- Amrita is the term used in the VEDAS for SOMA, comparable to the ambrosia of the Greeks. It is considered a nectar of immortality of sorts and is taken during certain rites to achieve transcendent insight. Perhaps because the Moon is sometimes called Soma, amrita in the Vedic context is said to be found on the Moon; it feeds the Fathers in the dark half of the Moon’s phases and the gods in the bright half.The story goes that the gods and antigods (asuras) once joined together to churn the MILK OCEAN to make amrita. A huge mountain was used as a churning stick and the divine snake ADISHESHA (or Vasuki) was used as the rope around the stick. Many things emerged from the Milk Ocean at that time including the special divine wish-giving cow who appears in later mythology. Finally, the amrita emerged held in a cup by the divine physician Dhanvantari. The gods then plotted with VISHNU so that the antigods (asuras) would not be able to drink the nectar. Vishnu took on his form of the dazzling maiden, MOHINI, and as he distracted the asuras, the gods drank all the amrita themselves.One story says that when the gods drank the amrita it spilled at four sites: HARDVAR, Nasik, Ujjain, and ALLAHABAD (Prayag). In esoteric HATHA YOGA it is thought that amrita can be accumulated in the skull above the posterior of the nasal pas-sage. This amrita is understood to be transformed semen that can create bodily immortality. By sev-ering the frenulum, or skin attachment under the bottom of the tongue, a yogi can force his tongue backward into what is called the Khechara MUDRA, in order to drink the amrita.Further reading: Cornelia Dimmitt and J. A. B. van Buite-nen, Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978); Alfred Hillebrandt, Vedic Mythology (Delhi: Motilal Banar-sidass, 1990); E. Washburn Hopkins, Epic Mythology (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986); W. J. Wilkins, Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Puranic (Calcutta: Rupa, 1973).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.