What are the alcoholic beverages suitable for consumption by a Kshatriya?

What about other three varnas? Are they allowed to consume alcohol?

3 Answers 3


Kshatriyas and Vaishyas are allowed to drink certain forms of alcohol. Kumarila Bhatta discusses this in this excerpt from his Tantra Vartika, one of his commentaries on Jaimini's Purva Mimamsa Sutras. The context is that Kumarila Bhatta is discussing the fact that the practices of good men knowledgable about the Vedas are a Pramana or means of knowledge concerning morality, since such men naturally make sure that their actions are in accordance with the Vedas. But then an objection is raised that there are various stories in Hindu scriptures of good men acting contrary to Dharma, one example being that the Mahabharata describes Krishna and Arjuna drinking alcohol, even though drinking alcohol is a sin. Kumarila Bhatta responds that Krishna and Arjuna drank the kind of alcohol that is allowed for Kshatriyas, not the kind that is forbidden:

Then remains the case of Krishna and Arjuna being drunk with wine, ... being [an] instance[] of [a] direct transgression[] of the law. But it is only the wine distilled from grains, which is called "Sura," that is prohibited for the three higher castes; says the Smriti: "Sura is the impure essence of the grains at it is spoken of an impure; hence the Brahmana, Kshatriya and the Vaishya should never drink Sura." As for the particular wines "Madhu" (wine distilled from certain fruits, as grapes and the like), and the "Sidhu" (that distilled from molasses), these are not prohibited for the Kshatriya and the Vaishya, as "all intoxicating drunks" have been prohibited for the Brahmana alone.

Though there as a passage that declares - "all the three kinds of wine, the Gaudi (that distilled from molasses), Paishthi (that distilled from grains) and Madhvi (distilled from fruits), being the same, they should not be drunk by the Brahmavadis," - yet here the word "Brahmavidi" should be taken as denoting the Brahmanas only, as the word literally means "one who is capable of teaching Brahma", or "whose duty it is to teach Brahma", or "whose excellence lies in such teaching", and as the root "Vada"' is synonymons with "Bru" such duties are distinctly restricted to the Brahmana alone, by such texts as - "from among the three higher castes, the Brahmana, alone should teach". And it has also been pointed out in connection with the vilificatory Arthavada, that are taken along with the prohıbıtıon of wınes ın general, that the Brahmana, deluded under the influence of wine, might do many such things as should not be done which shows that wine in general is prohibited for the Brahmana only. Hence we take the passage-"All the three kinds of wine, &c.," to mean that just as the one, Sura distilled from grains, is not drinkable by the three higher castes, so are all the three undrinkable by the Brahmana. Otherwise, if the sample prohibition of wine in general were meant, then the words "Yathaiva, &c.," and "Brahmavadibhih" would be totally redundant. The mention of "the three castes" we shall supply from out of another verse. For this reason, the fact of Krishna and Aruna - both Kshatriyas - being intoxicated with Madhu (grape wine) is in no way a transgression of the law.

And, as a matter of fact, we have Vedic texts that distinctly show (1) that the prohibition of wine is for others (i. e., Brahmanas), and also (2) that it is distinctly permissible (in the case of others). For instance, (1) "That which was impure came out afterwards, wine is that ampurity, this became attached to the Kshatriya, hence it is that superiors, daughters-in-law, and the father-in-law drink the wine and go on talking; evil indeed is impurity, hence the Brahmana, should not drink the wine; lest he be attached to evil", and (2) "The Kshatriya should say to the Brahmana - the drinking of wine does no harm to him who knows this", and this latter is with reference to the "Madhu" and the "Siddhu" (and not the "Sura" which is in no case allowed to anyone else but the Shudra).

So to sum up, Brahmanas are not allowed to drink any kind of alcohol, whereas Kshatriyas and Vaishyas are allowed to drink Madhu and Siddhu but not Sura. But Sura can be consumed during certain Yagnas, like the Sautramani Yagna.

