Great Master Shri Sujnan Giri Explains: What are the Vedas? Part – 3

Picture of Sage Yajnavalkya

Our Great Master: Sage Shri Yajnavalkya, who brought us the Divine Scripture Yajurveda


Hari Om! Namaste!!

In our earlier articles, Great Master Shri Sujnan Giri was discussing with Jnana Hariputra about the Vedas in general and Rigveda in particular.  Let us continue to learn more on the Vedas by listening to their interesting and informative conversation.

Note: It is a mandatory prerequisite to have a basic knowledge on the Vedas and Rigveda to follow this discussion.

Hariputra: Bhagawan! Namaste! I have some more questions on the Holy Vedas. May I request you to grace the answers?”

Shri Sujnan Giri: “Namaste, Jnana. Sure.  Go ahead!”

Hariputra: “What is Yajurveda?”

Shri Sujnan Giri: “Let us try to understand the meaning of the word Yajurveda. It is composed of two words Yajuh and Veda. By combining these two words by Sanskrit Sandhi(a way of joining two words), we get the word Yajurveda. Yajuh comes from the Sanskrit root yaj, meaning to worship by rituals. As we already know, Veda means knowledge.
Therefore, Yajurveda is the knowledge of worshiping deities by Vedic rituals. Accordingly, Yajurveda deals with various Vedic sacrificial rituals(yajnas) such as Ashwamedha Yaga, Rajasooya Yaga, Vajapeya Yaga and so on.”

Hariputra: “Then, what is Krishna Yajurveda? “

Shri Sujnan Giri: “In Sanskrit Krishna means black. There is a little story here.
Entire Yajurveda is intricately linked with Great Sage Shri Yajnavalkya. Sage Yajnavalkya was learning Yajurveda with his Master Sage Vaishampayana. He was a brilliant disciple with razor-sharp intellect. Due to some  misunderstanding, Sage Vaishampayana got angry on Sage Yajnavalkya. The Guru(Master) asked Yajnavalkya to return whatever he taught.
Obeying the order of his Guru, Yajnavalkya returned the entire Yajurveda that he learned in the form of digested food. Vaishampayana’s other disciples became partridge birds(Tittiri) and ate it.  So, this portion of Yajurveda is also called Taittiriya Samhita(Samhita of Tittiri birds). It is also known as Krishna Yajurveda(Black Yajurveda). Got it?”

Hariputra: “Absolutely. Is there a similar story for Shukla Yajurveda too?”

Shri Sujnan Giri:“Of course! You guessed it right. Earlier story continues. The Sage Yajnavalkya was determined to know Yajurveda. So, he decided not to approach any other human Master any more! 🙂 To achieve his goal, he propitiated Lord Surya(Sun God).
The Sun God took a form of a horse and taught the Sage Yajnavalkya the portions of Yajurveda that are different from Krishna Yajurveda. Since this portion of Yajurveda was revealed by the Lord Sun, it is called Shukla Yajurveda(White Yajurveda).
This portion has been revealed by a horse(In Sanskrit, vaji).  Vajasana means Lord Surya. So, Shukla Yajurveda is also called Vajasaneyi Samhita(Samhita from Lord Surya/horse).
Thus, the Sage Yajnavalkya played a pivotal role in bringing Yajurveda to us. Our humble salutations to him.”

Hariputra: Bhagawan! Apart from the historical origin,  is there any other difference between these two portions of Yajurveda?”

Shri Sujnan Giri:“Good question. In Krishna Yajurveda, both mantras(chants) and Brahmana (descriptions) portions are mixed. According to some Masters, due to this mixing the Veda became slightly obscure, hence it is symbolically called Krishna which means dark or obscure. On the other hand, Shukla Yajurveda has a separate Brahmana portion called Shatapatha Brahmana that describes the mantras. So, due to this clear-cut separation of Samhita and Brahmana, this portion is called Shukla Yajurveda meaning white or clear Yajurveda.”

Hariputra:“I love your fantastic crystal clear explanation! Sir, What are the different branches in Yajurveda mantras?”

Shri Sujnan Giri:“The mantras of Yajurveda have many branches. The Shukla Yajurveda has two shakhas(branches): 1. Vajasaneyi Madhyandina 2. Vajasaneyi Kanva. The branches of Krishna Yajurveda Samhita are: 1. Taittiriya  2. Maitrayani  3. Katha  4. Kapishtala Katha.”

Hariputra: “What is the peculiarity of style of presentation in Yajurveda?”

Shri Sujnan Giri: Rigveda and Samaveda are mainly in verses set in a particular Chandas(metre). But, Yajurveda is more inclined towards free prose. The same is said as:
Gadyatmako Yajuh |  
It has also been said:
Aniyataksharavasano Yajuh |
Meaning: Yajurveda has unrestricted use of letters and ending.
In other words, it is not bound by any metrical forms, in general. However, there are some verses too.  Interestingly, the verses of 663 mantras of Rigveda are also present, as they are,  in Yajurveda.”

Hariputra: “Sir, Is there any popular mantra from Yajurveda that is used in our day to day rituals?”

Shri Sujnan Giri: “The most popular Yajurveda Mantra is Shri Rurdam which appears in Krishna Yajurveda.  It is also called Shatarudriya, since it extols Lord Shiva by his 108 names. It is a very powerful hymn to Lord Shiva. Shri Rudram also contains powerful five syllable mantra Om Namah Shivaya(I salute to Lord Shiva, who is myself) and the potent mantra – Om Namo Bhagavate Rudraya(I salute to Lord Shiva who is myself).
A Great Shiva devotee, Shri Appayya Dikshita was a follower of Rigveda. He once commented that he could have born in the family of Yajurveda followers, so that he could worship Lord Shiva by Shri Rudram in a more authoritative way.   .

Although, Purusha Sukta, the great hymn to Lord Vishnu belongs to Rigveda, the accents and intonations from Yajurveda are popularly used.”

Hariputra: “I heard that Yajurveda furnished the core  foundations to Advaitha (Non-dual) philosophy of our Great Universal Master Shankara Bhagavatpadah. Is that correct?”

Shri Sujnan Giri: ” You are absolutely right! According to our Masters, any philosophical theory must have three components: 1. Sutras(aphorisms) 2. Bhashya(commentary to the Sutras) 3. Vartika(explanatory notes on the Bhashya).
In case of our Great Master Shri Shankara Bhagavatpadah’s Advaitha(non-dual) philosophy, Upanishats are sutras. Shri Bhagavatpadah himself wrote Bhashya on these. Further, Varthikas for Upanishats Taittiriya and Brihadaranyaka were written by great disciple of Shri Bhagavatpadah, Shri Sureshwaracharya Padah. These Upanishats belong to Krishna Yajurveda and Shukla Yajurveda respectively. Thus, Yajurveda is an extremely important Veda that provides solid bases for Advaitha philosophy. Got it?”

Hariputra: “Yes Sir! I am curious to know more on the Holy Vedas. What is Samaveda?”

Shri Sujnan Giri: “Jnana! It is about time for my spiritual practice.  Let us discuss Samaveda in our next meeting. OK?”

Hariputra: “Fine, Bhagawan! Thank you very much for gracing the clear knowledge on the Yajurveda. I am really fortunate.”

Hariputra touched the lotus feet of the Great Master with reverence and left with the blessings.

…To be continued. Stay tuned!

Om Namah Shivaya ||

– Kalidas

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