"Soma and the Gods"
On the next Web page begins the transcription of "Soma and the Gods" taken from testimony in
the Kropinski trial. This videotape is one of a handful that have become
infamous in the TM movement because of their secrecy: It is only shown to TM
teachers on the heavily regimented Teacher Training Course (TTC). For many years copies of this tape were not even allowed to enter the continental US.
For good reason! Much like the Church of Scientology's OT materials, "Soma
and the Gods" lays out the Maharishi's freakish theology in a way that the
public is not deemed "ready" for by the Maharishi and the movement.
According to participants in the Kropinski trial, this tape -- along with
the entire TTC catalog -- appeared mysteriously on someone's doorstep one
day. Since then the tape has been used by plaintiffs in court cases to
prove that the TM movement had a religious, specifically Hindu, agenda --
largely because it's one of the few times the Maharishi was captured on
tape talking about worshipping the Vedic Gods. (Of course today, the TM
movement sells Hindu sacrifices, yagyas or yajnas, to Ganesh, Lakshmi, and other Gods for thousands of dollars without batting an eye!)
But the true significance of "Soma and the Gods" is much larger. And the
theology that the Maharishi espouses is not Hinduism. It is much more
idiosyncratic -- and frankly bizarre.
In a nutshell, the Maharishi describes a sort of parasitic relationship
between TMers and the Vedic Gods. TMers produce the magical chemical Soma
in their gut -- but it isn't something they can use directly. The Vedic
Gods, principally Indra, descend from Heaven and feed on the Soma in the
TMers' belly. In return for this primitive relationship, the Gods grant all
manner of boons. TMers become successful, happy, prosperous, and develop
Unbeknownst to non-TM teachers, the entire TM program can be
understood through this simple model.
We practice yogic asanas and pranayama to clear the channels through which Soma
will flow. We repeat the name of our own personal "Ishta" (God) to summon
Him or Her. Advanced TMers practice the sidhis to "stir" the Soma and
further clear channels. We read verses from the Ninth Mandala that
literally invite the Gods by name to feast on the Soma in our belly: "Flow,
Soma, in a most sweet and exhilirating stream, effused for Indra to
drink.... Be the lavish giver of wealth, most bounteous, the destroyer of
enemies, bestow on us the riches of the affluent." And we take Ayurvedic
potions and pills believing we will produce "extra" or "more refined" soma.
An anecdote from a former Maharishi International University (MIU/MUM) professor:
When I was on MIU faculty, there was a special videotape that only faculty were
privy to. It was the Ninth Mandala, chanted in the original Sanskrit. Sitting
with eyes closed, listening to it was considered a great privilege and was
To my knowledge, this fairly frightening vision is the Maharishi's alone.
On my Governor Training Course, after we had rounded and rounded and rounded
for three months, MMY [the Maharishi] finally called to answer our questions. I asked what we
should expect from endlessly reading the Ninth Mandala of the Rig Veda and I
never forgot his reply: "It will become a living reality."
The Rig and Sama Vedas themselves describe the process of making a
beverage, soma, by grinding and brewing a certain medicinal plant -- or
alternatively by feeding a plant to a cow and then imbibing either its milk or
urine. James Allegro speculated some years back that soma was actually the
hallucinogenic mushroom amanita muscara, a prevalent inebriator among all
Aryan cultures. Perhaps. But even in modern day India, there are hotris
who perform the Soma sacrifice using the humble soma plant, and imbibing
Nowhere in all of Vedic literature have we found a single reference to soma
as a substance produced in the human stomach and fed upon by Gods. Except
this product of the Maharishi's imagination.
Many sources from the inner circles of the TM movement have already reported on the Maharishi's preoccupation with the influence of other people's
thoughts (stress), purity of food (genetic engineering), and apparent
preoccupation with "enemies" (re: the CIA and AMA). The unforgettable image
of ravening Gods jostling each other to feed at the stomachs of TMers around the world to get
their share of the mythical Soma seems a conclusive indication that
TM theology may simply be the by-product delusion of the Maharishi's seriously distrubed
Opening court proceedings of "Soma and the Gods"
Transcription of "Soma and the Gods"
Expert testimony on "Soma and the Gods"
A few highlights:
It's clear from the legal wrangling that TM's lawyer was struggling to control how the jury perceived "Soma and the Gods." Those familiar with the TM movement recognize this as a movement "tic," never trust the conclusions the "unenlightened" public may draw -- always frame and interpret the Maharishi's words before and after they are presented.
It may not be clear from context that "expert experiences" John Farrow was a long-time TM/Maharishi devotee, active in the inner circles. The TM-published Collected Papers are littered with his TM-sponsored research.
As revealed here, the Maharishi has no legal connection to any TM movement organization -- not as an officer, director, or employee. Nonetheless, he rules with an iron-hand by force of personality and religious devotion to him personally. (See the TM teacher's oath.)This has obvious implications for John Hagelin's insistent assertion that the Natural Law Party is not connected with the TM movement or the Maharishi.
According to the judge, John Farrow acts as a "surrogate" for the Maharishi. Even in formal legal proceedings, the TM movement attempts to frame their theology carefully before hand, "putting the tape in its clearest context," rather than trusting to the unfiltered perception of the jury.
Maharishi discusses Hindu devas as "very refined impulses of energy and intelligence" and refers to their finest vibrations as mantras. In the "New Jersey Court Case," the judge labeled this as overtly religious language -- not scientific concept. Most observers of the TM theology see this sort of "shadow speech" as a camouflaged attempt to discuss fundamentalist Hindu religious concepts without offending Western sensibilities.
The Maharishi specifically talks about the Hindu God Indra as "that Agency, that force of nature which puts together the mind and the body." By extension, one might surmise that whenever the Maharishi talks about forces or laws of nature, that he is referring to the Gods. In fact, this equation is made explicitly for TM teachers and other insiders.
Finest impulses of life: Another familiar TM/Maharishi substitution for "Gods."
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