Direction to buy Soma

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Tue Dec 18 21:08:47 UTC 2001

Dear Madhav,

I wanted to point to Frist's forthcoming paper, but he has already done so,
if  obliquely.

* F. Staal.  How a psychoactive substance becomes a ritual: the case of
Soma. (forthc.)

George Thompson and I have further elaborated on this topic, from different
points of view, at the Third Harvard Round Table (May 2001) and both of us
have papers forthcoming

* G. Thompson. The relationship between Vedic and Avestan: the provenance
of Soma, amshu, and its relation to the BMAC?  Paper at: Third Harvard
Round Table on the Ethnogenesis of South and Central Asia, May 12-14, 2001

* MW, Early Loan Words in Western Central Asia:  Indicators of Substrate
Populations, Migrations, and Trade Relations.  --  in a conf. vol. edited
by V. Mair

It is important to underline that (following Lubotsky, in press, &
Thompson), the locla substarte word  IIr *anc'u 'Soma plant' designates the
plant that is pressed out to prepare the sacred drink of the Indo-Iranian
peoples, and this points to the high mountains of Central Asia (incl. the
Hindukush, Pamir, and the Himalayas, see in detail Staal, forthc.), where
according to both the Avesta and the ègveda the best Soma grows.

That would be, if we take AB literally, in many cases to the *east* of the
IIr *'wide pastures' (vouru.gauuoiti).   More on this and related questions
of IIr religion in my Leiden talk in late  May 2002  (3rd Intl Vedic

However, with respect to your original observation,

>The (3rd Adhyaaya, I think) begins with a statement:
>praacyaam ha vai dizi
>devaa.h somam akrii.nan, tasmaat praacyaam dizi kriiyate.

we must take a close look at the ritual context, and take into account that
the gods do their things in the East/Northeast/(North, esp. Iranian

No time for this now.

Bets wishes, Michael
Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138, USA

ph. 1- 617-496 2990 (also messages)
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