- 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.
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
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