Beverages played a very significant role in ancient India. It mainly included two kinds of drinks. While the most important drink of Vedic Period is ‘Soma Ras’ that was mentioned in the Vedic literature, the other type is the ‘Sura’ which was highly condemnable. In Vedic period, drinks were used as a matter of celebration or even as a part of ritual.
Soma Ras of Vedic Period
In Vedic Period, lots of importance was given to Soma Juice which has been frequently referred as ‘Soma Ras’ in various Vedic literatures. This drink is prepared from the extracts of a plant stalk that is collected from the mountain hills of Maujavanta.
The stalk before preparation is washed with water and then squeezed within two stones which squeeze the nectar. This nectar can be taken either as a drink directly or can be stored in jars and prepared with curd, clarified butter or milk to improve its taste. Overall, this drink is supposed to be very sweet and delicious in taste which has been considered as the major source of refreshment in Vedic period. This beverage was allowed to be taken as a part of celebration or a part of any ritual in which it was considered to be harmless both for man as well as society.
Sura of Vedic Period
Beverages in Vedic Period along with Soma Ras included Sura which is a liquor prepared by fermenting barley or wild barley after distillation. A mention of Sura is visible in the Atharva Veda where it mentions Sura to be one of the items for sacrifice. The Vedic literature when mentions about the evil effects of taking liquor regards it as one of the 7 sins that is forbidden by the Vedas and classifies it with anger, senselessness and dicing. Because of its evil effect, the liquor has been prohibited by the Vedas for every Brahman who is supposed to live a virtuous life.
Other Drinks of Vedic Period
Beverages in Vedic period further include some more variety of drinks which are prepared from the extracts of the flowers or by fermenting some special kind of grasses. In general, the beverages of Vedic age were largely prepared by fermenting certain plant extracts or fruits which were re-mixed with more ingredients to have a better taste.
Along with Somarasa and Sura, the Vedic beverages also included ‘Parisutra’ and ‘Kilala’. While the former is prepared from flower extracts, the latter is prepared from cereals which are sweet in taste.
Yajur Veda further describes the preparation of another drink called ‘Masara’ which was prepared from messing rice with some specific spices that was supposed to be fermented for 3 days and then filtered to extract the liquor.
Water has been described as nectar. The main source of water is from rivers, wells, springs and even rain water which can be used for drinking. Overall, these beverages formed a major part of Vedic Civilization in India.
History of Indian Food
Food in Ancient India