Understanding Alcohol Consumption in Hinduism
There is no clear, single consensus within the vast texts and traditions of Hinduism on whether or not Hindus should drink alcohol. Some religious texts clearly indicate the drinking of wine among Hindus, and others actively forbid the practice, describing wine and alcohol as substances that can badly influence one’s physical and spiritual health. Many Hindus are also influenced by their surrounding cultures. Hindus who are more conservative, and live in more conservative areas, are less likely to consume alcohol. Hindus who live in more liberal communities, where drinking alcohol is very common, are more likely to incorporate moderate social drinking into their lives.
Diversity of Perspectives on Alcohol Among Hindus
This means that some Hindus do drink alcohol, and other Hindus do not drink alcohol, and some Hindus believe one can drink in moderation, but it is religiously inadvisable to get drunk, and certainly to become too committed to regular drinking. Hindus who have taken monastic vows, in a variety of Hindu monastic traditions, generally are forbidden from drinking alcohol.
The Stance of Various Hindu Denominations on Alcohol Consumption
In general, Hinduism does not recommend or place religious value on social drinking. Within the many Hindu denominations, some are more wary of alcohol than others. The followers of Vaishnavism Hinduism, for example, generally consider alcohol as forbidden. Other common denominations, such as Shaivism or Smartism, include different recommendations based on the various subsets, some of which permit the occasional drinking of alcohol, and others which advise against it entirely. Some traditions with much smaller followings, such as Shrautism, also do not consume alcohol.
Alcohol in Hindu Rituals and Ayurvedic Medicine
There are practices within Hinduism that utilize alcohol. For example, Ayurveda medicine uses alcohol in certain medicinal practices to extract ingredients from herbs, and ascribes certain positive influences of wine on the health system, such as assisting with digestion. Some Tantric Hindu practices, which include some of the more esoteric manifestation of Hindu beliefs, will use alcohol in certain rites and rituals.
Alcohol in Sacred Texts and Spiritual Practice
Tantra worshippers, as a result, see more spiritual potential in alcohol than other Hindus, but still understand the spiritual role of alcohol to be restricted only to its use in regulated rituals guided by religious leaders. There is some debate whether the soma drink described in the Vedas which is derived from the juice of the soma plant and considered to have magical properties, is a fermented drink in the understanding of the sacred texts. The drink, which plays a role in several Hindu religious stories, is described as being enjoyed by various Hindu deities, and able to confer immortality on several humans reported to have sampled it.
General Hindu Recommendations on Alcohol Consumption
Most Hindu denominations will not recommend the consumption of alcohol, and most followers understand drinking to be something that is optional in moderation, or best avoided all together. Hindus in certain sects, or those who are committed to living in a particularly strict way when it comes to Hindu recommendations on food and drink, will avoid drinking any alcohol.
11/15/2023 1:24:41 AM