In Search of a Treasure

Mestre Pequenina (1985) – Photo: Yuugi Makiuchi (DMD/SG)

“The União do Vegetal is a treasure, the True Treasure. Marvelous and extremely precious jewels compose it; and they are the true teachings of the Great Mestre, that enrich our spirit, elevating us to the Celestial Kingdom”, declared Mestre Pequenina in a letter to the members of the UDV (2011).

In the 1950s, married to Raimunda Ferreira da Costa (Mestre Pequenina), José Gabriel da Costa (Mestre Gabriel) went in a total of four times into the rubber tapping areas of the forest. On one of these occasions, Pequenina did not want to move from the city with their children to go live again in the so-called “rubber posts”, where living conditions were poor. José Gabriel told her, “When we go to the rubber tapping area of the forest, we will find a treasure.” They went, and in the rubber tapping area of Guarapari, in 1959, on the border between the Brazilian state of Acre and Bolivia, on the shores of the Abunã River, Mestre Gabriel drank the Hoasca Tea (Vegetal) for the first time.

In 1960 he began to prepare the Vegetal at the rubber post and, in that simple, caboclo (simple person of mixed heritage) context, distributed the Hoasca Tea to a few people, holding the first sessions there. Pequenina became worried about Gabriel being involved with something unknown, until he explained, “This is the treasure, the Path that we are following,” demonstrating, during the sessions, his knowledge of how to use the Vegetal. Mestre Gabriel stayed with his family and the first disciples in the rubber tapping areas of the Amazon Forest for five years, until December of 1964.

Mestre Pequenina traveling along the Abunã River with her sons Carmiro, Jair and Benvino.
Pedro Brás, member of the UDV, drives the boat. (Border of Acre, Brazil with Bolivia, 1985) | Photo: Yuugi Makiuchi

Em busca de um tesouro


The life of José Gabriel da Costa, until his encounter with the Hoasca Tea in the rubber tapping areas of the Amazon, and the beginning of the União do Vegetal (1961), refers us back to the story of the search for “a treasure”, as he said on a few occasions. In 1944, 15 years before, in Belém, Brazil, in the middle of his trip from Salvador to Porto Velho, Brazil, to work as a “rubber soldier”, José Gabriel said to his travel companion, José Rodrigues Sobrinho that, besides the work, he was also going to the Amazon in search of a treasure. They met again 20 years later, when Mestre Gabriel was already distributing the Vegetal. José Rodrigues became a member and continued with him in the UDV.

“Note: In the English translation it was decided to preserve some words that are part of the UDV dialect in its original language, Portuguese.”