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Gautama Dharmasūtra

Chapter XXIII

1. They shall pour hot spirituous liquor into the mouth of a Brāhmaṇa who has drunk such liquor; he will be purified after death.

Who shall pour hot spirituous liquor into the mouth of the brāhmaṇa? The king or fellow brāhmaṇas?

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Who shall pour hot spirituous liquor into the mouth of the brāhmaṇa? The king or fellow brāhmaṇas?

Even though the text does say "they should", it is neither the king nor other Brahmanas, but only the Brahmana himself who has drunk sura (liquor from grains).

Why?

Because since this is a prayaschitta (penance), it is self-imposed. Moreover, the king is specifically instructed not to inflict capital punishment on Brahmanas:

8.124 - Manu Svāyambhuva has named ten places for punishment, where it should be inflicted in the case of the three castes; but the Brāhmaṇa shall depart unscathed.

Gautama 46 - Corporal punishment (must) not (be resorted to in the case) of a Brâhmana.

And it is self-imposed:

11.90 - A twice-born person [the Brahmana only], having, through folly, drunk wine [surA], shall drink wine red-hot; he becomes freed from his guilt, when his body has been completely burnt by it.

In the case the Brahmana doesn't do this prayaschitta, the king has to punish him as follows:

9.236 - Even on all these four, if they do not perform the expiatory penance, the king shall inflict corporal punishment along with fine, in accordance with the law.

9.237 - For violating the preceptor’s bed the sign of the female organ shall be branded; for drinking wine that of the tavern; for theft that of the dog’s foot; and for killing a Brāhmaṇa that of a headless man.

Gautama 47 - Preventing (a repetition of) the deed, publicly proclaiming his crime, banishment, and branding (are the punishments to which a Brâhmana, may be subjected).

So even though Brahmanas cannot suffer punishments like beating and the death penalty, they are to be punished in other ways like branding and exilement.

Also from another Smriti:

Baudhāyana (1.18.18).—‘In case a Brāhmaṇa has slain a Brāhmaṇa, has violated his guru’s bed, has stolen gold, or has drunk wine,—the King shall cause him to be branded with heated iron with the mark of a headless trunk, a female part, a jackal or the sign of the tavern on the forehead and banish him from his realm.’

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  • 'the king is specifically instructed not to inflict capital punishment on Brahmanas (Manu 8.124)' - does Gautama Dharmasūtra also say the same? – sv. Sep 14 at 14:34
  • @sv. Yes: "46. Corporal punishment (must) not (be resorted to in the case) of a Brâhmana." - sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe02/sbe0276.htm – Ikshvaku Sep 14 at 16:51
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As per scriptures, only King has right to punish anyone.

  1. Punishment (possesses) a very bright lustre, and is hard to be administered by men with unimproved minds; it strikes down the king who swerves from his duty, together with his relatives.

So in my opinion, it is reffering to King.

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  • So the king will personally pour hot liquor into the mouth of a brāhmaṇa? Or is he going to delegate it someone else? BTW, in this particular instance, Manu says it's a self-imposed punishment. So better to answer it citing Gautama Dharmasūtra itself. – sv. Apr 9 at 22:08

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