Vedas are not merely a bunch of religious texts and hymns but the supreme knowledge and commands authority over other religious texts. The Rigveda, along with its contemporaries the Yajur, the Sama and the Atharvana comprises the profound knowledge system leading to the Upanishads, the Itihasa and the Puranas, the Shastras and the Sutras. Yajur Veda is completely in Prose form while Rig and Sama are in the form of poetic hymns. Yajur Veda principally propagates the concept of Prana and Manas.
CLASSIFICATION OF YAJURVEDA
The Yajur is broadly classified into Krishna Yajurveda (The Black) and the Shukla Yajurveda (The White Yajur). Only 4 portions of Krishna Yajurveda and 2 portions of Shukla Yajurveda have survived the modern times. Yajurveda comprises Brihadaranyaka, Isha, Taittriya, Katha, Shvetashvatara and Maitri Upanishads.
STORY OF DIVISIONS IN YAJUR
The story about divisions in the Yajur is pretty fascinating.
Rishi Yagyavalkya is credited for his immense contribution to vedic science. He is supposed to be at par with Aruni and is considered as one of the earliest philosophers of Sanatana Dharma. “Neti Neti” (Not this, Not this), an approach by him inquires deeply about Anatman, This helps in distinguishing between what is Bhraman (the supreme) and what is Not Bhraman. He is also credited with teaching Bhrama Vidya to king Janaka.
Once, Rishi Vaishanpayana was teaching Yajurveda to his pupils. Once of the foremost and bright pupil was Sage Yagnavalkya. One day, the Guru and his shishya Yagyavalkya had an argument over interpretation of some hymns. Angered by the arguments of his Shishya, Vaishampayana asks Yagyavklya to return whatever he has learnt. On the orders of his guru, Yagyavalkya, through his yogic powers vomits the entire Yajurveda learnt. The other shishyas assumed the form of tittiri birds and ate the dark vomit. This came to be known as Krishna Yajurveda (Black /Dark/Impure). Yagyavalkya then prayed to the Surya. Surya, pleased by his tapas appears in the form of Vaji (horse) and restores the Yajurveda. This came to be known as the Shukla Yajurveda (White/Pure).
Yajurveda gives detailed procedure about performing Somayaga, Darsha-purnamasa, Chaturmasa and Agnihotra yagas.
(Article contributed by Shri Vallabh Narayanan)