During the intermission of Krita and Treta Yugas, the activity of agriculture was in full swing, ‘Varnashrama’ Dharma was established well and Swayambhuva Manvantara was well commenced; Indra Deva established the Insitution of Yagnas on firm footing. Maharshis launched the ‘Yagna Karmaas’ extensively. Ritwiks or the Brahmanas came to be fully engaged in the discipline of Yagnas; ‘Saamagaas’ or the practitioners of Sama Veda improved their finesse in singing the Stanzas and Atharvas perfected Yajna Kriyas. As Devas were invoked through the medium of Agni Homas by Brahmanas, the respective ‘Indriya –atmika’ Devas ( Adhi Devatas who are of the Form of Rasa- Rupa- Gandha) were in receipt of the ‘Havi Pradaanaas’. But, the Yagnas so performed involved Sacrifices of Animals. There were violent arguments for and against the Sacrifices; the Maharshis were too divided and approched Indra to clarify; those who did not support violence to animals emphasised that such sacrifices were blatant Adhrama and quoted Brahma:
Adharmo Dharma ghaataaya prarabdhah Pashu himsayaa,
Naayam Dharmo hyadharmeyam na himsaa Dharma ucchatey/
Aagamena bhavaanyagnam karotu yadihecchati,
Vidhi drushtena Yagnena dharmenaavyapa setunaa/
Yajna beejaih Surasreshtha yeshu himsaa na vidyatey,
Trivarsham paramam kaala-mupaiteyraprarohibhih/
Esha Dharmo Mahaapraajna Virinchivihitah puraa,
Evam Vishva- bhungidrastu Rishibhisttatwa darshibhih/
( Dharma is being badly affected by the practice of animal sacrifices. Indeed, violence to animals is Adharma. If Yagnas are to be performed in according to Scriptures, they should not affect the established tentets of Non-violence. Sacrifices should be executed with seeds not kept beyond three years maximum so that they should nor give out sprouts to grow. Therefore, usage of such seeds do not involve any violence and that was what Lord Brahma laid down). As such contradictory arguments were given, Indra asked King Vasu to clarify and the King without applying much of his own mind followed Manu Smriti and gave the ruling that Sacrifice was an essential part of Yagnas. He also stated that after all, the Mantras in Darshana Grandhas were in accordance of the procedure of Sacrifice and to change the practice of Animal Sacrifice would tantamount to falsifying the Mantras concerned! Having stated thus, King Vasu the illustrious son of Uttanapada left for Rasatala and it so transpired that his return did not material subsequently inferring there by that his judgment was erroneous and invalid. Eventually, Swayambhu Manu too was in bad spot by the Maharshis in this context of his defence of animal sacrifice. It was also noticed that thousands of Munis and Brahmanas reached Swarga in executing Yagnas without resorting to animal sacrifice. In fact, several Munis were stated to have Salvation even without resorting to Yagnaas or or that matter even by the practice of Charity! Innumerable Munis took to the alternative of ‘Tapas’ or meditation by observing fasts or limited food of fruits and vegetables and accomplished Swarga; they observed Alobha or non-greediness, Bhuta Daya or compassion for co-Beings, Dama or Physical Control, Brahmacharya or Celibacy, Satya or Truthfulness, Dhriti or Moral courage. Countless such practitioners of Dharma among Brahmanas and Kshatriyas reached Salvation like Uttanapada, Priyavrata, Dhruva, Sudhama, Viraja, Shankhu, Pandyaja, Prachina Barhi and so on proved that Tapas and Virtue were effective means of Salvation and Yagnas were not as effective! With Yajna one might meet Devas but Tapas yields Vairaja or Kaivalya!
