Taittiriya Shakha

The Taittirīya Shakha (Sanskrit, loosely meaning ‘Branch or School of the sage Tittiri’), is a shakha (i.e. ‘branch’, ‘school’, or rescension) of the Krishna (black) Yajurveda. Most prevalent in South India, it consists of the Taittirīya Samhita (‘TS’), Taittirīya Brahmana (‘TB’), Taittirīya Aranyaka (‘TA’), and Taittirīya Pratisakhya (‘TP’).


  • ’’’ |source=Mahanarayana Upanishad, Prapāṭhaka 10, Anuvaka 1, Khandika 38 |author=|title=}} The ‘Taittiriya Shakha’ can be loosely translated as ‘Branch or School of (the sage) Tittri’ or ‘Branch or School of Taittiriya’ or ‘School of the pupils of Tittiri’.

As ‘Krishna’ also means ‘black’, the verse can also be interpreted as ‘black boar’ or ‘raised up by the black boar’, as stated by Daniélou and Eggeling. However, the translation given above clearly shows how Krishna is linked with Varaha.

The Kurma Avatara of Vishnu

N. Aiyangar states that the following verse from the Taittiriya Aranyaka (prapāṭhaka 1.23-25) ‘is narrated in connection with the ritual called Arunaketuka-kayana, in which the tortoise ‘[Kurma’] is placed below the uttara-vedi [altar]. In it Prajapati or his juice the Tortoise is called Arunaketu (one who had red rays)’:

“The waters, this (universe), were salilam (chaotic liquid) only. Prajapati alone came into being on a lotus leaf. Within his mind, desire (Kama) around as ‘Let me bring forth this (universe).’ Therefore what man gets at by mind that he utters by word and that he does by deed… He (Prajapati desired to bring forth the universe) performed tapas (austere religious contemplation). Having performed tapas, he shook his body. From his flesh sprang forth Aruna-Ketus, (red rays as) the Vatarasana Rishis, from his nakhas, nails, the Vaikhanasas, from his valas, hair, the Valakhilyas, and his rasa, juice, (became) a bhutam (a strange being, viz.,) a tortoise moving in the middle of the water. He [Prajapati] addressed him thus ‘you have come into being from my skin and flesh.’ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘I have been here even from before (purvan eva asam).’ This is the reason of the Purusha-hood of Purusha. He (the tortoise) sprang forth, becoming the Purusha of a thousand heads, thousand eyes, thousand feet. He (Prajapati) told him, ‘you have been from before and so you the Before make this (idam purvah kurushva).’… From the waters indeed was this (universe) born. All this is Brahman Svayambhu (Self-Born).“The Vātaraśanāḥ Rishis (or Munis)) created are also mentioned in RigVeda 10.136, where Shiva drank water/poison, linking to the legend of Kurma and the churning of the Ocean of Milk, referred to as the Samudra manthan. Prajapati then encounters a tortoise (Kurma/Arunaketu) that existed even before he, the creator of the universe, came into being.

Taittiriya Pratisakhya

The Taittiriya Pratisakhya (‘TP’) is concerned with phonetics, i.e. the correct pronunciation of words.

Structure and Content

    1. List of sounds
    1. Origin of sounds
    1. Shortening of vowels
    1. Pragraha or uncombinable words
    1. Sanhita or combination of words
    1. Conversions of s and visarjaniya into sh.
    1. Conversion of n into
    1. Changes of unaspirated surds
    1. Changes of h, ah, áh, n, ṉ, án, in, etc.
    1. Coalescence) of vowels
    1. Elision of vowels
    1. Elision of vowels
    1. Elision of m
    1. Duplication
    1. Nasalization
    1. the use of n
    1. Various opinions about nasality
    1. Opinions about the aspiration of Om
    1. Emphasis and shaking
    1. Different kinds of circumflex letters
    1. Division of consonants in syllabication
    1. Formation of articulate sounds, tones), pitch, long and short syllables, etc.
    1. Articulation
    1. Various kinds of texts, and qualifications of Vedic teachers and readers The 24 chapters of the Taittiriya Pratisakhya are as follows:

Manuscripts and translations

Sanskritarchive.orgarchive.org: Book 1, Book 2, Book 3archive.orgarchive.org
Sanskrit-English transliterationarchive.org: Part 1 and Part 2
Englisharchive.org: Kandas 1-3 and Kandas 4-7 (Keith); sacred-texts.com: Full e-text (Keith)Volume 1 and Volume 2 (Kashyap; partial translation; limited preview)Volume 1 and Volume 2 (S. Jamadagni; partial translation; limited preview)archive.org (W.D. Whitney)
Englisharchive.org: Kandas 1-3 and Kandas 4-7 (Keith); sacred-texts.com: Full e-text (Keith)Volume 1 and Volume 2 (Kashyap; partial translation; limited preview)archive.org: Taittiriya Upanishad (S.S. Sastri); Taittiriya Upanishad (A.M. Sasti)archive.org (W.D. Whitney)


  • Ápastamba’s Śrauta Sútra (Sanskrit) edited by D. Garbe (1882): Prasnas 1-7 and Prasnas 8-15