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?
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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]
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.