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Avasathya – One Of The Panchagnis In Vedic Sacrifice

The concept of Avasathya as one of the Panchagnis in Vedic sacrifices holds a significant place in the ancient ritualistic practices of Hinduism. In the performance of Vedic sacrifices, the presence of consecrated fires, known as Agnis, is crucial. Among these, the maximum number is set at five and collectively referred to as 'Panchagni.' Each of these fires (garhapatya, ahavaniya, anvaharyapacana or dakshina, sabhya and avasathya) serves specific purposes within the ritualistic framework.

Avasathya, derived from 'avasatha' meaning dwelling place, is associated with the accommodation provided to the participants of the sacrifice. It was customary to house the Brahmanas and other invited individuals in special dwelling places called 'avasatha,' which resembled contemporary dharmashalas. In these places, a fire, referred to as Avasathya, was kindled, possibly to provide warmth and ward off cold during the ritual proceedings.

During the Vedic sacrifices, the Avasathya fire is positioned to the east of the Sabhya fire, within a hut known as 'avasatha.' The hearth of the Avasathya fire takes on a triangular shape, with each side measuring 25 angulis, where an anguli is equivalent to a finger's breadth.

The establishment of the Avasathya fire was a matter of debate among authorities on Vedic sacrifices. Some considered it compulsory, while others viewed it as optional. For its establishment, the original fire had to be brought from the Garhapatya, emphasizing the interconnectedness of the various fires within the sacrificial ritual.

In essence, the inclusion of Avasathya as one of the Panchagnis reflects the meticulous and symbolic nature of Vedic sacrifices, where each fire and ritualistic act carried profound significance in the spiritual and cosmological context of ancient Hindu traditions.