"We have drunk Soma and become immortal; we have attained the light, the Gods discovered. Now what may foeman's malice, do to harm us? What, O Immortal, mortal man's deception?" - Rig Veda (8.48.3)
So, is usage of drugs divinely sanctioned?
This question has vexed even the best, at all times, in every time, since the beginning of time. Now, more than ever, many a people see no harm in "mild" form of drug usage in normal, everyday life. Banned or not, it cannot be denied that marijuana, hashish, or "soma" herbs such as of charas, ganja, opium find their way in every society, at any time, every time.
The voices of those who are not religious, yet religiously seeking governmental sanction in usage of marijuana and other such intoxicating and addictive substances, are becoming shriller day by day. Despite evidence to the contrary, of more harm than good coming from such usage of hallucinogenic drugs, people are increasingly taking a rather cavalier attitude towards it. Some countries and cultures have also allowed some sort of a usage of above-mentioned easily available "soft" and seemingly "harmless" drugs for one reason or another.
"There is always a need for intoxication," said Andre Malraux. However, the twain has met. Now, in both East and West -- for many, drugs are the best.
"A gramme is better than a damn.. I wish I had my soma!" Aldous Huxley, in The Brave New World. And, William S. Burroughs refers to "soma" (Greek word for "body") as a non-addictive, high-quality form of opium said to exist in ancient India. Soma was a Vedic ritual drink amongst early Indo-Iranians, subsequent Vedic and greater Persian cultures.
In nutshell, drugs, in mild or wild form, have been used in most regions and religions throughout history of mankind. Yet, do they induce mystical or hallucinogenic experiences?
There is no denying that drugs make us lose inhibitions and "make" the users see "things" that they do not usually witness in everyday living, without drugs. What happens? More importantly, why does this happen?