Wikipedia on Soma:Etymology
(fr. √3. su) juice , extract , (esp.) the juice of the soma plant , (also) the soma plant itself (said to be the climbing plant Sarcostema Viminalis or Asclepias Acida , the stalks [aṃśu] of which were pressed between stones [adri] by the priests , then sprinkled with water , and purified in a strainer [pavitra] ; whence the acid juice trinkled into jars [kalaśa] or larger vessels [droṇa] ; after which it was mixed with clarified butter , flour &c , made to ferment , and then offered in libations to the gods [in this respect corresponding with the ritual of the Iranian Avesta] or was drunk by the Brahmans , by both of whom its exhilarating effect was supposed to be prized ; it was collected by moonlight on certain mountains [in RV. x , 34 , 1, the mountain mūja-vat is mentioned] ; it is sometimes described as having been brought from the sky by a falcon [śyena] and guarded by the gandharvas ; it is personified as one of the most important of Vedic gods , to whose praise all the 114 hymns of the 9th book of the RV. besides 6 in other books and the whole SV. are dedicated ; in post-Vedic mythology and even in a few of the latest hymns of the RV. [although not in the whole of the 9th book] as well as sometimes in the AV. and in the Br. , soma is identified with the moon [as the receptacle of the other beverage of the gods called amṛta , or as the lord of plants cf. indu , oṣadhi-pati] and with the god of the moon , as well as with viṣṇu , śiva , yama , and kubera ; he is called rājan , and appears among the 8 vasus and the 8 loka-pālas [ Mn. v , 96] , and is the reputed author of RV. x , 124 , 1 , 5-9, of a law-book &c ; cf. below) RV. &c
|(H1) sóma 1 [p= 1249,3] [L=252716]||m.|
» above )
|[L=252717]||the moon or moon-god (|
soma sacrifice AitA1r.
|[L=252719]||a day destined for extracting the |
= soma-vāra) Inscr.
|[L=252723]||air , wind |
|[L=252725]||a drug of supposed magical properties |
partic. mountain or mountainous range (accord. to some the mountains of the moon) ib.
partic. class of pitṛs (prob. for soma-pā) ib.
of various authors (also with paṇḍita , bhaṭṭa , śarman &c ; cf. above ) Cat.
somacandra , or some*ndu HParis3.
of a monkey-chief L.
rice-water , rice-gruel L.
|(H1B) sóma 1 [L=252736]||n.|
heaven , sky , ether L.
|(H1B) sóma 1 [L=252737]||n.|
relating to soma (prob. w.r. for sauma) Ka1t2h.
|(H1B) sóma 1 [L=252738]||mfn.|
(prob.) together with umā. IndSt.
|(H1) so* ma 2 [p= 1251,2] [L=253215]||mfn.|
Both Soma and the Avestan Haoma are derived from Proto-Indo-Iranian *sauma-. The name of the Scythian tribe Hauma-varga is related to the word, and probably connected with the ritual. The word is derived from an Indo-Iranian root *sav- (Sanskrit sav-/su) "to press", i.e. *sau-ma- is the drink prepared by pressing the stalks of a plant. The root is Proto-Indo-European (*sew(h)-)
In the Vedas, Soma is portrayed as sacred and as a god (deva). The god, the drink, and the plant refer to the same entity. Drinking Soma produces immortality (Amrita, Rigveda 8.48.3).Amrita is phonetically and conceptually very similar to the Greek ambrosia; both is what the gods drink, and what made them deities. Indra and Agni are portrayed as consuming Soma in copious quantities. The consumption of Soma by human beings is well attested in Vedic ritual.
The Rigveda (8.48.3, tr. Griffith) states,
ápāma sómam amŕtā abhūmâganma jyótir ávidāma devân
kíṃ nūnám asmân kṛṇavad árātiḥ kím u dhūrtír amṛta mártyasya
We have drunk Soma and become immortal; we have attained the light, the Gods discovered.
Now what may foeman's malice do to harm us? What, O Immortal, mortal man's deception?
The Ninth Mandala of the Rigveda is known as the Soma Mandala. It consists entirely of hymns addressed to Soma Pavamana ("purified Soma"). The drink Soma was kept and distributed by the Gandharvas. The Rigveda associates the Sushoma, Arjikiya and other regions with Soma (e.g. 8.7.29; 8.64.10-11). Sharyanavat was possibly the name of a pond or lake on the banks of which Soma could be found. It is described as "green-tinted" and "bright-shining" in the RigVeda. (R.V., 9.42.1 and 9.61.17)
The plant is often described as growing in the mountains (giristha, cf. Orestes), notably Mount Mūjavant. It has long stalks, and is of yellow or tawny (hari) colour. The drink is prepared by priests pounding the plants with stones. The juice so gathered is filtered through lamb's wool, and mixed with other ingredients (including cow milk) before it is drunk. It is said to "roar". It is said to be the bringer of the gods.
Later, knowledge of the ingredient was lost altogether, and Indian ritual reflects this, in expiatory prayers apologizing to the gods for the use of a substitute plant (somalataa, e.g. the pūtīka) because Soma had become unavailable. In the Vedic ritual Agnistoma (or Somayaga), Soma is to be presented as the main offering. Further information: Somayajna and RV 9 indu
( √ und Un2. i , 13 ; probably fr. ind = √ und , " to drop " [see [p= 165,3] , and cf. índra] ; perhaps connected with bindu , which last is unknown in the ṛg-veda BRD. ), Ved. a drop (especially of soma) , soma RV. AV. VS.
|(H1) índu [p= 166,1] [L=28858]||m.|
|[L=28859]||a bright drop , a spark |
(avas) the moons i.e. the periodic changes of the moon
RV. MBh. S3ak. Megh. &c
|[L=28862]||time of moonlight , night |
AV. vii , 109 , 6
|[L=28864]||the point on a die |
of vāstoṣpati RV. vii , 54 , 2
|[L=28866]||a symbolic expression for the number " one "|
|[L=28867]||designation of the |
L. (In the brāhmaṇas , indu is used only for the moon ; but the connexion between the meanings " soma juice " and " moon " in the word indu has led to the same two ideas being transferred in classical Sanskrit to the word soma , although the latter has properly only the sense " soma juice. ")
|[L=28868]||a coin |
|(H2) indu [p= 1320,3] [L=321380]||(also) the weight of a silver |
excessively purged by the soma-juice (which , if drunk in excess , is supposed to pass through the nose , ears , and other apertures of the body) Pan5cavBr. S3rS.
|(H3) somā* tipavita [p= 1251,1] [L=253114]||mfn.|
a soma libation performed with suppression of the breath and voice VS. S3Br. &c
|(H3) antar--yāmá [p= 43,3] [L=8136]||m.|
|(H3) antar--yāma [p= 1313,1] [L=308273]||(also) speaking to one's self, unheard by another, |
a channel or receptacle for receiving the water with which a liṅga has been bathed L.
|(H3) sóma--sūtra [p= 1251,1] [L=253088]||n.|
of various works.
|[p= 1251,1] [L=253089]||N.|
Soma is an ancient word, going back to the dawn of time. It is used in the Vedas
, the sacred chants of what is now called India, to refer to the way that meditation wakes up the senses. We are using the term to refer to the magic of life that is there in a breath, if we really savor it. Not just as a metaphor, but as pointing to a quality of prana that is available everwhere.
I am of the school that feels the human body produces its own magic juices when we treat it right. The senses are so mysterious that when we pay the slightest bit of attention, they tend to awaken. To give a example, some people walk outside on a glorious morning and just inhale vitality – you can see them drink in the essence of life just from the beauty that surrounds us all. We have all done this from time to time. That's what I'm talking about.
The word Soma has been co-opted by some modern peyote users
. Fine. But that is like giving the name yoga
to a drug. Or giving the name Prana
to a brand of cigarettes. Go for it, marketers!
About the word, Soma
From the American Heritage Dictionary
online at bartleby.com
SOMA , psychotropic plant, the juice of which was sometimes drunk as part of the Vedic sacrifice (see Veda). Many hymns in the Rig-Veda are in praise of soma. In the late Vedic period substitutes for soma came to be used, and the original plant was lost. It has recently been identified with the fly agaric mushroom, Amanita muscaria, used in Siberian shamanism. See R. G. Wasson, Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality (1971).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05.soma
in the Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898:
The moon, born from the eyes of Atri, son of Brahma; made the sovereign of plants and planets.
