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Shukla Yajurveda

 

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On a previous discussion regarding the various lupta shAkhA-s of yajurveda, there were some queries and comments. Hope the following post will clarify. Our gurunAtha, AshthAna vidvAn, shAstrAlamkAra shrI K P shankara shAstrI had extensively researched this topic, which was published in Varanasi. As the saying goes – AtmA purANaM vedAnAM– there can be no better source than the purANa to examine every topic, including this one. Those who disregard purANa-s as “texts which came later” can never accomplish a wholesome understanding of the shruti.

Firstly, there is absolutely no consensus on the number of shAkhA-s of yajurveda:

1. The charaNavyUha of shaunaka lists the number of yajurvedic schools as 86.

यजुर्वेदस्य षडशीतिर्भेदा भवन्ति |

2. muktikopaniShat lists the number as 109.

नवाधिकशतं शाखा यजुषो मारुतात्मज |

3. The number is listed as 24 elsewhere.

तत्र यजुर्वेदस्य चतुर्विंशति भेदा भवन्ति | [अथर्वण परिशिष्टे]

4. Various sources list the number as 101.

षट्पञ्चाशतमष्टौ च सप्तत्रिंशतमित्युत |
यस्मिन् शाखा यजुर्वेदे सोऽहमाध्वर्यवे स्मृतः || [महाभारते]

एकशतमध्वर्युशाखाः [महाभाष्ये]

शतं चैका च शाखाः स्युर्यजुषामेकवर्त्मनाम् | [अहिर्बुध्निय संहिता]

इत्येते वाजिनः प्रोक्ता दश पञ्च च संस्मृताः |
शतमेकाधिकं कृत्स्नं यजुषां वै विकप्लकाः || [वायु पुराणे]]

शतमेकाधिकं ज्ञेयं यजुषां वै विकल्पकाः | [ब्रह्माण्ड पुराणे]

इत्येकोत्तरशतशाखाऽध्वर्युप्रभेदभिन्ने श्रीमद्यजुर्वेदे [काठक सम्हितायां]

5. kUrma purANa lists this number as 100.

शाखानां तु शतेनैव यजुर्वेदमथाकरोत् |

According to viShNu purANa, the yajurveda was the earliest of the four Vedas and the other three sprang from it:

एक आसीद्यजुर्वेदस्तं चतुर्धा व्यकल्पयत् |
चातुर्होत्रमभूत्तस्मिंस्तेन यज्ञमथाकरोत् ||

shukla yajurveda, also referred to as vAjasaneyi samhitA, is traced back to sage yagnavalkya. sAyaNa interprets the word vAja to mean anna. The one who liberally donated grains was a seer named vAjasani, and his son yAjnavalkya was referred to as vAjasaneya:

वाज इति अन्नस्य नामधेयम् | अन्नं वै वाजः इति श्रुतेः | वाजस्य सनिर्दानं यस्य महर्षेरस्ति सोऽयं वाजसनिः | तस्य पुत्रो वाजसनेयस्तस्य याज्ञवल्क्य इति नामधेयम् || [सायणाचार्यस्तु काण्व भाष्ये]

yAjnavalkya was a student of vaishampAyana who was taught various yajus-s by his guru. Once when angry at his disciple for a particular reason, vaishampAyana chided yAjnavalkya to return all the knowledge taught by him and yAjnavalkya obliged by vomiting all the yajus-s taught by vaishampAyana. He then propitiated lord sUrya nArAyaNa who reveled him to him a new set of yajus-s that constituted the shukla yajurveda. It is described in viShNu mahApurANa that sUrya assumed the form of a horse while imparting the teaching of this shruti and hence the followers of this branch are referred to as vAjins:

यजूंषि यैरधीतानि तानि विप्रैर्द्विजोत्तम |
वाजिनस्ते समाख्याताः सूर्योऽप्यश्वोऽभूद्यतः ||

purANas such as vAyu, brahmANDa etc. describe that sage yAgnavalkya assumed the form of a horse while receiving the teaching from sUrya. Though there are various such accounts in the purANas, it is clear that this branch of yajurveda is clearly traced to yAjnavalkya. He is describe as the disciple of vaishampAyana and the son of brahmarAta. vaishampAyana is also described as the maternal uncle or mAtula of yAjnavalkya. It should also be noted that bhArata names yAjnavalkya as an adhvaryu in the rAjasUya performed by yudhiShThira. bR^ihadAraNyaka upaniShad refers to the presence of yajnavalkya during the sacrifice performed by janaka. He is generally associated with mithilA or saurAShTra.

There seem to be about fifteen shAkhA-s of shukla yajurveda according to brahmANDa purANa:

याज्ञवल्क्यस्य शिष्यास्ते कण्वो बौधेय एव च |
मध्यन्दिनस्तु सापत्यो वैधेयश्चाद्दबोधकौ ||
तापनीयाश्च वत्साश्च तथा जाबालकेवलौ |
आवटी च तथा पुण्ड्रो वैणोयः सपराशरः |
इत्येते वाजिनः प्रोक्ता दश पञ्च च सत्तमाः ||

vAyu purANa has a different list of fifteen:

याज्नवल्क्यस्य शिष्यास्ते कण्वबौधेयशालिनः |
मध्यन्दिनश्च शापेयी विदग्धश्चापि उद्दलः ||
ताम्रायणश्च वात्स्यश्च तथा गालवसैशिरी |
आटवी च तथा पर्णी वीरणी सपरायणः |
इत्येते वाजिनः प्रोक्ता दश पञ्च च संस्मृताः ||

Both viShNu and bhAgavata purANas agree with vAyu purANa:

शाखाभेदास्तु तेषां वै दश पञ्च च वाजिनाम् |
काण्वाद्याः सुमहाभाग याज्ञवल्क्याः प्रकीर्तिताः || [विष्णु पुराणे]

यहुर्भिरकरोच्छाखा दशपञ्च शतैर्विभुः |
जगृहुर्वाजसन्यस्ता काण्वमाध्यन्दिनादयः || [भागवत पुराणे]

Based on the charaNavyUha of shaunaka, sAyaNa’s kANva bhAShya and works such as pratij~nA parishiShTha etc., one can come up with a list of the fifteen shAkhA-s of shukla yajurveda:

jAbAla, baudheya, kANva, mAdhyandina, shApeyi, tApanIya, kapola, pauNDravatsa, AvaTika, paramAvaTika, pArAshara, vaiNeya, vaidheya, kAtyAyana and vaijavApa.

1. jAbAla shAkhA
Sage jAbAla is discussed at length in the ChAndogya upaniShad where he is described as the disciple of hAridrumata gautama. He is also described as a pupil of mAdhyandinAyana in the bR^ihadAraNyaka. mahAbhArata talks of a jAbAla who was a son of vishvAmitra and a brahmavAdin. vAmana purANa refers to jAbAli as the son of sage R^itadhvaja and this seems to be the opinion of pANini as well. The widely available jAbAlopaniShad is described by some as belonging to yajurveda and by others as a part of atharvaNa veda. Another upaniShad named jAbAla-darshanopaniShad belongs to sAmaveda.

2. baudheya shAkhA
This shAkhA is variously referred to as baudhAyana, gaudheya, gaudhAyana and audheya. There seem to be very few references to the name baudheya. The mahAbhArata speaks of a bodhi pingaLa who assumes the role of an adhvaryu for janamejaya and it is believed by some commentators that he is identical with the founder of this shAkhA.

3. kANva shAkhA
This, fortunately, is a shAkhA with both samhitA and brAhmaNa preserved. This shAkhA is regarded as the very first school of shukla yajurveda:

ऋषिणा याज्ञवल्क्येन सर्वदेशेषु विस्तृता |
वाजसनेयवेदस्य प्रथमा काण्वसंज्ञिका ||

Again, it is not an easy task to establish the identity of kaNva, the founder of this school. Some identify him with the son of apratiratha and the father of medhAtithi, who is also associated with shakuntalA. He is also referred to as angirasa and as the disciple of yAjnavalkya. mahAbhArata talks of him as belonging to kAshyapa gotra and residing on the banks of river mAlinI. We have discussed the structure of this shAkhA before and also its association with pAncharAtra Agama and the interested reader may refer to the archives.

