This answer says, from the Vyasa Smriti:

Milk, wine, honey, and clarified butter are the articles which the gods are fond of.

The word wine is used for Sanskrit "sura."

Then there is this verse from the Manusmriti:

11.95: Intoxicants [drugs], meat, wine [sura] and distilled liquors are the food of Yakṣas, Rākṣasas and Piśācas; it should not be taken by the Brāhmaṇa who partakes of the offerings to the gods.

This doesn't doesn't make any sense because the Vyasa Smriti says the Devas love wine, hence, one reason why the Devas are called Suras whereas the demons are called Asuras! Also in the Puranas, the Devas frequently drink sura. The Devas are also the ones who grabbed sura (as the goddess Varuni) when it came out of the churning of the ocean.

Then, meat and sura are themselves offered to the Devas in Yajnas!

5.32 - Having bought it, or having obtained it himself, or having it presented by others,—if one eats meat after having worshipped the Gods and the Pitṛs, he does not incur sin.

There is also a Yajna called the Sautramani Yajna in which the sacrificer offers sura to Indra, and then drinks it.

The Pitrs, who are like Devas, are very fond of meat:

3.272. The (vegetable called) Kalasaka, (the fish called) Mahasalka, the flesh of a rhinoceros and that of a red goat, and all kinds of food eaten by hermits in the forest serve for an endless time [satisfy the Pitrs for an endless time].

So, given these facts, Manusmriti verse 11.95 does not make any sense. One can just as well say the Devas and Pitrs are fond of intoxicants, meat, wine, and distilled liquors, just like the Yakshas, Rakshasas, and Pisachas.

Medhatithi's commentary also does not make any sense. He says:

‘Who partake of the offering to the gods’—The cake, rice and such substance offered to the gods are called ‘offerings’; as mentioned in connection with the Darśa-pūrṇamāsa and other sacrifices. It is these that it is right and proper for the Brāhmaṇa to eat, and not wine and meat, which are the food of the lower spirits.

But what if meat and wine are offered to the gods?

What is the purpose of this apparently useless Manusmriti verse 11.95?

I think these statements are Arthavada, simply to show that Brahmanas should not drink liquor.

The other possibility is that the Devas and Pitrs in reality do not eat or drink anything, and statements where they do are allegorical/arthavada, because it is said in the Chhandogya Upanishad:

Among them, which is the first Amrita, keeping Agni in front, is enjoyed by the Vasus. [But, in the real sense], the gods neither do eat nor drink; they are satisfied upon seeing (drishtvA tripyanti) the Amrita only.

But then again, why should the Devas be satisfied by seeing meat and liquor?

Or maybe they are only satisfied by seeing amrta, and not other offerings like soma, sura, and mamsa.


'Deva' means 'gods' and also 'those worthy of being worshipped' according to sanskrit dictionary : http://sanskritdictionary.com/?iencoding=iast&q=देव&lang=sans&action=Search

I think Vyasa and others who say that wine is dear to gods have taken the second meaning.

In Tantra, there are provisions of worship of (Upa)-devas with meat and wine. Even the Tamasika Puja of the Dasa-Mahavidyas also involve offering of meat and wine.

In Tantra, it would depend on the nature of the aspirant. Sattwiki worships never involve these things, as pointed out by Sri Ramakrishna (28 Nov 1883, Kathamrita, Udbodhan, page 307).

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  • Yes, perhaps it could be referring to the Kshudra devatas, who are the recipients of the Sautramani yajna. But what about Puranic references of Indra drinking sura, the gods grabbing sura (Varuni) from the churning of the ocean? – Ikshvaku Feb 15 '19 at 17:51
  • @Ikshvaku today there was a question regarding meaning of scriptures that had good answers. Everything is not literally true i think – user17294 Feb 15 '19 at 17:53
  • Yes, perhaps some Puranic stories are allegorical. Even many contemporary Vedic scholars say that most of the Puranic stories are allegorical. But I wonder, what meaning does Indra drinking sura convey if it is allegorical? – Ikshvaku Feb 15 '19 at 17:55
  • @Ikshvaku anything that intoxicates like power, wealth etc could be 'wine' – user17294 Feb 15 '19 at 17:57

The verse:

Intoxicants [drugs], meat, wine [sura] and distilled liquors are the food of Yakṣas, Rākṣasas and Piśācas; it should not be taken by the Brāhmaṇa who partakes of the offerings to the gods.

is an arthavada to the injunction that prohibits consumption of non-sacrificial meat, liquor, and drugs.

First of all, as shown in the question, all these foods are also foods of the gods too. So what is the significance of saying that they should not be eaten because they are foods of demonic beings? It is to simply discourage the eating of meat, liquor, etc as a general practice, since there is an injunction that generally prohibits the consumption of these foods outside of yajnas.

An Arthavāda is a passage which extols and encourages the performance of a positive injunction (vidhi) or censures and discourages the performance of a prohibition.

In other words, it is just a rhetorical tactic to persuade someone to not consume those foods by associating those foods with demonic beings.

The opposite is also true. There are arthavadas that encourage the eating of meat: "Sacrificial meat and wine should be consumed because they are offerings to gods", in which case, this statement would be an arthavada to persuade the reader to consume sacrificial food. There are also arthavadas that state that liquor and meat consumption is not inherently sinful and is completely natural. These statements are true statements that are only meant to encourage or discourage the accompanying injunction:

Arthavādas as such are authoritative only in so far as they serve the distinctly useful purpose of helping the injunction or prohibition.

The next Manusmriti verse is a very clear example of an arthavada:

A Brāhmaṇa, stupefied by drunkenness, might tumble down upon unclean things; or he might wrongly recite the Veda; or he might do some other improper act.

This is true, but it's also true that kshatriyas and vaishyas, for whom alcohol consumption is not forbidden, might tumble down upon unclean things, or wrongly recite the veda.

So this statement is just meant to persuade or convince a Brahmana not to drink liquor. It is not giving a causative reason for the prohibition, because then the prohibition would apply to kshatriyas and vaishyas too.

In reality, only injunctive statements have injunctive force. Arthavadas are just rhetorical tactics to encourage or discourage the injunction.

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