[Advaita-l] A lost Vedic ritual is brought alive

Abhishek RK rkabhi at gmail.com
Wed Oct 26 07:10:49 CDT 2005

  Could the scholars on this list elaborate about this Yagam? What is a
"Snarta" Yagam? Is it "Smarta"?
A lost Vedic ritual is brought alive

Hyderabad: The ancient ritual of Ashwamedha Yagam, conducted by emperors to
extend their domains, will be resurrected in Hyderabad on December 11. In
the modern age, however, the ritual is intended to extend the domain of
peace and tranquillity across the world. The Hyderabad-based Aananda
Aashramam will conduct the Ashwamedha Yagam and will invite people of all
religions to take part in it and offer prayers for the well-being of

It was a popular Vedic ritual in ancient India but became rare in the last
2,000 years. "It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Dr P.V. Sesha
Sai, the yaga kartha or organiser. Ashwamedha Yagam is of two kinds — Snarta
Ashwamedha Yagam and Srouta Ashwamedha Yagam. Kings used to perform Srouta
Yagam and would sacrifice a horse at the end of the ritual. The Snarta Yagam
was performed by saints without animal sacrifice.

"We are going to observe the Snarta variety in Hyderabad, reviving a
tradition which became extinct long ago," said Dr Sesha Sai. It is a Vedic
ritual which has a deeply secular and political dimensions. The role of the
priest is not as prominent as in other rituals. The sankalpa for the yagam
took place in the month of Maha Maghi (February). "We have selected a bright
day of Margasira maas coupled with Sunday and Revati Star to hold the
yagam," said Dr Sai. "It will be on for eight days."

Jagadguru Sri Ganeshananda Bharathi Maha-swami will bless the yagam which
will be performed as per Vedic traditions. Along with Ashwamedha Yagam,
priests will also conduct other yagams. Individuals aspiring for "political
prosperity" can take part in Sri Sowra Yagam. Sri Varuna Yagam will bring
timely rains and Sri Runa Vimochana Pasupatam will help a person escape from
debt traps.

The priests will also conduct Sri Kanya Pasupatam (for marriage), Sri Kubera
Pasupatam (for business success), Sri Mrutyunjaya Homam (for long life), and
Sri Navagraha Pasupatam (for relief from bad times) along with the main
yagam. Dr Sesha Sai said that there was a clear difference between
Ashwamedha (horse sacrifice) which is held as an outward rite and the one
held as an "inward" one.
The external rite was performed by kings.

However, the horse is also the symbol for life-energy inside the human being
and in the cosmos. Medha means "offering" as well as "intelligence". In the
"inward rite", Ashwamedha is an offering of the life force to the deity.

As part of the ritual, 108 couples, 108 students, 108 housewives and 108
girls will be honoured. In tune with the times, a Sarva Dharma Sammelan will
also be held.
The yagam will be held in about 100 acres of land and 300 Vedic scholars
will participate in it. And of course, horses will be very much part of the
bhava Sankara deSika me saraNam

sadASiva samArambham SankaracArya madhymam
asmadAcArya paryantam vande guru paramparam

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