What were the views of Adi Shankara on beef eating?

Did he allow it or did he prohibit it?

  • 1
    Ahara Shuddhau Satva Shuddhih...
    – ram
    Commented Jun 15, 2021 at 16:31
  • 9
    Adi Shankara was a scripture abiding Hindu acharya. Do you think that his views would be any different from views of scriptures?
    – Rickross
    Commented Jun 15, 2021 at 16:57
  • 1
    @Rickross quora.com/… Commented Jun 15, 2021 at 17:13
  • 1
    Killing in rituals for the sake of Deities and Manes is non-killing. This is the view of Hindu scriptures. @DarkKnight
    – Rickross
    Commented Jun 15, 2021 at 17:16
  • 4
    "Killing in rituals for the sake of Deities and Manes is non-killing" - IMO, this is exactly what an interpolation is, and it's not like they're being killed in self defense, etc, Ultimately they'll be consumed by the killers only. Justifying killing of innocent beings in the same of invisible entities thus calling it "dharmika". It's basically a shortcut for people still in avarice for meat. Kaliyugi interpolaters have done a commendable job. Just say that the dying creature this way attains a "higher yoni" and bingo - one is free from a murder!
    – Vivikta
    Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 3:09

2 Answers 2


Meat eating is not acccepted,as far as I understand through this ;please got through this:

Adi Shankaracharya’s Sanskrit commentary on controversial kandika 6/4/18 of Brihadaranyak Upanishad is often cited in favour of prescription of beef. Some contend that even Shankara has accepted the partaking of rice cooked with beef for a couple desirous of begetting progeny well versed in Vedas.

The actual words of the commentary are:

मांसमिश्रमौदन मानसौदनम्। तन्मान्स्नियमार्थमाह-औक्षेण वा मानसेन।उक्षा सेचनमर्थः पुन्गवस्तदीयं मांसम्।ऋषभस्ततोsप्तधिक वयास्तदीयमार्षभं मांसम्।

The meaning:

“Cooked rice mixed with mamsa is mansodana. The mansa is further specified as, that of ukshaa, ukshaa is a pungava potent of impregnation, or that of a rishabha of vayas exceeding that of ukshaa”

This is the literal meaning. Adi Shankaracharya has not clarified whether it is the meat of the animal or whether it is mamsa i.e. the fleshy part of a medicinal fruit/plant. In such a situation it has to be considered in light of context, whether it has to be meat of animal or fleshy part of a medicinal fruit/plant. This will be clear by considering the significance of sechan-samathah-pungavah and of ‘a rishabh of vayas exceeding that of ukshaa’. There is no difference of opinion about the meaning of sechan-samathah which is potent of impregnation. The meaning of the words ukshaa,pungavah, rishabh, and vayas have to be considered.

Meanings of Ukshaa as per Sanskrit-English Dictionary compiled by Moneir-Williams: (1) A bull(as impregnating the flock)

(2) Name of Soma(as sprinkling or scattering small drops)

(3) One of the eight chief medicines(rishabha)

Meaning of Rishabha:

(1) A bull(as impregnating the flock)

(2) A kind of medicinal plant(shushruta,bhava-prakasha)

(3) Carpopogons prureins (Charaka)

Just as in English the word ‘flesh’, besides meaning the muscular tissues of animal, also meaning the ‘soft pulpy part of fruit and vegetable’ and the word ‘meat’, besides meaning ‘flesh of an animal’, also means ‘anything eaten for nourishment’, the Sanskrit word mamsa also means ‘soft pulpy part of fruit’(readers can consult any dictionary). Similarly the peel is called the skin, the hard part is called the bone and the fibres are called ligaments or nerves. There are several words in Sanskrit that may mean a particular animal or their body parts but primarily are names of medicinal plants. For example ajakarna-­ plant whose leaves resembles ear of goat (terminalia alata tomentosa)

Aukshena va rishabhena va

So the above verse stands for ‘either ukshaa or rishabha’ Both words if interpreted as animals refers to a bull and ukshaa does not means a calf as per the dictionaries. As such ukshaa and rishabha must be two different things. Hence by the conjunction of ‘either’ and ‘or’, these two words cannot mean the same i.e. a bull potent of impregnation. By adding the conjunction of ‘either’ and ‘or’ the seer of the mantra has intended two different things. Therefore ‘ukshaa’ refers to ‘soma’ and ‘rishabha’ refers to a medicinal plant as described in Charaka Samahita, Shushrut-Samahita and Bhava-Prakash In Charaka-Samahita vol.1, chapter IV, 13, the first mahakashaya consisting of 10 medicines among which ‘rishabha’ is one is terned as ‘jivaniya’ or energy-increasing.

In the 38th chapter of sutra-sthana of Shushruta-Samhita, which is named as dravya-sangrahniiya, rishabhaka is one of several stems. In Bhava-prakash, purna-khand ‘rishabhaka’ is one of the eight medicaments. Among the various qualities of asta-varga, the most important are: brahna aphrodisiac; shukra-janaka semen-producing; and bala-vardhaka-tonic. It is further mentioned there that the rishabha medicine is found in Himalayan peaks and it is shaped like the horns of a bull. From several references quoted above as well as from verses 1,14,15,16 and 17 of the same chapter of Brihadaranyak Upnishad, it is simply clear that the ‘ukshaa’ and ‘rishabha’ in verse 18 could mean only medicinal plants referred to in Ayurvedic Texts. The meaning of pungava are given by Monier-Williams in his Sanskrit-English dictionary as:

“a bull, a hero, eminent person, chief, a kind of drug”

The meaning of sechan-samarthah pungavah can be:

(1) A stud bull potent in impregnation (2) A hero potent of impregnation (3) An eminent person potent in impregnation (4) A chief potent in impregnation (5) A kind of drug potent in impregnation

A herb that is potent of impregnation is called vajikarana or aphrodisiac in Ayurveda. Soma is also an aphrodisiac herb. Now, readers should themselves consider which of these five meaning mentioned above will be more appropriate and in accordance with usksha sechan-samarthah. The meaning of tatah api adhika vayah is ‘one exceeding the vayas than that’. The base of vayah is vayas. The meanings of the word vayas are given as under in Monier-Williams’ Sanskrit-English Dictionary:

(1) Enjoyment,food, meal, oblation

(2) Energy (both bodily and mental),strength,halth,vigour,power,might

(3) More invigorating than that

Accordingly tatah api adhika-vayah will mean:

(1) More enjoyable than that

(2) More energetic than that

(3) More invigorating than that

If we take it as the flesh of bovine bull here, potent of impregnation the meaning of rishabha tatah api adhika-vayah will be ‘the bovine rishabha capable of who is older in age than the ukshaa capable of impregnating the bovine species. But in reality the age of impregnation is growing youth and not advancing age. In none of the dictionaries we find that the word ukshsaa means ‘a studbull of younger age potent of impregnation’ and rishabha means ‘a studbull of older age potent of impregnation’. Taking the context into account, rishabh tatah api adhika-vayah will mean, ‘a medicine of astavarga called rishabha which is more invigorating even than the soma juice. This medicine is often prescribed by the Ayurvedic Practitioners for frequent use by the rich to keep the sexual powers undiminished. The medicines of astavarga are aphrodisiac which increases semen.

The prescription of beef is impossible because the bovine species is declared as inviolable in Vedas. There is no mention of meat in this section from its very first kandika among the items which ultimately result in purest satvika semen. And only the purest and healthy satvika semen is required for a progeny proficient in Vedas. If, in the mansodana, the meat of a bull of any age potent of impregnation had been intended then in the upnishad the wordings would have been govansha ukshaa and govansha rishabh and Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya to make it clear beyond doubt that the meat of the studbull is intended would also have written sechan samarthah govansh-pungavah tadiyam mansam. The use of conjunction ‘va …………va’ i.e. ‘either……….or’ itself indicates that ukshaa and rishabha are not same and distinctly different. Therefore it is impossible that a highly learned personality like Adi Shankaracharya would interpret as a tautology the words ukshaa and rishabha signifying ‘a studbull as long as it is potent of impregnation’, when the contradistinctive conjunction ‘either………or’ is used to constrast the word ukshaa and rishabha. It is certain that ukshaa sechan samartha pungavah as used in the commentary of Adi Shankaracharya means aphrdasiac drugs, ukshaa and rishabha of astavarga.


Eating meat in yagnas/eating beef in Vedic times was mentioned in the comments.In response to this,I did see an articlewhich tries to clarify its argument in the light of such claims,by quoting verses from the Vedas.It also gives an (alternate) explanation to the claim of eating horse meat in yagyas.

  • 1
    Ok, great answer but I have some doubts, first of all you can easily consumption of beef after rites in Manu smriti which is accepted as authority. Moreover in Purva Mimamsa Yajna karmas beef was consumed. This is accepted even by Swami Vivekananda. Now coming to va as a conjunction cannot mean the same thing seems to be yhe only strong hold of ypur argument. But do you know there is a famous practive in India where Bull is castrated so that in the belief it becomes strong. Such bull may be called Vrishabha, and Bull which is still potent mau be termed as Vrushaba.
    – user22253
    Commented Jun 15, 2021 at 17:07
  • 1
    The problem with Manu Smriti is t has so many seemingly contradicting verses. There are also verses which permit to eat meat. Also Rishi Yajnavalkya himself has said he eate meat. Cheery picking verses is wrong and dangerous. Vedas do permit meat eating after proper rites.
    – user22253
    Commented Jun 15, 2021 at 19:22
  • 1
    The isckon link you sent is just bad with regards to context. The point there is beef allowed, beef of oxen and bullock in Smritis, Vedas etc. Niw in Mahabharata while condemning meat eating it says cruel Bramhins have gathered for the rites of killing oxen. So suggesting that Vedic people didn't eat beef is just bad history
    – user22253
    Commented Jun 15, 2021 at 19:27
  • 2
    There are Verses after Verses as to eating oxen and beef in various smritis, should I send you some links?? Ashwamedha yajna is a well known horse sacrifice. You have to go on twisting the meaning so much to make it a metaphorical text.
    – user22253
    Commented Jun 15, 2021 at 19:29
  • 4
    Bulls were frequently eaten in vedic times. The bull in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad verse you mention can be interpreted as meaning a vigorous (young) bull - one who can breed, or advanced in age. You should also see Brahma Sutras 3.1.25 which addresses sacrificing animals, See also the Ramayana Uttarkanda 42.18-20 where Rama and Sita are eating meat. Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 10:31

I don't think the great adi shankara ever prescribed having beef, also adi Shankaracharya was propagating uttara mimamsa and completely won against purva mimamsa in a debate with mandala mishra and established the advaitha doctrine (oneness in all ) which states divinity in everyone . also to take a bull mixed with steam rice is non sense for getting pregnant and which clearly shows ayurveda drug rishaba is used here for increasing the pregnancy capacity .

Also there is no wide spread practice in ancient Vedic India that relates to taking a bull mixed with rice for pregnancy matters .

Also if this method was useful (taking bulls ) Brahmins would have not switched to strict vegitarianism.

Surely acharya preached advaitha (oneness ) and made sure all those follow advaitha doesn't eat any flesh ;

The debate between adi Shankaracharya and mandala mishra changed the course of history of sanatana Arya Vedic siddanta since for the first time karma siddanta was defeated by upanishadic siddanta , we must understand buddism targeted Santana Arya Vedic siddanta for its ritualistic purva mimamsa part and acharya bought forward the uttara mimamsa (vedanta ) and crushed buddism and sent it to China !

So from this paramartika perspective eating meat is non sense and it's an hindrance to spiritual development so acharya clearly was not advocating this to his followers , since for advaithasiddi chitta shuddi is paramount!

"From purity of food follows the purity of the internal organ" --chandogya upanishad

"Of curd when it is churned, that which is its subtle part rises upward. That becomes clarified butter. In this very way, of food when it is eaten, that which is the subtle part, that rises upward, and that becomes mind" --chandogya upanishad

Now acharya clearly wouldn't recommend non veg when it is clearly stated in Upanishads that only satvic food helps in chitta shuddi for advaitha bhava thereby refuting any claims on revered acharya promoting non vegitarian diet !

It's impossible to even think adi shankara thought of non veg diet since shankara told sureshvara "You have correctly understand the futility of rituals "--madva shankaravijiya

  • Yes yes 100% yes yes!!!
    – Haridasa
    Commented Jan 27 at 17:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .