Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa

This is the only Brāhmaṇa of the Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda that is extant now. The entire text along with the svaras (Vedic intonation) has been recovered.

Scholars of Vedic lore are of the opinion that this Brāhmaṇa is more ancient than the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa of the Śukla Yajurveda.

This work has 3 kāṇḍas or sections. They are sometimes called aṣṭakas also. Whereas the first two kāṇḍas have 8 prapāṭhakas or chapters each, the last has 12, making a total of 28 prapāṭhakas. The total number of vākyas or prose sentences is 17,480.

The first kāṇḍa deals with the sacrifices like Agnyādhāna, Gavāmayana, Vājapeya, Somayāgas, Nakṣatreṣṭi and Rājasūya. The second kāṇḍa deals with the others like Agnihotra, Sautrāmaṇi, Upahoma, Bṛhaspatisava and Vaiśyasava. The various mantras—mostly from the Ṛgveda—to be used in these rites as also other relevant details are also given.

The third kāṇḍa gives a detailed account of the Nakṣatreṣṭi. Twenty-eight nakṣatras and the mantras to be used for each of them are described.

Other subjects dealt with are: Puruṣamedha, Paśumedha, preparing the yūpa (sacrificial post), rectifying the faults in the rites, and Aśvamedha.

Some astronomical details as also the story of the sage Bharadvāja—his vain efforts to learn the whole of the Veda which is infinite—find a place.

The very last chapter reflects the teachings of the Vedānta through two symbolic sacrifices: Cāturhotra and Vaiśvasṛja. It is total renunciation that leads to liberation.

Now, a few words about the condition of the society as reflected in this work. Vedic sacrifices were extremely common. Cows were the main items of gifts, especially during the sacrifices, along with gold and cloth. Naturally, agriculture and dairy farming got the pride of place. The varṇa system was firmly established. Aśvamedha sacrifice was quite common among the kings and emperors. Kṣattriyas used to gather in large numbers for Rājasūya sacrifices. Women had an honourable place. Discussions on subjects pertaining to the sacrifices and philosophical topics used to be held, often during the sacrifices. The origins of the stories of the later purāṇas could be found in these discussions.

On the whole this is an interesting Brāhmaṇa, especially to get an idea of the details of the Vedic sacrifices and the society of the times.