNa - grammar, 3] chandas - prosody, 4] nirukta - etymology, 5] jyotiS - astronomy, 6] kalapa - ritual acts.
प्राप्ते यूपः उच्छ्रये तस्मिन् षड् बैल्वाः खादिराः तथा |
तावन्तो बिल्व सहिताः पर्णिनः च तथा अपरे || १-१४-२२
श्लेष्मातकमयः दिष्टो देवदारुमयः तथा |
द्वावेव तत्र विहितौ बाहु व्यस्त परिग्रहौ || १-१४-२३
22,23. tasmin = in ritual; yuupa ucChraye praapte sati = wooden ritual posts, staking time, when neared; SaT bailwaaH = six, Bilwa wood stakes [Egle Marmelos]; tathaa = like that; bilwa sahitaaH = to Bilwa posts, nearer to; taavantaH = same number of; khaadiraaH = posts of Khadira wood [Mimosa catech]; tatha = like that; parNiaH cha apare = posts of Parnina wood [Butea frondosa,] also, further; [eka] SleshmaatakamayaH [Gorida myxa] = [one,] post of Sleshmaataka wood; tathaa = like that; devadaarumayaH = posts of Devadaaru wood [Uvaria longifolia,] [two posts, generally these posts are staked]; tatra = there; dwau eva baahu vyasta parigrahou = two, thus, arms, extended, touching [at the length of extended arms]; vihitou diSTaH = as stipulated, are staked.
When the time came to stake wooden ritual posts, six posts of bilwa wood, six posts of khadira wood, and further the same number of posts of parnina wood are staked. One post of sleshmaataka wood and two of devadaaru wood as stipulated are staked. Then the distance between each post is maintained at the length of extended arms. [1-14-22,23]
कारिताः सर्व एवैते शास्त्रज्ञैः यज्ञकोविदैः |
शोभाअर्थम् तस्य यज्ञस्य कांचन अलंकृत अभवन् || १-१४-२४
24. shaastraj~naiH yaj~nma kovidaiH kaaritaaH = authorities on scriptures, by ritual, scholars, they are made; te sarve eva = they, all, thus; tasya yaj~nasya = of that, ritual; shobha artham = for elegance, purpose; kaanchana alankR^ita abhavan = gold-pleated, decorated, they are [posts,] became.
All of those the posts are made by the authorities on scriptures and ritual scholars, and they are gold-pleated and decorated for the purpose of elegance to that ritual. [1-14-24]
एक विंशति यूपाः ते एक विंशत् अरत्नयः |
वासोभिः एक विंशद्भिः एकैकम् समलंकृताः || १-१४-२५
25. eka vimshat aratnayaH = having one and twenty, cubits - elbow to fingertip measure in height; eka vimshat yuupaaH te = one and twenty [twenty-one,] posts, they are; eka vimshadbhi vaasobhiH = with twenty-one, cloths; eka ekam alankR^itaH sama = one to each post, decorated, they are.
They are altogether twenty-one posts, each post is twenty-one cubits in height, and each is decoratively clothed with each cloth. [1-14-25]
विन्यस्ता विधिवत् सर्वे शिल्पिभिः सुकृता दृढाः |
अष्ट आस्रयः सर्व एव श्लक्ष्ण रूप समन्विताः || १-१४-२६
26. sarve = all of them; shilpibhiH su kR^itaa = by carpenters, well carved; dhR^iDhaa = strongly built; aSTa aasrayaH = are with octahedral surfaces; shlakSNa ruupa samanvitaaH = smoothened, surface shapes, having; sarve eva = all, thus; vinyasthaa vidhivat = implanted, procedurally.
Carpenters have carved all the posts well, and built them strongly with octahedral surfaces that are smoothened, and thereby they are implanted procedurally. [1-14-26]
आच्छादिताः ते वासोभिः पुष्पैः गन्धैः च पूजिताः |
सप्त ऋषयो दीप्तिमन्तो विराजन्ते यथा दिवि || १-१४-२७
27. vaasobhiH aacChaaditaaH = with cloths, draped; te = them; pushpaiH gandhaiH cha puujitaaH = with flowers, with perfumery, worshipped; te diiptimantaH = they, having irradiance; divi sapta R^iSayaH yathaa = in sky, Seven Sages, as with; viraajante = they shone forth.
Those posts draped in cloths and worshipped with flowers and perfumery are irradiant, and they shone forth like the constellation of Seven Sages in the sky. [1-14-27]
The Seven Sages is the constellation of stars in the Ursa Major - The Great Bear, and is called sapta R^ishi maNDala . The Indian names of the Seven Sages are 1] atri , 2] angiirasa , 3] pulastya , 4] pulaha , 5] kratu , 6] mariichi , 7] vashiSTha .
