By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Soma is said to be a Rasayana i.e. immune modulating medicine in the form of a tuber. Soma is said to be a form of Lord Soma i.e. Moon God. Soma rasayan is described in 29th chapter Swabhava Vyadhi Pratishedhaniya Rasayana, in Chikitsa Sthana of Sushruta Samhita. As the name of the chapter indicates, it is used to treat the swabhavika vyadhis i.e. naturally occurring diseases, of which ageing and death are the main.
Master Sushruta tells that Lord Brahma, the creator of the world and other divine persons had created a Rasayana called Soma to get rid of ageing process and conquer death.
Read – Rasayana Therapy (Anti Ageing, Rejuvenation) Benefits, Meaning
Types of Soma
Soma is said to be a form of Moon Lord Soma. In spite of being only one, Soma is of 24 kinds depending on the place, name, shape and potency it carries.
24 kinds of Soma –
- Amshuman, Munjavan
- Chandrama, Rajataprabha
- Durvasoma, Kneeyaan
- Shwetaaksha, Kanakaprabha
- Prataanavaan, Taalavrunta
- Karaveera, Amshavaan
- Swayamprabha, Mahasoma
- Garudahruta, Gaayatra
- Traishtubha, Paankta
- Jaagata, Shaakara
- Agnishtoma, Raivata
- Tripadaa Gayatri, Udupati
The method of consuming all these Somas is the same. The benefits bestowed by these Soma Rasayanas are also similar.
Method of consumption
Som Rasayan should be consumed in a Kuti Praveshaka Vidhi i.e. being in a cottage having three chambers, specially constructed for consumption of Rasayana. The person should be inside the cottage for the entire procedure of Rasayana.
Read – Kuti Praveshika Rasayana – Rejuvenation Therapy In Health Chambers
The person desirous of consuming any one of the above said Soma Rasayanams should get well equipped with all the necessary equipments and essentials, servants and caretakers. He should have a three-chambered cottage constructed in an auspicious place.
Shodhana – The person should undergo body purification therapies including emesis and purgation. Following this he should also undergo Samsarjana Vidhi i.e. graduated dietetic protocol so as to balance his digestive fire.
The Soma should have been collected in the Agnishtoma yajgna vidhana i.e. the procedure wherein hymns to praise God of Fire are recited during fire sacrifice. It should have been enchanted by the priests of sacrifice.
The person who is scheduled to take Soma Rasayan should be seated in the interior chamber of the cottage after having performed the ritual rites including blessing-recitation, recitation of auspicious hymns and benediction. In an auspicious date, moment and star constellation, the person sitting in the cottage should hold Soma collected in the mentioned method in his hands. The person should pierce the tuber of Soma with a golden needle and collect its latex in a golden or silver vessel. The quantity of collected Soma latex should be equal to the quantity which occupies the anjali i.e. bowl of hands made by joining the two hands together. It is also said that the quantity of Soma should be 1 kudava which is approximately 192 grams. Without checking the taste of the latex, the person should drink the juice of Soma in one take. After this the person should do achamana i.e. sip water from his hands and drop the Soma tuber from which the juice has been extracted into the water.
Read – Analysis Of Effect of Mantras On Health And Nadi
After having consumed Som Rasayan in this way, the person should follow Yama and Niyama and should keep away from speaking. He should later spend quality time with his best friends.
- Yama – controlling one’s body and senses
- Niyama – keeping away from making decisions or developing desires and thoughts in the mind
One should take Soma Rasayana in a place devoid of breeze. After taking Rasayana, he shall sit, stand or walk, but should never sleep.
He is permitted to sleep by evening. After having taken food and heard blessing recitation, he should sleep on the mattress made up of the skin of black buck which is spread over the bed of grass. He shall sleep in the company of his friends. He shall drink water when he gets thirsty.
Read – Sleep Physiology, Tridosha Effect, Benefits Of Good Night Sleep
The next day morning (second day) –
He should hear the blessing recitations and auspicious hymns. Later he should touch the cow. Following this he should walk and recreate himself in the company of his friends, as said before. After the Soma has been digested, it causes emesis. The person vomits blood along with worms. The person should be given boiled and cooled milk to drink by evening.
3rd Day –
The person will have purgation along with worms. With this the person will be totally cleansed and become free of the ill-effects of incompatible and contradicted foods. The body becomes totally purified.
After giving bath to the person, he shall be fed with boiled and cooled milk and made to sleep on a bed / cot covered with silk cloth.
4th Day –
There will be swelling in the entire body of the person who has taken Soma Rasayana. The worms make exit from every part of the body.
On this day, the person should be made to sleep on the bed spread out with sand. In the evening he should be given boiled and cooled milk to drink.
