chapter  6
16 Pages

The opium question in colonial Assam


Scholars investigating mankind’s long and complex relationship with ‘mind altering’ substances have agreed that drug 1 use is a ‘culturally universal’ phenomenon, i.e. consumption of ‘mind altering’ substances seems to have been ubiquitous in human history. 2 In different regions of the world psychoactive substances have not only been acceptable but often also an integral part of religious practices, social and cultural life. They were sometimes viewed as ‘sacred’, ‘curative’, ‘stimulant’, and ‘aphrodisiac’, and often encoded meanings that had spiritual and metaphysical, moral and transmutative effects.