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The Yajurveda (yajurveda, a tatpurusha compound of yajus "sacrifice" + veda "knowledge") is one of the four Hindu Vedas. The Yajurveda Samhita contains the liturgy needed to perform the rituals and sacrifices of the religion of the Vedic period, and the added Brahmana and Shrautasutra commentaries add information 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 commentary within the samhita, while the Shukla Yajurveda considers the Brahmanas separate texts.

Shukla Yajurveda

There are two (nearly identical) shakhas or recensions of the Shukla (White) Yajurveda, both known as Vajasaneyi-Samhita (VS):
* Vajasaneyi Madhyandiniya (VSM)
* Vajasaneyi Kanva of Kosala (VSK)

The former is popular in North India, Gujarat, parts of Maharashtra (north of Nashik) and northern parts of Orissa, and thus commands a numerous following. The Kanva Shakha is popular in Maharashtra (south of Nashik), most of Orissa, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and 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 White Yajurveda has two Upanishads associated with it: the Isa Vasya and the Brihadaranyaka upanishads. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is the most voluminous of all Upanishads.

The VS 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

The VSM was edited and published by Weber (London and Berlin, 1852), and translated into English by Ralph Griffith (Benares, 1899).

Krishna Yajurveda

There are four recensions of the Krishna ("black" or "dark") Yajurveda:
* taittiri-ya sam.hita (TS) of Panchala
* maitrayani sam.hita (MS)
* caraka-katha sam.hita (KS) of Madra
* kapis.t.hala-katha sam.hita (KapS) of Bahika

Each of the recensions has a Brahmana associated with it, and some of them also have associated Shrautasutras, Grhyasutras, Aranyakas, Upanishads and Pratishakhyas.

The Taittiriya Shakha: The best known of these recensions is the TS, named after Tittiri, a pupil of Yaska. It consists of 7 books or kandas, subdivided in chapters or prapathakas, further subdivided into individual hymns. Some individual hymns in this Samhita have gained particular importance in Hinduism; e.g. TS 4.5 and TS 4.7 constitute the Shri Rudram Chamakam, while 1.8.6.i is the Shaivaite Tryambakam mantra. The formula bhu-r bhuvah. suvah. prefixed to the (rigvedic) Gayatri mantra is also from the Yajurveda, appearing four times. The Taittiriya recension of the Black Yajurveda shakha most prevalent in southern India. Among the followers of this Shakha, the Apastamba Sutras is the common Shrautasutra associated with the Shakha. The Taittiriya Shakha consists of Taittiriya Samhita (having seven kaandas), Taittiriya Braahmana (having three kaandas), Taittiriya Aaranyaka (having seven prashnas) (See Aranyaka Literature), Taittiriya Upanishad (having three prashnas or vallis - Sheeksha valli, Ananda valli and Bhrigu valli) and the Mahaanaarayana Upanishad. The Taittiriya Upanishad and Mahaanaarayana Upanishad are considered to be the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth prashnas of the Aaranyaka. The words prapaathaka and kaanda (meaning sections) are interchangeably used in the Vedic literature. Prashna and valli refer to sections of the Aaranyaka.

Three recensions have been edited and published: the Taittiriya by Weber in "Indische Studien", XI, XII (Berlin, 1871-72), the Maitrayani by von Schroeder (Leipzig, 1881-86) and the Kathaka by von Schroeder (Leipzig, 1900-09). Translations of the Taittiriya into English are due to A.B. Keith (Oxford 1913) and Devi Chand., 2003-2005. All Rights Reserved.
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