[Advaita-l] Vedic Sakhas

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sat Jun 12 21:39:08 CDT 2004

On Sat, 12 Jun 2004, U.K Anumula wrote:

> I would like to know how many Sakhas of Veda are there.   I have been tought
> to describe myself as Yajussakhaadhyaayi in my pravara.  Recently somebody
> told me that Yajussaakha and Krishna Yajurveda are the same.  Are they?
> What other Sakhas are there?--Umakantha Sarma.

At the beginning of the Kaliyuga Maharshi Krshna Dvaipayana  arranged the
Veda into four parts Rk, Yajus, Sama, and Atharva for which he is known
as Veda Vyasa.  These he taught to his 4 pupils.  They in turn taught
their pupils who are the founders of the shakhas.  For more details about
the various shakhas and the ones which are still extant today, you should
read a book called "The Vedas" by Swami Chandrashekhar Bharati, the
revered former Jagadguru of Shrngeri.

The Yajurveda was taught to Vaishampayana one of whose students was the
famous Yajnavalkya.  At one time, the Guru and student had a big argument
and in protest Yajnavalkya vomitted up the mantras he had been taught.  He
then propitiated Surya Bhagavan to receive a new vision of mantras.  This
is called Shuklayajurveda.  Vaishampayanas' original recension is called

Each of these has several shakhas.  The most prevalent shakha of
Krshnayajurveda is called Taittereya Shakha.  The story about this is that
when Yajnavalkya vomitted up the mantras, some of Vaishampayanas other
students took the form of birds called tittira (partridge or sparrow) and
took them up again.

Each shakha has a vedanga called kalpasutra which deals with
rituals etc.  Taittereya shakha is notable in that it has several extant
kalpasutras -- Apastambha, Bodhayana, Hiranyakeshi etc.

Today, different shakhas of the Yajurveda are widely seperated
geographically.  Shuklayajurveda is more often found in the North and West
of India while Krishnayajurveda is more often found in the South.  Most
likely in your homeland there were only Krshnayajurvedis so you began
saying yajushahakha.  So this is not technically incorrect.  But to be
more precise you sould say krshnayajurvedantargata taittereyashakhadhyayi
and to be be absolutely correct you should say your sutra as well.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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