Hinduism is believed to be one of the oldest living religions on Earth, with origins tracing back to the ancient Vedic civilization in India. The earliest Hindu spiritual text, the Rig Veda, was compiled in approximately 900 B.C. Other sacred Hindu scriptures include the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Ramayana, among others. With its deep spiritual roots, Hinduism is a vastly diverse and colorful religion.

Hindus believe in reincarnation, the law of cause and effect (karma), a single Divine Being with multiple manifestations, and the desire of all beings for liberation from the cycle of birth and death. One of the most cherished values of Hinduism is “ahimsa,” or non-violence. According to Hinduism, religious belief and the practices of everyday life are inseparable. An example of this is how ahimsa is honored through a vegetarian diet, which shows compassion to all beings. We now present an excerpt of Hinduism’s sacred text, the Samaveda, First Part, Book II, Chapters I and II.

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DECADE I Agni Agni (Hindu god of fire), thy faithful servant I call upon thee with many a gift, As in the keeping of the great inciting God. To Agni, to the Hotar-priest offer your best, your lofty speech, To him ordainer-like who bears the light of songs. O Agni,

thou Son of Strength, Bestow on us, O Jatavedas (Agni), high renown Most skilled in offerings, bring the Gods, O Agni, to the pious, man: A joyful Priest, thy splendor drives our foes afar Taught by seven mothers at his birth was he, for glory of the wise. He, firm and sure, hath set his mind on glorious wealth And in the day our prayer is this: May Aditi (the mother of all the gods and all creation) come nigh to help, With loving-kindness bring us weal and chase our foes Worship thou Jatavedas, pray to him who willingly accepts, Whose smoke wanders at will, and none may grasp his flame No mortal man can e'er prevail by arts of magic over him Who hath served Agni well, the oblation-giving God.

Agni, drive thou the wicked foe, the evil-hearted thief away, Far, far, Lord of the brave! and give us easy paths! O hero Agni, Lord of men, on hearing this new laud of mine Burn down the Rakshasas (earth-bound evil beings), enchanters, with thy flame!

DECADE II Agni Sing forth to him the holy, most munificent, sublime with his refulgent glow, To Agni (Hindu god of fire), ye Upastutas Agni, he conquers by thine aid that brings him store of valiant sons and does great deeds, Whose bond of friendship is thy choice Sing praise to him the Lord of light! The Gods have made the God to be their messenger, To bear oblation to the Gods.

Anger not him who is our guest! He is the bright God Agni, praised by many a man, God Hotar (priest), skilled in offerings. May Agni, worshipped, bring us bliss: may the gift, blessed one! and offerings bring bliss. Yea, may our eulogies bring bliss. Thee have we chosen skillfullest in offerings, immortal Priest among the Gods, Wise finisher of this holy rite. Bring us that splendor, Agni, which may overcome each greedy fiend in our abode, And the malicious wrath of men! Soon as the eager Lord of men is friendly unto Manu's race Agni averteth from us all the Rakshasas (earth-bound evil beings)!

DECADE III Indra Sing this, beside the flowing juice, to him your hero, much-invoked, To please him as a mighty Bull O Satakratu Indra (king of the devas), now rejoice with that carouse of thine Which is most glorious of all! Ye cows, protect the fount: the two mighty ones bless the offerings. The handles twain are wrought of gold. Sing praises that the horse may come; sing, Srutakaksha, that the cow May come, that Indra's might may come Based upon strength and victory and power, O Indra, is thy birth: Thou, mighty one! art strong indeed, The offerings made Indra great when he unrolled the earth, and made Himself a diadem in heaven.

Pressers, blend Soma juice for him, each draught most excellent, for him The brave, the hero, for his joy. Here is the Soma juice expressed. O Vasu (Wealthy One), drink till thou art full: Undaunted God, we give it thee

DECADE IV Indra Surya (the Sun god), thou mountest up to meet the hero famous for his wealth, Who hurls the bolt and works for man. Whatever, Vritra-slayer (drought-slayer)! thou, Surya hast risen upon to-day, That, Indra (king of the devas), all is in thy power. That Indra is our youthful friend, who with his trusty guidance led Turvasa, Yadu from afar. O Indra, let not ill designs surround us in the sunbeams' light This may we gain with thee for friend!

Indra, bring wealth that gives delight, the victor's ever-conquering wealth, Most excellent, to be our aid In mighty battle we invoke Indra, Indra is lesser fight, The friend who bends his bolt at fiends. In battle of a thousand arms Indra drank Kadru's Soma juice There he displayed his manly might. Faithful to thee, we sing aloud, heroic Indra, songs to thee Mark, O good Lord, this act of ours! Hitherward! they who light the flame and straightway trim the sacred grass, Whose friend is Indra ever young.

DECADE V Indra and others I Hear, as though 'twere close at hand, the cracking of the whips they hold: They gather splendor on their way. Indra (king of the devas), these friends of ours, supplied with Soma (sacred intoxicator, lord of delight), wait and look to thee Before his hot displeasure all the peoples, all the men bow down, As rivers bow them to the sea. We choose unto ourselves that high protection of the mighty Gods, That it may help and succor us. O Brahmanaspati (Brahma, the creator of all beings in this world), make thou Kakshivan Ausija a loud Chanter of flowing Soma juice!

