Any person, who reads Srimad Ramayana casually, and who views films and TV serials produced and developed by persons with half-baked knowledge, will say Yes the putra-kaam-eshthi yagna was performed however, a conscious and serious reading of Valmiki's Srimad Ramayana will tell a different tale.

King Dasharatha, a descendant of Ikshwaku kings, while dwelling in the city of Ayodhya, protected the Kosala kingdom. He had 3 main queens and many other queens. Unfortunately, he could not beget sons.

King Dasharatha decides to perform an elaborate Vedic ritual, called Aswamedha yajna, Horse Ritual, to beget children. He being a considerate king in taking conscience of the courtiers, he discusses this aspect with the Vedic scholars and ministers of his court, beforehand.

मम लालस्य मानस्य सुतार्थम् नास्ति वै सुखम् | तदर्थम् हयमेधेन यक्ष्ह्यामि इति मतिर् मम ||

"My mind is tumultuous without quietude for I have no sons... for that reason, I wish perform Aswametha, Vedic Horse Ritual... this is my thinking." (Bala Kanda 8th Sarga 8th Sloka)

तत् अहम् यष्टुम् इच्छमि शास्त्र दृष्टेन कर्मणा | कथम् प्राप्स्यामि अहम् कामम् बुद्धिः अत्र विचिन्त्यताम् ||

"Therefore, I contemplate to perform that ritual as enshrined in the scriptures and as a rite-oriented one as well... let this contemplation of mine be well thought of... and as to how my desire to beget sons will be fulfilled.." (Bala Kanda 8th Sarga 9th Sloka)

Everybody including Sage Vasistha agrees for this. On the advice of his minister Sumantra, Dasharatha proceeds to Anga kingdom and brings Sage Rishyasringa and his wife Shanta to his capital Ayodhya.

King Dasharatha requests the Sages to conduct the Vedic ritual for which the sages indent paraphernalia, which the ministers were ordered to supply forthwith.

So only Aswametha was thought of for begetting children by King Dasaradha and approved by everybody. And, the Aswamedha Yagna was completed by King Dasaratha.

The sloka 57 in Sarga 14 of Bala Kanda says like this:

Then that king(Dasaratha) is gladdened at heart for the successful achievement of the completion of that excellent Aswametha ritual that removes sin and that leads to heaven as well, and that which cannot be undertaken by many of the best kings.

It was only after completing the Aswametha, mention was made about Putrakamesti in the penultimate slokas of 14th Sarga of Bala Kanda.

The question is as to why the concept of Putrakamesti ritual was brought in when the completion of Aswametha ritual removes sin and children can be begotten.?

If we go through the subsequent Sargas, i.e., 15-17, we can understand that it was in these Sargas that

(i) the Devatas pray Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu for elimination of Ravana, (ii) Lord Vishnu consents for taking an incarnation as Sri Rama, the son of King Dasaratha, (iii) After completion of Putrakamesti, a divine person appears and gives god-given golden vessel full with divine food for consumption by eligible wives of King Dasarath for begetting sons, (iv) King Dasaratha enters his Palace and gives the Divine food to Kousalya, Sumitra and Kikeyi, (v) Lord Brahma orders all Devatas to cause birth of vanaras out of their Energies to assist Sri Rama in elimination of Ravana.

However, in the Slokas 1 & 2 of Sarga 18 of Bala Kanda, the Sage Valmiki describes like this:

निर्वृत्ते तु क्रतौ तस्मिन् हयमेधे महात्मनः | प्रति गृह्य अमरा भागान् प्रतिजग्मुः यथा आगतम् ||

On the competition of the horse ritual of high-souled Dasharatha, the gods having received their portion of sacrificial oblation returned to their abodes as they have come.

समाप्त दीक्षा नियमः पत्नी गण समन्वितः | प्रविवेश पुरीम् राजा स भृत्य बल वाहनः ||

The king completing his consecratory vows held for horse ritual, entered Ayodhya city along with the company of his queens, servants, guards and vehicles.

Here, the Sage did not mention about Putrakamesti but mentions only about completion of Aswametha Yagna, horse ritual. The inference is that only the Aswamedha Yagna was contemplated, took up and completed successfully but Putrakamesti was not contemplated. It was not the intention of Sage Valmiki to project Sri Rama as the incarnation of Vishnu. It was a conscious insertion made by some scholars.

Were the Sargas 15-17 added later by somebody else for making the readers believe Sri Rama was an incarnation of Vishnu?

  • Sri rama and krishna were incarnations of vishnu. Afterall he is supreme brahman.
    – Anisha
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 20:21
  • " The inference is that only the Aswamedha Yagna was contemplated, took up and completed successfully but Putrakamesti was not contemplated. It was not the intention of Sage Valmiki to project Sri Rama as the incarnation of Vishnu. " - This inference is fallacious.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 0:16

1 Answer 1


You are right in surmising that the Putrakaameshthi Yagya may not have been required after the Ashwamedha as mentioned in this verse:

चिन्तयानस्य तस्य एवम् बुद्धिः आसीन् महात्मनः | सुतार्थम् वाजिमेधेन किम् अर्थम् न यजामि अहम् || १-८-२

To that anguished great-soul, a thought occurred this way, "To beget sons, why should not I perform Horse ritual...[and thus appease the gods in order to beget worthy sons..."] [1-8-2]

However, it seems that the decision to continue with the Putrakameshthi was taken by the officiating priest Rishyashringa after the completion of Ashwamedha. That the rituals were carried out under the guidance of Rishyashringa is mentioned in Sarga 14:

ऋष्यशृंगम् पुरस्कृत्य कर्म चक्रुः द्विजर्षभाः | अश्वमेधे महायज्ञे राज्ञोऽस्य सुमहात्मनः || १-१४-२

Keeping Rishyasringa at the helm of affairs those eminent Brahmans commenced, ashva medha, the Horse-ritual of that noble-souled Dasharatha. [1-14-2]

So the ritual gets completed and Dashrath requests the priest for providing him sons and that is when the rishi suggests continuation of the sacrifice. As mentioned in the 15th Sarga:

मेधावी तु ततो ध्यात्वा स किङ्चित् इदम् उत्तरम् | लब्ध सङ्ज्ञः ततः तम् तु वेदज्ञो नृपम् अब्रवीत् || १-१५-१

That intellectual sage and one proficient in Veda-s Rishyasringa contemplated for a while, and gaining indications as to which ritual is to be performed, then said the king. [1-15-1]

इष्टिम् तेऽहम् करिष्यामि पुत्रीयाम् पुत्र कारणात् | अथर्व सिरसि प्रोक्तैः मन्त्रैः सिद्धाम् विधानतः || १-१५-२

"I will procedurally conduct the ritual contained in the preamble of adharva-veda with procedural hymns, called putra kaameSTi i.e., the ritual that bestows sons, for your benefit." [1-15-2]

ततः प्राक्रमत् इदम् इष्टिम् ताम् पुत्रीयाम् पुत्र कारणात् | जुहाव अग्नौ च तेजस्वी मन्त्र दृष्टेन कर्मणा || १-१५-३

Then that resplendent Sage Rishyasringa commenced that putrakaameSTi ritual, offering oblations into sacred fire with ritual acts meticulously contained in hymns. [1-15-3]

Now as you suggested, these Sargas could be an interpolation but it could also be that the Putrakaameshthi was a continuation of the Ashwamedha, sort of an extended last leg of the ritual, and that is why Sarga 18 mentions the gods to have departed after the completion of Ashwamedha.

As to the intention of Valmiki in showing Rama as an avatar, the Yuddha Kanda, which is generally not considered interpolated, also mentions the gods addressing him as Narayan in Sarga 117:

ततो वैश्रवणो राजा यमश्च पृभिः सह | सहस्राक्षश्च देवेशो वरुणश्च जलेश्वरः || ६-११७-२ षड्र्धनयनः श्रीमान् महादेवो वृषध्वजः | कर्ता सर्वस्य लोकस्य ब्रह्मा ब्रह्मविदां वरः || ६-११७-३ एते सर्वे समागम्य विमानैः सूर्यसंनिभैः | आगम्य नगरीं लङ्कामभिजग्मुश्च राघवम् || ६-११७-४

Thereupon, Kubera the King of Yakshas, Yama the lord of death together with the deceased ancestors, Indra the lord of celestials Varuna the lord of waters, the illustrious Shiva the great deity who bears the device of a bull as his banner and having three eyes, Brahma the creator of all the worlds and the best among the knowers of sacred knowledge all these together reaching the City of Lanka in aerial cars, shining like the sun approached Rama.

ततः सहस्ताभरणान् प्रगृह्य विपुलान् भुजान् | अब्रुवंस्त्रिदशश्रेष्ठा राघवं प्राञ्जलिं स्थितम् || ६-११७-५ कर्ता सर्वस्य लोकस्य श्रेष्ठो ज्ञानवतां प्रभुः | उपेक्षसे कथं सीतां पतन्तीं हव्यवाहने || ६-११७-६ कथं देवगणश्रेष्ठमात्मानं नावबुद्ध्यसे |

Lifting their long arms, their hands decked with ornaments, those excellent gods thereupon, spoke (as follows) to Rama who stood there, making a respectful salutation to them with his folded hands. "How do you, the maker of the entire cosmos, the foremost among those endowed with knowledge and an all-capable person, ignore Seetha who is falling into the fire? How do you not recognize yourself to be the foremost of the troop of gods?"

So unless we assume that this entire section of the Yuddha Kaand is also interpolated, Valmiki may have had full intention of showing Rama as an incarnation of Vishnu who nevertheless behaved as a human.

  • The disowning of Sita episode in Yuddha Kanda is an interpolation. So if we omit this episode and disowning of Sita episode,wherein Sri Rama was described to be incarnation of Vishnu, then we can infer that Valmiki had no intention of eulogising Sri Rama as incarnation of Vishnu. Hence, the Putrakamesthi might be an interpolation. @Dr.Vineet Aggarwal Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 1:48
  • 1
    There are many reference in Valmiki Ramayan where Raam is said to be incarnation of Vishnu himself. docs.google.com/document/d/… Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 19:11

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