I have been with some Brahmins, and I was told that along with meat, they are also prohibited from eating onions and garlic.

I can understand the meat prohibition because of cows, but what is the reason for the prohibition on onions and/or garlic?

  • This will answer your question
    – Sisir
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 8:01
  • @Sisir you can include that answer here too. Because they are relatively answered but they are different. Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 8:07
  • 5
    Actually, it is prohibited for every Hindu. But ain't nobody follow rules? Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 8:25
  • 2
    @AwalGarg I agree - it is meant for all Hindus but only some practice it. In fact, a great saint, Swami Sivananda of the Divine Life Society describes it being even worse than eating meat.
    – Kapil Vyas
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 4:27
  • Only because you asked a question here, you are trying to look for a way to get this question closed and more audience there? Nice! :) @Akshay Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 18:17

5 Answers 5


As per the scripture, garlic, onion and mushroom are prohibited for Brahmins because they are considered impure as they generally grow in the place of impurity. Brahmins need to maintain purity as they worship gods who are sattvic (pure) in nature.

Garlic, leeks and onions, mushrooms and (all plants), springing from impure (substances), are unfit to be eaten by twice-born men. [Manu Smriti - 5.5]

  • This is not a proper explanation. They seem to eat other Yam kind of vegetables that supposedly grow in your same "impure" places. Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 8:33
  • 1
    @a20 and others, the corresponding Sanskrit is "amedhya-prabhavani" which means arising from impurity. It's not that these food items are grown in dirty places, but that they are borne of tamaguna or the impure element. As the accepted answer explains - all food items are borne of one of the 3 elements
    – user1995
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 1:48
  • 1
    @a20, good point. This would help me explain my point even better. There are 2 main processes of acquiring knowledge - ascending (using our own senses) and descending (based on wisdom texts). The idea is that for spiritual progress, the latter is better, and it specifies what is pure and what is impure. By mundane logic, cowdung is impure (just like any animal's stool) and so is the conchshell (as it is the bone of an animal) but they are considered pure because of the supremacy of descending knowledge, i.e. our texts say so. The fact that cow-dung/urine has medicinal properties is secondary
    – user1995
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 2:04
  • 2
    @a20 I don't want to elongate this thread, but I do want to make a few points. One, cow-dung is not supposed to be a food item but rather for applying on walls, for cooking etc. Secondly, most naturopathic/Ayurvedic medicines in market have cow-dung/urine in them for medicinal purposes, so it's benefits are apparent. Third, not saying anything about you, but just know that almost all meat products have feces in them. Also, ironically the most expensive coffee is basically a type of cat's poop. Just some facts.
    – user1995
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 2:29
  • 1
    @user1993 Hah. That bit about shit in meat is definitely disgusting and enlightening. No arguments here - lacto-vegetarian diet is definitely much more agreeable to the human body in the long run than meat based diet - especially considering the steroids and feed given to the animals. Anyway - yup lets not go on with this .. fun over. Have to get back to work. Have a good day ahead :-)
    – a20
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 2:37

Q: Why not to have garlic & onion?

A: Garlic & onion make you little dull. Creates tamogun. For meditators it’s not very good. For gastric problem- garlic, for heart problem- onion. But as a regular diet, take everyday I would not advise. It makes consciousness dull. This universe is filled with Prana, life energy. If you area good meditator, nothing can make you unhappy. Even if you are unhappy, it immediately gets removed.

From a Q&A with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:



According to ayurveda, foods are classified by their rasa (taste), vipak (aftertaste), virya (energy) and prabhava (specific qualities). The specific qualities of onion and garlic are that they carry the energy of anger. Anger pollutes memory and therefore increases bodily consciousness (Bhagavad-gita 2.63).


In Chapter 5, onion and garlic are mentioned in the list of forbidden foods in Manu Smriti.

"Garlic, leeks, onions, and mushrooms are foods forbidden to twice-born persons (Brahmins); and so is anything growing in an impure medium." - Manu Smriti 5.5

"By eating mushrooms, a village hog, garlic, a village fowl, onion, or leek intentionally, a twice-born falls from his caste." - Manu Smriti 5.19

"If he eats one of these six unwittingly, he shall perform the Santapana (11.213) or the ascetics' lunar penance (11.219). If he eats any of the others, he shall fast for one day." - Manu Smriti 5.20


I am answering this based on a popular theory(among Gaudiya Vaishnavas,if I am not mistaken)

The blood of the asura who was be headed by Lord Vishnu in His Mohini form,while he slyly drank Amrit,fell on the Earth.

From this,onions and garlic came to be.Because they are of the blood of the Asura that drank Amrit,they are healing/medicinal. But because it is the blood of an Asura,it is tamasik,hence not to be eaten.

(I am typing this on data,as WiFi is currently not available for me.I’ll find a scripture reference if possible.)

Like I said,this is a common belief,don’t know if this true.

This link attributes the story to HH Bhakti Purushottam Swami

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .