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(sō`mə), psychotropic plant, the juice of which was sometimes drunk as part of the Vedic sacrifice (see VedaVeda
[Sanskrit,=knowledge, cognate with English wit, from a root meaning know], oldest scriptures of Hinduism and the most ancient religious texts in an Indo-European language.
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). Many hymns in the Rig-Veda are in praise of soma. In the late Vedic period substitutes for soma came to be used, and the original plant was lost. It has recently been identified with the fly agaric mushroom, Amanita muscaria, used in Siberian shamanism.


See R. G. Wasson, Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality (1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a term introduced by the German zoologist A. Weismann to designate the body of an organism, in contrast to the germ plasm, that is transmitted from generation to generation through the sex cells (seeGERM TRACK). Weismann maintained that the soma could not affect the characteristics of the germ plasm. The differentiation of an organism into soma and germ plasm (the hereditary substance) proves that it is impossible to inherit characteristics acquired as a result of environmental conditions during an organism’s development (seeACQUIRED CHARACTER). The adjective “somatic” is used to indicate physical phenomena as opposed to phenomena of a psychological nature.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The whole of the body of an individual, excluding the germ tract.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


drug that induces forgetfulness. [Br. Lit.: Brave New World]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.