QUESTION: I’ve heard that the cannabis plant is offered to Shiva in certain rituals, and I’ve also heard it is offered to Kali. They say cannabis is the healing of the nations. In a few words, what is your take on that?

As far as I know, it’s Rastafarians who say cannabis is “the healing of the nations.” Actually, the parallels between the Rasta and Shaiva sādhu are amazing: dreadlocks and herb… 

Anyway, I believe the root of cannabis use in India’s lore and culture goes back to Soma. Soma (also called Amṛta) is a very essential component of Vedic culture. I say a bit about Soma in my book, 27 Stars, 27 Gods and reference it in my video on Mṛgaśīrṣā Nakṣatra (Search for Happiness, meaning, and purpose: Mṛgaśīrṣā – The Vedic Stars). 

Essentially, Soma (Amṛta) is the supreme form of food. It brings super nourishment as well as super delight. All other varieties of food and drink are derivations or approximations of it. The key ingredient in Soma is an milk-sap herb that grew in the Himalaya but is now extinct. Many consider cannabis a close approximation, or simply just use cannabis in some very lose approximation of how Soma can be used. 

Some laypeople and some sādhu’s in India use cannabis. But, in the linage of spirituality I myself am involved in, we do not use it (or any other substance). Our soma and amṛta is hari-kathā and hari-nāma-saṁkīrtan. This is our noursihment and intoxication.

Vraja Kishor das

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