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Soma Plant in Hinduism - Story of Birth of Soma in Hindu Scriptures

As per a popular story in the Hindu scriptures, Soma, the medicinal herb and moon god, mentioned, in the Vedas is the son of Anasuya wife of Sage Atri. As per many Puranas, Anasuya was famous for her single-minded devotion towards her husband. She upheld the Pativrata Dharma.

Once, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva arrived at the ashram to test here Pativrata. The Trimurtis who were well aware about the devotion of Anasuya came down on earth to satisfy their spouses who were jealous of Anasuya.

Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (Trimurtis) tried to entice Anasuya but all their efforts were futile.

Pleased with her Pativrata Dharma, Trimurtis offered to grant her whatever she wanted. She prayed that the three deities be born as her sons.

Thus Dattatreya, Soma and Durvasa were born as amshavatara or partial incarnations of Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva respectively.

Thus Soma plant is an avatar of Brahma.

Soma became the representative deity of medicinal herbs. The origin of the moon-clan or Chandravamsha is traced to Soma.

Story of Birth of Soma in Hindu Scriptures

Soma Plant in Hinduism

Soma was a common plant in the places where the Rig Vedic people lived. Rig Veda devotes a full mandala to soma, and the longest hymn in Rig Veda is addressed to it.

It was an important offering to the demigods (Devas led by Indra).

Soma had also attained the status of deity in the Vedas.

The stalks and shoots of the plant were crushed either between two stones or in mortar and pestle. The juice was collected, purified and drunk unfermented.

There is a broad consensus among scholars that the ancient soma plant be identified with high-altitude varieties of ephedra which have a high alkaloid content. (ephedra grows in plains also but these varieties have no juice.)
  • RV informs us that soma grew in the mountains. RV (9.46.1) calls soma parvatavrdh (mountain grown). 
  • The Atharvaveda (3.21.10) calls the mountains soma prastha (carrying soma on their back).
  • In RV (8.80), a woman, Apala by name, plucks Soma twigs by the wayside and chews them with the purpose of becoming attractive to men.
  • In RV (8.31.5), husband and wife “with one accord” press out the soma juice, no doubt as a prelude to sexual intercourse.
  • Satapatha Brahmana (4.5.10.2-6) lists the substitutes to be used in the ritual when soma is not available.
  • Sushruta Samhita (29.21-22) and Charaka Samhita (1.4-6) both believe that soma had 15 leaves which appeared one per day during the waxing moon (shukla paksha) and dropoff one by one during the waning moon (krishna paksha).

No One Has Seen The Soma Plant

In course of time, soma became a mythical plant even for medical texts.

The plant was lost even before the first Ayurvedic texts were written. Sushruta Samhita (29.21-22) and Charaka Samhita (1.4-6) only gives an idea regarding the plant as both the Sushruta and Charaka had not seen the plant.

Modern humans are still searching for the plant and is yet to be discovered.