In the Veda of Ancient India there is mention of Somapana, an elixir that invigorates. This is understood to be a non-alcoholic drink, much in use in the early Vedic days.
120 verses of Veda deal with the qualities of Soma. The divinity of Soma is also referred to as Soma Deva.
As times evolved, Moon and Shiva were referred to as Soma Deva.
The first day of the week, Monday draws its name from the moon. In the Indian calendar, it is called Somavara, again drawing its name from the moon, Soma. We see a similarity here in the naming of the 7 days of the week based on the astral bodies.
Soma Deva, Moon Divinity
Divinity for each day of week, a Medival European expression
The famous Somnath Temple in Saurashtra which is celebrated as one of the 12 Jyothir Linga of Shiva, where Shiva is called as Somnatha.
Jyothir Linga, Somanatha
Like this we see so many references to Soma. In this Vedic knowledge society, the drink Soma was not looked as an alcoholic drink but more as an invigorating drink that helps to elevate oneself.
The process of making the Soma decoction with various herbs is discussed at length in the Veda.
Making of Soma, Courtesy S Rajam
Unavailability of Soma Pana
Some of the later Vedic verse also bemoan the fact that the pure Soma drink was not available to them. This could be because the ingredients to make Soma could well have dwindled with time and the process to make them could have been lost as it was passed onto generations.
Sura Pana – alcoholic drink comes into vogue
This over a period of time led to the making of a new brew, a new drink known as Sura Pana. This turned out to be an alcoholic drink. With the passage of time, because of the alcoholic nature of the Sura Pana, the Soma Pana being a precursor drink got the tag of being an alcoholic drink.
A careful reading of the text show that Soma Pana was an invigorating drink while Sura Pana was alcoholic.
As people migrated over the millennia, they carried with them the making of the Sura Pana.
Patents to Lithuanian brewery
An interesting sidelight story is of a similar drink that is being made for the last few centuries in Lithuania, in North West Europe. They attribute their concoction to have its origins from this Vedic drink.
Lithuanian company holds the patent for Madhu Madya (honey alcohol).
The India Baltic Chamber of Commerce (IBCC) wants to launch the mead – this old fermented drink made from honey, water, yeast, herbs and vegetable seasoning.
Logo, India Baltic Chamber of Commerce
Queen Elizabeth II in 1969
On September 30, 1969, Queen Elizabeth 2 granted Stakliskes factory of Lietuviskas Midus with the patent number 1280830 to make this drink exclusively.
Lietuviskas Midus logo
This drink with added vitamins is now made from honey, hops, lime flowers, juniper berries and other Vitamin C inputs.
It is indeed interesting to note that a faraway Lithuanian company has holds patent for this ancient drink, though not in the name of Soma Pana or Sura Pana, but as Madhu Madya.
Madhu – Honey
The word ‘Madhu’ means honey not just in Indian language but also in Russian language. The President of Russia is Dimitri Medvedev.
The word “Medvedev” is a conjunction of words, ‘Med’ and ‘Ved’. ‘Med’ means honey and ‘Ved’ is derived from ‘Vidya’, which stands for knowledge”. In the Russian language the word Medvedev signifies, ‘the one who has knowledge to make honey’. It also signifies ‘one who knowledge is as sweet as honey’.
Traditional ways of making honey
Madhu – Across World, Across Times
From this we gather that the word ‘Madhu’, ‘Med’ as the word for honey spread all across, from ancient India to North West of Europe which leads upto Russia and Lithuania. As the word ‘Madhu’ spread across these lands with the people, the knowledge of making Sura Pana could also have spread to these lands.
Back to Soma Pana
When the world is looking for a new form of beverages, it is time for us to dwell back and see if we can once again make the Brew not of alcoholic Sura Pana but the invigorating Soma Pana. As this civilization moves into a knowledge era in the coming decades, Soma Pana which was the elixir of the Vedic knowledge era could well be the apt complementing drink to move away from alcoholism.