An entire 9th Mandala of the Rigveda is dedicated to Soma. Soma is the third-most mentioned noun in the Rigveda with nearly 1500 mentions. Almost in every Yagya, an oblation is offered to Soma. Apart from that, there are separate Soma-Yagyas. The Soma was either consumed by the people, believed to be consumed by Gods like Indra,Varuna,Mitra or offered to the fire, Agni. It depended on the usage of the plant.
It becomes important to discuss characteristics of Soma.
- Soma is a plant found on mountains. That is why Soma has adjectives like Parvatavrudha and Giristha. Rigveda (RV) 9.18.1 clearly mentions that Soma was found on mountains. So does Atharvaveda (3.21.10).
- A proper description is given by well-known Ayurvedic scholar Sushruta in his Sushruta Samhita saying that Soma is found growing on mountains like Himalayas, Sahyadri, Mahendra, Malya, Arbuda, Devgiri, Vindhyas,etc. It also mentions that Soma grows in aquatic habitats like Sindhu (Indus) river, Manas Sarovar, etc. This just proves that there were many varieties of Soma whihc were used.
- Since the varieties existed, the color also varied. Colors like brown,green, ornage and bright red existed.
- The confirmation also comes from Avesta, in both Yasna and Vendidad, where Haoma ( i.e Soma) is said to be growing on mountains. The Avestan and Vedic rituals were quite common in those days like fire worship, sun worship and Soma consumption.
- There is a lot of debate among modern day scholars regarding the actual Soma herb. Various species like Euphedra, Sarcostemma, etc
- The description of Soma plant comes in the commentary of Dhurtaswamin. It says Soma is dark,sour, without leaves, milky and fleshy, produces phlegm and vomiting and is a food for goats.
- Soma bestows supreme energy. Indra is said to drink Soma and under it's intoxication, goes on a war with Vritrasura and defeat him.
- The person who drinks Soma becomes pure at heart as it washes away the sins.
- Soma drives away all the enemies and prevents it's drinkers from coming in contact with any unwanted tribe. Besides, it bestows the best of health.
- Treasures like cows, wealth,etc are received.
- Soma is said to be brought on the Earth from the heavens and thus it pleases the Gods the most. Soma is said to be like a smell that spreads everywhere and attracts the Gods towards it, thus inviting the Gods to bless the Yagya being performed.
- Being the best of all the herbs, Soma is also said to be the king of all herbs (Vanaspati). He is also called the king of people.
- Soma is also considered to be the moon or Chandra with the 27 Nakshatras as his wives.
- Soma also is equated to trees, birds, cows, mind,etc at different places in the Rigveda.
|Lord Soma or Chandra with his chariot driven by an antelope|