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I have always believed that Lord Rama was a vegetarian, but after reading certain blogs I found out that there might be certain verses in Ramayana (like the one below) which indicate quite the opposite.

idaM medhyamidaM svaadu niSTaptamidamagninaa |
evamaaste sa dharmaatmaa siitayaa saha raaghavaH || 2-96-2

Rama, whose mind was devoted to righteousness stayed there with Seetha, saying; "This meat is fresh, this is savoury and roasted in the fire."

Now, since I haven't read the entire Ramayana, I cannot attest to the fact that whether Rama was a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian.

Which is why I need to ask, is there some concrete proof that Rama was a meat eater?

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  • 6
    The thing is, anyone can add a verse on a website. As there might be an interpretation error I wanted to ask was, if there is a scholar who studies the Ramayana quite intricately, then they could throw some light on this topic.
    – anon456
    Jul 11, 2014 at 6:09
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    Poor Ramayana has been subject to racist and castist interpretation by the western indology and marxist gangs. Remember that Ramayana was poetry and hence there would be many metaphoric words which cannot be taken literally.
    – Bharat
    Jul 11, 2014 at 15:11
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    I have no good evidence in the subject "Is Ram a Vegetarian ?" but I am sure he was a vegetarian. Because he was also known as MARIYADAPURSHOTTAM and many of saints(sadhus) who I met, always tell me one thing: if you want to follow a person then follow Ram ; But if you want to listen, then listen to Krishna. So I think Ram is the man who tells us how to live and that is way how I say he never ate meat because he knew that people would follow him.
    – Kiran
    Jul 16, 2014 at 5:07
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    Rama wore 'janaiu' which prohibate tamsic food eg meat & wine.
    – user963
    Oct 22, 2014 at 16:12
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    Sita ji wanted the deer because that was all part of lord rama's and sitaji's leela. Due to the deer, ravana was able to kidnap SITA JI, which eventually led to his downfall. Lord krishna mentions in gita that it is dharma to be a vegetarian. So , god can't advocate vegetarianism in one yuga and be non veg in one yug. Now, if people want to believe lord rama was a non vegetarian even after reading this, then god help them.
    – user2603
    Mar 10, 2015 at 15:44

6 Answers 6

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Aamisham means meat and it also means enjoyable sense object like kingdom; it also means immense sense gratification and very pleasant and dear sense objects. Why translate this word only to mean meat? Isn't it biased translation?

Maamsa means meat and it also means pulp of a fruit or root. Roots are quite commonly roasted in fire and eaten.

Sloka 5-36-41

न मांसं राघवो भुङ्क्ते न चापि मधुसेवते |
वन्यं सुविहितं नित्यं भक्तमश्नाति पञ्चमम् || ५-३६-४१

na māṃsaṃ rāghavo bhuṅkte na cāpi madhusevate |
vanyaṃ suvihitaṃ nityaṃ bhaktamaśnāti pañcamam ||

can also mean that Raghuvamsi never eat meat nor do they drink liquor.

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    Verse 5:36:41 says "Rama is not eating meat, nor indulging even in spirituous liquor. Everyday, in the evening, he is eating the food existing in the forest, well arranged for him.." That just means that he's abstaining from the pleasures of life while he is apart from Sita. Jul 11, 2014 at 6:32
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    "wrong translation" point I want to make
    – atom217
    Jul 11, 2014 at 6:34
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    totally agree about multiple meanings. people use same twisting logic to say brahmins ate beef in olden days. the word 'pashu' means animal, not only cow. when we say 'man' it means humans, not only males. in yagas, pashu vadha was done, very rarely, and the pashu attained better birth due to it, and certain parts of it's body meat was eaten very sparingly as yagna-sesha (as duty, not for pleasure).
    – ram
    Mar 22, 2017 at 6:30
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    @atom217 You are forgetting context of verse. Rama stopped taking Mamsa and Madhu. It doesn't matter what that Mamsa [pulpy substance]: Meat or Pulp of fruit. Similarly, Madhu could be honey and Liquor. But context of verse is very clear, that Rama stopped taking them only after his separation from Sita.
    – The Destroyer
    Mar 22, 2017 at 6:30
  • @KeshavSrinivasan look at this verse "well arranged for him" here hanuman is saying that rama ram has not fallen down to intoxicants. Feb 10, 2018 at 15:45
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Here is the verse from Ramayana that Rama left eating meat for 14 years.

