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Books - The History and Natural History of Ephedra as SOMA
Written by S. Mahdihassan   


By energizing its consumer physically and mentally, Soma enabled him to remain in possession of his normal wits, but highly elevated. He now became a better bread-earner and thereby felt likely to live longer. His position was that of a famine stricken individual facing a benefactor. The latter could directly give food or the means enabling the recepient to provide himself with it. As food bestower he was indirectly also the preserver. The most complimentary term for such a benefactor, among country folk in India, would be "father and mother"— the consumer of Soma did look upon it as his benefactor and thereby as "father and mother", which was simplified to "father". Accordingly verse RV. 9.69.8. says: "Soma are my fathers and makers of the strength of life." Verse 8.48.4 states: "Absorbed into the heart be sweet 0 Indu as kind father to his son. 0 Soma: As a friend to friend (in need) do thou wise ruler 0 Soma; lengthen our days for living." In verse 9.91.5 Soma is "Food bestower." In verse 9.90.2 he is "life bestower" so that the consumer in verse 8.48.15 says, "on all sides Soma thou art our life-giver, aim of all eyes; "and verse 8.48.3 says, "we have drunk Soma we have become immortal." What can express more gratitude than these words. And all this is the realization of Soma being nothing short of "auspicious -energy" as mentioned in verse 1.91.5, which can only come next to life-energy itself.
Now, one source of happiness would be the possession of progeny. Then to Soma as god there is a prayer in RV. 9.23.3. "0 Pavamana give us food with progrey." And correspondingly to Soma as medicinal plant one can look for increasing fertility. In fact in Afghanistan, as folk medicine, ephedra is used as aphrodisiac. Moreover there is such a precedent in the Coca plant of the Red Indians of South America . Byck (1974; 50) writes, "they chew three or four ounces of leaves daily. When he is faced with a difficult journey or when he takes a woman, whenever his strength is more than usually taxed, he increases the customary dose."
When Soma is addressed as Bull it implies incorporating the power of fertility. We find a bull is allowed to roam about to increase the wealth of the country in cattle. Bull is already a slang word in Hindustani for one sexually strong. But all this is merely, implicit. Explicit would be when an aged is rejuvenated. Accordingly verse 10.39.2, addressed to Asvins, says that, drug for his purpose is the "treasure fair as Soma. "In fact verse 10.39.4, informs that it "made Chyavana, weak and worn with length of days, young again, (fit) like a car, that he had power to move." There was an immediate effect upon the aged who first lacked the energy to move about, but now was as fit as an overhauled car which has to be mobile if it is to be a car at all. Further 10.39.8, states, "you gave again the vigour of his youthful life to the sage Kali when old age was coming nigh." And according to 1.136.6 others could "have progeny with Soma's help." Verse 1.116.10 speaks of old Chyavana stripped (off) the (old) skin upon his body (and becoming young) it made him lord of youthful maidens." Thus Soma could confer rejuvenation upon the aged male. Of a woman likewise, RV. 10.30.7 says, "Ye (Asvins) came (with Soma as medicine) into the calling of the weakling's dame and granted off spring to the happy wife." Such effects speak of an ideal aphrodisiac. In fact Soma would be "The Juice," or Rasa, and its derivative, Rasayana, each as drug conferring rejuvenation, with the, power of youth.
It is easy to see, how a strength donating herb could, in effect, be looked upon as a rejuvenating drug. Moreover, since it would prolong the nomad's stay in the tribe, it would also prolong his life; so that the drug could be looked upon also as the drug of longevity. Thus an energizing drug functioned subjectively as drug of rejuvenation and also of longevity. Such would be the realistic basis of Soma, primarily an energizer, being extolled as prolonger of life. Acceptance of Soma as drug of longevity gave rise to the custom of making a new born child drink a few drops of Soma juice. The Parsis, as descendents of Irano-Aryans have maintained this custom to the present day, as explained by Modi (1922).

Our valuable member S. Mahdihassan has been with us since Sunday, 24 March 2013.

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