I think the horse in the Ashwamedha was killed with knives. The Somavajapeya involves suffocating the sacrificial animal if I am not mistaken.

  • Do you mean what tools were used to kill the animals?
    – Just_Do_It
    May 11 '18 at 20:26
  • At first please provide some references/basis to your claims/thinking
    – zaxebo1
    May 11 '18 at 21:14

Do scriptures specify how animals should be killed during the sacrifice?

Yes, the horse in the Ashwamedha is suffocated with a cloth.

Taittiriya Brahmana 3.9.20:

tArpyeNAshvam samjnapayanti | yajno vai tArpyam | yajnenaivainam samardhayanti | yAmena samnA prastotA'nUpatiSThate | yamalokam evainam gamayati

They (the Samitars, the slaughterers) kill the horse (literally: cause the horse to acquiesce) by means of the tArpya cloth. The tArpya cloth surely is the sacrifice. They thus abundantly provide him with (the essence of) the sacrifice. The Prastotar worships (the horse) by singing the Saman that belongs to Yama. He thus sends him to Yama loka.

As you can see, they really kill a real horse and it's not some metaphorical description. The reference to Yama loka proves this. The soul of the horse goes to the world (loka) of Yama, who is the god of death. There is no reason to interpret these words metaphorically.

  • "As you can see, they really kill a real horse and it's not some metaphorical description." - this is not what was asked in the question. Seems like you added this to counter the other answer. You need to mark this line in bold: "They (the Samitars, the slaughterers) kill the horse (literally: cause the horse to acquiesce) by means of the tArpya cloth." Jan 8 '20 at 17:32

The Kings does Ashwamedha Yagya and after that they release that Horse, and till where the Horse goes that land is claimed by the King if anyone opposed he has to fight with the Army of the King who did Ashwamedha Yagya.

the translation of the word 'medha' is often not interpreted as sacrifice. There are words like 'purushamedha' and 'sarvamedha'. Sarvamedha definitely doesn't mean sacrificing everyone.

Please see the second answer of this question, which is very correct and it related directly to Dharm.

What is the significance of Ashwamedha Yagna?

More on similar lines

Please see more details on why Ashwamedha does not mean killing

You can take a look at this link on Google Books.


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    Its not true.... hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/8882/7853 goat and other animals are used in yajnas... May 12 '18 at 1:12
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    @RakeshJoshi This text you are linking is by Max Muller, who has does more harm than another person to break the Strong roots of Dharm in our country. The Aryan Invasion theory was highly debunked again and again. May 13 '18 at 23:54
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    @RakeshJoshi Also Max Muller converted a commentaries on Vedas by Sayana Acharya, so he selected the highly controversial commentary available at that time. If you have really any will to know about our culture, I will request you to read " Satyarth Prakash " May 14 '18 at 0:04
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    i am not the one who wrote those texts but i am familiar with arya samaj texts. But even many vedangas like shrauta and grhya sutras talk of animal related stuff. Ramayana also has such mention. You can discuss more in chat room on this subject. May 14 '18 at 0:14
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    the problem with arya samaji is that they are very aggressive and do not consider anyone else. Many shrauta and grhya sutra describe animals for sacrifice. In case you don't know what are these then they are vedic manuals for ritusls. May 15 '18 at 12:29

There is no animal sacrifice in Vedas. Some indologists have put the law of sacrificing animals in Vedas by wrong translations. In reality, animal sacrifice in yajnas is prohibited.

First of all, the synonym of Yajna used in Vedas is ‘Adhvara’ which means ‘non-killing”. Nirukta 1.8 says ‘dhvar’ means kill, and ‘Adhvara’ denotes the negation of killing (which is non killing).

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I find plenty of Vedic verses which calls ‘Yajna’ as ‘Adhvar’ (means Non-killing), example of such verses are: Atharva Veda 1.4.1, Atharva Veda 3.16.6, Atharva Veda 5.27.8, Rigveda 3.10.7, Rigveda 3.16.6, Rigveda 4.6.1, Rigveda 5.49.4, Rigveda 1.74.4 Yajurveda 1.24, Yajurveda 3.11 etc.

Mahabharat, Shantiparv 265.9 “Liquors, fish, mead, meat, rice cooked with sesamum seeds- all these have been inserted into Yajna by the wicked people. Vedas have not prescribed their use in Yajnas”.

Lord Krishna in Srimad Bhagvatam 11.21.30 says, “People who find enjoyment in violence, out of wickedness and for gratification of their pleasure they slaughter animals, offer the meat in Yajan’s….”

So animal slaughter is completely prohibited.

  • From Valmiki Ramayana: "Then the priest, one with controlled senses and rich in scriptural wealth, took up the omentum [fat] of the horse and cooked it as per scriptures while dropping into the altar of fire to bake as a food to the celestials. [1-14-36]....Those remaining body parts that horse are there, the sixteen officiating priests have procedurally oblated all of them into fire. [1-14-38]" Jan 6 '20 at 14:24
  • Commentary on the same site says: "Many animals are sacrificed in Horse ritual. But they will be segregated as forest animals and village animals. In them many of the forest animals will be let off by taking them round the fire on to their right in salutation to fire, agnipradakShiNa-namaskaara. The animals pertaining to village will be sacrificed in ritual. Hence it is up to the priests to decide which is to be retained or let off." Jan 6 '20 at 14:24
  • @sv Read Gita press translation Jan 8 '20 at 6:21
  • Gita Press translation of Valmiki Ramayana says Rama and Lakshmana did not eat meat. See this post. So, how can you trust their translations? Jan 8 '20 at 17:21
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    @sv The verse you quoted says that Kings hunt the animal for flesh. I accept this thing. Many Kings and people were indulged in this thing but not Lord Ram. Ram killed that deer because he knew that he is maricha. Valmiki Ramayana 3:43:40 Jan 12 '20 at 3:56

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