42

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?

10
  • 5
    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
  • 12
    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
  • 1
    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
  • 5
    Rama wore 'janaiu' which prohibate tamsic food eg meat & wine.
    – user963
    Oct 22, 2014 at 16:12
  • 3
    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

7 Answers 7

35

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.

5
  • 19
    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
  • 11
    "wrong translation" point I want to make
    – atom217
    Jul 11, 2014 at 6:34
  • 3
    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).
    – mar
    Mar 22, 2017 at 6:30
  • 5
    @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
16

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.

12

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.

2
  • 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
9

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.

2
  • 6
    Valid point. But while it supports the question, it doesn't answer it.
    – Vid L
    Jul 29, 2014 at 15:56
  • 1
    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
8

There are some references of Sri Rama having meat in the Valmiki Ramayana. It was a common practice in the Kshatriya clan then. Even today many Kshatriyas have non-vegetarian diet. But it need research to know if these verses were interpolated or not

suraaghaTasahasreNa maamsabhuutodanena cha |
yakshye tvaam prayataa devi puriim punarupaagataa || 2-52-89

devii= “Oh, goddess! Upaagata= After reaching; puriim= the city (Ayodhya); punaH= again; yakshhye= I shall worship (you); suraaghata sahasreNa= with thousand pots of spirituous liquor; maamsa bhuutodanena cha = and jellied meat with cooked rice; prayataa= well-prepared for the solemn rite.”

“Oh, goddess! After reaching back the city of Ayodhya, I shall worship you with thousand pots of spirituous liquor and jellied meat with cooked rice well prepared for the solemn rite.”


tau tatra hatvaa caturaH mahaa mR^igaan | varaaham R^ishyam pR^iSatam mahaa rurum | aadaaya medhyam tvaritam bubhukSitau| vaasaaya kaale yayatur vanaH patim || 2-52-102

102. hatvaa= having killed; tatra= there; chaturaH= four; mR^igaan= deer (namely); varaaham= Varaaha; R^ishyam= Risya; pR^ishhatam= PR^isata; mahaaruru= (and) Mahaaruru; (the four principal species of deer); aadayaa= and taking; tvaritam= quickly; medhyam= the portions that were pure; tou= Rama and Lakshmana; bubhukshhitou= being hungry as they were; yayatuH= reached; vanaspatim= a tree; vaasayaa= to take rest; kaale= in the evening.

Having hunted there four deer, namely Varaaha, Rishya, Prisata; and Mahaaruru (the four principal species of deer) and taking quickly the portions that were pure, being hungry as they were, Rama and Lakshmana reached a tree to take rest in the evening.


samaashvasa muhuurtam tu shakyam vastum iha tvayaa || 3-47-22 aagamiSyati me bhartaa vanyam aadaaya puSkalam | ruruun godhaan varaahaan ca hatvaa aadaaya amiSaan bahu || 3-47-23

22b, 23. muhuurtam samaashvasa= for a moment, be comfortable; tvayaa iha vastum shakyam= by you, here, to take rest, possible; me bhartaa= my, husband; ruruun= stag with black stripes; godhaan= mongooses like [civet-like mammals of the family Viverridae, esp. of the genus Herpestes, Marathi manguus]; varaahaan ca= wild-boars, also; hatvaa= on killing; bahu amiSaan aadaaya= aplenty, meat, on taking; puSkalam vanyam aadaaya= plentiful, forest produce, on taking; aagamiSyati= will be coming [soon.]

“Be comfortable for a moment, here it is possible for you to make a sojourn, and soon my husband will be coming on taking plentiful forest produce, and on killing stags, mongooses, wild boars he fetches meat, aplenty. [3-47-22b, 23]


तां तदा दर्शयित्वा तु मैथिली गिरिनिम्नगाम् ।निषसाद गिरिप्रस्थे सीतां मांसेन छन्दयन् ।। इदं मध्यमिदं स्वादु निष्टप्तमिद मग्निना ।एवमास्ते स धर्मात्मा सीतया सह राघवः ।। (वाल्मीकि रामायण, अयोध्या काण्ड, 96, 1 व 2)

Having shown to Sita the mountain-river Mandakini and gratifying her with meat, Rama sat on the mountain slope. Righteous Rama was seated in Sita's company and remarked saying "This meat is sacred. This is savoury roasted in fire". (Valmiki Ramayan, Ayodha Kand 96:1-2)


मृगं हत्वाऽऽनय क्षिप्रं लक्ष्मणेह शुभेक्षण!। कर्तव्य श्शास्त्रदृष्टो हि विधिर्धर्ममनुस्मर। ।Valmiki Ramayan, Ayodha Kand 56.23।।

O Lakshmana!, Kill an antelope and bring it here quickly. The rites as prescribed by the scriptures will have to be carried out. You know and recollect that tradition also.

