Nihangs: The Protectors of Bhaang
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Bhaang, a holy drink where the leaves and the flowers are crushed and infused with milk is a traditional drink in India.
After the prohibition of the Cannabis plant in India,
for the very first time in 1985, the government has made it inaccessible for most of the citizens and has placed strict penalties of maybe upto ten years of jail for growing or consuming the plant.
Bhaang (Cannabis / Gaanja) is considered a holy plant in not just Hinduism, but also in Sikhism.
Sikhism, one of the popular religions from the north west of India,
is the youngest of world's major religions and is currently the 9th largest religion of the world.
Sikhism is much respected for its ideologies to unite humankind, striving for social justice for the benefit and prosperity of all and engaging in selfless service.
On the other hand they also have a sect of warriors known as
who are trained to be fighters
and protect their country and their people.
They are often referred as Akali.
Early Sikh military history was dominated by the Nihang, who are known for their victories where they were heavily outnumbered.
Some Nihang groups consume cannabis or bhang to help in meditation. Sukhnidhaan or Sukha parsad, "peace-giver",
is the term Nihang use to refer to it.
There is description of 'Sukhnidhaan' on many pages of the book 'Sooraj Prakaash'.
Generally, 'Bhang' (from Cannabis plant) is called 'Sukhnidhaan,
but seeing condemnation of 'Bhaang' in the
Gurbaani and in the Panthic 'Sikh Rehat Maryada',
those in favour for the consumption of Bhaang have named it 'Sukhnidhaan', instead of 'Bhaang'.
In his book 'Sri Hazoori Maryada Prabodh', Singh Sahib Bhai Joginder Singh Ji, then the “chief priest” of Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazoor Sahib, has expressed his views about 'Bhaang' under the heading of 'Sukhnidhaan De Bhog Baare' (page 257 to 264).
He wrote that all the 'Maryada', which is being followed at Takht Sahib,
is 'Puraatan' (old) tradition.
Supporting the arguments of Sukhnidhaan in the book, the high priest wrote about the following details:
According to the 'Janamsakhi Bhai Bala',
the Mughul King ‘Babur’ offered 'Bhang' to
Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
Delighted on this, it is claimed that
Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji granted him the boon
to have the kingdom for seven generations.
Guru Ji recited a 'Shabad' (divine hymn) on this occasion,
in which it is argued
he did not condemn 'Bhaang'.
On the other hand, when Yogi Jhangar Naath offered a cup of wine to Guru Nanak Dev Ji,
Guru Ji recited a 'Shabad', in which
drinking wine and alcohol was condemned.