BY: TJ MOREY
Scopolamine, the Devil’s Breath, Devil’s Apple, are some of the well-known and highly conspicuous names attributed to Datura, a deadly plant that has garnered enough attention, respect, and fear amongst the hardest of psychonauts. Found abundantly and highly documented in South America and North Africa, the world seemed to completely ignore its immense impact and consumption in the Indian subcontinent.
Mentioned time and again in the Holy Scriptures and known to be consumed by the holy men in India and its neighbouring countries, Datura has been a vital part of the spiritual journey of India. Unfortunately, as time distorts everything, including history, the tactless way of passing knowledge of consumption too got distorted, and the art of brewing the right concoction was lost in time. A land sought out by people for its spiritual escapade, Datura went around unnoticed and soon was forgotten among all the weed and shrooms found abundantly across India, until Nepal revealed its priceless treasure and reminded the world of a dimension forgotten by time.
For a plant revered by many, Datura grows abundantly across Nepal, a mountainous country cradled amidst the mighty Himalayas. The trumpet-like white flower is visible in its full glory throughout Nepal, even on the streets as a show-plant, while being completely disregarded as being remotely dangerous among the masses.
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For a country like Nepal, where marijuana consumption was legal till the ’70s and isn’t frowned upon by the locals, it is consumed vehemently by the holy men of Pashupati (The local name for Lord Shiva) under the guise of religion. While weed is accepted widely, the consumption of Datura seeds is a hush-hush affair. With life imprisonment as a sentence for carrying Datura seeds, the drug is consumed amidst a trusted group of saints and monks who prefer to keep such socially- unethical acts under wraps.
While drug enthusiasts and adventurers tend to go haywire with consumption when a drug is handed to them, Datura is highly regulated among its consumers. With strict instructions being doled out to a first-timer they’re eased into the ritualistic consumption of Datura in the proximity of a temple or a monastery. Crushed seeds are added to a healthy mix of marijuana and tobacco which is consumed in a chillum, an Indian bong, while holy chants are echoed by the monks present.
For a religion in which the path to being a religious priest starts at a very young age, so does the consumption. Aspiring monks as young as 16 are eased into consuming marijuana, and when one seems worthy, Datura. While the high is abysmally infantile for the drug’s true prowess, it isn’t exploited by the priests at any given point. Oral consumption is strictly restricted among the consumers and nobody dares to go against the higher authority.
While this healthy way of consumption is acceptable among the priests, there does exist a higher class, one that does not meddle amidst the crowd and prefers to live in isolation, which does consume Datura in ways and means not known by the general folks. Brewing a lethal concoction of Datura with a dozen or so other ingredients, ingredients unknown to anyone but the Brewmaster, this psychedelic tea is like none other. Known to channel the high in a productive manner, the concoction is given to the people who are worthy enough, and in need of a spiritual refreshment.
Scopolamine, or the Devil’s Breath, is an alkaloid drug produced from Datura and is known for its infamous ability to put its victim in a state of trance where he/she is in complete control of the administerer and does what he or she commands. It also acts as a truth serum, rendering the user into blurting out the most personal information, right from the bank details to ATM PINs without any hitch. As reports suggest, more than 50,000 people fall prey to Scopolamine annually in Colombia, an alarmingly huge number that seems to be growing on a yearly basis.
For Nepal, a world untouched by the vile use of Scopolamine, the fear of Nepali Maoists— the notorious local communist party known for its criminal activities— understanding the power of Datura and exploiting it for their own financial gain is a fear that looms over the head of these holy consumers. For such reasons, the monks and priests believe that Earth would be better off without the proliferation of this mystical plant’s knowledge should they see chaos ensue under its untamed wrath.