Bhang for Balaram?

Madhumangala Dasa - April 8, 2007 3:22 am

Vaishnavas make offerings of bhang. The form of Vishnu or the Guardian to whom bhang is a welcome offering is Baladev, Balaram, or Dauji, the elder brother of Krishna. Baladev enjoys spirits and is fond of bhang. The offering of bhang to Baladev, unlike the special offerings to Shiva, is a common and every-day rite of those who worship Balaram. Without an offering of bhang no worship of Baladev is complete. Unlike the plain or milk and sugared bhang spilt over the Shiva lingam, Baladev's bhang is a richly-spiced liquid which all present, including the offerer, join in drinking.


Which parampara/sampradaya/lineage has this as a regular practice? Are they local to Vrindavan? elsewhere? How old is this practice? Where does it originate? Is this prescription contained in any of the Puranic literature? I'm sincerely curious about the sources of this practice...



Syamasundara - April 8, 2007 7:58 am

So far I can tell you that Balarama's liking for varuni, a very sweet sap that I guess gives a sugar rush (I doubt it's alcoholic, but you never know, there is supposed to be an ocean of milk in this world, so...), is documented in the Bhagavata Purana, when it describes Balarama's rasa-lila.

There is a village in the Vraja area called Dauji I believe, for sure Dauji is the name of the local deity, who is Baladeva, the bigger brother; that's where he appeared. There they offer bhang for sure. The Western Gaudiyas don't follow this practice (that's all they need now...).

As far as Balaram not accepting any offering if there is no bhang, I'd love GM to give a solid counter statement, but overall knowledge of our siddhanta and common sense can already give an answer to that.

SP calls the varuni "honey" so we offer tons of honey preparations on Baladeva Purnima, no hash brownies or anything.

God's bhukti (nourishment) is bhakti. That's why it's much more stressed that he won't accept any offering that is not accompanied with Bhakti devi (Tulasi devi).

Bhrigu - April 8, 2007 10:16 am

I know that they offer bhang to Balarama at the Dauji temple (near to Gokula in the SE of Vraja), but that temple is not run by Gaudiyas. It may be an old practice, but I don't know any details of it. Similar thing can, however, be found in Gaudiya Vaishnavism -- it used to be common practice at least in Bengal to offer a hukka (water-pipe) to Radha-Govinda, and it was apparenly sometimes loaded with more than tobacco, but I don't think temples do that anymore. At least I have never seen it. BSST certainly did not institute that in his temples. And at any rate, such kinds of prasada cannot be accepted by devotees (there are explicit prohibitions in the BRS, HBV etc). Last time in Vrindavana I fulfilled an old wish of mine to offer pan to my Shilas (one is supposed to offer Bhagavan tambula just at the end of the puja, after the food offering). I asked one sannyasi what to do with the prasada. I knew I cannot take it, but should I throw it away? No, he said, that would be offensive. Rather, give it to some Vrajavasi, and I did so.