Indian Alchemy: Soma in the Veda
By Srinivasan Kalyanaraman
Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers
346 pages, 5 ¾" x 8 ¾"
The book is an epoch-making work - a paradigm-shift in Vedic studies - which identifies soma as electrum (gold-silver metallic compound). Soma is referred to in the Rgveda as the soul of the yajna. The path-breaking identification is based on textual evidence and a penetrating analysis of the Indian alchemical tradition, spanning nearly five millennia.
The author is also the discoverer of the integrating role played by the mighty Sarasvati river adored in the Rgveda as the best of mothers, best of rivers and best of goddesses. Sarasvati and soma are no longer mythology but relevant to present-day children, respectively, as the repository of groundwater sanctuaries in north-west India and the metallurgical tradition starting with the Bronze Age civilization, c. 3000 BC.
Sarasvati and soma are the symbols of the great Indian traditions of devi worship and personification and deification of natural, material phenomena. The tirthas along the rivers are reminders of the critical nature of water management problems all over India and soma as an integral part of the yajna process, is the embodiment of the scientific, technological and materialist temper of ancient India.
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