THE ASVINS AND THE ELIXIR OF IMMORTALITY
One neglected yet very significant area of research on the Rg Veda concerns the identity and role played by the twin Asvins in both early and later soma ceremonies. The Asvins role in the soma ceremony is fundamental and is connected to the preparation of a special soma drink that was considered the "divine soma mead" and "elixir of immortality." There is also extensive evidence that this madhu, or sweet mead drink, of the Asvins was a type of low‑alcohol fermented mixture made from parts of plants that contained soma (pressed plant sap) and was therefore considered to be soma itself. There is ample proof that it was the legendary Asvins' soma drink, prepared during the Rg Vedic soma ceremony, that was the origin of all the "elixir theories" later found in many forms of alchemy throughout the world.
Just who and what were the Asvins? The Asvins are the twin physicians of the gods in the Rg Veda, and they are associated with fertility and the sun. Athough they are associated specifically with horses, an animal connected with the Indo‑Europeans, the Asvins may not be purely Indo‑European in origin. A conception akin to the Asvins already appears in association with the Indus Valley cultures of India. Whether this association was through central Asian, indigenous, or other external influences is not clear. It may be that the Asvins, being twins and representing dual principles found in nature, such as fire and water, are related to similar dual motifs found in other cultures. Generally, wherever the Asvins or Indo‑European twin deities appear in literature, they are associated with herbal medicine and the indigenous flora of a region.
In the Rg Veda the Asvins although associated with healing and the use of many medicinal and poisonous plants, are primarily connected to two genera of plants. These are lotus plants, specifically of the Nelumbo variety, but primarily the Nymphaea species. Nelumbo varieties are true lotus plants, whereas the Nymphaea are water lilies. Historically, the Latin word lotus has been popularly applied to both genera. One of the most important additives to soma juice came directly from parts of Nymphaea and Nelumbo plants, which were prepared by the Asvins during the soma ceremony. It is probable, therefore, that both genera were associated directly with soma as the sap in these plants and through various soma admixtures.
The soma ceremony is a special ritual of herbal mysticism used for healing and attaining various spiritual states, aided in part by a consciousness‑expanding entheogenic drink. The lotus plants were naturally used as food sources and medicines and for important religious rites. The Nelumbo and Nymphaea plants were perceived as different from other plants. Their unusual growth patterns made them seem to be alive, and they had mysterious, even supernatural, ways of growing and reproducing that were connected directly with the sun and moon. Their psychoactive, healing, and rejuvenating abilities further added to their mystique. It would thus seem appropriate for them to be incorporated into a detailed cosmological system. Many of the main deities in the soma ceremony, and of course the deity Soma himself, are directly connected to plant life. Indra, Agni, Soma, as well as the twin Asvins are connected to lotus flowers in Vedic literature, and even the demons (asuras) in the Rg Veda have a botanical role.
In the Rg Vedic soma ceremonies, the priests drink and also offer to the deities both pure, freshly pressed soma juice and mixtures of freshly pressed soma juice and other ingredients. A variety of drinks are called soma in the hymns, and some of the epithets for soma, such as madhu (sweet nectar), refer directly to the ones associated with the Asvins.
The Asvins normally prepare medicinal and psychoactive drinks during the soma ceremony. It is their drink that helps make the bitter‑tasting, freshly pressed soma juice sweet and entheogenic at all three soma pressings, that is, at dawn, midday, and dusk. The Asvins' soma drink is ritually mixed with freshly pressed soma juice three times a day to produce the most important of the soma drinks used in the ceremony.
The Rg Veda says that soma freshly pressed with stones belongs to the Asvins.(1) This shows that freshly pressed soma was directly mixed with the Asvins' special madhu soma mixture. Since the Rg Veda says that the Asvins are madhu, and that their chariot is made of madhu, then when the Asvins are said to drink soma this means that the priests
at the ceremony who are the protégés of the Asvins are using the plants that the Asvins represent to form a soma mixture, a soma madhu drink. This is one reason soma is called madhu or sweet nectar. In many cases, the hymns are actually referring to the soma drink as the Asvins' soma admixture. The soma juice and the Asvins' drink are mixed at the ceremony as soon as the Asvins arrive in their chariot, which is at dawn just before the sun appears. The Asvins' drink is then added at each soma pressing.
The Asvins' association with madhu is a major divergence between the old Iranian Avesta and the Rg Veda. In the old Avesta, madhu, as either honey or flower nectar, occurs very rarely. Yet this is a key component in understanding the soma plant and soma drinks prepared in the Rg Veda, as well as in understanding the source of ecstasy and the making of the elixir of immortality in the soma ceremony.
In Sanskrit the word asvin, derived from asva (horse), means literally "possessed of horses" or "horse‑headed." The motif of horseheadedness and the Asvins' association with horses has an important botanical significance. The poets of the Rg Veda use it metaphorically in the hymns.
The significance of the Asvins' soma drink is even more important when we realize that they are the divine physicians of the gods. As medical deities, they are themselves forever young and are forever renewed and rejuvenated by their soma drink. They are described in the hymns as continually drinking their soma mixture aboard their chariot yet never becoming intoxicated; their madhu soma drink induced ecstatic states and brought about healing, rejuvenation, longevity, and e entheogenic experiences rather than intoxication. Eternal youth is another attribute of the Asvins' special soma drink, and they bring the aged back to youthfulness with their drink in special magical rituals. They even aid the gods when they become unable to help or cure themselves of unusual illnesses or other strange misfortunes.
The Asvins are mentioned throughout the Rg Veda in hymns that are associated with miraculous healings through the use of herbs and magical practices, and they are directly invoked for their healing powers by the Vedic priests who are their protégés. They are always mentioned in twin or dual form, probably because they represent the separation and union of opposite forces, especially in magical healing, rejuvenation, and immortality rituals, as well as in the mixing of herbal preparations at which they are adept. The Vedic priests are the ones who, through the Asvins' guidance and through supernatural communion with them, have taught the priests the secret herbal formulas and preparation procedures of the various lotus plants.
The Asvins are said to be lotus‑crowned (puskara‑srajau) in both the Rg Veda and the Atharva Veda, the two oldest books on the soma ceremony.(2) The same Atharva Vedic hymn that mentions the Asvins crowned by lotuses says that two great forces have come together, like fire and water or Agni and Soma, through the power of the Asvins. This entheogenic power enables the priest to generate an interior, glowing body of light like that of the deity Soma. This inner, glowing body of splendor is the same as the aja‑ekapada‑skambha pillar or trunk of the tree of light that the priest identifies himself with through the agency of the entheogenic drink.
THE ASVINS AND NYMPHAEA AND NELUMBO FLOWERS
The Asvins are directly associated with water, and in several Rg Vedic verses they are said to be water born (abhijan), like the lotus flowers .(3) In later literature the Asvins are associated with the yaksas, water deities that are themselves directly associated with the lotus plant and lotus flowers.(4) The Asvins are also said to be sons of the submarine fire, which connects them to the same birth source as the dual principles of fire and water, or Agni and Soma. In the Rg Veda the Asvins are said to have the waters as their mother,(5) and they are called "sons of the waters," connecting them directly with water and the medicines that reside in aquatic plants.(6) The Asvins are also associated with the dawn, which is when lotus flowers open to reveal the golden sun within, and dawn is when they first appear in the soma ceremony. All of these attributes link the Asvins to the Nymphaea and Nelumbo plants.
Several levels of meaning can be ascribed to the twin Asvins' one of which frames them as botanical deities. In the Rg Veda the Asvins are the only deities that are crowned with lotus flowers (puskara‑srajau). While puskara usually means water lily (Nymphaea), in some instances it can also mean lotus (Nelumbo). This may depend on the effects of the drink prepared and whether it is mainly entheogenic or medicinal. As far as the Asvins are concerned, we can say that they are connected to both plant genera, and their soma (pressed plant sap) mixtures are prepared from both Nymphaea and Nelumbo plants.
The lotus or puskara on top of their heads symbolizes the star-shaped flowers of specific Nymphaea plants. The Asvins are said sometimes to be horse‑headed, and their sun chariot is pulled by horses through the waters of the blue sky. Horses in both the Rg Veda and the Avesta are associated with water, and both the heads and hoofs of horses are connected directly to the Nymphaea species of aquatic plants in the Rg Veda. The Asvins ride in a supernatural chariot that is said to travel at the speed of thought. The Asvins' horses are Nymphaea flower buds, while their chariot is associated with both Nymphaea and Nelumbo flowers. It is in the center of their madhu flower chariot that they mix the Nelumbo and Nymphaea flowers together. Their chariot is said to overflow with divine nectar from the ritual mixing of these flowers (Fig. 1).
Other Rg Vedic hymns indicate that the Asvins are actually the lotus that grows in the waters of the Sarasvati River, indicating that they are associated with the flowers of Nelumbo and Nymphaea. Both plants must have grown abundantly in that river before it dried up, for along the northern banks of the sacred Sarasvati is the location of the largest number of soma ceremonies performed in the Rg Veda.(7)
In the hymns, sweet nectar (madhu) as soma is directly associated with the Asvins and they are asked to come and drink the madhu since they are said to be used to drinking it.(8) Here madhu means the special soma madhu drink of immortality. The Asvins are said to shine and glow from the imbibing of their special drink, which rejuvenates aged skin and restores youth, and their bodies shine and are described as golden in color, like the color of the soma madhu.(9) This is because the Asvins are actually the lotus flowers that the madhu drink is made of. The Asvins thus are sometimes referred to by the drink that they represent, that is, the ingredients used to make the soma madhu drink prepared for them at the soma ceremony by the priests.
There is further evidence in the Rg Veda that the miracle‑working twin Asvins are the lotus flowers themselves. As flowers the Asvins are said to provide the nectar for bees to make honey, and they are associated with honeybees and bee culture in certain hymns where they are said to give madhu or nectar to the bees to make honey, which would indicate that they are the flowers.'(10) RV 10.40.6 says, "The bee has carried in its mouth the [madhu] or nectar from you Asvins]." The Asvins themselves are likened to bees that collect the psychoactive nectar from the golden chambers in the center of the lotus flower, which also represents the sun. The protégés of the Asvins, who collect the nectar‑containing parts of lotus flowers that they then press or mix together to make soma madhu during the ceremony, are also likened to bees. This is why the secret of the soma ceremony is called "the honey doctrine." The dual Asvins are also described as two bees who create madhu in the udder of the cow, which represents the sun that dispenses soma sap or milk as madhu to the priests. The soma sap is referred to as milk because it is actually milky white before the ingredients the Asvins represent, which make it golden colored and the elixir of immortality, are added. The sun is the golden seedpod, or the golden nectar chamber in the center of the Nelumbo lotus flower, which represents the center of the celestial chariot of the Asvins.
The Asvins' Horses and Nymphaea Plants
The lotus‑crowned, horse‑headed Asvins appear before dawn in a carriage drawn by horses or swans. Their horse ‑headedness is a botanical metaphor: the unopened flower buds of Nymphaea sometimes rise above the water and droop downward, resembling a horse's head. Their long stems and drooping buds can resemble swans as well, hence the occasional reference to the Asvins' chariot being drawn by swans.(11) It is not unusual for some Indian deities, such as Aditi, to have the head of a lotus flower in place of a human head, and this is also the case with the twin Asvins, whose heads are Nymphaea flowers.
The Asvins' flower chariot is also pulled by horses, which are composed of parts of Nymphaea plants. In addition to Nymphaea flowers having horse‑headed flower buds, they have leaves that resemble the hooves of a horse. In the growth of the Nymphaea it is not unusual to see a horse‑headed stem rising above four hoofshaped leaves, two in front and two in back (Fig. 2).
In the later Vedic literature, such as the Taittiriya Samhita 188.8.131.52, horses are said to be born of water, and in the churning of the ocean myth, which can be shown to be derived from the ritual preparations of the Rg Vedic soma ceremony, a white horse is produced. White‑horse symbolism is closely connected to the lotus plants used in the soma ceremony. The imprint of the hoof of a white horse is used in the construction of the fire altar at soma ceremonies. Agni (fire), the first god to be generated at the ceremony, is born in the water directly from a puskara, or hoof‑shaped Nymphaea leaf. In the Rg Veda the sun is a horse, as is Soma, and all are symbolically derived from lotus plants. (12) The sun is born of water just as the lotus plant. Horse symbolism is generally connected to most deities in the Rg Veda because all were associated with the waters of creation. Varuna is king of the waters. Varuna had a son named Puskara, the name applied directly to Nymphaea plants. The yaksas, who are the attendants of Varuna, are entheogenically seen elflike creatures who have pointed ears and live in another dimension, not ours. The water world is symbolic of this other entheogenic dimension. The yaksas are said to drink strong psychoactive drinks derived from lotus plants, and the Asvins' are called yaksas in the Mahabharata. Both Varuna and the Asvins' are associated with horse symbolism.
In Zoroastrian literature, the deity Apam‑napat is the primal waters of creation, waters also found in the Rg Veda and associated with the celestial waters where Varuna resides. The Vedic Apam‑napat is called the urger‑on of horses. The Avestan Apam‑napat's epithet is "having swift horses." In both the Rg Veda and Avesta the horse is a symbol of the water god. In Avestan mythology, the rain god Tistrya takes the shape of a horse and the river goddess, Aredvi, drives four horses. In India, Agni is associated in literature and cult with the horse. This is probably through Agni's identification with Apam‑napat; both Soma and Agni are born from the waters. Agni as a horse and son of the waters is created from the lotus plant in the womb of the waters. This clearly shows a connection between Agni and Soma and lotus plants.
Water lilies that have psychoactive flowers, sap, and rhizomes are especially connected to horses in ancient Indian literature. The Sanskrit kuvalya means water lily and is directly connected to the horse of Kuvalayasva in the Markandeya Purana.
The horses of the Asvins are said to be varicolored and radiant in the Rg Veda.(13) The colors of the horses of the Asvins connects them to the varicolored flowers of the many indigenous Indian Nymphaea species, and they are described specifically as adorning the soma sacrifice ,(14) which refers to their being used in a soma admixture. It is clear in the
hymns that the flower buds or horses' heads were used in the mixtures made by the Asvins' when they are said to whip or whip up their horses.
When the hymns state that the waters are full of horses, they are referring to aquatic plants of the Nymphaea and possibly Nelumbo genera. One hymn refers to the Indus, called the Sindhu River, as being rich in horses, chariots, and robes, the robes here being the lotus plants that cover the surface of the water as they sometimes do.(15) The horses are lotus buds and leaves, and the chariots are open lotus flowers. Each lotus flower is rich in nectar, and many hymns note that the waters have covered themselves with raiment rich in sweets, which would be the psychoactive nectar in the flowers themselves. One hymn says, "Herbs rich in soma, rich in horses, in nourishments, in strengthening power. All these have I provided here, that this man may be whole again."(16) This verse again associates soma with horses and is further evidence that the soma plant was associated with Nymphaea in the Rg Veda.
Not only Nymphaea but also Nelumbo plants were used in preparing soma. In fact, the Nelumbo plant or sacred lotus of India plays an important role in the soma ceremonies of the Rg Veda. While the heads of the Asvins' as well as their horses, are specifically Nymphaea (puskara) buds or open flowers, the Asvins' chariot is a combination of both Nymphaea and Nelumbo (pundarika) flowers.
The heads of the twin Asvins' have two important aspects. In some hymns each is said to each be crowned with an opened Nymphaea flower. In other hymns each is said to have the head of a horse, represented by a Nymphaea flower bud that is unopened, or just about to open. These two characteristics of Nymphaea flowers are important not only for the structure of the Asvins' chariot, but also for the psychoactive potency of their drink.
Nymphaea flowers are unusual in that they frequently produce twin buds on a single stem (Fig. 3). These buds can branch separately from the stem, forming a three‑columned plant, or they can extend directly out of a single opened flower.
The chariot of the Asvins' is constructed of the two Nymphaea buds, with either a Nymphaea flower or a Nelumbo flower or flower bud between them. When the Nymphaea flower appears between the twin buds, the golden seedpod cut from the Nelumbo flower is placed in the center of the opened Nymphaea flower by the protégés of the Asvins. Any one of the combinations of the three flowers used as the chariot forms a triangular shape with a bright golden center. Use of the Nelumbo flower, or just its golden seedpod, in the composition of the chariot is due to the Nelumbo seedpod's ancient association with the Sun in India, an association dating back to the Indus Valley cultures. This becomes apparent when we understand that the Asvins are responsible for bringing forth the golden dawning sun, as well as other alchemical operations of the sun at the soma ceremony at dawn, noon, acid dusk. In addition, the flower chariot is said to be pulled by the ‑twins' horses, which are horse‑headed Nymphaea plants.
In the hymns of the Rg Veda, the Asvins' chariot is said to give the newly born, golden, female sun a ride. This refers to the golden central seedpod of the Nelumbo flower (Fig. 4). It was the ancient soma sacrificers known as the three Rbhus who originally fashioned the chariot for the Asvins from the lotus plants. RV 10.39.12 says, "Come forth that chariot which the Rbhus made for you Asvins, that is speedier than thought. At the time of harnessing your chariot [in the morning] heaven's daughter [Uses as the sun] springs to birth."
RV 1.194.3 says that the Asvins’ horses come from the waters where Usas is born as a bride to join them‑the waters being where the day‑blooming lotus flowers open in the morning, revealing the newborn golden sun within. The sun rides in the chariot up to the top of heaven at midday and downward to dusk, when the lotus flower closes, shutting off the light of the sun.
The Asvins' chariot is said to be as swift as thought, indicating the consciousness‑expanding effects of the soma drink. The flowers of both Nelumbo and Nymphaea produce a rich psychoactive nectar and oil. The Asvins' flower chariot is said to be overflowing with golden oil and nectar, or mead. The hymns also say the chariot is
loaded with radiant foam (rjikas) as fermented nectar or mead. The chariot carries the soma madhu drink, which is of a golden color because of the golden center of the Nelumbo flower.
The pressed‑out nectar and sap in both Nymphaea and Nelumbo flowers and other plant parts from these genera were considered soma in the Rg Veda. They were not soma substitutes, but rather an integral part of the various drinks prepared during the soma ceremony. In the Rg Vedic version of the soma ceremony there are two significant rituals that make the final soma drink entheogenic as well as an elixir of immortality. First, the juice from the soma stalks containing psychoactive compounds is pressed out. Second, just before dawn, the twin Asvins, or physicians of the gods, appear. They are masters of herbal knowledge that was partly derived from a very ancient group of soma sacrificers called the Rbhus. They prepare a form of mead probably related to other forms of Indo‑European mead brews. The Asvins' inebriating concoction is golden and sweet, and Nelumbo and Nymphaea flowers and flower parts and nectars have been added to it. In addition, the Asvins' drink was probably fermented and contained an alcohol content anywhere between 2% and 12%. It is not uncommon for sweet‑nectar flowers to contain various microorganisms such as yeast that can rapidly ferment juice within a few hours or less. The Asvins' are said to have created sura, a fermented drink made from certain species of Nymphaea plants.(17) The association of the Asvins and fermentation is mentioned in at least five hymns.(18) Sara is also connected with madhu in the Atharva Veda.(19) The madhu or sura was kept in skins like the ones the Asvins carry.(20) The Rg Veda describes the golden sun as a wineskin that resembles the Asvins' golden wineskin.(21) It is noteworthy that out of all the gods of the Vedic pantheon, the Asvins are privileged to drink soma, sura, and madhu. These drinks were prepared separately as well as in combination during the soma ceremony and were derived from different preparation procedures and different parts of lotus plants. Fresh soma was prepared from the bitter sap of stems and rhizomes, surd from fermented leaves and rhizomes, and soma madhu from fermented and nonfermented flower nectar and sap. In many passages, madhu means soma juice. In the Satapatha Brahmana soma and surd are mixed together and are known as the drinks of the sun, as Prajapati. This is similar to the Rg Vedic soma ceremony in which the Asvins' soma drink is derived from the sun lotus and is a mixture of soma and surd derived from the two different types of lotus plants, Nelumbo and Nymphaea.(22) This concurrence in the Satapatha Brahmana continues the relationship established in the Rg Veda between the Asvins, soma, sura, and the sun in that soma was sometimes a mixed fermented drink in the hymns. The Asvins' soma additive makes the bitter, fresh soma juice sweet. The hymns say, "Well seasoned [tivro] is the [soma] mixed with madhu [sweet nectars], exhilarating among the Sunahotras," and "soma mixed with sura becomes strong.(23) The idea of soma being "well seasoned" indicates that the drink is partly fermented, which helps to explain its epithet tivro (strong).
It is from the Asvins' soma mixtures that the somarasa, or elixir of immortality, was derived. Soma as a madhu mead drink is directly mentioned in the Rg Veda as being drunk by both the Asvins and priests.(24) The Asvins sprinkle the sacrificial juice with their soma mead three times a day, and the resulting drink produces ecstasy, spontaneous healing, rejuvenation, longevity, and immortality.(25)
The Asvins, who are repeatedly said to be wonderworkers, bring medicines to the priests with their honey‑whipped mixtures. Through them and their soma drink miracles take place .(26) The Asvins enable the priests to cross over to immortality and their special mixtures prolong life and are also associated with various paranormal abilities and direct travel to other worlds.(27)
The soma madhu of the Asvins is also said to bestow mental alertness. It invigorates its drinkers and gives bliss and ecstasy. One hymn says, "When Asvins worthy of our praise, seated in the Father's house, you bring wisdom and ecstasy.”(28) Even the Asvins are said to be in a state of exalted ecstasy from drinking their own soma madhu.(29) The Asvins are said to create devotional ecstasy in the hearts of the priests, who attain joyous entheogenic ecstasy when drinking the madhu.(30)
The Asvins' chariot is called the Madhuvarna (nectar‑bearer). The chariot is the drink itself, comprised of the parts of the flowers and the soma sap nectar from their nectar chambers. Because of this, the chariot alone is said to bring ecstasy. As one hymn says, "For ecstasy I call the ecstatic bestowing chariot, at morning, the inseparable Asvins' with their chariot, I call like Sobhari our father." The chariot, loaded with madhu, arrives "rapid as thought, strong and speeding to grant ecstasy."(31) The ecstasy, exaltation, and bliss are all attributes of a divine hallucinogen or entheogen.
The Asvins' have close ties with the Greek Dioscuri, twins who are said to have been aliens to Attica and probably came from India, or are at least of Indo‑European descent. The Athenians adopted the twins and then included them into the greater mysteries. They are usually depicted with star‑shaped flowers on their heads, just like the Asvins. On a striking Attic vase of the fifth century B.C.E. that portrays the mysteries, the figures of the Dioscuri can be seen. It is thought that their association with Eleusis may have arisen from some actual part that their statues played in the mystic ritual.(32) Since entheogenic plants were used in the Eleusinian Mysteries, the Dioscuri probably played the same role there as the Asvins' do in the more ancient soma ceremony, that is, as a representation of psychoactive plants that form a special drink that is mixed with other beverages or consumed alone for various healing and entheogenic effects.
The food of the gods is the divine soma mead. It is a special form of soma drink created when soma is mixed with the Asvins' flower nectar. The gods live and maintain their immortality by drinking this visionary nectar, amrta (ambrosia or mead). "I have partaken wisely of the [madhu] sweet food, that stirs good thoughts, best banisher of trouble, the food round which all deities and mortals, calling it nectar-mead, collect together."(33)
In the Rg Veda, Tvastr, the artisan of the gods and creator of all forms, is said to drink the special soma mead. 14 His drink is connected to paranormal methods of direct creation. Like the alchemists, the Asvins' are associated with the morning dew. In India, where the dew is heavy, the lotus flowers contain extra amounts of nectar mixed with the dew.(35)
The terms madhu and soma are both mentioned as the drink to which the Asvins' are invited, and the two are synonymous throughout the Rg Veda: "These are soma for you to drink madhu." (36) Soma is specifically said to be a madhu drink, and the Asvins' their color, their chariot, and their horses are all called madhu. Thus, the entire madhu soma drink comes from the Asvins.
The Asvins' soma‑mead mixture was prepared at dawn, when different lotus plants are either blooming or closing. This was seen as an alchemical union of the dual principles of day and night, personified as the sun and moon. This union of sun and moon created the drink that induced the experience of light as Anthropos within the priests.
Because of the blooming cycles of the various Nelumbo and Nymphaea plants used, these genera were once known in ancient India as sun and moon plants. This is one reason why in the earliest Vedic literature, namely, the Rg Veda, Atharva Veda, Sama Veda, and Yajur Veda, soma was associated with both the sun and moon. Beginning with the Brahmanas and early Upanisads (900 B.C.E.) soma became increasingly associated with only the moon. The original sun plants of ancient lore were the day‑blooming Nelumbos and Nymphaeas. The moon plants were the night‑blooming Nymphaeas (there are no night‑blooming Nelumbos). The Asvins' combined the day‑ and night‑blooming Nelumbo and Nymphaea together as an alchemical union of the sun and moon plants .to produce the elixir of life.
The Asvins' union of the sun and moon plants in the Rg Veda soma ceremony is not only the oldest written form of the creation of the original elixir of immortality, it is also the oldest documented alchemical ritual for producing the "elixir of life." This knowledge is very ancient and is found in the oldest parts of the Rg Veda associated with the soma ceremony, as well as in the art of the Indus Valley cultures. It is the probable origin of the union of the sun and moon motif found in European alchemical traditions.