Usha is dawn, the daughter of the sky, lady of the light, who
rouses all life.
She stirs all creatures that have feet, and makes the birds
of air fly up. Borne on a hundred chariots, she yokes her steed
before the arrival of the sun and is never late. Loved by the Asvins,
sister of gods, she eludes the Sun who is always eager to catch
her. She brings not just light to the sleeping mankind, but hope,
happiness, riches and all the good things. Goddess of light and
beauty, whom the Rsis of old time invoked for their protection and
help, Usha is the gods' beloved sister, whom she brings to the earth
for enjoying drops of the soma juice offered by the worshippers.
. Some of the hymns speak of not one dawn but many the dawns that
have gone before. The hymns addressed to Usha in the Vedas are among
the most poetic and beautiful hymns found in the Vedas. The following
verses illustrates this point.
"She, like a dancer, puts her broidered garments on: as a cow
yields her udder so she bares her breast, creating light for all
the world of life..."
" The Gotamas have praised Heaven's radiant Daughter, the leader
of the charm of pleasant voices."
"Bending her looks on all the world, the Goddess shines, widely
spreading with her bright eye westward. Waking to motion every living
creature, she understands the voice of each adorer. Ancient of days,
again and again born newly, decking her beauty with the self-same
raiment, the Goddess wastes away the life of mortals, like a skilled
hunter cutting birds in pieces."
" In pride of beauty like a maid thou goest, O Goddess, to the
God who longs to win thee, and smiling youthful, as thou shinest
brightly, before him thou discoverest thy bosom. Fair as a bride
embellished by her mother thou showest forth thy form that all may
see it. Blessed art thou O Dawn. Shine yet more widely. No other
Dawns have reached what thou attainest."
Both night and dawn are sisters, dutiful in their movements.
" Akin, immortal, following each other, changing their colours both
the heavens move onward. Common, unending is the Sisters' pathway;
taught by the Gods, alternately they travel. Fair-formed, of different
hues and yet one-minded, Night and Dawn clash not, neither do they
Soma is the god of inspiration, the intoxicant who stirs the
minds, lures the gods and brings them to the place of worship. One
of the most popular gods of the Rigvedic hymns, the entire 9th Mandala
of the scripture is dedicated to him. Also known as Indu or Soma
Pavamana, he brings joy into the lives of people, cures them from
diseases and leads them to the worlds of bliss and immortality.
He gives strength not only to mortals, but to the gods as well.
Because of him, Indra was able to slay Vrata. Because of him Agni
maintains his sway.
He is also known as Lord of the speech (Vachspati), because of
his intoxicating influence on the movement of speech. On the physical
plane Soma is some kind of intoxicating juice. It was probably extracted
from some leaves, or mushrooms or some other substance by pressing
them between two stones. We have completely lost the knowledge of
its preparation. People have been trying for the last several centuries
to know the exact ingredients with which the Vedic people used to
make Soma juice, but have not succeeded so far.
Even during the Vedic period the preparation of the Soma juice
was probably a complicated affair. The hymns suggests that the success
of extracting the soma juice depended upon the cooperation of gods,
which means that its preparation was not an easy affair and depended
upon several extraneous factors. Since the production of juice was
central to many invocations, the god of soma was invoked to ensure
that the juice flew abundantly and the ceremony would be successful.
We see this concern explicit in the following hymns from the
"Indu as, Indra's Friend, pour on us with a stream of sweetness,
like Parjanya sender of the rain." (The coming of rain is
uncertain. So is the extraction of soma.)
"May they in flowing give us wealth in thousands, and heroic
power, these Godlike Soma-drops effused like coursers by their drivers
urged, they were poured forth, for victory, swift through the woolen
straining-cloth, noisily flow the Soma-drops, like milch-kine lowing
to their calves they have run forth from both the hands." (The prayer
is for soma to flow swiftly and noisily through the cloth.)
" THE pressers from the Soma-press send forth thy juice for rapturous
joy the speckled sap runs like a flood. With strength we follow
through the sieve him who brings might and wins the kine, enrobed
in water with his juice. Pour on the sieve the Soma, ne'er subdued
in waters, waterless, and make it pure for Indra's drink. Moved
by the purifier's thought, the Soma flows into the sieve. By wisdom
it hath gained its home. With humble homage, Indra, have the Soma-drops
flowed forth to thee, contending for the glorious prize." (Note
the emphasis on the need for the purity of the juice for Indra's