चतुर्दश हि वर्षाणि वत्स्यामि विजने वने |
मधु मूल फलैः जीवन् हित्वा मुनिवद् आमिषम् || २-२०-२९

I shall live in a solitary forest like a sage for fourteen years, leaving off meat and living with roots, fruits and honey.

Lord Rama Chandra, even being a king, stood on his oath and left eating non-vegetarian food for 14 years. So I think, today's Hindus should learn from it to avoid eating meat as there is no more a system of a king ruling a kingdom. Exception should be only for a few like soldiers, sports persons and laborers etc.

In Sundarakanda, Hanuma is telling Sita and she is listening with a lot of happiness filled in her eyes. I am writing here with utmost respect towards Rama Chandra prabhu. Hanuma is telling about, then current condition of Rama as:

न मांसं राघवो भुङ्क्ते न चापि मधुसेवते |
वन्यं सुविहितं नित्यं भक्तमश्नाति पञ्चमम् || ५-३६-४१

Meaning: He is not eating meat anymore, nor indulging in liquor (not even spiritual liquor) and he is just eating the fruits available from forest which are well arranged for him.

Isopanishad says:

īśāvāsyam idam sarvaṁ
yat kiñca jagatyāṁ jagat
tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā
mā gṛdhaḥ kasya svid dhanam

Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.

Kings are allowed to eat meat. Lord Rama ate Deer meat. Sita cooked it as per Ramayana. Sage Agasthya ate meat during a ritual where Pitru Karma is performed. During Pitru Karma or performing rituals of the dead, eating meat was allowed in olden days but not in kaliyuga. That's why when sage Agasthya ate meat he digested Vatapi with his saying "Jeernam Jeernam Vatapi Jeernam". Likewise Dharma varies based on the time and period. It has to be taken wisely to eat meat or not. So it depends on time and period and based on one's conscience. Nowadays it is very tough for people to give proper Dharma on eating meat in this Kaliyuga. But it is very much advisable to avoid it.

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Yes. Rama is a kshatriya and kshatriyas are sanctioned to eat meat. For, meat increases rajas and tamas in the body which are required in warfare. Ramayana (Aranya KAnda) clearly states that he hunted for a deer and they offered it as naivEdyam (offering to God made during ritual worship) when they first set up their hermitage. In Sundara KAnDa also, Hanuman tells Sita that Rama has taken no pleasure in meat or madhu since being separated from her.

Caution for sanctioned meat-eaters is that meat should be consumed only on some days. For e.g., they should eschew eating meat on Sundays.

Rama did not violate scriptural injunctions or dharma by consuming meat.

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  • can you tell about Sri Krishna? Jun 16, 2017 at 5:50
  • Can you give a link to the verse which states that he eats meat?
    – Wikash_
    Oct 7, 2021 at 6:55
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I am a practicing Hindu and Brahmin with a reasonable knowledge of Ramayana and some of its different versions.

As far as I know meat eating is not restricted to any Hindu Caste, while in general South Indian Brahmins practice vegetarianism. Bengali Brahmins eat fish, Kashmiri Brahmins eat meat.

Further Rama is a Kshatriya(Warrior Class) son of King Dasaratha. Hence I do not see any reason why he should be a vegetarian. Hence in my opinion, there is no issue whether he is vegetarian or not.

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    Valid point. But while it supports the question, it doesn't answer it.
    – LVS
    Jul 29, 2014 at 15:56
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    Just because North Indian brahmins eat it, does not make it okay or acceptable janAcAra. A brahmin must not partake of meat.
    – user1195
    Dec 26, 2014 at 0:23
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+50

In Sundar Kand, Valmiki ji mentions that it is a sin for any Raghuvanshi (including Ram) to consume meat or alcohol. Hence, there is no question of Shri Ram being a non-vegetarian.

Sarga 36, Sundar Kand, Valmiki Ramayan
~ Sarga 36, Sundar Kand, Valmiki Ramayan (Gita press publication)

Translation: No Raghuvanshi eats meat or consumes alcohol; Then why would Lord Rama consume these things? He always fasts four times and on the fifth time eats wild fruits, roots etc. as prescribed in the scriptures.

