Cultivation of cannabis probably started in China to produce seeds for food and medicine and as a fiber for
cloth and fabric. While the Chinese were building their hemp culture, the cotton cultures of Indian and the
linen (flax) cultures of the Mediterranean began to learn of Cannabis through expanding trade and from wandering
tribes of Aryans, Mongols, and Scythians who had bordered China since Neolithic times.
The Aryans (Indo-Persians) brought Cannabis culture to India nearly 4,000 years ago. They worshiped the spirits
of plants and animals, and marijuana played an active role in their rituals. In China, with the strong influence
of philosophic and moralistic religions, use of marijuana all but disappeared. But in India, the Aryan religion
grew through oral tradition, until it was recorded in the
compiled between 1400 and 1000 B.C. In that tradition, unlike the Chinese, marijuana was sacred, and the bhangas spirit was appealed to "for freedom of distress" and as a reliever of anxiety" (from the
. A gift from the gods, according to Indian mythology, the magical Cannabis "lowered fevers, fostered sleep, relieved
dysentery, and cured sundry other ills; it also stimulated appetite, prolonged life, quickened the mind, and improved
In Hindu India
is believed to have been used as an entheogen as early as 1000 B.C.E. In mainstream, lay religious usage, it is
usually taken as a concoction in milk called
and used during religious ceremonies such as marriage, as well as the Hindu celebrations of Holi. Hashish, or
charas, is widely smoked by Shaivite devotees, and cannabis itself is seen as a gift of Shiva to aid in sadhana.
Wandering ascetic sadhus are often seen smoking charas with a chillum. As Sikhs are absolutely prohibited by their
religion from smoking, the use of ganja and charas in this form is not practiced by them so they drink bhang.
is a common term for an ascetic or practitioner of yoga (yogi) who has given up pursuit of the first three Hindu
goals of life: kama (pleasure), artha (wealth and power) and even dharma (duty). The sadhu is solely dedicated
through meditation and contemplation of God. Still others partake in the religious consumption of charas, a form
of cannabis and contemplate the cosmic nature and presence of God in the smoke patterns.
is the name given to hand-made hashish in India and Pakistan. It is typically grown in the Himalayas and is an
important cash crop for the locals.
British psychiatrist G. Morris Carstairs spent 1951 in a large village in northern India and reported on the two highest castes,
and their traditional intoxicants of choice -alcohol and cannabis, respectively. The Rajputs were the warriors
and governors; they consumed a potent distilled alcohol called
The Brahmins were the religious leaders; they were vegetarians and drank a cannabis infusion called bhang. Rajput
lore, glorified sexual and military conquests. The priestly Brahmins, on the other hand, "were quite unanimous in
reviling daru and all those who indulged in it. Bhang, a Brahmin told Carstairs, "gives good bhakti." He defined
as "emptying the mind of all worldly distractions and thinking only of God." Whereas the Rajput in his drinking bout
knows that he is taking a holiday from his sober concerns, the Brahmin thinks of his intoxication with bhang as a
flight not from but toward a more profound contact with reality."
Typical demographics at a daru party of a
Generally in orthodox Islam, the use of cannabis is deemed to be
(forbidden). As with most orthodoxies, early practices differ in this. Some say that, as hashish was
introduced in post-Koranic times, the prohibition of
(literally, "fermented grape") did not apply to it. Despite the official disapproval of the various Islamic
governments througout the span of Arabia in Africa and spilling beyond the regions of the Middle East to SE
Asia, the use of cannabis is so historic in the culture, that billions of Muslims use a potent hashish recreationally as commonly as alcohol is used in the West. Only the
Muslim use it in a religious way similar to the Brahmin.
Cannabis In Tantra
Tantra (Sanskrit: "weave" denoting continuity), tantric yoga, or tantrism is one of any several esoteric
traditions rooted in the religions of India. It exists in Hindu, Bönpo, Buddhist, and Jain forms. Tantra,
in its various forms, has existed in India, China, Japan, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Korea,
Cambodia, Burma, Indonesia and Mongolia.
Tantra of The Right Hand Path
(Dakshinachara) is claimed to be the Bodhisattva ideal of
Buddhism represented historically and mythologically by Avaloketishvara, Tara and others, as well as today in the
person of the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan teachers. In the Tantric or
of this system, harnessing the energies of the body, emotions and mind, including, joy, wrath and sexual energy,
is not an end in itself but a potent means to the ultimate goal of realizing the true nature of reality,
emptiness or Shunyata, thus attaining complete spiritual enlightenment and relief from the endless
dissatisfaction of life, and using the power thus gained exclusively to help others do so as well.
