Ashvamedha, aka: Aśvamedha, Ashva-medha; 9 Definition(s)


Ashvamedha means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, the history of ancient India, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

The Sanskrit term Aśvamedha can be transliterated into English as Asvamedha or Ashvamedha, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism


Ashvamedha in Purana glossary... « previous · [A] · next »

1) Aśvamedha (अश्वमेध).—A country of ancient India which was ruled by a King named Rocamān. Bhīmasena conquered him during the world-wide conquering campaign. (Śloka 8, Chapter 29, Sabhā Parva).

2) Aśvamedha (अश्वमेध).—A yāga. Kings used to conduct this in order to get absolved of all sins. Fixing a victory card on the head of a horse it is allowed to roam about freely. If anybody stops the horse and ties it, the King should go and defeat him in battle and bring back the horse. If you do a hundred such yāgas you can become Indra.*

2) *) Aśvamedha or horse sacrifice was performed by autocrats to establish their supreme sovereignty. For this the horse let out to roam about should go into all countries. Those who opposed the sovereignty of the King could stop the horse and tie it. Then the King had to defeat him before conducting the yāga. The vedas enjoin that the sacrificial horse should be followed by a hundred young men ready to fight those who opposed the King. Indra had conducted a hundred such yāgas.

3) Aśvamedha (अश्वमेध).—Son of King Sahasrānīka (Refer under Sahasrānīka).

Source: Puranic Encyclopaedia

Aśvamedha (अश्वमेध).—Thrice performed by Yudhiṣṭhira.1 One hundred performed by Bali;2 of Ambarīṣa where Vasiṣṭha and Gautama were present.3 Thrice performed by Parīkṣit.4 Performed by Aṅga when gods did not respond to his call.5 A hundred were performed by Pṛthu. But in the last Indra stole away the horse.6 Performed by Indra.7 Performed by Kṛṣṇa at Dvārakā. The sacrificial horse was sent out with a number of warriors to watch its course. All kings including the Pāṇḍavas attended the sacrifice. In the course of the sacrifice a Brāhmaṇa complained of the death of his children immediately after birth. At this Arjuna (s.v.) offered to give succour and recovered them with Kṛṣṇa's aid, from Nārāyaṇa's abode. Nārāyaṇa said that he took the children as a means to see Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in their human form. The avabhṛta of the sacrifice was celebrated in the Yamunā.8 A remedy for brahmicide.9 Performed by Śūdra kings in Kali age;10 of other kings;11 of Ikṣvāku, of Dakṣa, of Suyajña, of Nala, of Śatānīka of Purūravas;12 equal to going to Gayā, bath in the Prayāga and Ganges, koṭihoma, grahabali, etc.13 100 of them performed by Somadatta;14 as efficacious as reading the viṣṇu purāṇa;15 performed by other sages.16

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa I. 8. 6; 10. 2. [1]; 12. 34.
  • 2) Ib. VIII. 15. 34.
  • 3) Ib. IX. 4. 22.
  • 4) Ib. I. 16. 3.
  • 5) Ib. IV. 13. 25.
  • 6) Ib. IV. 16. 24; 19, 1.
  • 7) Ib. VI. 13. 18-20; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 30. 10; Matsya-purāṇa 143. 6-26.
  • 8) Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. 89. 22-64.
  • 9) Ib. VI. 13. 6-9.
  • 10) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 31. 67; Matsya-purāṇa 144. 43.
  • 11) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 34. 24; III. 5. 7; 7. 268; 11. 13-16; 64. 17; 68. 26; 70. 24 and 27; 71. 119; 72. 28; IV. 12. 31.
  • 12) Matsya-purāṇa 12. 10; 12. 15; 44, 23 and 64; 24. 10; Vāyu-purāṇa 105. 10. 32; 111. 17, 51; 112. 31-2.
  • 13) Matsya-purāṇa 22. 6; 28. 6; 53. 15; 58. 54; 106. 29; 183. 71 and 80.
  • 14) Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 1. 56.
  • 15) Viṣṇu-purāṇa VI. 8. 28 & 34.
  • 16) Vāyu-purāṇa 20. 16; 32. 52; 30. 291; 50. 221; 57. 52; 60. 23; 67. 50, 53-8; 71. 77; 75. 60, 75; 99. 456; 104. 84; Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 22. 39.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Ashvamedha in Hinduism glossary... « previous · [A] · next »

The Ashvamedha ("horse sacrifice") was one of the most important royal rituals of Vedic religion. 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. It is described in detail in the Yajurveda (TS 7.1-5, VSM 22–25 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), the Ashvamedha is one of five rites forbidden in the Kali Yuga, the present age.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

Aśvamedha is one of the most ancient, but major, sacrifices mentioned in the Vedic literature. It is mentioned in the Rigveda and described in the Satapatha Brāhmana and the Taitareya Brāhmana.

