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Many people cite the example of the Pandavas hunting deers to prove that its ok for the Kshatriyas (& the Kingly classes) to hunt.

1) But are there any Scriptures which explicitly say that Kings and Kshatriyas are allowed to hunt?

2) And how do they (the Scriptures) justify the act which is, needless to say, cruel.

In case of animal sacrifices. its stated (for example in Manu Smriti & in several other Scriptures) that since, the sacrifice is being done for the benefit of the whole world (including that of the animal which is being sacrificed), that killing is not "killing" and it does not incur any sin. That's understandable, but how is killing innocent animals for pleasure and pastime justified in the Scriptures? And how does the act benefit anyone?

What the Manu Smriti says, is quite the opposite though, that is, for the Kings, hunting is one of the vices.

7.47. Hunting, gambling, sleeping by day, censoriousness, (excess with) women, drunkenness, (an inordinate love for) dancing, singing, and music, and useless travel are the tenfold set (of vices) springing from love of pleasure.

EDIT

By killing all sorts of forest-ranging deer, one should remain fasting for three nights and recite the AgniMantrams.

~Samvarta Smriti; 1-143

  • Even in Ramayana there are plenty of references of hunting. I have provided in another thread. – Rakesh Joshi Mar 28 '17 at 8:18
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    But you don't have problem when smritis say that shudra's ear should be filled with molten lead for hearing vedas. isnt this cruelty ? – Rakesh Joshi Mar 28 '17 at 9:02
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    @RakeshJoshi i am not justifying it..neither do i know if that verse is interpolated or not..but at least there they have a reason for doing so..It says if Sudras hear the Vedas then that bring about the downfall of the whole kingdom..Here whats the justification for killing innocent animals for sport?Whos benefitting from the act and who will lose something if its not done? – Rickross Mar 28 '17 at 9:07
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    @RakeshJoshi And btw,one of ur fav Kaula Texts also say the same thing..So its not only Manu Smriti which condemns the act.. – Rickross Mar 28 '17 at 9:09
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    @Aks The kaula text is Kularnava Tantram..It says eating meat (killing animals) without rituals is sinful..The verse about pouring molten lead unto the Sudras' ears is not found in kularnava..But it confirms that in Vedic Dharma varnasrama is prescribed..So sudras should not hear Vedas.. – Rickross Mar 28 '17 at 12:32
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Bhishma says this to Yudhishthira in Mahabharata Book 13 of Anushasana parva Chapter CXVI http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m13/m13b081.htm

"Bhishma said, 'It is even so, O mighty-armed one, as thou sayest. There is nothing on earth that is superior to flesh in point of taste. There is nothing that is more beneficial then flesh to persons that are lean, or weak, or afflicted with disease, or addicted to sexual congress or exhausted with travel. Flesh speedily increases strength. It produces great development. There is no food, O scorcher of foes, that is superior to flesh. But, O delighter of the Kurus, the merits are great that attach to men that abstain from it. Listen to me as I discourse to thee on it. That man who wished to increase his own flesh by the flesh of another living creature is such that there is none meaner and more cruel than he. In this world there is nothing that is dearer to a creature than his life. Hence (instead of taking that valuable possession), one should show compassion to the lives of others as one does to one's own life. Without doubt, O son, flesh has its origin in the vital seed. There is great demerit attaching to its eating, as, indeed, there is merit in abstaining from it. One does not, however, incur any fault by eating flesh sanctified according to the ordinances of the Vedas. The audition is heard that animals were created for sacrifice. They who eat flesh in any other way are said to follow the Rakshasa practice. Listen to me as I tell thee what the ordinance is that has been laid down for the Kshatriyas. They do not incur any fault by eating flesh that has been acquired by expenditure of prowess. All deer of the wilderness were dedicated to the deities and the Pitris in days of old, O king, by Agastya. Hence, the hunting of deer is not censured. There can be no hunting without risk of one's own life. There is equality of risk between the slayer and the slain. Either the animal is killed or it kills the hunter. Hence, O Bharata, even royal sages betake themselves to the practice of hunting. By such conduct they do not become stained with sin. Indeed, the practice is not regarded as sinful. There is nothing, O delighter of the Kurus, that is equal in point of merit, either here or hereafter, to the practice of compassion to all living creatures

So Kshatriyas are allowed to hunt all wild deer species so as to eat their meat which they acquire at risk to their lives.

  1. Hunting of animals whose meat you don't plan to eat would not be allowed.
  2. Hunting should involve risk to hunter's life, so hunting using traps, dogs and modern rifles etc which keep hunters safe would not be allowed.

Justification for this act are twofold. 1. All wild deer have been dedicated to devas and pitris in ancient times, so hunting them is same as sacrificing them in vedic ritual as far as its sinfulness is concerned. 2. Risk taking during hunting tests kshatriya's prowness. This is probably most close to battle situation kshatriya will come without actually doing battle and killing other humans. Hunting would test and train Kshatriya's courage , athletic abilities and ability to think on one's feet. This was probably best way to stay sharp and trained during peace times.

  • Thanks for ur answer 1)All deer of the wilderness were dedicated to the deities and the Pitris in days of old, O king, by Agastya. Hence, the hunting of deer is not censured--I already know this..all scriptures agree that meat eating is legal in Pitru & Deva yajnas..So are they hunted deers are offered to Devas or Pitrus before consumption?..in that case thrs no sin involved.. – Rickross Mar 28 '17 at 12:36
  • Either the animal is killed or it kills the hunter.--A deer will kill an armed hunter ? something like that ever happened in history?? haha – Rickross Mar 28 '17 at 12:38
  • Anyways i have upvoted ur answer..but i don't consider Bhishma as an authority.. – Rickross Mar 28 '17 at 12:39
  • @rickross No, as they have been dedicated already, no offering in ritual needs to be done before killing them or eating them. At least that is how I understood that sentence. This is some special dedication of ONLY deers done by agastya, not repetition of general allowing of dedication of various kinds animals in vedic sacrifice. About hunting, stag may stab the hunter with its antlers, or hunter may slip, stumble and fall into ravine while trying to chase the deer. Not very probable may be but possible in ancient times without guns. – Aks Mar 28 '17 at 12:48
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    @@Aks-BTW there is a school of thought also which thinks that anushashana parva is not authentic. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anushasana_Parva#Critical_reception – Rickross Mar 30 '17 at 6:07
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Kshatriyas can kill animals to keep fit with courage while facing risk during hunt. An overdose is of course a Vyasana, so must be always in moderation.

Also even manslaughter is permitted in a waged war for re-establishment of Dharma. The Lord took Avatar as Parasurama for this declared purpose.

In Vanavas Pandavas or Lord Ram had hunted and Sita and Draupadi cooked meat.In discovery channel today we see how people can survive in adverse wild forest situations.

Brahmins in Bengal have accepted fish in diet for nourishment.

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    Can u add some sources?i am afraid that an answer like this might be eventually deleted. – Rickross Mar 29 '17 at 5:12
  • I have added two relevant sources for a premise. If you or anyone thinks it is not at all relevant I would be happy to delete it, or you can also feel free to delete it.. – Narasimham Mar 29 '17 at 5:34
  • Thanks for ur efforts..but by i reference i meant references from scriptures(like Smritis,Puranas,Itihasas etc) like the one given in the other answer by Aks..anyways let the MODs decide how to deal with the answer.. – Rickross Mar 29 '17 at 6:05
  • Yes it is brief, I do not stock a lot of religious textbooks, Else I could have expanded my reply with references.Regards – Narasimham Mar 29 '17 at 6:51
  • " In discovery channel today we see how people can survive in adverse wild forest situations. Brahmins in Bengal have accepted fish in diet for nourishment" What this two statements has to do with the subject of the question? And We do not need to stock pile the hard copy books , here is the list of sites containing Hindu scriptures. – SwiftPushkar Mar 30 '17 at 7:38

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