The story of Holi is not complete without a mention of bhang. In modern times, bhang consumption has bucketed only as a tool for merriment during Holi and sometimes during Shivratri. Bollywood has also done its bit to propagate this myth through popular songs. The original usage of bhang was, however, for serious seekers, yogis and aghoris who wanted to achieve transcendental states.
Bhang is mentioned in Book 11, Hymn 6, Verse 15 of Atharva Veda as a cure for many diseases. Other translations state that bhang is described as a ‘liberator’.
So how is bhang different from other intoxicants?
Some recent medical researchers have shown that cannabis (bhang) grows brain cells. Dr Roberta J Pentney, a former researcher with the State University of New York, found that alcohol on the other hand, severely impairs neurons in the brain and disrupts brain activity. But before one ditches the bottle of imported liquor to go in search of green bhang leaves, one needs to understand what bhang is all about.
Using bhang for spiritual upliftment
This is the point where a word of caution is required. Anything has the potential for abuse and this tool needs to be handled very carefully. Excessive usage of bhang without first preparing the body and the mind for its consumption is highly dangerous.
Consuming bhang is a sacred act. Recall that Atharva Veda states that bhang is a ‘liberator’. This could well mean that under the influence of bhang, certain recessed memories are opened for access to the mind. Past memories – long forgotten – or certain insights/visions may also occur, which may immediately uplift the perspective of the seeker.
Bhang is an amplifier and, hence, the state of mind in which it is consumed gets amplified. It is extremely important that bhang is consumed after few days of meditation and yoga has been done to introduce the mind to silence. Once consumed, it is worth sitting in meditation. Highly recommended technique for meditation after taking bhang would be to visualise the breath moving up the spine (for every inhalation) and coming down the spine (for every exhalation).
Alternative literature and experiences of people around the world (found easily on the Internet) point to the mind achieving higher levels of silence during a bhang-intoxicated state. Silence brings awareness, which, in turn, brings inner peace.
Activity should be avoided after taking bhang, if the intention is to find silence.
What happens after effects go down?
The journey into the inner self does not end with one dose of bhang on Holi. Well, it was never meant to be so in the ancient past. The seeker should carefully understand the visions and insights received under influence of bhang and make careful changes in the lifestyle thereafter, before taking the next dose. The time of day, quantity, breed of the plant, the environment in which it is consumed, and seeker’s state of mind separates each ‘experience’ from the next.
This Holi, instead of colouring the world with harmful chemicals and artificial colours, why not colour your brain from inside and plunge into a surreal world of divine colors and experiences.
Who knows who awaits you there?