Rishis: The Truth of the Lokas is called ‘Ruta’ and those who know about it are called Rishis. There are five kinds of ‘Risha Jaataas’viz. Ayaktaatmas, Mahan Atmaas, Antaratma, Bhutatma Riksa Jaataas and Indriyatmas. ‘Brahma Maanasa Putras’ were ten viz. Bhrigu, Marichi, Atri, Angirasa, Pulaha, Kratu, Manu, Daksha, Vasishta and Pulastya who were ‘Paramarshaas’ or Maharshis. Ishwara’s progeny were Kaavya or Shukra, Brihaspati, Kashyapa, Chyavana, Upadhya, Vamadeva, Apasya, Ushija, Kardama, Vishravasu, Shakti and Valakhilyas; all these were called ‘Aartavaas’ and they all attained Rishitwa due to their Tapas. Then there are Rishis called ‘Rishikaas’ viz. Vatsara,Nagriha, Bharadwaja, Deergha -tama, Brihaduktha, Sharadvat, Vaajasrava, Shruti, Vashvaashya, Paraashara, Dadhichi, Shamshapa, and Vaishravana- the King turned Rishi- due to their Satyatva or Truthfulness. These are all Rishis who were Mantra Kartaas. Then there were nineteen Rishis called Mantra Vaadis viz. Bhriga, Kaavya, Prachetasa, Ruchika, Atmavanta, Ourva, Jamadagni, Vidudu, Saaraswata, Aarshishena, Yadhaajit, Veetahavya, Suvarchasa, Vaishya, Pruthuva, Divodaasa, Baadhyashva, Grutsna and Shounaka. Angirasa, Vaidyaga, Bhardwaja, Bhashkali, Rituvaaka, Garga, Shini, Samkruti, Purukatsa, Mandhata, Ambarisha, Yavana -ashwa, Pourakutsa, Trisadasya, Dasyumanta, Aaharya, Ajameedha, Tukshya, Kapi, Vrishaadarbha, Virupaashwa, Kanva, Mudgala, Utathya, Sanadwaaja, Vaajashravasa, Ayasya, Chakravarti, Vaama Deva and Asija. Three Rishis of Angirasa Vamsha were also famed viz. Brihaduktha, Dirghatama, and Kakshivanta. From Kashyapa Varga were Kashyapa, Vatsaara, Naudhruva, Raibhya, Asita, and Devala and the six were all Brahmavaadis. From the clan of Atri were Atri himself, Avyasana, Shaavaashwa, Gavishthara, Avihotra, Dheemanta and Purvaatithi; all these were Maharshis and Mantrakaaraas. Of the Vasishta vamsha were Vasishtha, Shakti, Paraashara, Indrapramati, Bharadwaja, Maitravaruni and Kundina; all of them were Brahmavaadis. From Kushika Vamsha were Vishwamitra the son of Gadhi, Devratha, Udgala, Madhucchanda, Agha-marshana, Ashtaka, Lohita, Katha, Kola, Devashravasu, Renu, Purana and Dhanamjaya. Maharshis Agastya, Aayu and Drudhaayu and Idhmavaha were called Brahishthaas as they were appointed for Tapasya to Brahma. Manu the son of Vaivaswata and Pururava King called Aila were basically Khatriyaas but were also considered as Rishis. Similarly three Vaishyas viz. Balandana, Vatsa and Samkeela were also qualified as Rishis.
Vedas: In Treta Yuga, there was only one Veda divided by four parts. As there was no unanimity of opinion among Maharshis in terms of Mantras, their classification, seriatim and intonations / voice modulations, there was confusion at different Places among varied groups of Rishis. Neither the broad classification was uniform and approved nor the innumerable patterns of editing; the process of reconciliation was too tardy; Rishis, Rishikas, and Rishi-Putras entered into unending and complex intrepretaions. In Dwapara Yuga, there was a division of Vedas into Ruk-Yajur-Saama Veda Samhitas by Maharshis with varied compositions, Mantra bhedas or variations, Swara bhedas or intonations etc. For eg. Yajur Veda which was rather unwieldy was presented in two parts. With passage of time the Vedas were evolved and so did Shastras; there were innumerable variations witnessed in Ayurveda and its branches, Jyotisha Shastra, Artha Shastra, Hethu Shastra or Tarka and so on. In Dwapara Yuga itself Veda Vyasa divided Vedas into Four Vedas of Ruk-Yajur-Saama and Atharva Swarupas. ‘Shrutarshas’or those conversant with the Knowledge of Vedas, in the subsequent generation of Veda Vyasa made several editions of each of the Vedas.The most prominent of the Shutarshas were Bahrucha, Bhargava, Pyla, Samskrutya, Jaabaali, Sandhyaasti, Maathara, Yagjnyavalkya, Parashara, Upamanyu, Indrapramati,Maamduki, Shaakali, Bhaskali, Shokapani, Naila, Alaka, Pannaga, Pakshiganta and so on totalling eighty six of them. In fact there are eighty six ‘shaakhaas’ or branches of Yajur Veda. Among the illustrious Dwijarshas with Veda Jnaana were Vaishampayana, Louhithya, Kantha kaala, Avashaavadhuh, Shaamapati, Palandu, Alambi, and Kamalapati and their Sishyas. Now, the Sages called Adharvyus of the Charaka branch of Krishna Yajur Veda were different and they were Jaimini,Bharadwaja, Kaavya, Poushyanji, Hiranyanabha, Koushilya, Lougakshi, Kusumi, Laangali, Shalohotra, Shaktiraja, and Bhargava. King Pururava and forty six other Rishis and their Sishyas too were ‘Shrutarthas’ and they were specialist Vidyarthis in ‘Homaas’ called Kaushiti, Kankamudya, Kundaka, Parashara, Lobhalobha, Brahmabala, Kranthala, Madagala and Markandeya.
