Soma is both the name of a god and a substance that we find in Hindu mythology. As a deity, He is one of the most important gods in Rigveda.
Soma is considered a primeval being among the Hindu gods.
According to traditions, Soma was consumed in the beginning of time by the Hindu gods and later stolen and delivered to humans by Agni, the god of fire.
The God Soma
The god and the drink are interrelated with each other as the drink is considered as the personification of the god.
According to the Puranas, Soma is depicted as a god who rides a three-wheeled war chariot drawn by ten white horses.
In other passages, this god appears as a heavenly bull, a giant emerging from the waters, a bird, the lord of vegetables, and even as an embryo.
In Hindu beliefs, He is an ancient deity who is in charge of various and important aspects of life. One of them is the supervision of Hindu religious sacrifices.
In some texts, Soma is associated with the moon. In addition to all that, Soma is considered a bearer of health and fortune.
He is also believed to have power over the mind and the ability to activate speech, hence it is sometimes called ‘Vacaspati’, which means ‘Lord of Speech’.
It has often been compared to the Greek Dionysus and the Roman Bacchus, due to the pleasure-related connotations with which he is often associated.
His role as god of pleasure can be seen in the belief that he is the divinity ruling the vine called Soma, the plant from which the divine juice known as soma is traditionally believed to be obtained.
Soma, the drink
This juice has been compared to the ambrosia of Greek mythology, and it is said that it was originally consumed by the Hindu gods in order to achieve immortality.
There are various myths related to the gods and the drink. For example, before his battle with the great dragon Vritra, the god Indra drank rivers of soma to acquire the strength necessary to defeat his adversary.
What is it?
There is no consensus on what it was, and many hypotheses regarding this substance have been speculated over the years.
Some researchers have claimed that it caused hallucinations, so it was probably derived from some hallucinogenic substance.
In this way, the possible options considered in this category are cannabis, opium and hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Other scholars have raised the possibility that soma was a more common substance, not a hallucinogen at all. These theories point to milk, honey, and pomegranates.
The option that soma was not itself a substance, but a combination of various elements, has also been considered.
The discovery in Turkmenistan of a large sanctuary dated to the 2nd millennium BC has recently been reported.
Inside it was found what appeared to be a private room with ceramic containers in which remains of cannabis and ephedra were found.
The possibility has been raised that the priests of this sanctuary consumed some hallucinogenic drink, perhaps as part of their rituals.
In any case, the archaeological findings of Turkmenistan could provide clues or even obvious evidence that will help explain what soma really was in the future.