By Swami Harshananda
Yupa or Yupastambha literally means ‘sacrificial post’.
Among the Vedic sacrifices, about thirty are classed as Paśu or Paśuyāgas, wherein an animal is immolated. The post to which this animal is tied is called yupa or yupastambha made of wood. The trees out of which they are prepared are:
- Palāśa - It's scientific name is Butea frondosa.
- Khadira - It's scientific name is Acacia catechu.
- Bilva - It's scientific name is Aegle marmelos.
- Rauhitaka - It's scientific name is Andersonia rohitaka.
Rules for Making Yugastambha
Even for the selecting and the cutting of these trees, many rules have been prescribed. They are:
- Along with the carpenter and the wood-cutter, the yajamāna and the adhvaryu priest should also be present.
- The standard unit of yupa’s measurement is aratni, one-fifth of the height of the yajamāna.
- The height of the yupa varies from 1 to 33 aratnis, depending on the type of the sacrifice.
- Usually it is 3 or 4 aratnis. The lowest part called upara is one-fifth of the total height and is not chiselled.
- This part is to be buried under ground.
- The shape of the yupa is octagonal with one face being wider than the other seven.
- This portion should face the sacrificial fire.
- It's height is that of the yajamāna in the standing posture with or without the hands raised.
- The girth of the yupa is not fixed.
- Its top has a cap called caṣāla, made of the wood leftover, after preparing the yupa proper.
- Yajamāna means sacrifice.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore