When the water for washing the feet is ready, they make the chief queen (Mahishi) lie down next to the horse, and they cover the two of them up with the upper cloth as they say the verse, ‘Let the two of us cover ourselves in the world of heaven’, for the world of heaven is where they ‘quiet’ the sacrificial animal.

Then they draw out the penis of the horse and place it in the vagina of the chief queen, while she says, ‘May the vigorous virile male, the layer of seed, lay the seed’; this she says for sexual intercourse.

While they are lying there, the sacrificer insults the horse by saying, ‘Lift up her thighs and put it in her rectum.’ No one insults (the sacrificer) back, lest there should be someone to act as a rival against the sacrificer.

The officiant (Adhvaryu) then insults the maiden: ‘Hey, maiden, hey, maiden, the little female bird …’ and she insults him back: ‘Hey, officiant, hey, officiant, that little bird….’

And then the overseer (Brahman) insults the chief queen: ‘Hey, chief queen, hey, chief queen, your mother and father climb to the top of a tree….’ She has as her attendants a hundred daughters of kings; they insult the overseer in return: ‘Hey, overseer, hey, overseer, your mother and your father play in the top of a tree….’

Then the cantor (Udgatri) insults the king’s favourite wife: ‘Hey, favourite, hey, favourite wife, raise her up erect….’ She has as her attendants a hundred royal women; they insult the cantor in return: ‘Hey, cantor, hey, cantor, raise him up erect….’

Then the invoker (Hotri) insults the rejected wife: ‘Hey, rejected wife, hey, rejected wife, when inside her tight crack….’ She has as her attendants a hundred daughters of bards and village headmen; they insult the invoker in return: ‘Hey, invoker, hey, invoker, when the gods see that miserable penis….’ Then the carver (Kshatri) insults the fourth wife: ‘Hey, fourth wife, hey, fourth wife, when the deer eats the barley, (the farmer) does not hope to nourish the animal….

‘ She has as her attendants a hundred daughters of carvers and charioteers; they insult the carver in return

: ‘Hey, carver, hey, carver, when the deer eats the barley, (the farmer) does not hope to nourish the animal….’

These insulting speeches are for all kinds of attainment, for through the horse sacrifice all desires are achieved. Thinking, ‘With all kinds of speech we will achieve all kinds of desires’, they make the chief queen get up.

Source: https://ramanan50.wordpress.com/tag/putrakameshti/

Is this translation of remarks (by the priests and that the queen has to take the sexual organ of the animal in hand) from the brahmanas, correct?

Please give references from the brahmanas (e.g., Shatapatha Brahmana) that deal with this ritual.

  • This is the translation by Wendy Doniger, so enough said.
    – Vyper
    Sep 6, 2018 at 2:43
  • 1
    Are or Were? because Aswamedha is not performed nowadays .. Also what is the location of the Mantras u have quoted?
    – Rickross
    Sep 6, 2018 at 6:34
  • @rickross "are" its true no one performs ashwamedha anymore but it is a vedic ritual which can still be performed. I'll add the link from where i added these comments.
    – Anisha
    Sep 6, 2018 at 6:36
  • 1
    Aswamedha is forbidden to be performed in Kali Yuga.. so no one will.. anyways yes u shd add the location of the Mantras/verses in ur question.. @Anisha
    – Rickross
    Sep 6, 2018 at 6:38
  • 2

3 Answers 3


The particular sexual interaction “Then they draw out the penis of the horse and place it in the vagina of the chief queen...” is nowhere to be found in the paralel English translation by Julius Eggeling. It could be something made up by a biased translator. It also doesn't mention anything about the horse being slaughtered.

Finally, the below translation only mentions the chief queen being covered by a cloth, not both of them, suggesting it is impossible for them to have any sexual interaction.

  1. Having uttered these two (verses), he pronounces what remains of the Adhrigu. 'A cloth, an upper cloth, and gold,' this is what they spread out for the horse1: thereon they 'quiet' (slaughter) it. When the victims have been 'quieted,' the (king's) wives come up with water for washing the feet,--four wives; and a young maiden as the fifth, and four hundred female attendants.

  2. When the foot-water is ready, they cause the Mahiṣī to lie down near the horse, and cover her up with the upper cloth, with 'In heaven ye envelop yourselves,'--for that indeed is heaven where they immolate the victim, . . ., 'May the vigorous male, the layer of seed, lay seed!' she says[2] for the completeness of union.

  3. Whilst they are lying there, the Sacrificer addresses the horse (Vāj. S. XXIII, 21), 'Utsakhyā ava gudaṃ dhehi!' No one replies to him, lest there should be some one to rival the Sacrificer.

  4. The Adhvaryu then addresses the maiden, 'Hey hey maiden, that little bird . . .'--The maiden replies to him, 'Adhvaryu! that little bird . . .'

  5. And the Brahman addresses the Mahiṣī, 'Mahiṣī, hey hey Mahiṣī, thy mother and father mount to the top of the tree . . .'--She has a hundred daughters of kings attending upon her: these reply to the Brahman, 'Brahman, hey hey Brahman, thy mother and father play on the top of the tree. . .'

  6. And the Udgātṛ addresses the favourite, 'Vāvātā, hey hey Vāvātā, turn upwards!' She has a hundred noble-women (rājanyā) attending upon her: these reply to the Udgātṛ, 'Hey hey Udgātṛ, turn upwards!'

  7. And the Hotṛ says to the discarded wife, 'Parivṛktā, hey hey Parivṛktā, when large meets small in this aṃhubhedī . . .'--She has a hundred daughters of heralds and head-men of villages attending upon her: these reply to the Hotṛ, 'Hotṛ, hey hey Hotṛ, when the gods favoured the lalāmagu . . .'

  8. Then the chamberlain addresses the fourth wife, 'Pālāgalī, hey hey Pālāgalī, when the deer eats the corn, one thinks not of the fat cattle . . .'--She has a hundred daughters of chamberlains and charioteers attending upon her: these reply to the chamberlain, 'Chamberlain, hey hey chamberlain, when the deer eats the corn, one thinks not of the fat cattle. . .'

  9. These speeches, the derisive discourses, indeed are every kind of attainment, and in the Aśvamedha all objects of desire are contained: 'By every kind of speech may we obtain all objects of our desire' thus thinking, they cause the Mahiṣī to rise, Those (women) then walk back in the same way as they had come; and the others finally utter the verse containing (the word) 'fragrant' (Ṛg-v. IV, 39, 6), 'To Dadhikrāvan have I sung praises. . .'


As you can see, this translation uses the word "addresses" instead of "insults" and shows a more detailed exposition of the ritual.

In the end, I would suggest learning Sanskrit for yourself if you want to know what it really says ;)

  • Why does the queen has to say- "may the vigourous male lay the seed" and why does the sacrificer says "lift up her thigh and put it in her rectum"? Does any text throw any kind of light on this?
    – Anisha
    Sep 7, 2018 at 8:34
  • Why are some portions of the translation represented just using ellipses ('. . .')? Are they left out on purpose by the translator due to their offensive nature? Sep 7, 2018 at 17:03
  • @Anisha I do not know why that translation uses those terms. Some suggestions are provided in the other answers. Sep 10, 2018 at 10:14
  • @sv. I'm afraid my Sanskrit isn't good enough yet to make that conclusion, but it could also refer to missing information or repetitive sentences already provided by previous chapters. It is very curious though. Sep 10, 2018 at 10:15

These verses are not to be interpreted literally because rama in ramayana performed ashvamedha without a wife.

As per "literal" interpretation ram should have had not one but four wives to be eligible to perform this yagya but even his sole wife sita was not present during ashwamedha.

That part of yajna was (can be) done symbolically with sita's (wife's) idol.

paraShurAma (no wife/wives) performing ashvamedha is mentioned in mahabhArata drona parva LXX and many puranas :

Rama gave her away to Kasyapa at his great Horse-sacrifice.

Sacrifices described in vedic brAhmana texts are esoteric. The description of sacrifices in shrauta sutra texts are exoteric.

Esoteric meaning of ashvamedha and other sacrifices is described in skandapurANa-nagarakhanDA-tIrthamahatmya-263 :

12. Moments pass on without winking and Yoga takes place When speech is mastered by the Yogin, it is proclaimed as Gomedha (sacrifice of GO, cow, speech).

13. When he acquires control over mind, he attains the benefit of a horse-sacrifice. By a perpetual conquest (mastery) of Kalpanā (imagination, stray thoughts) he acquires the benefit of the sacrifice Sautrāmaṇi.

14-15. It is glorified as Narayajña (human sacrifice) as it involves the renunciation of the body.

Ashvamedha done by parashurama and rama was thus esoteric/semi-esoteric whereas that by janamejaya, etc was exoteric


The translation appears to be filling in missing information from other sources such as the Baudhāyana Śrautasūtra to give a complete picture of the Aśvamedhá ritual. So I would not call it incorrect or misleading.

The late Paul-Emile Dumont in his paper The Horse-Sacrifice in the Taittirīya-Brāhmaṇa discusses the aśvamedhá in great detail. Because some details were omitted by the scribes copying these brāhmaṇas, in his translation, he too supplements with instructions from other Vedic texts such as Āpastamba and Baudhāyana Śrauta-sūtras associated with Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda.


Reciting the formula: "O mother, little mother, dear little mother" (TS. 7.4.19.a), he (i.e. the Pratiprasthātar) leads the wife (i.e. the Mahiṣī, the consecrated queen,) up to the horse. (In fact) he thus has called her.

[According to Āp. 20.17.12, with this formula, the Pratiprasthātar leads the Mahiṣī and the other wives of the Sacrificer up to the horse; and this action takes place before the fanning of the horse.]

[The Mahiṣī lies down beside the horse.]

He (the Adhvaryu, addressing the Mahiṣī,) says: "O fair one, clad in kāmpīla garment" (TS. 7.4.19.c). He thereby brings her ardor (in heat).

He (the Adhvaryu) says: "Do ye both envelop yourselves in the heavenly world" (ibid.). He thus makes her (the Mahiṣī) go to the heavenly world.

[The Mahiṣī then puts the śepha (το πέος) of the horse on her lap. Cf. Āp. 20.18.4 and Baudh. 15.29.]

She (the Mahiṣī) says: "I will urge that which produces the embryo; urge thou that which produces the embryo" (TS. 7.4.19.d). The embryo, surely, means offspring and cattle. It is offspring and cattle she (in consequence of the uttering Of that formula) bestows on herself (for the benefit of the Sacrificer).

[After the Mahiṣī has purified herself (cf. Baudh. 15.30 and Āp. 20.18.7), she, and the Vāvātā, and the Parivṛktī mark out the lines for the dissection of the horse's body.]


"Baudh. 15.29" above refers to the Baudhāyana Śrautasūtra whose translation was done by the late Prof. Dr. Chintaman Ganesh Kashikar (see his bio/obituary here). Here's how he translates the verses in the aśvamedhá ritual:

XV. 29


The Adhvaryu escorts the senior queen fully decorated, making amends, being reproached (and addresses the three queens) "O Ambā, O Ambāli O Ambikā" (The senior queen says) "No person leads me. The poor horse is sleeping." Having lain down by the side of the horse towards the north, she draws a piece of cloth over her head. The Adhvaryu covers both of them with the piece of linen with the formula, "O fair one, clad in a fair garment, do you two be covered together in the heaven." The senior queen lays the horse's penis on her lap with the formula, "I have clasped the impregnatory; do thou clasp me for impregnation. Let us together spread out our four legs." The Adhvaryu follows her with the formulas, "Let the impregnator out of you deposit the seed. O horse, do thou press thy region of male organ upon the thighs (of the queen) and insert into the queen's genitals thy penis which is the means of enjoyment of women, which dashes into their womb, and which, when entered into the genitals pleases them, and which attacks the central part of genitals within the black spot." The senior queen censures the horse.

XV. 30

"O my mother, pet mother, loving mother, none does sexual intercourse with me. The poor horse is sleeping. "The sacrificer insults her by saying, "Do you raise her up, just as one (keeps erect) a bundle of bamboos on a hill-top. Let her central part relish, just as one winnowing (grains) relishes in cool breeze." She (the senior queen) censures similarly. The beloved queen insults her by saying, "When the female deer eats grains she does not care for a fat animal. When a Śūdra woman has an Ārya paramour, she does not care for wealth for the purpose of support." She (the senior queen) censures (the horse) similarly. The despised queen insults her by saying, "This female bird follows (the male companion) making a sound. The woman eager for conception absorbs the seed inserted in the womb." She (the senior queen) censures (the horse) similarly. All present insult her (the senior queen) by saying, "Thy mother and father ascend the wooden bed. Thy father inserted his penis into the mother's genitals, saying "I attack thee." (The senior queen) does not censure (the horse) at this stage. Having lain down by the side of the horse for some time, having got up and having worn the garment, she sprinkles herself with water with the three verses recited consecutively, "O waters, you are healing...." She also recites the fourth verse, "I have sung the praise of Dadhikrāvan the swift strong horse. May it make our mouths fragrant; may it lengthen our lives." All those who utter impure speech during the sacrificial performance, murmur this Surabhimatī verse. The senior queen is led away. The enclosure is dismantled. The ornaments on the body of the horse are carried away to the Adhvaryu's residence. One mixes the flour of rice growing fast in rainy season in the gum of Sabmalia Malabarica and besmears the horse with the mixture from tip to toe.


You can find the Sanskrit verses also at the same link. It's quite obvious several of these offending verses/formulas/instructions are missing from the surviving brāhmaṇas. In footnotes to his translation of Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa (13.2.8), Julius Eggeling writes:

This barbarous ceremony was evidently an old indigenous custom too firmly established in popular practice to be easily excluded from the sacrificial ritual. That it had nothing to do with Vedic religion and was distasteful to the author of the Brāhmaṇa is evident from the brief way in which he refers to it, and from the far-fetched symbolic explanations attached to the formulas and discourses.

  • Well, the brahmanas have different insults the thing is insult are flung at each other, there is no compulsion in using a particular insults, after the insults there are prayers to expiate the sin done by using abuse words.
    – Anisha
    Sep 8, 2018 at 6:07
  • I thought your question was, Is there any truth in the translation? The answer is, yes. As for the insults, I don't understand why they should be made in first place and then utter something else to nullify them. Don't understand the logic. I'm sure the brahmana authors and scribes had some difficulty what to write/copy and what to omit. Sep 8, 2018 at 20:11
  • Insults are part of the rituals. But after the insult to complete the rituals are done you have to remove the bad karma of insults using expiation prayers😅
    – Anisha
    Sep 8, 2018 at 20:13
  • I get it. But how can you have rituals with insults? What's the point? Sep 8, 2018 at 20:16
  • Even i don't know that, what's the aim anyway.
    – Anisha
    Sep 8, 2018 at 20:19

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