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brahmodya


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The name of a riddling contest, staged between the various sacrificial priests, and between the priests and the sacrificer (yajamāna) as a component part of a Vedic ritual. The best known example occurs during the horse sacrifice (aśvamedha), when the contestants ask questions such as: ‘Who roams alone?’ (‘The sun’), and ‘What is the furthest limit of the earth?’(‘This vedi (sacrificial altar)’). The purpose is to affirm an understanding of the hidden connections (bandhu) between the sacrifice (yajña) and the cosmos. The ‘winner’ is the silent brahman (masc.) who holds all the connections together, and thereby demonstrates his knowledge of brahman (neut.). This brahmodya format is also used in Upaniṣadic debates, such as that beginning at Bṛhadāraṇyaka 3.1.

Subjects: Hinduism.


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