In India, people do drugs and drink alcohol. This can be interpreted as there being no law in India to stop them from drinking and doing drugs.

Many Indian people are also Hindu. What does Hinduism say about the use of drugs and alcohol?

  • 2
    How can this be interpreted as "there being no law in India to stop them from drinking and doing drugs", could you clarify? What Indian Law has to say about alcohol or drugs doesn't seem to have any bearing on this site (and there are very clearly laws regulating both)
    – Shisa
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 3:58
  • 8
    First and foremost. India is a secular country, Hinduism is not the national religion of India, so it doesn't matter whether it allows it not. Secondly, there are laws in India to stop drug abuse. Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 10:19

6 Answers 6


Is taking alcohol really allowed in Hinduism, or people forgot what were the teachings

There is no "commandment" regarding use of drugs or alcohol.

It is considered bad for socio-cultural reasons than religious reasons in most cases.

Many Hindu schools/teachings "recommend" (not mandate) consumption of Sattivic food to maintain Sattva guna. Alcohol and drugs are known to induce Rajas & Tamas Guna and hence are to be avoided if one seeks Sattvik qualities.

Note that the gunas have different meaning in different thought systems. The notion which is I use is that Satta - purity/clearness, Rajas - restlessness/anger and Tamas - laziness/sloth.

  • 1
    Does soma induce sattvic qualities? I dare say, where it around today, it would be considered an intoxicant and Schedule 1 Drug in the US. Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 17:47
  • @RubelliteYakṣī What are the bad effects / side effects of Soma? Is that attributed somewhere ?
    – Ganaraj
    Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 18:38

There is a very precise reason for avoiding all intoxication -- it destroys austerity. Austerity is one of the four defining qualities of a human civilization (Bhagavata purana 1.17.24).

  • 1
    Wearing jewels is also non-austere, yet it is expected of Kshatriyas Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 17:41

Most of the answers here don’t have scriptural evidence to support a claim. Drugs are not allowed in Hinduism.

oṣadhi vanaspatīnām ācchidya na-upajighret || 4 ||
4. One shall not cut the [leaves or flowers] of herbs or trees, in order to smell them.

Apastamba Sutra 1.2.7

This could refer to herbs like mint leaves or tulsi, or it could refer to drugs. However, we have to infer that it means both because the sutra itself is general.

According to the Manu Smriti:

11.67. Giving pain to a Brahmana (by a blow), smelling at things which ought not to be smelt at, or at spirituous liquor, cheating, and an unnatural offence with a man, are declared to cause the loss of caste (Gatibhramsa)

Manu Smriti

This verse is also general, and its meaning can be inferred similar to that of the previous sutra from Apastamba.


The usual argument people give in favour of drugs (in the context of Hinduism) is a misleading argument that Shiva consumed Bhaang. Hence, it is okay for them to do so too. This argument has no base in it:

Q. Gurudev, we sing devotional songs in praise of Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna. But back home, the people there consume Bhaang (a type of Indian narcotic incorrectly thought to please Lord Shiva) while they sing praises of Lord Shiva. How should one understand all this?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, if Lord Shiva consumed Bhaang, then he also consumed the poison that came from churning the cosmic ocean. So should we also drink poison first, and then see if we stay alive to drink Bhaang? Do not misunderstand all these things. Lord Shiva never consumed Bhaang. The essential point to understand is that the Shiva Tattva (the most fundamental all-pervading element in creation) resides in each and every one. An intoxicant like Bhaang too cannot do anything to Lord Shiva’s bliss, because he is above and beyond all such trivial influences. But chanting his name can have a positive influence on us and elevate us.

