By – Sathyakāmā Jabala

Hindu Scriptures on Liquor Drinking

Narada Purana not only allows one to drink liquor after offering it to gods but it also gives details on preparation of three types of liquors,

Narada Purana III.90.11-22 “This Vidya is exhilarating as the intoxicating liquor. It is the means of crossing over distress. I shall now tell you the precise preparation of it. The liquor they classify into three types: Gaudi, Paisti and Madhvi. Put jaggery in hot water and stir it well. The pollen powder of the flower dhataki (grislea tomentosa) shall be put into it and the whole solution is kept in a glass jar. It is stored underground but at dawn and at dusk the solution is stirred well with the hands. After a month is over when the sediments go to the bottom, it is filtered. This can be used for worship. This is called Gaudi because it is prepared from Guda. Similarly, that which is got by adding honey is called Madhvi. O dear one, listen to the Paisti variety. Rice should be boiled slowly and cooked in two and a half times more water (than the rice). It should be left over for three days. Then the powdered sprout of the embylic Myrobalan is put into it. Keep this in an airy place for a day where there is not much of wind. Water is then poured into it and stirred well. This is then filtered. It is then called Paistika Madhu. Artificial liquor is prepared in two ways extracting from trees or squeezing from fruits. Listen to the mode of its preparation. By its taste, the mind gets repose. Bunches of grapes, or date fruits or the flowers of Bassia latifolia are put into water and boiled to half the original quantity. To this add a small quantity of distilled spirit and keep it undisturbed for two days. After filtering the same it becomes tasty and auspicious, worthy of being offered for worship. I cause full repose of the mind. As to the second variety it is prepared from the coconut, Hintala or palm trees. The milk that exudes from the stalk of the fruit must be taken fresh from the tree. It is tasty. Take the water out of the coconut fruit. Put a little camphor therein. The juice of Arecanut half the quantity of the former. Mix both and keep it in the sunlight. This immediately becomes liquor which the gods are very fond of.” Tr. G.V. Tagare

Another verse from Narada Purana permits one to drink certain amount of liquor after offering it to deities,

Narada Purana III.90.23-28 “Or the devotee shall offer for the arghya to the goddess the liquor which has been mentioned here. It must be offered immediately which will be fruitful. The aspirant while remaining in trance should drink it always restricting his diet. Never should a siddha drink it unless it has been first offered to the goddess. It should be drunk until the mind is wholly absorbed in the Goddess. If he drinks more than that he shall become a sinner immediately. He who drinks wine with wilful desire without serving it to the god becomes a sinner. He should be punished by the king for he is the worshipper of avidya …The devotee with the previously-mentioned form should worship the deities of the above-mentioned forms. He should worship them in the proper sequence with the offering if wine, fish and meat duly consecrated.” Tr. G.V. Tagare

Baudhayana Dharma Shastra permits drinking of Rum only for South Indian Hindus,

Baudhayana Dharma Shastra, Prasna 1, Adhyaya 1, Kandika 1, verses 1-4 “There is a dispute regarding five (practices) both in the south and in the north…Now (the customs peculiar) to the north are, to deal in wool, to drink rum, to sell animals that have teeth in the upper and in the lower jaws, to follow the trade of arms, to go to sea. He who follows (these practices) in any other country than where they prevail, commits sin.”

Indra questions Brihaspati about Asava (a type of liquor) and Brihaspati explains to him in detail and also about which type of liquor is permissible for Kshatriya, Vaishya after offering it to deities,

Brahmanda Purana, Lalita-Mahatmya 7.63-76 “Indra said: ‘What is the nature of Asava? (Liquor). What is its defect? What is its merit? What type of cooked food is defective? Mention this in detail to me.’ Brihaspati said: The different types of intoxicating beverages are as follows: Paiffika (made from flour or rice), Talaja (from the date palm), Kaira (cocounut palm-juice), Madhuka (made from honey or Madhuka flowers), Gudasambhava (prepared from molasses). In regard to sinful nature the later ones mentioned above are half as dreadful as the earlier ones. Asava can be used as a beverage by the three castes beginning with the Ksatriyas. Excepting a Brahmana lady, all women can drink liquors beginning with the third one i.e. Kaira (coconut palm juice, and prepared from honey and molasses). A widow, a virgin and a woman in her monthly period shall avoid drinking liquor. If a woman drinks liquor out of covetousness and not in the company of her husband, she is called Unmadini (a mad woman). One should avoid her like a Candala woman. The ratio of drinking liquors in the case of four castes beginning with the Brahmanas shall be ten to eight or six to four. In the case of women, it shall be half of the above. If they drink in the company of their husbands, it shall be one-fourth of the above. After drinking liquor out of delusion, a Brahmana should perform Krcchracandrayana expiation. Or he shall repeat Gayatri Mantra or Jatavedasa Mantra ten thousand times. If a man repeats Ambikahrdaya Mantra, he shall become pure. A Ksatriya among the three castes shall be purified by repeating those Mantras half the number of times. In the case of women, the number of repetitions shall be one-fourth, or they can get the same done through Brahmanas. One should repeat the Mantras a thousand times under water and become purified thereby. Laksmi, Sarasvati, Gauri, Candika, Tripura, Ambika, Vaisnavi, Bhairavi, Kali and Mahendri are the mothers. There are other Sakti goddesses. In worshipping them the liquor prepared from honey is approved of. A Brahmana who has mastered the Vedangas shall perform worship without wine …The base fellow who drinks liquor without worshipping Para Sakti shall stay in hell called Raurava for a period calculated at the rate of a year for every drop so consumed.” Tr. G.V. Tagare

Brahmins were not always barred from quaffing wine, in the Vedic period Kshatriyas and even Brahmins enjoyed wine especially after mixing it with Soma,

Yajur Veda 19.5 Soma with Wine pressed; filtered for the banquet, cleanses priest, noble, brilliancy and vigour. God, with the Bright give Deities enjoyment: give food with flavour to the Sacrificer.

Following is the Sanskrit text with Hindi translation by Swami Karpatri Maharaj,

In the consecration ceremony (Rajasuya?) of king mentioned in Aitareya Brahmana, the king is required to drink Sura (liquor) along with Soma, which is given by the Brahmin priest,

Aitareya Brahmana, Book 8 , Chapter 2, Para 8 “…The spirituous liquor represents the Kshattra, and further, the juice in the food; thus both the Kshattra and the juice in the food, are placed in him…Now he gives into his hand a goblet of spirituous liquor, under the recital of the verse, svadishthaya madishthaya, (9.1.1) i.e. ‘Purify, O Soma! with thy sweetest most exhilarating drops (the sacrificer), thou who art squeezed for Indra, to be drunk by him.’ After having put the spirituous liquor into his hand, the priest repeats a propitiatory mantra (which runs thus): ‘To either of you (spirituous liquor and Soma!) a separate residence has been prepared, and allotted by the gods. Do not mix with one another in the highest heaven; liquor! thou art powerful; Soma! thou art a king. Do not harm him (the king)! may either go to his own place.’ (Here is said), that the drinking of the Soma and that of liquor, exclude one another (they are not to be mixed). After having drunk it…Thus he finally places the liquor in his friend (gives him a share in it).” Tr. Martin Haug

Underlined sentences of above passage are elaboration of the following Yajur Veda verse,

Yajur Veda 19.7 For each of you is made a God-appointed place: so, grant to me a portion in the highest sphere. Surâ the strong art thou. This here is Soma. Entering thine own place do me no mischief.

Following is the Sanskrit text along with the Hindi translation of Swami Karpatri Maharaj

Now, those who cry “fake translation” has no way to escape, Aitareya Brahmana attests Yajur Veda verse. Chapter 20 of Aitareya Brahmana deals with pouring of various liquids over the king’s head by the priest and also deals with drinking of liquor. By means of Mantra the liquor was transformed into real Soma, which is then drunk by the king,

Aitareya Brahmana, Book 8, chapter 4, Para 20 “…Then the priest gives into his hands a goblet filled with spirituous liquor, repeating the mantra, svadishthaya. He then should drink the remainder (after previous libations to the gods)…The Soma beverage which is (in a mystical way) contained in the spirituous liquor, is thus drunk by the king, who is inaugurated by means of Indra’s inauguration ceremony (the ceremony just described)…The drinking of spirituous liquor, or Soma, or the enjoyment of some other exquisite food, affects the body of the Kshattriya who is inaugurated by means of Indra’s great inauguration ceremony…” Tr. Martin Haug

Vishnu Smriti prohibits all forms of wine for a Brahmin but permits certain types of liquor for Kshatriya and Vaishya,

Vishnu Smriti 22.82-84 Distilled from sugar, or from the blossoms of the Madhûka. (Mâdhvi wine], or from flour: these three kinds of spirituous liquor have to be discerned; as one, so are all: none of them must be tasted by the twice-born. Again, distilled from the blossoms of the Madhûka tree (Madhûka wine), from molasses, from the fruits of the Tanka (or Kapittha tree), of the jujube tree, of the Khargûra tree, or of the breadfruit tree, from wine-grapes, from Madhûka blossoms (Mâdhvîka wine), Maireya, and the sap of the cocoanut tree: These ten intoxicating drinks are unclean for a Brâhmana; but a Kshatriya and a Vaisya commit no wrong in touching (or drinking) them.

Manu Smriti 5.56 There is no sin in eating meat, in (drinking) spirituous liquor, and in carnal intercourse, for that is the natural way of created beings, but abstention brings great rewards

Acharya Medhatithi writes on this verse that drinking wine is permissible for Kshatriyas. Arthashastra of Kautilya (Chanakya) allows sale, purchase and drinking of liquor, it brings liquor manufacturers and shops under state regulation, an entire chapter is dedicated to it,

Kautilya’s Arthashastra, Book 2, chapter 25 “BY employing such men as are acquainted with the manufacture of liquor and ferments (kinva), the Superintendent of Liquor shall carry on liquor-traffic not only in forts and country parts, but also in camps. In accordance with the requirements of demand and supply (krayavikrayavasena) he may either centralize or decentralize the sale of liquor. A fine of 600 panas shall be imposed on all offenders other than those who are manufacturers, purchasers, or sellers in liquor-traffic. Liquor shall not be taken out of villages, nor shall liquor shops be close to each other. Lest workmen spoil the work in hand, and Aryas violate their decency and virtuous character, and lest firebrands commit indiscreet acts, liquor shall be sold to persons of well-known character in such small quantities as one-fourth or half-a-kudumba, one kudumba, half-a-prastha, or one prastha. Those who are well known and of pure character may take liquor out of shop. Or all may be compelled to drink liquor within the shops and not allowed to stir out at once in view of detecting articles such as sealed deposits, unsealed deposits, commodities given for repair, stolen articles, and the like which the customer’s may have acquired by foul means. When they are found to possess gold and other articles not their own, the superintendent shall contrive to cause them to be arrested outside the shop. Likewise, those who are too extravagant or spend beyond their income shall be arrested. No fresh liquor other than bad liquor shall be sold below its price. Bad liquor may be sold elsewhere or given to slaves or workmen in lieu of wages; or it may form the drink of beasts for draught or the subsistence of hogs. Liquor shops shall contain many rooms provided with beds and seats kept apart. The drinking room shall contain scents, garlands of flowers, water, and other comfortable things suitable to the varying seasons. Spies stationed in the shops shall ascertain whether the expenditure incurred by customers in the shop is ordinary or extraordinary and also whether there are any strangers. They shall also ascertain the value of the dress, ornaments, and gold of the customers lying there under intoxication. When customers under intoxication lose any of their things, the merchants of the shop shall not only make good the loss, but also pay an equivalent fine. Merchants seated in half-closed rooms shall observe the appearance of local and foreign customers who, in real or false guise of Aryas lie down in intoxication along with their beautiful mistresses. Of various kinds of liquor such as medaka, prasanna, ásava, arista, maireya, and madhu:– Medaka is manufactured with one drona of water, half, an ádaka of rice, and three prastha of kinva (ferment). Twelve ádhakas of flour (pishta), five prasthas of kinva (ferment), with the addition of spices (játisambhára) together with the bark and fruits of putraká (a species of tree) constitute prasanná. One-hundred palas of kapittha (Feronia Elephantum) 500 palas of phánita (sugar), and one prastha of honey (madhu) form ásava. With an increase of one-quarter of the above ingredients, a superior kind of ásava is manufactured; and when the same ingredients are lessened to the extent of one-quarter each, it becomes of an inferior quality. The preparation of various kinds of arishta for various diseases are to be learnt from physicians. A sour gruel or decoction of the bark of meshasringi (a kind of poison) mixed with jaggery (guda) and with the powder of long pepper and black pepper or with the powder of triphala (1 Terminalia Chebula, 2 Terminalia Bellerica, and 3 Phyllanthus Emblica) forms Maireya. To all kinds of liquor mixed with jaggery, the powder of triphala is always added. The juice of grapes is termed madhu. Its own native place (svadesa) is the commentary on such of its various forms as kápisáyana and hárahúraka. One drona of either boiled or unboiled paste of másha (Phraseolus Radiatus), three parts more of rice, and one karsha of morata (Alangium Hexapetalum) and the like form kinva (ferment). In the manufacture of medaka and prasanna, five karshas of the powder of (each of páthá (Clypea Hermandifolio), lodhra (Symplocos Racemosa), tejovati (Piper Chaba), eláváluka (Solanum Melongena) honey, the juice of grapes (madhurasa), priyangu (panic seeds), dáruharidra (a species of turmeric) black pepper and long pepper are added as sambhára, requisite spices. The decoction of madhúka (Bassia Latifolia) mixed with granulated sugar (katasarkará), when added to prasanna, gives it a pleasing colour. The requisite quantity of spices to be added to ásava is one karshá of the powder of each of chocha (bark of cinnamon), chitraka (Plumbago Zeylanica), vilanga, and gajapippalí (Scindapsus Officinalis), and two karshas of the powder of each of kramuka (betel nut), madhúka (Bassia Latifolia), mustá (Cyprus Rotundus), and lodhra (Symlocos Racemosa). The addition of one-tenth of the above ingredients (i.e., chocha, kramuka, etc.), is (termed) bíjabandha. The same ingredients as are added to prasanná are also added to white liquor (svetasurá). The liquor that is manufactured from mango fruits (sahakárasurá) may contain a greater proportion of mango essence (rasottara), or of spices (bíjottara). It is called mahásura when it contains sambhára (spices as described above). When a handful (antarnakho mushtih, i.e., so much as can be held in the hand, the fingers being so bent that the nails cannot be seen) of the powder of granulated sugar dissolved in the decoction of moratá (Alangium Hexapetalum), palása (Butea Frondosa), dattúra (Dattura Fastuosa), karanja (Robinia Mitis), meshasringa (a kind of poison) and the bark of milky trees (kshiravriksha) mixed with one-half of the paste formed by combining the powders of lodhra (Symplocos Racemosa), chitraka (Plumbago Zeylanica), vilanga, páthá (clypea Hermandifolia), mustá (cyprus Rotundus), kaláya (leguminous seeds), dáruharidra (Amonum Xanthorrhizon), indívara (blue lotus), satapushpa (Anethum Sowa), apámárga (Achyranthes Aspera) saptaparna (Echites Scholaris), and nimba (Nimba Melia) is added to (even) a kumbha of liquor payable by the king, it renders it very pleasant. Five palas of phánita (sugar) are added to the above in order to increase its flavour. On special occasions (krityeshu), people (kutumbinah, i.e., families) shall be allowed to manufacture white liquor (svetasura), arishta for use in diseases, and other kinds of liquor. On the occasions of festivals, fairs (samája), and pilgrimage, right of manufacture of liquor for four days (chaturahassaurikah) shall be allowed. The Superintendent shall collect the daily fines (daivasikamatyayam, i.e., license fees) from those who on these occasions are permitted to manufacture liquor. Women and children shall collect ‘sura,’ and ‘kinva,’ ‘ferment.’ Those who deal with liquor other than that of the king shall pay five percent as toll. With regard to sura, medaka, arishta, wine, phalámla (acid drinks prepared from fruits), and ámlasídhu (spirit distilled from molasses):– Having ascertained the day’s sale of the above kinds of liquor, the difference of royal and public measures (mánavyáji), and the excessive amount of sale proceeds realised thereby, the Superintendent shall fix the amount of compensation (vaidharana) due to the king (from local or foreign merchants for entailing loss on the king’s liquor traffic) and shall always adopt the best course.” Tr. R. Shamasastry

