The intoxicating drug of an Indian god

The cannabis plant’s role in Hindu mythology has authorities turning a blind eye to India’s drug shops
BBC News (UK)
Friday, March 13, 2017

Although the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985 prohibits the production, sale and consumption of certain parts of the cannabis plant, the leaves are an exception. There are even government-approved bhang shops in towns like Jaisalmer and Pushkar, and more than 200 such shops exist year-round in Varanasi. In Hinduism, bhang takes on special meaning as the plant preferred by Shiva, the god of destruction, who was believed to have used bhang to focus inward and to harness his divine powers for the good of the world. In the Atharva Veda, one of the four sacred texts of Hinduism, cannabis is named one of the five most sacred plants on Earth. The text also refers to it as a ‘source of happiness’ and a ‘liberator’.