Soma in Vedic Mythology and Ritual (study)

by Anjana Chakraborty | 2017 | 51,491 words

This thesis is called: A study of the evolution of Soma in vedic mythology and ritual. It represents a thorough discussion on the characteristics of Vedic Gods, Soma and Vedic rituals. As the ritual plays a very important role in Rigveda it is only natural that Soma, the plant, the juice of which is so much used in the ritual is deified as one of ...

Chapter 3(a) - Rituals of Somayaga (introduction)

The Somayaga is the most important ritual of the Vedic period. The earliest mention of Soma and Somayaga is traced in the Rigveda, the oldest of the Vedas. Yagas form an important part of Vedic worship since the very beginning of Vedic religion and culture.

The Somayaga is divided on the basis of duration of time in three categories, namely the Ekaha, the Ahina and the Satra. The yaga which is performed in one day in three savanas is called ‘Ekaha’. The yaga which take more than one day but not more than twelve days is ‘Ahina’ and the yaga lasting from more than twelve days to thousand years is called ‘Satra[1].

There are seven types of Somayaga[2] namely Agnishtoma, Atyagnishtoma, Ukthya, Shodashi, Atiratra, Vajapeya and Aptoryama. The Agnishtoma, which is the first of the seven Somayagas, is the Prakriti or model[3] and the other six are its Vikriti or modifications.

The simplest and most popular form of Soma ritual, the Agnishtoma is obligatory in the ceremony like Upanayana and others. The Aitareya Brahmana says that it is called Agnishtoma because ‘Agni’ is praised therein or because the last stotra in this ritual is addressed to Agni[4]. In the Taittiriya Samhita and the Tandya Brahmana, the Agnishtoma is shown as a symbol of the creation of the universe[5].

Somayaga can be performed by those persons only whose father or forefathers had done this yaga earlier. The person whose father and forefathers never performed this yaga, never performed any haviryaga and never studied the Vedas, he has no right to perform Somayaga. But the person can get the right to do this yaga only if he performs one Pashuyaga in purnima or in amavasya on the day before the Somayaga.

The Somayaga is performed after the performance of the Darshapurnamasa, Agrayan ishti, Nirudapashuvanda and Caturmasya[6]. Some ritualists say that if all upakaranas are ready then Somayaga should be performed immediately after the Darshapurnamasa yaga[7] and others says that the yajamana who has performed Agnihotra after adhana, he should perform the Somayaga before the Darshapurnamasa.

The Somayaga is perfoemed by a sapatnik yajamana in vasanta or in autumn season[8]. Soma juice is the main offering in this yaga. If Somalata is not available then the yaga can be performed with its substitute Putika[9] .The three classes of people like Brahmana, Kshatriya and Vaishya can perform this yaga but only the Brahmanas have the right to drink Soma juice.

Footnotes and references:


Taittiriya Samhita, 1. 2. 1


Taittiriya Samhita, 1. 2. 1


Taittiriya Samhita, 1. 2. 1


Aitareya Brahmana. 14. 5


Taittiriya Samhita, 7. 112; Tandya Brahmana. 6. 1. 3


Tandya Mahabrahmana. 9.5.3

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