The sages requested Lomaharshana, ―Please tell us how the sacred Vedas came to be divided.‖ Lomaharshana recounted the following story. When dvapara yuga arrived, Brahma noticed that people were becoming evil and were no longer paying sufficient attention to the Vedas. They were gradually deviating from the righteous path. Brahama decided that the Vedas needed to be divided so that their wisdom might be disseminated amongst people. Brahma accordingly instructed Krishna Dvaipayana Vedavyasa to divide the Vedas into four parts. Vedavyasa had five disciples. These were Jaimini, Sumantu, Vasihampayana, Paila and Lomaharshana. The four parts into which the Vedas were divided were known as the Rig Veda, the Sama Veda, the Yajur Veda and the Atharva Veda. Paila was taught the Rig Veda, Jaimini the Sama Veda, the Yajur Veda and Sumantu the Atharva Veda. ―As for me.‖ continued Lomaharshana, ―the great Vedavyasa taught me the Puranas.‖ Paila passed on what he had learnt to the sages Indrapramti and Vashkali. They were Paila‘s disciples. Indrapramati‘s disciple was Markandeya. From Markandeya the knowledge passed successively to Satyashrava, Satyashita, Satyarata and Satyashri. Satyashri had three disciples named Shakalya, Rathitara and Bharadvaja. ―Shakalya was so proud that his vanity led to his destruction at the time of King Janaka‘s horse sacrifice,‖ said Lomaharshana.
―We don‘t know the story,‖ responded the sages. ―What is this horse sacrifice that you are talking about? Please tell us the story.‖ This is the story that Lomaharshana told. King Janaka organized an ashvamedha yajna (horse sacrifice). People came from far and near to attend the ceremony and numerous were the sages who graced the occasion with their presences. King Janaka began to wonder if there was any way of finding out who was the best among all the assembled sages. He devised a plan. Janaka decided to donate a thousand head of cattle, a thousand gold pieces, many villages and several servants. He then told the sages, ―I have gathered all these rices as a tribute to knowledge. But I am unable to decide who amongst you is the most learned. Why don‘t decide for yourselves? Let the person who is the most superior among you claim all this wealth for himself.‖ Hearing this, the sages started to fight and argue. Each wanted the wealth for himself. Therefore, each sage maintained that he was superior to all the others.
Amongst the sages was the great sage Yajnavalkya and Yajnavalkya told his disciple, ―Take all this wealth to my home. I am the most learned amongst the sages. I have studied the Vedas really well. I will debate with anyone who dares to challenge me and establish my supremacy. The other sages were naturally not at all pleased to hear these words and they began to debate with Yajnavalkya. Even though all the sages combined against Yajnavalkya, they were no match for him and Yajnavalkya easily defeated them. Yajnavalkya then addressed the sage Shakalya.
―What about you, Shakalya?‖ he asked. ―Why have you kept quiet? I know that you are full of vanity about your learning. What about debating with me?‖ ―It is you who are proud and vain,‖ retorted Shakalya. ―I will bring you down a peg or two. I am certainly going to debate with you.‖ The debate started. Shakalya asked Yajnavalkya more than a thousand questions, but Yajnavalkya provided the right answers to all of these questions. He then told Shakalya, ―I will ask you a single question. If you cannot give me the right answer. I curse you that you will die. Shakalya did not know the answer to the question that Yajnavalkya asked. He therefore died. But prior to these events having taken place , Shakalya had composed five sacred texts known as Samhitas. And he had taught these to his disciples Mudgala, Goloka, Khaliya, Matsya and Shaishireya.
Lomaharshana coninued with Yajnavalkya‘s story. Vedavyasa taught the Yajnavalkya‘s story. Vedavyasa taught the Yajur Veda to Vaishampayana. Vaishampayana composed sixty-six samhitas and taught them to his disciples. These disciples came to be known as the charakas.
―Why did these disciples come to be known as the charakas?‖ the sages asked Lomaharshana. Lomaharshana recited the following story. There was an occasion when an important religious rite had to be performed. All the sages agreed to meet on Mount Sumeru so that they might decide on the modus operandi for observing this religious rite. It was also agreed that any sage who failed to attend the assembly on Mount Sumeru would be regarded as guilty of having committed a sin. And the sin would be equivalent in severity to the sin committed from killing a brahmana.
For various reasons, Vaishampyana could not attend the assembly. For a sin that was equivalent to the sin committed in killing a brahmana. Vaishampayana had to perform severe penance. This involved the observance of a difficult religious rite (vrate). Vaishampayana told all his disciples,
―Please help me in the observance of this difficult vrata.‖ Amongst Vaishampayana‘s disciples was Yajnavalkya. Yajnavalkya said, ―Why are you bothering all these disciples? My powers of tapasya are such that I alone can perform what is required. Vaishampayana regarded this as unwarranted vanity on his disciple‘s part. He therefore told Yajnavalkya that he no longer wished to have Yajnavalkya as a disciple. Yajnavalkya should also return whatever it was that he had learnt from Vaishampayana. Yajnavalkya therefore vomited out his knowledge of the Yajur Veda.
To re-acquire the knowledge of the Vedas, Yajnavalkya started to meditate. He prayed to the sun-god, Surya. From Surya, Yajnavalkya came to acquried knowledge of the Yajur Veda. Yajnavalkya taught this knowledge of the Yajur Veda. (Shuka Yajur Veda.) Yajnavalkya taught this knowledge to fifteen of his disciples. These disciples were named Kanva, Vaidheyashali, Madhyandina, Shapeyi, Vidigdha, Apya, Uddala, Tamrayana, Vatsya, Galava, Shaishiri, Atavi, Eni, Virani and Saparayana. Why were Vaishampana‘s disciples known as the charakas? The word acharana means act. Since Vaishampayana had committed an act that was the equivalent of killing a brahmana, his disciples came to be named Charakas.
Lomaharashana also told the sages that he himself had taught the Puranas to six of his disciple. These disciples were Sumati, Akritavrana, Bharadvaja, Mitrayu, Savarni, and Susharma.