Som in Hindu Scriptures
Som word has several meanings -
(1) Som means Chandramaa (Moon), he is a Vaidik Devtaa also.
(2) Som is a plant whose juice is drank by Devtaa
(3) Som Ras is the juice of Som plant which is drank by Devtaa
(4) Som means Amrit
(5) Some Naath means Shiv as he is the master of both Chandramaa and Amrit.
When Chandramaa got ill by the curse of Daksh for loving Rohinee more, he
did penance for Shiv Jee and he cured him. To show his gratitude to Shiv
he built a temple of Shiv in Gujaraat and it was named as Som Naath
Temple. It is known the first Jyotirling temple of Shiv.
Most scriptures use Som in two meanings - Chandramaa or Devtaa and Som Ras
in the context of Divine drink. Here we will see the use of Som Ras as used
in our scriptures. General people consider the Som Ras as an intoxicated drink
or equivalent to liquor or alcoholic drink or wine.
Rig Ved, 9.24.7
Som is not only pure in itself but also purifies everything else. Som is
extremely sweet and promotes noble qualities. It destroys sinful tendencies.
Rig Ved, 9.37.36
O Som, purify us from everywhere. Enter us with excitement and strengthen
our speech. Inculcate a sharp intellect within us.
Rig Ved, 9.108.3
O Som, You purify everything. You are the best source of enlightenment.
You lead us towards immortality.
Atharv Ved, 14.1.3
Ordinary people consider Soma used as medicine, but the enlightened ones seek
the Som of intellect which materialistic minds cannot even comprehend.
Som in Saam Ved
Let us se what the Pavamaan Parv of Saam Ved Purvarchika, says about
Vaidic Som. It is described as something that brings enthusiasm, tolerance
1.2: O Som, purify me.
1.3: O Som, you are source of vitality and bliss.
1.4: O Som, your intoxication is worth imbibing.
2.5: Here Soma has been described as a Chetan or living thing. Thus Som is
not something inert. It is a living force that enhances intellect. It is
the Supreme Lord.
6.5: O Som, you give birth to our intellect.
6.8: Use Som to produce intellect.
7.12: Intelligence seeks Som.
9.2: Som provides us with intelligence.
9.6: Som enhances intellect.
Thus while Som does produce intoxication, but this intoxication actually
strengthens our intellect and reduces dumbness.
This Parv describes some more characteristics of Som --
This Parva of Samaveda provides some more adjectives of Soma:
3.2: One who sees everything actively (Vicharshani)
5.9: Extremely intelligent (Vipra)
5.9: Best of the scholars (Angirastamah)
9.1: Expert (Vichakshanah)
8.4: Knows self (Swarvidah)
2.10: Sees everything clearly (Kavi)
3.6: Knows his duties perfectly (Kratuvit)
11.1: An intoxication that inspires us to perform duties perfectly (Kratuvittamo
8.4: One who knows the path clearly (Gatuvittamah)
1.7: Adept (Daksh)
1.8: Source of adeptness (Daksh Saadhanaa)
4.2: Adeptness that provides happiness (Daksham Mayobhuvam)
5.11: Provides strength (Vaajasattam)
6.7: Protector of world (Bhuvanasya Gopaa)
The Parva also states Som to be:
5.1: One seated on the home of immortality
6.3: One who inspires noble minds towards fundamental truth (Rit)
6.2: Speaks to us (Inner voice)
2.3: Destroys hatred
4.12: Inspires towards friendship and solidarity
4.14: Destroys meanness and violence
10.11: Destroys corrupt mindset
8.4: Devoid of sins
6.6: Provides whatever is worth obtaining
6.1: Greatest donor
7.4: Carrier of life force
4.3: Desired by non-violent minds
Condemnation of Intoxication in Ved
Besides there are many Mantra in Ved which condemn intoxication, such as ---
Rig Ved, 10.5.6:
One becomes sinful if he or she crosses even one of the 7 restraints.
Yaskaachaarya defines these 7 sins in his Nirukt as: Theft, Adultery,
Murder of a noble person, Abortion, Dishonesty, Repeating misdeeds and
consumption of alcohol.
Rig Ved, 8.2.12:
Those who consume intoxicants lose their intellect, talk rubbish, get naked
and fight with each other.
Rig Ved, 7.86.6:
An action performed as per the inner voice does not lead to sins. Dumb
arrogance against inner voice, however, is the source of frustration and
miseries in the same manner as intoxication and gambling destroy us.
Eeshwar inspires those with noble elevated thoughts towards progress and
propels down those who decide to think lowly. Lowly acts performed even in
dreams cause decline.
Atharv Ved, 6.70.1:
Weak minds are attracted towards meat, alcohol, sensuality and womanizing.
But O non-violent mind, you focus your mind towards the world in same
manner as a mother cares for her child.
So if the Ved condemn intoxication, then why should Devtaa drink Som and long
for it and fight for it? It means that Som is not an intoxicated drink - this
assumption is baseless. Why?
Ved condemn adultery too, so have Devtaa and Rishi not done adultery? The
most popular adulteries in Hindu mythology are of
--Chandramaa with Brihaspati's wife Taaraa
--Brihaspati with his brother Utathya's wife Mamataa.
--Indra with Maharshi Gautam's wife Ahalyaa
Dadheechi Gives the First Som Ras to Ashwinee Kumaar
When Ashwinee Kumaar approached Sukanyaa, daughter of Sharyaati and the
wife of Maharshi Dadheechi, with a proposal of marrying them, Sukanyaa clearly
refused saying that she loved her husband very much and was satisfied with
him. Hearing this they got very happy and offered to give eyes and youth
to him if he agreed. Sukanyaa went to Rishi and told him the whole story.
He got ready and they gave him eyes and youth. Till then Ashwinee Kumaar
were not getting any share in Yagya before, so Dadheechi gave them their
Yagya share for the first time in his father-in-law Sharyaati's Yagya.
Som Ras in Mahaabhaarat