The Term Sapta Vindhya is associated with Sama Veda and the constituents are Hrinkara, Pranava, Geeta, Prastaava, Pratihotra, Upadrava, and Nidhana. Minus the first and the second of these is called Pancha Vidya. In fact, the Mantras of Ruk-Yajur-Saama Vedas contain nine characteristics which are common and these are: Murti (Form), Ninda (Blame), Prashamsha (Praise), Anugjna (Approval or Endorsement), Aakrosha ( Admonition), Tosha (Gladness), Prashna (Questioning), Aakhyaana (Narration), and Aaasashti (Blessing). The Mantra bhedaas or different Mantras related to the above nine characteristics are twenty-four types: viz. Prashamsha, Stuti, Aakrosha, Ninda, Parivedana, Abhishapa, Vishapa, Yagna, Aakshepa, Prashna, Prativachana, Ashirvaada, Arthaakyana, Samkatha, Viyoga, Abhiyoga (Fight) Katha, Samtha or Sthiti, Vara or boon, Pratishedha (Tiraskara or disapproval), Upadesha (Instruct), Namaskara, Spruha (Desire), and Vilapa.
Veda Vyasa appointed five disciples viz. Jaimini, Sumanta, Vaishampayana, Paila and Lomaharsha. He commisioned Paila to study Rig Veda, Yajur Veda to Vaishampayana, Saama Veda to Jaimini, and Atharva Veda to Sumanta. Suta Muni was asked by Vyasa to study Itihasaas, Puranas and Kalpa Vakyas. As regards, Yajur Veda, he made four parts and Chaturhotras or four Yajna vidhaanaas or procedures of conducting the Sacrifices. There are four Ritviks called Hota, Adhvaryu, Udgata, and Brahma. Vyasa appointed Adhvarya to recite Yajur Veda, Hota to recite Rig Veda, Udgata to recite Saama Veda and Brahma or the Chief of Rutviks to recite Atharva Veda. The Yajur Veda Mantras are quite long and complicated for pronounciation and that is why hundred Ritviks are required to participate in an Ashwa Medha Yagjna. Paila divided Rig Veda into two Samhitas and entrusted these to two disciples viz. Indrapramati and Bashkala. Bashkala made four Samhitas viz. Bodhya, Agnimatara, Paaraashari and Yagnyavalka Shakha. Indrapramati taught one Shakha to his own son Satyahita; the latter taught it to his son Satyashri. Shakalya, Rathitara and Bharadwaja the son of Bashkala were the students of Satyashri.
Interestingly, Vaishampayana asked his disciple Yagnyavalkya to omit out whatever was learnt from him since the Guru was annoyed as the latter bragged that his Guru’s Brahma hatya sin could be redeemed all by himself out of his Tapasya; the cause of the Brahma Hatya was that the Guru could not reach a specific place at an appointed time as per a Group understanding that failure to so reach would tantamount to Brahma hatya. Having left his Guru, Yagnyavalkya meditated to Surya Deva and the latter taught a fresh version of Yajur Veda which was not known to Vaishampayana too. Since Surya Deva assumed the Form of a horse to teach Yagnyavalkya, the Yajuveda Samhita was called ‘Vaajina’Yajur Veda or that which was taught to the latter.
Besides the Four Vedas, there were twelve more Vidyas, including the six Vedangas of Shiksha, Kalpa, Vyakarana, Nirukti, Chhandas and Jyotisha; besides Meemaamsa, Nyaaya Vistarana, Dharma Shastra and Puranas , as also Ayur Veda, Dhanur Veda, Gandharva Veda and Artha Shastra.