Soma was a divine, intoxicating drink favored by INDRA, king of the gods, according to the Vedas. It was made from a celestial plant taken to Earth by an eagle and was said to confer immortality on gods and humans. BRAHMIN priests in Vedic times oversaw its preparation, offered it to the gods, and drank it themselves at their rituals. The drink was used in such quantities that the YAJUR VEDA includes a chant to alleviate the effects of exces-sive Soma drinking.
   Soma was most used by the priests of the SAMA VEDA. A majority of hymns in the Sama Veda itself praise the Soma, personified as a god. In fact, Soma is said to have inspired the composition of Vedic hymns. The drink is said to be sweet and milky. Various attempts have been made to identify the Soma plant. Today it is the name of a vine that does not appear to have intoxicating properties.
   The Vedic god Soma acts as the husband of the dawns, supports the Earth and sky, and makes the Sun light up. In late Vedic times Soma was con-nected to the Moon. In modern Hindu mythology Soma is the Moon god and the lord of all plants. Scholars identify the beverage Soma with the Haoma, which was also offered to the gods in the Avesta, the scripture of the ancient Persians.
   Further reading: Alfred Hillebrandt, Vedic Mythology. Translated from the German by Sreeramula Rajeswara Sarma. Vol. 1 (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1990); J. Stevenson, trans., Translation of the Samhita of the Sama Veda (Varanasi: Indological Book House, 1961); David Stophlet and Martin Schwartz, Haoma and Harmaline: The Botanical Identity of the Indo-Iranian Sacred Hal-lucinogen “Soma” and Its Legacy in Religion, Language, and Middle-Eastern Folklore (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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