Soma ran away with Tara (Star), wife of Vrihaspata, preceptor of the gods, and Buddha was their offspring. (Hindu mythology.)
To drink the Soma. To become immortal. In the Vedic hymns the Soma is the moon-plant, the juice of which confers immortality, and exhilarates even the gods.
It is said to be brought down from heaven by a falcon. (Scandinavian mythology.)soma
in the American Heritage Dictionary
1. The entire body of an organism, exclusive of the germ cells. 2. See cell body. 3. The body of an individual as contrasted with the mind or psyche.
ETYMOLOGY: New Latin sma, from Greek, body. See teu- in Appendix I. Veda
VEDA [Sanskrit,=knowledge, cognate with English wit, from a root meaning know], oldest scriptures of Hinduism and the most ancient religious texts in an Indo-European language. The authority of the Veda as stating the essential truths of Hinduism is still accepted to some extent by all Hindus. The Veda is the literature of the Aryans who invaded NW India c.1500 B.C. and pertains to the fire sacrifice that constituted their religion. The Vedic hymns were probably first compiled after a period of about 500 years during which the invaders assimilated various native religious ideas. The end of the Vedic period is about 500 B.C. Tradition ascribes the authorship of the hymns to inspired seer-poets (rishis).Types of Vedic Literature
Composed according to an advanced poetic technique and complex metrical system, the Veda consists of four types of literature: Samhita, Brahmana, Aranyaka, and Upanishad. Most important are the four Samhitas, which are the basic Vedas. The earliest is the Rig-Veda (rig=stanza of praise), a collection of 1,028 hymns. The Sama-Veda (saman=chant) consists of stanzas taken from the Rig-Veda meant to be sung to fixed melodies. The Yajur-Veda (yajus=sacrificial prayer), compiled a century or two later than the Rig-Veda, contains prose and verse formulas that were to be pronounced by the priest performing the manual part of the sacrifice. These three Vedas were recognized as canonical and called Trayi Vidya [the threefold knowledge]. The Atharva-Veda (atharvan=charm), written at a later period, was included in the canon only after a long struggle. Influenced by popular religion, it included spells and incantations for the practice of magic. Each of these Vedas was taught in different schools, and each school produced commentarial literature. The Brahmanas are prose explanations of the sacrifice, while the Aranyakas, or forest treatises, give instruction for the mental performance of the sacrifice through meditation, thus forming a transition to the Upanishads, works of mysticism and speculation. The Gods and Vedic Sacrifice
In the Vedic sacrifice a god or gods are invoked by the hymns or mantras. Offerings of food, butter, or soma are prepared and offered to the fire, which as an intermediary god, conveys these to the other gods. The total number of Vedic gods is said to be 33, although more than this number are actually mentioned in the Veda. The three main kinds of gods are celestial, atmospheric, and terrestrial. Their attributes shift, and one god can be identified with another or take on his or her powers.
The most important gods are Agni, the fire god, who plays a central role in the sacrifice, and Indra, the warrior god and thunder god, celebrated for his slaying of the drought demon Vritra. Several solar deities are found, including Surya, Savitri, Pushan, and Vishnu. Varuna is the all-seeing god of justice, guardian of the cosmic order or rita. Soma personifies the plant whose intoxicating juice was offered as an oblation.
With the passage of time the sacrifice became increasingly elaborate, and priests became highly skilled specialists. The conception of the sacrifice’s meaning also developed. Correlations were made between parts of the sacrifice and of the cosmos. The sacrifice came to be regarded as the fundamental agency of creation, embodied in brahman, the mystical power of speech in the mantras. Theories of cosmogony and the idea of a single underlying reality found clear expression in philosophical hymns and the later interpretive works. Bibliography
See M. Bloomfield, The Religion of the Veda (1908, repr. 1973); A. B. Keith, The Religion and Philosophy of the Vedas and Upanishads (1923, repr. 1976); M. Winternitz, History of Indian Literature (3 vol., tr. 1927–33); R. C. Majumdar, The Vedic Age (1951, repr. 1957); E. V. Arnold, The Rigveda (1960, repr. 1972); P. Olivelle, tr., Samnysa Upanishads (1992).