Manusmriti and Forbidden Food.

Goa University runs what is called Visiting faculty public lectures, these are usually a one credit course, for those who want accreditation else it is just a learning process. Most of us are there many taking time off from work the classroom is a pleasant mix.

Initially I had the time I attended a lot now I choose. Prof.Dr, Kumkum Roy is a faculty I love listening to. And this time she had the right mix that interested me, the Theragathas, Manusmriti and more.

Actually what we like to visualize as ancient India, the glorious age of Hinduism, had no Hinduism, it had a way of life with right and wrong,  and Manusmrithi was not really very touted or adhered to, having said that lets just have a look into what does Manusmrithi actually say about meat eating.. What Manusmrithi prohibits is the meat of an unconsecrated animal (5.27 – 57).

They don’t for a Brahmin is quite stringent but since I was curious about meat I am just focusing on it.  The Manusmrithi of course prohibits all carnivores’ birds, and single hoofed animals, but interestingly it allows a lot of poultry.

The Manusmrithi calls a man who eats the meat of some animals as eaters of that animal’s meat but a fish eaten is referred to as eater of every anima’s meat, therefore he must avoid fish. The pathhina, the rohita fish are allowed when they are used in an offering to gods or ancestors, while Rajiva, Simhatunda and Sasaka fish can be eaten any time.

While wandering and unknown animals or birds are prohibited. Animals with five nails are permitted, like the porcupine, hedgehog, monitor lizard, rhinoceros, the tortoise and the rabbit get edibility permit, so do animals with incisors in only one jaw with the exception of camel.

On the other hand a village hog, garlic, a village fowl, onion or leek intentionally eaten topples the Brahmin off his caste (11.213, 219)

Sacrificing animals and birds and feeding their dependents is permitted to Brahmin.

Eating meat is allowed if it is sacrificially consecrated at the behest of the Brahmin.  The Brahmin is also allowed meat when his life is at risk.

The food chain as created by the Prajapati is the hierarchy of the life breathe or the prana… mobile and the immobile need nourishment for life breathe, the immobile are food for the mobile, the fangless for the fanged, the handless for the handed, the timid for the brahve, the eater does get defieled byh eating living beings suitable for eating if if he eats them day after day, for the creator himself fashioned both the eater and the what is being eaten.

The Manusmrithi very specifically states that when a man eats meat whether it was purchased, procured by himself, or offered by someone else after making an offering t the gods and ancestors, he does not become defiled. The twice born is also allowed meat when faced with adversity. But eating ritually consecrated meat is allowed.  But killing an animal for futile reason or eating because of an urge is not acceptable.

Interestingly a person abstaining from meat and a man who offers the horse sacrifice every year for hundred years gain the same merit and the horse sacrifice or the ashwamedha entails, eating the meat of the sacrificed horse.

Very categorically the Manusmrithi says there is no fault in eating meat, in drinking liqueur, or in having sex these are natural activities of creatures, however abstaining from such activity, however brings great rewards.


Nagabana Bennekudru
Nagabana Bennekudru


August 7th 2016

The worship of the snake god happens all over India and other indigenous  cultures. In the Tulu – Malayala region it is very vibrant since it is essentially the snake territory. We have the cult of Nagamandala, the Nagapatri and other folk rituals which tell the stories connecting nature-animal-man.  Most families are associated with nagabana or  snake hives.

The worship could rise from the belief that the earth is held together by Sa-akarshana the geomagnetic force that is symbolized by the snake sankarshana.  So snake worship is a form of earth worship, where clusters of old trees are found.

The motif of earth-soil and fertility keeps popping up along the  coast, the land being created or reclaimed by Parashurama the son of Renuka  while Renu is also the essence of sand or soil. Goa at one end of the Parashuramakshetra has satteri the anthill in this folk religion tradition for ants are pointers to fertile soil. Once the ants move on, the snakes arrive indicating that the Bhu is now ready to turn to Shri. So snakes are always known as the keepers of wealth.

shed snake skin
shed snake skin

It is believed that the snakes return to Patala after nagapanchami, though I am not really sure when they emerge from there, anyway ritual offerings are made to ensure that the snake has enough nourishment for the journey through the sea.  So a symbolic stone is consecrated with milk, coconut water and water, soft offerings are made of traditional food like chikkli, tambittu and halubai. Nagapanchami also heralds the end of the period of where farm work particularly digging is a taboo. The belief is one might accidently kill a snake or be killed by one.

Nagabana - Kadekaar
Nagabana – Kadekaar

There some interesting rituals like not using the kumkum, or heating oil in a pan for the it might irritate the skin of  the snake.

The snake is believed to be natures equivalent of a Brahmin, probably because it the knowledge that recognizes fertile soil, the belief is so strong that if one sees a dead snake particularly a cobra it is given a human funeral.

Astrologically when the asteroid Rahu snake headed goes off balance then he is appeased by making offerings to the snake.

Ailments  of the nerves and skins are sarpadosha or the effect of the element of snake.

Eminent snakes in Hindu mythology

Worship of snakes in other cultures

Nagarapanchami worship of snakes

Naga preeta bhavanti shantimapnoti via viboh
Sashanti lok ma sadhya modate shashttih samh

Let all be blessed by the snake goddess, let everyone obtain peace
Let all live peacefully without any turbulence.

