Ed Rosenthal - History of Asian Cannabis
Growing Profile: Big Time Breeder
The Aryans (Indo-Persians) brought Cannabis culture to India nearly 4,000 years ago. They worshipped the spirits of plants and animals, and marijuana played an active role in their rituals. In China, with the strong influence of philosophic and moralistic religions, use of marijuana all but disappeared. But in India, the Aryan religion grew through oral tradition, until it was recorded in the four Vedas, compiled between 1400 and 1000 BC. In that tradition, unlike the Chinese, marijuana was sacred, and the bhangas spirit was appealed to "for freedom of distress" and as a "reliever of anxiety" (from the Atharva Veda).1 A gift from the gods, according to Indian mythology, the magical Cannabis "lowered fevers, fostered sleep, relieved dysentery, and cured sundry other ills; it also stimulated the appetite, prolonged life, quickened the mind, and improved the judgement."
Marijuana, from its stronghold in India, moved westward through Persia, Assyria and Arabs by 500 AD. With the rising power if Islam, marijuana flourished in a popular form as hashish. In 1378, the Emir Soudon Sheikhouni tried to end the use of Indian hashish by destroying all such plants, and imprisoning all users (first removing their teeth for good measure). Yet in a few years marijuana consumption had increased.
(Added: Wed Jul 24 2002)