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Like the other veds the Sam Ved too has two portions incantation and explanation. The incantation portion in the Sam Ved is about half as long as the Rig Ved. Like the Yajur Ved, the Sam Ved too borrows heavily from the Rig Ved. You may begin to feel that the Rig Ved is the mother of all Veds. It's almost true but the fact is that the other Veds capture simpler moods of existence. Sam Ved is the path to salvation through devotion, perhaps the most popular approach of Man at any given point in time.
The Sam Ved derives its name from the word Sam or hymn. This ved is full of hymns naturally the best tool of blind devotion. What's interesting to note is that in all religions, across the globe, devotion is best expressed through songs. There is a school of thought that suggests that a vast majority of people cannot comprehend the Supreme Being through knowledge or a fervent sense of destiny. The world is materialistic it always was Music some how unites the material world with a higher plane. That is why hymns like in Sam Ved are so significant. For the overwhelming majority who are limited by intellect, hymns bring them closer to the maker. Having learnt that, we should know that Sam Ved is not purely songs. It has its share of monotonous chants.
Though there is a theory that suggests that the Sam Ved, over the centuries, was divided into thousand different branches, records show only thirteen branches. Of the thirteen, the physical evidence of only three branches is now available. We should understand that while some people documented the veds, it was originally transferred from mouth to ear.
Therefore it should be surprising that a huge chunk of the veds are actually lost today. The three branches that have survived to grace us today are Ranayana, Kuthuma and Jaimini. Sadly only these three branches pass off as Sam Ved today. They contain between them 1875 mantras nearly by 184 seers which is set to tune of music by 285 seers. About 4000 hymns are based around these mantras.
These are further divided into two categories purvarchika which contains 650 mantras and uttarachika which contains 1225 mantras. In purvarchika, each mantra is divided into chapters but in uttarchika the mantras are not divided into chapters. But the entire collection of 1225 mantras are categorized as chapters. The reason of this is not known but some say there may be a hidden significance that is lost on us.
What's interesting to note is that while most of the verses in the Rig Ved and the Yajur Ved run deep in philosophical content, the mantras in the Sam Ved are mere prayers. They presume that God is a physical entity who has to be believed in and prayed to.
The veds remind one of the most unique natures of what is called Hinduism. While most religions are one-dimensional in the sense that they teach devotion, the veds addresses different kinds of people on basis of their intellectual growth.