“Yajus” means “sacrificial formula” and Yajurveda is the book of sacrificial prayers. It contains the rituals of the Yajnas. It is estimated to have been composed between 1,400 and 1000 BC.
There are two primary versions or Samhitas of the Yajurveda: Shukla (white) and Krishna (black). Both of them have verses necessary for rituals, but the Krishna Yajurveda includes the Brahmana prose discussions within the Samhita (no Brahman) while the Shukla Yajurveda has separately a Brahmana text, the Shatapatha Brahmana.
The Shukla Yajurveda has two branches: Vajasaneyi Madhyandiniya & Vajasaneyi Kanva. Vajasaneyi Madhyandiniya is originally of Mithila and Vajasaneyi Kanva is of originally Kosala. There is one Brahman of Yajurveda that is Shatpath Brahmana.
Krishna Yajurveda has 4 shakhas or recensions viz.
- Taittirīya samhita (of Panchala): This is the best known as preserved Shakha.
- Maitrayani samhita (of Kurukshetra)
- Caraka-Katha samhita (of Madra and Kurukshetra )
- Kapisthala-Katha samhita (of Southern Panjab, Bahika)
Then we have Upanishads of the Yajurveda. They have been shown as below: