Vyasa quoting Manu says:

SECTION XXXVII, Rajadharmanusasana Parva, Santi Parva

If a Brahmana takes food that has been cooked by a Kshatriya, it diminishes his energy; if he takes the food provided by a Sudra, it dims his Brahmanic luster; and if he takes the food provided by a goldsmith or a woman who has neither husband nor children it lessens the period of his life.

There are multiple instances in Mahabharata where Brahmins were fed by Kshatriyas, including Draupadi while in the forest.

So how are these two contradictions explained?

  • Please mention Mahabharata Santi Parva 37:2 providing this link : en.krishnakosh.org/krishna/Mahabharata_Santi_Parva_Chapter_37:2 Apr 10, 2021 at 13:16
  • 4
    Some characters of Itihasas doing some acts don't automatically prove that they were in accordance with Dharma. Rules pertaining to Dharma-Adhrama are laid down in scriptures like the Dharma Shastras. And the acts of those characters are to be judged based on those rules. If Manu Smriti says food of the Ksatriyas decreases Brahmins' energy then that's the rule. Some character of Itihasas going against that rule doesn't render that rule invalid. Also Smritis have more authority than Itihasa-Puranas.
    – Rickross
    Apr 11, 2021 at 5:41
  • 1
    Many rituals hv provision to feed Brahmins..so I think this rule is for daily food..but not when a brahmin is guest..
    – YDS
    May 11, 2021 at 3:48

3 Answers 3


This contradiction may be answered in the following two ways -

1. The Pandavas belong to the Dvapara Yuga, and it is well known that Dharma experiences a decline with each passing Yuga. So, Dvapara Yuga is not an exception, and thus, such acts are counterintuitive to the Varṇāśrama-dharma.

This is how the Mahabharata itself defines such a change

Chapter 189, Markandeya-Samasya Parva, Vana Parva

Rishi Markandeya said -

"...O bull of the Bharata race, in the Krita age, everything was free from deceit and guile and avarice and covetousness; and morality like a bull was among men, with all the four legs complete. In the Treta age sin took away one of these legs and morality had three legs. In the Dwapara, sin and morality are mixed half and half; and accordingly morality is said to have two legs only. In the dark age (of Kali), O thou best of the Bharata race, morality mixed with three parts of sin liveth by the side of men..."

So, by far, there is no contradiction since Dharma is on the decline, therefore, that will reflect in the Karmas of major people including the Pandavas and other Brahmins. Thus the Brahminas eating cooked food by others is a transgression and a sign of depreciating Dharma over the Yugas.

But, I think, we have a better explanation for these contradictions in the Āpastamba Dharmasūtras.

2. The Brahmins and the Pandavas on account of their exalted status didn't commit any transgression of the Varṇāśrama-dharma.

Well, first of all, the Āpastamba Dharmasūtra doesn't forbid Brahmins from eating food from Kshatriyas and Women, and even Shudras, in case of emergency -

Praśna I, Paṭala 6, Khaṇḍa 19

सर्व वर्णानां स्वधर्मे वर्तमानानां भोक्तव्यं शूद्र वर्जम् इत्येके ॥ १३ ॥
तस्याऽपि धर्मापनतस्य ॥ १४ ॥

  1. According to some (food offered by people) of any caste, who follow the laws prescribed for them, except that of Śūdras, maybe eaten.
  1. (In times of distress) even the food of a Śūdra, who lives under one's protection for the sake of spiritual merit, (maybe eaten).

So basis this, we can say with conviction that there was no transgression.

However, if by some chance someone tends to not agree with the above reasoning also, then the Āpastamba Dharmasūtras give us more on these issues of "apparent contradictions".

No one in the Mahabharata committed a transgression because all of them were highly exalted people, as says -

Praśna II, Paṭala 6, Khaṇḍa 13

दृष्टो धर्मव्यतिक्रमस्साहसं च पूर्वेषाम् ॥ ७ ॥
तेषां तेजोविशेषेण प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते ॥ ८ ॥

  1. Transgression of the law and violence are found amongst the ancient (sages).
  1. They committed no sin on account of the greatness of their luster.

Same reasonings maybe applied to the Pandavas, and the Brahmins.

This is because, I think, we must take into account the fact that Pandavas, including Draupadi, were no ordinary humans. they had divine origins. And so did all those sages, rishis, and Brahmins, and almost every person, mentioned in the Mahabharata had a divine origin. On account of this, 'eating food cooked by others', which does sound like a transgression of the Varṇāśrama-dharma, is not counted as a transgression.

Although, this does not mean, that an average person citing the example of these apparent transgressions goes on to break the codes of Dharma. These are exceptional exceptions, and not to be used as examples to justify one's own transgressions of the Dharma. One mustn't follow the past misgivings of great people.

As says the Āpastamba Dharmasūtra -

Praśna II, Paṭala 6, Khaṇḍa 13

तदन्वीक्ष्य प्रयुञानस्सीदत्यवरः ॥ ९ ॥

  1. A man of later times who seeing their (deeds) follows them, falls.

To Conclude -

The distinction between Piety and sin, is very subtle, depends upon particular circumstances, and is at times difficult to distinguish, as discussed in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.21.16. The case of Pandavas and Brahmins is such.

However, on account of their divine origins and highly exalted status as individuals, the Pandavas, and the Brahmins, committed no dharmika-transgressions, as per the Āpastamba Dharmasūtras.


Scriptures should not be read on context basis but as whole. While you are correct on the quotes, you haven't quoted anything that increases Kshatriya life. While a Kshatriya may be indulging in activities against scriptures, sometimes or perhaps many a times, but if he is a learned one, he would find "prayaschitas" and thus amend the faults.

If at all a varna to be engaged 100% as per dharma shaastra, there wouldn't be any requirements for prayaschita in scriptures.

Also deeds during Aapatkala do not bear paapa..


True Dharma and Guru always teach to not discriminate on basis of birth.

नीच ऊँच नहिं देख पेख सब एक पसारा ।
नहिं ब्राह्मण नहिं शूद्र नहीं क्षत्री कोइ न्यारा ॥
नहीं वैस की जात सकल घट एक पसारा ।
अरे हांरे तुलसी जो कर जाने दोय खोय तिन जनम बिगारा ॥ - सन्त तुलसीदास

ऊँच नीच का भेद मत करो क्योंकि सब एक मालिक के पैदा किये हुए है। न कोई ब्राह्मण है न कोई शूद्र और न कोई क्षत्रिय और वैश्य है क्योंकि अंतर में सब एक ही हैं। तुलसी साहब फ़रमाते हैं कि जो इनमें भेद करते हैं वे अपना जीवन बिगाड़ते हैं ।

Do not differentiate between high and low birth, because all are born of the same master. There is no brahmin, no shudra, no kshatriya and no vaishya, because inside everyone is one. Tulsi sahib says that those who differentiate between them spoil their life.

पाँड़े बूझि पियहु तुम पानी।
जिहि मिटिया के घरमहै बैठे, तामहँ सिस्ट समानी।
छपन कोटि जादव जहँ भींजे, मुनिजन सहस अठासी॥
पैग पैग पैगंबर गाड़े, सो सब सरि भा माँटी।
तेहि मिटिया के भाँड़े, पाँड़े, बूझि पियहु तुम पानी॥
मच्छ−कच्छ घरियार बियाने, रुधिर−नीर जल भरिया।
नदिया नीर नरक बहि आवै, पसु−मानुस सब सरिया॥
हाड़ झरि झरि गूद गरि गरि, दूध कहाँ तें आया।
सो लै पाँड़े जेवन बैठे, मटियहिं छूति लगाया॥
बेद कितेब छाँड़ि देउ पाँड़े, ई सब मन के भरमा।
कहहिं कबीर सुनहु हो पाँड़े, ई तुम्हरे हैं करमा॥ - सन्त कबीर

पाँड़े, यह तुम्हारी मूर्खता है कि तुम पहले जाति पूछते हो, फिर उसके हाथ का पानी पीते हो। तुम जिस मिट्टी के घर में बैठे हो उसमें सारी सृष्टि समाई हुई है। छप्पन करोड़ यादव और अठासी हज़ार मुनि यहाँ डूब गए और क़दम−क़दम पर गड़े हुए पैग़म्बरों की लाशें सड़कर मिट्टी हो गई है। अरे पाँड़े, ये बर्तन उसी मिट्टी के हैं और तुम जाति पूछकर पानी पीते हो। इस पानी में मगर, कछुए और घड़ियाल बच्चे देते हैं और उनका ख़ून पानी में मिल जाता है। इस नदी के पानी में सारा नर्क (गंदी चीज़ें) बहकर आता है और जानवर और इंसान सब इसमें सड़ते हैं। जब हड्डी और गूदा गल जाता है तब दूध बनता है। इस दूध को लेकर पाँड़े भोजन करने बैठते हैं लेकिन सारी छुआछूत मिट्टी में मानते हैं। हे पाँड़े, वेद और क़ुरान सबको छोड़ दो। ये सब दिल का धोखा है। कबीर कहते हैं कि ये तुम्हारे कर्म हैं जो तुम्हारे सामने आते हैं।

Pandey, it is your foolishness to ask caste first, then drink the water from his hand. The earthy house in which you are sitting is contained in the whole creation. Fifty-six crore Yadavas and eighty-eight thousand sages drowned here and the dead bodies of the prophets who were buried step by step have turned to dust. Hey pandey, these utensils are of the same soil and you drink water after asking caste. Crocodiles, turtles and alligators give babies in this water and their blood mixes with the water. All hell (dirty things) flows in the water of this river and all animals and humans rot in it. When bone and pulp melt, milk is formed. Pandas sit to eat with this milk, but all untouchability is believed in the soil. O pandey, leave the Vedas and the Quran behind everyone. All this is a deceit of the heart. Kabir says it is your karma which comes before you.

जातिरिति च । न चर्मणो न रक्तस्य न मांसस्य न चास्थिनः ।
न जातिरात्मनो जातिर्व्यवहारप्रकल्पिता ॥ १० ॥ - निरालम्ब उपनिषद्

जाति (शरीर के) चर्म, रक्त, मांस, अस्थियों और आत्मा की नहीं होती। उसकी (मानव, पशु-पक्षी या ब्राह्मण, क्षत्रिय आदि जाति की प्रकल्पना तो केवल व्यवहार के निमित्त की गई है ॥ १० ॥

Caste is not of skin, blood, flesh, bones and soul. Caste doesn't belong to Atman either. Caste has been conceived only for the sake of worldy conduct.

  • 1
    Thanks but this answer has no scripture references or quote sources. Without that it's just an opinion...?
    – Kanthri
    Jan 6, 2022 at 12:54
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    The last one is from Niralamba upanishad. One is by Shri Tulsi Das and other one is by Sant Kabir Das ji. Why do you then say they are not from scriptures? If you consider Ramcharitmanas as scripture why not Padas written by Shri Tulsi Das?
    – Lokesh
    Jan 7, 2022 at 9:08
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    Kabir Das openly rejected the Vedas (even in this quote) and is therefore outside the context of the question asked here. He was not a follower of the Sanatana Dharma at all. Sri Tulsidas's pada simply says all people are equal, something the scriptures themselves assert. That does not mean Brahamanas can eat from the houses of Kshatriyas. Jul 6, 2022 at 9:30
  • @AravindSuresh When सन्तशिरोमणि कबीर साहब says to reject Vedas he is talking about giving up the inferior interpretation or karma kand of Veda. Just as Shri Krishna says यामिमां पुष्पितां वाचं प्रवदन्त्यविपश्चितः। वेदवादरताः पार्थ नान्यदस्तीति वादिनः।।2.42।।
    – Lokesh
    Jul 7, 2022 at 10:12
  • @Lokesh Kabir 'Saheb' is not an authentic source of information regarding Vedic law. The question asked here is about an incident in the Mahabharata and requires justification from scriptures, and not from people who lived well over a yuga after the incident. Jul 7, 2022 at 13:32

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