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Part of a series on
Hindu scriptures

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Rigveda · Yajurveda · Samaveda · Atharvaveda
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Yoga Vasistha


The Samaveda (Sanskrit: सामवेद, sāmaveda, from sāman "melody" + veda "knowledge" ), is second (in the usual order) of the four Vedas, the ancient core Hindu scriptures. 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.

The verses have been transposed and re-arranged, without reference to their original order, to suit the rituals in which they were to be employed. There are frequent variations from the text of the Rigveda that are in some cases glosses but in others offer an older pronunciation than that of the Rigveda (such as [ai] for common [e]). When sung the verses are further altered by prolongation, repetition and insertion of stray syllables (stobha), as well as various modulations, rests and other modifications prescribed in the song-books (Ganas).

Recensions

R. T. H. Griffith says that there are three recensions of the text of the Samaveda Samhita:[1]

  • the Kauthuma recension is current in Gujerat, and since a few decades in Darbhanga, Bihar,
  • the Jaiminiya in the Carnatic and Kerala,
  • and the Rāṇāyanīya in the Maharatta country.

While the Kauthuma recension has been published (Samhita, Brahmana, Shrautasutra and ancillary Sutras, mainly by the late B.R. Sharma), parts of the Jaiminiya tradition remain unpublished [2]. There is an edition of the first part of the Samhita by W. Caland [3] and of the Brahmana by Raghu Vira and Lokesh Chandra [4], as well as the neglected Upanishad [5], but only parts of the Shrautasutra. The song books remain unpublished [6] and the tradition is rapidly fading. However, an edition is now being prepared by some well-known Samaveda specialists.

Notes

  1. Griffith, R. T. H. The Sāmaveda Saṃhitā. p. vi. op. cit.
  2. A. Parpola. The literature and study of the Jaiminīya Sāmaveda. In retrospect and prospect. Studia Orientalia XLIII:6. Helsinki 1973
  3. W. Caland, Die Jaiminīya-Saṃhitā mit einer Einleitung über die Sāmaveda-literatur. Breslau 1907
  4. Raghu Vira and Lokesh Chandra. 1954. Jaiminīya-Brāhmaṇa of the Sāmaveda. (Sarasvati-Vihara Series 31.) Nagpur. 2nd revised ed., Delhi 1986
  5. H. Oertel. The Jaiminīya or Talavakāra Upaniṣad Brāhmaṇa. Text, translation, and notes. JAOS 16,1895, 79-260
  6. A. Parpola. The decipherment of the Samavedic notation of the Jaiminīyas. Finnish Oriental Society 1988

See also

Books

  • The Samaveda has been edited and published by Theodor Benfey (Leipzig, 1848, with a German translation) and by Satyavrata Samashrami in Bibl. Ind. (Calcutta, 1873). An English translation is due to Griffith (Benares, 1893). A translation in Hindi by Mridul Kirti called "Samveda Ka Hindi Padyanuvad" has also been published recently.
  • Griffith, Ralph T. H. The Sāmaveda Saṃhitā. Text, Translation, Commentary & Notes in English. Translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith. First published 1893; Revised and enlarged edition, enlarged by Nag Sharan Singh and Surendra Pratap, 1991 (Nag Publishers: Delhi, 1991) ISBN 81-7081-244-5. This edition provides the text in Devanagari with full metrical marks needed for chanting.

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