Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/183

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CHAPTER VII

THE LATER VEDAS

Of the three later Vedas, the Sāmaveda is much the most closely connected with the Rigveda. Historically it is of little importance, for it contains hardly any independent matter, all its verses except seventy-five being taken directly from the Rigveda. Its contents are derived chiefly from the eighth and especially the ninth, the Soma book. The Sāmaveda resembles the Yajurveda in having been compiled exclusively for ritual application; for the verses of which it consists are all meant to be chanted at the ceremonies of the soma sacrifice. Removed from their context in the Rigveda, they are strung together without internal connection, their significance depending solely on their relation to particular rites. In form these stanzas appear in the text of the Sāmaveda as if they were to be spoken or recited, differing from those of the Rigveda only in the way of marking the accent. The Sāmaveda is, therefore, only the book of words employed by the special class of Ugātṛi priests at the soma sacrifice. Its stanzas assume their proper character of musical Sāmans or chants only in the various song-books called gānas, which indicate the prolongation, the repetition, and the interpolation of syllables necessary in singing, just as is often done in European publications when the words are given below the musical notation. There are four of these song-