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My translations of Ayodhya Kanda, Sarga 52, verse 102 (2-52-102)

तौ तत्र हत्वा चतुरः महा मृगान् | वराहम् ऋश्यम् पृषतम् महा रुरुम् | आदाय मेध्यम् त्वरितम् बुभुक्षितौ| वासाय काले ययतुर् वनः पतिम् ||

Having hunted there four deer, namely Varaaha, Rishya, Prisata; and Mahaaruru and taking quickly the portions that were pure, being hungry as they were, they reached a tree to take rest in the evening.

Seems to suggest that Rama, Sita and Lakshmana ate parts of the deers that were pure. Is this accurate? If so what are the parts they ate? If not, what would be the accurate translation?

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  • youtube.com/watch?v=p3KYFOyo5Xk&t=480s Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 8:17
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    People are getting confused between "meat outside yajna" and "meat within yajna". People who consume "meat outside Yajna"are the ones who are referred as rakshasas, mlecchas, etc. "Meat within Vedic yajna" is considered non-violent which is what was practiced by Rama. "Meat within yajna" however can't be used as justification for today's meat eating as today's meat is produced in factory not in Vedic Yajna. Ram was pure vegetarian outside vedic yajna as per valmiki ramayana.
    – ekAntika
    Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 12:18

2 Answers 2

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Impure parts of sacrificial animal

shatapatha brahmana 3.8.3.11 :

yatra vai devāḥ | agre paśumālebhire taṃ tvaṣṭā śīrṣato'gre'bhyuvāmotaivaṃ cinnālabheranniti tvaṣṭurhi paśavaḥ sa eṣa śīrṣanmastiṣko'nūkyaśca majjā tasmātsa vānta iva tvaṣṭā hyetamabhyavamattasmāttaṃ nāśnīyāttvaṣṭurhyetadabhivāntam

11. For when the gods, at first, seized an animal to sacrifice), Tvashtri first spat upon its head, thinking, “Surely, thus they will not touch it!” for animals belong to Tvashtri. That (spittle became) the brain in the head and the marrow in the neck-bone: hence that (substance) is like spittle, for Tvashtri spat it. Let him therefore not eat that, since it was spitten by Tvashtri.

anushasana parva XCIV:

"Bhrigu said, 'Let him who has stolen your stalks censure when censured, assail when assailed, and eat the flesh that is attached to the back-bone of animals (slaughtered in sacrifice)!'"

markandeya purana XXXIV:

“He should never eat flesh from the back, or flesh unfit for the gods and pitṛs, or prohibited flesh, my son, or things which are visibly salt.

No FEMALE animals as per shatapAtha brahmaNa Kanda XI, adhyaya 7, brahmana 1 & padmapurANa-bhumikhanda-ch45:

3. Now, when he performs the animal offering. he thereby redeems himself--male by male, for the victim is a male, and the Sacrificer is a male. And this, indeed, to wit, flesh, is the best kind of food: he thus becomes an eater of the best kind of food. Let not a year pass by for him without his offering; for the year means life: it is thus immortal life he thereby confers upon himself.

“I shall not kill this female (hog). O dear one, the deities have indeed seen a great sin in killing a female (animal). Therefore one should not kill a woman. Nor shall I send anyone (to kill her). O beautiful one, I am afraid of committing a sin by killing her.”

Only animals with permanent teeth as per aitareya brahmaNa book 7 chapter 3:

Harischandra said, “An animal is fit for being sacrificed, when it is more than ten days old. Let him reach this age, then I will sacrifice him to thee.” Harischandra answered, “An animal is fit for being sacrificed when its teeth come. Let his teeth come, then I will sacrifice him to thee.” He answered, “An animal is fit for being sacrificed when its teeth fall out. Let his teeth fall out, then I will sacrifice him to thee.” “An animal is fit for being sacrificed when its teeth have come again. Let his teeth come again, then I will sacrifice him to thee.”

Parts sacrificed

gobhila grhya sutra PRAPÂTHAKA IV, KÂNDIKÂ 1:

3. They cut off the Avadâna portions from all its limbs, 4. With the exception of the left thigh and the lungs. 5. The left thigh he should keep for the Anvashtakya ceremony.

asvalayana grhya sutra KANDIKÂ 11:

10. To the west of the Sâmitra (fire) he (the Samitri) kills (the animal), the head of which is turned to the east or to the west, the feet to the north; and having placed a grass-blade on his side of the (animal's) navel, (the 'performer') draws out the omentum, cuts off the omentum, seizes it with the two Agnisrapanîs, sprinkles it with water, warms it at the Sâmitra (fire), takes it before that fire, roasts it, being seated to the south, goes round (the two fires), and sacrifices it. 11. At the same fire they cook a mess of food.

Distribution of parts of sacrificial animal

aitareya brahmana Book7 ch 1 :

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    Thank you for this answer and the sources. Would it be accurate then to have translated that shloka in the way it has been in my question? Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 11:27
  • yes it shd be accurate as we have concept of pure portions
    – ekAntika
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 12:02
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The translation of Manmatha Nath Dutt does not mention "pure".

And then the two (brothers) having slain the four kinds of beasts, viz., boars, risyas, prishatas and mahārurus,* and taking their flesh, in the evening took refuge under a mighty tree, feeling the demands of appetite. Ramayana 2.52.102
*Varieties of deer.— T.

However, an English translation from Gita Press says this:

Having hunted for love of sport four large deer, viz., a Varāha, Ṛśya, Pṛṣata and Mahāruru (the four principal species of deer), and taking with them articles of food consisting of fruits etc. fit for being consigned as an oblation into the sacred fire, now that they felt hungry (after sport), the two brothers quickly sought the foot of a tree where they had evidently staitioned Sītā within their sight for the time they were engaged in sport, for taking rest after supper during the night.

The translation of Hariprasad Shastri also says they did not eat meat!

Thereafter, the two brothers hunted the deer and wild boar, and other beasts and growing hungry, fed on roots and berries, as ordained, resting at eventide beneath a tree.

T. H. Griffith's translation is the following. Remember, this is a poetic rendition, not literal. It did not mention pure, but it did say that they ate the deer's meat.

They drank the water fresh and clear,
And with their shafts they slew a deer.
A fire of boughs they made in haste,
And in the flame the meat they placed.
So Raghu's sons with Sítá shared
The hunter's meal their hands prepared,
Then counselled that the spreading tree
Their shelter and their home should be.

However, as you rightly pointed out medhya does mean pure. Medhyam is a shabdarup of Medhya.

मेध्य medhya from Macdonell: A practical Sanskrit dictionary (p. 235) मेध्य medhya a. vigorous (V.); fit for sacrifice, sacrificially pure; pure, not defiling; m. N.: -tâ, f., -tvá, n. ritual purity.

So, it is a bit confusing and the question is interesting.

References -

The Ramayana translated by Manmatha Nath Dutt.
Ramayana of Valmiki by Hariprasad Shastri
Ramayana translated by T. H. Griffith
Online Sanskrit dictionary

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    Thank you for the reference. But how they have translated मेध्य is still unclear to me. Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 7:36
  • I have added the Hindi translation, which is quite different. Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 7:38

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