Vedā: Soma

“Of you, none ever tastes, O Soma!”

The confusion of religion with spirituality is what has ruined the spiritual traditions all over the world. Spiritual mindset is not as satisfying pastime as a religious ritual, nor is a philosophical mind a cheap solution as a religious routine, to one’s problems.
But, the engulfing of spirituality by mundane religions have resulted in destroying of the poetic spiritual traditions and conforming them to suit the mundane literal and ritualistic nonsense of religions.

The best example would be the Vedic one, which lost its life falling to the religion.

Thus, we hear the most powerful and straight words from Rigveda regarding this.

Rigveda itself points out regarding people who tried to materialize soma :

“सोमं॑ मन्यते पपि॒वान्यत्स॑म्पिं॒षन्त्योष॑धिम् ।
सोमं॒ यं ब्र॒ह्माणो॑ वि॒दुर्न तस्या॑श्नाति॒ कश्च॒न “

“Somam manyate papivAn yat sam-pimSanty-oSadhim;
somam yam brahmANo vidur : na tasya-ashnAti kashcana”

“One thinks he has drunk soma, when they have pressed a herb,
(But) The soma which poets know, none ever partakes of that.”

(RV 10.85.04)

In the following verse, the poet makes it even clear :

“आ॒च्छद्वि॑धानैर्गुपि॒तो बार्ह॑तैः सोम रक्षि॒तः ।
ग्राव्णा॒मिच्छृ॒ण्वन्ति॑ष्ठसि॒ न ते॑ अश्नाति॒ पार्थि॑वः ॥”

“Hidden; sheltered with the ordained Brihati poems, the soma is protected.
You stand, hearing the pressing stones – the singers, (but) none born of earth tastes of thee”

(RV 10.85.05)

The second one is completely a satire.

The soma as a poetic concept “cannot be tasted by any man on earth”, it is protected inside the beautiful Brihati verses (verses in Brihati metre), known only to the poet. Someone thinks “apaama somam” (we drunk soma) after braying a herb, but alas, who can really “taste” the soma hidden in the poems by the knowing poets of Veda! Even now, scholars do the same- they try to find out a plant and bray it out. But Vedic word stands still true – ignorant minds never partake of that poetic soma inside the beautiful verses.

Vedas were such poetic conceptions that interwove the different aspects of nature, society, spirit into a set of warp-woofs creating beautiful poems and metaphors. Veda is simply the creation. But the truth is often simpler than the untruth, and there lies the complexity of simplicity.

Soma was not a drink which you could drink before battles and get a sense of fury. Soma is a concept, it often opens the darkness and shows the light. It is the medium through which Ṛṣis got their vision. Other than Indra when killing dark blocking force in mind, no other person “consumes” soma and goes for war. For soma transforms your mind to get “enlightened”. If you are enlightened, then the force of enlightenment is soma. That is how it is defined.

Author/Researcher: Kiron Krishnan
Sep 26th, 2016

Agni is the deity par excellence in the Vedas. He is symbolized at all three levels of interpretation in the Vedas — adhibhUtam (physical), adhidaivatam or adhiyajnam (celestial or anthropomorphic) and adhyAtmam (metaphysical). He is both the father of the gods and their son, because he is born in infinite forms and bodies, because he is immortal and eternal. He is called by the names of all the deities because he encompasses everything.

Now, Soma is a bit of a mystery to most people. But the mantras of Rig Veda make it clear that Soma is the “juice of life”. Soma is the symbol of all the immortal rasa that is the foundation of life. Soma and Agni are both called “pavamAna” or “pAvaka” which means “purifier”, and “pavitra” which means “pure”. So many of the epithets and synonyms are shared between Agni and Soma, because in reality they are both metaphysically the same Agni. It is the omnipresence of Agni that ultimately gives the immortality and purifying properties to other entities. Just as wood can generate fire because Agni is already present in it, similarly Soma is a purifier because of its origin in Agni. The entire ninth maṇḍala of 114 hymns in the Rig Veda is dedicated to Soma.

The inner meaning of the relationship between Agni and Soma is that they are symbols for the archetypal primeval universal metaphysical categories consumer and consumed. Soma being the archetype of all matter, and Agni being the archetype of all energy. The Agni-Soma pair represents the most fundamental duality in the universe. This Vedic metaphysics corresponds very well with the physics of the interchangeability of matter and energy as shown in Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

As Rig Veda 3.26.7 says: “ajasro gharmo havirasmi nAma” — “I am both eternal heat and the matter being offered into it”. This corroborates the above statements regarding the relationship between matter and energy in physics.

In the Prashna Upanishad, these categories are renamed as “prANa” (energy) and “rayi” (matter). Furthermore, it says that the sun is prANa and the moon is rayi. Clearly, the sun is a form of Agni and the moon is a form of Soma.

Author: Ram Abloh
Feb 21st, 2021

Soma is a unique concept in the Vedās that is addressed with many variations. Sometimes Soma is a king, sometimes as a juice of a plant, sometimes as the home of ṛta, other times as Moon emphasizing the expression of amṛta dripping from the crescent moon on Śiva’s head, but Soma is the full moon and on this full moon day is when Rudrā is given oblations as Rudrā is Tiṣya/Pusya month, hence Mondays are called Somavara and is the day of Śiva’s TS2.2.10. Similar to Rudrā, the concept of Soma enters into the cause and event of the Yajñá (Yagna). In this way, Soma enters into the offering of the Soma juice, or the full moon, into medicines, into amṛta, and in the very ṛta. In this way many dualities are drawn among various divine concepts in Vedas, among them, Rudrā and Soma are paired together as dual divinity and are treated as one. In other places as Somapavamana meaning the purified/clarified/refined version of Soma who gave birth to both Indra and Viṣṇu during Yajñá, this doesn’t mean Viṣṇu has physical birth but the concept of Viṣṇu emerge from various states of Yajñá. Soma is also addressed as an additive to Milk or Ghee used during Medha or Yajñá, Soma is also used synonymous with amṛta and so it’s this Soma that the Devas compete RV 1.108, Indra more than any. It is this Soma that gives them health, immortality, and strength to fight off Vṛtra allowing room for ṛta, to this both Maruths and Viṣṇu provide their support. The aspects of Soma in terms of amṛta, medicines, knowledge, health are same as Rudrā, they become one conceptually, this is why the very first homage to Rudrā is conjoined with Soma RV1.43 , but this duality soon becomes one in RigVedā 6.74, by the time of Śrī Rudrām of Kṛṣṇa Yajur Vedā Anuvakam 7 makes it’s even more clear with its primary declaration “nama somāya ca rudrāya ca KYV 7.1″ and “Lord of Soma KYV5.4“, and “Soma & Rudra, the giver of medicinesTS1.8.22” hence the titles Somnath, Somashekara, Somadeva, Somaskanda, Soma:suragni Lochana, and even Somavāra (a day of Śiva). But in a unique aspect Soma is described as a conjoined expression in Sanskrit grammar called bahuvrihi wherein, ‘Soma’ = ‘sa’ (along with) + ‘uma’ (Parvati).

Author/Researcher: Sanatan Dhara
Feb 10th, 2021