Wine Consumption In Hindu Dharma

1. Wine in Heaven

📚Atharva Veda 4.34.6📚
Full lakes of butter with their banks of honey, flowing with wine, and milk and curds and water Abundant with their overflow of sweetness, these streams shall reach thee in the world of Svarga, whole lakes with lotus blossom shall approach thee.”  (source)

📚Chandogya Upanishad 8.5.3📚
Ara and Nya are two lakes in the world of Brahman, in the third heaven from hence; and there is the lake Airam madiya…”  (source)

Commenting on this, Adi Shankaracharya wrote, “There is also the lake Airam madiya, ‘Aira‘ is guel, ‘ira” being grain and that which is full of this gruel, and serves to intoxicate or exhilarate those that partake of it.”

📚Brahmanda Purana 4b.33.43-46📚
Those people of earthly world who had attained mastery over Lalitā’s Mantra attain the chamber of sapphire on giving up their bodies and stay there. They enjoy divine objects in the company of their womenfolk. They drink sweet wine and dance with great devotion. They sport about in those lakes and rivers, O Pot-born sage, in beautiful bowers and arbours and mansions of great prosperity. They repeat the names of Śrīdevi always and recite her good qualities. Those highly fortunate people reside there surrounded by their women.”  (source)

📚Linga Purana 1.48.9-14📚
In the eastern side of this mountain is Amaravati (the city of Indra). It is full of mansions of different kinds. It is thronged by different groups of Devas. It is surrounded by clusters of jewels. It has many ornamental gateways of different shapes bedecked in gold and jewels. The arches at the gateways are rendered wonderful with gold, with jewels set in. Thousands of women throng the roadways. They are clever in conversation and elocution. They are bedecked in all ornaments. They stoop down due to the weight of their heavy breasts and their eyes roll to and fro due to intoxication. The Apsaras (water nymphs) move about all round…”  (source)

2. Wine as Medicine

Wine was also used as medicine,

📚Agni Purana 279.27-32📚
Muktas, natron and wine are commended in any distemper due to drunkeness. A person who has been injured (on the chest) should drink lac together with honey and milk. Wasting diseases could be cured by eating the essence of meat and by protecting the digestive power…Water-melon, cucumber, and wheat mixed with milk, (j’ṃce of) sugarcane and ghee are commendable for painful discharge of urine. Scum and wine etc. (are commended) for drinking.”  (source)

📚Charaka Samhita Cikitsasthana 8.123📚
The person that is taking the diet consisting of barley and wheat, honey-wine, Sidhu-wine, medicated wine and Sura wine and the spit-roasted flesh of Jangala animals, will subdue his Kapha-morbidity.”  (source)

📚Charaka Samhita Cikitsasthana 8.163📚
Consumption does not persist long in one that is disciplined and strong-minded and subsists exclusively on a meat-diet and drinks honey wine.”  (source)

📚Charaka Samhita Cikitsasthana 8.165📚
The consumptive patient may take as post-prandial drink, Prasanna, Varuni or Sidhu wine or simple or medicated wine as is suitable after taking a meat-diet.”  (source)

3. Offering Wine to Gods and Ancestors

📚Brahma Purana 72.52📚
Lord Hari said: Worshipped by means of wine, meat and other presents and various items of foodstuffs you will become delighted and fulfil all desires of men.”  (source)

📚Shatapatha Brahmana📚
He offers with, ’This is the first consecration, assuring all boons: he is the first, Varuna, Mitra, Agni;–he is the first, Brihaspati, the wise: to that Indra offer ye the liquor, Hail!”  (source)

📚Shatapatha Brahmana📚
Now on the day before, he mixes the spirituous liquor (while muttering, Vâg. S. X, 30, ‘Get done for the Asvins! get done for Sarasvatî! get done for Indra, the good protector!’ When that liquor is (done) he proceeds with that (offering). They take up two fires; on the northern altar 2 (they lay down) the northern (fire), and on a raised (mound) the southern one, thinking, ‘Lest we should offer together the Soma-libations, and the Surâ (liquor) -libations:’ therefore they take up two fires, and on the northern altar (they lay down) the northern (fire), and on a raised (mound) the southern one. And when he proceeds with the omenta, then he proceeds with that spirituous liquor.”  (source)

📚Narada Purana 3.90.28📚
The devotee with the previously mentioned form should worship the deities of the above mentioned forms. He should worship them in the proper sequence with the offering of wine, fish and meat duly consecrated.”  (source)

📚Agni Purana 156.15-31📚
O Rama, twelve oblations should be offered to the god Soma (Moon-god), Vanhi (the god of fire), and Yama (the god of death), and the lighted lamps on the cakes of obsequies should be separately put out as before. The vessels should be filled in with wine, meat and curd, and if there be any Adhimasa in the year, a separate vesselful of oblation should be decked out for that…”  (source)