It derives its name from the fact that an ‘aśva’ or a horse is made the ‘medha’ or an animal for immolation. Only emperors and very powerful kings who desired sovereignty could afford to perform it. It belongs to the ‘Ahīna’ group of Soma sacrifices, i.e., Soma sacrifices in which Soma is pressed for more than one day. In this sacrifice Soma is pressed from two to twelve days.

Source: Hindupedia: The Hindu Encyclopedia

In Vedic India, the greatest of sacrifices was the Ashvamedha (or Horse Sacrifice). Kings spent fortunes in the elaborate rituals, which sometimes required hundreds of officiating priests and lasted for several weeks at a time. The sacrifice of the horse was often associated with the sacrifice of the goat, as we discuss further below. Both these sacrifices were often associated with Tantric practices, and even today this ritual is often accompanied by the goat sacrifice. In fact the horse sacrifice was a fertility ritual, as it entailed the mating of the queen with the sacrificed horse and had, moreover, connections with the renovation of the cosmos this type of ritual usually represents.

Source: Atlantis: The horse sacrifice

Horse sacrifice. This is a very difficult ritual often performed by the rulers of ancient India. This ritual requires a year to complete. A fine horse is selected at the beginning of the year and then released and allowed to wander free. It is accompanied by soldiers. Everywhere the horse goes is said to be under the jurisdiction of the ruler. As a result, any territory that the horse wanders into that was not previously under his jurisdiction is either required to submit or fight. If the horse makes it through the year, it is returned to the city where it is sacrificed in a three day ceremony. the horse is then cut up, eaten and offered to the gods through the fire.

Source: University of Colorado: Department of Religious Studies

India history and geogprahy

Aśvamedha.—(CII 3, 4), a sacrificial ceremony centering in a horse, generally performed by independent monarchs. Kings celebrating the sacrifice sometimes assumed suitable titles (cf. Aśvamedha-parākrama and Aśvamedha-Mahendra claimed respectively by Samudragupta and Kumāragupta I on their coins). Some kings performed two, four or more horse-sacri- fices. For a list of the performers of aśvamedha known form epigraphic and numismatic records, see Sundaram Pillai Com. Vol., pp. 93 ff. Note: aśvamedha is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.

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Āśvamedha.—(EI 12), same as āśvamedhika. Note: āśvamedha is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical Glossary
India history book cover
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The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

Ashvamedha in Marathi glossary... « previous · [A] · next »

aśvamēdha (अश्वमेध).—m The sacrifice of a horse-ceremony.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Ashvamedha in Sanskrit glossary... « previous · [A] · next »

Aśvamedha (अश्वमेध).—[aśvaḥ pradhānatayā medhyate hiṃsyate'tra, medh hiṃsane ghañ] a horse-sacrifice; यथाश्वमेधः क्रतुराट् सर्वपापापनोदनः (yathāśvamedhaḥ kraturāṭ sarvapāpāpanodanaḥ) Ms.11.26. [In Vedic times this sacrifice was performed by kings desirous of offspring; but subsequently it was performed only by kings and implied that he who instituted it, was a conqueror and king of kings. A horse was turned loose to wander at will for a year, attended by a guardian; when the horse entered a foreign country, the ruler was bound either to submit or to fight. In this way the horse returned at the end of a year, the guardian obtaining or enforcing the submission of princes whom he brought in his train. After the successful return of the horse, the rite called Asvamedha was performed amidst great rejoicings. It was believed that the performance of 1 such sacrifices would lead to the attainment of the seat or world of Indra, who is, therefore, always represented as trying to prevent the completion of the hundredth sacrifice. cf. Rv.1.162-163 hymns; Vāj.22 seq.] °kāṇḍam Name of the thirteenth book of the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa.

Derivable forms: aśvamedhaḥ (अश्वमेधः).

Aśvamedha is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms aśva and medha (मेध).

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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