Due to its significant traces in legends and religion Cannabis has had a long history in India. The earliest mention of Cannabis was in a sacred Hindu text called the Vedas. These texts date back to 2000 to 1400 B.C. According to these findings cannabis was considered a plant that was heavenly and among one of the five sacred plants this text deems the most essential. Its purpose at the beginning was to give joy, liberate people of illnesses and compassionately heal humans as it was the plant that had pleased Lord Shiva. According to legend this plant had pleased Lord Shiva and had alleviated him from his unpleasant circumstances.
Cannabis has been famous in India since the start of times because it has been taken as a drink for worship and for medicinal purposes. There have been records of this Cannabis drink (called Bhang in India) being given to soldiers if they were wounded. It had been proven that in many cases it raised their hopes and distracted them from the pain. They believed that Bhang was the quickest way for the soldier to be fit for battle again; this resulted in many folktales of how drinking bhang made the soldiers much stronger. The scenario in these stories would be the western equivalent of Pop-eye’s muscles after eating a can of spinach.
When the British colonized India, the use marijuana was to their distaste and believed that it should be eradicated for the Indians to assimilate. They perceived the use of this sacred plant vulgar and believed it was a well-developed excuse for the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Although there is some truth in marijuana being used for pleasure but there is equally as much evidence of its medicinal purposes.
In their time the ladies who worked long hours in the village were accustomed to drinking Bhang before child-birth. They felt that they could handle its effects because they were accustomed to being active at least 12 hours of a 24 hour day and felt that they could “wear off” any side effects if there were any. They felt that it reduced the pain and allowed them a more comfortable delivery. The neat thing is the culture of these ladies were sensible to detect that they should avoid bhang when breastfeeding. This was a discovery that the British thought they educated the Indians with, but was in their customs traditionally.
To add on the fact that Bhang served its purpose for the common problem of arthritis. This disease came with chronic pain and at the time many seniors suffered this common problem. Like studies have proven today, the Indians also vaporized or ingested marijuana to reduce the pain.
To have the above mentioned effects it was common in Indian culture to mix nuts and spices, like almonds, pistachios, poppy seeds, pepper, ginger and sugar with marijuana and boil them in a small amount of milk. They were correct in mixing marijuana with milk because it effectively increased the effect of the extracted THC. Scientists predict that this mixture was perhaps more stronger that western marijuana and was accustomed the way of life in Asia.
This form of Cannabis is continued to be used in the 21st century as it varies on the circumstances of each citizen. For instance it is uncommon for the people with more privileges to use marijuana because they feel it is below their dignity unless for a medicinal or holy purpose. Whereas people in poverty acquire it so they can work a 14-16 hour shift regardless of their health condition. All in all the well-integrated presence of cannabis is present in many circumstances of the Indian population even today.