Sri Sankara's BGB 15.13

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Jun 13 21:57:09 CDT 1999

I had written:

>>Why is the moon invoked here ?
>Both Warrier and Mahadeva Sastri translate soma as the moon here. As far as
>I can make out, however, neither the verse nor the bhAshya says that soma
>is exclusively the moon. I suspect that other interpretations are possible,
>e.g. soma could mean the juice that was used in old Srauta sacrifices. I
>say this only because of the word rasAtmakaH. I have to check if any
>commentator or translator explicitly say this, or if all take soma to mean

A few more references -

Swami Nikhilananda's translation mentions a widespread agricultural custom
of sowing wheat and rice seedlings in moonlight, based on the belief that
the moon imparts the life essence to plants. Winthrop Sargent's translation
refers to the moon, but footnote refers to the soma juice in Vedic yajna.
Juan Mascaro's translation refers to both the moon and the soma juice.

Even more interestingly, the brAhmaNa literature explicitly draws a
correspondence between the moon and soma, the juice of the yajna (re:
Satapatha brAhmaNa As such, one seems to be implied by the other.
I would presume that SankarAcArya must have also equated the two. In other
words, my earlier surmise that the reference to the moon in BG 15.13 goes
back to an ancient belief seems to be correct.


>From  Sun Jun 13 22:07:13 1999
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Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999 22:07:13 -0700
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Subject: Re: Sri Sankara's BGB 15.13
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>                 gamaavishya ch bhutaani dhaaryaamyahamojasaa |
>                 pushNaami chaushadhiih sarvaah somo bhutva rasaatmakah ||
> What is the essence of the Lord becoming the 'moon with its
> essence of sap'
> How does the moon have sap that sustains all plants and herbs ?

The moon symbolizes the mind. The sap is that stuff that maintains
consciousness of identity.
Plants and herbs are those entities that provide sustenance for the mind.

Or so it seems to me, at this time, in this place.

 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me
that bears no fruit is taken away, and every ranch that bears fruit, He
purges, that it may bring forth more.                   _Jesus of Nazareth

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