Soma

is defined either as a plant or as its intoxicating juice, used in ancient Indian religious ceremonies, and regarded as a god in its own right, or at least as divine power. Then it is as nectar, the drink of the gods, a symbol of immortality and victory over death. At first, the juice was confined to the gods and the priests, but gradually it was extended to the three chief castes, giving to the gods and men strength, to the poet inspiration, to the old renewal of virility and ultimately "a blissful immortality, together with all the blessings it bestowed" (James. 1966). Some say that the MOON PLANT (Sarcostemma acidum) is the true soma, or at least one of the plants used as a substitute for it. It contains a large amount of milky sap, acid, and often used by Indian travellers to allay thirst (Chopra, Badhwar & Ghosh). There is certainly a connection between the moon and soma. The plant was gathered by Vedic priests by moonlight, and was washed in water and milk in order to identify it with its counterpart, the moon. "We have drunk soma; we have become immortal; we have gone to the light; we have found the gods" (Rig-veda), and both soma and the moon are associated with rain and fertility (James. 1966)

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