Soma: Elixir of the Gods



Soma is a masculine noun in Sanskrit which primarily means the juice from a plant object of sacrificial offering yajna in Vedism, the term is sometimes also used to mean the same plant from which it was extracted the juice sacrificial. Soma, also in the Vedic religion, also indicates the deity connected to the sacrificial drink and object of all 114 hymns of the ninth book mandala of the Rigveda. In the later hymns of the Rig Veda, the term refers to the moon, place a receptacle for another drink holy gods own the Amrita.


In the early hymns of the Rigveda between 2000 and 1500 BC approximately, the term pack refers to a plant and its juice squeezed, that the singers of the Vedas described as a drink which is said to bring health and immortality. The difficulties of interpretation of Sanskrit texts and the lack of detailed descriptions of the plant have made ​​it difficult to ascertain the true botanical identity of the plant.

The descriptions of the soma shown in religious literature report that the soma grew in the mountains, and it was a creeping plant, semi-shrub, with stems without leaves, which contain a milky juice sour. On the other hand, there is evidence in the literature that age already in Vedic the difficulty of finding the plant, probably as a result of migration, has led to the search for alternative plants.

Over the years and in different traditions, including the species identified with the soma there have been several plants by fermentation which are derived intoxicants as the vine, the Saccharum and Sorghum, but checks conducted on texts rituals show that the soma did not fit a beverage fermented or distilled. Its effects can not therefore be considered as the result of alcohol.

Have also been proposed by other plants containing alkaloids psychotropic effects such as several species of Ephedra, the Cannabis sativa or Syrian rue. According to some authors the burden should instead be identified with some species of the genus Sarcostemma, characterized by a fleshy stem and cloudy. Finally, there is has been argued that the burden can be identified with the mushroom Amanita muscaria, known to be equipped with hallucinogenic properties.

The Dutch indianista Jan C. Heesterman in The Broken World of Sacrifice An Essay in Ancient Indian Ritual shows how plausible the identification of soma with a variety of ephedra as directed by Harry Falk in a communication to the VII World Conference of Sanskritist held in Leiden in August 1987. On that occasion, Falk argued that the burden did not consist of a hallucinogenic plant, but rather in a drug whose purpose is to stay awake during the night festival inherent in the sacrifice. For Heestermann however there is no evidence of any identification of the plant and that this issue will remain unresolved at least for the near future.

There are many variations that are inherent in the sacrifice of soma somayajña, the feature is called, in Vedic Sanskrit , agniṣṭomà Hymn to Agni for prayer invoked in the most important moment of the ceremony, or the twelfth and final squeezing the juice of plant in the fifth day of the sacrificial rite that takes place once a year in spring.

The officiant along with his wife was locked in a hut for a period of consecration rite called diksa. Inside this hut remained motionless with clenched fists wrapped in a skin of antelope mṛga embraced his wife but without the sexual act, all to evoke the intrauterine life.

It is a substance euphoric, but without any unpleasant side effect if not to shorten the life of a few years, but it is not too high a price for happiness, produced in the form of tablets from half a gram, added to beverages and when necessary to quell situations of public disorder splash in air as aerosols. Through the soma, distributed free by the state to all citizens since childhood, and conditioning the brain pre-and post-birth, is made ​​perfect utopian in a world in which in the name of social stability is banned any form of suffering, starting with the one generated by the family ties and love, no longer provided in the company described in the novel.

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