[q] Seeking information on "hiraNyagarbha" ceremony

jayabarathi jaybee at TM.NET.MY
Wed Jan 27 14:37:50 EST 1999

At 07:58 PM 1/28/99 +0100, you wrote:
>Thanks to Drs. Drozdzowicz, Jayabharati, and Ganesan for the valuable
>information they provided!
>In fact it is in "tanjaavoori aandhra raajula charitra" I read about this
>ceremony, Vijayaraaghava naayaka undergoing it, for the first time. Also,
>V. Narayana Rao, D. Shulman and S. Subrahmanyam referred to it in
>"Symbols of Substance - Court and State in Nayaka Period Tamilnadu"
>(OUP, 1992). I could even get hold of Satyanatha Aiyar's (History of the
>Nayaks of Madura & Tamilaham in the 17th  century. In later he cites the
>Jesuit missionary; Antao de Proenca's description of the ceremony from
>1665) and Vriddhagirisan's (Nayaks of Tanjore). Even Gene Roghair in his
>_The Epic of palnaaDu_ (OUP, 1982) has a brief reference to it.
>But, recently I heard that it was performed even before; i.e. during Chola
>period also. I am looking for earlier; pre-naayaka, references if any.

        There are instances of Thulaabaara sacrifice having been done in
the pre-nayak days. But so far Hiranyagarbha eludes mention.
        But there is another instance. Ragunatha Sethupathi, the third
Sethupathi in line, of Ramnad kingdom has performed it.
        He started with a dimished Ramnad territory as a feudatory of
the Madurai Nayaks in 1647 A.D. Then he enlarged his own territories at the
of Madurai and Tanjavur Nayakdoms. When Madurai country was over-run
by the Mysoreans and Tirumalai, the Grand Nayak was in danger of losing
his life and his kingdom, Ragunatha Sethupathi led his army and chased
out the Mysoreans. The grateful Tirumalai bestowed the title, "Tirumalai
Sethupathi"  and "the Protector of Ranii's Thali(mangala-sutra)". In addition,
he gave the special privilege of celebrating the Navaraathri festival in
Ramnad with equal splendour as in Madurai. Thus Ragunatha Sethupathi
became the first de facto king of Ramnad.
        He performed the Hiranyagarbha sacrifice in the Temple of
Rameswaram. Thus he earned the title of "Hiranyagarbhayaaji" . From
that time, all the Sethupathis added Hiranyagarbhayaaji as one of their
royal titles in addition to "Sethu Muula Rakshaka Durandaran",
"RamanathaSwaami Kaarya Durandaran", etc.
        I have a doubt. Was it is done in order to become a fulfledged
Kshatriya? In the course of Indian history, there were many mlechchas
and foreigners(non-Hindus) like Sakaas, Parthians,  Greeks, Kushans,
and Huns who ultimately became Kshatriyas. Did they do the Hiranyagarbha?
In later times, we find Saamraat Sivaji becoming a Kshatriya, first by
a Vedic ritual and susequently by means of a Tantric ritual. Many kings,
rulers and Maharajas came into being during later times. Most of them
are descendants of war-lords, mercenary entrepreuners, and of more
humble origins like robber-chieftains. I need not mention names because
their descendants are still around:-) They don't seem to have performed
this sacrifice.
        I hope you don't mind my question. No malice intended.


>there any instances from northern India too?
>I am more interested in Sastra-ic references (providing base/legitimation)
>to this ceremony. Dr. Drodzowicz provided one so far.
>Thanks once again.
>Regards,                --Sreenivas
>P.S. I just saw Prof. Hiltebeitel's message. Thanks for the _Bayly_ ref.!
>In fact a book I once read. Bad memory :-( ).
>E-Mail: sreeni at ktp.uni-paderborn.de

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