Rāmāyana | Bala Kaṇḍa | Chapter 14

Sargam [Chapter]: 14
Aśvamedha Sacrifice

[Here all particulars of the Aśvamedha sacrifice is given. After conducting it, Daśaratha requests Riṣyaśriṇga to help him by rituals to get sons and he agrees.]

After completion of one year, when the sacrificial horse has reached back to the sacrificial hall constructed on the northern side of Sarayu River, the ceremonies of the sacrifice commenced. 14.1

The Aśvamedha sacrifice of that great King Daśaratha was conducted by the great sage Riṣyaśriṇga, who was the best among the Brahmins. 14.2

The chief priests who were expert in Vedas carried out the rituals fully according to the tradition and according to law laid down in the scriptures. 14.3

The Brahmins having done Pravargya according to the Shastras did Upasada as well as other ceremonies as per rules. 14.4

Then the overjoyed great ascetics after morning ablations started worshipping the celestial beings and performed rituals as per rules. 14.5

The sacrificial offering to Indra was offered in the fire daily according to the tradition and faultless soma plant was pressed for taking out the juice and later ablations for the mid-day was performed as per sequence. 14.6

In the same manner, those eminent Brahmins, in conformity with shastras and after seeing by the great king, did the third pressing of soma in the evening. 14.7

In that sacrifice, omissions did not take place; there were no defects or mistakes and everything addressed to god which appeared as safe were performed. 14.8

During those days, nowhere was there a hungry or tired man. No ignorant Brahmin was seen anywhere and all Brahmins seen were followed by hundreds of disciples. 14.9

Brahmins, servants and ascetics as well as monks were found taking food. 14.10

Aged people, sick persons, women and children were also seen to be happily eating. 14.11

In the sacrificial ground, food and various kinds of clothes were continuously being handed over to those in charge of distributing these. 14.12

The heaps of food which were kept ready for distribution and which looked like Mountains were seen everywhere, daily. 14.13

The great man arranged for entertainment of men and women who have arrived there from various countries. 14.14

Daśaratha continuously heard the greetings of greatly satisfied Brahmins after they had tasted the well-cooked tasty food. 14.15

Well decorated men were seen serving food to the Brahmins and people wearing ornaments and gems assisted them. 14.16

In between the ceremonies, the learned Brahmins engaged themselves in discussion of scriptures and some very eloquent and intelligent Brahmins were aiming at victory. 14.17

In that year, daily some very intelligent Brahmins, persuaded by Vaṣiṣṭha performed all the duties of fire sacrifice as per tradition. 14.18

In that sacrificial ceremony, there was no one who was not learned in the six Vedāngas; there were none who were not faithful to the vows that they had taken; there were none who were not learned and there were no body among the king's assistants who were not good in debate based on Vedas. 14.19

In that sacrifice, when the time came to erect the pillars, six pillars made of Bilva wood, equal number of pillars made of Khadire wood as well as six pillars of Parni wood, one made of sleshamathaka, two made of Devadāru, were erected in such a way that there was a distance of two outstretched hands maintained. 14.20-14.21

All the posts were got made by people with knowledge of Śāstra and experts in yajña and all the posts were decorated with gold for elegance. 14.22

Twenty one pillars each measuring twenty one Aartni distance [distance between elbow to little finger] was well decorated with twenty one cloths, each cloth decorating one pillar. 14.23

All pillars, each having eight sides were well carved and decorated by sculptors, had finely chiselled surfaces and were erected as per tradition. 14.24

Decorated with cloths, sandal paste and flowers, all pillars were strong, possessing extreme brightness and shined like the seven sages star in the sky. 14.25

The sacrificial fire place was constructed there as per Śāstras, by placing of bricks, by accomplished Brahmins using the art of measurement by rope. 14.26

The sacrificial altar, constructed by the intelligent Brahmins for Daśaratha, who was a lion among kings, was like an eagle with golden wings, with three ranges, each range having six fire places. 14.27

As prompted by tradition, animals, serpents and birds were kept ready, each intended for a different deity. 14.28