Much honored with libations may the Vritra-slayer (drought-slayer) watch for us: May Sakra (ruler of Heaven) listen to our prayer Send us this day, God Savitar (sun god as the guide of Yoga), prosperity with progeny Drive thou the evil dream away! Where is that ever-youthful Steer, strong-necked and never yet bent down? What Brahman ministers to him? There where the mountains downward slope, there at the meeting of the streams The Sage was manifest by song. Praise Indra whom our songs must laud, sole sovran of mankind, the chief Most liberal who controlleth men

CHAPTER II DECADE I Indra and others Indra (king of the devas) whose jaws are strong hath drunk of worshipping Sudaksha's draught, The Soma juice with barley brew. O Lord of ample wealth, these songs of praise have called aloud to thee, Like milch-kine lowing to their calves! Then straight they recognized the mystic name of the creative Steer, There in the mansion of the Moon. When Indra, strongest hero, brought the streams, the mighty waters down, Pushan (a solar deity) was standing by his side.

The Cow, the streaming mother of the liberal Maruts (storm deities), pours her milk, Harnessed to draw their chariots on. Come, Lord of rapturous joys, to our libation with thy bay steeds, come With bay steeds to the flowing juice Presented strengthening gifts have sent Indra away at offerings, With night, unto the cleansing bath. I from my Father have received deep knowledge of eternal Law: I was born like unto the Sun. With Indra splendid feasts be ours, rich in all strengthening things, wherewith, Wealthy in food, we may rejoice Soma (sacred intoxicator, lord of delight) and Pushan, kind to him who travels to the Gods, provide Dwellings all happy and secure.

DECADE II Indra Invite ye Indra (king of the devas) with a song to drink your draught of Soma steeds, juice, All-conquering Satakratu (Indra (king of the devas)), most munificent of all who live Sing ye a song, to make him glad, to Indra, Lord of tawny The Soma-drinker, O my friends! This, even this, O Indra, we implore: as thy devoted friends The Kanvas (ancient Hindu sages) praise thee with their hymns! For Indra, lover of carouse, loud be our songs about the juice Let poets sing the song of praise. Here, Indra, is thy Soma draught, made pure upon the sacred grass: Run hither, come and drink thereof As a good cow to him who milks, we call the doer of good deeds To our assistance day by day.

Hero, the Soma being shed, I pour the juice for thee to drink Sate thee and finish thy carouse! The Soma, Indra, which is shed in saucers and in cups for thee, Drink thou, for thou art lord thereof! In every need, in every fray we call, as friends, to succor us, Indra, the mightiest of all. O come ye hither, sit ye down: to Indra sing ye forth your song, Companions, bringing hymns of praise DECADE III Indra So, Lord of affluent gifts, this juice hath been expressed for thee with strength: Drink of it, thou who lovest song! Great is our Indra from of old; greatness be his, the Thunderer Wide as the heaven extends his might.

Indra, as one with mighty arm, gather for us with thy right hand Manifold and nutritious spoil! Praise, even as he is known, with song Indra the guardian of the kine, The Son of Truth, Lord of the brave. With what help will he come to us, wonderful, ever-waxing friend? With what most mighty company? Thou speedest down to succor us this ever-conquering God of yours Him who is drawn to all our songs. To the assembly's wondrous Lord, the lovely friend of Indra, I Had prayed for wisdom and successs. May all thy paths beneath the sky whereby thou speddest Vyasva (a sage) on, Yea, let all spaces hear our voice Bring to us all things excellent, O Satakratu, food and strength, For, Indra, thou art kind to us! Here is the Soma ready pressed: of this the Maruts (storm deities), yea, of this, Self-luminous the Asvins (divine twin horsemen) drink.

DECADE IV Indra and others Tossing about, the active ones came nigh to Indra (king of the devas) at his birth, Winning themselves heroic might. Never, O Gods, do we offend, nor are we ever obstinate We walk as holy texts command. Evening is come: sing loudly thou Atharvan's (legendary Vedic sage) nobly singing son: Give praise to Savitar (sun god as the guide of Yoga) the God! Now Morning with her earliest light shines forth, dear daughter of the Sky: High, Asvins (divine twin horsemen), I extol your praise.

Armed with the bones of dead Dadhyach (a sage), Indra, with unresisted might The nine-and-ninety Vritras (demons of drought) slew. Come, Indra, and delight thee with the juice at all our Soma feasts, Protector, mighty in thy strength O thou who slayest Vritras, come, O Indra, hither to our side, Mighty one, with thy mighty aids! That might of his shone brightly forth when Indra brought together, like A skin, the worlds of heaven and earth, This is thine own Thou drawest near, as turns a pigeon to his mate: Thou carest, too, for this our prayer. May Vata breathe his balm on us, healthful, delightful to our heart: May he prolong our days of life

DECADE V Indra and others Ne'er is he injured whom the Gods Varuna (Vedic god of natural and moral law), Mitra (Hindu god of friendship and alliances), Aryam (a principle solar divinity). The excellently wise, protect.

May bright Sarasvati, endowed with plenteous wealth and spoil, enriched With prayer, desire the offerings. Why 'mid the Nahusha tribes shall sate this Indra with his Soma juice? He shall bring precious things to us. Come, we have pressed the juice for thee; O Indra, drink this Soma here: Sit thou on this my sacred grass Great, unassailable must be the heavenly favor of the Three, Varuna, Mitra, Aryaman. We, Indra, Lord of ample wealth, our guide, depend on one like thee, Thou driver of the tawny steeds!