Cannabis: Religious Reverence Throughout History – Part 2/2

By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness

(Continued from part 1)

Many spiritual texts, including the Buddhist Tara Tantra, list cannabis as an important meditative aid (2).

In Himalayan and Northern Indian Tantric Buddhism, it plays a ‘significant’ role facilitating deep meditation and heightened awareness (2).

Stephen Gray writes that entheogens can ‘dramatically potentiate’ the manifestation of intention in ceremonial environments (1). Cannabis is included in this, provided it’s used mindfully (1).

When you can maintain a degree of non-thought (an important concept in nearly every spiritual tradition) during use, cannabis can help soften the armor of the constructed self and free the heart to be open to compassion (1).

The effect is even more powerful when intention is fueled by love (1).

Image result for cannabis love
The effect is even more powerful when intention is fueled by love. Credit:

Physical and Spiritual Healing

Cannabis helps the soul and the body (1).

Physical and spiritual healing are one and the same, and the spirit heals when the body’s relaxed and in good condition (1).

Emotional and spiritual wellbeing increase, and as you become aware of this synchronization of mind, body and spirit, you experience what’s commonly known as spiritual awakening (1).

Long-Term Awareness

According to Stephen, the most significant benefit of cannabis is not what happens during its use, but the long-term awareness it illuminates and the ease with which you can integrate this awareness into your life (1).

You’ll find one day that you can induce this meditative state on your own.

By becoming familiar with the state of wellbeing induced by cannabis, you can train yourself to recognize and attune to it long after your meditation has ended (1).

You’ll find one day that you can induce this meditative state on your own. This is what we’re ultimately meant to gain from the herb (and the spiritual path in general): the freedom of enlightenment induced by willpower alone.

The key to experiencing the long-term benefits of cannabis, besides opening the heart, is to dissolve the busy mind (1).

This is an ongoing process that takes time whether or not you use cannabis, and Stephen writes that the herb can ‘do its work effectively’ when the ego-driven ‘me’ is out of the way (1).

Cannabis in the Indian Creation Myth tells us that cannabis is mentioned in the Indian myth of creation (2). It’s named as one of the five nectars of the gods and designated a reliever of suffering (2).

According to the original myth, the gods churned the ‘Ocean of Milk’ in search of the elixir of eternal life known as Amrita; cannabis was one of the nectars that resulted (2).

In the Vedas, the herb is referred to as a ‘source of happiness’ (2).

Bhang: The Cannabis-Based Drink Offered to Shiva

As I’ve shared before, it has even been made into a drink in India which is consumed by locals and believed to be the ‘favorite’ drink of Indra, king of Indian gods (2).

The drink, known as bhang, is offered to images and statues of Shiva throughout India, most notably during the Festival of Shivratri (2).

Image result for bhang
Bhang. Credit:

Cannabis use is closely associated with worship of Shiva, one of three principle deities in India (2). Due to its spiritual properties, it’s considered Shiva’s ‘favorite herb’ (2).

Shaivite Yogis, ascetics and Shiva Worshippers commonly consume it as an aid to their sadhana (spiritual practice) (2) and Sadhus smoke it out of a clay chillum (2).

The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission’s Conclusion

Cannabis is so popular in India that the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission concluded the following in a government study of the plant’s use in the country:

“…It is inevitable that temperaments would be found to whom the quickening spirit of bhang is the spirit of freedom and knowledge. In the ecstasy of bhang the spark of the Eternal in man turns into the light the murkiness of matter.

“…Bhang is the Joy-giver, the Sky-filler, 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 supporting power of bhang has brought many a Hindu family safe through the miseries of famine.

“To forbid or even seriously restrict the use of so gracious an herb as the hemp would cause widespread suffering and annoyance and to large bands of worshipped ascetics, deep-seated anger.

“It would rob the people of a solace on discomfort, of a cure in sickness, of a guardian whose gracious protection saves them from the attacks of evil influences…” (2)

As evidenced here, cannabis is a valuable plant in India for mostly religious reasons.

In future reports we’ll examine its use in other cultures, because there’s plenty of information available on its religious use and you’d be surprised to see how widespread such use is.

Introspection, Healing and Bliss

The truth is slowly emerging regarding this plant and what it can do for society.

Being open to cannabis may not the sole solution to the world’s problems, but using it meditatively could provide solutions to problems we face on the individual level by opening us up to a world of introspection, healing and bliss.

Image result for cannabis religion

The truth is slowly emerging regarding this plant and what it can do for society.

Since it’s finally being accepted as a normal aspect of life rather than a taboo we should avoid, it’s only a matter of time before the floodgates burst and we’re inundated with information regarding its revolutionary uses and benefits.

When that time comes, spiritual seekers and cannabis enthusiasts around the world will share with everyone what we’ve known all along: this plant was put here to help us.


(1)    Excerpt, Stephen Gray, Cannabis and Spirituality. Inner Traditions, n.d. –

(2)    “Spiritual Use of Cannabis”,, n.d. –

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