Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!

Religious Studies

Hinduism: drugs

Hindu attitudes towards drugs

Like other religions, Hinduism generally disapproves of the use of non-prescription drugs.

Cannabis plant

Cannabis plant

In the past, however, drugs played an important part in worship. In the Vedas [Vedas: Knowledge. Specifically refers to the four Vedas, though any teaching which is consistent with the conclusions of these scriptures is also accepted as Vedic. ] a drug called Soma was used as an offering and then drunk by the priests. The Vedic god Soma was the ‘master of plants’, the ‘healer of disease’ and also brought wealth.

In later Hinduism, Soma was identified with the moon which waxes and wanes when the drug is drunk by the gods.

Cannabis has been associated with the god Shiva who is said to have rested in the shade of a cannabis plant on a very hot day. Shiva gave the plant to humanity in thanks.

Some Hindu mystics still use cannabis as an aid to spiritual experience.

Back to Sanctity of life index

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.