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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

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  • 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

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Nalanda University: 5 Lesser-Known Facts About The Ancient University

The great library of the Nalanda University was called as Dharma Gunj, which means the Mountain of Truth

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Nalanda University was the first International University. Wikimedia Commons
Nalanda University was the first International University. Wikimedia Commons

Nalanda University, an ancient university, was a completely residential university believed to have 2,000 teachers and 10,000 students. The Nalanda ruins reveal through their architectural components the holistic nature of knowledge that was sought and imparted at this University. It suggests a seamless co-existence between nature and man and between living and learning.

The profound knowledge of the Nalanda teachers attracted scholars from places as distant as China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, Mongolia, Turkey, Sri Lanka and South East Asia.

ALSO READ: India’s lost pride on its way to revival – Nalanda

The famous song “O Mere Raja” from the film ‘Johny Mera Nam’ starring Dev Anand and Hema Malini was shot at the ruins of Nalanda and the Vishwa Shanti Stupa in Rajgir, Bihar. Wikimedia Commons
The famous song “O Mere Raja” from the film ‘Johny Mera Nam’ starring Dev Anand and Hema Malini was shot at the ruins of Nalanda and the Vishwa Shanti Stupa in Rajgir, Bihar. Wikimedia Commons

Here are some lesser-known facts about Nalanda University History: 

1. Nalanda University was an ancient university and also, the first International University. It was built under the patronage of the Gupta Empire in the 5th century AD and remained the best center for learning for over 800 years with around 10,000 students. In fact, 2,000 teachers came from all over the world such as Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia, and Turkey.

2. Nalanda University had the basic purpose of creating a place fit for meditation, for which it was founded by the Buddhist monks. Highly formalized Vedic learning methods helped inspire the creation of large teaching institutions such as Nalanda University, as well as Taxila and Vikramashila.

3. The great library of the Nalanda Vishwavidyalaya was called as Dharma Gunj, which means the Mountain of Truth. The library was said to house hundreds and thousands of volumes of books. The library was attacked several times in past and then later restored by Harshavardhan, the Buddhist king. But the army led by Turkish leader Bakhtiyar Khilji destroyed the complex, massacring all the Buddhist monks in the area.

4. The famous song “O Mere Raja” from the film ‘Johny Mera Nam’ starring Dev Anand and Hema Malini was shot at the ruins of Nalanda Vishwavidyalaya and the Vishwa Shanti Stupa in Rajgir, Bihar.

5. Nalanda Vishwavidyalaya attracts a huge number of tourists every year. It is well connected by road or rail. Rajgiri is the nearest train station. However, the frequency of trains is higher at Patna and Gaya. The best time to visit Nalanda is between October and March.