By Swami Harshananda
Ahīna literally means ‘lasting for several days’.
Sacrifices are considered to be the links between men and gods like Indra. Ahīna is one of the several kinds which come under the Soma group of sacrifices. It is a general nomenclature for all Soma sacrifices wherein the extraction of the soma juice is spread over several days. Hence it is named as ‘Ahīna,’ ‘that which takes several days to perform’.
An Ahīna always begins on a full-moon day. The extraction of soma juice may spread over 2 to 12 days. It should always end with an Atirātra (another Soma sacrifice spread over a day and night), along with the dikṣā (consecration of the sacrificer at the beginning) and upasad (another small sacrifice of the iṣṭi type). The whole sacrifice should not extend beyond a month. The well-known Aśvamedha sacrifice belongs to the Ahīna group.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore