Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Magic of Soma –Closing a three thousand year long search

A thousand shining red stalks of Soma rise up towards the heavens ready for harvest by ten virgin maidens to prepare a drink of the gods with ten gentle fingers  (description as per Soma hymns in Rig Veda).

 This research is dedicated not to a patent but to the planet and to International Yoga day, June 21 for peace, harmony and brotherhood amongst nations and mankind
While the ancients composed thousands of hymns in praise of Soma while it was around, such hymns stopped when the plant disappeared. Recently on reading these blog posts, on a likely rediscovery of this plant a few days ago, a dear friend Vinod Khurana composed a new one (he retired as the senior most officer of the equivalent of IRS of India a few years ago).

Soma
by Vinod Khurana
 (A modern hymn in praise of Soma composed after a gap of more than three thousand years)
Soma is no ordinary plant
it grows in the heavens
much loved by the gods
who rule over the earth
They drink of it much
to quench their thirst
and multiply their prowess

Sages who love gods
and pray for mankind
welfare of one and all
they are dear to gods
and were gifted such a gift
Soma the king of plants
But such is human greed
it appropriates everything
what was a gift of god
to sages who knew its worth
it vanished from the earth
Those who care to know
they shall find for sure
if somewhere it still grows
to offer as a gift
as did gods to sages
for benefit of mankind
and do a great service!

Sent with warm regards to author from Vinod Khurana
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This is the third consecutive article on Soma in this blog. There are articles on several medicinal trees, herbs and flowers in this blog but all have merited only one post each except for the magical Soma for it is a god of the plant world. So magical are its effects that it makes a human god-like on drinking it. All of their physical, intellectual and spiritual powers are enhanced rapidly and simultaneously on consuming the drink from this plant. It is because of this that human civilizations have been searching for it for more than three thousand years ever since it disappeared from its original Himalayan habitats, often resorting to poor and harmful substitutes in futile attempts to achieve the same effects (except perhaps for cannabis that has benefited meditating sages for meditation). If you arrived directly at this post you may wish to learn more about this magical shrub/tree in the earlier two posts beginning here. While this drink was available to the ancient Indo Aryans, they wrote thousands of hymns in its praise as recorded in the ancient book of Rig Veda, a sacred text.

In the previous post the results of the most recent search for this plant by this author identified it with a plant that grows widely in North America, the red twig dogwood or Cornus Sericea or another Cornus species that is very close to it and may have become extinct. If latter is the case it would still be possible to recover it by slight modifications of the available Cornus Sericea. While Soma may have become extinct from its original Himalayan habitats because of over harvesting there is no reason why it should have become extinct in other parts of the world where humans did not know of the full magic of this plant. One reason for extinction was that it is not the fruit or flowers of this plant that is useful but the stems themselves are needed for preparing a drink i.e. the whole tree.

Aside from Cornus Sericea, the only other plant that appears to fit the description of Soma of Rig Veda are varieties of the sugar cane, especially because of the mention of sweet and freely freeing frothy juice after pressing as described in the Rig Veda. However, sugar cane juice, at least of known varieties is not known to produce the much magical benefits as provided by Soma, unless again the processing that might have included some natural fermentation and mixing with milk as well was in some responsible for the described effects. Further work is required in the area before drawing final conclusions.

The question that deserves asking is if this plant could not be located for three thousand years, how has it been located all of a sudden now? The answer to that is simple – the internet and Google search. Twenty years ago without these tools it would have been very difficult for any researchers to search the wide world for a plant with some given characteristics and some five hundred years ago before the Americas were discovered it would have been impossible. However the internet search makes it a breeze now to scan through millions of pieces of data from around the world. Starting with a knowledge of Soma from Rig Veda (because of spiritual studies), knowledge of medicinal trees and shrubs (from environmental interests) and a knowledge of scientific literature search (from background as a scientist)  and the internet, this author began with the most dominant characteristics of the ancient Soma stalks that are green, yellow, brown and red and then for those that were edible and so on, those that grew on moist ground in the wild, were edible and had medicinal value it was not long before the plant was found as one common in North America, the Cornus Sericea. The Cornus has many varieties and it cannot be said with surety if the ancient Soma was precisely this species of the present plant or one closely related to it such as a hybrid with Cornus sanguinea found more widely in the old world. Such a determination would require further research. Here are some random observations about this plant that the author picked up here and there from the net while researching for information,

"Gives great physical strength for a Canoe race"
 "Like morphine without the addiction"
"High like a wine but without that fuzzy feeling in head"
"Like a third eye feeling in middle of forehead"

The Cornus Sericea has found much medicinal use by Native Americans but hardly to the extent of the famed Soma of ancient Aryans. There can be two simple reasons for this as listed below:

  1. The Cornus Sericea has been incorrectly identified as a soma species:  There is not much chance of that because this author has not been able to locate another plant that fits the bill, multiple stalks that range in colors of yellow, golden yellow, brown and red that grows on wetlands that are edible and medicinal. The animals love to eat this plant in the wild too. However, it is entirely possible that there existed in the past or still exists another Cornus species or a yet to be identified palnt that had even more powerful health benefits. This is because the Cornus has many variations from harmful to healthy. However even if one is close to the final identification one has more or less closed the search. The only other plant that remotely fits the description as per the present search are some varieties of sugar cane like plants but they do not have the many described health giving properties of Soma aside from sweetness.
  2. The plant has not been processed in the best possible way to derive its full benefit in modern times:  This second is not only a possibility but rather it is a fact. Modern processes for the use of this plant are not similar to the original ancient one. It is well known with any plant food that processing is a critical step. For example the same grapes can yield an awful wine or an excellent one depending on the process, one harmful for health and another good for it. Raw peanuts and potatoes will give you colic or make you phart without roasting or cooking. Plants like cannabis are just hay unless processed in the prescribed manner in order to yield its medicinal benefits. Therefore the focus must now be on using the correct process to extract a drink from Cornus Sericea and study its effect. This is work in progress and the results are awaited. This blogger has requested others to join in the task since presently he does not have physical access to this plant
  3. A third reason for the full benefit not having been experienced so far in the modern era is related to yoga and spirituality. It is presently left out of this note since it would not interest all. However aspects of it are included in another note here
The Soma drink was consumed by ancient Aryan warriors before battle for physical strength and alertness and one is reminded of the modern fictional character Asterix the Gaul and the magic potion brewed by Getafix that gives the Gaulish warriors their strength. brewed from various herbs, found around the village and the forests surrounding it. One wonders if this idea may have come from early European translations of the Rig Veda.


The Process for Preparing the Magical Soma Drink

Although the Rig Veda has several thousand hymns describing the process of preparing the Soma drink, these are not described with precision but are rather the observations of a poet expressed in poetry. The original poets would not have felt any need to do that since the process had been passed down from tradition and was well known to the ancient Soma drinkers. However, one must draw whatever guidance one can from these hymns in order to rediscover the precise process now that the god of the plant world appears to have been identified.

Crushing

The first step was the gathering of stems and crushing them with stones. The hymns describe great clanging and beating noises in this step. The operation was factory like since the drink was prepared for a community as a whole. The red twigs have a tough wood and require force to crush them to a pulp along with the barks. In modern experiments this can be done on a small scale but metal hammers should be avoided as they were in the entire ancient process too and wooden ones would not be strong enough. The choice return to stones and large rounded ones from the river would be best. The crushed pulp may then be transferred to a wooden vessel or perhaps even glass or china vessels

Adding Water

This is another step that has not been specified precisely in the hymns although there are references to wetting by water. If one were to take a hint from wine making, the crushed grapes are left to infuse in good drinking quality water for several hours one may do the same. To be on the safe side one may begin by just covering the pulp with water and not adding too much of it. Perhaps adding too much water may cause the oils in the juice to separate. As to how many hours they have to be left is another unanswered question. The Soma hymns describe a continuous conveyor belt type factory like process where no time appears to have been given for infusion. Therefore do not leave the pulp in water for longer than an hour. The juices appear to anti bacterial and anti fungal but this author is not fully certain of this yet. Do not attempt an alcohol extract it will draw compound that will ruin most of the benefit.

Pressing

The entire mixture has to be poured for filtration next. The hymns describe pressing the pulp with ten fingers (squeezing between both hands) to extract the juices from the pulp. The excess water in the pulp can be poured directly to the filter prior to this pressing. Do ensure that hands are thoroughly clean.

Filtration

The original filtration was done through thick layers of woolen felt from which the filtered juice emerged drop by drop. Howver that might become too slow for a small scale and one might just filter through a single layer of woolen cloth or piece of woolen blanket placed in a strainer. Do try and get cloth or blanket made from real lambs wool in order not to deiviate from the original material just in case it has a role. It may be mentioned that the Cornus Sericea barks and stems contain both sugars and bitter compound such as tannins. The final drink however was a sweet one and it seems that in the process of extraction the bitter components were removed. This would happen if some of the components are not water soluble or if the tannins etc. reacted with the protein and precipitated out and was then trapped in the blanket. This may be the most painful and slowest part of the process. The Hymns describe Soma as a flood that entered the woolen felt and got lost only to emerge purified drop by drop later.

Storing in wooden vessels

The hymns clearly describe the storing of drink in wooden vats and the same must be adhered too. A glass or china one would not permit breathing and a metal one may react with some of the compounds to lose their properties. How long the drink has to be left stored and covered has not been described but it does seem that it was not long and that is just as well to prevent bacterial or fungal growth. The wood used has not been specified in the texts. Archeological research may discover that (see). However, any of the woods used in kitchen ware or beer barrels may be suitable and perhaps Oak might be good.

Mixing with Milk/curds

This last step is an essential one. Several hymns describe mixing cows or even human milk in the juice before consumption and one also mentions cooking with milk. What has not been mentioned however is how much milk to mix. The best approach therefore would to begin experimenting by adding 10 ml juice to a glass of milk and then later days increasing it gradually if felt desirable after checking its effect on your system. Please do use full cream milk as the fat component may be required to dissolve some of the compound while the protein compound would help to neutralize any bitter ones. Some adults do not digest milk well, they may then use beaten yoghurt instead. The Soma hymns mention this variation. Yoghurt is well digested by most.

For the purpose of experimentation the entire operation can be carried out on a small scale in a kitchen too after collecting the wood from a garden or the wild. As per the hymns collection can be at any time of the year with each stage of the plant producing benefits but somewhat different effects because the stem compounds change with the seasons. The early spring ones and green shoots are best for physical things whereas the deep winter red ones for wisdom. One might want to keep ones mind off sexual thoughts if one wishes to avoid increasing that engagement because apparently it increases potency and ability in that direction too. Keeping to ethical behavior (keeping to the law as per the book) before or after consumption increases bliss, spiritual attainment and anti aging effects as per the texts. Compounds present in the juice apparently stall or retard aging of living cells as per the hymns and make a person look younger while beautifying the skin. Although this is not mentioned in the texts, rubbing the final drink on skin and face for some time before a bath would also act as a beauty lotion  as per modern information on the subject and the possible compounds in the juice.

Warning

It goes without saying that in order to avoid any potential risk the experiment must be done under the guidance of a medical and herbal practitioners, although once this author gets hold of this shrub he shall do so without any taking a cue from the variety of animals from dears to bears who love to munch on it.

Conclusion

In case the process as described yields an extremely beneficial drink, it would be something that would benefit all of mankind because aside from its health and intellectual benefits the drink also promotes spiritual awakening and ethical behavior, something that the modern world facing excessive greed and violence is increasingly in need of. As explained in earlier posts this author has intentionally shared all this in the public domain and avoided any temptation of patenting etc. because he believes that health and spiritual things must not be so, and because of fear that corporate interests would monopolise it to deny benefit to people at large as they did with cannabis and hemp or make it prohibitively expensive. Such thing s are a gift from the universe and must remain in the public domain to freely benefit all. So get out there and grab a drink dear friends before the FDA gets in and makes it a schedule I drug or the wall street barons get in and destroy plantations as they did with hemp. .


A NOTE: While the contents of this blog are not country specific and directed at the world in general aided by the fact that his blogger has lived across the Northern Hemisphere and not just in one country, it attracts visitors from all countries as shown in the adjoining map. However, an overwhelming  number of visitors are from just two countries - America and India - as a result most content is also directed at these two countries. As regards the last three posts on Soma it is interesting that they are a result of the combined ancient knowledge from India and modern one from America.

UPDATE:

A new poem has been contributed by Vinod Khurana to this post just now
Soma plant

As a plant
I sprang up
on the earth
as He wished

Heaven and earth
are not much different
in his scheme of things
Soma the god serves human beings

I read the heart and mind
who come near me
and bless them in the measure
of their purity and humility

A noble soul I sense
it goes in search of me
for I have disappeared from earth
frustrated with human greed

The Divine guides his steps
where now I reluctantly stand
for he loves this soul
so pure and blessed

Soma raises its head
to meet him and befriend
and reestablish the bond
between god and men!


With warm regards
Vinod 

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Note for scholars and researchers: The present note is an informal extract for the general reader from a more formal note that can be downloaded or read  free from: 
https://www.scribd.com/doc/266317668/On-the-Identification-of-Soma-of-Rig-Veda-with-Cornus-Sericea
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UPDATE MAY 29. 2015;

Simplified Process for Preparing the Golden Drink

Until more research is done, you may wish to try the simplified process for preparing your first galss of the Soma drink described in a companion blog here,
http://nainitalgoddess.blogspot.in/2015/05/a-drink-of-gods-drink-of-nainital.html

2 comments:

Vinod Khurana said...

Thanks a lot for giving the poem a pride of place in your wonderful blog.
Your research and hard work have borne fruit, and shall receive due recognition internationally. We pray for your success manifold:

Soma plant

As a plant
I sprang up
on the earth
as He wished

Heaven and earth
are not much different
in his scheme of things
Soma the god serves human beings

I read the heart and mind
who come near me
and bless them in the measure
of their purity and humility

A noble soul I sense
it goes in search of me
for I have disappeared from earth
frustrated with human greed

The Divine guides his steps
where now I reluctantly stand
for he loves this soul
so pure and blessed

Soma raises its head
to meet him and befriend
and reestablish the bond
between god and men!

With warm regards
Vinod

Ashok said...

Dear Vinod thank you very much for the nice words and an even more beautiful poetry. Surely God and his plant angel, the god Soma shall fill your life with blessings.