[Advaita-l] Apaurusheyatva

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Apr 18 15:23:04 CDT 2006

On Fri, 7 Apr 2006, Krishnan Sundaresan wrote:

> Yagnavalkya is credited as one of the (first) first-hand "seers" of the
> knowledge (mantras) that formed the  shukla yajurveda and it may be a
> stretch to attribute "authorship" or "discovery" of the Shukla Yajurveda
> only to him.

In fact the Vamshabrahmanas of the Shatapatha Brahmana mention some 60
generations before Yajnavalkya.

> As was the system at that time he (Yagnavalkya) taught the
> knowledge he "saw" or "realized" to his disciples until, at a later time
> (that of Veda Vyasa) it was put into writing.

Point of information: according to the shastras, seeing the onset of the
Kaliyuga and fearing the diminished mental capacity of the people would
cause them to forget Dharma, Krshna Dvaipayana took the various mantras
which were the "property" of different Rshis and organized them into 4
and taught them to his 4 pupils who then taught them to their many pupils
who were the founders of the various shakhas.  This is how he got the
name Veda Vyasa ("arranger of the Vedas") He taught the Yajurveda to
Vaishampayana as you said, whose quarrelsome student was Yajnavalkya.

> The knowledge or purport contained in the Vedas is Apaurusheya since it has
> always existed in a different domain--that of brahmajnanis or realized
> persons---and sages like Yagnavalkya were able to "see" the knowledge after
> intense medidation or tapas.

Actually the shastras are silent on how exactly some people came to see
mantras.  Meditation is one theory.  Some have even suggested it was the
hallucinogenic powers of the Soma plant.

> The story of Yagnavalkya vomiting out portions
> that he learnt from his guru VaisampAyana (that form the Krishna Yajurveda)
> and learning new stuff from Surya has to be taken metaphorically. Surya
> could have been the ishta devata of Yagnavalkya on whom he mediated and then
> attained the level to realize the knowledge. Earlier, Yagnavalkya probably
> had an argument with his teacher--happens all the time between student and
> teacher---and decided he had different opinions and walked out. The teacher
> VaisampAyana, having lost his favorite pupil to whom he had imparted all
> that he knew, was forced to teach the knowledge to his other pupils. That
> knowledge probably had to be imparted to many pupils in parts (many
> tititriya birds and hence the name Taittiriya Samhita) since there was none
> of the stature of Yagnavalkya.

The story in the puranas is a bit more disgusting.  Yajnavalkya was the
best but Vaishampayana had 1000 other students.  After the quarrel,
Yajnavalkya vomitted up all he had learnt and the students became tittira
birds to eat it up.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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