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Asvalayana Srauta Sutra

Asvalayana Srauta Sutra is a text on rituals belonging to the Asvalayana School of the Shakala recension of Rig Veda. Ashvalayana Shrauta Sutra prescribes the ritualistic code to be followed by the Rig Vedic priest Hotr and his subordinates. The sutras are presented in 12 chapters. From the concluding sutra, it is understood that Asvalayana was the disciple of Shaunaka.

The first chapter of Asvalayana Srauta Sutra deals with fortnightly rituals (darsha and purnamasa). In the second chapter, adhana ritual is described, followed by agnihotra (offering of oblations both in the morning and in the evening). In this chapter, ‘Chaturmasya’ (rituals performed during the four months) are also described along with many rituals, for the fulfillment of kamyeshti yagas (human desires).

In the third chapter of Asvalayana Srauta Sutra, the animal sacrifice is described, followed by sautramani yaga – a sacrifice – in which Sutraman (Indra) is worshipped as the main deity. Some of the expiation rituals are also explained in this chapter.

In the fourth and fifth chapters, the soma sacrifice is explained in a detailed way. In these two chapters, the functions of all the subordinate Hotr priests are given. In the sixth chapter, many more soma sacrifices are described. Finally, the avabhritha sacrifice – a rituals in which oblations are made in the water, after the bath at the end of the ritual is described.

In chapters seven and eight, collective soma sacrifices are described in detail. In the ninth chapter, raja suya yaga is explained. Many other minor soma sacrifices and vajapeya yaga are also described in this chapter. In the tenth chapter, the sattra yaga, running to several days, months and even years, is explained. The asvamedha yaga is described towards the close of this chapter.

In chapters eleven and twelve, many more sattra sacrifice are explained. In the last chapter, Pravara Khanda, a list of sages pertaining to various groups is given.

The language used in Asvalayana Srauta Sutra is very simple and crisp. These sutras can be compared in brevity and compactness with those of Panini’s sutras of grammar. Asvalayana has closely followed Aitareya Brahmana while formulating the sutras.