Soma Yaga in India and Iran (Post No.10,652)

WRITTEN BY LONDON SWAMINATHAN

Post No. 10,652

Date uploaded in London – –    12 FEBRUARY   2022         

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Two religions need fire for their worship. Hindu religion and Parsi religion, also known as Zoroastrianism use fire in their worship. Two hundred years ago every Brahmin Hindu family had fire pot in their house. Several hundred years ago, every Brahmin family had three types of fire in every house and they did fire worship three time every day. Now we rarely see fire altar or fire place in Brahmin families. All the fire worship moved to temples. One or two times in a year Brahmins invite priests to their houses to do fire worship at home.

Parsis can’t do any worship without fire. They do Soma yaga like Hindus. They’re the only ones who continue Soma Yaga until this day. Parsi priests import Soma plant from Iran . No book gives the name of the plant. But Hindus used Putika plant as an alternative to extinct Soma plant in the occasional Soma Yaga.

German Indologist, Martin Haug did elaborate research into their Fire Worship and compared it with the Vedic fire sacrifices. He was well versed in several languages and translated Aitareya Brahmana of the Rig Veda.

Sangam Tamil literature praised Tamil brahmins as ‘Three Agni/ fire Brahmins’ , ‘Muth Thee Andanar’. Nowadays you don’t see the Three Fires in any Brahmins house. They are Aahavaeeyam, Gaarhapatyam and Dakshinagniyam.

The Indian Hindus and the Iranian Parsis were practising same type of Yagas at least 2000 years ago.

All the Sanskrit terms are retained in Zend Avesta. If you apply linguistic rules, you can easily identify them. Martin Haug succeeded in this method in 1858.

Hota in the Rigveda becomes Zota in Zend Avesta.

Atharvana or Adhvaryu becomes Athrava in Zend Avesta.

Mantra reciter becomes Maathran in Zend Avesta.

(Rig Vedic words Gatha, Varuna, Indra, Druj, Aramaiti etc retained without any change)

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Agnicayana ceremony

Here is the full description of Soma Yaga

Two hundred years ago, lot of Brahmins were doing Agnihotra. Martin Haug says in the dominions of Gaikwar at Baroda in Gujarat the number was high. But doing it was expensive. The Peshwas in Mahabharata used to support them. Some Vedic fire sacrifices/ Yajnas/ Yagas lasted for 12 days.

Among the 14 Agnihotris who presented themselves at the Dakshina meeting at Poona , between 15th November and 15th December in 1861, only one could be found who had performed all the numerous sacrifices, some of which require from six to twelve days for their performance and an outlay of many thousand rupees in 1850s.

(In Bhopal Union Carbide Poison Gas Tragedy in 1984, four thousand people died immediately; late many more thousand died in poison gas related sickness; but the homes of Agnihotris were not affected at all)

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Comparisons by Marti Haug

Athrava

The very name for Priest in Zend Avesta is Athrava. In the Vedas it was Atharvan.

The Vedic words Ishti and Ahuti became Ishti and Azuiti in the Zend Avesta.

What is Ishti?

A series of invocations of several deities, accompanied by the offering of sacrificial cakes called Purodasha.

What is Ahuti?

The invocation of one deity with the offering.

But by the time of Zend Avesta, original meaning was lost and only the general meanings ‘gift’, ‘invocation or praise’ have survived.

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YAGA SPOONS, LADLES

Hota

The Hota, the reciter of the Mantras of the Rigveda is identified with Zaota priest in the Zend Avesta.

Adhvaryu priest , managing priest, prepared everything for Hota.

In Parsi religion Rathwi, nowadays called Rapsi is the servant of chief priest Zaota, nowadays called Zota.

(Through out the Zend Avesta ‘H’ becomes ‘Z’)

Rathwi or Rapsi is the corrupted form of Rithwik in Sanskrit

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In the Sraoshavavareza, who represents angel Srosh, the Pratiprasthata of the Vedic sacrifices may be recognised, because this priest holds in his hand a wooden sword, during the time of sacrifice, to drive away the evil spirits.

In the Parsi fire sacrifices Atarevaksho is in charge of the vessel in which the fire is, and in the Vedas it is Agnidhra who holds the fire.

Atarevaksho = Agnidhra

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Soma Sacrifices

The Yajishn or Ijashne as performed by the Parsi priests contains all the elements which constitute the four or seven of the Jyotistoma cycle of sacrifices of the Vedic Brahmins.

They are the prototypes of all Soma sacrifices.

The Agnistoma, i.e. the ‘praise of Agni/fire’, is the opening sacrifice of this cycle and indispensable for every Agnihotri to gain the object wished for, Heaven , bears a particular resemblance to the performance of Ijashne.

But in Parsi religion the whole ceremony is much shortened.

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Four goats sacrifice

In the Agnistoma four goats are killed and their flesh is partly offered to the gods by throwing them into fire. Agni/ fire is the mediator between gods and men.

Hindu sacrificer partly eats the flesh. But in Parsi religion, no animal is killed during Ijashne ceremony; only some hair of an ox is placed in a small vessel and shown with other things to the fire. This is a remnant of animal sacrifice. Formerly the Parsis used a piece of meat.

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Purodasha Cakes

The Purodasha cakes in the Vedic sacrifices , must be offered to various deities in a particular order. Parsis changed it to a small flat bread and called it Darun

Fresh milk is also required during Upasad ceremony. It’s Gaush jivya of Parsis.

(Upasad story in Aitareya Brahmana is already posted here a few days ago).

The Sanskrit word ‘Go’ for cow can be seen in Gaush jivya. ‘Go’ becomes Cow in English.

Ghee or butter is also used in Vedic ceremony. It is Gaush hudhao in Parsi.

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Udaka shanti

Consecrated Water, called Udaka shanta, is required in Vedic ceremony.

It is called Zaothra in Parsi.

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Soma Juice

Soma is called Haoma in Parsi. ‘S’ is absent in Persian and Greek. So they changed it to ‘H’ . Sindhu became Hindu because of these people.

The most important part of both the Jyotishtoma sacrifices and the Ijashne ceremony of the Parsi is the juice of the Soma plant.

Nowadays Soma is not available. So Hindus use Putika as a substitute for the Soma plant. Parsis use the branches of a particular shrub grown in Iran/ Persia.

Both the communities bring the plant fresh and extract the juice by reciting Mantras/ verses by using stones. Parsis use pomegranate branch along with the soma plant.

Hindus strains the juice with a cloth whereas the Parsi priests use a metal saucer with nine holes.

In Vedic Jyotistoma ceremony 16 priests take part and all of them taste Soma juice.

Part of the juice is offered to gods in fire.

In Parsi ceremony , two priests take part and very little is drunk by the Zaota priest.

Parsis don’t offer it into the fire.

Vedic priests use variously shaped wooden vessels to throw the juice into Agni, the messenger of gods. Parsis just show it to Agni.

Parsis prepare the juice for second time and throw it into a well.

The two preparations of the Parsis correspond to the morning libation and midday libation of the Vedic people. They are called Pratah savana and Mahyandina savana. Vedic people offered it in the evening as well. But no sacrifice is allowed in the evening or night in Zoroastrian/ Parsi religion.

To be continued

Tags – Haoma, Soma, Yaga, Parsi, Zoarashtian, Fire worship, Zend Avesta

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