इष्टकाः च यथा न्यायम् कारिताः च प्रमाणतः |
चितोऽग्निः ब्राह्मणैः तत्र कुशलैः शिप्लकर्मणि || १-१४-२८
28. tatra = in that ritual; yathaa nyaayam pramaaNataH cha = according to, rules, according to standard measurements, also; iSTakaaH kaaritaaH = bricks, are made; shilpa karmaNi = by architects [particular priest-architects of Vedic rituals; or sulba karmanai = by those that calculate the area of altar with a single-stranded thread called shulba ]; kushalaiH braahmaNaiH agniH chitaH = by expert, Brahmans, Altar of Fire, layered.
The bricks for Altar of Fire are well designed and made according to rules and standard measurements. The Brahmans who are experts in the architecture of laying Fire Altar, by calculating the ritual field with a one-ply rope and decide where and how the that shall be, the Altar of Fire is layered well with bricks in that ritual. [1-14-28]
The construction of Fire Altar itself is a ritual, called iSTikaa chayana , where each brick is to be consecrated with hymns. On completion of the layering of bricks to the required shape, i.e., that of an eagle-like platform for a garuDa yaj~na vedi etc., then Holy head bath abhiSeka is performed to the brick-work of the Altar by pouring milk and other sacred liquids to the chanting of Vedic hymns.
सचित्यो राज सिंहस्य संचितः कुशलैः द्विजैः |
गरुडो रुक्मपक्षो वै त्रिगुणो अष्टा दशात्मकः || १-१४-२९
29. kushalaiH dwijaiH = by experts, Brahmans; rukma pakshaH = eagle [shaped,] with golden, wings; tri guNaH = three times more [ than usual] triple sized; aSTa dashaatmakaH = eighteen in number, having eighteen separators; garuDaH = eagle fire altar; saH raaja simhasya = of that, king, the lion's; samchitaH = ever with fire; cityaH = the fire laid on such an altar of fire layered as above.
That Altar of Fire of that King, the Lion, is layered by expert Brahmans in the shape of an eagle with golden wings, with its size being three folds bigger than the altars of other rituals, thus it has eighteen separators, and fire is laid on it. [1-14-29]
The garuDa , the Divine Eagle is the vehicle of Vishnu with an all-pervading vision and fastest wings. He is the only one who once brought amrita, the Divine Elixir, for the release of his mother from slavery. Hence, the Altar of Fire is given the shape of this Divine Eagle, with its wings and tail outstretched, head turned downward, and the eyes looking eastward. yaj~na is also termed as suparNa i.e., su good, parNa winged; carrier of the oblations with his golden wings to heavens. Or its wings are glittering with gold sahasram hiraNya shakalaiH prati dinam agnim prokShati - shruti meaning every day with thousands of gold chips oblate the fire... scriptures say so. So the Altar of fire is glittering with thousands of gold chips sprinkled every day. This altar is laid threefold bigger than the usual one.
नियुक्ताः तत्र पशवः तत् तत् उद्दिश्य दैवतम् |
उरगाः पक्षिणः च एव यथा शास्त्रम् प्रचोदिताः || १-१४-३०
30. tatra = in that ritual; yathaa shaastram prachoditam = as per the scriptural, directives; pashavaH uragaaH pakshinaH cha eva = animals, serpents, birds, also, thus; tat tat daivatam uddishya = that and that, deity, designated to; niyuktaaH = are readied.
In that ritual animals, serpents and birds designated to such and such deities are readied according to the scriptural directives. [1-14-30]
शामित्रे तु हयः तत्र तथा जलचराः च ये |
ऋषिभिः सर्वम् एवै तन् नियुक्तम् शास्त्रतः तदा || १-१४-३१
31. shraamite tu = in animal sacrifices, but; tatra = there; hayaH tathaa ye jala charaaH = horse, like that, those, water, animals [are to be there, them]; sarva evai tan = all, of them; tadaa = then; R^iSibhiH niyuktam shaashtraH = by sages, arranged,. as per scriptures.
The sages have arranged those animals that are to be there in animal sacrifices, like horse and other aquatic animals, in that ritual according to scriptures. [1-14-31]
Many animals are sacrificed in Horse ritual. But they will be segregated as forest animals and village animals. In them many of the forest animals will be let off by taking them round the fire on to their right in salutation to fire, agni paradakshiNa namaskara. The animals pertaining to village will be sacrificed in ritual. Hence it is up to the priests to decide which is to be retained or let off.
पशूनाम् त्रिशतम् तत्र यूपेषु नियतम् तदा |
अश्व रत्नः उत्तमम् तस्य राज्ञो दशरथस्य ह || १-१४-३२
32. tadaa = then; tatra = in that ritual; tri shatam pashuunaam = three, hundred, animals; tasya raaj~naH aswa ratna uttamam = that, king Dasharatha's, horse, gemlike, best one; yuupeSu niyatam = to wooden posts, arranged [tied.]