Akshaya and Akshata

dhanyalakshmiAkshata Abundance of nourishment was the focus of the Vedic society this was symbolized by grains of rice. Called the akshata. When sanctified through use in a ritual it became “mantra-akshate” that which was empowered to unlock that particular blessing for you. Literally Akshaya means something which does debilitate. So Akshaya Trithya commemorates that potential of nature. The belief is that the power to ensure abundance is the innate on this date every year, so people tend to begin new ventures, buy gold vehicle or anything that is either the impact of economic growth or promises economic growth is begins this day. Akshaya Trithya is believed to have witnessed great events like The beginning of the tretayuga The descend of Ganga The birth of Parashurama The day Krishna’s grace turned sudama from a pauper to wealthy man. The day Draupadi received the Akshaya patra. The day Pandava’s retrieved their weapons after the ajnatavasa. The day Vyasa began writing the Mahabharata. Of the four purushartha’s artha is one. This is about finding harmony in the Nourishing another either through food or any other form is giving back to nature. That creates abundance. Hence giving alms. interestingly there is association of definite results brought about by definite alms. Like— Offering arasina-kumkuma to another brings rajayoga. Donating new clothes brings health.

Lakshmi -- Alakshmi
Lakshmi — Alakshmi

Donating navdhanya protects us from the negative impact of the navagraha freeing us from the fear, insecurity, accidents, sudden death etc. Donating a cow would ensure marriage. Ritually on Akshaya Trithya people are known to fill a pot (urn/jar) with water place a coin (formerly gold) in it and give it away. If Akshaya Trithya falls on Rohini Nakshatra as per the Hindu almanac, and on Wednesday it is believed to be very auspicious. Usually Lakshmi the goddess of wealth is worshipped with her brother Kubera the treasurer of the Gods. The worship of Lakshmi Yugadi, Akshaya Trithya, vijayadashami, balipadya—akanda muhurta

Divine nourishment


Akshaya Trithiya celebrates abundance. This abundance is personified by DhanyaLakshmi.

Food or what is refered to as “Anna” is one of them. The sacred texts say

The hymn to Annapurneshwari talks about Anna being pratyeksha maheshwari. The visible divine.  For food is the primary need of every living creature in the plant and animal world. “Anna ghata prana” is the energy nourished by food.

Of the 5 kosha’s that layer the human atman, Annamaya Kosha is the first. This is That, that is nourished by the food taken in.  The annamaya kosha defines the physical existence of man.

The belief is that from Aakash emerges Vayu from who emerges Agni from who emerges water from which emerges bhoomi who in turn creates Man.

Since it is the food that sustains us through life needs to be honoured.  So much so the Taittreya Upanishad says “Anna brahmajnana dware” that is nourishing one’s body right is the pathway to nourishing the soul in turn can guide us to the ultimate truth.

The physical body is nourished by the pranah. Likewise the nourishment is housed in the Anna. And all life is dependent on this nourishment for survival.  So “annam bau kurveeta tadvratam” that is nourishing another being becomes the supreme sharing and tithing says the Thaittreya Upanishad.

The relevance of food is prana to the body, it means security to a householder, the alms to a mendicant, in terms of dharma it becomes tithing and realizing understanding and experiencing the underlying connectivity of all this is one of pathway to the ultimate truth that the soul seeks.



lakshmiOne thing I really like about the tradition of Devi Bhagavatam or the Shakti cult is the fundamental belief that  everything in the universe is energy and since energy is dynamic energy is feminine.

Many of us do give, old clothes, and unwanted to things. Some of us even donate money or help others, but the underlying thought is this is my investment for a future need, or this ensures my place in heaven. One thing I have realized whenever I have given for sheer pleasure of giving I have gained more.

When I was at the Landmark Education forum one thing that came across loud and clear was I was reluctant to let people into my space. I would share a confidence, let someone cry on my shoulder , but my own feeling no thank you.

Thanking people was also mechanical almost a response to stimuli, I wonder if it reached my voice.

The forum made me realize inflow as important as inflow. Of course the trained spontaneous polite thank you still emerges, but I started keeping a book of gratitude, this helps me thank God for small mercies in my life.

I then made a list of people who I would like in my life and sent them e-cards. I actually called some people up. Those of you, who know me, know what a challenge it is for me to make that call.

I made the Goddess of sringeri my partner and put aside a % of my earnings to an account for her. I hand out my charities from it. At the end of the year it goes into the charity box at the Sringeri temple.

I give away my old clothes and newspaper to the recycle along with all those conferences bags that we never use.

If nothing I feel lighter.

random thoughts on dharma

dharmachakraDharmasya charnam shreyah

Dharmajnam tu dushkrama.

The good and righteous follow the dharma but it is difficult to know what the dharma is.

The keeper of dharma tend to become self righteous  such men are known as dharmadwaja these people on the face of it are vociferous keepers of dharma but their rigidity gives rise to the rebels.

Dharma is essential is a way living that allows everyone to be safe and grow. The dharma that is applied to the society at large is samajika dharma; this could vary with needs of the society.

Then is vaiyaktika dharma or the personal code of conduct. This is the choice of the individual.

I found some very interesting stuff here.

Marriage is left to the vaiyaktika dharma, to marry or not, the right age for marriage  this choice was extended to both the men and women. If child marriage made sense in one era adult made sense in the other.

The same goes for progeny to the extent vyasa has terms for children of unmarried girls they are KaneenaGolaka are children of widows, while Kundara children born of women whose husbands are impotent, that is married women impregnated by other men with the consent of the husband.

The only dharma that is Santana or for all time is  Maitri—karuna—muditata—upeksha—chatsrah and chittavrataha

This loosely translates to

Company you keep—kindness—joy—rejecting negativity.

Philosophers and bards have fortified samakaleena dharma as sanatana and suppressed the vaiyaktika dharma totally.