Asvamedha Parva Mahabharat

The historical Mahabharata is divided into eighteen portions, or books, the fourteenth of which is called Ashvamedhika Parva, or the “Book of Horse Sacrifice.” This is also the 89th of the Mahabharata’s 100 Upa Parvas (Sections). There are 96 Adhyayas and 2742 Shlokas (Verses) in all (Chapters). Ashvamedha Parva is the only Upa Parva that exists in it.

Asvamedha Parva Mahabharat Overview

Beginning with a recommendation for Yudhishthira to carry out the Ashvamedha sacrifice, Krishna and Vyasa introduce the Ashvamedhika Parva. Yudhishthira reveals that the conflict is the reason why the treasury is empty. Vyasa recommends gold mining at Himavat, close to Mount Meru. He recounts the tale of Marutta the Great. Yudhishthira continues his work at mining gold, stocking his coffers, and carrying out the Ashvamedha.

Anugita parva, spread throughout 36 chapters of the book, is what Krishna refers to as a retelling of the Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna informs Krishna in Anugita that he cannot recall the insight from the Bhagavad Gita and would like to hear it from Krishna once more. Anugita, which translates to “Subsequent Gita,” is spoken by Krishna and is a conversation between a Siddha and his pupil, a Brahmin couple, and a teacher and his disciple.

The Parva describes the royal Ashvamedha ceremonial, which Yudhishthira started on Vyasa’s advice. The horse may travel anywhere it wants throughout the ceremony, which lasts a whole year. An army under the command of Arjuna follows the horse with the aim of confronting any king who objects to the horse’s freedom of movement. Yudhishthira’s dominance as emperor is established during this ritual, as is his acknowledgment by other kings and countries. The horse is slaughtered in front of several monarchs when Arjuna’s army and the horse return to the emperor’s city after the battle.

The Bhagavad Gita lessons that Krishna gave Arjuna are reiterated in the Anugita sub-parva. Scholars have, however, questioned the validity and origins of the text. The 36 Chapters of Anugita, as well as the term itself, exhibit contradictions in the many copies of the Mahabharata that were found in India in the early to mid-19th century. The Anugita is further divided into the Anugita, Vasudevagamana, Brahma Gita, Brahmana Gita, Gurusishya samvada, and Uttankopakhyana in the so-called Bombay manuscripts. Different names are given in the manuscripts from Madras, Calcutta, and Ahmedabad. Anugita, according to Hall, could have been written and added to the original sometime in the 16th or 17th century AD.

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The philosophical work Anugita is included in the Aswamedhika Parva, along with several stories and fables like the one about the mongoose at the sacrifice.

The philosophical work Anugita is included in the Aswamedhika Parva, along with several stories and fables like the one about the mongoose at the sacrifice.

The Lesson: cruelty to animals or compassion

During the last Ashwamedhika phases of the fire Yajna by Yudhishthira and other monarchs, a mongoose with blue eyes and gold on one side appears. “O monarchs, this animal sacrifice is not comparable to the modest amount of grain by unccha vow ascetic,” the mongoose declares in a resonant human voice. Yudhishthira begs the mongoose for clarification since he does not comprehend.

The mongoose tells them a legend about a horrific famine that occurred in the past. The ascetic’s family was starving as well. The ascetic would go to fields that had previously been harvested and, like pigeons, gather the leftover grains from the harvested field in order to get nourishment.

The ascetic discovers some barley grains one day after spending many hours in arduous labour. His wife prepares the grains once he takes them home. A visitor shows up right as his son and daughter-in-law, his wife, and he are ready to sit down to their first supper in a few days. The ascetic offers to wash the visitor’s feet and asks how he’s doing. The visitor claims to be ravenous. The mongoose reveals that the ascetic shares his guest’s portion of boiled barley with him. The guest consumes it, but complains that it was insufficient since he is still hungry. The ascetic’s wife overhears the visitor. Even though she is famished, she provides her fair part of the cooked barley. The visitor consumes that as well but claims to still be hungry. Additionally, the ascetic’s son and daughter-in-law share all of the cooked barley. The visitor finishes it, grins, and then reappears as the deity Dharma. The family receives a blessing from the deity, who also supplies their house with food, emphasising that quality care and affection in light of one’s circumstances matter more than quantity. If Yudhishthira is certain that his animal sacrifice would satisfy the god Dharma, the mongoose queries. The mongoose vanishes before Yudhishthira can respond.

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At the yajna, the Rishis debate whether it is proper to sacrifice animals or if they should practise compassion for all living things. Some advocate replacing the animals with grain seeds and releasing the animals. In the Ashvamedhika Parva, King Vasu makes the observation that while enormous presents from sinners are worthless, even little gifts from the virtuous delivered in love are of immense merit.

You can read other chapters from the table below. Click on the respective link to understand about the summary of that book/section of Mahabharata.

Mahabharat All Chapters Summary Guide

1) Adi Parva 10) Sauptika Parva
2) Sabha Parva 11) Stri Parva
3) Vana Parva 12) Shanti Parva
4) Virata Parva 13) Anushasana Parva
5) Udhyoga Parva 14) Ashvamedha Parva
6) Bhishma Parva 15) Ashramavasika Parva
7) Drona Parva 16) Mausala Parva
8) Karna Parva 17) Mahaprasthanika Parva
9) Shalya Parva 18) Swaraga Arohana Parva

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