पंच पंच नखा भक्ष्या ब्रह्म क्षत्रेण राघव |

शल्यकः श्वाविधो गोधा शशः कूर्मः च पंचमः ||

(Kishkinda Kanda 17th Sarga 39th Shloka)


Raghava, five kinds of five-nailed animals, viz., a kind of wild rodent, a kind of wild-boar, a kind of lizard, a hare and fifthly the turtle are edible for Brahmans and Kshatriya-s.

My question is, is it true that Brahmins used to eat five-nailed animals, as mentioned by sage Valmiki in his Ramayana?

  • Where do you get this translation? I think the bramha kshatreana line is conscripted it may have two other meanings 1) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahma_Kshatri and 2) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmakshatriya
    – Yogi
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 5:04
  • @yogi get from here quora.com/… Srimannarayana Venkata Kandukuri's answer
    – Bhavin
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 5:08
  • I don't think that is a relevant answer... What is 17th sarga and 39th sarga is it 17th sarga and 39th shloka?
    – Yogi
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 5:14
  • See this you will get answer (I think so) imgur.com/KSosACU
    – Yogi
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 9:22
  • 1
    I agree with Keshav's answer the punya generated can be a reason but the prime reason is that your senses are not clouded by the bad food.
    – Yogi
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 11:41

1 Answer 1


First of all, the quote is from this chapter of the Kishkindha Kanda of the Ramayana, where Vali accuses Rama of acting sinfully in killing him:

My skin is unwearable, holy people forbid my hair and bones, and uneatable is my meat for your kind of reputable people. Raghava, five kinds of five-nailed animals, viz., a kind of wild rodent, a kind of wild-boar, a kind of lizard, a hare and fifthly the turtle are edible for Brahmans and Kshatriyas. Sensible people will not touch my skin and bones, oh, king, nor meats from my body are to be eaten, such as I am, a five-nailed animal, I am killed.

As I discuss in this answer, Rama gives a thorough defense of his actions, and at the end of it Vali agrees Rama was in the right. In any case, Vali is referencing the rule given in this chapter of the Manu Smriti, which lists various foods that are and are not permitted for Dvijas (members of the first three castes):

  1. Let him not eat solitary or unknown beasts and birds, though they may fall under (the categories of) eatable (creatures), nor any five-toed (animals).

  2. The porcupine, the hedgehog, the iguana, the rhinoceros, the tortoise, and the hare they declare to be eatable; likewise those (domestic animals) that have teeth in one jaw only, excepting camels.

Verse 18 lists exceptions to the general prohibition given in verse 17.

In any case, even if the Manu Smriti doesn't forbid the eating of certain animals by Dvijas, there are still excellent reasons to be a vegetarian. It gives you good gunas that can lead you to be a more virtuous person, it's more compassionate to other living beings, and as the Manu Smriti itself says, abstaining from meat generates as much Punya as the performance of a hundred Ashwamedha Yagnas. So go vegetarian!

  • How can Bramhanas eat meat?!
    – Yogi
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 7:27
  • 1
    @Yogi, many of these rules are for a different Yuga.
    – ram
    Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 4:32
  • @ram I wonder why is it like that....because varna-guna composition should be same in every yuga. So technically bramhins should live in sattva mode everytime and meat is not sattvika. How can yuga difference make meat sattvika.
    – Yogi
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 19:28
  • 1
    @Yogi, not sure what you mean by varna-guna composition 'should' be same.. it's not. in krita yuga, dharma stands on 4 legs - satyam, tapa, shoucha, dana - in kali, only dana remains. achara-anushtana required for brahmanas deteriorates drastically, hence they don't have enough satva guna to offset the rajo/tamo of meat. if meat is sacrificial, it has more satva guna, but since nowadays it is just butcher meat it has even more rajo/tamo guna.. so it's double-worse, both eater and food have less satva
    – ram
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 22:53

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