Three hundred animals are tied to the ritual posts, along with the gemlike best ritual horse of that King Dasharatha. [1-14-32]
कौसल्या तम् हयम् तत्र परिचर्य समंततः |
कृपाणैः विशशासः एनम् त्रिभिः परमया मुदा || १-१४-३३
33. tatra = in that ritual; kausalyaa = Queen Kausalya; tam hayam = that, horse; samantataH paricharya = all around, on making circumambulations; paramayaa mudaa = with great, delight; tribhi kR^ipaaNaiH = with three, knives; vishashaasaH enam = killed, that one - the horse.
With great delight coming on her Queen Kausalya reverently made circumambulations to the horse, and symbolically killed the horse with three knives. [1-14-33]
Here Kausalya did not butcher the horse as queens do not butcher animals in rituals, but the horse is already sacrificed. It is a symbolical act of queens to pierce with three golden knives like needles. The scripture says that all the eligible wives of the performer of ritual have to pierce that way. sauvarNiibhi suuciibhiH patnayoH ashvasya asipathaan kalayanti - shruti / scripture. So all the three queens have performed that symbolic act by piercing that horse, which is already dead, with golden needle-like knives. Govindaraja.
पतत्रिणा तदा सार्धम् सुस्थितेन च चेतसा |
अवसत् रजनीम् एकाम् कौसल्या धर्म कांयया || १-१४-३४
34. kausalyaa = Queen Kausalya; susthitena cha chetasaa = with composed - impassively; dharma kaamaayaa = dharma, desiring for achieving results; patatriNaa saartham = with horse, for results; [where patatri = also means a bird, one that swiftly flew away like a bird; the sacrificed ritual horse is equated with the Divine Eagle garuDa - that conducts the oblations; ekaam rajaniim avasat = one, night, she resided with that horse that flew away.
Queen Kausalya desiring the results of ritual disconcertedly resided one night with that horse that flew away like a bird. [1-14-34]
होता अध्वर्युः तथ उद्गाता हस्तेन समयोजयन् |
महिष्या परिवृत्त्या अथ वावाताम् अपराम् तथा || १-१४-३५
35. atha = then; hotaa adhvaryuH tathaa udgaataa = hotaa, adhwaryu, thus, udgaataa, [the three officiating priests of the ritual]; mahiSyaa parivR^ittyaa = crowned queen, neglected wife of king; vaavaataam cha = concubine of king, also; aparam tathaa = next, thus; hastena samyojayan = by hand, took.
Thus, the officiating priests of the ritual, namely hota, adhwaryu and udgaata have received in their hand the Crowned Queen, the neglected wife, and a concubine of the king, next as a symbolic donation in the ritual by the performer, the king. [1-14-35]
There will be four officiating priests for these Vedic rituals. 1. brahma , 2. hota , 3. adhvaryu , 4. udgaata , to whom the king has to donate his inner core properties like wives, lands etc. By practice a king has to marry four wives. The four women of the king are 1. mahiSi = Queen, 2. parivR^itti = neglected women, 3. vaavaata = concubine, 4. paalaakali = goblet-maid. The order of donation is that the Queen to brahma , concubine to hota , neglected woman to udgaata , and the goblet-maid to the adhwaryu . Here, though the brahma ritvik is not cited along with paalaakali, goblet-maid, they are implied. The donation is symbolic and later bartering with some valuable items that is redeemed. Govindaraja. There is another way of translating this. For the wording, hastena samayojayan the priests took these wives by hand to bring them in contact with the dead horse.
पतत्रिणः तस्य वपाम् उद्धृत्य नियतेइन्द्रियः |
ऋत्विक् परम संपन्नः श्रपयामास शास्त्रतः || १-१४-३६
36. udhR^itya niyata indriyaH = took up, one with controlled senses; patatriNaH tasya vapaam = horse's, fat [omentum]; R^itwik parama sampannaH = ritwik, priest, very, wealthy in knowledge; shrapayamaasa shaastrataH = cooked, as per scriptures.
Then the priest, one with controlled senses and rich in scriptural wealth, took up the omentum [fat] of the horse and cooked it as per scriptures while dropping into the altar of fire to bake as a food to the celestials. [1-14-36]
Some more scholars give a non-violent touch to this act and they say that a medicinal plant ,is offered in altar and its smell is smelt. That plant is substituted for omentum of the horse, and the wording is read differently. When the sequence is running on horse and horse's body parts how a medical plant is brought in, is unclear. And some say that a horse will not have omentum according to Vedic texts.
धूम गन्धम् वपायाः तु जिघ्रति स्म नराधिपः |
यथा कालम् यथा न्यायम् निर्णुदन् पापम् आत्मनः || १-१४-३७
37. naraadhipaH = King; yathaa kaalam yathaa nyaayam = as per time, as per procedure; nirNudan paapam aatmanaH = to cleanse, sin, his own; dhuuma gamdham vapaaya tu = smoke's, smell, of fat [omentum being cooked]; jighrati sma = smelling, he is.
The king Dasharatha smelt the smell of smoke as per time and procedure to cleanse his own sin. [1-14-37]
हयस्य यानि च अंगानि तानि सर्वाणि ब्राह्मणाः |
अग्नौ प्रास्यन्ति विधिवत् समस्ताः षोडश ऋत्विजः || १-१४-३८
38. hayasya yaani angaani = of horse, which, body-parts are there; taani sarvaaNi = they, all of them; samastaaH R^itwijaH = all, priests; shodasha braahmanaH = sixteen, Brahmans; vidhivat agnou praasyanti = procedurally, in fire, oblated.
Those remaining body parts that horse are there, the sixteen officiating priests have procedurally oblated all of them into fire. [1-14-38]
प्लक्ष शाखासु यज्ञानाम् अन्येषाम् क्रियते हविः |
अश्व मेधस्य यज्ञस्य वैतसो भागः इष्यते || १-१४-३९
39. anyeSaam yaj~naanaam = in other, rituals, haviH plakSa shaakhaasu kriyate = oblation, with plaksha [Ficus Venosa,] tree, on its branches, will be done; aswamedhasya yaj~nasya bhaagaH = Horse sacrifice, of ritual, oblation; vaitasaH iSyate = Vaitasa creepe, is to be done.
In other rituals the oblations will be offered into sacrificial fire with spoon-like sticks of plaksha tree, but in Horse-sacrifice ritual they are offered through the vetasa creeper, a rattan plant, cane. [1-14-39]
त्र्यहोऽश्व मेधः संख्यातः कल्प सूत्रेण ब्राह्मणैः |
चतुष्टोमम् अहः तस्य प्रथमम् परिकल्पितम् || १-१४-४०
40. braahmanaiH = by penultimate parts of Veda-s; kalpa suutreNa = according to kalpa, rules; tri ahaH = for three, days; aswamedhaH samkhyaataH = Horse ritual, is said [ to be performed]; tasya prathamam ahaH chatuSTomaH parikalpitam = its, first one, is said to be, chatuhSToma, is arranged.
The Horse Ritual is to be performed for three days as laid down in kalpa sutra-s, the rules governing such rituals, and by brahmaNa-s, the penultimate parts of Veda-s, and the one performed on the first day is called chatuhSToma ritual. [1-14-40]
उक्थ्यम् द्वितीयम् संख्यातम् अतिरात्रम् तथोत्तरम् |
कारिताः तत्र बहवो विहिताः शास्त्र दर्शनात् || १-१४-४१
41. dvitiiyam ukthyam = second one, is ukthyam; tatha uttaram atiraatram samkhyaatam = likewise, later one, is atiraatra, said to be as; tatra = in that ritual; shaashtra darshanaat = as scriptures, have envisaged; vihitaaH bahavaH kaaritaaH = as ordained, many, have been performed.
The ritual on the second day is called ukthyam , and the next one performed on third day is called atiraatra. These apart many of the preordained rituals are performed there in that ritual as envisaged in scriptures. [1-14-41]
The horse-ritual is conducted only for three days. But Dasharatha got it performed with more variously connected rituals, in all his eagerness to appease gods for progeny.
ज्योतिष्टोम आयुषी च एवम् अतिरात्रौ विनिर्मितौ |
अभिजित् विश्वजित् च एवम् अप्तोर्यामो महाक्रतुः || १-१४-४२
42. jyothiSToma aayuSii = jyothiSToma, fire ritual, aayu yaaga, Longevity rituals; evam = like that; atiraatrou vinirmitou = atiraatri rituals, performed; abhijit vishwajit evam = abhijit ritual, vishwajit rituals, thus; aptoryaama mahaa kratuH = aptoryaama, great, ritual are conducted.
The rituals called jyothiSToma, aayuSi, and atiraatra rituals are performed. And also rituals of great kind like abhijit, vishwajit, aptoryaama are performed. [1-14-42]
प्राचीम् होत्रे ददौ राजा दिशम् स्वकुल वर्धनः
अध्वर्यवे प्रतीचीम् तु ब्रह्मणे दक्षिणाम् दिशम् || १-१४-४३
उद्गात्रे च तथा उदीचीम् दक्षिणैएषा विनिर्मिता |
अश्वमेधे महायज्ञे स्वयंभु विहिते पुरा || १-१४-४४
43,44. sva kula vardhanaH = self, dynasty, developer [to promote his own dynasty]; raajaa = king; hotre praachiim disham dadau = to hota, east, side, donated; adhvaryane patiichiim tu = to adhvaryu, west [side,] and; brahmaNe dakshiNa dishaam = to Brahma, southward, direction; tathaa = thus; udgaatre udiichiim = to udgaataa, northern side gave away; puraa svayambhuu vihite = earlier, by the Self-Created Brahma, as ordained; aswamedhe mahaa yaj~ne = in aswamedha, great ritual; eSaa dakshiNa vinirmitaa = this way, donation, built [stipulated].
