Rājasuya

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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Rajasuya, RAjasuya, Raajasuya


Rājasuya literally means ‘to press out or generate a king’.

One of the Vedic sacrifices often mentioned by the purāṇas is the Rājasuya-yāga. It could be performed only by a kṣattriya or a king. Some authorities opined that it could be performed after the Vājapeya[1] while others felt that it should be done before. The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa[2] declares that one who performs the Rājasuya becomes a rājan[3] whereas the performer of the Vājapeya becomes a samrāt.[4] It is a rite of royal consecration and lasts for more than two years.

Rājasuya Ritual

The yajamāna or the sacrificer has to take the dīkṣā or preliminary vows on Phālguna-śukla-pratipad.[5] He then performs a Soma sacrifice called the Pavitra. The procedure for this is the same as for the Agniṣṭoma sacrifice. This is then followed by a series of iṣṭis[6] like:

Abhiṣecanīya rite

The most important part of the Rājasuya is the Abhiṣecanīya rite[8] wherein the water for the abhiṣeka[9] has to be brought from seventeen sources kept in seventeen vessels of udumbara wood[10] and poured on the sacrificer’s[11] head by several persons including the commoners. Then there is a symbolic march for the plunder of cows. A group of one hundred cows is ‘seized’ by the king and then given back to their owners. A dice-play in which the sacrificer-king always wins is also a part of the ritual. As in other sacrifices, the sacrificer has to take the avabhṛthasnāna or the concluding bath.

Fees for Rājasuya Ritual

The fees prescribed for this sacrifice is extremely heavy. It is 2,40,000 cows to the various priests. The Pāṇḍavas are said to have performed this sacrifice in their capital Indraprastha.[12]


References

  1. Vājapeya is another well-known sacrifice.
  2. Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa 9.3.4.8
  3. Rājan means king.
  4. Samrāt means the emperor.
  5. It is the first day of the bright half of the month of Phālguna, generally in February/March.
  6. Iṣṭis means sacrifices performed with oblatory materials like ghee and porridge.
  7. It is a rite to drive away demons
  8. Abhiṣecanīya rite is the rite of function lasting for five days.
  9. Abhiṣeka means the act of pouring the water on the head.
  10. Udumbara wood is Ficus glomearata.
  11. It is poured on the king’s head.
  12. Mahābhārata, Sabhāparva chapters. 33-45
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore