Glory of Bharath  »  Bharatheeya Samskrithi
Sama Veda
The Sama Veda is the Yoga of Song. It consists of various hymns of the Rig Veda put to a different and more musical chant. Hence the text of the Sama Veda is a reduced version of the Rig Veda. Its secret is in its musical annotation and rendering. The Sama Veda represents the ecstasy of spiritual knowledge and the power of devotion. The Rig Veda is the word, the Sama Veda is the song or the meaning. The Rig Veda is the knowledge, the Sama Veda its realization.

Its earliest parts are believed to date from 1000 BC and it ranks next in sanctity and liturgical importance to the Rigveda. It consists of a collection (samhita) of hymns, portions of hymns, and detached verses, all but 75 taken from the Rigveda, to be sung, using specifically indicated melodies called Samagana, by Udgatar priests at sacrifices in which the juice of the Soma plant, clarified and mixed with milk and other ingredients, is offered in libation to various deities.

So the Sama Veda is mainly Swara or musical notation. The Rig-Veda Aryans lived on the banks of the Sindhu river while the Yajur-Veda people came to their awareness when they were on the banks of the Ganga. The Sama Veda songs are also visualizations of the same era, but the people seem to have occupied even the middle region of Bharath. The Sama Veda is referred to as the Gaana Veda also, in order to highlight its musical nature. All musical schools are derivatives from the styles that are marked out by the Sama Veda. All tones and notes are embedded in that Veda.

"Vedanam Samavedosmi" - The Geetacharya Lord Sri Krishna declared in his celestial song "Amongst Vedas, I am Sama Veda". The life breath of Sama Veda is Omkara which is its essence. Omkara permeates all the Vedas. Omkara (Pranava) is synonymous with Divinity. Sama Veda is a manifestation of this Omkara.

Sama Veda was first taught by Sage Veda Vyasa to Sage Jaimini. Today three branches have remained from the thousands and they are -
  1. Kaudhuma Shakha - followed mostly by Nagara Brahmins in Gujarat.
  2. Ranayani Shakha - followed mostly in Maharashtra.
  3. Jaimini Shakha - prevalent in Karnataka.
The difference between Kaudhuma and Ranayani shakhas is only in the utterance of the syllables. Though Jaimini is the shortest among all, its content suffices the entire world in the form of music. There are two types in this - namely Archini and Gaanam. Gaanam is of four types -
  1. Graameena Gaanam - In rural areas people experience happiness singing as they work in the fields, harvest time, festive occasions and so on. This is Grameena Gaanam or the music of the rural folk.

  2. Aranyaka Gaanam - usually heard in the forests by shepherds or cowherds who sing freely and fearlessly. They sing the praise of the Lord accompanied by the natural sounds of the forest along with the rustling of the leaves.

  3. Uha Gaanam - This is the song of imagination and creating the feelings according to the imagination.

  4. Uhya Gaanam - This is the song related to experiencing, deriving joy from that and then sharing the joy with everyone.
Omkara is the most important aspect of this Veda. Pranava is omnipresent. It is also called "Ekakshara". The sound Pranava itself is Brahman. Therefore it is said - "Om iti ekaksharam brahma". Only when one realizes the omnipresence of Pranava, one can enjoy the essence of Sama Veda.

Lessons from Sama Veda -
  1. Purity in Speech - No room should be given for speaking bad words or listening to bad talk. Excessive speech has to be eschewed. Idle talk, slanderous gossip and back biting should be totally given up. There is great energy in the power of speech. It should not be wasted in any way. This is the supreme discipline that has to be cultivated in daily life. It proclaims the divinity and delight that are inherent in words and sounds that are sacred and pure. Nothing that we say should cause pain to anyone. Whoever indulges in such speech is less than human.

  2. Be Modest - Sama Veda tells you how to conduct yourself with others, how to behave towards elders and supervisors, how to treat guests, how to approach God and what is the right behaviour in any situation.


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