अयं कृष्ण स्समाप्ताङ्ग श्शृतो कृष्णमृगो यथा । देवतां देवसङ्काश! यजस्व कुशलो ह्यसि। ।Valmiki Ramayan, Ayodha Kand 56.28।।

This black antelope with all the limbs is completely and well-cooked. As such O! devine sir, you may offer sacrifice to Vastu devata. You are proficient in doing such acts.

4
  • 1
    Maybe you could add a line somewhere in the beginning or end to say: "Yes, Lord Rama was a non-vegetarian." Also, better to use blockquotes for translation of verses as well unless it's your original translation. Feb 15, 2017 at 19:51
  • 1
    Taking meat which were first offered in Deva or Pitri Yajnas is legal..But all meat that ur answer talks about is not sacrificial meat it seems..
    – Rickross
    Feb 16, 2017 at 7:24
  • 2
    @RakeshJoshi After carefully going thru ur answer i came to the conclusion that not all the meats that they are consuming is sacrificial meat..For ex-96 1-2,
    – Rickross
    Feb 16, 2017 at 14:50
  • The problem is not that he took meat but why would he take meat after promising his mother to live on fruits like a sage in the 14 years of exile
    – user9969
    Jun 7, 2017 at 7:59
3
+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)

5
  • Can you please confirm who is the translator?
    – YDS
    Oct 7, 2021 at 6:12
  • 1
    @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
  • 1
    @Archit Many thanks for the bounty :-)
    – sbharti
    Oct 7, 2021 at 18:32
  • 1
    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
-1

rAma did not slaughter or hunt animals and this was one of the main virtues of rAma highlighted by nArada when he was advising vAlmiki to compose story of rAma:

प्रजापतिसमः श्रीमान् धाता रिपुनिषूदनः | रक्षिता जीवलोकस्य धर्मस्य परिरक्षिता|| १-१-१३

He equals Lord Vishnu, the Lord of all creatures, Sustainer of the Universe, together with Sri, Eliminator of enemies, Protector of the world of living creatures and complete Guardian of probity... [1-1-13]

vAlmiki also lists this down as one of quailities of rAma :

अप्रधृष्यश्च संग्रामे क्रुद्धैरपि सुरासुरैः | अनसूयो जितक्रोधो न दृप्तो न च मत्सरी | न चावमन्ता भूतानां न च कालवशानुगः || २-१-३०

Even enraged celestials and demons could not defeat Rama in battle. He had no jealousy. He conquered anger. He had no arrogance and envy. He had not even humiliated any living being. He had not surrendered to time.

वृद्धिकामो हि लोकस्य सर्वभूतानुकम्पनः || २-१-३७ मत्तः प्रियतरो लोके पर्जन्य इव वृष्टिमान् |

"Is not Rama, as a raining cloud to the earth, better liked by people than me, as he desires the development of the world and has compassion towards all living beings."

rAma was a follower of veda and the esoteric meaning of meat/ flesh as per vedas is either rice (aitreya brahmaNa - book 2-chapter 1) or rice+barley (shatapatha brahmaNa 1.2.3.7 - 1.2.3.8):

aitreya brahmaNa - book 2-chapter 1: The chaff and straw of the rice of which it consists are the hairs of the animal, its husks the skin, its smallest particles the blood, all the fine particles to which the rice is ground represents the flesh and whatever other substantial part is in the rice are the bones

shatpath brahman 1.2.3.7 - 1.2.3.8: 1:2:3:7 It entered into this earth. They searched for it, by digging. They found it (in the shape of) those two (substances), the rice and barley: therefore even now they obtain those two by digging; and as much efficacy as all those sacrificed animal victims would have for him, so much efficacy has this oblation (of rice &c.) for him who knows this. And thus there is in this oblation also that completeness which they call 'the fivefold animal sacrifice.' 1:2:3:8 When it (the rice-cake) still consists of rice-meal, it is the hair. When he pours water on it, it becomes skin. When he mixes it, it becomes flesh: for then it becomes consistent; and consistent also is the flesh. When it is baked, it becomes bone: for then it becomes somewhat hard; and hard is the bone. And when he is about to take it off (the fire) and sprinkles it with butter, he changes it into marrow. This is the completeness which they call 'the fivefold animal sacrifice.'

You must log in to answer this question.

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