Marijuana and Nihangs

Most Sikhs have heard of Nihangs and their usage of marijuana/sukha/bang/etc. But most don’t know why, and that in the pure tradition of the Nihangs this plant was a tool in the warrior tradition of the Sikhs. Many just hear about Nihangs using it and think that they are abusing this drug. During last years Jaap Sahib course we had Question and Answer sessions every day and participants would ask all kinds of questions. One of the questions was asked by a youth about how Nihangs justify their usage of marijuana. Jugat Guru Singh and Sadasat Simran Singh (Chardikala Jatha) give their opinion and understanding of this issue. Basically they share their experience, that while some Nihangs do abuse this tradition and use it as an intoxicant it is a real tool in the tradition of the Nihangs.

This was a very informal Q&A session and it is by no means the definitive answer or explanation of this issue. This is just one slice of the issue in relation to how any tradition can be abused….but that doesn’t make the practice wrong or bad.

Ps. I hope my Nihang brothers who watch this take it in and open way and hopefully don’t take any offense. I know how it is to be judged….but I don’t think this video is saying anything bad about Nihangs in general; just that there is abuse by some people. I had this video on youtube since Oct 2007, but didn’t make it public because I didn’t want it to be mis-understood and offend Nihangs. My apologies if this is the case….


March 11 – Message from Jugat Guru Singh (Chardikala Jatha) about the video 

"Since this is stirring so much I thought I would clarify a few things that we talked about in this video.
First of all…….Of course it is against the Maryada to not take alcohol or drugs etc…but you are sadly mistaken if you think this stops anyone. I have lived here in the Punjab for 20 years of my life now and consider myself a Khalsa and a Nihang as well. The whole purpose of this Q&A was obviously not to put Nihangs in a bad light but to put the practices that some are doing in the light as not being Nihang or even Khalsa Maryada. The fact is that Nihangs have a terrible reputation in the larger Sikh body here in India and it is because of practices such as these we are discussing. Not all Nihangs abuse drugs and alcohol in this way, but many do! Including making the Shaheedi Degh with alcohol!!!Believe it or not.
 What I would like to do is support and show the much more rich and positive side of the Nihang lifestyle and the many amazing traditions they hold from the times of Guru Gobind Singh, which are the traditions of the Khalsa. People need to understand and look past those that are abusing these things to see the real teachings and beauty of who the Nihangs are. They are usually quickly judged for those that are not really even living the Maryada and labelled as bad or dirty or drug addicts or whatever, because there are so many who have fallen to this. However looking past this you see those that maintain the lifestyle of the fauj of Guru Gobind Singh in Cherdi Kala, in the bana of the Khalsa and you will experience that power.
One last point….
Shaheedi Degh has its place in our Maryada. As Sada Sat Simran S pointed out in the video…it is supposed to be made with panj patay, or five leaves. Almost a homeopathic dose to have a specific effect on the digestive and nervous system in relation to the other herbs and spices given. When abused it can be taken to any level….but when kept in its purity it has its place according to the traditions of the Khalsa.
Sat Nam." – Jugat Guru SinghKhalsa

69 Responses to “Marijuana and Nihangs”

  1. Dass Singh says:

    I am finding all of these responses extremely biased and obviously these people are condoning their weaknesses. Sikhs are no alcoholics nor are they allowed to take intoxicants. ‘Chardi Kalla’ are nangs and fakes. They are committing a bajhar kurehit and should retake amrit and keep much stricter rehit. Let these nangs recognise the true drug, Naam.May guru show them the true path without drugs.

  2. Gurdev Kaur says:

    Vjkk Vjkf

    Really nice video, i had a lot of opinions on this issue and the video was easy to understand.  My husband is a nihang and is friends with many nihangs, but they do not take bhang, however they agree that for medicinal purposes in times of war, this is the prescribed "drug" just as we take painkillers for headaches etc.

    Also, i would like to comment on the person saying that we shouldnt say Sat Nam as a greeting, I know Gurmustuk has already explained but id like to further add that Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh is often a greeting misused by people.  People start their conversation with this greeting and then start on gossip and filth from their mouth, so where is the truth in saying that Victory belongs to God and The Khalsa belong to God only to start an ego orientated conversation.  If people wish to greet each other by Sat Nam, or Sat Sri Akal or whatever…. is it such a thing to judge people for?

    Sat Nam also contains the sounds Sa Ta Na Ma and Aa, these five primal sounds also elevate and focus the consciousness.  I have heard Gursikhs who say Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh, only to start swearing in punjabi straight after saying it.  Its not worth doing something out of tradition, and repitition, it should be heartfelt, and i think we all, myself included have to remember that when and how we greet people.

    Vjkk Vjkf

  3. Pritam Singh says:

    I am saddened to see that some people can justify using any kind of intoxicant whether it si Nihang Singh or any one else. I do not agree with the opinion that it is upto an individual to decide on this issue. If we follow that logic then there is no such thing as right and wrong and there is no need of any moral or religious values or even regulations. That will create a choas in the society. In Sikh religion, intoxicants are prohibited and that is it. No discussion on that issue.

  4. manvir singh says:

    Dear Gurumukh Singh, that is a very heart felt and well written post. The science is clear, the stats are clear, the implications are clear. "The human mind can heal itself". But people do not have the tools to do it, but from what I can understand the time is coming that people need to wake up to this, and your work is commendable.

  5. Dass Singh’s comments are interesting where he says:‘Chardi Kalla’ are nangs and fakes. Let these nangs recognise the true drug, Naam.He calls himself Dass (servant) but then tells everybody what to do, this guys is full of it! I know the Chardi Kala Jetha and they are not fake at all. If you’re under the impression that they take bhang, and don’t know about Naam, then you are an idiot. I’m sorry to call you out, but there is no better word for somebody who could reach such a conclusion.Whereas, the rest of the world knows this Jetha as pioneers, who promote the Naam in it’s original style as taught by the Guru. Whereas, those who know these young men, know that they are totally clean, totally authentic, and all around good characters. "Dass" Singh has reached the opposite conclusion…???It never ceases to amaze me what kind of characters show up online… jeez.

  6. Gurumukh Singh Ji, your comment is pretty amazing. There was one point I wanted to address, but as I started writing, it got too long and off topic for here. The summary is: don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. I’m talking about estrangement with a wonderful community. There’s always bad apples.Keep up with your good work!Sat Naam.

  7. Harnav Bir Singh says:

    Waheguru Jee ka Khalsa Waheguru Jee kee Fateh!I LOVE CHARDI KALA JATHA! :Di learnt dumalla from them(by lookin at them).i wish to give ’em a coconut ,a Dastar and a Rs 11.25 (the indian tradition of surrendering yourself to Ustad Jee to get some education) :) and whatever seva they want to me to do.Sat Naam![secret: i try to copy Jugat Guru Singh Jee’s style as well! ;) ]i have met them as well! :) :) :)(i am not sure whether they remember it or not) Can we go to MPA,Chheharta Sahib anytime and meet CKJ? …i have heard that that outsiders are not allowed :( waheguru jee!

  8. A Sat Nam shout out to Gurumustuk for sending me the Forrest Whittaker vid…giving props to Black Krishna and the IABYT!Not that I was terribly surprised that he’s a Kundalini Yogi. It’s a pretty good upaya for people doing intense work. Prabhu Singh Khalsa, its not so much about babies and bath water…its about accepting you have a certain path…while in New Mexico a week or two ago, I saw the turnoff to Espanola…looks like a good place to be dropped out, while everything else falls apart…’cept I think my destiny is to be more in the middle of it keeping people from stoning other people in all senses of that word…People in my lineage (Slave liberation) if they don’t die of old age, tend to be susceptible to high velocity lead poisoning if you catch my drift.  The revelation which came from essentially being like unto a "Raisin in a sea of Buttermilk"…like one of a few people of color in mostly white ashrams…taking a look at most yoga magazines in America today, what do you conclude about who yoga is for? (You can’t be a yogi you’re a Negro…right…since yoga was invented long  {20,000 years at least} before there were any phenotypic Europeans, there are yogic inscriptions on the pyramids and not at Stonehenge, just who do you think invented yoga?)One could observe, that the New Age is simply the spiritual technology of peoples of color recommodified and packaged for a Euro-American audience… filing the serial numbers off the provenance, and in many ways denying them access to a deeper heritage than offered by addictive Americanized culture. The reason an IABYT exists at all is because of these and other factors. Once I tried to find Krishna, by calling Preuss Road… The last time I’d been there was at the last of Yogiji’s birthday parties in the park…I didn’t know it, but apparently this was in the middle of the sex scandal era…they said not only was there no real person with my name, the ashram in Phoenix Nanak Dwara, where Yogiji had given me my name, didn’t exist, the head teacher Babadon, didn’t exist, and there was no such person as Black Krishna…So despite such blockages…we eventually hooked up again…and again there’s work to be done "Your mission should you choose to accept it…"Part of that mission was looking to find the old Kundalini drug detox regimen.I have to admit, I was heartened by the  3HOSuperhealth website with the 12 meditations and the diverse depictions…wow pictures of black people meditating…impressive..I thought we were just violent unevolved crack addicts…just a few weirdos like me doing breath of fire. I remember the stories about someone offering to get Guru Nanak stoned and he replied Nam Khumare…etc…The Nihangs concoction would have the effect of being more of an analgesic body trip due to the complete absorption of the drug through oral administration…much like you ex-hippies and your Alice B. Toklas brownies…there’s anandamide analogues in chocolate, which reinforces the anandamide analogs in weed, add opium, and alcohol, and you probably got your pain killing bases covered… If Sikh guru’s who get buried in burning sands and come out of it smiling, don’t pass on those siddhic techniques to their students…then what you have is such concoctions. I guess pain killing siddhi’s probably don’t work on the battlefield…because killing human beings, kinda breaks your spiritual concentration…I’m conversant with the Sikh warrior tradition especially when the opponents were converting people by the sword, and somebody has to stand up to them…No blame there… I personally don’t feel there is a polite response to genocide, even while recognizing ahimsa as a superior path…but again while I’m aware of the Sikh general prohibition against intoxicants… people say one thing and do other things…Catholic priests are celibate too…that’s why a significant percentage are HIV positive, as well as pedophiles… I see both as addictive behaviors, based on self-deception…gots to tell the truth to get in recovery…’specially to yourself…Sat Nam.Guru Prem, dropped by our class…turns out, we went to high school together briefly…he thought we were totally crazy to be into yoga…now look at him.So Prabhu Singhji, I ain’t totally givin’ up on the community…I just choose to hang in the ‘hood…there’s work to be done there. As they say in Yoruba: Ishe Oluwa Kole Baje Oh (God’s Work will Never be Undone)Like Sat Siri Akal Dudes and Dudesses…oops I meant Singhs and Kaurs ;-)

  9. Kulwant Kaur says:

    Sat Nam, all.  Interesting reading!  Regarding getting off of addictive substances- Yucca is very good for that.  Get the capsules at health food stores, take 2 with each meal, eat lightly.  No canola oil, no high-fructose corn syrup.  Drink lots of water to literally flush out the system.  Yes, lots of Yoga is very good, too- Breath of Fire works wonders.You are so right- there is definitely work to be done in the ‘hood.  Get them turned on to clean living, and making a difference.  Get them to get interested in the alternative news sources that can be found on the Internet, but teach them discernment as well!  If The Man, as they used to say in the ’60’s hippie day, had his way, we would all be micro-chipped mindless little slaves and constantly at each others’ throats.  Divide and conquer, you know.    Time to stand together, enjoy each others’ company, learn from each other and share our good times and bad, help each other solve problems, and really get this show on the road to Truth, understanding and compassion!Thanks!Wahe Guru,Kulwant

  10. Gurmail Singh says:

    I think this issue/challenge can we percieved to be some what difficult and challengine when broken down into many fores and against arguments..

    The fact of the matter is this… no toxications should be consumed by a SIKH.  If nihangs believe by consuming maruajna they can continue to have a more focused meditation or level of concentration then they are merely going agianst the will of god.      It is our duty and obligation as sikhs that our efforts in preserving and practicing the sikh faith is within us .

    I fail to understand why nehangs continue to defend such a tradtion.   In my mind, using marjuana for joy and to excell your level of concentration whilst reciting naam or warfar is un justified as a SIKH.

    Thoughts welcome.  GS

  11. U Kaur says:

    Gurmail Singh is very much right.
    The use of any intoxicant ( marijuana or what so ever) for joy or to excell your level of concentration during naam simran or during war  can not be justified by Sikh principles. How harmful marijuana is -can be estimated from the News that one dozen people died and hundreds injured on Delhi Roads last weekend. Its a known fact that a lot of Bhang is consumed during Holi and most of the road accidents were a direct cause of that.
    Is there any justification in defending such a tradition?

  12. Amarjeet Singh Khalsa says:

    Sarnaam, i disagree with chardikala jathas statement that ‘there is no doubt that guru gobind singh gave marjuana to the nihangs as a technology’ chardikala jatha say it is for digesting tree bark and to help you fight in battle. but guru gobind singh has given us gurbaani and the dasam granth to fight, i do not believe that marijuana is needed and so i do not believe it was given to nihangs by guru gobind singh. when the 40 sikhs at chamkaur were flamished who had barely eaten for months were pitted against an army of 1 million, their bellies were filled with guru gobind singhs baanis and were able to hold the huge army for an entire day, i believe that marijuana in sikhism is nonsense sorry to say. the real nihangs who fought against the tyranical indian army such as bhai avtar singh brahma did not take marijuana and they fought like lions. waheguru ji ka khalsa, waheguru ji ki fateh satnam!! lots of love, amarjeet singh khalsa from west wales :)

  13. singhsahib says:

    umm i fail to believe that Guru Gobind Singh Ji created a nasha inorder to fight battles, that goes against many of our core principles.. where is your proof coming from.. you say its a fact that Guru Gobind Singh Ji created this drink so i assume that you would feel comfortable with sharing your sources.

  14. Jassa Singh says:

    Nihangs Dont Smoke Weed … And shaheed deghs ragra is not only used in nihangs but also at takth sri hazzor sahib … and in both its served as langar to the sangat … and i dont think anyone has seen any one in nasha at nihang singh shauni or at takth sri hazzor sahib !!!

  15. Sat Nam. Having spent some time with Nihungs and others in small vilages in Panjab [Basant Pachami Spring Festival, is a great time to be in a Punjabi village]
    Taking Marijuana paste drink is called sukha prasad in Nihung tradition. Marijuna is used as a remedy a healing herb in traditional north East Indian herbal tratment. This tradition is a little different from Ayurveda coming from the Nath yogis. It is the herbal and energy medicine practiced by various types of Yogis; Naga babas, Gorakhnath, agora, shavaites and some of the ten orders of Shankaracharya. This medicine is also called Siddha medicine Tibb.
    I was give a marijuna soup unknown to me by a mataji for my very bad Delhi belly and suprise it worked. It is believed that Sukha aids in concentration and endurance and is used by spiritual adepts for this purpose. Severla groups Nihungs and Namdharis teach that Guru Gobind Singh gave bhang during the retreat from Chamkaur to keep his Khalsas going.
    Whiskey in the Irish tradition was first used along with dancing in a shamanistic way and later became abused. So too with the Nihungs, they lost the wisdom of balance. Many nihungs are sincere and dedicated and don’t abuse this tradition  nor do the Namdharis who call Sukhs Shahid-i-Degh the drink of martyrs. The Namdharis just put a few leaves in tea and take it and it is considered prasad.
    Many years ago when I was trying to give up alcohol Yogiji told me we can find the nectar within or in a bottle. Humans, he said, must have the life of the spirit. Yogiji told me we all have spiritual experiences both in this life and in our past lives and we search for that always.So we should understand these habit this way and not in a puritanical way, I’m beter than you are. Certain drug use is so stigmatized in American life rather than understanding it as part of spiritual search that took a wrong turn.We must give the the nectar that comes from the Nam. Yogiji told me to chant Nam kumari nanaka cheri rehey di rat to get that nectar. this transcendental sound current is very potent and helps in this way. Give people the nectar, teach them about the deep devotional nectar in the consciousness that the Gurus give and all will be well.

  16. Ranjit says:

    Interesting discussion. I never before knew that marijuana usage was allowed in Sikhi. I thought the Guru Granth Sahib said that a Sikh shall not use intoxicants. The Guru Granth Sahib is now the Guru of the Sikhs. Could somebody please cite the pages where the use of intoxicants is mentioned (using Is alcohol use allowed besides in medicine such as Nyquil?

  17. Jaskooner Singh says:

    You are not ‘getting it’. If you goto a hospital for surgery they may give you morphine to stop the pain. Does that make you a drug addict. You get codeine in normal painkillers and cough medicine, does that make you a drug addict. These things are supposed to be used as medicine but people can corrupt them and use them for ‘getting high’.

    If you have high anxiety you maybe given temazepam or other tranquiliser. That makes you a drug addict again?