Read – Cow’s Milk Benefits According To Ayurveda
5th and 6th Days –
The same measures should be followed as on fourth day. The patient should be given with milk to drink twice daily.
7th Day –
The person has lost all his skin and muscles. He is in the form of a bony skeleton breathing and living on the power of Soma Rasayana.
On this day, the person should be given a bath with warm milk. Paste of sesame, licorice and sandalwood should be applied on the body of the person. He should be given boiled and cooled milk to drink.
Eighth Day –
He should be given warm milk both early in the morning. His body should be smeared with paste of sandalwood and should be given with milk to drink. Later he is displaced from the sand bed and made to sleep on a cot spread out with blanket of silk. Following this, the muscles of the person are nourished; the skin tears off, and teeth, nails and body hair fall off.
Ninth and Tenth Day –
Massage should be given with Anu Taila. Following this, bath should be given with the decoction of bark of Soma tree. Same procedure should be followed on the tenth day. This will make the skin stable and strong.
Eleventh and Twelfth Days –
All procedures done on 9th and 10th days shall be repeated on these days.
Thirteenth to Sixteenth Days –
On the thirteenth day bath should be given to the patient / person with the decoction prepared with Soma bark. Same shall be done up to 16th day.
Seventeenth Day –
On this day, the teeth erupt. These teeth are attractive, oily, strong, stable, even, and tolerant and resemble diamond, cat’s eye and crystal quartz.
From this day onwards gruel / scum prepared with old rice processed in milk should be taken until 25th day. Cooked rice with milk should be given twice a day.
Nails resembling coral, fire-fly and early morning Sun come out. Fine hairs which are strong, stable, deep-rooted, oily and having good features come out. The new skin resembles blue lotus, cat’s eye and flax seeds and is beautiful.
After one month –
The person should be given hair cut. After removing the hairs, the paste of vetiver, sandalwood and sesame is applied over the head. Later he should be given milk bath.
After seven days, the person will get dark black, curled, strong, deep-rooted and oily hairs. The blackness of the hairs is compared to that of beetle / bee or collyrium.
After three days, the person should make exit out of the door of the internal chamber of the cottage, stay outside for a minute and once again get inside.
For this person, Bala Taila should be used for massage, flour of barley for scrub, warm milk for bath, decoction or paste of Vateria indica for rubbing, well water having vetiver for bathing purpose, paste of sandalwood for anointing and soup consisting of juice of gooseberry etc should be used. Paste of black sesame seeds processed with milk and licorice should be used for application / anointing the body. These procedures should be conducted for 10 days.
Read – Bala – Country Mallow -Sida Cordifolia – Uses, Side Effects
The person should come out of the deep (3rd and innermost) chamber into the middle chamber i.e. 2nd chamber and live therein for the next 10 days.
Likewise he should also live in the outermost i.e. first chamber for 10 days, keeping himself stable. After getting exposed to little bit of sun and air, he should once again enter the cottage.
Since the person has become smart and good looking he should not see himself in a mirror or water. For the next 10 days or so, he should keep away from extremes of emotions like anger etc.
The same is the procedure for consuming all 24 types of Soma Rasayana. The Soma in the form of creeper, branches and plant etc should be consumed by the Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. The dose of Soma Rasayana will be 4 pala i.e. 192 grams.
Read – Achara Rasayana – Behavioral Therapy For Calm Mind And Long Life
Vessels for collection of various kinds of Soma
The juice / latex of Amshuman Soma should be squeezed and collected in a vessel / bowl of gold.
Juice of Chandrama Soma should be collected in vessel of silver.
By consuming these two Somas, the person will be bestowed with eight types of treasures i.e. ashta vidha aishwarya. The person will also find the abode of Lord Maheshwara i.e. they will find the salvation in the abode of the might lord.
The juice of other kinds of Soma shall be collected in vessels / bowl of copper or mud or skin of Rohita deer. Except the Shudras other three orders / class of people are allowed to take Soma Rasayana.
Read – Qualities Of Water Stored In Different Vessels
Exit from the Rasayana Cottage
In the fourth month, on the full moon day, the person shall come out of the three chambered cottage after having worshipped the Brahmanas with praises and hymns in a sacred place. After exit, the person who has tapped all the benefits of Soma Rasayana shall lead his normal life as before.
Soma is said to be the leader of the medicines. On consuming Soma in the form of Rasayana, the person bestowed with renewed body will live young and healthy for 10,000 years.
The body of the person who consumes Soma Rasayana shall not be damaged or destroyed by any of the fire, water, poison, instruments or weapons.
The person will get immense strength of 1000, 60 years old Bhadrajati category of elephants which have discharged rut from their heads many times.
The person can uninterruptedly reach the ocean of milk, the kingdom of Indra or Northern Kuru Pradesha, wherever he desires to reach.
