In Buddhism, the two main sects: Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism is divided on what kind of food can be accepted by monks as bhiksha. The Theravada sect believes that Buddha sanctioned the monks that they can accept meat provided the following three conditions are met:

meat should not be eaten under three circumstances: when it is seen or heard or suspected (that a living being has been purposely slaughtered for the eater); these, Jivaka, are the three circumstances in which meat should not be eaten, Jivaka! I declare there are three circumstances in which meat can be eaten: when it is not seen or heard or suspected (that a living being has been purposely slaughtered for the eater); Jivaka, I say these are the three circumstances in which meat can be eaten. —Jivaka Sutta

The Mahayana sect, on the other hand, believes in a zero-tolerance attitude towards meat. The following excerpt is a conversation between Buddha and Manjushri from the Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra, a Mahayana text:

Mañjuśrī asked, “Do Buddhas not eat meat because of the tathāgata-garbha ?”

The Blessed One (Buddha) replied, “Mañjuśrī, that is so. There are no beings who have not been one’s mother, who have not been one’s sister through generations of wandering in beginningless and endless saṃsāra. Even one who is a dog has been one’s father, for the world of living beings is like a dancer. Therefore, one’s own flesh and the flesh of another are a single flesh, so Buddhas do not eat meat. “Moreover, Mañjuśrī, the dhātu of all beings is the dharmadhātu, so Buddhas do not eat meat because they would be eating the flesh of one single dhātu.”

Coming to Hinduism, in Bengal, Eka-dandi Sannyasis (mainly from Ramakrishna Mission) are often seen accepting meat as bhiksha. Many justify Swami Vivekananda's eating habits by claiming Sannyasis must accept any type of food as bhiksha.So I would want to know what do scriptures say about Sannyasis eating meat? Are Sannyasis allowed to accept meat as bhiksha according to the scriptures?

  • 2
    No. At least the traditional sanyasis in sankara sampradaya.
    – user1195
    Aug 27, 2017 at 14:38
  • 1
    There are also some sanyasis (devotee of Shiva) who use to eat meat. And one example is Bhairo who was participent of first kanjak with 9 forms of Aadi shakti and Hanuman.
    – Vishvam
    Aug 27, 2017 at 20:23
  • 1
    only in buddhism Aug 31, 2017 at 9:21
  • @RakeshJoshi Theravada Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism says meat cannot be accepted as bhiksham.
    – user9969
    Aug 31, 2017 at 19:03
  • 1
    @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury In Buddhism, the views on vegetarianism vary between different schools of thought. According to Theravada, the Buddha allowed his monks to eat pork, chicken and fish if the monk was aware that the animal was not killed on their behalf. refer to wiki. Sep 1, 2017 at 4:23

1 Answer 1


Here is a rule for begging alms. This applies to the Brahmins and it should apply to anyone who is entitled to beg alms and receive them.

4.247. He may accept from any (man), fuel, water, roots, fruit, food offered without asking, and honey, likewise a gift (which consists in) a promise of protection.

4.248. The Lord of created beings (Prajapati) has declared that alms freely offered and brought (by the giver himself) may be accepted even from a sinful man, provided (the gift) had not been (asked for or) promised beforehand.

4.249. During fifteen years the manes do not eat (the food) of that man who disdains a (freely-offered gift), nor does the fire carry his offerings (to the gods).

4.250. A couch, a house, Kusa grass, perfumes, water, flowers, jewels, sour milk, grain, fish, sweet milk, meat, and vegetables let him not reject, (if they are voluntarily offered. )

Hence, a Sannyasi or a Bhikshu should accept the gift of meat or fish if voluntarily offered. He can not reject them. Also, i don't think a Sannyasi can demand. He has to silently accept what has been offered voluntarily.

But probably he must not partake them.

NOTE- All the above verses are from Manu Smriti.

[A Bhikshu'} should collect alms by begging from door to door, as a bee collects honey from flower to flower, even from amongst the Mlechchha- families. But food, collected from one house, should not be partaken of even in Vrihaspati's house. (159)

Atri Smriti Verse

And, from a mleccha family a Sannyasi is likely to get offering of meat etc which he should not reject.

However, i have not understood what this sentence means " But food, collected from one house, should not be partaken of even in Vrihaspati's house."

  • so does that mean he can accept non-veg in alms and eat them too or just accept them & discard them if he is a non-vegetarian ?
    – Just_Do_It
    Sep 1, 2017 at 18:54
  • Its clear to me that he should not reject whatever that's being offered to him unasked even if its meat. But probably he can't partake it. @Just_Do_It
    – Rickross
    Sep 2, 2017 at 8:13
  • What do u mean by 'can not partake'?
    – user17294
    Apr 7, 2019 at 18:06
  • i dont think all rules are applicable to all bhikshus Apr 7, 2019 at 23:18

You must log in to answer this question.