Following verses are favourable to use of wine,

Atharva Veda 10.6.5 To this we give apportioned food, clarified butter, wine, and meath. May it provide each boon for us as doth a father for his sons…

Atharva Veda 15.9.1-3 He went away to the people. Meeting and Assembly and Army and Wine followed him. He who hath this knowledge becomes the dear home of Meeting, Assembly, Army, and Wine.

Atharva Veda 14.1.35-36 Whatever lustre is in dice, whatever lustre is in wine, Whatever lustre is in cows, Asvins, endue this dame therewith. With all the sheen that balmeth wine, or thigh of female paramour, With all the sheen that balmeth dice, even with this adorn the dame.

Atharva Veda 6.69.1 Mine be the glory in the hill, in vales, in cattle, and in gold, Mine be the sweetness that is found in nectar and in flowing wine!

Atharva Veda 9.1.18 May all the sweetness that is found in hills and mountains, steeds and kine, And wine that floweth from the cup,—may all that sweetness be in me.

Yajur Veda 19.16 The Sacrificer’s seat is the throne’s symbol, the jar containing Surâ of the Altar. The mid-space is the northern Altar’s symbol: the cloth for filtering is the physician.

Following is the Hindi translation of Yajur Veda 9.4 by Swami Karpatri Maharaj,

Rig Veda mentions a miracle by Ashwins who drew a hundred jars of wine from hoof of their horse,

Rig Veda 1.116.7 O heroes, ye gave wisdom to Kakshivan who sprang from Parjra’s line, who sang your praises. Ye poured forth from the hoof of your strong charger a hundred jars of wine as from a strainer.

Following is the Sanskrit text with Hindi translation by Pandit Ram Govind Trivedi,

Satapatha Brahmana 12:7:3:88. There are both milk and Surâ-liquor; for milk is Soma, and the Surâ-liquor food: through the milk he secures the Soma-drink, and through the Surâ-liquor food. And milk is the nobility (chieftaincy), and Surâ-liquor the peasantry (clan); the milk he purifies after purifying the Surâ-liquor: he thus produces the nobility from out of the peasantry, for the nobility is produced from out of the peasantry.

Satapatha Brahmana also mentions Parishrut (spelt Parisrut) a type of liquor different from Sura,

Satapatha Brahmana 12:9:1:11. Verily, from this sacrifice the man is born and whatever food a man consumes in this world, that (food), in return, consumes him in yonder world. Now this sacrifice is performed by means of spirituous liquor, and spirituous liquor (parisrut is not to be consumed by a Brâhmana: he thus is born from that which is not (to be) consumed, and the food does not, in return, consume him in yonder world. Therefore this (sacrifice), the Sautrâmanî, is a Brâhmana’s sacrifice.

Satapatha Brahmana 5:1:2:14 …and the Parisrut-liquor is neither Soma nor Sura: this is why he buys the Parisrut for a piece of lead from a long haired man.

Satapatha Brahmana “…Let him therefore rather throw them into the fermented liquor (Parisrut)…let him therefore throw it rather into the spirituous liquor.

Thank you for reading, stay tuned for more in the series!