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Hunter – Hunting In Hindu Religion – Akhetaka

Akhetaka is a term used for a hunter in Hindu scriptures. Akhetaka, in Hindu religion, is the agent of an operation in which the animal is frightened by people from all around and moved out of the encircled area at a certain point where the main agent of the operation, i.e. hunter, lies in wait for it. In the sense of the agent of the operation of hunting, the word is used in the masculine gender. When, however, it is used in the neuter gender, it denotes the operation hunting itself.

In ancient India, hunting was taken up by the professional hunter as a means of livelihood. Princes, nobles and kings used hunting as a pastime and recreation.

In contrast to both these types, sages, saints and tapasvins were opposed to all such operations, particularly if undertaken within the precincts of their Ashrams. This is evident from the Krauncha bird episode from the Ramayana and the fact that the disciples of Sage Kanva in Kalidasa’s Shakuntalam request king Dushyanta not to kill the deer of the ashram.

The epics and Puranas contain episodes of hunters, especially when the scenes of action are set in forests.

Guha, the hunter-chief, plays a key role in the Ramayana. Himself a devotee of Rama, he arranges for a boat to ferry the latter across the Ganga. He also helps Bharata cross the river, though he initially suspects him of evil intentions against Rama.

Ekalavya is another hunter of a noble character in the Mahabharata, who offers his own thumb to Dronacharya as Guru Dakshina.

Kannappar, who name is associated with Shiva Temple at Kalahasti (Andhra Pradesh), offers his eyes to Shiva when he finds blood oozing from the god’s eyes.

Thus the hunter is celebrated in countless epics and legends in Indian literary and religious tradition.