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Reference: Balakanda 8th Sarga Why did Dasharatha propose performance of Ashwamedha to beget children? Ashwamedha is primarily to establish supremacy over other kings. I am unable to understand the logic or dharma behind this.

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  • Possible duplicate of the question (hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/9037/3869) @Jagadish Shri Nov 4, 2019 at 1:59
  • I have gone through the other question and answers to it. It is about Putrakameshti. My question is about Ashwamedha itself. Nov 4, 2019 at 2:28
  • Good question. It starts with Rig Veda and ends with Mahabharata. Nov 4, 2019 at 3:18
  • text is either corrupt or interpolation in sethu samudhram near rameswaram there is temple for lord jagannnatha the story of the temple is the place where dasaratha performed puthrakamayesti yagna not aswamedha
    – Prasanna R
    Oct 17, 2021 at 8:29
  • It's like asking why work as CEO to buy milk when you can work as garbage man and still buy milk ? Ashvamedha is part of a ritual in the yagna. It can be done for many results. One of them is supremacy. One is getting sons.
    – mar
    Feb 14 at 10:15

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I am quoting my friend Sri Kiron Krishnan's answer here, on Aswamedha in other site, to explain the meaning of the same as per Vedic mantras. According to Vedic sense, Aswamedha should be viewed in an esoteric manner only, but not physical sacrifice of Aswa or Horse.

By the time Ramayana was composed, please do not get confused with the period of occurrence of Ramayana, this got degenerated to physical sacrifice. However, it was being done in the times of King Dasaratha to beget sons only, but not for establishing supremacy over others.

King Dasaratha proposes to perform Horse sacrifice for begetting sons, as he was not having sons.

मम लालप्यमानस्य सुतार्थं नास्ति वै सुखम् | तदर्थं हयमेधेन यक्ष्यामीति मतिर्मम || १-८-८

"My mind is tumultuous without quietude for I have no sons... for that reason, I wish perform Aswamedha, Vedic Horse Ritual... this is my thinking.


By the time Mahabharata was composed, the purpose of Aswamedha had become to purify one.

Yudhishthira replied, 'Beyond a doubt, the Horse-sacrifice purifieth princes.

The Horse in Mahabharata period was released for conquering other kings, and to display the glory of Yudhisthira.

"Vyasa said, 'Myself, O son of Kunti, and Paila and Yajnavalkya, shall without doubt, achieve every rite at the proper time. The rite of initiating thee will be performed on the day of full moon belonging to the month of Chaitra. Let all the necessaries of the sacrifice, O foremost of men, be got ready.

Let Sutas well-versed in the science of horses, and let Brahmanas also possessed of the same lore, select, after examination, a worthy horse in order that thy sacrifice maybe completed. Loosening the animal according to the injunctions of the scriptures, let him wander over the whole Earth with her belt of seas, displaying thy blazing glory, O king!'

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    What happens to the horse after the Ashvamedha Yagya?, Answer which quotes Shatapatha Brahmana text says horse is killed. What do you say of this? Nov 6, 2019 at 7:52
  • @Sarvabhouma:Even Ramayana says the horse is killed. We have to remember that the brAhmanAs were composed at a much later date and by that time the understanding capacity of the poets might have reduced compared to that of seers of Rig Veda Nov 6, 2019 at 9:21
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    Same rishis were present during Vedic times and in the Puranas also E.g Rigveda, Bharadwaja. Why are we equating or checking everything (let it be Puranas, Smritis, Yajnas, Itihasa like Ramayana) with Rigveda and not with other vedas? Shouldn't we look at relevant texts? The Brahmana granthas and Yajurveda talk detail about sacrifices. They should be checked how a yajna is done IMO. Nov 6, 2019 at 9:44
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    @srimannarayanakv Sacrifice in rig veda is not just esoteric. There are mantras in the samhitas to offer animals as sacrifice, etc.
    – Ikshvaku
    Nov 18, 2019 at 21:03
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    @srimannarayanakv But your statement is false. The taittirya samhita says, "one should offer an animal to agni", etc.
    – Ikshvaku
    Nov 19, 2019 at 2:01

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