AFTER the Rigveda and the Yajurveda, we turn now to the Samaveda. This Veda is shortest of all the four Vedas, and most of its hymns have been taken from the Rigveda. The total number of verses in the Samaveda is 1875. Samaveda has this speciality that its hymns are chanted by the priest called Udgatri (singer). In the ritualistic tradition, these hymns are sung at those important sacrifices in which the juice of the Soma plant, clarified and mixed with milk and other ingredients, was offered in libation to various deities.
In the process of chanting or singing, the hymns are prolonged and repeated; some syllables are inserted, and there are prescriptions about various modulations. If one looks at the text of the Samaveda, one will find figures such as 1, 2, 3, 2, 3, 1, 2, indicated on the letters of the verses. These figures are symbols to guide the length of the pronunciation and modulation of the tune of the melody. This is the
beginning of the science of music that developed in India. Different ragas of Indian music have emerged from the melodies of the Samaveda.
According to Yaska, Sama has three meanings:
1. Sa + Ama, where Sa stands for heaven and Ama stands for life-breath and song;
2. Sa + Ama, where Sa stands for knowledge and Ama stands for works.
3. Sa + Ama, where Sa stands for Divine Power and Ama stands for the Individual Soul.
According to the ancienPtradition, the Samaveda had 1,000 recensions, Shakhas. But at present, there are only three recensions. These are: Kauthuma; Jaiminiya and Ranayaniya. Kauthuma shakha is more prominently known. It has two parts. The first part is called "'Poorvarchika"; the second part is called "Uttararchika"'. In the Poorvarchika, there are two kinds of songs, gramageya and aranyageya. In the former, the songs are related to the sound "Uha". In the latter, they are related to the sound "Uhya". In the Uttararchika, mantras are related to seven performances, viz., (i) Dasharatra; (ii) Samvatsara; (iii) Ekaha; (iv) Ahina; (v) Satra; (vi) Prayashchitta and (vii) Kshudra.
An important part of the Samaveda is called Mahanamni Archika. This Archika occurs between the first part of the Samaveda and the second part. It consists of only ten verses. They form some of the sublimest prayers of the Veda. These verses are as follows:
1. 0 God, Thou art All-knowing; Guide us on the right path. Teach us how to reach our goal. 0 Lord of all powers, Most Opulent, teach us Thy laws!
2. 0 most conscious and Glorious Lord, All - pervading like
the Sun, make us full of knowledge, with these spiritual meditations, for acquiring life and light of learning!
3. 0 Lord! Thou art the greatest Giver, Remover of sins;
Thou art verily the Mighty. 0 All-pervading Powerful Lord, equip us with wealth, knowledge and spiritual force. 0 Mighty Master, make us strong. Manifest Thyself in our heart. Accept our adoration. May thou ever remain blissful with the drink of our purity offered to Thee.
4. 0 God, grant us the force to acquire knowledge. Thou art most heroic amongst the heroes. 0 Mightiest, 0 sin-destroyer, Thou art the Lord of all sciences and forces. Thou controllest thy subjects for their betterment.
5. He is the most charitable amongst all the wealthy people. He is pure like the Sun. 0 Omniscient and Glorious God, lead us on for acquiring knowledge and strength. Praise Him alone, 0 man.
6. Verily, the Almighty Original Being rules over all. For our protection, we invoke that Unconquerable Conqueror. He totally destroys our feelingsof enmity. He is full of knowledge and action. He is our protector from sins, the Supramental, Vast and Truth.
7. For acquiring prosperity, we invoke the Lord, the Unconquerable Conqueror. He entirely destroys our feelings of enmity. He entirely destroys our feelings of enmity.
8. 0 Indivisible God, 0 Settler of all, grant us for our felicity, the Immemorial, All-pervading, Gladdening nature. 0 Mighty Lord, the accomplishment of an action alone is praiseworthy. 0 Omnipotent Lord, Thou rulest over all. I adore Thee worthy of adoration!
9. 0 All-powerful, Vice-Destroying God, we sing Thy
praise in man's pilgrimages for progress. Thou art Wise, who lives in rays of Light, the Friend, worthy of service and Peerless.
10. 0 Lord, Thou art the same as above.
0 Lord, Thou art Resplendent Agni as described.
0 Refulgent Lord, Thou art that same Indra.
0 Lord, Thou art the Increasing Sun!
0 God! Thou art those very Gods! (Samaveda 641-650)