Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Uses of Marijuana.
Snyder, Solomon H. (1971).
New York: Oxford University Press.
x + 127 pages.
Excerpt(s): As a mind-altering
substance, cannabis seems to have come of age in India, where
the Hindu used cannabis as an aid in meditation. Its religious
role is suggested by the following quotation from native literature:
To the Hindu the hemp plant is holy. A guardian
lives in bhang ... Bhang is the joy giver, the sky flier, the
heavenly guide, the poor man's heaven, the soother
of grief ... No god or man is as good as the religious drinker
of bhang. The students of the scriptures of Benares are given
bhang before they sit to study. At Benares, Ujjain and other holy
places, yogis take deep draughts of bhang that they may center
their thoughts on the Eternal ... By the help of bhang ascetics
pass days without food or drink. The supporting power of bhang
has brought many a Hindu family safe through the miseries of famine.
Disapproval of cannabis may have originated with
the Christian missionaries and other Europeans. In
a study of Hindu mystics, J. Campbell Oman
noted that Christian missionaries often remarked that a "great
number of Hindu saints live in a state of perpetual intoxication
and call this stupefaction, which arises from smoking intoxicating
herbs, fixing the mind on god." (page 20)
The community had some paradoxical attitudes toward
the two most prevalent intoxicants, daru, a potent alcoholic beverage
distilled from the flowers of the mahwa tree, and bhang. The warrior
caste, the Rajputs, used daru exclusively, and seemed to regard
cannabis as an indulgence fit only for sissies. The Brahmins,
on the other hand, employed cannabis in both religious and social
settings. Rajputs, of course, represent the temporal aristocracy
as Brahmins do the spiritual. (pages 20-21)
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This compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby, © 1995-2003 CSP