The following are quotes of Srila Prabhupada regarding Vedic animal sacrifices:

Lecture on BG 7.16 -- Bombay, April 7, 1971:

Prabhupāda: There are tāmasika-purāṇas where it is recommended that if you want to eat flesh, then you can get a goat and sacrifice before Goddess Kālī and you can eat that. The purpose is that if a conditioned soul has got the natural tendencies, then why they are mentioned in the śāstras? The idea is... Just like Lord Buddha. Lord Buddha, his mission was to stop animal killing. Ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ. Lord Buddha appeared, being compassionate with the poor animals. Sadaya-hṛdaya darśita-paśu-ghātam. There is a description of Lord Buddha's activities by a Vaiṣṇava poet, Jayadeva Gosvāmī. He says, praying to Lord Buddha, nindasi yajña-vidher ahaha śruti-jātaṁ sadaya-hṛdaya darśita-paśu-ghātam keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra jaya jagadīśa hare Lord Buddha appeared to stop this animal killing. But because in the Purāṇas there are sometimes regulative principle of killing animal, therefore he had to deny the authority of Vedas, because those who are after killing animals, they will find some clue that "Here in the Vedas the animal-killing is sometimes recommended." But that animal-killing is not a, I mean to say, instigation that "You go on killing animals." You can understand by a nice example. Just like the government opens liquor shop. It does not mean the government is encouraging to drink liquor. It is not like that. The idea is that if government does not allow some drunkards to drink, they will create havoc. They will distill illicit distillation of liquor. To check them, the government opens liquor shop with very, very great, high price. The cost... If the cost is one rupee, government excise department charges sixty rupees. So the idea is not to encourage, but to restrict. The idea is prohibition, at least in our country. Similarly, when there is allowance for sex life or meat-eating or drinking in the śāstras, they are not meant for instigating that "You go on with this business as much as you can." No. Actually they are meant for restriction.

Lecture on SB 1.5.14 -- New Vrindaban, June 18, 1969:

Prabhupāda: According to Vedic śāstra, meat-eating is not allowed by purchasing from the slaughterhouse. No. They... There is motive. The marriage ceremony or the meat-eating, the so much ritualistic performances, there is motive. What is that motive? Motive is restriction. Just like the same example, marriage: the real idea is to restrict the boy and the girl to one woman and one man. That is the idea, main idea. If he's not married, then he will be just like cats and dogs. So idea is very good. But Nārada Muni says, "After all, you're coming to the point of sex life. So why so much propaganda?" Similarly, for meat-eating, there is also sanction in the śāstras, tāmasika-śāstra, not sāttvika. There are three divisions of śāstra-sāttvika, rājasika and tāmasika. Those who are meat-eaters, cannot give up meat-eating, for them, the prescription is, "All right, you can eat meat, but you have to sacrifice one goat, but not cow." The... For sacrifice the animal is recommended: goat. So you can, I mean to say, cut throat of a goat in the presence of goddess Kālī and you can eat. There are so many prescriptions. But that is also restriction, that Kālī-worship is one day in a month, on the dark moon day. What is called, dark moon? Amāvasyā. Full moon and...? Eh? No, no, no. When there is... On that particular..., there is no moon in the sky.

Hayagrīva(?): The dark of the moon.

Prabhupāda: It is called dark moon, yes. So that Kālī-pūjā is recommended on the dark moon day. The... That is one day in a month. Similarly, according to marriage life, the sex life is also allowed one day in a month. The whole thing is restriction. Similarly, drinking wine also, there is Devī-pūjā. That is also once in a year or something like that. The whole point is restriction.

As we can see Prabhupada claims that animal sacrifices made to Goddess Kali are solely for the purpose for restricting gratifications of meat eaters. However, many people have told me that animals sacrificed to Mother Kali is for rituals and not for one's own gratification. Are both groups correct?

  • 2
    Really? sex is allowed only once in a month??
    – user9554
    Sep 28, 2017 at 18:52
  • @Ajay Idk maybe...Thats why I asked this question to confirm is Prabhupada saying the truth or not
    – user9969
    Sep 29, 2017 at 6:14
  • Prabhupada.and co have bad opinion for goddesses like kaali and durga. Their opinion doesnt seem to be.worthy in this regard. Nov 12, 2017 at 20:58
  • Someone please ask srila prabhupAda why did srila vyasa deva wrote such tAmasika purAna then which leads.people to hell ? Nov 12, 2017 at 21:14
  • 2
    such rituals themselves are prescribed to limit the sense gratification only.. read vedabase.com/en/sb/11/5/chapter-view from verse 1 to verse 13. especially verse 11. Rejecting something as lower truth is not same as hating.
    – user16618
    Nov 30, 2018 at 8:13

2 Answers 2


As per Bhagavata Purana, ultimate purpose is renunciation.

SB 11.5.11:

In this world, people are always attracted to sex, meat eating and intoxication. This is not a rule in the scriptures, but an arrangement through marriage and sacrifice so that they can eventually give up these acts

Vishwanath Chakravarty Thakur comments as follows:

“Why are sex life and meat eating condemned if they are prescribed in the Vedas? It is said åtau bhäryäm upeyät: one should approach ones wife in her season. (Äçvaläyaëa Çrauta-sütra) It is also said huta-çeñam bhakñayet: one should eat the remnants of sacrifice. Sex life, meat eating and intoxication are always attractive and always indulged in. Sex is natural and meat eating and intoxication are indulged in because of family tradition. There is thus need of an injunction for attaining these items. Codanä means an order to attain what one does not have.

But it is seen in the Vedas that there are order to indulge in sex.
Arrangements have been made for sex, meat eating and intoxication through weddings and sacrifices. If it is impossible to remain without sex, meat or intoxication, arrangements are made through marriage and sacrifice. Sruti says sauträmaëyäà surä-grahän gåhëäti: one drinks liquor in the sauträmaëé sacrifice. Permission alone is given for these acts, so it is actually not an order or vidhi. The goal is extinction of sex, meat eating and intoxication. One should approach ones wife, but only at the time of when the wife can bear children, avoiding five inauspicious days, only at night, and only when there is a desire for children. This is done with the intention of giving up these desires.

vidhir atyantam apräptau niyamaù päkñikesati | tatra cänyatra ca präptau parisaìkhyä vidhéyate ||

Vidhis are rules which are not absolute. Niyama is a rule with partial prohibition. In that condition, where there are options it is called parisaìkhyä.

For those who are completely attached to enjoyment through karmas, vidhi means injunctions which are not absolute because of desire or other rules. Examples are as follows. One should perform sandhyä rites daily. One should take bath in a river during Mägha month. One should not bathe at night. One should bathe during an eclipse of the moon.

In cases where there are no options but to perform the act, it is not called a vidhi but a niyama or parisaìkhyä. When is it niyama or parisaìkhyä? Where one does not have alternatives, and will receive criticism or be obliged to do atonement for not performing the act, it is called a niyama. An example is as follows. One should approach ones wife at the proper time. At the proper time means if one has attraction.” However there is also partial prohibition, for småti says:

åtu-snätäà tu yo bhäryäà sannidhau nopagacchati | ghoräyäà bhrüëa-hatyäyäà pacyate nätra saàçayaù ||

One should not approach ones wife during her menstrual cycle. Without doubt such a person will suffer like the killer of a brähmaëa. Paräçara-småti 4.15

The final meaning is One should approach ones wife, when one has desire, but not during the menstrual cycle.”

Tatra means “within that. Other than this, where there are conditions within the obligatory rule, it is called parisaìkhyä. One should eat five types of animals with five nails. When one has a desire to eat meat, one should only five animals with five nails and not others. This is a permission to eat meat under those conditions, but there is no fault in not eating meat.

For persons fixed in renunciation of material enjoyment there is another meaning. A vidhi exists where there is complete necessity to perform action. An example is one should perform sandhyä rites daily. Where there is partial option and partial necessity of performance it is called niyama. Imäm agåbhnan rasanäm åtasya: one takes the rope of the animal to be sacrificed. The singular case indicates a choice of horse or donkey. Of these, the horse is preferred, not the donkey. The prohibition of a donkey is implied. There are two types of vidhi: apürva-vidhi and niyama-vidhi.

