Yajnavalkya, aka: Yājñavalkya; 4 Definition(s)


Yajnavalkya means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Śilpaśāstra (iconography)

Yājñavalkya (याज्ञवल्क्य) is depicted as a sculpture on the fourth pillar of the southern half of the maṇḍapa of the temple of Lokeśvara.—The most noteworthy point in this image is the image of a sage, with folded hands, running after the chariot. He is Yājñavalkya and Sūrya (the sun god) is disclosing the secrets of Yajurveda to him.

(Source): Archaeological Survey of India: Śaiva monuments at Paṭṭadakal (śilpa)
Śilpaśāstra book cover
context information

Śilpaśāstra (शिल्पशास्त्र, shilpa-shastra) represents the ancient Indian science of creative arts such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vāstuśāstra (architecture), they often share the same literature.


1a) Yājñavalkya (याज्ञवल्क्य).—A pupil of Vaiśampāyana and son of Devarāta (Brahmarāta Viṣṇu-purāṇa) quarrelled with his guru and vomited the yaju (s.v.) he learnt; propitiated the Sun god to get chandas unknown to his guru. Pleased with him the Sun god instructed him in Vājasenyastas (Yajus ayātayāma, Viṣṇu-purāṇa); in the form of a horse;1 a Śrutaṛṣi; one of the madhyamādhvaryus; in charge of a śākhā in the Ṛg Veda; recipient of Janaka's present in a contest for great learning;2 an Ekārṣeya.3

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa XII. 6. 62-74; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 35. 9-30; Viṣṇu-purāṇa III. Ch. 5 whole; Vāyu-purāṇa 61. 17-19, 21.
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 32. 3 and 16, 34. 27, 45-68.
  • 3) Matsya-purāṇa 198. 4; 200. 6.

1b) (Kauśalya) learnt yoga from Hiraṇyanābha; siddha; disciple of Pauṣyañji.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 12. 4; VI. 15. 13; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 63. 208; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 4. 107.

1c) A sage who came to see Kṛṣṇa at Syamantapañcaka.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. 84. 5.

1d) As a contemporary of Kalki;1 will precede Kalki.2

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 73. 105.
  • 2) Matsya-purāṇa 47. 249; 192. 10.

1e) A son of Brahmavāha, who won the prize for learning in Janaka's (s.v). hall of sacrifice.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 60. 41.

1f) Disqualified;1 learnt the yoga of Vasiṣṭha;2 purohita of Kalki.3

  • 1) Vāyu-purāṇa 61. 1, 6.
  • 2) Ib. 88. 208.
  • 3) Ib. 98. 104.

1g) The portion of the Samhita composed by Yājñavalkya.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 35. 77; Vāyu-purāṇa 61. 68.

1h) Belong to Kauśika gotra.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 66. 70; Vāyu-purāṇa 91. 98.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purāṇa book cover
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The Purāṇas (पुराण, purana) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahāpurāṇas total over 400,000 ślokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

General definition (in Hinduism)

Yājñavalkya of Videha (fl. c. 7th century BCE) was a sage and philosopher of Vedic India. He was one of the first philosophers in recorded history, alongside Uddalaka Aruni. In the court of King Janaka of Mithila, he was renowned for his expertise in Vedic ritual and his unrivaled talent in theological debate. He expounded a doctrine of neti neti to describe the universal Self or Ātman. He later became a wandering ascetic. His teachings are recorded in the Shatapatha Brahmana and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

He is traditionally credited with the authorship of the Shatapatha Brahmana (including the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad), besides the Yoga Yajnavalkya and the Yājñavalkya Smṛti. He is also a major figure in the Upanishads.

According to traditional accounts, Yājñavalkya was the son of Devarāta and was the pupil of sage Vaisampayana .

Yājñavalkya married two wives. One was Maitreyi and the other Katyaayanee. Of the two, Maitreyi was a Brahmavadini (one who is interested in the knowledge of Brahman). Wisdom of Yājñavalkya is shown in Brhadaranyaka Upanishad where he gives his teachings to his wife Maitreyi and King Janaka. He also participates in a competition arranged by King Janaka about the selecting great Brhama Jnani (knower of Brahman). His intellectual dialogues with Gargi (a learned scholar of the times) form a beautiful chapter filled with lot of philosophical and mystical question-answers in Brhadaranyaka Upanishad. He was then praised as the greatest Brahmajnyani by all the sages at the function organised by king Janaka. In the end, Yājñavalkya took Vidvat Sanyasa (renunciation after the attainment of the knowledge of Brahman) and retired to the forest.

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

Yājñavalkya was the incarnation of Brahma. Cursed by Shiva, Brahma incarnated himself as Yājñavalkya. He was the son of Brahmabahu, who was born of the limbs of Brahma. The Yājñavalkya Samhita—a well-known book of religious law compiled by Yājñavalkya—mentions that Yājñavalkya’s father’s name was Yajñavalkya. His mother was the sister of of Mahamuni Vaishampayana, the Vedacharya of the Taittiriya shaka of the Yajurveda.

Yājñavalkya learnt the yoga scriptures from Vasishtha, son of Hiranyanabha Kaushalya. He performed penance at Mithila. He learnt the science of the Self from Hiranyanabha, a king of the Raghu Dynasty and a teacher of yoga. The rituals pertaining to dana or charity, shraddha or post-funerary rites, and purification of ritual objects; duties of the householder, caste duties, duties of the ascetic, and the like, included in the Garuda Purana, were codified by Yājñavalkya.

Mahadeva, Yājñavalkya composed the Yoga Samhita afer observing penance in the hermitage of the great sage Upamanyu. Yājñavalkya used to attend the royal court of Yudhishthira and was the presiding priest at the Rajasuya sacrifce performed when Yudhishthira was crowned emperor.

Yājñavalkya had two wives. One was Maitreyi and the other Katyayani. Of the two, Maitreyi was a Brahmavadini.

(Source): Hindupedia: Yajnavalkya

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