Somah pavate janita matinam janita divo janita prthivyah
Janitaghnerjanita suryasya janitendrasya janitota vishnoh (Rigveda 9.96.5).

Who was Soma in this shloka? Is it Rudra or someone else?


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Rig Veda IX.96.5

सोमः पवते जनिता मतीनां जनिता दिवो जनिता पर्थिव्याः |

जनिताग्नेर्जनिता सूर्यस्य जनितेन्द्रस्य जनितोत विष्णोः ||

Father of holy hymns, Soma flows onward the Father of the earth, Father of heaven: Father of Agni, Sūrya's generator, the Father who begat Indra and Viṣṇu.

According to one school of thought, Soma is bliss or Ananda.

Soma, the Counterpart of Agni. Every form of Agni has a corresponding form of Soma, without which it cannot function properly. This is also an important fact to carefully consider. Soma is the principle of water, nourishment and bliss that complements Agni as fire, purification and knowledge. Similarly, Agni is the Sun and Soma is the Moon, the active and receptive aspects or electrical and magnetic forces, and all such complementary principles in nature. The entire universe is of the nature of Agni and Soma.

Soma is called “nectar” or amrita. As amrita means both nectar and immortality, Soma is also called the “nectar of immortality.” Soma flows in drops called bindus in Tantric thought.

As Agni is the fire that ascends from below, Soma is the grace that descends from above. Agni relates to the Kundalini fire that ascends from the root chakra below and Soma is the corresponding nectar that descends from the thousand-petal lotus of the head above in higher Yoga practices. The thousand-petal lotus is often called the seat of Soma or the Moon.

In the later part of literature, Soma was also thought of combination of Sa (Shiva) and Uma (Shakti).


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Soma is a unique concept in the Vedas addressed with many variations, so based on the vedic verse in the question we have to interpret accordingly. Vedic concepts used by Rishis are of 3 categories, the material, the divine, and the Yogic plane (adhibhautika, adhidaivika, and adhibhautika). Hence Soma is a Deva and a king, the same Soma is the home of ṛta RV1.43, Soma is also the juice of a plant used in Yagna as a substitute for Amṛta. The Soma herb as explained in Atharva Veda is the foremost and pure AV11.6.15 and is the divine energy of all flora/vegetation AV5.24.7,GS1.16. At times, Soma is the celestial Moon described in Atharva Veda 10 & 11.6.9 which says “Soma; whom the learned men call Chandrama the Moon making all delight” and “The Supreme Being keeps making Soma, the eternal delight” which is empirical to amṛta dripping from the crescent moon on Śiva’s head, but before we make this conclusion let’s explore further. Sometimes, Soma is the full moon belonging to the Tiṣya/Pusya month, on this day oblations are given to Rudra. Monday is called Somavara and is the day of Śiva TS2.2.10. Kausitaki Brāhmaṇa 6 makes it very clear when it says “Rudra is Chandrama” which matches with Śatapatha Brahmāṇa of Śukla Yajur Veda 6.3 wherein the Mahadeva expansion of Rudra is Chandrama/moon. Similar to Rudra, the concept of Soma enters into various aspects of the Yajñá (Yagna). In this way, Soma enters into the offering of the Soma:latha juice, into clarified butter (ghee) used in Yagna, or the full moon, into medicines, into amṛta, and is the very ṛta. In other places, Somapavamana, meaning the purified/clarified/refined version of Soma, gave rise to both Indra and Viṣṇu during Yajñá RV9.96.5. This does not mean Viṣṇu takes physical birth because various divine concepts (Devas) emerge during various states of Yajñá performed by Prajāpati. Soma is also addressed as an additive to milk or ghee used as Medha (offering) of Yajñá. Soma is also used as a synonym for amṛta and it is this Soma that the Devas compete RV1.108, Indra more than others, as his strength comes from the divine Soma through which He and other Devas conquered all the worlds RV8.92/9.62.29. It is this Soma that gives them health, immortality, and strength to fight off Vṛtra, allowing room for ṛta. To this, the Maruts provide their support. Many dualities are paired among various divine concepts in the Vedas, like Mitra-Varuna, similarly, Rudra and Soma are paired together as a dual divinity across Vedas and are treated as one. Atharva Veda also pairs Bhava and Rudra as dual divinity AV11.2.15, similarly, all 8 aspects of Rudras become one concept.

