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Indra and Soma, Shiva and Madira

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The Indian texts are classified into two categories : Shrutis and Smritis.

Shruti comes from the Sanskrit root “Shru” i.e to hear. Now the whole question is what is this hearing? Is it a physical hearing? Shruti is knowledge that is experienced and comes directly from the highest source of consciousness experienced in the highest state of meditation where the knowledge is pure and unpolluted by the imaginations, assumptions lower level analysis of a polluted and wavering mind. It is a vision that is experienced beyond the mind, beyond the working of the senses.

This classification is done as follows:

Veda Upanishad/Purana Contemporary usage
Vasu Satyaloka Existence
Urja Chit or Tapoloka Consciousness/Energy
Priyam Janaloka Bliss
Swar Maharloka Supermind
Dyau (heaven) Manas Mind
Bhuvar, Antariksha Prana Vital
Bhu (earth) Anna Physical


It is declared the sense are superior but more than the senses the mind is superior but more than the mind the intelligence is superior and more than the intelligence that which is superior is the individual consciousness (BG 3.42)

Shruti constitutes of the texts like Vedas, Upanishads etc which were written by Sages in their high state meditation. Therefore, one can also argue that they were written by man but yet at non-human level or a divine source of knowledge. On the other hand, Smriti arises from the Sanskrit “smr” i.e to remember. It is consists of history, imaginations where shrutis are presented in the form of stories where supreme consciousness and its play or unfolding are given different meanings, science, astrological events etc.

The Indian texts not only promote questioning but also provide a platform to enable humans to surpass the working of the mind, Indra’s net or Maya and achieve the supreme state i.e sat-chit-anand.

That man who uses the mind for reins and the knowledge for the driver, reaches the end of his road, the highest seat of Vishnu. Than the senses the objects of sense are higher; and higher than the objects of sense is the Mind; and higher than the Mind is the faculty of knowledge; and than that is the Great Self higher. And higher than the Great Self is the Unmanifest and higher than the Unmanifest is the Purusha: than the Purusha there is none higher: He is the culmination, He is the highest goal of the journey. (Katha Upanishad, Kena and other Upanishads, Page 115, 1.3.9-11)

The Vedas describe this science of consciousness and achieving the supreme existence as a poetry where different forces are given different terms and a metaphorical usage. E.g Vedic Indra is the mind the ruler of the lower senses, the will power, the various breaths in the human being and hence called “devraaj Indra”. The will power is personified as Agni while the various breaths as vayu. According to Aurobindo, surya is source of knowledge, cows the rays of knowledge and wisdom, horse is associated with speed, force and existence and soma is metaphorical experience, the awakening as experienced by the mind, metaphorically written in the form of drinking of soma by Indra in Vedas. Agni is the one of the first devtas invoked by Indra to enable the journey to seek the Soma. It is clear enough that without will power a mind is powerless to achieve anything. Hence Indra and Agni are the first devas who achieve Soma.

A study s of the Vedic horse led me to the conclusion that go and asva represent the two companion ideas of Light and Energy, Consciousness and Force, which to the Vedic and Vedantic mind were the double or twin aspect of all the activities of existence. (The Secret of Vedas by Aurobindo , Page 44)

This wine of Soma represents, as we have abundant proof in the Veda and especially in the ninth book, a collection of more than a hundred hymns addressed to the deity Soma, the intoxication of the Ananda, the divine delight of being, inflowing upon the mind from the supramental consciousness through the Ritam or Truth. If we accept these interpretations, we can easily translate the hymn into its psychological significance. (The Secret of Vedas by Aurobindo, Pg 74)

One may ask, why is Swargalok always attacked by demons? Why does Indra seeks Vishnu’s help in establishing the Swarga again? It is the mind which is always wavering with positive and negative thoughts and yields to the self for the guidance which we see as “Swargaloka always wavering and being attacked by Demons and presided over by devtas and Indra running to Vishnu for guidance”.

The same concept is seen in Tantras and Puranas through stories where Shakti, when perceived at human level, is always trying to achieve the state of perfect knowledge i.e Shiva and how consciousness continues to seek even after death e.g Sati to Parvati where the desires are part of the nature of the body, but one has to control over those desires or detach from those desires. Shiva is seen residing on the top of Mount Kailash which is metaphor of the human body itself and the super-mind, the top of Kailash which is beyond all the dualities of life, where space and time cease to exist, where past, present, future all become one, which are nothing more than the division created or perceived by the mind only.

One must understand that Indian texts present a science of consciousness promoting an understanding of self, art of detachment, objective duties (the yoga of karma) etc which only promotes the path towards the highest consciousness not in form of mechanical knowledge, but mostly in the form of metaphors and riddles i.e the knowledge presented in the form of creativity i.e poetry (Vedic poetry), stories (shrutis presented in the form of stories in some puranas, where smritis are meant to be remembered and compared to the ideals of the shrutis) and idols where Vishnu (the binding force within this metaphorical waters of eternity) dreams in this ocean of infinity i.e Ananta, where the Nataraja (from sanskrit nrtraj) presents the supreme consciousness manifesting and dissolving while dancing over the personified demons of the human psyche.

One may question, how can soma/madira be an alcoholic drink if soma is achieved over a perfect mind control based on detachment from material pleasures, blesses with pure knowledge, awareness of the truth which is at a level beyond mind, whereas alcohol destroys brain cells, causes hallucinations, destroys mind control, causes addiction to material pleasures and lowers consciousness and on the physical side causes impotency, hair loss, gives bad skin texture, increases weight and over drinking can cause congenital diseases for pregnant women, liver cancer, memory loss, impairs the immunity system, brain damage, kidney damage, coma and even death?

Even if we go by the layman argument from an average understanding of Shiva, then how can an epitome of yoga, knowledge, dharma, a renunciate and detached being like Shiva even consume a substance like alcohol for his own material pleasures? Thus, the argument itself is logically inconsistent and factually void. It is not surprising that such a flawed argument is usually made by people attached to alcohol and ignorant of the scriptures. But as they say that every absurdity has its own champions to defend it.


The Secret of Vedas by Aurobindo

Kena and Other Upanishads by Aurobindo

Bhagavad-Gita :

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A student of Indian and Western sciences and philosophies.

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