[INDOLOGY] Soma and Amanita muscaria

Jan E.M. Houben jemhouben at gmail.com
Wed Oct 10 19:46:08 UTC 2018

Dear Nagaraj-ji,
To my disappointment I see that the scholars to whom you refer quote the
Rgveda without giving the accent although it is an indispensable feature
for determining the precise meaning of a mantra; a feature, moreover, which
Paanini and the Praatisaakhya authors took so much trouble to describe in
detail and which has been studied with much critical acumen by modern
scholars such as Oldenberg, Thieme, Palsule, etc. (for excellent Vedic
scholars I do not distinguish between "western" and "indic", at the most
between "modern" and "traditional").
The basic necessity to take into account accent should apply also, and, I
hope, all the more, to the new "Śāstric research methodology" you and your
colleagues are now proposing to design and develop.
I would recommend the use Gandhari Unicode which allows to type all
required accents for Sanskrit, Vedic and even for other Indo-european
For Devanagari the Nakula and Sahadeva fonts do give a basic possibility to
put the accent in Rgvedic style.
There may be other fonts for Sanskrit and Vedic in Devanagari which allow
putting accents even in a better, more detailed way including according to
the style of other Śākhās as well.
With best regards,
Jan Houben

On Wed, 10 Oct 2018 at 20:48, Nagaraj Paturi via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

> Shrikant Jamdagni-ji posted on another list:
> Dear Scholars,
> I am reproducing some passages from Collected Works of Acharya T.V.Kapali
> Sastry Vol.1 Book Of Lights.Page 62. Acharya Kapali Sastry was a
> collaborator of Sri Aurobindo in their work of reconstructing the esoteric
> or inner meaning of the RgVeda.
> "........ Here we may note in passing that the Soma plant is an extinct
> species and it was not easily available even thirty centuries ago.
> Twenty-four varieties of Soma plant are mentioned along with the places of
> their growth and their therapeutic virtues such as strength and longevity
> in the Sushruta Samhita (Chikitsa-sthana, Chapter 29), but the intoxicating
> property is not mentioned"
> "...And some Riks cannot be properly construed at all if the Soma is taken
> to mean the drug. What are we to say when the Veda plainly hymns "O Thou,
> all-seeing, the illuminating rays of thee, who art the lord, encompass all
> the abodes;Soma, with thy natural powers thou pervadest (the all) and
> flowest, thou art the king and ord of the whole world" ? (RgVeda 9.86.5).
> Another Rik openly decides the question of Soma. "When they crush the
> herb, one thinks that he has drunk the Soma; but no one ever tastes him
> whom the Brahmans know to be the Soma" (RgVeda 10.85.3)
> regards
> Shrikant Jamadagni
> Bangalore
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On the same list,
> Subodh Kumar-ji wrote:
> Soma: What it is and what it does
> Monier Williams (in his great Sanskrit English Dictionary)  interprets
> SOMA only at physical level  as a -juice, extract,(esp.)the juice of Soma
> plant, (also) the Soma plant itself,(said to be a climbing plant) the
> stalks, an  अंशु  anshu of which  is pressed between stones by the
> priests, then sprinkled with water , and purified in a strainer to get
> Soma.  Anshu अंशु however is translated by MW  as  a filament(especially
> of Soma plant);thread; end of a thread, a minute particle; a point, end;..
> ....... There is an obvious incongruity in this interpretation of Soma. It
> will be physically a difficult / impractical task to press the thread, end
> of thread, a minute particle, a point of Soma plant. The entire concept of
> an  already minute particle, to be pressed between stones, sprinkled with
> water and purified in a strainer is more in the realm of an imagined
> process and not physically feasible .
> In fact Dr Nene beautifully describes the human anotomical process by
> which human brain processes all information as if crushing on stones and
> then sifts the findings for concusive decision to arrive at final wisdom.
> That is Soma. Dr Nene actually describes the physical features in human
> anatomy that work like two stones to press by and then a seive of wool like
> structure throgh which the pressed substance is actually strained in
> processing of information by human brain.
>  Thus  in popular perception SOMA is  a kind of  herbal preparation,
> which is consumed for exhilarating/ stimulating  benefits.  But  Soma is
> a lot more than a mere stimulating herbal  concoction. The entire 9th  chapter
> Mandal on Pavmani Soma of Rig Veda appears to have escaped notice of MW in
> giving this highly limiting interpretation of Soma. Pavmani Soma signifies a
>   non physical  entity  that provides the stimulant for physical action
> for welfare and benefit of entire creation.
> Vedic Soma
> सोमेनादित्या बलिन: सोमेना पृथिवी मही !
> अथो नक्षत्राणामेषामुपस्थे सोम आहित: !! ऋग्वेद 10/85/2
> Solar radiations, the greatness of earth and all the planets in the sky
> that support life, derive their abilities from the SOMA that is established
> in them.
> सोमं मन्यते पपिवान्यत्संपिंषंत्योषधिम् !
> सोमं यं ब्रह्माणो विदुर्न तस्याश्नाति कश्चन !! ऋग्वेद 10/85/3
>  Yask translates this mantra by saying-" Some chemists crush soma and
> then drink it , and think that they have drunk soma. This is not correct,
> because that is not true soma."
> But The Soma that Learned, Scientists, Intellectuals, know of is not an
> edible product.
> आच्छद्विधानैर्गुपितो बार्हते सोम रक्षित: !
> ग्राव्णामिच्छृएवन्तिष्ठसि नते अश्नाति पार्थिव: !! ऋग्वेद 10/85/4
> It is covered and protected by well regulated non material  laws  governing
> in the material world .
> Soma can not be physically consumed by a living being*.*
> * -.....     .......   .......  *
> *......    ......  .........*
> On Wed, Oct 10, 2018 at 9:33 PM Walter Slaje via INDOLOGY <
> indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
>> Thanks to everyone for alerting me also offline to the missing picture!
>> Meanwhile I had to realize that others who had explored the secret
>> Himalayan Soma vendor cave (after me), made haste to publish it (before I
>> could), failing however to decipher and translate the inscriptional
>> caption. Anyhow, for those interested in the pre-Śrauta early Aryan Soma
>> trade, here is the link for further research:
>> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zwerg_Postkarte_001.jpg
>> Best wishes,
>> WS
>> Am Mi., 10. Okt. 2018 um 17:48 Uhr schrieb Madhav Deshpande <
>> mmdesh at umich.edu>:
>>> Dear Walter,
>>>      This sounds exciting.  The png file you attached is not opening for