📚Narada Purana 3.87.31📚
For the achievement of siddhis one should offer her at night spirituous liquor, etc. The application is to be kept seccret, yet it is being mentioned. It yields all siddhis.”  (source)

📚Vishnu Purana 5.1.82-86📚
They who address thee morning and afternoon with reverence and praise, and call thee Áryá, Durgá, Vedagarbhá, Ambiká, Bhadrá, Bhadrakálí, Kshemí, or Kshemankarí, shall receive from my bounty whatever they desire. Propitiated with offerings of wine and flesh and various viands, thou shalt bestow upon mankind all their prayers…”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
O goddess Durga, O destroyer of intracctable distresses, O goddess destroying all evil ends (disasters), save me in all difficult situations. O Durga, I have sought refuge in you…After keeping awake that night, when the day has dawned, at the rise of Aruna, buffaloes and sheep should be beheaded in front. The animals may number a hundred, half of it (fifty) or half of half (twenty-five) as the devotee pleases. With potful of Sura and Asava (liquor) the great goddess should be propitiated. The meat thereof should be given to Kapalikas as well as to servants and maid servants. In the afternoon of the navami day…”  (source)

4. Hindu Scriptures on Liquor Drinking

According to Narada Purana, not only is the practice of offering liquor to the gods allowed, but it also delves into detailed descriptions of how three types of liquors are prepared,

📚Narada Purana 3.90.11-22📚
This Vidya is exhilarating as the intoxicating liquor. It is the means of crossing over distress. I shall now tell you the precise preparation of it. The liquor they classify into three types: Gaudi, Paisti and Madhvi. Put jaggery in hot water and stir it well. The pollen powder of the flower dhataki (grislea tomentosa) shall be put into it and the whole solution is kept in a glass jar. It is stored under ground but at dawn and at dusk the solution is stirred well with the hands. After a month is over when the sediments go to the bottom, it is filtered. This can be used for worship. This is called Gaudi because it is prepared from Guda. Similarly, that which is got by adding honey is called Madhvi. O dear one, listen to the Paisti variety. Rice should be boiled slowly and cooked in two and a half times more water (than the rice). It should be left over for three days. Then the powdered sprout of the embylic Myrobalan is put into it. Keep this in an airy place for a day where there is not much of wind. Water is then poured into it and stirred well. This is then filtered. It is then called Paistika Madhu. Artificial liquor is prepared in two ways extracting from trees or squeezing from fruits. Listen to the mode of its preparation. By its taste the mind gets repose. Bunches of grapes, or date fruits or the flowers of Bassia latifolia are put into water and boiled to half the original quantity. To this add a small quantity of distilled spirit and keep it undisturbed for two days. After filtering the same it becomes tasty and auspicious, worthy of being offered for worship. I causes full repose of the mind. As to the second variety it is prepared from the coconut, Hintala or palm trees. The milk that exudes from the stalk of the fruit must be taken fresh from the tree. It is tasty. Take the water out of the coconut fruit. Put a little camphor therein. The juice of Arecanut half the quantity of the former. Mix both and keep it in the sunlight. This immediately becomes liquor which the gods are very fond of.”  (source)

Narada Purana contains yet another verse that permits individuals to consume a particular measure of liquor, but only after presenting it as an offering to the deities,

📚Narada Purana 3.90.23-28📚
Or the devotee shall offer for the arghya to the goddess the liquor which has been mentioned here. It must be offered immediately which will be fruitful. The aspirant while remaining in trance should drink it always restricting his diet. Never should a siddha drink it unless it has been first offered to the goddess. It should be drunk until the mind is wholly absorbed in the Goddess. If he drinks more than that he shall become a sinner immediately. He who drinks wine with wilful desire without serving it to the god becomes a sinner. He should be punished by the king for he is the worshipper of avidya …The devotee with the previously-mentioned form should worship the deities of the above-mentioned forms. He should worship them in the proper sequence with the offering if wine, fish and meat duly consecrated.”  (source)

Baudhayana Dharma Shastra permits the drinking of Rum only for South Indian Hindus,

📚Baudhayana Dharmasutra📚
There is a dispute regarding five (practices) both in the south and in the north…Now (the customs peculiar) to the north are, to deal in wool, to drink rum, to sell animals that have teeth in the upper and in the lower jaws, to follow the trade of arms, to go to sea. He who follows (these practices) in any other country than where they prevail, commits sin.”  (source)

Indra, inquisitive about Asava, a particular type of liquor, seeks guidance from Brihaspati. In response, Brihaspati explains the nuances of Asava and also outlines which type of liquor is acceptable for Kshatriyas and Vaishyas, provided it is first offered as a sacred offering to the deities,

