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The Vedic Horse

The Vedic Horse

The Aswini are luminal, twin Vedic deities giving spiritual strength. One twin fills the universe with light while the other twin with fluidity. The Aswini represent the dawn, the stage between night and first breaking of light. They guide our transcendent quest for reality and truth and are symbolized by twin horses (ashva) or a horses head.

In Vedic astrology, the Ashwini are the physicians of the gods. They are kind and generous deities who bring health and offer miracle cures to people. They use their great knowledge to help not only the gods and goddesses, but human beings too, as they alleviate all suffering. The Ashwini chose compassion over all else.

In Vedic science, ashva (the horse) is prana, the energy that propels the zodiac as a single wheeled-chariot yoked by seven planets. It is the wheel of time on which all beings are placed. The Vedic horse (ashva) is a symbol of the life energy (prana) and indicates perfect control over the breath (Pranayama) as well as dazzling speed.

In the Rigveda, horses (prana) are yoked to the chariot of Indra, king of the gods (higher self).  The chariot represents our body as vehicle and the horses, our sensory organs through which prana is gathered. The mind (ego) is the driver who holds the reins (yamas and niyamas) and next to the mind sits the true observer (higher self), Indra.  We refine our senses and “driving” skills through Raja yoga (yoga is skill in action), cultivating the higher self as the mind mediates and navigates worldly phenomena.

Ashvamedha was an ancient Vedic ritual used to assert and extend the power and authority of a raja; a King over a region.  A male horse, a stallion was selected for sacrifice. Water was sprinkled over the horse and mantras whispered into his ears. A dog was killed after which the horse was set free.  The sacrificial horse was then allowed to wander into various regions and where ever the horse wandered, that land came under the rule of the king. Anyone who stopped the horse had to face the king in a battle. The horse was accompanied by an army, members of the royal court and Vedic priests.

The priests performed rituals continuously and after a year of wandering, the horse would be ceremoniously welcomed home. The chief queen and other royal consorts anointed the sacred horse with ghee and decorated him with golden ornaments. The priest offered the horse grain after which the horse and other animals are slaughtered.

The horse head is associated with Vishnu and Draco, the dragon constellation as well as the Aswini twins. In the Vedas, Vishnu places the entire Universe on the top of this horse’s head.  The story goes that Vishnu put on the horse’s head after the Rishis Dadhyanca had worn it when telling the secret of Soma to the Aswini twins, the celestial doctors. The secret of the Soma (immortality) was overheard by the Asuras (demons) and then these demons used the knowledge to destroy the universe.

Vishnu, in order to save the universe, put on the horse’s head and gained the knowledge once held by Rishi Dadhyanca (as told to him by Indra), and set about flying through the galaxy and through the galactic south pole between Gemini and Taurus and the galactic north pole between Sagittarius and Scorpio. Vishnu flew to the nether world of demons and evil spirits, down the whirl pool of galactic existence and let out a terrible whinny.  He retrieved the stolen Vedas, the codes of all existence for Brahma’s four heads and eyes to see the universe, thereby saving the universe.

Vishnu wearing the horses head also represents an aspect of his incarnation as Kalki, the tenth avatar. The name Kalki is a metaphor for eternity or time.  The Sanskrit root, “kalka” means mud or foulness and so Kalki means “destroyer of foulness or destroyer of darkness, “as well as“annihilator of ignorance.”

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