Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tibet, the Origin of Hemp and the Tibetan monks...

The origin of hemp is thought to be in Central Asia (Kazakistan, Pakistan, Nepal, the Kashmir region of India, and the Tibetan region of China)

Two regions in particular: in the Mesopotamian Valley between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (present day Iraq) and, at the same time, in the Huang He (Yellow River) valley in China. Hemp
spread from its native habitat toward the west in two directions. One route led through the Russian lowland plains to Scandinavia, extending to Poland, Germany, and the Baltic region. This distribution included the Carpathian Mountains and as far as the Danube River delta. This is where the northern and central Russian geographical race of hemp originated. The other route led through Asia Minor to the Mediterranean countries and into the provinces of the Roman Empire (Illyria, Gallia, and Hispania). From there, the southern Mediterranean ecological group originated, which encompassed southern Russia, Romania, Hungary, Serbia, Italy, and Spain. In central and northern Europe, hemp was introduced by the Slavs.

Marijuana has been used for religious purposes for thousands of years.  The Assyrians used marijuana as an incense in their temples for example.  In India marijuana was considered to be “a gift of the gods” and anyone who accidentally stepped on the plant “would suffer harm or disaster.”  Marijuana was used for medicinal uses as well, especially among the Chinese and medieval Europe, but in the Himalayas and Tibet it was considered a sacred plant for religious uses alone.

There are many ways the monks of India and Tibet prepare marijuana for use.  “Bhang is a mild preparation: dried leaves or flowering shoots are pounded with spices into a paste and consumed as candy — known as _maajun_ — or in tea form.  Ganja is made from the resin-rich dried pistillate flowering tops of cultivated plants which are pressed into a compacted mass and kept under pressure for several days to induce chemical changes; most Ganja is smoked, often with Tobacco. Charas consists of the resin itself, a brownish mass which is employed generally in smoking mixtures.”  Those who grow marijuana in India must chant the word “Bhangi” over and over while sowing, weeding, and harvesting the plant.

Bhang ceremony during Holi Festival in India:

The Tibetans considered marijuana sacred. A Mahayana Buddhist tradition maintains that during the six steps of asceticism leading to his enlightenment, Buddha lived on one Hemp seed a day. He is often depicted with “Soma leaves” in his begging bowl and the mysterious god-narcotic Soma has occasionally been identified with Hemp. In Tantric Buddhism of the Himalayas of Tibet, marijuana plays a very significant role in the meditative ritual used to facilitate deep meditation and heigten awareness. Both medicinal and recreational secular use of Hemp is likewise so common now in this region that the plant is taken from granted as an everyday necessity.

In Thebes, Hemp was made into a drink said to have opium-like properties. Galen reported that cakes with Hemp, if eaten to excess, were intoxicating. The use as an inebriant seems to have been spread east and west by barbarian hordes of central Asia, especially the Scythians, who had a profound cultural influence on early Greece and eastern Europe. And knowledge of the intoxicating effects of Hemp goes far back in Indian history, as indicated by the deep mythological and spiritual beliefs about the plant. One preparation, Bhang, was so sacred that it was thought to deter evil, bring luck, and cleanse man of sin. 

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