Cannabis and Hinduism

– Mythology

“References to Cannabis in the Hinduism religion can be found throughout all of the major Hindu publications.  For example, it can be seen in the Artharvaveda, the Bhagavad-Gita, and the Rig Veda. Marijuana is most often used to reference the Lord Shiva.  It is believed that the plant was Shiva’s greatest gift.  However, stories also point to a plant known as Soma.  The exact ingredients of this plant are often disputed, but most believe that it contained cannabis.  Soma was mentioned in many scriptures and was commonly referred to as the “nectar of the Gods”.  Some creation stories point to the falling of Amrita, the drink of the Gods, as what first allowed cannabis to grow.  Still, others refer to cannabis as Vijaya meaning victory, because it was only after the Gods defeated the demons that they were given marijuana.  In the fourth book of the Vedas, the Artharvaveda, Bhang is said to be one of the five kingdoms of herbs, and it is thought of as to release us from anxiety.” (R.A.)

Informant Analysis:

“I heard some of these stories from my older sister when I was a sophomore in high school, others I had heard from my grandfather.  I have never actually seen Bhang, but I have heard it referred to on numerous occasions.  I feel the main point to be gathered from these stories is that regardless of Western perceptions, in Hinduism, the ganja is holy.” (R.A.)

Personal Analysis:

It seems to me that although most often associated with the Lord Shiva, ganja references in India can be found literally anywhere.  This plant is very common in India, and it is used most often by religious devotees.  Their use of marijuana transcends that of medicinal purposes, but instead functions on a spiritual level.  It is used to help them find God.  In fact, it is used to help them almost become like God, and live in the image and grace of Shiva.  This is of particular interest to me, solely in that the Hindu view of cannabis contrasts quite significantly with that of America.  It is amazing that one substance can be hailed in so many different lights.

Interestingly, the concept of ganja being used to get closer to God was explored in Emilio Estevez’s popular film, Bobby.  Ashton Kutcher plays a drug dealer, and in one scene, he asks two clients why they like to get stoned.  He answers for them by stating, “Because it’s our way, of getting closer, to god.” Although rarely seen in American culture, I suppose this exists as one example of the spiritual uses of cannabis in Western society.

Annotate: Bobby. Dir. Emilio Estevez. Perfs. Emilio Estevez, Ashton Kutcher. Film. DVD, the Weinstein Company, 2006.

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