Ambastha

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By Swami Harshananda

When the varna system was born in the society, the seed of admixture of varna was also sown. Even as early as the Mahābhārata period, such admixture (varṇasaṅkara) was deplored. One of the several jati's born out of such admixture is the ambaṣṭha, the offspring of a brāhmaa father and a vaiśya mother.

Practice of medicine, surgery and agriculture are the professions recommended for this caste. Some books make the ambaṣṭha the offspring of a kṣattriya father from a vaiśya mother. Fighting is the vocation recommended.

Ambaṣṭha seems to be the name of a country also. A king, Āmbaṣṭhya, is said to have performed Aśvamedha sacrifice.[1]

Mahābhārata mentions another king Ambaṣṭha who fought on the side of the Kauravas and met his death at the hands of Arjuna. Kaiṅsa’s mahout who tried to assassinate Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa was also known as Ambaṣṭha.


References

  1. Aitareya Brāhmana 39.7
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore