In another discussion, I was invited to contribute to an on-line article on Sama Veda. I thought you might find the overview useful.
I would not begin to consider myself an expert on Sama Veda. I can make a few observations though.
Sama Veda is one of 4 primary Vedas. The origin is in the Rig Veda. The other 3 arise from the process of observation or perception. The Observer, process of observation, and objects of perception.
In this chart, the relationship is made clear, using the terms Rishi, Devata and Chandas.
(Devata it should be noted are the true doers, the ‘spirits’ of your other article and the real value of gratitude. (‘entities beyond the range’ of physical senses, but not human sensing)
Sama thus arises from the rishi or observer aspect. As the article mentions it is sung. Each of the 4 vedas has a different ‘style’ of recitation.
The process of observation (and then ego) arises when self perceives itself as separate from other. The awakening or enlightenment process is one of realizing ones true nature (rishi, cosmic or first enlightenment), uncovering the true nature of expression (devata, god realization / consciousness) then discovering Self in all things (chandas, Unity or Oneness). I am That, Thou art That, all This is That as the Upanishads put it.
Rig Veda is thus after the process of perception collapses. (or rather before it arises) A description of the stages of dawning Unity. It is largely incomprehensible as it describes a reality several times removed from what is currently typical. Not to mention issues of translation when Sanskrit has layered meaning.
The key thing to understand is that they are not books in the usual sense but rather encoded experiences. And the experiences are what might be termed cognitions – complete perceptions of reality. Not simple experiences but complete knowingness – a little more than “Intuitive perception”. When we experience an apple, for example, we see one side of it and may perhaps engage other senses like scent or taste. Were we to cognize an apple, we would perceive all sides, its inner structure, its history and origin, its subtle qualities, it’s true nature, it’s purpose and role, and so forth. Out of time, this all takes place in an instant.
There is a level of existence referred to sometimes as the gap or Ritam Bhara Pragya. It is the level where being is first becoming, a level of pure vibration. When a person is able to listen to the Vedas from that level, the experiences described by the original rishi are experienced by the listener. Kind of like a multimedia version of the Akashic records, only ripe with knowledge.
Some people consider simply listening to the Vedas helps culture the refined values of the nervous system necessary to support the experience. Sama is great at bedtime.
The books were organized and written down by Vyasa (hence Veda Vyasa) when concerns arose about their loss several thousand years ago. Prior to that, there was extensive oral traditions, beyond what was recorded. These were typically passed down by families rather than “schools”. Schools came later. And many thousands of texts remain untranslated.
The 9th mandala or book of the Rig Veda is almost entirely about Soma, the nectar of the gods, produced by a subtle gland at the back of the throat. You may have experienced a sweet taste upon returning from a deep meditation. The 10th is on Brahman, Purusha, Totality.
The term Rishi is also sometimes translated as teacher but more Seer, in the sense of ‘to see’ but more, as above, to cognize. Kavi would thus be a Rishi who speaks a sutra – something more important than an apple (laughs). They are able to speak the experience into sutra. This may perhaps help explain more of the points made. Smriti, memory, is the mechanism of cognition so is not separate. One does not ‘discover’ what already is, one remembers it cosmically. The ‘poetry’ of the Vedas is not made up, it is a description of what is, beyond the illusions. It is direct experience.
It’s also worth noting that there are gods and rishis of the same name. A fully awake rishi is That, so authorship can get vague. There is no individual involved.
Not all of this is typical current understanding but I have heard much spoken by several who have reached Brahman. It’s worth mentioning that it’s not necessary to be awake to cognize. Not everyone will cognize but everyone will awake. Nonetheless, each nervous system has it’s own unique perception of the world and adds that aspect to it.
I only know men who have cognized but many women who are awake. Women also often have more refined feeling values so move through refined perception more quickly.
There is a move afoot in India today to restore the family lineages. Many boys are being trained in Vedic recitation. This takes some serious learning. Some specialized yagyas requiring thousands of pundits are being performed for the first time in a very very long time. Some even in Iowa, of all places.
It is remarkable to see what is being remembered.