>>> some reason.  Could you please send it again in a readable format.  Thanks.
>>> Madhav
>>> Madhav M. Deshpande
>>> Professor Emeritus
>>> Sanskrit and Linguistics
>>> University of Michigan
>>> [Residence: Campbell, California]
>>> On Wed, Oct 10, 2018 at 7:33 AM Walter Slaje via INDOLOGY <
>>> indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
>>>> An approximately 4000+ years old wall painting recently retrieved from
>>>> a western Himalayan cave will solve the disputed matter unless and until
>>>> the ephedra party succeeds in producing comparably firm counterevidence:
>>>> [image: grafik.png]
>>>> The Soma vendors left a caption below the painting:
>>>> “*Aṃśu* of only the finest quality being carried down the slopes by a
>>>> satisfied Āryan customer with his personal cart. Please note his thrill of
>>>> anticipation and replenish your stocks at your trusted dealers from
>>>> Mount Mūjavant !”
>>>> pīyatām, svastaye!
>>>> WS
>>>> Am Mi., 10. Okt. 2018 um 11:44 Uhr schrieb rainer stuhrmann via
>>>> INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>:
>>>>> Dear all,
>>>>> To answer to Prof. Houben long statement, skipping future experiments
>>>>> that can prove everything and nothing:
>>>>> Main problem with Ephedra is: it does not fit at all
>>>>> 1. the Rigvedic ritual, for a detailed discussion of that see my
>>>>> article, p.22ff, p.31 (btw. nothing is said in the RV
>>>>> about “sprinkling” the Soma),
>>>>> 2. Somas colours which refer to the pressed juice, see p. 31-38
>>>>> 3.  the effects described by the poets, see p.44-71
>>>>> whereas Amanita muscaria does in all respects.
>>>>> To
>>>>> “The main error in the argument ... by Dr. Stuhrmann and others
>>>>> would seem to be that *all* poetic-hallucinogenic descriptions of the
>>>>> Soma plant are taken as resulting *directly and exclusively* from the
>>>>> use of a drug or psychoactive substance, whereas (1) the ritual in
>>>>> which
>>>>> the Soma-beverage is produced contains other, significant
>>>>>   "transformative-hallucinogenic" practices that appear as crucial
>>>>> already in the pre-Srauta, Rgvedic ritual; (2) from Saint Franciscus
>>>>> and
>>>>> Teresia of Avila to William Wordsworth and Apollinaire, poets write
>>>>> "psychedelic" or "visionary" poetry without being known to have used
>>>>> strong psychotropic substances.“
>>>>> the answer is:
>>>>> (1) has not be demonstrated for the RV
>>>>> (2) is not disputed at all (see my article p.20), but the occurence of
>>>>> which elsewehere is of course no proof for the RV.
>>>>> But if Houben argues:
>>>>> “ In addition, a lack of nutritients through fasting and thirsting may
>>>>> induce hallucinations as well. The same applies to the deprivation
>>>>> sleep. Most importantly, whether a substance or the absence of
>>>>> substances does indeed produce a hallucination will usually depend to
>>>>> a
>>>>> large
>>>>> extent on the physiological and psychological condition of the
>>>>> subject,
>>>>> whereas the nature of the hallucination or vision will depend on his
>>>>> psychology and cultural background.“(Houben, 2003: 3,1)
>>>>> the problem here is:
>>>>> the Rigveda does not tell us about “fasting and thirsting, deprivation
>>>>> of sleep” (Houben) etc, but the poets say very often loud and clear:
>>>>> “We
>>>>> have just drunk Soma” (see discussion of this, p. 19ff).
>>>>> And that is a dried plant arriving on the ritual place, soaked in
>>>>> water,
>>>>> swelled by that process(as e.g. mushrooms do), pressed out (not
>>>>> beaten),
>>>>> giving a red to yellowish juice (as e.g. the fly-agaric does),
>>>>> mixed with milk and drunken for /máda/ “inebriation”, the described
>>>>> effects of which fit the optical illusionsproduced by hallicunogenic
>>>>> drugs (as e.g. the fly agaric and btw. also his dreaded side-effects,
>>>>> see pp. 49-52). For a detailed discussion of this, including
>>>>> counterarguments by Brough, Houben, Falk and others etc see my article
>>>>> 2006, pp 10-21 and pp 44-70 .
>>>>> Best regards
>>>>> Rainer Stuhrmann
>>>>> _______________________________________________
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> --
> Nagaraj Paturi
> Hyderabad, Telangana, INDIA.
> Director, Indic Academy of Sanskrit and Indological Studies.
> BoS, MIT School of Vedic Sciences, Pune, Maharashtra
> BoS, Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, Veliyanad, Kerala
> Former Senior Professor of Cultural Studies
> FLAME School of Communication and FLAME School of  Liberal Education,
> (Pune, Maharashtra, INDIA )
> _______________________________________________
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*Jan E.M. Houben*

Directeur d'Études, Professor of South Asian History and Philology

*Sources et histoire de la tradition sanskrite*

École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE, PSL - Université Paris)

*Sciences historiques et philologiques *

54, rue Saint-Jacques, CS 20525 – 75005 Paris

*johannes.houben at ephe.sorbonne.fr <johannes.houben at ephe.sorbonne.fr>*

*johannes.houben at ephe.psl.eu <johannes.houben at ephe.psl.eu>*


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