4. mAdhyandina shAkhA
Both samhitA and brAhmaNa of this shAkhA are now in wide currency. pANini refers to sage madhyandina as a disciple of yAjnavalkya. In the samhita of the mAdhyandinas, there are forty adhyAyas, 303 anuvakas and 1975 verses. The brAhmaNa of this shAkhA is referred to as mAdhyandina shatapatha. It has 14 kANDas, 100 adhyAyas, 64 prapAThakas, 438 brAhmaNas and 7624 kaNDikAs. Here, the rules laid down by kAtyAyana sUtra are observed, which is also the case with kANva shAkhA. This is observed by mahAdeva, the noted commentator on the sUtra of hiraNyakeshin.

5. shApeyi shAkhA
Other variations of the name of this shAkhA are shApeya, shApIya and sApheya. Ananta bhaTTa’s commentary on the kAtyAyana prAtishAkhya mentions shAbIya shAkhA twice. There seem to be no reference in the purANa-s in this regard.

6. tApanIya shAkhA
While no details of this shAkhA are available, other variations known through references are tApAyanIya, tApAyana and sthApanIya.

7. kapola shAkhA
Variations include kevala, kapola and kalApa. No details of this shAkhA are known.

8. pauNDravatsa shAkhA
Also referred to as vatsa and vAtsya, this may be related to pauNDra, a country captured by Lord krShNa as described in mahAbhArata. This shAkhA is traced by some to a sage named vatsa, a resident of pauNDra desha. One should, before rejecting this theory, recollect the quarrel between vatsa and medhAtithi described in tANDya mahAbrAhmaNa, where both the debaters are referred to as kANvas. While the kAtyAyana shrauta sUtra also speaks of a vatsa, no part of this shAkhA seems to be currently available.

9. AvaTI shAkhA
The name ATavI listed in vAyu and brahmANDa purANas is simply a variation of AvaTI. Again, no details of this shAkhA are available but pANini was certainly aware of this school.

10. pArAshara shAkhA
It seems that it is a traditional practice to accept parAshara as the founder of a particular shAkhA of shukla yajurveda. pANini refers to him frequently [gargAdi gaNa]. parAshara, the father of vyAsa is a widely known sage whose pastimes are described in mahAbhArata and various other purANas. He is also associated with a dharma shAstra.

11. paramAvaTika shAkhA
From the name of this shAkhA, it is evident that it was closely related to AvaTI shAkhA. It may this be ascertained that the difference between the two was not significant. vAyu purANa refers to this shAkhA as parNI.

12. vaiNeya samhitA
Also known as vainateya, vIraNI and vaiNoya, nothing much is known about this shAkhA.

13. vaidheya shAkhA
Not much is known but for the name.

14. kAtyAyana shAkhA
Interestingly, this is also referred to as kaunteya shAkhA. The purANas and the charaNavyUha texts do not list this shAkhA. However, everyone is aware of the shrauta and grhya sUtras of kAtyAyana. From the existence of kAtyAyana prAtishAkhya, it may be inferred that originally this shAkhA had its own samhitA for which the prAtishAkhya was written. Whether the author of the sUtra and kAtyAyana the grammarian are identical is not known. R^ishi kAtyAyana is popularly referred to

15. vaijavApa shAkhA
Variations of this name include vaijaka, vaijapa and vaijava. A grihya sUtra of this shAkhA is available.

Apart from these, we also hear of audheya, addha, vidagdha or udheya shAkhA which is not available today. Some consider an equally lost uddala shAkhA to be a variant of addha or audheya shAkhA. Both vAyu purANa and sAyaNAchArya refer to gAlava shAkhA as belonging to shukla yajurveda. The association of the popular sage gAlava encountered in the purANas with this shAkhA is unclear. Other shAkhAs listed in various purANas and works include gaudheya, pauNDra and sApatya. These are, most probably, variants of the standard fifteen.