Friday, 21 October 2005

Ashwamedha Yagam: A rare ritual resurrected in Hyderabad

October 21, 2005
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 20: Come December 11 and Hyderabad will witness the revival of a rare Vedic ritual that was practised by saints and kings thousands of years ago.
City-based Aananda Aashramam will organise the "Ashwamedha Yagam", a quite popular Vedic ritual in ancient India but gradually lost patronage about 2000 years ago. Being performed for the first time in modern India, Ashwamedha Yagam is aimed at achieving world peace, communal harmony, individual and societal development and general well-being of humanity.
A notable feature of this Yagam is that people of all communities, religions and castes can participate in it offering prayers to the Almighty and invoking His Blessings for all.
"It is once in a life time opportunity. Ashwamedha Yagam is of two types - Snarta Ashwamedha Yagam and Srouta Ashwamedha Yagam. Kings who performed Srouta Ashwamedha Yagam used to sacrifice a horse at the end of it. The Snarta Ashwamedha Yagam was performed by saints and divine personalities without involving animal sacrifice. We are going to observe the Snarta variety in Hyderabad, reviving the tradition that had become extinct long ago," says organiser (Yaga Kartha) Dr PV Sesha Sai.
It is the most solemn and impressive cultic celebration of the Vedas and at the same time it is one of the most secular and political. The priestly role is not here so prominent as in most of the other sacrifices.
The sankalpa for this Yaga took place in the month of Maha Maghi (February) this year and after lot of exercises, we have selected the bright day of Margasira maas coupled with Sunday and Revati Star, which falls on December 11. Initially, we planned for 11 days but it is now reduced to eight days.
Jagadguru Sri Ganeshanada Bharathi Mahaswami will bless the Yagam which is performed as per Vedic traditions. It is a satvik yaga with an objective of Viswa Kalyan and Viswa Shanti. Soorya Yagam, Sri Yagam, Rudra Yagam and Sudharshana Yagam will also be performed as part of the main Ashwamedha Yagam. There will also be Pasupatha Prakriya and Brahmastra all under one roof.
Participant individuals may participate in Sri Sowra Yagam (for political prosperity), Sri Varuna Yagam (timely rains), Sri Runa Vimochana Pasupatam (clearance of debts), Sri Kanya Pasupatam (for marriage), Sri Kubera Pasupatam (business development), Sri Mrutyunjaya Homam (long life), Sri Navagraha Pasupatam (relief from bad incidents). It is the first time that so many sub-yagams are performed along with Ashwamedha Yagam in the country.
Dr Sesha Sai points out that there is a clear distinction between the Ashvamedha (horse sacrifice) as an outward rite and that as an inward yagam. The external rite is declared to be the ‘king of the rites' by Shatapatha Brahmana and the rite was performed by kings. Even though the rite itself is performed over a period of three days, it needed preparation for a year or two.
Ashva the steed is the standard symbol for life-energy or life-power prana both inside the human and in the cosmos and Medha means both `offering' and ‘intelligence'. Ashvamedha for saints means offering of the life-power with all its impulses, desires, enjoyments, frustrations and also its material counterpart. And for kings it is a royal sacrifice offered by a victorious rulers, he explains.
The programme will also include two Avadhanas, honoring of 108 couples,
108 students, 108 housewives and 108 small girls and recitation of Shri Vishnu Parayana for 1000 times, 100,00,000 Kunkumaarchana; Rudrabhishek using 100000 rudraakshaas and 108 Havan Kunds, besides a Sarva Dharma Sammelan to send a signal of oneness of the humankind. About 100 acres of land is selected for the Yagam and 300 Vedic scholars will participate in it. There will be horses, camels, elephants and cows for worship.

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