The appearance of the person will be similar to Kamadeva i.e. the God of sex. He will have the glow and luster similar to moon, he will appear as if he is the second moon. He will become great and vibrant and will be capable of inducing pleasantness and calmness in the minds of other people.
The person will easily learn and know all the Vedas and their branches. He will become capable of roaming all around the universe / creation just like the Gods do.
Read – Similarities between Rasayana and Pathya (Healthy Diet)
Identification of Soma
All kinds of Soma will have 15 leaves. They will come out in the light half of the month (bright lunar fortnight, waxing moon) and will shed off in the dark phase of the month (dark lunar fortnight, waning moon). In the bright lunar fortnight, the plant will gain 1 leaf on each day. On the full moon day, it will be full with 15 leaves. Again in the dark lunar fortnight, the plant loses 1 leaf per day and on the new moon day there will be no leaves left over, only the creeper is left out.
Characteristic features of different kinds of Soma
Amshuman Soma will have the odor of ghee. Rajataprabha Soma will have a tuber. Munjavaan Soma will have tuber similar to a plantain plant and leaves resemble that of a garlic plant.
Read – Garlic Benefits, Research, Usage, Side Effects
Kanakaprabha and Chandrama Soma always grow in water.
Garudahruta and Shwetaksha Soma will have pale color and will resemble the skin of a snake. They will be hanging from the tips of the trees.
The other kinds of Soma are of various colors and are rounded in shape.
All the Somas will have 15 leaves, will have latex filled tubers and creepers and the leaves are of different types.
Places where Soma is grown
Soma is abundantly available in Himalaya, Arbuda, Sahya, Mahendra, Malaya, Shreeparvata, Devagiri, Pariyatra, Vindhya, Devasunda and Hlada (big ponds and lakes) areas.
Towards the north of Vitasta river, there are five peaks. Below these peaks and in the middle there is a big river named Sindhu. In this river are found floating the best types of Soma named Chandrama, in abundance.
Munjavan and Amshuman Somas are also found very near to the Chandrama Soma.
There is a divine lake named Kshudraka Manasa in Kashmir region. Here are found Gayatri, Traitubha, Pankha, Jagata and Shakara types of Soma.
The persons who are of lesser fortune, those who insult the physicians, who are non-righteous and ungrateful, who insult and hate the medicines and Brahmans will not find this medicine.
What is Soma?
Soma is a controversial herb for which the specialists have tried to make close comparisons and bring in the equivalents.
It is said to be another name of Avalguja i.e. Psoralea corylifolia / Malaysian scurfpea according to the Bhavaprakasha treatise.
Soma is another name for Somavalli, a medicinal plant, a medicinal plant identified with Sarcostemma brevistigma. It is also known by its synonym Sacrostemma acidum or leafless east-Indian vine. It belongs to Apocynaceae family of flowering plants according to verse 3.98-99 of Rajanighantu treatise. The third chapter Guduchyadi Varga of this book contains climbers and creepers. Together with eh names Soma and Somavalli there are a total of 11 Sanskrit synonyms identified for this plant.
Soma refers to a plant supposed to be brought from northern barbarians. It is botanically explained in an Ayurvedic extract, quoted in Dhurtasvami bhasyatika as – ‘a creeper called Soma is dark, sour, without leaves, milky, fleshy on the surface, producing phlegm and vomiting, food for goats.’ This passage quoted from some Ayurvedic text is still the only one which gives a closer description of Soma plant. Dr Hooker says that the predicates ‘sour and milky’ points towards Sacrostemma. (Source – Sacred texts: The Grihya Sutras, part 2 (SBE30)
Somarasa was a very common beverage in Vedic period which is made of Soma plant (Sacrostemma viminalis). It is the most acclaimed offerings in Srauta rituals. The making of Soma drink i.e. Somabhisava was a ritual of these sacrifices. Before crushing it, the plant was washed in water. Soma drink was prepared by grinding the Soma creeper with a stone which is known as grava. The preparation referred to in Vedas wherein Soma was mixed were Karambha, Dhana, Apupa, Pakti, Saktu, water and honey. The usage of Soma can be seen in texts of classical Sanskrit literature. Drinking Soma juice was referred to in Uttamacharita.
Read – Right Method Of Rasayana Therapy – Dr CR Agnives
Other plants identified as Soma
Though Aacrostemma is mostly accepted as Soma, the below mentioned herbs are also identified by specialists as Soma. (read more)
- Amanita muscaria – Fly agaric mushroom
- Ephedra sinica and ephedrine extracted from it
- Psilocybe cubensis mushroom
- Peganum harmala
- Ephedra distachya
- Nelumbo nucifera
- Claviceps purpurea – Ergot
- Papaver somniferum
- Argyreia nervosa
- Periploca aphylla
- Fermented milk from mare
- Fermented honey