What is parisaùkhyä? That is explained. Rules that exist other than vidhi, giving permission where there is desire, are called parisaìkhyä. When one has a desire to eat all meat, eating five types of animals with five nails is prescribed. Other animals should not be eaten. Eating them produces sin. For eating meat, five animals with five nails are permitted. No sin is incurred in that. The conclusion of scripture for eating all meat is that it is limited, since it gives permission for certain meat only. One should approach ones wife and not others wives for procreation, and not otherwise. The conclusion of scripture is that one approaches ones wife, but not any woman. One hears of fault if one does not approach ones wife when she is fertile. But this is not a fault because it does not transgress the rule. However if one does not approach ones wife because of hatred or distaste, there is a fault, according to Sridhara Svämi.

Lord Krishna himself explains the purpose of such sacrifices in Uddhava Gita.

SB 11.21.29-30: Those who are attached to sense gratification, not understanding the confidential/indirect conclusion of Vedic knowledge as explained by me, their minds overcome with enjoyment and taking pleasure in violence, worship devatäs, Pitås and ghosts by sacrifices with animal killing for their own happiness. They think that the Vedas permit violence through sacrifice if one has such attachment, though this is not the injunction.


Those who are sworn to sense gratification cannot understand the confidential conclusion of Vedic knowledge as explained by Me. Taking pleasure in violence, they cruelly slaughter innocent animals in sacrifice for their own sense gratification and thus worship demigods, forefathers and leaders among ghostly creatures. Such passion for violence, however, is never encouraged within the process of Vedic sacrifice.

Although Manu Smriti gives directions about meat eating, it also says

5.53. He who during a hundred years annually offers a horse-sacrifice, and he who entirely abstains from meat, obtain the same reward for their meritorious (conduct).

5.56. There is no sin in eating meat, in (drinking) spirituous liquor, and in carnal intercourse, for that is the natural way of created beings, but abstention brings great rewards.

Thus, we can understand that though scriptures allow it to an extent by restricting, the actual purpose is renounciation.

  • Very nice answer with a lot of useful details.
    – Viraj
    Sep 16, 2019 at 6:12

Ancient history is full of ice ages, earthquakes, tsunamis and other calamities, natural and man-made such as wars. During that time it would be difficult to find fruits, vegetables or grow grains. For survival people would have had to eat meat. But this would have been difficult for vegetarians and so they would have offered it to Kali first and said mantras to reduce their karmic debt. Since many famines used to last for years, children born during this time would have grown up eating meat. Then, acharyas such as all the Shankracharyas and all Buddhas would go on missions to teach people the correct way, and stop meat eating. But since people are born with their prarabdhas and vasanas, chances are that many would prefer to actively eat meat. But it would be incorrect to make sweeping statements (like some people do), that Buddhism was a reform movement that taught Hindus to stop eating meat. Many tantric practices include meat eating. This too is a result of misunderstanding and misinterpretations. This is because divine power activates only after doing intense tapasya and tyaga. A true renunciate eventually gives up all sorts of food so why would he eat meat?

  • Nice answer but why to link food with spirituality at all ? You mentioned tantra has some procedures which.involves maamsa. Further. There are.examples like sri ramakrishna and sri aurobindo who used to.consume non vegetarian food. However excess of anything is bad and at thr same time we should not have ghrina for non veg food too Nov 12, 2017 at 16:26
  • @RakeshJoshi Sri Ramakrishna was a vegetarian.
    – user9969
    Nov 12, 2017 at 21:04
  • He used to consume fish and also.sometimes meat.which is prasada. Check for.relevant questions on this forum Nov 12, 2017 at 21:05
  • @RakeshJoshi ''About vegetarian diet I have to say this - first, my Master was a vegetarian; but if he was given meat offered to the Goddess, he used to hold it up to his head.'' -Swami Vivekananda
    – user9969
    Nov 12, 2017 at 21:05
  • 1
    Its quite doubtful. On this site there are examples given how Rig Veda has been misinterpreted. I too am a vegetarian and don't have aversion for people who are not. (which is hardly the issue here). Most scholars believe that Ramayan and Mahabharat have numerous interpolations and are not even a continuous tale. People have often added their own stories through the ages to teach people ethics and morals. For example. Vedic women were highly educated and not helpless, women from village, so Sita's character is wrongly portrayed. Nov 14, 2017 at 17:45

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