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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Adhvaryu literally means ‘One who desires an adhvara or a sacrifice’.

Man aspires to get maximum happiness with minimum effort. This aspiration can often tempt him to resort to methods which will entail a lot of suffering to other beings. The Vedic ṛṣis who thoroughly understood human psychology, propounded and propagated a system of sacrifices which would enable man to fulfill his desires in a righteous way.

Every such sacrifice required a minimum of four priests:

Adhvaryu, the second priest who follows the Yajurveda, is by far the most active of the group. It is he who surveys the sacrificial ground, designs and builds the altars, prepares or secures the utensils, cooks the sacrificial oblations, fetches water and wood, kindles the fires, brings the animals and immolates them, all the while repeating the appropriate mantras from the Yajurveda at appropriate times. Being constantly on the move, he has no fixed seat. He is normally assisted by three priests:

  1. Pratiprasthātṛ
  2. Neṣṭṛ
  3. Unnetṛ

Sometimes the number of such priests including him may be as large as 36.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore