Ceremonial disposal of the "asva" carcass ?

Paul Kekai Manansala kekai at JPS.NET
Mon Mar 20 17:15:49 UTC 2000

Dinesh Maheshwari/CAD wrote:
> Are there any direct or indirect references in the Vedic texts regarding
> the disposal of the "asva" carcass?
> Considering the significance of the "asva"  in the "Vedic culture", could
> the "asva" carcasses have been disposed off (buried, cast off in the
> river/sea, cremated) ceremoniously ?

Are you referring to the asva carcass of the asvamedha sacrifice?

The ritual of the royal queen or mahishi (water buffalo?) with the
asva carcass is a rather interesting cultural study. Even if pandits
would claim this ritual was not literally performed, even the suggestion
is a bit unbridled.

Incidentally, the asvamedha, although sometimes portrayed as coming from
the "Aryan" homeland, already has offerings of rice, rice cakes and rice
cooked in milk in the YV.  In the SB, various types of rice are the main
offerings for most of the primary gods.  If I remember right among the
exceptions were barley  to Varuna, and coix to Rudra. Wheat was not used
in the earliest sacrifices.

The importance of rice suggests to an extent that the Vedic culture of
the YV and SB was already 'Gangetic' or at least not very NW Indian.

In the RV, wheat is not mentioned but there may be  indirect mention of
rice, for example, ksirapakamodanam, which is usually interpreted as
rice cooked with milk.  Both YV and SB mention this type food and

Paul Kekai Manansala

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