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The Lure of Soma

It is in this context that the lives and trials and tribulations of people living in the Indus valley during the middle of third millennium BCE are tackled in this book. I have used existing archaeological evidence along with known historical evidence in writing this book. Rigveda talks about several conflicts among the descendants of the emperor Bharata and the Avestan scriptures talk about the conflicts between the Aryans and the Dasyus. There have always been fierce debates about who exactly these Aryans were and the Daevas mentioned in the Avestan scriptures. I have used some poetic license to accommodate the dates and times of various individuals and events to suit the story telling. The book tries to portray the life of ordinary people during the period of Harappans, while trying to tell the tale of the priestly kings, Magi, Rishis and Sages of the great Indus Valley Civilisation during the middle of third millennium BCE. This is the story of our hero, Upaas, a trainee physician from Harappa. It is a story of a young man growing up, falling in love, getting involved in adventures and finally fighting for the city he loves most – Harappa. The story shows the human elements of people around him. He faces friendship, love, hate, jealousy, treachery and deceit in day to day life. There is generous sprinkling of magic and sorcery. As the country of Ariana, west of Hindu Kush dries up, the Avestansfacing with near extinction take up arms against their neighbours to obtain the precious Soma. The tactics used include deceit, sorcery and finally a war between the Meluhhans and Avestans.

The Soma plant has been the centrepiece of several hymns in the Vedic scriptures. It is a plant still not accuratelyrecognized. The Vedic people revered it as a God, drank the extract from the stalk of the plant, used the plant for medicinal purposes and it is supposed to have magical properties. There are hymns composed to the Soma within the Vedas. The Avestan had a similar plant and called it Haoma and their scriptures also revered the plant for its spiritual properties. Vedas describe it as growing in a sacred mountain around a sacred lake (Mount Mujavant and lakeSharynavat). Avestan scriptures describe a similar sacred mountain and a sacred lakein Sistan where the Haoma plant grew. Similar to the Soma of Indus valley, we still do not know exactly what this plant was as it disappeared at the same time as the Harappans. It was considered the mushroom, Amanita Muscaria for a long time because of the ”hallucinogenic” effects the Soma was said to produce when consumed. This may be a misconception by the writers who tried to explain the events described in Vedic scriptures and the powers of ancient sages.

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