Shukla Yajur Veda

Shukla Yajur Veda


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Acknowledgement: We are thankful to Veda Prasar Samiti, Chennai for providing the pdf files of Vedas in Devanagari script to us.

"The Yajurveda (a tatpurusha compound of yajus sacrificial formula, and veda knowledge) is the third of the four canonical texts of Hinduism, the Vedas. By some, it is estimated to have been composed between 1400 and 1000 BC, the Yajurveda Samhita, or compilation, contains the liturgy (mantras) needed to perform the sacrifices of the religion of the Vedic period, and the added Brahmana and Shrautasutra add information on the interpretation and on the details of their performance.

There are two primary versions or Samhitas of the Yajurveda: Shukla (white) and Krishna (black). Both contain the verses necessary for rituals, but the Krishna Yajurveda includes the Brahmana prose discussions mixed within the Samhita, while the Shukla Yajurveda has separately a Brahmana text, the Shatapatha Brahmana.

The Shukla Yajurveda is represented by the Vajasaneyi Samhita. The name Vajasaneyi is derived from Vajasaneya, patronymic of sage Yajnavalkya, an authority and according to tradition, founder of the Vajasaneyi branch. The Vajasaneyi Samhita has forty chapters or adhyayas, containing the formulas used with the following rituals:
1-2: New and Full Moon sacrifices
3: Agnihotra
4-8: Somayajna
9-10: Vajapeya and Rajasuya, two modifications of the Soma sacrifice
11-18: construction of altars and hearths, especially the Agnicayana
19-21: Sautramani, a ritual originally counteracting the effects of excessive Soma-drinking
22-25: Ashvamedha
26-29: supplementary formulas for various rituals
30-31: Purushamedha
32-34: Sarvamedha
35: Pitriyajna
36-39: Pravargya
40: the final adhyaya is the famous Isha Upanishad

There are two (nearly identical) shakhas or recensions of the Vajasaneyi Samhita (VS):

Vajasaneyi Madhyandina (VSM), originally of Mithila (Bihar), comprises 40 Adhyayas (but 41 in the Orissa tradition), 303 Anuvakas, 1975 verses.

Vajasaneyi Kanva, originally of Kosala (VSK), found to be the first shakha of Shukla Yajurveda, according to the legends of the Vishnu Purana and Bhagavata Purana. It comprises 40 Adhyayas, 328 Anuvakas, 2086 Verses. Thus have 111 verses more than the Madhyandiniya Samhita.

Both the Kanva and Madhyandina Samhitas have been transmitted with the common anudatta, udatta, and svarita accentuation (unlike the two-tone bhasika accent of the Shatapatha Brahmana).

The Madhyandina Samhita is popular in all over North India, Gujarat, parts of Maharashtra (north of Nashik) and thus commands a numerous following. The Kanva Shakha is popular in parts of Maharashtra (south of Nasik), Orissa, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Tamil Nadu. Sureshvaracharya, one of the four main disciples of Jagadguru Adi Shankara, is said to have followed the Kanva shakha. The Guru himself followed the Taittiriya Shakha with the Apastamba Kalpasutra.

The Vedic rituals of the Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam, the second biggest temple in India, are performed according to the Kanva shakha. The Jayakhya Samhita of Pañcaratra says its followers are from Kanva shakha.

The extant Aranyakas, Upanishads, Shrautasutras, Grhyasutras and Pratishakhyas are same for both Madhayndina and Kanva shakhas. The Shukla Yajurveda has two Upanishads associated with it: the Ishavasya, as the last part of te Samhita, and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the last part of the Shatapatha Brahmana. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is the most voluminous of all Upanishads. Other texts are Katyayana Shrautasutra, Paraskara Grhyasutra and Shukla Yajurveda Pratishakhya. The Shukla Yajurvedins (followers of the Shukla Yajurveda) are sometimes called the Katyayanas." - Source:

On Vedas:

"By the word "Shastras" the Vedas without beginning or end are meant. In matters of religious duty the Vedas are the only capable authority.

Knowledge acquired by the first means is called science; and knowledge acquired by the second is called the Vedas.

The whole body of supersensuous truths, having no beginning or end, and called by the name of the Vedas, is ever-existent. The Creator Himself is creating, preserving, and destroying the universe with the help of these truths.

The person in whom this supersensuous power is manifested is called a Rishi, and the supersensuous truths which he realises by this power are called the Vedas.

This Atman is not to be realised by the power of speech, nor by a vast intellect, nor by the study of their Vedas." This is a very bold utterance. As I told you before, the sages were very bold thinkers, and never stopped at anything. You will remember that in India these Vedas are regarded in a much higher light than even the Christians regard their Bible. Your idea of revelation is that a man was inspired by God; but in India the idea is that things exist because they are in the Vedas. In and through the Vedas the whole creation has come. All that is called knowledge is in the Vedas. Every word is sacred and eternal, eternal as the soul, without beginning and without end. The whole of the Creator's mind is in this book, as it were. That is the light in which the Vedas are held. Why is this thing moral? Because the Vedas say so. Why is that thing immoral? Because the Vedas say so. In spite of that, look at the boldness of these sages whom proclaimed that the truth is not to be found by much study of the Vedas. "With whom the Lord is pleased, to that man He expresses Himself." But then, the objection may be advanced that this is something like partisanship. But at Yama explains, "Those who are evil-doers, whose minds area not peaceful, can never see the Light. It is to those who are true in heart, pure in deed, whose senses are controlled, that this Self manifests Itself." – Swami Vivekananda

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Yajur Veda - Maharishi University of Management

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