As the promoter of his own dynasty that king Dasharatha donated eastern side to hota, western to adhvaryu, and southern to brahma. And to udgaata northern side is given in donation. These were the donations stipulated in that great ritual, ashwamedha, by the Self-Created Brahma from earlier times. [1-14-44,43]
क्रतुं समाप्य तु तदा न्यायतः पुरुषर्षभः |
ऋत्विग्भ्यो हि ददौ राजा धराम् ताम् कुलवर्धनः || १-१४-४५
45. pursharSabha raajaa = man, the best king Dasharatha; kula vardhana = dynasty, promoter of; kratum samaapya = ritual, on completing; tadaa nyaayataH = then, justifiably; taam dharaam R^itvigbhyaH dadou = those, lands, to ritwiks, donated.
On completing the ritual thus that best man Dasharatha justifiably donated those lands to the officiating priests, called ritwiks, to promote of his dynasty. [1-14-45]
एवम् दत्त्वा प्रहृष्टो अभूत् श्रीमान् इक्ष्वाकु नन्दन |
ऋत्विजः तु अब्रुवन् सर्वे राजानम् गत किल्बिषम् || १-१४-४६
46. evam dattvaa = thus, having given; shriimaan ikshvaaku nandana = that glorious one, in Ikshvaku dynasty, on born in; prahR^iSTaH abhuut = gladdened, he became; tu = but; sarve R^itwijaH = all, officiating priests; raajaanam gata kilbiSam = to king, who by now is rid of, sin; abruvan = said.
Thus on giving away the vast expanses of his kingdom he that glorious one born in Ikshvaku dynasty is gladdened, but all the officiating priests said to the king who by now is rid of his sins. [1-14-46]
भवान् एव महीम् कृत्स्नाम् एको रक्षितुम् अर्हति |
न भूंया कार्यम् अस्माकम् न हि शक्ताः स्म पालने || १-१४-४७
47. bhavaan ekaH eva = you, alone, only; kR^itsnaam mahiim rakSitum arhati = in its entirety, earth, to protect, are capable; asmaakam bhuumyaa na kaaryam = for us, with lands, no, work; na paalane shaktaa sma = not, in ruling, capable, we are.
"You alone are capable to protect the earth in its entirety, and there is no use for us with these lands, and we are not capable to rule it, either." Thus the priests are addressing the king. [1-14-47]
रताः स्वाध्याय करणे वयम् नित्यम् हि भूमिप |
निष्क्रयम् किंचित् एव इह प्रयच्छतु भवान् इति || १-१४-४८
48. vayam nityam = we, always; svaadhyaaya karaNe = in self study of teachings; rataaH = preoccupied; bhavaan = you; bhuumi pa = oh, land, ruler of king; iha = in this aspect; kimchit niSkrayam = something, price [ay modest thing]; prayacChatu iti = now, be given, by thus.
"We are always preoccupied with self-study and teaching of scriptures, oh, king, thus you may give us something else in barter, any modest thing. " [1-14-48]
मणि रत्नम् सुवर्णम् वा गावो यद् वा समुद्यतम् |
तत् प्रयच्छ नरश्रेष्ट धरण्या न प्रयोजनम् || १-१४-४९
49. nara shreSTa = man, the best; maNi ratnam suvarNam vaa = gems, best, gold, or; gaavaH yat vaa samudyatam = cows, whatever, else, [whatever that is,] available; tat pra yacCha- = that, you may give; dharaNyaa prayojanam na = with vast expanses, what is the use, none.
"Let best gems, gold, or cows or anything else that is available you may give us, what is the use of these vast expanses to us." So said the scholars. [1-14-49]
एवम् उक्तो नरपतिः ब्राह्मणैः वेद पारगैः |
गवाम् शत सहस्राणि दश तेभ्यो ददौ नृपः || १-१४-५०
दश कोटि सुवर्णस्य रजतस्य चतुर् गुणम् |
50, 51a. narapatiH = people's lord; nR^ipaH = that king veda paaragaaH braahmaNaiH = by Vedic scholars, Brahmans; evam uktaH = thus, one who is said so the king; tebhyaH = to them; gavaam dasha shata sahasraaNi = cows, hundred, thousand, ten [ten lakhs i.e., 10,00,000, a million]; suvarNasya = of gold [coins]; dasha kotiH = ten of, ten million; rajatasya chatur guNam = silver [coins,] four, times [of gold coins]; dadau = he gave.