  • So wine, and beer are allowed and whiskey, taquela, vodka etc are not allowed..I think you should add these modern names.
    – Yogi
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 14:16
  • I don't think so whiskey, taquela, Rum etc are available in that time. I hared people use to drink active ingredients of certain herbs (Wine) more and Palm tree fermented liquid widely used in Ancient India.
    – CR241
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 16:49
  • @Yogi - beer is also from grains, so not allowed. only wine is from grapes.
    – ram
    Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 21:47

This answer adds on to the accepted answer. In Manusmriti I could only find the following verses related to kshatriyas:

11.90. A twice-born man who has (intentionally) drunk, through delusion of mind, (the spirituous liquor called) Sura shall drink that liquor boiling-hot; when his body has been completely scalded by that, he is freed from his guilt;

11.91. Or he may drink cow’s urine, water, milk, clarified butter or (liquid) cowdung boiling-hot, until he dies;

11.92. Or, in order to remove (the guilt of) drinking Sura, he may eat during a year once (a day) at night grains (of rice) or oilcake, wearing clothes made of cowhair and his own hair in braids and carrying (a wine cup as) a flag.

11.93. Sura, indeed, is the dirty refuse (mala) of grain, sin also is called dirt (mala); hence a Brahmana, a Kshatriya, and a Vaisya shall not drink Sura.

Dvijas (including kshatriyas) cannot drink Suran (सुरां).

  • 1
    Thanks for this info
    – Yogi
    Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 21:26

Consumption of alcohol is not recommended in Hinduism, but it is allowed for special occasions and occupations (allowed for all vernas Except Brahmans).

Kshatriyas may and commonly do eat meat (though never beef), and many also take alcoholic drinks(mostly Wine and Spirits); both of these characteristics set them apart from the Brahmans. An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Popular Alcoholic beverages are wines, and spirits. (now a days Beer).

Ayurveda, the medical branch of Hindu dharma, contains clearly defined views on the use alcohol. Ayurveda uses alcohol as a solvent for extracting the active ingredients of certain herbs. Tinctures are used in western herbalism in the same way. Ayurveda also prepares special herbal wines called asavas and arishtas. Herbal wines are regarded as particularly good medicines to take for a weak digestion and as relaxants for stress. Ayurveda recognizes that certain alcoholic beverages (like wine) can have health benefits, like improving digestion or circulation, but only taken in moderation.

Alcoholic beverages that have a lower alcohol content (beer and wine) are produced by fermentation of sugar- or starch-containing plant material. Beverages of higher alcohol content (spirits) are produced by fermentation followed by distillation. Ayurveda also recognizes that excessive alcohol consumption can cause or contribute to physical or psychological diseases. Excess alcohol can damage the liver, make the blood toxic, and overheat the brain. Alcohol can impair our mental judgment as well as our sensory coordination.

In the Mahabharata, Shukracharya due to his alcoholism caused Kacha to be killed, ground up and mixed in his alcohol by the Asuras. After going through an ordeal of having to teach Kacha the secret Sanjivani knowledge, Shukracharya came to his senses, and pronounced these sayings on drinking:

यो ब्राह्मणो अद्य प्रभृतीह कश्चिन्मोहात्सुरां पास्यति मन्दबुद्धिः।

अपेतधर्मो ब्रह्महा चैव स स्यादस्मिँल्लोके गर्हितः स्यात्परे च ॥

“Whoever foolish brahmana henceforth drinks alcohol out of delusion, he should be considered as devoid of dharma, a killer of brahmanas, and should be forever despised in this world and the next.”

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All Four Varnas in Hinduism - Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra. As far as Brahmins are concerned to drink Alcohol drinks. However, since Vedic times there have been special yajnas for Kshatriyas where drinking is done in a restricted way so as to allow them to indulge in their vices but in a controlled way.

The Dharma shastras (law books) by default condemn alcoholism for any person regardless of occupation. However, in consideration of physical exertion and exhaustion of Kshatriyas and Shudras, alcohol is allowed for them to bring some relaxation and relief of pain. If based on Varnas people had any restrictions to consume Alcohol, it's not effecting the people who consume because it is purely interest matters.

  • This book is wrong in claiming that only bad factions in ramayana consumed meat. There are verses in Valmiki ramayan where Ram offered meat to Sita for consumption.
    – Ritwik
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 18:32

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