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  • Can you please confirm who is the translator?
    – YDS
    Oct 7, 2021 at 6:12
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    @YDS Sure. It is Gita press publication. Pls see kindle version of book here amazon.in/Valmiki-Sundarakand-Yudhkand-Uttarkand-Sanskrit-ebook/…
    – sbharti
    Oct 7, 2021 at 12:39
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    @Archit Many thanks for the bounty :-)
    – sbharti
    Oct 7, 2021 at 18:32
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    Are you sure it isn't talking about specifically Rama after Sita got kidnapped like the other answers suggest? Oct 8, 2021 at 6:42
  • @AupakaranaAbhibhaa It's not talking about Ram but Raghuvanshi or Lineage of King Raghu. It looks more like a tradition in the clan rather than personal choice of Ram. That's why to me it has stronger relevance than references in other answers.
    – sbharti
    Oct 8, 2021 at 10:20
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Various Scholars have various perspectives on this subject. While many have given various arguments as to why they disagree with the notion of Sri Rama eating meat, I would like to present the perspective of a few traditional Dharmacharyas on the subject who have actually very much accepted this narrative.

Citing From the work 'Ramayana Mimamsa' by Dharma Samrat Karpatri Maharaj.

enter image description here enter image description here

In the Above Excerpt Sri Karpatri Maharaj has discussed this apparent 'contradiction' in the Ramayana where a certain verses Speak of Sri Rama abstaining from meat but yet others describe him has consuming it. He has then gone on to cite from 'Tilaka' a revered commentary on the Ramayana to reconcile this apparent contradiction where it is stated that the 'mamsa' therein is cooked flesh and that too Bhakṣya māṃsa, hence pure not prohibited one. At the the same time, pure mriga-mamsa comes under vanya Ahaara, so there is no dosha in consuming it. Even killing deer for the sake of Mrigaya-dharma (hunting) isn't taken as adharmic by the commentator.


As a side note, One Should note in the above regard that even Goswami Tulasi Dasa ji has accepted Sri Rama doing Mrigaya (hunting) in his Ramacharitamanasa.

enter image description here


I would also like to quote this commentary by none other than Śrī Govindācārya from Śrī Vaiṣṇav Sampradāya in his "Bhūṣaṇ" vyākhyā on Śrīmad Rāmāyan

तां तथा दर्शयित्वा तु मैथिलीं गिरिनिम्नगाम्। निषसाद गिरिप्रस्थे सीतां मांसेन छन्दयन् ॥ १ ॥ इदं मेध्यमिदं खादु निष्टप्तमिदमग्निना। एवमास्ते स धर्मात्मा सीतया सह राघवः ॥ २ ॥ इति अयोध्या काण्डे एवंप्रासङ्गिकमुक्त्वाप्रकृतमनुसरति - तामित्यादिना।गिरिनिम्नगां गिरिनदीं ।मांसेनछन्दयन् वशीकुर्वन्। “वशाभिप्राययोश्छन्दः " इतिवैजयन्ती ॥ १॥ वशीकरणप्रकारमाह- इदमित्यादिना । इदं मांसं मेध्यं शुद्धं निर्मलमितियावत् । स्वादु रसवत् । निष्टतं प्रतप्तं । इदंशब्देनस्वभुक्तशेषमितिगम्यते ।

[इति श्रीगोविन्दाचार्यः कृतौः भूषण व्याख्यायां]

Even here Śrī Rāmacandra while showing the princess of Mithila Śrīmati Sītā the river(mandākinī) gratified her by saying "Oh dear! look how tender, tasty and soft (caused to the heat of fire) this meat is". Śrī Govindācārya here says that the meat here not fruit pulp and certainly well cooked flesh and that too Bhakṣya māṃsa, hence pure not prohibited one. Śrī Rāmacandra did it to please her wife as She was fond of it.


Even before this, acharyas while quoting "Na manso raghavo bhunkte" say that he earlier used to have aahar-yogya maansha.

Another important thing is, Govindaraja has actually recognized that few people translate mansha as fruit but pens down that this meaning is not in accordance with the sampradaya.

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