What is the Ashvamedha yagna?

       There were many strange and elaborate rituals and sacrifices in Ancient India. In the later Vedic period, that is, between 1000 and 600 BC, kings performed the Ashvamedha Yagna, or horse sacrifice. It was one of the most important royal rituals of the Vedic religion. Only a king could conduct the Ashvamedha.

       Its purpose was to acquire power and glory, to establish sovereignty over neighbouring provinces, and to ensure general prosperity for a kingdom. A pure white horse was marked with a victory card and allowed to roam about freely. If anyone stopped the horse, the king had to go and defeat him in battle, and bring back the horse. The horse was then sacrificed along with many other animals.

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