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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.


ISBN: None


Description: Hardcover, x + 127 pages.


Contents: Acknowledgments, 6 chapters.


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. (pages 19-20)


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)



This compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby, © 1995-2003 CSP

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