Soma, in Hindu mythology, the moon; also termed Chandra, was (1) an entire dynasty of Hindu kings who bore the title "children of the moon;" (2) the moon-plant (Asclepias acida), from which a milky juice was extracted, that, when mixed with barley and fermented, formed an intoxicating drink much used in the ancient Vedic worship. This plant was held sacred and worshipped by the Hindus of the Vaidic period. The hymns comprising one whole section of the Rig Veda are addressed to the Soma, and its deification is still more prominent in the Sama-Veda. As early as the Rig- Veda, the Soma sacrifice is called amrita (immortal), and in a secondary sense, the liquor which communicates immortality. It was the more important part of the ancient daily offering among the Hindus. The plants were gathered on the hills by moonlight, and brought home in carts drawn by rams; the stalks are bruised with stones and placed with the juice in a strainer of goat's hair, and further squeezed by the priest's ten fingers, ornamented by rings of flattened gold. Lastly, the juice, mixed with barley and clarified butter, ferments, and is then drawn off in a scoop for the gods, and in a ladle for the priests. They finally say to Indra (its discoverer), "Thy inebriety is most intense, nevertheless thy acts are most beneficent." See Gardner, Faiths of the World, s.v.; Butler, Land of the Veda, Glossary; Vollmer, Worterb. d., Mythol. s.v.

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