What Does Gurbani Say About Marijuana Use (Bhang)?

Sikhism Scripture and Marijuana

Cannabis Leaves
Cannabis Leaves. Photo © [Justin Sullivan / Getty Images]

What do the scriptures of Guru Granth Sahib have to say about getting high on marijuana?

Two authors of Gurbani write about bhang an intoxicant prepared from Marijuana. To comprehend the context of marijuana, or bhang, and its relevance to scripture, it's best while deciphering a verse to study words and lines in reference to each other.
  • Guru Nanak

    First Guru Nanak likens the intoxicating effect of contemplation upon the Divine to the craving of an addict whose focus is bhang. He implies that the devoted Saint absorbed in the Divine is the possessor and supplier of the most pure intoxicant, Divine benevolence, and that begging alms of Divine awareness is the consciousness worth craving.

    "Tilang Mehalaa 1 Ghar 2 ||
    Tilang, First Mehla, Second House:

    Ik onkar satigur prasaad ||
    One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:

    Bho taeraa bhaang khalarree maeraa cheet ||
    Awe of thee, O Lord God, is my bhang (marijuana), and consciousness (of Thee) is my leather hemp pouch.

    Mai devaanaa bha-iaa ateet ||
    I have become as an intoxicated recluse.

    Kar kaasaa darasan kee bhookh ||
    My hands are my begging bowl, I crave the blessed vision of Thee.

    Mai dar maago neetaa neet ||1||
    At Thy door, I beg day after day. ||1||

    To darsan kee karo samaae ||
    For a sight of Thee, I call out like the street beggar.

    Mai dar maagat bheekhiaa paae ||1|| rehaao ||
    At Thy door, I the beggar plead, Bless me with Thine alms (of awareness), O Lord ||1||Pause||

    Kaesar kusam miragamai haranaa sarab sareeree charrhnaa ||
    Saffron, flowers, musk oil and gold embellish the bodies of all...

    Chandan bhagataa jot enaehee sarbae parmal karnaa ||2||
    The Lord's devotees which like sandalwood, impart their fragrance to everyone. ||2||

    Ghia patt bhaanddaa kehai na koe ||
    As Ghee or silk are not considered polluted by anyone...

    Aisaa bhagat varan meh hoe ||
    Such is any saintly devotee, regardless of social standing (high or low caste).

    Taerai naam nivae rehae liv laae ||
    They who bow in reverence to Thy Name (O Lord) remain absorbed in Thy Love.

    Naanak tin dar bheekhiaa paae ||3||1||2||
    O Nanak at their door I beg for alms." ||3||1||2|| SGGS||721

  • Bhagat Kabir

    The sainted bhagat devotee Kabir writes that indulgence of intoxicants leads to ruin of consciousness and the mortal is plunged into the depths of darkness. Rather, it is better to indulge in the enlightening high that comes with enjoyment of the Divine if even for the merest moments until self realization occurs and one becomes conscious of the One Beloved within every one all of the time.

    Kabeer ek gharree aadhee gharee aadhee hoon tae aadh ||
    Whether for 24 minutes, 12 minutes or even six minutes...

    Bhagatan saetee gosttae jo keenae so laabh ||232||
    Divine discourse with the Holy for however long is profitable.

    Kabeer bhaang Maachhulee suraa paan jo jo praanee khaanhi ||
    O Kabir, whomever partakes of bhang (marijuana), fish, flesh and beetle wine (paan)...

    Teerath barat naem keeeae tae sabhai rasaatal jaanhi ||233||
    No matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they may perform, they will all go to hell (dark underworld of the subconscious). ||233||

    Neechae loen kar reho lae saajan ghatt maa-eh ||
    I keep my eyes lowered, and enshrine my Friend within me.

    Sabh ras khaelo pee so kisee lakhaavo naa-eh ||234||
    I enjoy all pleasures with my Beloved, disclosing to no one. ||234||

    Aath jaam chousath gharee tua nirkhat rehai jeeo ||
    During each of the eight segments of time, all 64 units of 24 minutes, my soul continues to look to Thee, O Lord.

    Neechae loen kio karo sabh ghatt daekho peeo ||235||
    Why need I cast my eye downward? When I see my Beloved in every heart. ||235||

    Sun sakhee pee meh jeeo basai jeea meh basai ka peeo ||
    Listen, O my companions, my soul dwells in my Beloved, and my Beloved dwells in my soul.

    Jeeo peeo boojho nehee ghatt meh jeeo ka peeo ||236||

    I now realize that there is no difference between my soul and my Beloved, for I can tell now whether it is my own soul, or my Beloved, who dwells in my heart." ||236|| SGGS||1377

    More:
    Code of Conduct FAQ: Is Medical Marijuana OK for Sikhs?
    The Sikh Way of Life and the Guru's Teachings: Prohibitions

    (Sikhism.About.com is part of the About Group. For reprint requests be sure to mention if you are a non-profit organization or school.)