SAAMAVEDA - THE HINDU PORTAL - Spiritual heritage Rituals and Practices


Tuesday, February 18, 2014


The mantras are classified into two kinds. The mantras that were envisioned the rishis are known as kantaapta. The mantras that were inferred by recollection are known as kalpya. This classification is based on the puranas. Yaaskaachaarya has classified the mantras into three categories – parokshakruta, pratyakshakruta and aadhyaatmika.

Samaveda Murthy
Historians hold the Vishnupuraana as the most authentic among the eighteen puraanas. According to the Vishnupuraana, kaandarshi Jaimini, disciple of maharshi Vedavyasa, studied the saamaveda and divided it into two parts. Jaimini taught one part to his son sumanthu and the other part to his grandson sukarmaa. Both taught the respective parts they studied to many disciples. Hiranyanaabha, one of sukarmaa’s disciples, divided the part he learnt into fifteen parts and taught one part each to his fifteen disciples. These have come to be known as Udeechya Saamaya. Rishi Poushyanji’s disciples Lokaakshi, Kutumi,Kusidi Tangali and others learnt parts of Saamaveda from Hiranyanaabha. These came to be known as Praachya Saamaga. Krutinaabha, a prominent disciple of Hiranyanaabha, taught his part to twenty-five students and they in turn taught to their numerous disciples.

One thousand branches of saamaveda are mentioned in major works such as Paatanjala Mahaabhaashya, Sutasamhitaa, Muktikopanishad, Skandapuraana,etc. The Vishnu Puraana cites nine parts of the Raanaayaneeya – Saatyaayaneeya, Saatwala, Moudgala, Khalwala, Mahaakhalwala, Taangala, Kouthuma, Goutama and Jaimineeya.

However, a very interesting question and a very valid one at that arises here. When all the vaidic literature, including Muktikopanishad mention that the division of about 1130 branches of the vedas down to the number of mantras, words and letters are eternal, then how can the rishis be attributed the division of the vadas, samhitaas? The Purushasukta of yajurveda mentions that the vedas divided into 4 parts with their divisions became manifest independently at the beginning of the cosmas – “Rehah saamaani jajnnirey, chandaamsi jajnnirey tasmaadyajustasmaadajaayata”. The plural forms rchah and saamaani point to the various branches of the four vedas as well became manifest in the beginning of the creation and are eternal. The rishis dividing the eternal vedas into parts is ridiculous and absolutely ruled out. Perhaps these sages made special study and efforts to propagate these branches and wrongly quoted as the dividers in the puraanas.

The word Sama means pleasant,dear or benign words. Song is also is knows as Sama. The Sama finds mention after the Rig and Yajus in a majority of vaidic scriptures. But one particular mantra in Rigveda(1.5.8) cites the Sama even before the Rigveda. Therefore, it would be a futile endeavour to determine the chronological order of the Vedas. Infact ,all the Vedas are independent and eternal.

In a sacrifice, the Hota recites the mantras to summon the gods. This activity is known as Houtra. The sage who conducts the various activities of Homa in a sacrifice is called ‘Adhvaryu’. The activity of Adhvaryu is known as “Adhvaryava”. The Udgaata is the one who sings the Sama to please the gods. His activity is known as “Oudgaatra”.

Sayanaachaarya wrote his commentary on the famous “Kauthuma Samhita” of Samaveda. It is more in vogue among the Sreemaali and naagara brahmanaas of Gujarat. This Samhita has two parts-1.Poorvaarchika and 2.Uttaraarchika.The Poorvaarchika is also known as Chandah, Chandasi and Chandashikaa. Based on the content ,the Poorvaarchika is further classified into four parts namely—Aagneya, Indra, Pavamaana and Aaranyaka parvas. The Uttaraarchiaka too is similarly classified, but into seven parvas—Dasharaatra, Samvatsara, Aekah, Aheena, Satra, Praayaschitta and Kshudra.

There are four parts of  Saamagaana—Geya, Aaranyaka, Ooha and Oohya. The Poorvaarchika contains the former two and the Uttaraarchika the latter two. 

Saamaveda’s Poorvaarchiak and Uttaraarchika contain six and three prapaatakaas respectively. In total there are 29 chapters and 1824 mantraas. But for 75,the rest are found in Rigveda as well. 

The Raanaayaneeya is samller in content in comparision to Kouthuma branch. It contains 1549 mantraas. The Raanaayaneeya followers are found in Maharastra and Dravida Region. The Jaimineeya branch is practiced in Karnataka.

 No clear instructions about singing procedure of the Saamaveda are available. The suktaas of Uttaraarchika do throw some light on it. Even to this date it is not certain if all the seven svaraas – Shadja, Rishabha, Gaandhaara, Madhyama, Panchama, Daivata and Nishaada were employed while singing the saamagaana. Persistent recitation of ‘Om’ lends it a kind of divine tune. The greatness and importance of ‘Om’ is described in great detail in Saamaveda. The Chaandyogopanishad, that belongs to Saamaveda, has ‘Om’ as its prime subject. Even Lord Sri Krishna favours Saamaveda - “Vedaanaam Saamavedosmi” (Bhagavadgeeta).


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