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Hindus and Cannabis - spiritual use

Smokin Moose

Fallen Cannabis Warrior
Hindu use

Cannabis was used in India as early as 1500 B.C., and is mentioned in the Vedas.[3]

During the Hindu festival of Holi, people consume a drink called bhang which contains cannabis flowers.[4][5]

Charas, is smoked by some Shaivite devotees and cannabis itself is seen as a gift of Shiva to aid in sadhana[citation needed]. Some of the wandering ascetics in India known as sadhus smoke charas out of a clay chillum.

The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report[6] describes some traditional Hindu spiritual uses of cannabis.

Connection of ganja with the worship of Shiva.

435. It is chiefly in connection with the worship of Shiva, the Mahadeva or great god of the Hindu trinity, that the hemp plant, and more especially perhaps ganja, is associated. The hemp plant is popularly believed to have been a great favourite of Shiva, and there is a great deal of evidence before the Commission to show that the drug in some form or other is now extensively used in the exercise of the religious practices connected with this form of worship. Reference to the almost universal use of hemp drugs by fakirs, jogis, sanyasis, and ascetics of all classes, and more particularly of those devoted to the worship of Shiva, will be found in the paragraphs of this report dealing with the classes of the people who consume the drugs. These religious ascetics, who are regarded with great veneration by the people at large, believe that the hemp plant is a special attribute of the god Shiva, and this belief is largely shared by the people. Hence the many fond epithets ascribing to ganja the significance of a divine pro-party, and the common practice of invoking the deity in terms of adoration before placing the chillum or pipe of ganja to the lips. There is evidence to show that on almost all occasions of the worship of this god, the hemp drugs in some form or other are used by certain classes of the people it is established by the evidence of Mahamabopadhya Mahesa Chandra Nyayaratna and of other witnesses that siddhi is offered to the image of Shiva at Benares, Baidynath, Tarakeswar, and elsewhere. At the Shivratri festival, and on almost all occasions before the on which this worship is practised, there is abundant evidence Commission which shows not only that ganja is offered to the god and consumed by these classes of the worshippers, but that these customs are so intimately connected with their worship that they may be considered to form in some sense an integral part of it

Worship of the hemp plant

449. The custom of worshipping the hemp plant, although not so prevalent as that of offering hemp to Shiva and other deities of the Hindus, would nevertheless appear from the statements of the witnesses to exist to some extent in some provinces of India. The reason why this fact is not generally known may perhaps be gathered from such statements as that of Pandit Dharma Nand Joshi, who says that such worship is performed in secret. There may be another cause of the denial on the part of the large majority of Hindu witnesses of any knowledge of the existence of a custom of worshipping the hemp plant in that the educated Hindu will not admit that he worships the material object of his adoration, but the deity as represented by it. The custom of worshipping the hemp plant, though not confined to the Himalayan districts or the northern portions of India alone, where the use of the products of the hemp plant is more general among the people, is less known as we go south. Still even far south, in some of the hilly districts of the Madras Presidency and among the rural population, the hemp plant is looked upon with some sort of veneration. Mr. J. H. Merriman (witness No. 28, Madras) says: "I know of no custom of worshipping the hemp plant, but believe it is held in a certain sort of veneration by some classes." Mr. J. Sturrock, the Collector of Coimbatore (witness No. 2, Madras), says: "In some few localities there is a tradition of sanctity attached to the plant, but no regular worship. "The Chairman of the Conjeveram Municipal Board, Mr. E. Subramana Iyer (witness No. 143, Madras) says: "There is no plant to be worshipped here, but it is generally used as sacrifices to some of the minor Hindu deities. "There is a passage quoted from Rudrayanmal Danakand and Karmakaud in the report on the use of hemp drugs in the Baroda State, which also shows that the worship of the bhang plant is enjoined in the Shastras. It is thus stated: "The god Shiva says to Parvati-- 'Oh, goddess Parvati, hear the benefits derived from bhang. The worship of bhang raises one to my position. In Bhabishya Puran it is stated that "on the 13th moon of Chaitra (March and April) one who wishes to see the number of his sons and grandsons increased must worship Kama (Cupid) in the hemp plant, etc."

[edit] Hebraic use

According to Aryeh Kaplan, [7] cannabis was an ingredient of holy anointing oil mentioned in various sacred Hebrew texts. The herb of interest is most commonly known as kanah-bosim (קְנֵה-בֹשֶׂם) (the singular form of which would be kanah-bos[8]) which is mentioned several times in the Old Testament as a bartering material, incense, and an ingredient in holy anointing oil used by the high priest of the temple.

The Septuagint (300AD) translates kanah-bosim as calamus, and this translation has been propagated unchanged to most later translations of the Torah (1500BC+). However, Polish anthropologist Sula Benet published etymological arguments that the Aramaic word for hemp can be read as kannabos and appears to be a cognate to the modern word 'cannabis',[9] with the root kan meaning reed or hemp and bosm meaning fragrant. Both cannabis and calamus are fragrant, reedlike plants containing psychotropic compounds. While Benet's conclusion regarding the psychoactive use of cannabis is not universally accepted among Jewish scholars, there is general agreement that cannabis is used in talmudic sources to refer to hemp fibers, as hemp was a vital commodity before linen replaced it.[10]
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