The king Dasharatha, the lord of people, thus requested by the scholarly Vedic Brahmans gave them millions of cows, ten of ten million gold coins, and the silver four times thereof. [1-14-50, 51a]
Silver is prohibited for donation in such rituals, but here it is being given as barter for the lands earlier donated, hence it is an acceptable item.
ऋत्विजः च ततः सर्वे प्रददुः सहिता वसु || १-१४-५१
ऋष्यशृन्गाय मुनये वसिष्ठाय च धीमते |
51b, 52a. tataH ritwijaH sarve sahitaa = then, officiating priests, all, collectively; vasu = that wealth; R^iSyasR^ingaaya munaye vashiSThaaya cha dhiimate = to Rishyasringa, to Sage Vashishta, also, enlightened; pradaduH = they gave.
Then all those officiating priests collectively gave that wealth to sage Rishyasringa and to the enlightened sage Vashishta. [1-14-51b, 52a]
ततः ते न्यायतः कृत्वा प्रविभागम् द्विजोत्तमाः || १-१४-५२
सुप्रीत मनसः सर्वे प्रत्यूचुः मुदिता भृशम् |
52b, 53a. tataH = then; su priita manasaH = well, satisfied, at heart; te dwijottamaaH = those, Brahmans, best ones; sarve = all of them; nyaayataH = justifiably; pra vibhaagam kR^itvaa = dividends, on distributing [among themselves]; bhR^isham muditaaH = highly, gladdened [we are]; thus; prati uuchuH = they said.
Then all of those Brahmans are well satisfied at heart and distributed among themselves the wealth passed on by Rishyasringa and Vashishta, and then they said, "We are highly gladdened." [1-14-52a, 53a]
ततः प्रसर्पकेभ्यस्तु हिरण्यम् सुसमाहितः || १-१४-५३
जांबूनदम् कोओटि संख्यम् ब्राह्मणेभ्यो ददौ तदा |
53b, 54a. tataH = thereafter; tada = then; susamaahitaH = sincerly [the king]; prasarpakebhyaH braahmaNebhyaH = to those who have come to see the ritual, to Brahmans; koti samkhyam = one crore [ten million,] in number; jaambuunadam = [the gold that has come out] of Jambu river; hiraNyam = coins; dadau = donated.
Then to the other Brahmans who arrived there to see the ritual, King Dasharatha sincerly donated ten million gold coins. [1-14-53b, 54a]
दरिद्राय द्विजाय अथ हस्त आभरणम् उत्तमम् || १-१४-५४
कस्मै चित् याचमानाय ददौ राघव नंदनः |
54b, 55a. atha = then; raaghava nandana = Raghava's descendent; yaachamaanaaya kasmaiH daridraaya dwijaaya = one who is beseeching, someone, impoverished, Brahman; uttamam hasta aabharaNam dadau = excellent, hand's, ornament, gave.
That descendent of Raghava dynasty gave an excellent hand ornament to someone who is an impoverished Brahman and who is beseeching. [1-14-54a, 55a]
ततः प्रीतेषु विधिवत् द्विजेषु द्विज वत्सलः || १-१४-५५
प्रणामम् अकरोत् तेषाम् हर्ष व्याकुलित इन्द्रियः |
55b, 56a. tataH = then; dwija vatsalaH = Brahmans, patron of Dasharatha; dwijeSu priiteSu satsu = Brahmans, while happy, they are becoming; harSa vyaakula indriyaH = with happiness [coming on,] fluttering, senses; teSaam vidhivat praNaamam akarot = to them, dutifully, veneration, he made.
While those Brahmans are becoming happy then that king and the patron of Brahmans venerated them dutifully with his senses fluttering with happiness. [1-14-55b, 56a]
तस्य आशिषोऽथ विविधा ब्राह्मणैः समुदाहृताः || १-१४-५६
उदारस्य नृवीरस्य धरण्याम् पतितस्य च |
56b, 57a. atha = then; udaarasya nR^i viirasya = benevolent, king, valiant one; dharaNyaam patitasya = on ground, who is prostrating; tasya = for him; braahmaNaiH vividhaa aashiSaH sam udiiritaaH = by Brahmans, various, blessings, are chanted.
Then that benevolent and valiant King Dasharatha prostrated on ground venerating the Brahmans, and the Brahmans too chanted various blessing hymns on that prostrating king. [1-14-56b, 57a]
The blessings are also Vedic hymns and particular parts of Vedic hymns are chanted for particular occasion called aashiirwachana hymns. To date this practice is continued where a Brahmin priest is commissioned to perform even a domestic ritual. In effect, it shall be construed that these are not the blessings of the Brahmin priests who are chanting, but it is the blessing of Veda itself.
