Distinctive Features Of The Soma Plants

A Soma plant of whatever species is furnished with fifteen leaves which wax and wane with the waxing and the waning of the moon. Thus one leaf grows every day in the lighted fortnight attaining the greatest number (fifteen) in the night of the full moon and then the leaves begin to decrease in number dropping one by one every day till the bare stem of the creeper is left on the night of the new moon. 10.

Their Description

The Ams'umán species of the Soma is characterised by a smell like that of clarified butter and has a bulb, while the Rajata-prabha is possessed of a bulb resembling a plantain in shape. The Munjaván puts forth leaves like those of a garlic while the Chandramáh species is possessed of a golden colour and is aquatic in its habitat. The Garudáhrita and S'vetáksha species are yellowish (Pándura) and look like the cast-off skins of a snake and are usually found to be pendent from the boughs of trees 11.

All other species are marked with parti-coloured circular rings. Possession of fifteen leaves of variegated colours, a bulb, a creeper-like appearance, and secretion of milky juice are the general characteristics of all the Soma plants. 12-A.

Their Habitats

The Himálayas, the Arvuda, the Sahya, the Mahendra, the Malaya, the S'ri-Parvata, the Deva-giri, the Deva-saha, the Páripátra, the Vindhya mountains and lake Devasunda are the habitats of the Soma plants. Somas, of the Chandramáh species are often found to be floating here and there on the mighty stream of the river Sindhu (Indus) which flows down at the foot of the five large mountains lying to the north bank beyond the Vitastá (river). The Munjaván and the Ams'umán species may also be likewise found in the same locality while those known as the Gáyatri, Traishtubha Pámkta, Jágata, S'ámkara, and others looking as beautiful as the moon arc found to float on the surface of the divine lake known as the little Mánasa in Kashmir. 12-B.

The Soma plants are invisible to the impious or to the ungrateful as well to the unbeliever in the curative virtues of medicine and to those spiteful to the Brahmanas, 12.

Thus ends the Twenty-ninth Chapter of the Chikiuita Sthánam in the Sus'ruta Samhitá which deals with the Prophylactic elixirs for the innate maladies.