Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ashvamedha - Buddhist Dharma Class

I am not sure actually still why Chris Chapple has talked about the Ashvamedha several times but he has.  This is what I know about it.

A king raises and follow a horse for twelve years  Sexual relations are performed with this horse.  Then the horse is killed and the body parts are eaten.  The represent symbolicly the moon, sun, universe and stars.

According to Wikipedia:

The Ashvamedha (Sanskrit: अश्वमेध aśvamedhá; "horse sacrifice") was one of the most important royal rituals of Vedic religion, described in detail in the Yajurveda (TS 7.1-5, VSM 22–25[1] and the pertaining commentary in the Shatapatha Brahmana ŚBM 13.1–5). The Rigveda does have descriptions of horse sacrifice, notably in hymns RV 1.162-163 (which are themselves known as aśvamedha), but does not allude to the full ritual according to the Yajurveda.
As per Brahma Vaivarta Purana (185.180),[2] the Ashvamedha is one of five rites forbidden in the Kali Yuga, the present age.

The Ashvamedha could only be conducted by a king (rājā). Its object was the acquisition of power and glory, the sovereignty over neighbouring provinces, and general prosperity of the kingdom.
The horse to be sacrificed must be a stallion, more than 24, but less than 100 years old. The horse is sprinkled with water, and the Adhvaryu and the sacrificer whisper mantras into its ear. The horse is then set loose towards the North-East, to roam around wherever it chooses, for the period of one year (or half a year, according to some commentators). The horse is associated with the Sun, and its yearly course. If the horse wanders into neighbouring provinces hostile to the sacrificer, they must be subjugated. The wandering horse is attended by a hundred young men, sons of princes or high court officials, charged with guarding the horse from all dangers and inconvenience. During the absence of the horse, an uninterrupted series of ceremonies is performed in the sacrificer's home.
After the return of the horse, more ceremonies are performed. The horse is yoked to a gilded chariot, together with three other horses, and RV 1.6.1,2 (YV VSM 23.5,6) is recited. The horse is then driven into water and bathed. After this, it is anointed with ghee by the chief queen and two other royal consorts. The chief queen anoints the fore-quarters, and the others the barrel and the hind-quarters. They also embellish the horse's head, neck, and tail with golden ornaments. The sacrificer offers the horse the remains of the night's oblation of grain.
After this, the horse, a hornless he-goat, a wild ox (go-mrga, Bos gavaeus) are bound to sacrificial stakes near the fire, and seventeen other animals are attached to the horse. A great number of animals, both tame and wild, are tied to other stakes, according to a commentator 609 in total (YV VSM 24 consists of an exact enumeration).
Then the horse is slaughtered (YV VSM 23.15, tr. Griffith)
Steed, from thy body, of thyself, sacrifice and accept thyself.
Thy greatness can be gained by none but thee.
The chief queen ritually calls on the king's fellow wives for pity. The queens walk around the dead horse reciting mantras. The chief queen then has to mimic copulation with the dead horse, while the other queens ritually utter obscenities.[3]
On the next morning, the priests raise the queen from the place where she has spent the night with the horse. With the Dadhikra verse (RV 4.39.6, YV VSM 23.32), a verse used as a purifier after obscene language.
The three queens with a hundred golden, silver and copper needles indicate the lines on the horse's body along which it will be dissected. The horse is dissected, and its flesh roasted. Various parts are offered to a host of deities and personified concepts with utterances of svaha "all-hail". The Ashvastuti or Eulogy of the Horse follows (RV 1.162, YV VSM 24.24–45), concluding with:
May this Steed bring us all-sustaining riches, wealth in good kine, good horses, manly offspring
Freedom from sin may Aditi vouchsafe us: the Steed with our oblations gain us lordship!
The priests performing the sacrifice were recompensed with a part of the booty won during the wandering of the horse. According to a commentator, the spoils from the east were given to the Hotar, while the Adhvaryu a maiden (a daughter of the sacrificer) and the sacrificer's fourth wife.
The Shatapatha Brahmana emphasizes the royal nature of the Ashvamedha:
Verily, the Asvamedha means royal sway: it is after royal sway that these strive who guard the horse. (ŚBM trans. Eggeling 1900)
It repeatedly states that "the Asvamedha is everything" (ŚBM trans. Eggeling 1900)
The Ashvamedha, the highest expression of royal authority, is a soma sacrifice and incorporates other important sacrifices. The Ashvamedha is intended to secure prosperity for the kingdom and its subjects. It is a bloody sacrifice in which the domestic animals are killed and non-domestic animals are set free. It ends with a further sacrifice of twenty one cows. Gifts are then given to the officers, culminating in the gift to the priests of the four wives of the king or their attendants. . The human sacrifice, the Purushamedha, followed a similar format, but included a man with the animals to be sacrificed. The price of the man was set at one thousand cows and a hundred horses. Like the horse, the man chosen for sacrifice was allowed to wander for a year. Once he had been killed, the queen lay with his corpse.[4]
The Ashvamedha celebrated the king as king of the whole world, not as king of a part of the world that constituted his kingdom. The stature of a king was not related to a particular part of the world that might have been his kingdom. As in ancient Rome, the horse was considered a noble animal and was associated with the military class. When the Asvamedha has been performed in historical times, it has been more to demonstrate Vedic orthodoxy than for genuinely religious reasons.[5]
The Laws of Manu refer to the Ashvamedha (V.53): 'The man who offers a horse-sacrifice every day for a hundred years, and the man who does not eat meat, the two of them reap the same fruit of good deeds.'[6]

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