Daniélou, Alain – The Way to the Labyrinth – Bhang
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Daniélou, Alain – The Way to the Labyrinth [translated by Marie-Claire Cournand]
Bhang is made with fresh Indian hemp leaves, which are crushed against a rock and carefully washed to eliminate certain toxic elements that remain when hemp is used for smoking. A modest amount of this spinach-like substance, the size of a small hazelnut, is mixed with almond milk and sweetened water. The result is a drink that not only tastes very pleasant but is apparently quite harmless. Bhang can also be mixed with cakes and sweets. Proper Hindus never smoke hashish; only cab drivers and other people belonging to the most discredited classes. When it is drunk, bhang has no immediate effect. This is why, after enjoying it with a small group of friends-just like tea-one can usually go home, take a bath, dress up for the evening, and sit down to dinner. Only then does the drug begin to take effect: a strange sensation in the spine, a complete loss of the sense of time, a sharp intensification of all the perceptions, and heightened powers of analysis. If one is Iistening to music, for instance, it becomes possible to hear the separate parts played by each of the instruments, the double bass, the flute, the oboe, which normally cannot be distinguished from the ensemble.
These heightened perceptions are such that people begin to notice all the absurd and ridiculous peculiarities of their companions-the shapes of their noses or ears, their way of speaking-and are seized with an irresistible need to giggle; those who tend to be depressed, however, must be very careful with bhang, for it will probably make them dissolve into tears. Yogis often use it to facilitate meditation, mental concentration, and extra-sensory perception.
Sometimes Raymond would organize bhang parties for his foreign visitors, and they were always highly successful; Ramprasad, our boatman, prepared the potion very well. Cecil Beaton, the famous photographer, often spoke of his bhang party at Rewa Khoti as the most amusing evening in his Iife.