Bhaang, Weed and Shiva

“You are a devotee of Shiva and you don’t smoke weed?” I really doubt on your devotion towards him.

Shiva, one of the coolest God you can ever find on this planet who literally smokes marijuana and doesn’t mind if his devotees do so. But wait, have you ever wondered why would a God consume intoxicants ?

Well, in the auspicious moment of MahaShivaratri, lets decode the mystery behind Lord Shiva consuming Bhaang and Weed.


Bhang is a part of the social fabric in many parts of India and Nepal. It’s an edible form of cannabis or a drink made of hemp leaves which is often consumed on festivals like Holi and MahaShivaratri.

You can find many stories on how Lord Shiva started drinking bhaang. One of them is the story of Samdura Manthan.

Once a saint named Durvasa cursed the entire Devas, such that they will lose all their wealth, power and prestige. The asuras then win them in battle and take control of the universe. The devas go to Narayana for help, who advises that only the nectar( Amrit), which resides at the bottom of the celestial ocean of milk (Ksheer [milk] + sagar [ocean]; sometimes alluded to the Milky Way galaxy) can make them strong again, and they would become immortal. However, the ocean would need to be churned in order for the nectar to surface, and this was a task they couldn’t do alone (considering they were bereft of energy). They would need to seek the help of the demons/asuras for this, with the lure of the nectar.

Now, churning is the process of making butter from milk i.e. vigorously shaking the milk to separate the butter/cream and the water elements from milk. Yashoda, the mother of Krishna, is often depicted in images were she is churning milk by pulling 2 ends of a rope tied to a wooden rod that is dipped in a pot of milk. For the churning of the ocean, the devas sought the help of the mountain Mandara to serve as the churning rod. Vasuki, the king of snakes (the snake around Lord Shiva’s neck) was approached to serve as the rope for the churning and to be bound around Mount Mandara. The devas were to pull one end of the giant serpent, and the asuras, the other.

The demons/asuras held the head of the snake, while the devas, its tail. The churning went on for a 1,000 years. The force of the churning was so great that the mountain began to sink. Lord Vishnu then took the form of a huge turtle (Kurma avatar) and, like an island, supported the mountain on his back. The asuras turned pale due to the fumes and coming out of the mouths of Vasuki, the snake (as they were closer to the head). Then, a terrible poison named Halahal came out from the ocean.

Here is a life lesson for you. The Milky ocean can be taken as your Manas (mind). The Asuras and Devas can be taken as the positive and the negative thoughts. The churning of the ocean can be taken as you churning your thoughts in your mind. The nectar or Amrit can be taken as the calmness you desire. When ever you have a battle between two opposite thoughts inside your mind and you churn it, the first outcome will always be poison or sucidal thoughts, as the one who wants to consume nectar, must learn to consume poison at first.

Now, the poison started to show it’s effect on the entire universe. Both of the Devas and Asuras were having trouble in breathing. Both of them asked Lord Shiva for help and Shiva, being the greatest god, drank the poison. The moment Shiva drank poison, he became unstable. He being the destroyer and unstable, the universe began to destruct on a random manner. Seeing the condition of Shiva, goddess Parvati took the avatar of Devi Tara and held the neck of Shiva blocking the passage of poison in his body. Later, Devi Tara stored the poision ino the Vishuddi Chakra of Mahadev. Vishuddi Chakra is a spiritual point on your neck, which is mainly responsible for purifying the toxicants.

All problems and unpleasant experiences that we have “swallowed” and suppressed during the course of our life, continue to exist in the subconscious mind until they are faced and resolved with wisdom of the Vishuddhi Chakra.

Though devi Tara blocked the passage of poison, the temprature of Shiva began to rise rapidly. All the devas and asuras tried to cool him down. All the devas gathered and poured the river of milk on the body of Mahadev. That’s also one of the reasons why you can still see devotees offering Milk to Shiva Lingam.

Mahadev later consumed Bhaang in order to cool his body and to be relief from the pain caused by the poison.

Ganja is a Sanskrit word that translates into ‘hemp, weed, marijuana, and cannabis’. For centuries, people have used ganja to relax, meditate, and heal. In India, the word ganja is more specific and actually refers directly to a highly potent strain of sativa marijuana. 

Shiva is also known as Adi yogi, meaning the fist yogi. He was the one who gave the divine knowledge of yoga and spirituality to mankind.

Ganja is an intoxicant. In spirituality, intoxication is a symbol of supreme awareness though we can’t say that all those who are intoxicated are self realized. Those who have renounced the world and are seeking the highest truth are transported to higher levels of consciousness when they take intoxicants. This is in no way a condition similar to the one of those ignorant beings who enter the spells of more delusion and illusion when intoxicated.
When an immoral drunkard takes ganja or an intoxicant, he uses all abusive languages. He acts in a weird manner purposelessly and meaninglessly. Actually, what is there inside comes out when he loses control of himself. On the other hand, a spiritual being utters some of the greatest spiritual truths under intoxication. He enters the world of bliss and speaks in a profound language.

The depiction of Shiva smoking Ganja could have been necessitated with the intention of showing him to be the supreme personality living in a constant blissful state where there is no suffering whatsoever. In fact, Yogis use it to support them in their spiritual sadhana.

This Mahashivaratri, remove all your pain and sufferings with the joy of Bhaang and Ganja. But make sure, anything excessive is dangerous for health. And trust me, smoking chilim doesn’t cure your cancer at all.

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