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soma, destroyed the defences of Vala with the thun-
derbolt, as did Trita." Just as in one of the Hebrew
psalms every verse ends with the words, "For His
mercy endureth for ever," so in one hymn to Indra
each verse concludes as follows: "In the intoxication
which soma has caused him, see what Indra has accom-
plished." The account of his toping powers is in
some cases ludicrous, for he is described as taking such
copious draughts of soma that his inside becomes like
a fish-pond, and it is made a merit in him that he is
reeling drunk,3 From these quotations it is obvious
that the Vedic people must have been well acquainted
with the intoxicating power of soma-drink, or they
would not have known what influence it would have
upon their gods; and from the same source we may
gather with equal certainty that they indulged freely
in that beverage themselves. For they seem to have
entertained no doubt that their gods were willing to
join in their revels, and often invited them to come
down and be partakers in their banquets. "Called
by us, O Indra," they said, "sit down and intoxicate
thyself with us, thy friends." They must have
renewed old acquaintance amongst themselves, too,
over what is called the social glass, for they treated
their deities as hail-fellows-well-met, and invited.
them to do likewise. "Very old is your favour and
your auspicious friendship," they said to one of their
gods; "renewing again that auspicious friendship, may
we now in your society intoxicate ourselves with
"15 No mincing matters there! Nor was it

1 Ps. cxxxvi., and Rig-Veda, Langlois' translation, p. 174.
2 Rig-Veda, 8. I. 23.

Ibid., 10. 112. 3.

3 Ibid., 10. 119.

5 Ibid., 3. 58. 6.


merely a figurative expression, for the sacrificer, or he at whose cost the sacrifice was provided, as well as the priests, drank soma during the ceremony until they were all drunk together, but the hotar, or chief priest, commenced the operations: "Like the hotar, drink first of this soma, O Indra; we offer thee, O god, this sweet soma for inebriation." 2 In one place, Indra is described with great circumstantiality as getting drunk with soma-drink mixed with milk early in the morning, a proof that the priests occasionally indulged in a matutinal sip. Indeed, detailed accounts of the ceremonies are found throughout the hymns which show that the priests were inordinate drunkards; so much so, that in the later Vedas and in the Institutes of Manu" a check was put upon such practices, and they were denounced as sinful.

But so too were the laity. There was another intoxicating drink besides soma of which mention is made in the Vedas. It was called "sura," and was much more inebriating than soma, which was the drink of the sacrifices, and therefore the supposed beverage of the gods, whilst sura was that of the common people. The plant which, in the Vedic age, entered largely into its composition was a tall grass of India, one of the genus Panicum, and the other ingredients were water, curds, honey, melted butter, and barley. At a later period a liquor called sura seems to have been actually distilled from a preparation of rice, barley, black pepper, lemon juice, ginger, and hot water. The sura drink was in general use, and the proof alike of its extended consumption amongst the people, as well as of its being the cause of 2 Ibid., 5. 43. 3.

1 Rig-Veda, 1. 54. 8, and 3. 43. 5.

3 Aitareya Brahmána, vol. ii. p. 507.

much crime in those days, is to be found in several verses of the Vedic hymns. In one place it is spoken of as a poison, kept at home suspended in a leather bottle;1 in another, the excessive intoxication of Indra with soma is compared to the bad drunkenness caused by sura;2 and in a well-known verse quoted by Professor Max Müller, it is thus referred to:

"It was not our own disposition, O Varuna; it was temptation, Intoxication caused by sura, passion, thoughtlessness," &c.

The Rig-Veda is certainly the most extraordinary publication of a sacred character that can be imagined in respect to drink and drunkenness; and the space occupied by references to the potations of the gods-for there is hardly a hymn that is free from them-shows clearly that the Vedic people, both priests and laymen, must have been terrible drunkards, and must have believed their Deities to have been the same. At a somewhat later period, however, we find the habit denounced in forcible terms and the severest penalties attached to its practice; in fact, it is spoken of as heinous in the last degree, and is compared to the murder of a Brahman.

The laws of Manu1 contain a whole series of interdic

1 Rig-Veda, I. 191. 10.

2 Ibid., 8. 2. 12.

3 Chips from a German Workshop (R. V. 7. 86. 6).

4 Manu was a religious and moral lawgiver, whose doctrines united the spirit of Buddhism with that of the Brahmans. One of his translators and commentators, Sir William Jones, believes him to have lived in or before the ninth century B.C. Professor Wilson, one of the translators of the Rig-Veda, places him about the sixth century B.C. Gautama Sakya (Buddha) is, however, supposed to have lived in the sixth or fifth century B.C. These are discrepancies which we cannot attempt here to reconcile. The extracts in the text are from Sir William Jones's translation of the "Institutes of Hindoo Law, or the Ordinances of Manu," chap. xi. Allen & Co.



tions and penalties, but the selection of two or three examples must suffice, for some of them, although interesting as showing the depraved condition of mankind at that early period, are not fit for transcription into the pages of a popular work. "Any twice born (that is, regenerated) man who has intentionally drunk the spirit of rice (sura) through perverse delusion of mind, may drink more spirit in flame and atone for his offence by severely burning his body." "Or he may drink boiling hot, until he die, the urine of a cow, or pure water, or milk, or clarified butter, or juice expressed from cowdung." "If he tasted it unknowingly, he may expiate the sin of drinking spirituous liquor by eating only a little broken rice or grains of tila from which oil has been extracted, once every night for a whole year; wrapped in coarse vesture of hairs from a cow's tail, or sitting unclothed in his house wearing his locks and beard uncut, and putting out the flag of a tavernkeeper."

There are three chief descriptions of pernicious liquor forbidden to be drunk-one extracted from sugar dregs, another from bruised rice, and a third from the flowers. of madhuca (Bassia latifolia). These, along with eight other kinds which were consumed with the flesh of animals at certain juncates or secret feasts, were forbidden to the Brahmans, for we are told that an intoxicated Brahman "might stumble upon something very impure, or might even when intoxicated pronounce a sacred phrase of the Veda, or might do some act that ought not to be done." Even his priestly character left him if he had been polluted with spirits, and he sank to the low degree of a Sudra. "The slayer of a priest, a soldier, or merchant drinking arrack, or a priest drinking arrack,

mead, or rum, he who steals the gold of a priest" (and

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.) "are all to be considered respectively as offenders of the highest degree, except those whose crimes are not fit to be named." Terrible punishments, such as branding the forehead with a hot iron, were the penalties attached. to those crimes, and "with none to eat with them, with none to sacrifice with them, with none to read with them, with none to be allied by marriage to them; abject and excluded from all social duties, let them wander over this earth. Branded with indelible marks, they shall be deserted by their paternal and maternal relations, treated by none with affection, received by none with respect. Such is the ordinance of Manu." Nor is the punishment, terrible as it appears, supposed to end in this world, for the soul of a priest who has drunk spirituous liquors is consigned to the body of a "smaller or larger worm, or insect, a moth, a fly feeding on ordure, or some ravenous animal."

Notwithstanding these severe penalties and denunciations, however, it is clear from the later Sanskrit literature that intoxication was still rife amongst the Aryan. races of India. Palastya, an ancient sage, enumerates no less than twelve different kinds of liquor besides soma, and the preparation of those drinks from the grape, from honey, sugar, dates, the palm, pepper, rice, cocoa-nut, &c., has been described with considerable minuteness. Besides these home-made drinks, large quantities of foreign wines were imported into India two thousand years ago, and met with a ready sale throughout the country. Amongst them are mentioned. the wine of Laodicea in Syria, Italian and Arabian wines.

1 Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. xlii. p. 10 et seq.

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