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'''''Vedi''''' is the term for "sacrificial [[altar]]" in the [[historical Vedic religion|Vedic religion]]. Such altars were an elevated enclosure, generally strewed with [[Kusha grass]], and having receptacles for the [[sacrificial fire]]; it was of various shapes, but usually narrow in the middle.

*''mahavedi'', the great or entire altar
*''uttaravedi'', the northern altar made for the sacred fire (''agnyayatana'') [[File:Homa during Sri Thimmaraya swamy Pratishthapana..jpg|thumb|Vedic Fire Altar.]]
*''dhishnya'', a sort of subordinate or side-altar, generally a heap of earth covered with sand on which the fire is placed
*''drona'', an altar shaped like a trough (Shulbas. 3.216)
*''adhvaradhishnya'', a second altar at the [[Soma sacrifice]]

The ''uttaravedi'' was in the shape of a [[falcon]] (''alajacita'' = "piled up in the shape of the bird Alaja"), and was piled up with bricks in the [[Agnicayana]] ritual.

Vedic altars are described in the circum-Vedic texts dealing with [[Kalpa (Vedanga)|Kalpa]] (the proper performance of sacrifice), notably the [[Satapatha Brahmana]], and the [[Sulbasutras]] say that the [[Rigveda]] corresponds to an altar of mantras.<ref>BSS 7, ASS 14.</ref>

Fire altars are already mentioned in the Rigveda. According to [[Taittiriya Samhita]] 5.2.3., they are made of twenty-one bricks.

In ŚBM, the altar is made of 396 (360 + 36) yajusmati (special) bricks, and of 10,800 lokamprna (ordinary) bricks. 10,701 lokamprna bricks belong to the ahavaniya altar, 78 to the dhisnya hearths and 21 to the garhapatya. Around the altar are 360 parisrita stones (261 around ahavaniya, 78 around dhisnya, 21 around garhapatya).

ŚBM 10.3.1. describes that the altar is symbolically built with [[gayatri]] (24 syllables), usnih (breath, 28 syllables), pankti (mind, 40 syllables), [[tristubh]] (ear, 44 syllables), jagati (48 syllables) and generative breath. The gayatri altar's height is to the knees, the tristubh's to the navel and the jagati's to a man's height.

== Agnicayana ==
{| class=wikitable
|''Number of yajusmati bricks in SB''

In the Agnicayana ritual, the mahavedi (great altar) has a length of 24 [[prakrama]] in the east, 30 in the west and 36 in the north and south.<ref>With 24+30+36=90.</ref> Inside the mahavedi, an altar is placed. In the smaller ritual space to the west of the mahavedi (pracinavamsa, pragvamsa), three altars are placed: the garhapatya (earth, W), ahavaniya (sky, E) and daksinagni (or anvaharyapacana, SW). The round garhapatya and the square ahavaniya have the same area.<ref>(one square vyama/purusa) SB 7. TS 5.</ref> The [[Squaring the circle]] problem was also investigated because of such ritualistic considerations.<ref>Kak (2000)</ref> The ahavaniya altar has five layers (citi), representing earth, space and the sky.

== Archaeology ==

At [[Kalibangan]] (at the [[Ghaggar]] river) the remains of what some writers claim to be [[fire]] [[altar]]s have been unearthed.<ref>B.B. Lal. Frontiers of the Indus Civilization.1984:57-58</ref> S.R. Rao found similar "fire altars" in Lothal which he thinks could have served no other purpose than a ritualistic one.<ref>S.R. Rao. The Aryans in Indus Civilization.1993:175</ref>

==See also==

== Notes ==

== References ==
*[[Subhash Kak]]. ''Birth and Early Development of Indian Astronomy''. In ''Astronomy across cultures: The History of Non-Western Astronomy'', [[Helaine Selin]] (ed), Kluwer, 2000
*Subhash Kak, ''The Astronomical Code of the Rigveda'', Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal, 2000, ISBN 81-215-0986-6.
*Sen, S.N., and A.K. Bag. 1983. ''The Sulbasutras''. New Delhi: Indian National Science Academy.
*[[Frits Staal]], ''Agni, the Vedic ritual of the fire altar'' (1983).

==External links==

[[Category:Hindu temples]]
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