Śukla Yajurveda Samhitā

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Sukla Yajurveda Samhita, Zukla Yajurveda SamhitA, shukla Yajurveda Samhitaa


Recensions of Śuklayajurveda Samhitā

The Śuklayajurveda Samhitā is also known as the Vājasaneya Samhitā. It is attributed to the great sage Yājñavalkya. It is said to have 15 śākhās or recensions. They actually bear the names of the disciples to whom Yājñavalkya taught. Some of them are:

  1. Kānva
  2. Mādhyandina
  3. Jābāla
  4. Baudheya
  5. Śāpeya
  6. Pārāśara
  7. Baijavāpa
  8. Others

However, only the first two are extant now, the rest being completely lost. The Kānvaśākhā contains 2086 mantras spread over 40 adhyāyas or chapters. The Mādhyandinaśākhā also has 40 chapters but only 1900 or 1975 according to another version of mantras. The entire work is in verses without prose portions as in the Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda.

Contents of Śuklayajurveda Samhitā

The following is a brief summary of the contents:

Chapter 1

It has 31 verses. It includes the following:

  • Darśapurṇamāsa sacrifices
  • Tyāga-vrata[1]
  • Bringing water and purifying it
  • Spreading the deer-skin
  • Preparing cooked rice
  • Driving away the demons and evil spirits

Chapter 2

It has 34 verses. It includes the following:

  • Purifying the samidh[2] and kuśa grass
  • Lighting the fire
  • Keeping the implements in their respective places
  • Prayer for the protection of the sacrifice
  • Putting the samidhs into the fire
  • Keep away a part of the offering for the demons
  • Mantras for getting offspring

Chapter 3

It has 63 verses. It includes the following topics:

  • Agnyādhāna[3]
  • Agnihotra
  • Eulogy of the cow
  • Sāvitrīmantra
  • Worship of the other fires like the āhavanīya
  • The dīkṣā[4] of the sacrificer
  • Worship of Rudra, the three-eyed God

Chapter 4

It has 37 verses. It delineates about the Somayāga and some of its details.

Chapter 5

It has 43 verses. It includes the details of the preparation for the Somayāga. They include preparation of soma juice and placing of the appropriate vessels.

Chapter 6

It has 37 verses. It includes the following:

  • Erecting the yupastambha[5]
  • Tying the animal to it
  • Bali[6]
  • Mantras for sending it to heaven

Chapter 7

It has 48 verses. It describes about the billing the soma juice in various cups meant for the various deities like Indra, Vāyu, Mitra, Varuṇa and others.

Chapter 8

It has 63 verses. It describes the following:

  • Continuation of the previous topics
  • Some Soma sacrifices like Soḍaśin, Dvādaśin and Gavāmayana

Chapter 9

It has 40 verses. Vājapeya and Rājasuya, two well- known and popular sacrifices of those days, are described here.

Chapter 10

It has 34 verses. Description of the Rājasuyayāga is continued here.

Chapter 11

It has 83 verses. A detailed description of Agnicayana[7] is started from this chapter right up to the 18th chapter.

Chapter 12

It has 117 verses. Topics of this chapter are:

  • Viṣṇukrama - taking 4 steps with appropriate mantras
  • Vaṇīvāhana rite - coming and going of fire kept in a vessel on a cart
  • Purification of the place
  • Bringing the bricks
  • Others

Chapters 13 to 15

It has 153 verses. They describe in detail the building up the altar with 10,008 bricks in four layers in the form of a bird with its wings stretched.

Chapter 16

It has 66 verses. The entire chapter contains the famous Rudrādhyāya. It is used in the Satarudrīya homa.[8]

Chapter 17

It has 99 verses. The topics described are:

  • Ascending the vedi[9]
  • Inviting the Fire-god
  • Offering madhuparka
  • Praising Agni and Indra
  • Pouring of milk
  • Few more rites

Chapter 18

It has 77 verses. This contains the mantras used in vasordhārā,[10] an oblation of ghee poured in a continuous stream into the fire on the altar.

Chapter 19

It has 95 verses. The topics dealt with are:

  • The Sautrāmaṇi sacrifice
  • Offering milk to the deities the Aśvins, Indra and Sarasvati
  • Offering wine, after purifying with mantras, into the dakṣiṇāgni
  • Praising the pitṛs[11] like the Agniṣvattas
  • Story of Indra being rejuvenated by the Aśvins

Chapter 20

It has 90 verses. The subjects of this chapter are:

  • Mantra for one’s welfare
  • Avabhṛtha[12]
  • Mantra for destruction of sins
  • Giving sacrificial food to Indra
  • Chanting of the Āprisuktas
  • Inviting Indra
  • Hymns to the Aśvins, Sarasvatī and Agni

Chapter 21

It has 60 verses. This contains the following topics:

  • Hymns to Varuṇa and Agni
  • Worship of Aditi the mother of gods
  • Oblations to Mitrā-Varuṇa
  • Chanting of Indrasukta
  • Conclusion of the Sautrāmaṇi sacrifice

Chapter 22 - 29

It has 34 verses. The topic of the Aśvamedha sacrifice is begun here and continues with the details through Chapters 23,[13] 24,[14] and 25,[15] 26,[16] 27,[17] 28[18] and 29.[19] The topics described here are:

  • Various minor sacrifices
  • Conclusion of Aśvamedha sacrifice
  • Hymn to the horse and the Sun-god identifying the two as one
  • Eulogy of the weapons of war

Chapters 30 - 31

It has 22 verses. Chapter 31 has 22 verses. The sacrifice called Puruṣamedha[20] is described here with 184 varieties of living beings as the offering. Scholars however describe it as only symbolical.

Chapters 32 - 33

It has 16 verses. Chapter 33 has 97 verses. These deal with the sacrifice called Sarvamedha. Along with the praise of the sacrificer there is a prayer for granting knowledge, wisdom and wealth. There are several mantras and yajus[21] in praise of several deities.

Chapter 34

It has 58 verses. The first six mantras are known as the Śivasañkalpopaniṣad. This is followed by some details of a few sacrifices and hymns of praise of the deities Bhaga, Puṣan and Brahmaṇaspati.

Chapter 35

It has 22 verses. Pitṛmedha mantras are the chief content here.

Chapters 36 to 39

It has 86 verses. These contain the mantras connected with the Pravargya rite.

Chapter 40

It has 18 verses. This is the famous Iśāvāsya Upaniṣad. Some important aspects of the teaching of the Samhitā are:

  • Meticulous performance of the Vedic sacrifices was considered the highest puruṣārtha.
  • Even the gods got special powers by performing sacrifices.
  • Mantras are very powerful, if chanted correctly and will harm if chanted wrongly, the power being dependent on the correctness of chanting.


References

  1. It resolve to give the object of offering.
  2. Samidh means faggots.
  3. It means producing the fire.
  4. Dīkṣā means taking the vows.
  5. Yupastambha means sacrificial post of wood.
  6. Bali means immolation and sacrifice.
  7. Agnicayana is the rite of piling the fire-altar for Soma sacrifices in 5 layers with bricks.
  8. It appears in the Taittiriya Samhitā 4.5 also.
  9. Vedi means the altar.
  10. Vasordhārā means the ‘flow of wealth’.
  11. Pitṛs means the manes.
  12. Avabhṛtha means the final bath of the sacrificer.
  13. It has 65 verses.
  14. It has 40 verses.
  15. It has 47 verses.
  16. It has 26 verses.
  17. It has 45 verses.
  18. It has 46 verses.
  19. It has 60 verses.
  20. Puruṣamedha means human sacrifice.
  21. Yajus means prose passages.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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