Saras... (Soma vessel)

S. Kalyanaraman kalyan97 at YAHOO.COM
Thu May 28 20:15:14 UTC 1998

---Michael Witzel <witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU> wrote:
> George Thompson has answered this already; I wanted to > check
Geldner's handy summary again which I could not do at home [snip]
> RV:  We need a sheep skin and a vessel into which Soma flows. > [snip]
> Geldner says, RV translation vol. III (Harvard Oriental seies 35) p.
5:> (I translate from the German and summarize:)
> * watering the soma stems; repeated dipping, shaking, and watering> >
* pressing the soma on a stone with the help of another stone
>   --  above a cow skin (sorry!!) >   perhaps also by using 2
(wooden) pressing boards >  (it sometimes seems that this pressed
fluid runs down directly into a >         watery vessel) << I may add
that Ahalya does all of this with >    just her teeth... and Indra
comes running >>
> * the pressed juice is poured on a sieve made of ***sheep hair***. >
  and is cleansed of its filament remnants>  >   on this sieve, Soma
moves about in circles and flows down through it, >   with
'spouts/beams/rays' (Strahl = dhAra) into the large Soma >   vessel or
vessels  below it.
> * water is added in order to water down the Soma and make it
drinkable. >   Water is either poured into the vesel or it flows down
via the sieve
> * Soma is then drunk pure, or mixed with milk, or with sour milk > >
The RV soma vessels apparently were all made of wood; later, <<in the
> post-RV "classical">> ritual partly of clay.They are simply called >
> Thus Geldner.
> There are no (100) holes drilled in the RV sieve. Rather the texts
speak > about Soma running like rivers to the samudra ... not into
> A pity that one item after the other doesn't work out... One has to
look > for REAL survivals/matches, such as the system of weights...

When I.Mahadevan presented his paper in Tokyo, the discussions
included questions on establishing parallels with the pravargya
sa_magri_ replicas kept in Pune.

It is too tempting not to jump into this soma problem, briefly.

[Hopefully, Munshiram will bring out my mss. already announced in the
forthcoming publications list.]

RV is poetry par excellence with allegories, puns and metaphors.

An alternative metallurgical interpretation of soma is possible
(adding to the scores of flora-based decipherments compiled by Henry
Falk); to be cryptic:

*s'ulva connotes copper.
*ma_ks.ika_ connotes pyrites.
*ams'u connotes projecting sharp branches (this is how *a pyrite ore
block will look).
*the only process described in RV fits the process of reducing the ore
(purifying?) to produce potable (not drinkable!) somnakay (Gypsy) or
assem (Ancient Egyptian as reported  by Joseph Needham).
*Not to forget (1) the Tamil/Siddha alchemical tradition of
rasa-va_da; (2) links between Sarasvati river and gold; and (3) the
anecdotes of the golden fleece.


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