📚Brahmanda Purana 4b.7.63-76📚
Indra said: ‘What is the nature of Asava? (Liquor). What is its defect? What is its merit? What type of cooked food is defective? Mention this in detail to me.’ Brihaspati said: The different types of intoxicating beverages are as follows: Paiffika (made from flour or rice), Talaja (from the date palm), Kaira (cocounut palm-juice), Madhuka (made from honey or Madhuka flowers), Gudasambhava (prepared from molasses). In regard to sinful nature the later ones mentioned above are half as dreadful as the earlier ones. Asava can be used as a beverage by the three castes beginning with the Ksatriyas. Excepting a Brahmana lady, all women can drink liquors beginning with the third one i.e. Kaira (coconut palm juice, and prepared from honey and molasses). A widow, a virgin and a woman in her monthly period shall avoid drinking liquor. If a woman drinks liquor out of covetousness and not in the company of her husband, she is called Unmadini (a mad woman). One should avoid her like a Candala woman. The ratio of drinking liquors in the case of four castes beginning with the Brahmanas shall be ten to eight or six to four. In the case of women it shall be half of the above. If they drink in the company of their husbands it shall be one-fourth of the above. After drinking liquor out of delusion, a Brahmana should perform Krcchracandrayana expiation. Or he shall repeat Gayatri Mantra or Jatavedasa Mantra ten thousand times. If a man repeats Ambikahrdaya Mantra he shall become pure. A Ksatriya among the three castes shall be purified by repeating those Mantras half the number of times. In the case of women the number of repetitions shall be one-fourth or they can get the same done through Brahmanas. One should repeat the Mantras a thousand times under water and become purified thereby. Laksmi, Sarasvati, Gauri, Candika, Tripura, Ambika, Vaisnavi, Bhairavi, Kali and Mahendri are the mothers. There are other Sakti goddesses. In worshipping them the liquor prepared from honey is approved of. A Brahmana who has mastered the Vedangas shall perform worship without wine …The base fellow who drinks liquor without worshipping Para Sakti shall stay in hell called Raurava for a period calculated at the rate of a year for every drop so consumed.”  (source)

It is worth noting that Brahmins were not always forbidden from partaking in wine consumption. In the Vedic era, both Kshatriyas and Brahmins indulged in wine, particularly when it was combined with Soma, an ancient sacred beverage with profound significance in Vedic rituals,

📚Yajur Veda 19.5📚
Soma with Wine, pressed; filtered for the banquet, cleanses priest, noble, brilliancy and vigour. God, with the Bright give Deities enjoyment: give food with flavour to the Sacrificer.”  (source)

In the grand consecration ceremony known as Rajasuya, as described in the Aitareya Brahmana, the king participates in a significant ritual where he is obliged to partake in Sura, an alcoholic beverage, along with Soma, the sacred drink offered to him by the Brahmin priest.

📚Aitareya Brahmana 8.8📚
The spirituous liquor represents the Kshattra, and further, the juice in the food; thus both the Kshattra and the juice in the food, are placed in him…Now he gives into his hand a goblet of spirituous liquor, under the recital of the verse, svadishthaya madishthaya, (9.1.1) i.e. ‘Purify, O Soma! with thy sweetest most exhilarating drops (the sacrificer), thou who art squeezed for Indra, to be drunk by him.’ After having put the spirituous liquor into his hand, the priest repeats a propitiatory mantra (which runs thus): ‘To either of you (spirituous liquor and Soma!) a separate residence has been prepared, and allotted by the gods. Do not mix with one another in the highest heaven; liquor! thou art powerful; Soma! thou art a king. Do not harm him (the king)! may either go to his own place.’ (Here is said), that the drinking of the Soma and that of liquor, exclude one another (they are not to be mixed). After having drunk it…Thus he finally places the liquor in his friend (gives him a share in it).”  (source)

📚Yajur Veda 19.7📚
For each of you is made a God-appointed place: so grant to me a portion in the highest sphere. Surâ the strong art thou. This here is Soma. Entering thine own place do me no mischief.”  (source)

Those who raise doubts about the translation have no room to evade the compelling evidence. The Aitareya Brahmana firmly supports the Yajur Veda verse. In Book 8, Paragraph 20 of the Aitareya Brahmana, intricate rituals involving the pouring of various liquids over the king’s head by the priest, including the consumption of liquor, are meticulously detailed. Through the recitation of powerful Mantras, the liquor undergoes a transformation, becoming authentic Soma, which the king then partakes in,

