Like the other three Vedas (Rigveda, Samveda & Atharvaveda), Yajurveda is also a prominent scripture of the Hindu religion. This Veda contains Yajna-related prose and verse (poetic) mantras. Even though Yajurveda contains 663 mantras of the Rigveda, it is considered distinct from the Rigveda, as the Yajurveda is a prosaic scripture. The poetic category mantras in the Yajurveda are derived from the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda. Yajurveda contains very few original or so say independent poetic mantras. As Yaju means Yajna, it gives information about the rules of Yajna. It is considered to be a ritual centric-scripture.
We know that the Rigveda was composed in the Sapta-Sindhu region of the Northwestern Indian subcontinent. Well, as for Yajurveda, it was composed in the Kurukshetra area (of modern Haryana). Several historians opine that Yajur Veda was written from 1,400 BC to 1,000 BC.
The Special Attributes Of Yajurveda
Yajurveda contains mainly the rules and regulations of Yajnas and Havanas. The rules & regulations of Yajurveda are believed to be the last ones to be composed. They are said to have been composed in the early centuries of the first millennium to the second millennium BC. The Yajurveda provides valuable formation about the social and religious life of the Aryans. Besides, it also gives a glimpse of the Varna system of that time. Yajurveda contains mantras for Yajnas & their description. The scripture also provides valuable information about various yajnas, some of them are Agnihotra, Ashwamedha, Vajpayee, Somayagna, Rajasuya, and Agnichayan Adhi.
The Parts Of Yajurveda
Like every Veda, the Yajurveda is divided into parts. These include Aditya Sampradaya or Shukla Yajurveda and Brahma Sampradaya or Krishna Yajurveda.
What Is There In Shukla Yajurveda
Shukla Yajurveda contains a collection of mantras required for the ‘Darshapourmasadi’ ritual etc. Talking about its branches, its main branches are the Madhyandin and the Kanav. Yajnavalkya, the son of Vajasani provided the vision behind this scripture, hence the codes of Yajurveda are also called Vajasaneya. The Yajurveda has a total of 40 chapters and 1975 episodes. It has 3,988 mantras. The world-famous Yajurveda has Gayatri Mantra as well as Mahamrityunjaya Mantra.
The Yajurveda is a mixture of mantras and Brahmanas. Presently, there are 4 Samhitas in Krishna Yajurveda, namely Taittiriya, Maitrayani, Kath, and Kapishthal Kath. The Taittriya Samhita, which is a branch of Krishna Yajurveda, is also called ‘Aapastambha Samhita’. Of the 101 branches of the Yajurveda mentioned by Maharshi Patanjali, only 5 are available at this time, which are Vajasaneya, Taittiriya, Kath, Kapisthal, and Maitrayani. There is a lot of difference between them. Shukla Yajurveda delineates the Yajurveda Samhita on the basis of interpretive material (Brahman), while in Krishna Yajurveda, both are present.
The Branches Of Yajur Veda
The Yajurveda is the Veda associated with rituals. There is a description of various yajnas in Yajur Veda. Yajur Veda recitation is performed by an Adhvurya. It is said that the disciple of Veda Vyasa, Vaishampayan had 27 disciples, the most talented among them was Yajnavalkya. It is said that once Yajnavalkya, upon seeing the ignorance of his companions in the yajna, got angry.
Angered by the controversy, Vaishampayan asked Yajnavalkya to take back his taught knowledge. Yajnavalkya was infuriated and he vomited the Yajurveda. These particles of knowledge were mixed with the blood of Krishna Varna, this led to the birth of Krishna Yajurveda. Some disciples became pheasants (a type of bird) and devoured those grains, which led to the birth of Taittriya Samhita.
The Special Attributes Of Yajurveda
- The Yajurveda is in the prosaic style.
- The prosaic mantra in the yajna is called ‘Yajus’.
- The Yajurveda’s poetic mantras are derived from the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda.
- There are very few original poetic mantras in Yajurveda.
- Yajurveda contains rules for Yajnas and Havanas.
- Yajurveda is ritual-centric scripture.
- This scripture provides information about the social and religious life of the Aryans.
Upanishads Associated With Yajurveda
Several Upanishads are believed to be associated with the Yajurveda. Some of them are, Shvetashvatar, Brihadaranyak, Ish, Question, Mundaka, Mandukya etc.
Yajurveda and History
- It has been said in several scriptures that during Tretayuga, only the Yajurveda was a Veda.
- Shukla Yajurveda has 15 branches, which include Kanava, Madhyadin, Jabal, Budheya, Shakeya, Tapaniya, Kapis, Paudravaha, Avartik,, Paramavartika, Parashariya, Vanayya, Baudhay and Galav.
- Shukla Yajurveda Samhita contains a total of 1,990 mantras.
- Its Brahmin scripture is bigger than this.
- Krishna Yajurveda is also known as Taittiriya Samhita.
- The four branches of Krishna Yajurveda are Kathak, Kapisthal-Kantha, Maitrayani, and Taittiriya.
- Shukla Yajurveda Samhita has 40 chapters. Of these, in 39 only, Yagyas are described.
- The 40th chapter contains the epilogue of Samhita, which is also known as Ishavasyopanishad.
Yajur Veda is one of the pillars of the Vedic wisdom. It adds richness to the other three Vedas through its prosaic, original mantras.