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Story Of Shunahshepa In Ramayana

Story of Shunahshepa in the epic Ramayana proves that human sacrifice is an unacceptable practice. Indra stole the horse from the Ashwamedha sacrifice of King Ambarisha of Ayodhya. The king was asked to find the horse or perform a human sacrifice to avert the misfortune resulting from the situation.

While searching for the horse, King Ambarisha came across Sage Richika at Bhrugutunda. He offered to buy one of the sage's three sons for the human sacrifice. The sage refused to part with his eldest son, and his wife refused to part with the youngest. The middle son – Shunahshepa – volunteered to go with the king. The king gave Richika one hundred thousand cows and gold coins, and left with Shunahshepa.

On the way to palace, they took rest at sacred site of Pushkara. Here they met sage Vishvamitra, whom Shunahshepa recognized as his maternal uncle. Shunahshepa sought the sage's refuge, asking him to do something that would conclude the king's rite successfully but also save his life.

Vishvamitra asked his sons if any of them were willing to replace Shunahshepa in the sacrifice. His sons rejected the demand with scorn, stating that it would be equivalent to eating dog meat. Angered at their impudence, Vishvamitra cursed his sons to be reborn as outcaste dog-meat eaters for a thousand years.

Vishwamitra then asked Shunahshepa, and asked him to recite two hymns during the human sacrifice. Ambarisha and Shunahshepa then reached the palace, where the sacrificial ceremony started. Ambarisha concluded the Ashvamedha ceremony successfully, and Shunahshepa recited the hymns as he was about to be sacrificed. Indra then appeared on the spot and returned the stolen horse, and blessed him with a long life.