By Swami Harshananda
Agniksetra literally means ‘site of fire'.
In the Vedic sacrifices known as Somayāga, the adhvaryu (the chief and active priest) builds a ‘mahāvedi’ (‘the great altar’) on the eastern side of which the agnikṣetra, the site of fire, is constructed in the form of a śyena (hawk). Taking the sacrificer’s height as the measuring unit, the agnikṣetra is to be 4 units in length and 3 units in breadth. However, in certain cases like the Aśvamedha sacrifice, this size can be doubled or even trebled.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore