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Soma, in Hinduism, is a Vedic god, plant offering, and beverage. In the Vedic texts the sacred, deified substance Soma is paired with Agni fire, the devouring principle. Both were major divinities of Hinduism before the later emergence of Vishnu, Shiva, Shakyi, and Krishna. In the Rig Veda more hymns, some one hundred twenty, are addressed to Soma in his various forms than any other figure. Soma is that which is offered, is food, the food of the universe, the drink that leads to immortality, a beverage, the beverage of the gods, the divine nectar, is semen, the essence of life, is the Moon. In the Rig Veda the doughty warrior-god Indra quaffs hug quantities of Soma both for his uproarious pleasure and for the strength it gives him in slaughtering his enemies. A.G.H.
Rice, Edward, Eastern Definitions: A Short Encyclopedia of Religions of the Orient, Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1978, pp. 345-346
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