1

Are both Śukla and Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda saṃhitas derived from the same parent source or are they totally independent from each other?

Are there any mantras common to both?

2

Are both Śukla and Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda saṃhitas derived from the same parent source or are they totally independent from each other?

They are totally independent of each other, but like all Vedas, there are some mantras common between both.

The Taittiriya Shakkha of the Krishna Yajur Veda was disseminated by Yajnavalkya:

Texts 64-65: Yājñavalkya, the son of Devarāta, then vomited the mantras of the Yajur Veda and went away from there. The assembled disciples, looking greedily upon these yajur hymns, assumed the form of partridges and picked them all up. These divisions of the Yajur Veda therefore became known as the most beautiful Taittirīya-saṁhitā, the hymns collected by partridges [tittirāḥ].

The Shukla Yajur Veda was revealed by rishi Yajnavalkya:

Text 66: My dear brāhmaṇa Śaunaka, Yājñavalkya then desired to find out new yajur-mantras unknown to even his spiritual master. With this in mind he offered attentive worship to the powerful lord of the sun.

...

Text 73: Sūta Gosvāmī said: Satisfied by such glorification, the powerful sun-god assumed the form of a horse and presented to the sage Yājñavalkya yajur-mantras previously unknown in human society.

Text 74: From these countless hundreds of mantras of the Yajur Veda, the powerful sage compiled fifteen new branches of Vedic literature. These became known as the Vājasaneyi-saṁhitā because they were produced from the hairs of the horse’s mane, and they were accepted in disciplic succession by the followers of Kāṇva, Mādhyandina and other ṛṣis.

The Kanva and Madhyandina shakhas are recensions of the Shukla Yajur Veda that are preserved even today.


According to Paul Deussen, śukla & kṛṣṇa represent "well-arranged" and "unarranged" versions:

"While for the Ṛgveda and Sāmaveda, the Mantras and the Brāhmaṇam, form two different works connected with one another, this case only holds good for both the later forms of the Yajurveda, particularly the white (Śukla) (well-arranged) Yajurveda, e.g. in the school of the Vājasaneyins; on the other hand, the black [Kṛṣṇa] (unarranged) Yajurveda (represented by the school of the Taittirīyakas, Kāṭhakas, and Maitrāyaṇīyas) has not still carried out this separation or division."

Paul Deussen, "Sixty Upanishads of the Veda," Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, p. 217 (Square brackets and bold emphasis added.)

  • 'Yājñavalkya...vomited the mantras of the Yajur Veda and went away from there. The assembled disciples...assumed the form of partridges and picked them all up.' - seems like a fantastic story, do you actually believe this? Anyway, I'm looking for an answer from historical perspective, that's why the 'history' tag. – sv. Sep 12 at 17:13
  • @sv. The vomiting and turning into birds is probably metaphorical. And I just gave you a historical answer, the puranic passage is describing what happened in the past. – Ikshvaku Sep 12 at 20:34
  • If it's metaphorical, 'Taittirīya or tittirāḥ' should probably have a different/historical significance? Also, if Yajurveda is just like the other Vedas, it could have simply had a different śākhā (recension), but why a separate division in the name of the Veda itself - Śukla and Kṛṣṇa? Are the mantras so different that they had to give it a new name? Does that make the total # of Vedas 5 instead of 4? – sv. Sep 12 at 20:45
  • 1
    @sv. It means that they picked up those verses of the yajur veda like partridges (tittiri birds), meaning they picked up the verses like birds, one by one. Why the krishna veda is called krishna and the other shukla is described on wikipedia: "The term "black" implies "the un-arranged, unclear, motley collection" of verses in Yajurveda, in contrast to the "white" which implies the "well arranged, clear" Yajurveda." But I don't know if this is a western indologist interpretation or an orthodox one. – Ikshvaku Sep 12 at 21:21
  • Also, "Yājñavalkya then desired to find out new yajur-mantras unknown to even his spiritual master" - does this mean Yājñavalkya is the author/seer of all those mantras? – sv. Sep 12 at 23:36
2

There are two forms of Yajurveda: Krishna (Black) and the Shukla (White).

The Krishna Yajurveda consists of prose mixed with the mantras, therefore the word Krishna.

Among different recension of the Krishna Yajurveda, Taittrīya is the most popular one, however, Maitrāyaṇīya recension is also studied well by the scholars.

The Taittrīya Samhita has no Anukraminis (index) like the Rg Veda. Even till date chanters of the Taittrīya Saṃhitā do not chant the names of any seer (Rishi) or God (Devata) while reciting the Taittrīya Saṃhitā.

An interesting aspect of the Krishna Yajurveda lies in the absence of the Ushas — a deity of Rig Veda. We also note that Rudra is more prominently discussed in the Taittrīya Saṃhitā (see the chapter entitled Rudraadhyaya).

The human sacrifices (Prususamedha) are conspicuous through their absence in the Krishna Yajurveda in contrast to the Shukla Yajurveda. However, horse sacrifices (Asvamedha) have been discussed towards the end of the Taittrīya Saṃhitā of Krishna Yajurveda as in the Vājasaneyi Shukla Yajurveda.

Unlike the Krishna Yajurveda, wherein the mantras and the Brahmanas are intermixed, the Shukla Yajurveda is organized better by separating the mantras and the Brahmanas. There are two recensions is called Mādhyandina and the Kāṇva although the Charṇavyūha speaks of at least 17 Shākas.

The nauseating legends like Yājñavalkya vomiting what later becomes the Shukla Veda finds no place in the Saṃhitā and is a later invention accentuated primarily in the post-Vedic literature like Mahabharata and Purāna.

Like Krishna Yajurveda, the Shukla Yajurveda praises Rudra extensively (see the chapter on Rudradhyaya).

Further, another difference between the Krishna and the Shukla Yajurveda lies in the reproduction of the Puruṣa Sukta of Rig Veda as it is. The Puruṣa Sukta the of the Rig Veda is absent in the Samhitas of Krishna Yajurveda.

  • 'The Krishna Yajurveda consists of prose mixed with the mantras' - can you give an example? 'The human sacrifices (Purushamedha) are conspicuous through their absence in the Krishna Yajurveda' - what could be the reason? Was Purushamedha always symbolical or did human sacrifices actually happen at one point? 'Charaṇavyūha speaks of at least 17 Shākas' - can you cite the actual verse? – sv. Dec 1 at 21:35
  • So the basic differences are: Krishna Yajurveda does not contain (i) anukramanis, (ii) mention of Purushamedha (iii) mention of Usha, a Vedic deity , (iv) mention of Puruṣa Sukta. Does Purushamedha - human sacrifice - indicate consecration of particular person(s) to any special purpose?@user965167 – srimannarayana k v Dec 2 at 3:01
  • @sv. I can cite the verse. But I have to borrow a book from someone. I do not have all the books in my home. Somethings have been just learnt over the years. Purushamedha is an interesting topic in itself. Yes, human sacrifices did happen. – user965167 Dec 2 at 5:56
  • @srimannarayanakv Understanding Purusa Sukta will set the premise for understanding for Purusamedha. – user965167 Dec 2 at 5:58

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