Friday December 15, 2017
Home India Does Soma-Ras...

Does Soma-Rasa bring Human Beings closer to Hindu Gods? Find out its Spiritual Significance!

One of the original and popular beliefs is that somras made the Gods immortal

0
760
  • Somras itself has been used in the Rig Veda in multifarious forms and is attributed to mean light, dawn, the reason for the sun to shine, and even as the King
  • Soma-rasa is believed to have been consumed by Hindu gods in order to gain immortality
  • Modern researchers have been trying to find the origin plant, Soma, but there are various possibilities and none have been yet confirmed

Since time immemorial, there has been a debate regarding the significance of the origin of Somras, or Soma-Rasa. Mentioned in the Hindu text, Vedas, it was brought to light by Amish Tripathi’s The Shiva Trilogy. However, like everything mythical that is deconstructed by Tripathi, only reading about it in the books might leave gaping historical holes in the masses’ information.

Somras’ origins can be traced back to the Vedic era and the term was first found mentioned in the Rig Veda, an Indo-Iranian scripture. It is said to have been extracted from the sacred soma plant and was originally believed to have been consumed by Hindu gods. Soma itself has been used in the Rig Veda in multifarious forms and is attributed to mean light, dawn, the reason for the sun to shine, and even the King.

The reasons for the consumption of somras are yet to be confirmed. One of the original and popular beliefs is that, like Grecian ambrosia and Aztecan mushrooms, it made the gods immortal. Other popular myths that glorify its uses are that it was a necessity for priests, to use in holy rituals as an offering to the gods, and even to compose chants and hymns. Other specifics also mention that Somras was used by the god Indra to gain strength before battles. Some sources also mention that when used in a non-ritualistic setting, it can make the consumer alert and energetic.

Rigveda. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Rigveda. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The uncertainty of its history does not end there. According to a paper by Sachidananda Padhy and Santosh Kumar Dash, published in 2004, the origins of the soma plant are unknown. In order to fully understand its ethnobotanical facts, various Mandalas and hymns occurring in the Rig Veda have been studied to identify the plant’s characteristics. However, this has not been easy due to the ambiguity of the ancient texts. According to the paper, modern research has focussed on 20 different plants that are believed to be the fabled Soma. This list, though, is said to be neither exact not exhaustive, as there are various interpretations of the Vedic texts.

It is interesting to note that there are many who believe that Somras is simply milk or honey, and yet others who believe it is an elixir containing hallucinogens. In fact, according to much older (1974) research by B.G.L. Swamy, various researchers have made points from as far back as 1921 that Cannabis Sativa, more commonly referred to as Bhanga in Vedic mythology, could be this infamous Soma.

– by Varsha Gupta of NewsGram. Twitter: @VarshaGupta94

ALSO READ:

Next Story

Exclusive: An interview with Rohini Bakshi, Founder of Sanskrit Appreciation Hour

A tête-à-tête with Rohini Bakshi, Founder of Sanskrit Appreciation Hour- a twitter community of 11.1k members that is dedicated to the Sanskrit language

0
700
SanskritAppreciationHour (Sanskrit Appreciation Hour) by Rohini Bakshi
Sanskrit Language.(Representational Image). Source: www.siddhaika.org

August 20, 2016: Google search ‘Rohini Bakshi’ and tweets pertaining to Sanskrit Appreciation Hour will fill up your page. You’d also find special requests for a particular script translation, questions regarding sessions and many compliments. By the time you figure out what’s making the ‘twitterati’ go frantic, you’ll realize you are in a pool of tweets with eager disciples of the Vedic language. And by the time you comprehend how big SAH really is, well I bet by then you’ll already know the meaning of वक्रतुण्डं नमस्कृत्य गुरून् ज्येष्ठान् भवत। If you are skeptic about the reach of Sanskrit in 140 characters, you aren’t alone. To satiate the ‘eternal curiosity of our spotless mind’, reporter Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram called up the founder of #SanskritAppreciationhour, Rohini Bakshi herself.

In a dimly lit room in the UK, she sits in front of her Surface Pro. We casually discuss Brexit and how everything is uncertain there but soon realize that with politics one could talk endlessly. Jumping onto the elephant in the room, we begin talking about the reason she started SAH and some of them were truly thought provoking in the true sense of the term.

Rohini Bakshi: If there’s a single prime mover behind Sanskrit Appreciation hour, it is the fact that for almost five or six years, I looked for a teacher to come home and teach me or a course that I could attend without giving up my job, but I couldn’t find one. Ironically, it’s only when I came to the UK that I had the opportunity to learn. Hence, to make sure that people didn’t suffer the way I suffered- I created SAH, an online hub for them to come learn. I call it suffering because if you really want to do something and you are not able to do it, it is suffering indeed.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

Rohini Bakshi
Rohini Bakshi. Image source: Twitter 

I listened intently to her tale realizing it was the teacher in her that spoke. Unsurprisingly, other than conducting #SAH sessions, she’s also a Sanskrit Teacher at Citylit London. She told me about her alternative life as a teacher.

Rohini Bakshi: Sanskrit urges me to call myself a learner more than a teacher because even till today there’s so much to learn and I believe in one lifetime it’s impossible to cover everything that Sanskrit can teach.

Type in ‘Citylit London Sanskrit sessions’ in Google and you’ll find students calling the 90-minute Sanskrit sessions with Rohini ‘a window into India’s past’. Moving back to her twitter community, the one founded in 2012 which is now close to a whopping 11.1k. These numbers don’t just include Indian inhabitants; they include people from Ukraine to the USA as well.

Rohini Bakshi (shakes her head): Let’s not divide the eclectic list on the basis of their nationality. With Indians, it’s the ‘bhakti’ part; the urge to know the meaning of the ‘shlokas’ they chanted as children. Everybody has the right to choose their own means to connect to their Gods.  I chose mine and just like me, there were Sanskrit enthusiasts out there who chose the same. Additionally, I found people who were also motivated to revive the language.

For the first few years, Rohini preferred to conduct the sessions herself as it was nothing but a labor of love for her. But for the community to thrive, the variety was a necessity. Today, experts are invited to conduct these sessions, but only the ones that check the list. She listed some criteria’s while talking about the credibility of these guest contributors.

Rohini Bakshi: Obviously, you have to know Sanskrit well, be able to justify your translations and answer any grammar questions thrown at you to be a moderator. Secondly, under no circumstances will politics be brought into the session. In my virtual classroom, if you may call it, I don’t want any ideologies to be mentioned or any religion to be insulted.

Spotlighting the apolitical bit, she mentioned an instance of a heated debate that crammed her twitter timeline.

Rohini Bakshi: A Muslim community member modestly questioned me about the mystery behind the two Sri’s in the name Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. As it was a Muslim’s involvement in Hindu spirituality, he was faced with accusations and criticism. Hence my blog ‘All about Sanskrit’, clearly mentions- ‘Your personal beliefs remain exactly that – personal.’

Lastly, after SAH reaching the apex of what anyone could imagine, there was an inevitable question I threw in regarding their aims. Are we here to reach a level where a teenager opens Twitter to check what’s ‘dude’ in Sanskrit instead of a shirtless Daniel Radcliffe picture?

Rohini Bakshi: It’s already happening and I have been getting queries regarding cool tattoos in Sanskrit more often than one could imagine. Like I said, it started fortuitously and took on a life of its own. We have already started various spin-offs. One of them being ‘Sandhanam’ which literally means ‘joining of’ and it speaks for itself; it’s a non-profit service that we provide which connects people anywhere in the world via Skype to traditionally trained tutors in India. If you speak Tamil then we have a Tamil speaking tutor for you. To correct the imbalance in the remuneration, the entirety of fee by the student goes to the tutor directly for his sheer hard work. Secondly, we’ve moved into a book. Yes, a book based on Sanskrit Appreciation Hours will be releasing this autumn; it will be an Independent reader. Hence, staying true to the DNA of our program, we are enabling people to learn Sanskrit, one way or the other.

She ends with the line-‘ Nobody owns Sanskrit, nobody is the boss of it and we are here to serve it in our way’. A statement we completely agree with. We wish her forthcoming campaigning efforts prove to be fruitful and the hashtag beckons all Sanskrit lovers around the world.

– Interviewed by Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram. Twitter: @BladesnBoots

ALSO READ:

Next Story

Does Traditional Hindu Geometric form “Yantra” help one to Focus and achieve their Goals? Find out!

The Sanskrit word for a machine and a mystical diagram from the Tantric traditions of Hinduism

0
894
yantras
Sacred geometry via Wikipedia.org

YANTRA in general means “support” and “instrument” or a machine. The suffix ‘tra’ is Sanskrit for Instrument. In Hinduism, Yantras are regarded as the geometrical design for divinity in the Tantrik tradition. Murtis and mantras are other methods of representations. Yantras can be constructed, engraved or drawn on a variety of material. In the Tantrik tradition, the major 8 surfaces are gold, copper, crystal, silver, birch, hide, bone, and Vishnu stone.

A mantra is the generator of specific currents of sublime sound and its perceivable manifestation; a yantra is a monogram – a spectrograph of this sonic energy. In terms of their spiritual effects, yantras are like schematic sketches of the contours or structures of divine energy fields

                                                                               – Stephen knapp

According to hinduism.about.com, Yantra or machine efficiently aids in cogitation and concentration. A yantra in Hinduism is either simple or complex that aims towards a specific purpose such as concentration and meditation. Keeping one particular yantra in a particular direction at home and worshiping it, is often said to have noticeable auspicious effects.

Yantras can be simply explained as geometric designs with symbols. These geometrical designs are very precise and accurate. Among all the sacred symbols revealed by the Rishis, yantras are primarily considered as devices for devotional practices and as objects to channelize our thought process and worship, mentions Hinduism Expert, Subhamoy Das in hinduism.about.com.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

Yantra. Image source: mathomathis.blogspot.com
Yantra. Image source: mathomathis.blogspot.com

Types of Yantras and their Benefits-

  • Sri Yantra: Also known as Sri Chakra is regarded as the mother of all Yantras. It is the most favored Yantra in India. In Hinduism, it is believed that this yantra acts as the shield from destructive influences like accidents, sickness, crises and other life-threatening tragedies.The best type of Sri Yantra which is used to meditate are those which simply are drawn with black and white lines, drawn in a shape of a triangle, representing the cosmic mountain from the center of the universe.
  • Baglamukhi Yantra: This Yantra is believed to overpower enemies or hindrance and win verdicts in legal case scenarios.
  • Bisa Yantra: It is believed that those who have the Bisa Yantra, also has the hand of God on them. All difficult tasks become easy. By praying to it every morning obstacles can be easily overpowered and one can attain success and honor.
  • Kuber Yantra: Kuber Yantra is for the worship of the lord of wealth, Lord Kuber. It is believed that having this yantra with you or in your home makes the Lord happy and in return, He blesses one with material comforts as well as wealth.
  • Shri Kanakdhara Yantra: The Literal meaning of Kanakdhara is ‘flow of gold’. Establishing it at home is considered auspicious in Hinduism and it is believed that it can open the doors to fortune for the whole family. It helps in accomplishing wealth and eliminating poverty, mentions  hinduism.about.com.
  • Shri Mahalakshmi Yantra: Praying to this yantra, assures of perpetual prosperity. In Hinduism, it is believed that one who possesses this yantra and worships it with a pure soul, Goddess Lakshmi blesses them and opens an avenue of wealth, fame, as well as success.
  • Surya Yantra:  It is believed that this yantra will increase the auspiciousness of the Sun and will remove the bad effects associated with it. It ensures good health and well-being and promotes intellect as well.
  • Panchadasi Yantra: In Hinduism, it is believed that this yantra has the blessings of Lord Shiva himself and ensures morality, family happiness, wealth, and salvation.

The complex nature of yantra syntax rectifies the opinion of a lot of scholars who wrongly tagged all yantras as ‘magic’ designs.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

The Linga Bhairavi, according to the author Jaggi Vasudev Sadhguru, offers two Yantras namely, the Bhairavi Yantra and the Avighna Yantra.

The Bhairavi Yantra is meant to enhance the well-being of an individual while the Avighna Yantra takes obstacles away from the life of an individual. Shakta Yantras represent any form of the divine mother. These are the sources of supreme knowledge. The Astrological Yantras are used to harness the energies of the nine major planets. The Numerical Yantras are not composed of geometrical forms but of numbers which serve as talismans.The Architectural Yantras are used for the ground planning of lands.

– by Yajush Gupta of NewsGram, Twitter: @yajush_gupta

ALSO READ:

 

Next Story

Terms ‘Hindu’ and ‘India’ have Vedic-Harappan Legacy: Read Here!

Both the words, Indu and Sindhu refer to the central Vedic religious ritual – Soma

0
528
Map of India (Representational Image). Image source: thinglink.com
  • Many scholars and historians have concluded that the word ‘Hindu’ cannot be linked to the Sanskrit language as there is no mention of it in any of the Vedic literature
  • Iravatham Mahadevan, an Indologist from Tamil Nadu has discovered the Vedic link while studying the Harappan unicorn and the cult object before it
  • Both the words, Indu and Sindhu refer to the central Vedic religious ritual – Soma

Many scholars and historians from around the world have concluded that the word ‘Hindu’ cannot be linked to the Sanskrit language as there is no mention of it in any of the Vedic literature and that it was coined by the ancient invaders who could not accurately pronounce the name of the River Sindhu. Thus, throughout the modern political discourses in India, there have been criticisms that the words ‘Hindu’ and ‘India’ do not possess any indigenous roots.

It is said that the Muslim invaders from Afghanistan and Persia, renamed the River ‘Sindhu’ as ‘Hindu’ to describe the inhabitants from the north-western province of India where the river is located.  The term ‘Sindhu’ eventually faded out and the people of the land began to be known as ‘Hindus’. The word India, which is the Romanised form of the Greek “Indós” is said to be derived from the River Indus.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

Aravindan Neelakandan, editor Swarajya said, the critics of Hindutva and Indian nationalism, in general, argue that Hinduism and India are artificial constructs created by foreigners either to categorise or manage a vast collection of various ethnic, linguistic and cultural groups which actually merit separate sovereign nations. The claim that the word ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hinduism’ are alien-constructed and not present in the Vedic literature when it is said to be its core, serves as an argument to convince Indians that in the absence of foreign rule, India would have been disintegrated into a thousand kingdoms which would be in constant war with one another.

Iravatham Mahadevan, an Indologist from Tamil Nadu has discovered the Vedic link while studying the Harappan unicorn and the cult object before it, mentioned swarajyamag.com. Being familiar with the Vedic ceremony of the Soma filtering ritual, he says that he was “reminded of the two most powerful images in the Soma chapter of the Rig Veda, Pavamana and Indu”. Pavamana means the flowing Soma, and Indu refers to the Soma drops collected at the bottom of the filter. The word Indu can also be said to represent the Soma Itself and in the Brahmanas, Indu is used for the moon.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

The famous River hymns of Rig Veda (Nadistuti Sukta नदिस्तुति सूक्त, X.75) describes river Indus as “Good Soma” (Su-Soma). So both the words, Indu and Sindhu refer to the central Vedic religious ritual – Soma, says the Swarajya.

The Harappan seal. Image Source: Wikipedia Commons
The Harappan seal. Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

In The lost river by Michel Danino it is pointed out that archaeologist C L Fabri (1935) brought out “odd parallels” between depictions of animal motifs in punch-marked coins and Harappan seals. In most of the coins belonging to the Sangham Age (300 BCE to 300 CE) where the horse is shown, an object similar to the cult-object seen in Harappan unicorn seals was noticed. This leads one to the connection between the Indu or the Soma and the regional principalities ruled by local chieftains.

Hieun Tsang Image Source:r4e.org
Hieun Tsang Image Source:r4e.org

The words Soma and Indu can also be used to relate to the moon and Hieun Tsang, the seventh-century Buddhist pilgrim to India makes an explicit connection to this term and associates it with the name of the nation in a spiritual sense. He says that India was “anciently called Shin-tu, also Hien-tau” but with the right pronunciation, it is called “In-tu”. Pointing out that the Chinese the term also refers to the moon he says that it is appropriate, mentioned swarajyamag.com.

In the Buddhist Records of the Western World, Book II , he says, “the bright connected light of holy men and sages, guiding the world as the shining of the moon, have made this country eminent, and so it is called In-tu.”

If Iravatham Mahadevan  is correct, then both the terms Hindu and India trace their origin to the Vedic and Harappan period. These terms then will represent the oldest civilisation thus strengthening the spiritual and cultural bond shared by us all.

-prepared by Ajay Krishna of Newsgram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

ALSO READ: