Do Vedas or any scripture say anything about any restrictions on non-sacrificial killing of animals?

We all know about animal sacrifices which was later explained by scholars.

But what about normal (non-ritual) animal killing, does it have any restrictions?


1 Answer 1


I am answering because the question's body has this " Do vedas or any scripture.. " in it.

But what about normal animal killing do it have any restrictions?

As you may already expect, normal killing (that is other than when in sacrifices) is never recommended.

Lord Shiva says to Goddess:

Pitridaivatayajneshu vaidha himsA vidhiyate |
AtmArtham prAninAm himsA kadAchinnoditA priye ||


In Yajnas, meant for Manes and Gods (Pitri Daiva Yajna), animal sacrifices are allowed. But , O Beloved one, for one's own sake (AtmArtham), killing animals (prAninAm himsA) are never prescribed in scriptures.

KulArnava Tantram 1.45

In fact, not only animals, even plantations should not be destroyed for our own selfish purposes, which he says in the very next verse:

Swanimittam trinam vyapi chedayenna kadAchana |


For one's own sake one should not even cut a grass.

In the Smritis, atonement measures are prescribed for killing different animals (If you want some such verses, i can provide). And, in them, we can find punishments too, being mentioned for the crimes one commits by destroying plants etc for no good reasons, for one's own selfish use.

Now, the same injunctions can be found in almost every scriptures.

For example, the Manu Smriti says:

5.38. As many hairs as the slain beast has, so often indeed will he who killed it without a (lawful) reason suffer a violent death in future births.

5.52. There is no greater sinner than that (man) who, though not worshipping the gods or the manes, seeks to increase (the bulk of) his own flesh by the flesh of other (beings).

And, as per it, the lawful reason is when the animal is sacrificed for Gods or Manes (Pitrus).

5.39. Svayambhu (the Self-existent) himself created animals for the sake of sacrifices; sacrifices (have been instituted) for the good of this whole (world); hence the slaughtering (of beasts) for sacrifices is not slaughtering (in the ordinary sense of the word).

5.40. Herbs, trees, cattle, birds, and (other) animals that have been destroyed for sacrifices, receive (being reborn) higher existences.

So, normal killing of animals (or even of plants) for purposes other than sacrifices is never recommended in any scriptures. And, this is the conclusion of all scriptures.

Only exception obviously will be the case where the animal is threatening your life, in that case killing it out of self-defense is not a sin, since preserving one's life is the first priority.

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    @Fiercelord Which great acharyas? Vedas prescribe animal sacrifice and all other scriptures say that there is no sin attached to it.. So, they are allowed. But better not to do it now, as able performers of sacrifices are unlikely to be found now. Also, in Mahabharat itself Bhisma tells how manes remain gratified by sacrificing this animal that animal etc. So, Mahabharata certainly does not reject it.
    – Rickross
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 12:04
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    If an animal is sacrificed to God or Mane exactly as prescribed in the scriptures and by able persons then that does good to the animal . The animal reaches higher heavens, so that's why it is not a sin. Killing otherwise is a sin. Because the animal is getting apaghAta mrityu (accidental and cruel death). and the same applies for plants. @Fiercelord
    – Rickross
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 12:10
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    mahabharata says:— Wine, fish, honey, meat, alcohol, and preparations of rice and sesame seeds, have been introduced by knaves. The use of these (in sacrifices) is not laid down in the Vedas. The hankering after these arises from pride, error of judgment, and cupidity. They that are true Brahmanas realise the presence of Vishnu in every sacrifice. His worship, it has been laid down, should be made with agreeable Payasa. (The leaves and flowers of) such trees as have been indicated in the Vedas, — The Mahabharata: Santi Parva: SECTION CCLXV Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 12:27
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    @SK Yes slaughtering an animal gives it pain. So that's why animals are not anymore slaughtered worldwide right? If 100 animals are non-sacrificially slaughtered, then the no. of those who are sacrificed will be 0.00000000001 or even less. BTW i am totally against animal sacrifice. But what about animal slaughter in general which are done otherwise?
    – Rickross
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 15:08
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    OH so then you are not against animal slaughter in general. I am against it in general. Anyways, u do not need to worry. Because, as said earlier, the no. of animals which are killed in a Hindu sacrifice per year is nothing compared to the staggeringly huge no. of the same that are killed otherwise and all of them die a painful death after being raised up just to be killed. @SK
    – Rickross
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 15:19

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