By Swami Harshananda
This is one of the nine Brāhmanas of the Sāmaueda available now.
It has three prapāṭhakas or prakaraṇas or chapters, known respectively as Krcchra, Atikrcchra and Krcchrātikrcchra.
The first two have eight anuvākas (subsections) each and the last, nine.
Unlike the other works of Vedic literature, this Brāhmaṇa does not deal with sacrifices at all. For the benefit of those who cannot perform Vedic sacrifices to get what they want, it prescribes several kṛcchras or rites of a magical nature, using the appropriate sāmans as the mantras. Hence it looks like a fore-runner of several topics dealt with in the later dharmaśāstra and tāntrik literature.
These topics may now be summarised briefly as follows:
Anuvāka 1 : Creation of the world from Brahmā; in praise of sāmans that can grant whatever we want; a brief account of yajñas in general.
Anuvāka 2 : Description of the
kṛcchras of various types along with the rules to be followed.
Anuvāka 3 : Rules guiding Vedic
studies; results of some sacrifices like Pavamāneṣṭi.
Anuvāka 4 : Rite spread over seven nights (saptarātrika); the various sāmans to be used in getting the fruits of some sacrifices like Agniṣṭoma, Atirātra and Sattrayāgas; sāmans to be recited to please the deities like Rudra, Viṣṇu, and Vināyaka as also for attaining mokṣa.
Anuvāka 5 : Some prāyaścittas or
expiations including the sāmans to be chanted.
Anuvākas 6, 7 and 8 : Some more expiations for sins like accepting prohibited gifts, killing a cow, selling things which should not be sold, evil dreams and so on.
Anuvāka 1: Sāmans to be employed for attaining long life; purification of oneself; going to Brahmaloka after death; gaining good health.
Anuvākas 2 to 8 : These prescribe the japa of various sāmans for the destruction of sins, for easy and safe delivery of babies, for getting a good son, for eliminating the evil effects brought about by malignant spirits, for removing the effects of poisons, for safe pilgrimage, for attaining fame or any other desire and so on.
All the nine anuvākas deal with similar topics such as: sāmans to be used for attaining wealth; how to perform vāstuhoma; how to discover hidden wealth; means of getting a vision of any deity; means of controlling the minds of others; and sādhana for obtaining mokṣa or liberation.
The work traces the paramparā (tradition) of teaching thus: Brahmā to Bṛhaspati; Bṛhaspati to Nārada; Nārada to Vyāsa, and Vyāsa to Jaimini.
It has two commentaries:
1. Vedārthaprakāśa by Sāyaṇa (A. D.
2. Padārthamātravivrti by
Bharatasvāmin (A. D. 1300).
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore