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BELAGAVI: As police crack down in many parts of the state arresting drug-peddlers and destroying marijuana cultivation in the wake of the Sandalwood drug racket, many are not aware marijuana is sacred in some temples of North Karnataka.
Among Sharana, Aruda, Shaptha and Avadhuta traditions, devotees prefer to consume marijuana or ganja in various forms, believing it is a means to achieve enlightenment.
In Mouneshwara temple at Tinthini, Yadgir district, a large number of devotees gather during the annual fair in January. Devotees who come here receive a small packet of ganja as prasada which they smoke after praying to Mouneshwara or Manappa. Gangadhar Nayak, a member of the temple committee, said ganja is widely used here.
‘Ganja an agent that assists meditation’
The usage is traditional as Mouneshwara introduced it (marijuana) to people. The devotees and saints believe this sacred grass shows the path to enhancing knowledge of spirituality,” he said. Nayak denied the temple sells ganja to outsiders for recreational purposes. “During the fair, anybody can come here and smoke. While some eat ganja after boiling it, others consume it like tobacco powder,” he said.
Elsewhere, Mahantesh K, who is into the Sharana tradition and visits various temples and mutts in Raichur and Yadgir, said that in the Ambha Mutt at Sindhanur taluk of Raichur district, this tradition can be seen. “I believe ganja helps achieve a kind of infinite happiness. It’s not addictive. Many smoke once a week or day and meditate,” said Mahantesh, adding most users are healthy considering it has medicinal values.
Siddarameshwara Shivayogi, a seer from Siddavata Dama Shivayogi Ashram in Shorapur taluk in Yadgir district who consumes ganja once a day, said marijuana is considered sacred. “We take ganja to mute the surroundings during meditation. It’s an agent that assists meditation,” he said. Meenakshi Bale, a professor researching Sharana community, believes people who smoke at these temples are not addicts.
Respecting traditions, police appear to keep their distance from such temples and turn a blind eye unless a complaint is filed. “We’re now starting to crack down wherever it is available. I’m not aware of temples or mutts particularly, but if we receive information we will raid them,” said Raichur SP Prakash Nityam.
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