When the time came to sacrifice the animals, according to the tradition, the chief priest tied up the horse first and aquatic animal next. 14.29

Then, those three hundred animals and the sacred horse from the best stable of Daśaratha were bound to the sacrificial posts. 14.30

After Kausalya served the horse from its four directions and after worshipping it with glee by three strokes of the scimitar, its head was severed. 14.31

Then with a stable mind and with great devotion to her duty Kausalya spent one night near the horse. 14.32

Women known as Hota, Advaryu, Udgatha, Mahishi [Chief Queen], Parivruthya [overlooked wife], Parvruthi, Vaavathaa, Aparaam [lady attender] and Palakali [the other woman] touched with their hand the sacrificial horse. 14.33

The official priest blessed with restrained senses and also very knowledgeable, having removed the marrow of the horse, cooked it according to scriptures. 14.34

At the proper time, Daśaratha, as laid out in the scriptures, got rid of all his sins by inhaling the scent of the burnt marrow. 14.35

All those sixteen officiating priests, who were Brahmins, offered those limbs, as per rule, to the fire. 14.36

Unlike other fire sacrifices where oblations are offered using branches of Palāśa tree, in this case, cane creeper was chosen to offer one oblation. 14.37

According to Kalpa Suthra, Aśvamedha sacrifice is completed in three days and on the first day Chathushta homa is carried out. 14.38

Ukthya is performed on the second day and on the third day athirathram is performed. As per Śāstra many other sacrifices were performed along with this. 14.39

Jyothish homa and Ayur yaga were performed along with Athirathram and Abhijit. Viswajit and Asoryaga were also performed in the prescribed manner. 14.40

With a view to promote his clan, King Daśaratha gave away eastern region to Hotra, western side to Adhivaryu, southern side to Brāhmaṇa and northern side to Udgāthā as prescribed and fixed long ago by Lord Brahma in case of a mighty horse sacrifice. 14.41-14.42

King Daśaratha, the leader of men and one who increased the fame of his clan, after concluding the sacrifice, according to law, offered entire earth as gift to the priests. 14.43

But the priests told King Daśaratha, who has been purged of all sins, that he alone deserves to be the protector of the earth. 14.44

"Oh ruler of earth, we are incapable of ruling the earth and have nothing to do with ruling it and we are indeed dedicated to the study of Vedas. So you may kindly offer some other gift instead of this." 14.45

"Oh great man, give us gold or gems or cows whichever is readily available, as we do not have any use with the earth." 14.46

The great man, King Daśaratha, having been addressed by those scholars of Vedas like this, gave them ten hundred thousand cows, hundred crores of gold coins and four times that much of silver coins. 14.47-14.48

Thereafter, those priests collectively offered all that they got to the great Riṣyaśriṇga and the sage Vaṣiṣṭha. 14.49

Then those great Brahmins, who were highly pleased, distributed the wealth given to them equally. 14.50

After that, with great earnestness Daśaratha offered one crore of gold coins to those Brahmins who have come to see the fire sacrifice. 14.51

And then when one Brahmin asked for alms, King Daśaratha gave him, his excellent bracelet. 14.52

Then that mighty King Daśaratha, who was affectionate towards Brahmins, who were highly pleased with him, bowed before them with eyes full of joy. 14.53

Thereafter the charitable and valorous King Daśaratha prostrated before them and the Brahmins uttered the words of blessing to him. 14.54

They told that the sacrifice destroys sins, takes the performer to heaven and no other King except Daśaratha can perform it. The King was greatly pleased for having performed that great sacrifice. 14.55

Thereafter King Daśaratha addressed sage Riṣyaśriṇga and told him, "Oh strict follower of vows, how can I ensure the continuity of my clan?" 14.56

The best of Brahmins, Riṣyaśriṇga Said, "Let it happen", and he further said, "Oh king, your race would continue with the birth of Four sons." 14.57

This is the end of Fourteenth Sarga of Bala Kanda which occurs in Holy Rāmāyaṇa composed by Vālmīki as the First Epic.