ततः प्रीत मना रजाअ प्राप्य यज्ञम् अनुत्तमम् || १-१४-५७
पाप अपहम् स्वर् नयनम् दुस्तरम् पार्थिवर्षभैः |
57b, 58a. tataH raajaa = then, king; paapa apaham swar nayanam = sin, removing, to heaven, leading; parthiva rSabhaiH dustaram = by kings, best ones, impossible to undertake; anuttamam yaj~nam = excellent, ritual; praapya = having achieved; priita manaa = gladdened, at heart, [abhavat = he became.]
Then that king is gladdened at heart for the successful achievement of the completion of that excellent ritual that removes sin and that leads to heaven as well, and that which cannot be undertaken by many of the best kings. [1-14-57b, 58a]
ततोऽब्रवीत् ऋश्य्शृंगम् राजा दशरथः तदा || १-१४-५८
कुलस्य वर्धनम् त्वम् तु कर्तुम् अर्हसि सुव्रत |
58b, 59a. tataH = thereafter; raajaa dasharatha = king, Dasharatha; tadaa = then; R^iSyasR^ingam abraviit = to Rishyasringa, said; su vrata = oh, one with best vows; tvam tu = you, alone; kulasya vardhanam = dynasty's, expansion [oriented ritual]; kartum arhasi = to perform, it is apt of you.
Thereafter king Dasharatha said to sage Rishyasringa thus, "oh, sage with best vows, you alone are eligible to perform the ritual for the expansion of my dynasty." [1-14-58b, 59a]
तथेति च स राजानम् उवाच द्विजसत्तमः |
भविष्यन्ति सुता राजन् चत्वारः ते कुलोद्वहाः || १-१४-५९
59b, c. dwija sattamaH = Brahmin, the best; tathaa iti = like that only; raajaanam uvaacha = to king, said; raajan = oh, king; te kula udvahaH = your, dynasty, to ennoble; chatvaaraH sutaa bhaviSyanti = four, sons, there will be.
That best Brahman Rishyasringa saying yes to the proposal, said this to king Dasharatha, "oh, king, there will be four sons to you that ennoble your dynasty. [1-14-59b, c]
स तस्य वाक्यम् मधुरम् निशंय
प्रणंय तस्मै प्रयतो नृपेन्द्र |
जगाम हर्षम् परमम् महात्मा
तम् ऋष्यश्ऱ्^ङ्गम् पुनरपि उवाच || १-१४-६०
60. tasya vaakyam madhuram nishamya = he [the king,] his [Sage's,] words, sweet ones, on hearing; saH nR^ip indra = he, that king, of kings; jagaama harSam paramam mahaatmaa = went into, gladness, very much, great-souled; praNamya tasmai prayataH = venerating, to him, again; tam R^iSyashR^i~Ngam punaH api uvaacha = to him, to Rishyasringa, again said.
On hearing the sweet words of Sage Rishyasringa, he that king of kings Dasharatha went into a state of ecstasy and venerating that great soul, Rishyasringa, again said this to him. [1-14-60]
Vedic yajna-s are the rituals of many kinds. Mainly there are 21 types of these yajna-s, 1] sapta paaka yajna-s are 7; 2] sapta havir yajna-s are 7; 3] sapta soma yajna-s are 7. Apart from these rituals, there are rituals for the overall development of society at large, called abhyudayaka yajna-s and under them categorised are: 1] ashvanmedha, 2] raajasuuya, 3] paunDariika, 4] bR^ihaspati sava, and some more are there. These grand scale rituals require a great patronage and support, not only of money but also of a variety of paraphernalia that go into the ritual. Hence only kings and emperors of yester years could conduct them.
The yaaga shaala The Hall of Vedic ritual will be erected with platforms containing areas 1] yuupa stambha-s wooden posts to which the animals are tied. There will be 21 such posts, staked in the Vedic ritual hall, along with a half post staked near at the main altar; 2] uttara vedi, posterior platform; 3] dasha pada, platform for scholars; 4] havirdhaana, place for oblatory paraphernalia; 5] sadas, place for assemblages; 6] agnihotra shaala, place of sacrificial fire; 7] vedi, main Altar of Fire; 8] patnii shaala, place for the wife / wives of the performer and other females. The main activity of the ritual is around the vedi, the 7th item as above, where a garuDa vedi, an Eagle shaped Alter of Fire will be constructed with bricks, where the brick laying and paving itself is a ritual, called iSTikaa chayana . Into this yajna vedi, Altar of Fire, all the oblations are poured.
The Hindu temples will be built in accordance with the layout of yajna shaala, since the daily puuja, at home or in a temple, is a micro-yajna, equable to Vedic Ritual itself. The layout of the temple is comparable to the above layout of yajna shaala .