Excerpts from a Q&A: http://celebrating-silence-of-life.blogspot.in/2015/08/why-good-people-suffer.html

  • The answer may be true, but this argument is unconvincing. Shiva did not swallow the poison, but kept it in his throat forever. Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 17:39

Alcohol consumption is verily considered as a mahāpātaka however the smṛti texts also say that śūdras uninterested in religious affairs are free to indulge in alcohol consumption, but no such exception is granted in case of the brāhmaṇa. Mitramiśra writes in the Pūjāprakāśa section of Viramitrodaya that prohibition imposed on brāhmaṇas from catering the spiritual needs of śūdras apply only in case of alcohol-addicted śūdras & not to those who observe the scripturally-mandated rules & restrictions under the guidance of a guru.

Devībhāgavatapurāṇa states

यदि शूद्रा व्रजेद्विप्रो वृषलीपतिरेव सः ॥ स भ्रष्टो विप्रजातेश्च चण्डालात्सोऽधमः स्मृतः । विष्ठासमश्च तत्पिण्डो मूत्रं तस्य च तर्पणम् ॥ न पितॄणां सुराणां च तद्दत्तमुपतिष्ठति । कोटिजन्मार्जितं पुण्यं तस्यार्चात्तपसार्जितम् ॥ द्विजस्य वृषलीलोभान्नश्यत्येव न संशयः । ब्राह्मणश्च सुरापीतिर्विड्भोजी वृषलीपतिः ॥

Transliteration: The vipra who indulges in sex with a śūdrā is considered as a Vṛṣalīpati. He is excommunicated from the vipra community & is considered to be more degraded than a caṇḍāla. Piṇdas offered by him are equivalent to faeces & tarpaṇa offered by him are considered equivalent to urine. Devas & pitṛs don't accept anything offered by him. Whatever merit a dvija had obtained in his crores of previous lives (which propelled him to be born as a brāhmaṇa) & by the virtue of serving the deities & performing austerities (in this life), undoubtedly gets destroyed by his greed for (indulging in sex with) a vṛṣalī (i.e a śūdra woman). A brahmaṇa who is addicted to alcohol is considered as a feeder of faeces (since alcohol is considered to be the metaphorical 'faeces' of edible food) & a Vṛṣalīpati. [Devībhāgavatapurāṇa:9:34:72.02-74]

Inspite of such harsh condemnation, it is regrettable that certain people have manipulated the society to turn a blind eye to brāhmaṇas resorting to Vṛṣalīpatihood.

Regarding drugs, it is quite a good argument to equate them with alcohol (a practical example of the application of Nyāya in the field of dharma). However, if we consider the terms 'drugs' & 'intoxicants' to be equivalent, then we hit some hurdles. Intoxicants like tea, coffee & tobacco were readily accepted by the Hindu society compared to other things imported by the Europeans. Due to the silence of the śāstras & mahāpaṇḍitas on the issue of native intoxicants like cannabis & naturalised intoxicants like poppy, the exact status of drugs is rather debatable. [For example, the Mahāpaṇḍita Kamalākara Bhaṭṭa discussed on the topic of performing srāddha of mlecchas within the Nirṇayasindhu in response to the Mughal Emperor Jahangir (Kamalākara Bhaṭṭa's contemporary) donating wealth to brāhmaṇas on the death anniversary of his father in imitation of Hindus, but makes no mention of the status of poppy, a cash crop imported from outside despite the fact that 'Ain-i-Akbari' mentioned opium being cultivated in India.]


In Swami Vivekananda's Complete Works,it references the following:

Ramayana- Uttarkanda 42.18-20 -

Embracing Sita with both his arms,Kakutstha made her drink pure Maireya wine, even as Indra makes Shachi partake of nectar. Servants quickly served flesh meat variously dressed, and fruits of various kinds for the use of Rama.

and in Mahabharata - Udyoga LVIII.5

I saw both of them (Krishna and Arjuna) drunk with Madhvasava (sweet spiritous liquor made from honey), both adorned with sandal paste, garlanded, and wearing costly garments and beautiful ornaments.

and in Ramayana- Adodhyakanda 55.19-20

Be merciful to us, O goddess, and I shall, on my return home, worship thee with a thousand jars of arrack (spiritous liquor) and rice well-dressed with flesh-meat.

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