Tantra of The Left Hand Path
(Vamacara) is the one associated with the so called "darker" side of tantra. Tantriks engaged in
left hand practices
embrace and accept what is usually considered repulsive to the ethical senses, or what are nominally temptations
to be avoided, such as sex, alcohol and and the use of charas and bhang to heighten both sensuality and
spirituality. A key tenet in tantra is to accept everything as a manifestation of the divine. Thus mentally
overcoming what the Hindu mind otherwise sees as repugnant, like bone, uncooked meat is an important practice
on the path to master the mind. However the goals remain the same as those of any yogi; to overcome reactive
elements of the mind and achieve complete control over it. This path, however is seen as more treacherous and
the presence of a guru, all the more important.
Common variations include visualizing the deity in the act of sexual union with a consort, visualizing oneself as
the deity, and/or "transgressive" acts such as token consumption of meat or alcohol. Occasionally, non-standard
or ritualized sex may be undertaken such as having sex in graveyards. This accounts for tantra's negative
reputation in some quarters and its reception in the Western world primarily as a collection of sexual practices.
In the West, tantra had originally been reviled by early European orientalists as a subversive, antisocial,
licentious and immoral force that had corrupted classical Hinduism. On the other hand, many today see NeoTantric
practice as a celebration of social equity, sexuality, feminism and the body. See also
Is Vamachara Vedic?
a forum discussion on Kaula Tantra.
What is the Tantric Practice of Maithuna?
by Clifford Bishop - Maithuna, or ritual sex, is the concluding part of a long, five-part ceremony known as the
"five Ms", or panca-makara. The preliminary stages involve taking madya (wine), matsya (fish), mamsa (meat)
and mudra (parched grain). All these substances are thought to have aphrodisiac properties, and the first three
are ordinarily forbidden to Hindus. As a consequence, the panca-makara is often cited as an example of Tantric
shock techniques: the need to experience the highest possible ecstasy via the lowest possible means. Also refers
to preliminary use of charas.) See also
Sex and Spirit:
An Illustrated Guide to Sacred Sexuality
by Clifford Bishop (2000) as source of article.
Referring to a Sanskrit edition of the
Kaulavalinirnaya in Sanskrit
covering many topics relating to the Kaula tradition of tantra- now out of print and out of
copyright- the books introduction is by
Sir John Woodroffe's (Arthur Avalon)
"At verses 110 and 111, it is said, that either wine or
that is hemp, should be used in this worship, but these should be purified. As has been said elsewhere-
seeks to lead the man to Liberation (Moksha) whilst on the path of Enjoyment (Pravritti). It speaks of the
necessity of the Sadhaka of having the assistance of his wife or Shakti; for the Sadhaka is Hara and his Shakti
How the historic use of bhang may have actually inspired a feature in Hindu creation mythology is presented in
The Nectar of Delight from Plants of the Gods
- Their Sacred, Healing and Hallucinogenic Powers by Richard Evans Schultes and Albert Hoffman. "Tradition in India
maintains that the gods sent man the Hemp plant so that he might attain delight, courage, and have heightened sexual
desires. When nectar or Amrita dropped down from heaven, Cannabis sprouted from it. Another story tells how, when
the gods, helped by demons, churned the milk ocean to obtain Amrita, one of the resulting nectars was Cannabis. It
was consecrated to Shiva and was [the goddess] Indra s favorite drink. After the churning of the ocean, demons
attempted to gain control of Amrita, but the gods were able to prevent this seizure, giving Cannabis the name
Vijaya ("victory") to commemorate their success. Ever since, this plant of the gods has been held in India to
bestow supernatural powers on its users."
There is another historic
that is hyper-puritanical in which it is forbidden to meditate on chakra below the navel to keep the mind a
respectful distance from the genitals.
Shaivite doing sadhana- smoking charas in a bong.
Ecstatic Enlightenment Beyond the Tantric Religious Landscape
The fact that I had no knowledge of any of Tantric doctrine and yet experienced a scenario that contained only
the bare-bones psychological and sexual equivalents of the proscribed protocol that resulted in a supreme
transcendence- suggests that a intuitive/sensual/spiritual episode can trigger transcendent grace as well as
one that is ritualistic/sensual/religious.
Personal Observations Regarding the Qualities of Cannabis.