1] dhavaja sthambha, flag post; 2] bali griha, sacrificial house; 3] bali piiTtha sacrificial platform, where usually the fruits, coconuts, prasada, food items etc., are presented to the deity firstly, before the devotee partakes them, as a kind of sacrifice; 4] havirdhana, preparatory places for havis, the food for sacrifice, usually in north-east or south-west corners; 5] mandapa open hall, where Vedic recitations are chanted; 6] garbha griha, sanctum sanctorum, in this there are two places one is, 7] pratishtha, the place where the picturesque idol is installed, and the other, 8] shakti sthaana, where the power of the installed deity will be installed, in the form of an yantra, a geometrical layout or other form. [For more information, please turn to The cultural Heritage of India, Vol IV, Religion.]
The next epitome of yajna, is human body. It is said that deho devalayaH proktaH ‘human body itself is a temple...’ The above places of Ritual Hall or a Temple are located on body as this: 1] sthuupi [kalasha], the top most golden pot of flagpoist of temple; 2] mahaa nashi the right nostril and kshudra nasi, left nostril; 3] shikhara, temple tower; 4] ghaTa, neck like structure; 5] prastaaram, shoulder like structure of temple; 6] paada, trunk of temple; 7] adhiSTaana, elevation; 8] upa piiTha, secondary seating. This is compared with human body as: Item 1] to human pate with hair-locks; 2] eye - on right and nose on left [for humans have one-eyed vision of God, where God is Omniscient; 3] face; 4] neck; 5] shoulders; 6] arms; 7] leg and thigh; 8] foot.
‘A temple is not a home of god but it is the form of god... the temple layout is the extended form of the rhythm of the innerspace of humans, called dahara aakaasha similar to cosmos of the universe...' [cf. What is a temple? What is its significance? Ganapathi Sthapati, Vaastu Vedic Research Foundation, Chennai, India.] Thus human body itself is identified with the temple, and the temple in turn with Vedic yajna shaala , and therefore it is said to keep the body clean and mind pure... which again is a Vedic import.
The grand scale yajna-s as described in these epics like Ramayana and Maha Bharata are non-existent. But in recent times, such types of yajna-s were conducted on two occasions, once in 1975 and again in 1990. Here are some excerpts from The Indian Express, daily newspaper, published during May 1990: ‘Prof. Frits Staal, with financial assistance from several American funding agencies including the Smithsonian Institute and the Rockefeller Foundation, organized the agni chayana ritual in 1975. In spite of innumerable hurdles, Staal succeeded in persuading the elderly nambudri-s [scholarly priests of Vedic lore] to put together a team of ritualists old and young, give them through training, hold rehearsals for several months and finally put up performance for filming and documentation. Staal followed this up with the publication of his book called Agni ...'
Readers who are interested to know more about yajna, the Vedic ritual, may please look for the works of Prof. Frits Staal, Indologist, at whose instance such rituals were conducted in Southern India. The two-volume book of Prof. Frits Staal: AGNI: The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar, running over some two thousand pages. Another book is The Mantra, which is an attempt to analyse the Vedic Hymns, published by State University of New York Press, State University Plaza, Albany, N.Y., 12246, also now available with Indian Book Centre, Delhi
According to Staal, a Vedic ritual is very different from a health cure, a psychoanalyst session, an anthropological meeting or a religious service. Staal maintains that a Vedic ritual follows its own principles and leads a life of its own. He points out that a Vedic ritual requires very detailed and specific knowledge. He estimates that the extent of specialised knowledge needed to put the sacrificial altar together ritually is on a par with the extent of technical knowledge required to build an aeroplane. ‘The bird shaped altar is in fact a kind of aeroplane…’ says Stall ‘only it takes off in a different way…’ Scientific evaluations were also made on the changes occurred on physical and metaphysical levels on the individuals who performed the ritual, by experts from Canada and in association with Prague Institute of Czechoslovakia. Kirlion photography was also undertook by Mrs. Rose Mary Steel from London to record aura or the Electro-magnetic radiation around the human organism and hundreds of pictures of not only the performers but also of the visiting people and of their finger tips are recorded.
Usually at the end of any Vedic ritual the Hall of Ritual, a thatched shed, will be put to fire. This called puurNa aahuti, complete oblation into fire. And then a rain occurs. It used to rain every time when the ritual is totally offered as an oblation into fire at the conclusion of such a ritual. ‘The association between the yajna and rain is indelible. Did it rain on [the day of puurNa aahuti ] i.e., May 9, 1990? It did...’ The Illustrated Weekly of India, May 27, 1990.
इति वाल्मीकि रामायणे आदिकाव्ये बाल काण्डे चतुर्दशः सर्गः ||
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© 1999, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao [Revised: March 04]