How rishi Dadhichi got name as Ashvashira (अश्वशिर) ?

Ashvashira (अश्वशिर) is another name of Rishi Dadhichi (दधीचि).

Rishi Dadhichi is a knower of self knowledge (ब्रह्म विद्या) , he imparted this knowledge to Ashwini Kumaras from a horse head, therefore he is also called as Ashvashira (अश्वशिर).

The reference to this is found in multiple scriptures – Rigveda, Yajurveda & Bhagavata Purana

  • स वा अधिगतो दध्यङ्‌ङश्विभ्यां ब्रह्म निष्कलम् । यद्वा अश्वशिरो नाम तयोरमरतां व्यधात् ॥ –  Bhagavata Purana, Sixth Skanda, 9.52
  • आ॒थ॒र्व॒णाया॑श्विना दधी॒चेऽश्व्यं॒ शिर॒: प्रत्यै॑रयतम्। स वां॒ मधु॒ प्र वो॑चदृता॒यन्त्वा॒ष्ट्रं यद्द॑स्रावपिक॒क्ष्यं॑ वाम् ॥-  Rigveda 1.117.22
  • (दध्यङ् आथर्वण:) तौ अश्विनौ ह, (छिन्नस्य विष्णुशिरस: पुनः सन्धानविद्याध्यापनार्थं ) उपनिन्ये, तौ यदोपनिन्ये अथास्य (दधीच आथर्वणस्य ) शिर: छित्वा अन्यत्रोपनिदधतु: । अथाश्वस्य शिर आहृत्य तद्घास्य प्रतिदधतु । – Shukla Yajurveda, Satapatha Brahmana 14.1.1.24

Story begins : 

Dadhichi is said to be knower of Brahmavidya(ब्रह्म विद्या) that would enable one to attain immortality.

Ashwini Kumaras once approached him and begged him to teach the self knowledge (ब्रह्म विद्या). Dadhichi replied, “I am currently busy in some work. Come back some time later.”

When the Ashwini Kumaras left, Indra approached Dadhichi and said, “the Ashwini Kumaras are only physicians. Please do not instruct them in self knowledge. If you impart the self knowledge to them despite my warning, I shall cut off your head.” After warning Dadhichi in this way, Indra returned to heaven.

The Ashwini Kumaras returned and begged Dadhichi for brahma-vidya. When the great saint Dadhichi informed them of Indra’s threat, the
Ashwini Kumaras replied, “Let us first cut off your head and replace it with the head of a horse. You can instruct brahma-vidya through the horse’s head, and when Indra returns and cuts off that head, we shall again restore your original head.”

Since Dadhichi had promised to impart brahma-vidya to the Ashwini Kumaras, he agreed to their proposal. Because Dadhichi imparted brahma-vidya through the mouth of a horse, this brahma-vidya is also known as Ashvashiraa (अश्वशिरा).

*****  Story End*******

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