Why Dasharatha Performed Ashwamedha Yaga To Beget Children

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Is Ashwamedha Yaga still practiced today?

No, the Ashwamedha Yaga is no longer practiced today. It was more common in ancient times, but as political boundaries and international relations changed over time, it is no longer performed.

What is the significance of Ashwamedha Yaga?

The Ashwamedha Yaga is seen as a symbol of the king's power and sovereignty. It is believed that by performing this ritual, the king could establish his authority over neighboring kingdoms and consolidate his power. It also assures the king a place in the Swargaloka.

Quiz

What is the literal meaning of the term 'Ashwamedha' in Ashwamedha Yaga?

We are seeing about the Ashwamedha yaga that king Dasharatha performed to beget children. Some details. Minister Sumantra was given the task of inviting the Ritwiks, the purohitas who would perform the yajna. They are all Veda-paragas, who have seen the other end of the vedas. And Sumantra is famous as त्वरितविक्रमः,very fast and very efficient. After they all came, Dasharatha formally requested them to perform the Ashwamedha Yaga on his behalf. They agreed and told him to make all arrangements. Arrangements are very el....

We are seeing about the Ashwamedha yaga that king Dasharatha performed to beget children.
Some details.
Minister Sumantra was given the task of inviting the Ritwiks, the purohitas who would perform the yajna.
They are all Veda-paragas, who have seen the other end of the vedas.
And Sumantra is famous as त्वरितविक्रमः,very fast and very efficient.
After they all came, Dasharatha formally requested them to perform the Ashwamedha Yaga on his behalf.
They agreed and told him to make all arrangements.
Arrangements are very elaborate.
Precision and details are very important in such yagas.
Even water of four types is to be brought.
That too not from one place, from the four different directions.
Four types of water means - वर्ष्याः, कूप्याः, स्थावराः, आवहन्त्यः - rain water, water from well, water from big water bodies such as lakes, water from rivers.
Not just rain water, आतपति वर्ष्यः - water from rains when sunlight is also there.
Why four different sources?
Because the horse is representative of Prajapati the creator.
Horse has got four hoofs.
Yagas are creative processes.
Creative process of nature is to be replicated.
Earlier we saw the rope used to tie the horse should be 12 aratness long because 12 stands for 12 months and the horse is to be set free for 12 months.
And the rope should be made of Munja grass which stands for energy, vitality.
What is the significance of water here?
अन्नं वा आपः - without water there is no food.
अन्नार रेतः - without food there is semen, there is no seed.
See, how everything is interconnected.
Water stands for fertility, water behind fertility.
Semen is a dhatu produced in the body from food.
Food comes from water.
So by bringing water into the yaga vedi, fertility is being brought in.
These four kinds of waters stand for four different things.
Rain water for heat, well water for light, water from large water bodies for stability, water from rivers for movement, all four are essential in life.
The horse is set free to go wherever it wants.
It may even wander into the neighboring kingdom.
In Ashwamedha, wherever the horse goes that territory will become that of the king.
Ashwamedha is done by kings who want to expand their kingdom.
राजा सार्वभौमोऽश्वमेधेन यजेत those who want to become king of kings, emperor, they do Ashwamedha.
The whole yaga represents the kingdom.
The horse in particular represents the existing kingdom.
As it wanders into new territory, encompassing more and more, the kingdom expands.
The yajamana, the king has to make sure that his present kingdom is protected even as he is expanding it.
400 people along with the Ritwiks are sent along with the horse for its protection.
Out of these 400 - 100 are experts in attack.
100 are experts in defense.
100 take care of economic aspects.
100 are regular workers.
Going by the varna dharma -
200 kshatriyas.
100 vaishyas.
100 shudras.
And the Ritwiks are Brahmanas.
And expansion is again a creative process.
That's why the horse stands for Prajapati.
Horse is Prajapati in the expansion mode.
Everything that makes a nation is represented here in the horse's moving about - knowledge, protection, economics and regular work.
If Ashwamedha is for expansion of kingdom then why is Dasharatha doing Ashwamedha to beget children?
Dasharatha is very intelligent and well versed in the Vedas.
He thought, I will be able to go to Swarga only if I get a son.
So by doing a yaga that will take me to Swarga that will also ensure that I beget children.
But then there are other yagas that can take one to Swarga.
But Dasharatha wants to live like a king even in Swarga.
Dasharatha means what?
His chariot rolls in all ten directions.
All the eight directions on the surface of earth and also up towards Swarga and down towardsPathala.
Can there be a better yaga than Ashwamedha which will get him children as well as royal life in Swarga?
Hierarachy exists in Swarga also.
There are all kinds of inhabitants in Swarga - soldiers, dancers, ordinary workers.
Dasharatha wants to live like a king even there.
That's why he chose Ashwamedha.
Veda says - शतेन राजपुत्रैः सहाध्वर्युः पुरस्तात्प्रत्यङ् तिष्ठन्प्रोक्षत्यनेनाश्वेन मेध्येनेष्ट्वायं राजा वृत्रं वध्यादिति - by doing Ashwamedha the king becomes so powerful that he can kill Vritrasura.
Who killed Vritrasura ?
Indra.
That means Dasharatha will become as powerful as indra.
But to become the real indra, king of Swarga, performance of 100 Ashwamedhas are needed.
Dasharatha is performing one Ashwamedha.
But still he will hold the position of a royalty in Swarga.

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