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Sama Veda

'Saman' means 'tune', and in this case it refers to the tunes in which the Vedic hymns are chanted. The samans are essentially Rig Vedic mantras set to music. The Sama Veda is also known as the Veda of music because all the mantras are set to the seven basic notes of Indian music known as the sapta svara system. The Sama Veda is the smallest of the Vedas, but it is most appealing because of its sweet music, poetic expression and touching sentiments of devotion. It is believed that the birth of Indian classical music can be traced to the Sama Veda.

The Sama Veda has 1,875 mantras, the majority of which are from the Rig Veda. The Panchavimsha, and Shadvimsha Brahmanas, the Tandya, Chandogya and Kena Upanishads were a development from the Sama Veda. The Sama Veda gained importance and prominence because Bhagwan Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita (10.22), "I am Sama Veda among the Vedas." The special priest of Sama Veda is known as an udgata. He is an expert singer who invites the devas by singing the mantras to entertain and please them.


Q1. How many books are there in Samaveda?


The Samaveda comprises two major parts. The first includes four melody collections (gāna, गान), and the second part three verse "books" (ārcika). A melody in the song books corresponds to a verse in the arcika books. The ‘Gana’ is subdivided into Gramageya and Aranyageya, while the ‘Arcika ‘is subdivided into ‘Purvarcika’ and ‘Uttararcika’. The Purvarcika portion of the text has 585 single-stanza verses organized in order of deities, while the Uttararcika text is ordered by rituals.


The Gramageya melodies are those for public recitations, while Aranyageya melodies are for personal meditative use such as in the solitude of a forest. Typically, the Purvarcika collection was sung to melodies described in the Gramageya-Gānas index., and the rules are in the Puspasutra texts.

Q2. What is written in Samaveda?


The Samaveda is the Veda of Chants, or "storehouse of knowledge of chants". According to Frits Staal, it is "the Rigveda set to music". It is a fusion of older melodies (sāman) and the Rig verses. It has far fewer verses than Rigveda, but Samaveda is textually larger because it lists all the chant- and ritual-related score modifications of the verses.


The Samaveda contains notated melodies, and these are probably the world's oldest surviving ones. The musical notation is written usually immediately above, sometimes within, the line of Samaveda text, either in syllabic or a numerical form depending on the Samaveda Sakha (school).

Q3. Why is Samaveda important?


Embedded inside the Samaveda are the widely studied Chandogya Upanishad and Kena Upanishad, considered primary Upanishads and influential on the six schools of Hindu philosophy, particularly the Vedanta school. The Samaveda set important foundations for the subsequent Indian music.


The hymns of Sama Veda, when sung appropriately, enable us to understand universal truths. The musical patterns in Samaveda have been derived from the vibrations of the cosmos. So, Sama Veda helps to attain spiritual evolution through music.

Q4. What does Samaveda deal with?


The Samaveda is composed of words: ‘saman’ means “song" and ‘Veda’ means "knowledge"), is the Veda of melodies and chants. The Sama Veda deals with melodies. Samaveda is categorized into two parts – Part-I include melodies called ‘Gana’ & Part-II includes three verse books called ‘Archika’. The hymns of Sama Veda enable us to understand universal truths.


The musical patterns in Samaveda have been derived from the vibrations of the cosmos. So, Sama Veda helps to attain spiritual evolution through music. The hymns of Samaveda invoke demigods like Indra, Agni, and Som Dev. Thus, the major theme of Samaveda can be considered worship and devotion.

Q5. What is the theme of Samaveda?


Samaveda is also called the "Book of Song," "Veda of Chants" or even "Yoga of Song." It is the words of the "Rig Veda" put to music. Samaveda is considered the most important of the four Vedas. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna also declares, “Amongst the Vedas, I am Samaveda.” Thus, the major theme of Samaveda is predominantly, worship, devotion, and musical celebration of three attributes of the Godhead, Parama Brahma: Agni, Indra, and Som dev.

Q6. How old is the Samaveda?


Michael Witzel states that there is dating for Samaveda and other Vedic texts. He estimates the composition of the Samhita layer of the text chronologically after the Rigveda, and in the likely range of 1200 to 1000 BCE, roughly contemporary with the Atharvaveda and the Yajurveda. Sam Veda is the third of the four Vedas, the ancient core Hindu scriptures, along with the Rig Veda, Yajurveda, and Atharva Veda. According to Max Müller, its earliest parts are believed to have been dated from 1500 BC. There were about a dozen styles of Samavedic chanting. Of the three surviving versions, the Jaiminiya preserves the oldest surviving tradition of Samavedic chanting.