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.


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

~Samvarta Smriti; 1-143


4 Answers 4


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, 2017 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, 2017 at 12:38
  • Anyways i have upvoted ur answer..but i don't consider Bhishma as an authority..
    – Rickross
    Mar 28, 2017 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, 2017 at 12:48
  • 1
    @@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, 2017 at 6:07

According to Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, kings are allowed to hunt deer for both its flesh and also as a sport.

māṃsa hetoḥ api mṛgān vihārārtham ca dhanvinaḥ |
ghnanti lakṣmaṇa rājāno mṛgayāyām mahāvane || 3-43-31

Kings pursuing games of hunting in great forests, oh, Lakshmana, will be felling deer either for the sake of flesh, or just for the purpose of sporting archery.

It is justified because deer and other game are considered forest produce which kings can amass:

dhanāni vyavasāyena vicīyante mahāvane |
dhātavo vividhāḥ ca api maṇi ratna suvarṇinaḥ || 3-43-32

And exerting themselves in great forests they by far amass forest produce, ores, jewels, gemstones and the gravel of gold.

(Commentary: 'And this deer is also the produce of this forest, as such hunting this for taming or tanning is befitting to us, as we are princes.' One should not 'exert oneself,' or 'amass' forest produce even if he is a king, but collect it casually without looting it.)

Bibek Debroy translates it little differently:

Can you name anyone whose mind will not be tempted by this deer? His form has the complexion of molten gold. There are many kinds of celestial jewels. On seeing him, whose mind will not be filled with wonder? On hunts, kings roam around in the great forest. O Lakshmana! Wielding bows, they kill deer for the sake of their flesh. They exert themselves in the great forest and collect many kinds of minerals, gems, jewels and gold. All those riches make men prosper. O Lakshmana! Everything thought of in the mind enhances Shukra's treasure house. O Lakshmana! If a person desires artha and goes around unhesitatingly collecting that artha, those who know the sacred texts about artha say that this artha is true artha. With me, the slender-waisted Vaidehi will be seated on half of this deer's golden and gem-encrusted hide.

Chapter 3 (Sarga 41)


Rama said, " Hunting without eating the meat (of the animal killed) is the rule in the hunting done by a king."

![padma purana, uttar kand, chapter 116, verse 119]]1


The Manu 7.47 just says that these are the sources of Pleasure i.e. Desires arising in Ksatriyas.

Hunting, dice, sleeping during the day, censoriousness, women, intoxication, musical triad and listless wandering constitute the ten-fold set arising from the love of pleasure (Manu 7.47)

Manu says that all actions in this world are bound by desires but one must choose Shreyas(Good) over Preyas(Pleasure)

It is not right to be absorbed in desires—But there is in this world, no absolute absence of desire; for the study of the Vedas itself is prompted by desire, as also every act prescribed in the Veda(Manu 2.2)

No action is ever found in this world to be done by a man entirely without desires; whatever a man does is the outcome of desire.(Manu 2.4)

Never is desire appeased by the enjoyment of desires; it only waxes stronger, like fire by clarified butter if one person should obtain all those [sensual enjoyments] and another should renounce them all, the renunciation of all pleasure is far better than the attainment of them.(Manu 2.94-95)

Acts which secure [the fulfilment of] desires in this world or in the next are called pravritta; but acts performed without any desire [for a reward], preceded by wisdom, are declared to be nivritta.(Manu 12.89)

Now coming to the point, Manu says to shun pleasures in the earlier verses.

He shall shun the ten ruinous vices springing from love of pleasure, as also the eight arising from anger(Manu 7.45)

Hunting, gambling and drinking,—these are condemned in a king. Lust, anger, avarice, fiendish delight in indicting injury, morbid desire for honour, and arrogance—these six passions should be avoided.(Kamandaka 1.54)

Beautiful women and drink may be enjoyed within the bounds of moderation; but a learned king should never indulge in hunting and gambling; for these are beset with graver dangers.( Do 14.65)

He should not take delight in hunting, dice, women and drinking;—nor in defamation and assault; and he should not injure his own property.(Vishnu 3.50-52)

Hunting, gambling and drinking are condemnable in kings. Dangers from these are illustrated in the cases of Pandu, Nala and Vrsni respectively.Sensuousness, anger, ignorance, cupidity, and passion,—one should give up these. On giving up these the king becomes happy.(Sukraniti 1.283)

  • 1
    The question was, "Which scriptures say that the Kings and Kshatriyas are allowed to hunt animals?" I don't think you're answering this. Much of your answer is about why kings shouldn't hunt. Jan 25, 2021 at 22:30
  • @sv. Scriptures atleast Smritis don't allow hunting. Jan 26, 2021 at 1:28
  • 1
    Yes, many scriptures don't recommend it. But the question was, "Which scriptures allow it?". You seem to be answering "Do scriptures allow it?" but that's not the question. OP is already aware of scriptures that don't allow hunting so he's specifically looking for scriptures that allow it/recommend it. I think you misunderstood the intent of OP's question. Suggest you read the question one more time to understand OP's intent and modify your answer accordingly or delete it. Jan 26, 2021 at 1:34
  • Poor animals getting hunted 😭😭 Dec 25, 2022 at 2:17

You must log in to answer this question.

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