📚Aitareya Brahmana 8.20📚
Then the priest gives into his hands a goblet filled with spirituous liquor, repeating the mantra, svadishthaya. He then should drink the remainder (after previous libations to the gods)…The Soma beverage which is (in a mystical way) contained in the spirituous liquor, is thus drunk by the king, who is inaugurated by means of Indra’s inauguration ceremony (the ceremony just described)…The drinking of spirituous liquor, or Soma, or the enjoyment of some other exquisite food, affects the body of the Kshattriya who is inaugurated by means of Indra’s great inauguration ceremony…”  (source)

As per the Vishnu Smriti, Brahmins are strictly forbidden from consuming any form of wine. However, the same text permits Kshatriyas and Vaishyas to consume specific types of liquor, acknowledging their different societal roles and responsibilities,

📚Vishnu Smriti 22.82-84📚
Distilled from sugar, or from the blossoms of the Madhûka. (Mâdhvi wine], or from flour: these three kinds of spirituous liquor have to be discerned; as one, so are all: none of them must be tasted by the twice-born. Again, distilled from the blossoms of the Madhûka tree (Madhûka wine), from molasses, from the fruits of the Tanka (or Kapittha tree), of the jujube tree, of the Khargûra tree, or of the breadfruit tree, from wine-grapes, from Madhûka blossoms (Mâdhvîka wine), Maireya, and the sap of the cocoanut tree: These ten intoxicating drinks are unclean for a Brâhmana; but a Kshatriya and a Vaisya commit no wrong in touching (or drinking) them.”  (source)

📚Manu Smriti 5.56📚
There is no sin in eating meat, in (drinking) spirituous liquor, and in carnal intercourse, for that is the natural way of created beings, but abstention brings great rewards.”  (source)

The following verses are favorable to the use of wine,

📚Atharva Veda 10.6.5📚
To this we give apportioned food, clarified butter, wine, and meath. May it provide each boon for us as doth a father for his sons…”  (source)

📚Atharva Veda 15.9.1-3📚
He went away to the people. Meeting and Assembly and Army and Wine followed him. He who hath this knowledge becomes the dear home of Meeting, Assembly, Army, and Wine.”  (source)

📚Atharva Veda 14.1.35-36📚
Whatever lustre is in dice, whatever lustre is in wine, Whatever lustre is in cows, Asvins, endue this dame therewith. With all the sheen that balmeth wine, or thigh of female paramour, With all the sheen that balmeth dice, even with this adorn the dame.”  (source)

📚Atharva Veda 6.69.1📚
Mine be the glory in the hill, in vales, in cattle, and in gold, Mine be the sweetness that is found in nectar and in flowing wine!”  (source)

📚Atharva Veda 9.1.18📚
May all the sweetness that is found in hills and mountains, steeds and kine, And wine that floweth from the cup,—may all that sweetness be in me.”  (source)

📚Yajur Veda 19.16📚
The Sacrificer’s seat is the throne’s symbol, the jar containing Surâ of the Altar. The mid-space is the northern Altar’s symbol: the cloth for filtering is the physician.”  (source)

Rig Veda mentions a miracle performed by the Ashwins, where they drew a hundred jars of wine from the hoof of their horse,

📚Rig Veda 1.116.7📚
O heroes, ye gave wisdom to Kakshivan who sprang from Parjra’s line, who sang your praises. Ye poured forth from the hoof of your strong charger a hundred jars of wine as from a strainer.”  (source)

📚Shatapatha Brahmana📚
There are both milk and Surâ-liquor; for milk is Soma, and the Surâ-liquor food: through the milk he secures the Soma-drink, and through the Surâ-liquor food. And milk is the nobility (chieftaincy), and Surâ-liquor the peasantry (clan); the milk he purifies after purifying the Surâ-liquor: he thus produces the nobility from out of the peasantry, for the nobility is produced from out of the peasantry.”  (source)

The Satapatha Brahmana also mentions Parisrut, a distinct type of liquor different from Sura,

📚Shatapatha Brahmana📚
Verily, from this sacrifice the man is born and whatever food a man consumes in this world, that (food), in return, consumes him in yonder world. Now this sacrifice is performed by means of spirituous liquor, and spirituous liquor (parisrut is not to be consumed by a Brâhmana: he thus is born from that which is not (to be) consumed, and the food does not, in return, consume him in yonder world. Therefore this (sacrifice), the Sautrâmanî, is a Brâhmana’s sacrifice.”  (source)

📚Shatapatha Brahmana📚
and the Parisrut-liquor is neither Soma nor Sura: this is why he buys the Parisrut for a piece of lead from a long haired man.”  (source)

📚Shatapatha Brahmana📚
Let him therefore rather throw them into the fermented liquor (Parisrut)…let him therefore throw it rather into the spirituous liquor.”  (source)