With the emergence of the sun, in the religious town of Rishikesh and Haridwar, hundreds of sadhus emerge from their ashrams and huts to start their day by a taking in the holy waters of cold gushing Ganga. The average life of a sadhu starts with that and ends with that, from the perspective of normal people. But many of the sadhus here in Haridwar, lead a completely different lifestyle. It is fascinating to see how some of these sadhus have no interest in meeting the tourists, pouring in everyday. They only entertain people who wish to seek the truth and learn about the ancient culture and traditions. Rishikesh, this little North Indian town, which is the gateway to the Himalayas and the home to the most sacred river, The Ganga, has much more to offer than just a myriad of virtually unknown sadhus and saints in nondescript kuttias (cottages).
“The religious sect of sadhus there believe that smoking marijuana or other forms of it, like weed, pot or ganja, locally known as chillum, evokes similar states of relaxation as meditation, which is quiet surprising because, we all know that any form of marijuana or any other drug is illegal in India,” states a local resident Dilip Singh. “The saints sit near the Ganges, carrying little tin containers, in which they collect their money and make their livelihood. They have endless stories to tell about their spiritual journey, their plight and ideals of freedom while puffing a joint of chillum. “The availability of marijuana in this ‘spiritual’ town has led to the creation of a mixed variety of tourists, ranging from devout Hindu followers who worship the deities in the countless temples, to the hippie crowd that stays on for months, to learn and practice meditation and yoga and indulge in smoking up,” comments a police personnel. “The saints smoke up in the name of the God they worship, Lord Shiva. It is said that, weed aids in the act of meditation and Lord Shiva, was known for his prolonged dhyaan (meditation) practices in the Kailash Mountain and thus, used such recreational stuff to reach the higher states of consciousness,” states a sadhu.