The Taittiriya Upanishad constitutes the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Vallis (sections) of the Taittiriya Aranyaka of the Yajur Veda. The last of these is known as the Bhrigu Valli, and here is how it ends:

He who knows this, when he has departed this world, after reaching and comprehending the Self which consists of food, the Self which consists of breath, the Self which consists of mind, the Self which consists of understanding, the Self which consists of bliss, enters and takes possession of these worlds, and having as much food as he likes, and assuming as many forms as he likes, he sits down singing this Sâman (of Brahman): "Hâvu, hâvu, hâvu! I am food (object), I am food, I am food! I am the eater of food (subject), I am the eater of food, I am the eater of food! I am the poet (who joins the two together), I am the poet, I am the poet! I am the first-born of the Right (rita). Before the Devas I was in the centre of all that is immortal. He who gives me away, he alone preserves me: him who eats food, I eat as food. I overcome the whole world, I, endowed with golden light." This is the Upanishad

For those who don't know, Saman is a term generally used to refer to the hymns of the Sama Veda, which are set to musical melody unlike the hymns of other Vedas. So my question is, is the Taittiriya Upanishad quoting some hymn of the Sama Veda here?

This webpage claims that it is from the Sama Veda, and that it's a hymn that's used by the gods to venerate Vishnu in Vaikuntha:

The Sama Veda is almost entirely musical, and is most pleasing to hear-this Veda is sung and not recited, as is indicated by the usage, “SAma gAnam”. The Taittiriya Upanishad attests to the fact that the Nitya Suris in Sri Vaikuntam please the Lord through melodious singing of SAma mantras- “Etat SAma gAyan AstE”.

And this webpage claims that Parashara Bhattar, a famous Sri Vaishnava Acharya said the same thing:

SrI BhaTTar uses the above interpretation and explains the nAma as "One Who has the mukta-s or the Released souls singing the sAma hymns in praise of Him once they have attained Him" – sva-prApti madhu pAnena "hAvu hAvu hAvu" iti sAmAni gAyamAno muktaH asya asti iti sAma-gAyanaH. He gives the quote from taittirIya Upanishad – "etat sAma gayannAste" – (The released soul or mukta) will be singing this sAma chant.

But at first glance I can't find this hymn in the Sama Veda; you can read the Sama Veda here. If it helps, here is the hymn in Sanskrit:

hā 3 vu hā 3 vu hā 3 vu |

ahamannamahamannamahamannam |

ahamannādo3'hamannādo3|āhamannādaḥ |

aham̐ ślokakṛdaham̐ ślokakṛdaham̐ ślokakṛt |

ahamasmi prathamajā ṛtā3sya |

pūrvaṃ devebhyo'mṛtasya nā3bhāyi |

yo mā dadāti sa ideva mā3''vāḥ |

ahamannamannamadantamā3dmi |

ahaṃ viśvaṃ bhuvanamabhyabhavā3m |

suvarna jyotīḥ |

ya evaṃ veda |

It looks like this hymn is also chanted in the famous Tirumala Venkateshwara Temple in Tirupati when giving the Venkateshwara statue an Abhishekha (bath); see this video starting from about the 30 second mark, where the priests are clearly singing it in the style of Sama Veda chanting. That lends some credence to the notion that it's a hymn from the Sama Veda which is chanted in praise of Vishnu in Vaikuntha.

Does anyone know whether this hymn occurs in the Sama Veda, and if so where iin the Sama Veda?

  • This verse is Taittiriya III. x. 6. In his translation, Nikhilananda says at the start of this verse that the verse is from the Sama-Veda, but does not give the exact reference. Gambhirananda makes reference to song but does not refer to the Sama-Veda in his commentary. Shankaracharya also makes reference to song in his commentary but not to the Sama-Veda. – Swami Vishwananda Jan 23 '15 at 10:08
  • @SwamiVishwananda OK, but is the word Saman ever used in Sanskrit to refer to songs other than those of the Sama Veda? Also, watch the video I linked to, showing the Friday Abhishekham in Tirupati. Doesn't it sound like the melody of the Sama Veda? – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 23 '15 at 10:15
  • In a Upanishad it probably does not refer to any song other than one in the Sama-Veda. I think this verse does refer to the Sama-Veda. Gambhirananda and Shankaracharya's silence in their commentaries is only because they didn't consider it significant enough to comment on (I think). They are more intent on commenting on the meaning of the verse. There are many instances of references to verses in the Vedas throughout the Upanishads, and exact duplicates of those verses. I will look at the link. – Swami Vishwananda Jan 23 '15 at 10:34
  • Yes first half sounds like Sama-Veda. I would be surprised if it wasn't. Second half is bajans. – Swami Vishwananda Jan 23 '15 at 10:44
  • @SwamiVishwananda Yeah, I just meant the portion of the video from the 0:30 mark to about the 1:44 mark. But yes, it clearly sounds like the Sama Veda, and yet I can't seem to find it in the Sama Veda; here is the Sama Veda Samhita in Sanskrit: sanskritdocuments.org/doc_veda/sv-kauthuma.itx I looked at all occurrences of the word "aham", but I didn't see it. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 23 '15 at 12:49

I finally found where the Sama Veda quote is from. Here is the Sama Veda in Sanskrit. Near the beginning of the Aranya Archikah, Aranya Kandam section, the following verse occurs:

ahamasmi prathamajā ṛtasya pūrvaṃ devebhyo amṛtasya nāma |

yo mā dadāti sa idevamāvadahamannamannamadantamadmi || 594

Here is how this webpage translates the verse

I have been created before the creation of devtas and nobody can survive without consuming me. Those who donate me in Yagna etc., I protect them and bestow them with the result of pious deeds [punya].

Apparently this verse was turned into a Sama Veda song called Svargyam Sethushama, AKA Purushagati. You can listen to the song here; I highly recommend it if you haven't heard Sama Veda singing before.

The preamble to the hymn provides useful information about the verse:

Svargyam Sethushama Purushagathirva Prajapati Rishihi Trishtup Chandaha Atma Devata

Of [the hymn called] Svargyam Sethushama [or] Purushagathi, the sage [who heard it from the gods] is Prajapati, the meter is Trishtup, the deity [whom it's addressed to] is Atma.

So I assume that the mantra was first heard by Brahma (Prajapati), and that it was said in praise of Vishnu (Paramatma), based on the information in my question about its use in Vaikuntha.

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