This amṛta significantly applies to Soma and Rudra, later to Agni RV7.4.6 and the Maruts; but in a few instances, it applies to Mitra-Varuna as they are the deliverers of Soma. Soma and amṛta signify truth, medicines, knowledge, health, and immortality which are the same as Rudra, as he is pra-jāḥ amṛtasya “immortals family possessing the amṛta” and parasmin dhāman ṛtasya “home to the highest truth (ṛtasya)” RV1.43. Rudras are also called “the physician among physicians” RV2.33.4 or “the Divine Physician VS16.5” since He possesses thousands of well-needed medicines “सहस्रं ते स्वपिवात भेष॒जा”RV7.46.3/TS1.8.22/4.5.10. Hence, the hymns “Our homage to the Immortal One, to that Rudra of the thousand eyes” AV11.2.3 as they possess the amṛta RV10.93.4, and they specifically declare that there are no young or elderly in their gana (group) RV2.33,5.58/59. We have also seen that the Maruts are addressed as the children of Pṛśni (Vedic cow of knowledge). Three profound titles describe them as “vidatheṣu ā-bhuvaḥ” (born in knowledge), “mahiṣāsaḥ māyinaḥ:citra-bhānavaḥ” (the makers of māyā and of clear vision/light), and “pra-cetasaḥ viśva-vedasaḥ” (conscious and omniscient) RV1.64.6-10. Like all Devas is Rudra also offered Soma? It is on very rare occasions that Rudra is offered Soma, in those rare occasions it’s in a metaphorical sense because Soma is already conjoined with Rudra, why? Because Soma-Rudra becomes conceptually one entity in many hymns and the very first homage to Rudra is conjoined with Soma RV1.43, but this duality soon becomes one in Rig Veda 6.74, by the time of Śrī Rudram of Taittirīya Saṃhitā Anuvākam 7, it dawns even more clearly with its primary declaration “nama somāya ca rudrāya ca” KYV 7.1 and “Lord of Soma” KYV5.4 and in contrast, He is also the “Lord of removing darkness” hence the title Andhasaspati. By the time we reach the Āraṇyakas, He is called “एतथ्सोमस्य सूर्यस्य सर्वलिङ्गग्ग् स्थापयति पाणिमन्त्रं पवित्रम्” meaning “you as this Soma and Surya and all union/signs you stand firm held with purity/holy/sinless”TA10.16.34.16. A much clearer description is given in Brahmāna 1 of Sukla Yajur Vedā Chapter 3, called Śatarudrīya, in an Anuvākam given to Drāpa as “the remover/dispeller”. So, who is this dispeller of darkness/ignorance? It is Andhasa, meaning Soma, and Rudra is Andhasaspati “अन्धसस्पते” TS4.5.10, meaning the “Lord of Soma”. Hence, in the Itihāsa and Puráńic realm, Śiva is iconified as Somnath – with a crescent moon on the forehead dripping amṛta. This concept of and its relation with Rudra gave raise to literature like Amritanada Upaniṣhads (one of the minor Upaniṣhad associated with Vedanta and Yoga Darshana). Many derivatives then emerged – like Somashekhara in Peringottukara Kerala, Somadeva, Somaskanda, even Somavāra (a day of Śiva) and Someshwara in Kolar and Somanath in Gujrat, and since Soma is called Chandra, Śiva is called Chandrashekara. Taittirīya Saṃhitā 2.2.11 gives us a brief glimpse into an event where both Ausras and Devas reach a disagreement and when they leave, Soma leaves with Rudras and Agni leaves with Vasus, Indra with Maruts and Varuna with Ādityās.

There are various names given to the three-eyed Śiva, like trayambakam and Virūpākṣa, but there exists a celebrated title “Soma:suragni Lochana“, meaning the one with Soma, Surya, and Agni as His three eyes, which we have discussed with various references in the “Appearance of Rudra” section. Finally, there also exists a unique aspect wherein Soma is described as a conjoined expression that is called bahuvrihi in Sanskrit grammar. “Soma” = “sa” (along with) + “uma” (Parvati), very similar to the title “Sambha Sadasiva” = sa” + ambha meaning along with Ambha (Uma) forever is Śiva. This conjoined expression is not by accident or oversight; many Vedic gurus and acharyas concurred with this aspect. “Sa” means to come along or to accompany, and the divinity that accompanies Rudra is Soma. Ganas/Maruts also accompany Rudra, but they are clearly stated as children. One reference can be found in Sukla Yajur Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā 4.20-36, wherein Soma is addressed as the Mother and as the Goddess to Gods and says “Rudra to return safely with Soma as your companion” hence the expression “Sa+Uma”, so Soma is also addressed as Rudrā (emphasis on the ā denotes the inclusion of feminine essence in conjunction to masculine, for example when we say “om nama Śivāya” the emphasis on ā denotes both Śiva+Śivā similar to Ādityā, and Chandrā). Grihya Sutra of Paraskara Sukla Yajur Veda makes a bold description by saying “She the Mother of Rudras (Maruts) is the daughter of Vasus and the sister of Ādityas and is the center/navel of all immortality”. And we know with certainty that Soma is the center of all immortality and amrta. There is however no distinct declaration in Veda in which states Soma is Uma the daughter of Himavat, yet from the description seen above Soma is the life, creation and the means to liberation itself hence derived as Sa+Uma by many scholars. Before we enter into the next section of liberation let’s visit Rig Veda 8.48.3 and compare this with our first hymn from Rig Veda 1.43 and see how well they both fit, also this exact hymn landed in Atharvaśiras Upaniṣhad (one of the minor Upaniṣhad belonging to Atharva Veda yet referred by Adi Śankaracharya on multiple occasions).

अपाम सोमममृता अभू॒मागन्म ज्योतिरविदाम देवान् किं नू॒नमस्मान्कृणवदरातिः किमु धू॒र्तिरमृत मर्त्य॑स्य RV 8.48.3 We consumed/attained the Divine Soma, we are now immortal, We have attained the brilliance/light/wisdom, we have witnessed the divine, what have we (the ignorant mortals/suffering/illusions) to fear, being that immortal?

He is “the resort/lord to all hymns/songs”, He is “the resort/lord of all yajñá/sacrifice”, and “He is bliss”. Rudras as the family of immortals possessing amṛta/soma and this Soma is the home to Supreme Truth (ṛtasya). ~~Rig Veda 8.48.3 / 1.43


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