An Analysis of Meat in Manusmriti

।।ॐ नमो नारायणाय।।

Chapter 5 of Manusmriti talks extensively on topic of meat, whether we should eat it or not and procedure of eating it, but the sheer amount of contradictions and strange verse formations force us to question the originality of these shlokas.

First thing is that some shlokas are very clearly Interpolations, such as 5.41- it uses the word अब्रवीन्मनुः (Manu said it) now this shloka obviously cannot be by Manu himself because according to chapter 1 Manu is saying these things to Rishis, hence why will he say “Manu said it” ?

If I am talking to a person I won’t say “Aryaveer said it” to him, I will directly say whatever I want to say

This clearly proves that 5.41 which advocates meat was added in Manusmriti later.

Next we see the clear contradictions Manusmriti 3.82 says

“One should daily offer Śrāddha with food, or with water, or with milk, roots and fruits,—(thereby) bringing pleasure to the Pitṛs”

No mention of meat for shraddha at all, hence this contradicts with shlokas advocating meat for Shraddha later.

Manusmriti 5.15 Prohibits eating fish, now the word used is विवर्जयेत् and as its in विधिलिङ्ग लकार here it means an order/Law by manu, some translations translate this as “Avoid” which makes it looks like here is a choice given by Manu, wrong it is as विधिलिङ्ग is used for many meanings but here main meaning is “Instructing, or ordering” not requesting (विधिनिमन्त्रणाऽमन्त्रणाधीष्टसंप्रश्नप्रार्थनेषु लिङ् Ast ३।३।१६१) as Manu is instructing Rishis (See chapter 1), furthermore विधिलिङ्ग is used for instructing/ordering throughout Manusmriti for example 4.138

सत्यं ब्रूयात् प्रियं ब्रूयात् न ब्रूयात् सत्यमप्रियम् । नासत्यं च प्रियं ब्रूयात् एष धर्मः सनातनः

Eternal Law has been instructed using विधिलिङ्ग only proving above point

Also in 5.15 fish eaters are equated to Beef eaters by Medhatithi – “…He who eats fish eats all kinds of flesh; it would be right to speak of him as a ‘beef-eater’ also.” (Translation by Ganganath Jha) He also says निन्दातिशयान्मत्स्यान्विवर्जयेत् real meaning is that fishes are “very disgusting” and hence much condemned (निन्दा-अतिशयान्) and should not be consumed because of this reason. (Ganganath Jha’s translation of this last line is wrong use any dictionary to verify) hence proving that Manu is ordering not to eat it.

विधिलिङ्ग in Manusmriti works in same way “Shall” is used in constitution of India “Mandating” the instruction.

But in 5.16 eating of Fish is allowed, clear contradiction between both these verses indicating interpolation.

5.41 says animals should be killed “Only” for rituals or Madhuparka. This contradicts with previous shlokas like 5.22 where eating meat was allowed for dependents and 5.30 where eating meat of animals was allowed daily.

Interesting part, meat is allowed but onion, Carrot, Garlic, Mushroom is totally prohibited and if anyone eats it he loses his Caste 5.19

Also in this context of Manusmriti meat in Madhuparka is mentioned but this is wrong In none of the Grihya sutras meat is mentioned among ingredients of Madhuparka, all ingredients are 100% vegetarian

For example-

Apastamba Dharma sutra( 2.4.8-9)says Madhuparka is made by Mixing curd with honey or milk with honey, if both not possible then water with honey.

AApastamba Dharma Sutra 2.4

Ashvalan Grihya sutra (1.24.5/6) says Curd and honey is mixed to make Madhuparka, if not available then Ghee and curd can be used

Same with paraskar Grihya sutra and Varah Grihya sutra etc.

Meat is not mentioned anywhere here as ingredient while preparing Madhuparka

Ashvalan Grihya Sutra(1.24.26) says नामांसो मधुपर्को भवति भवति (न आमांसः) There is no meat in Madhuparka

Now there are many verses which prohibits consumption of meat –

5.45 – One who harms animals for own pleasure never attains Happiness

5.46 – He, who does not seek to inflict sufferings of capture and death on living beings, is the well-wisher of all and obtains perfect happiness

5.47 – He who does not injure anything obtains, without effort, what he thinks of, what he undertakes, and what he fixes his heart upon.

5.48 – Meat is never obtained without having encompassed the killing of animals; and the killing of animals does not lead to heaven; hence one should not eat meat

5.49 – Having duly pondered over the origin of meat, and over the fettering and killing of living beings, one should abstain from the eating of ALL meat.

5.50 – He who does not eat meat like a Pishach, disregarding the rule (in previous verses), becomes popular among men and is not afflicted by disease

5.55 – he will eat me in this life who I am eating in this life

Other verses tells harms of eating non veg and benefits of abstaining from meat Then we have another controversial verse-

5.56- “There is no sin in the eating of meat, nor in wine, nor in sexual intercourse. Such is the natural way of living beings; but abstention is conducive to great rewards”

But this one is clear interpolation because –

9.235 says – “The slayer of a Brāhmaṇa, the drinker of wine, the thief and the violator of the preceptor’s bed,—all these individually should be known as men who have committed heinous crimes”

11.54 says – “Brāhmaṇa -slaying, wine-drinking, theft, intercourse with the Preceptor’s wife,—are called the ‘heinous offences,’ as also association with these”

See these are called Henious crimes, Drinking wine is in same category as slaying a Brahmin, but 5.56 says there is no sin in drinking wine.

11.95 – “Intoxicants, meat, wine and distilled liquors are the food of Yakṣas, Rākṣasas and Piśācas; it should not be taken by the Brāhmaṇa who partakes of the offerings to the gods”

Meat is called food of Raksasas, Pisacas and Yaksas not Humans.

Now some people claim that meat is only prohibited for Brahmin here and not for others that’s wrong interpretation, first part of verse clearly says who eats meat, second parts specifically says about Brahmin who partakes in Yajnas etc because Yajnas should not get polluted, but it do not mean only Brahmins are prohibited. Because according to this arguement all other Varnas will be either Rakshsas, Picacas or Yakshas, that is illogical.

Hence it is clear that there are a lot of contradictions in Manusmriti itself, so what we should do? How to know what is right and what is wrong? Rishi Manu and other Rishis told us that-

2/6 – वेदोऽखिलो धर्ममूलं (Vedas are source of ALL Dharma)

2/13- धर्मं जिज्ञासमानानां प्रमाणं परमं श्रुतिः ( if there is a confusion about Dharma then Vedas will be Foremost evidence)

Gautama Dharma sutra (1.1.1) – वेदो धर्ममूलम्

So let’s refer to Vedas-

Atharva Veda 6.140 speaks on it (Bhavartha)

1. Your teeth violent like tigers are harming those who are mother and father ( Animals, this expression is used to tell us how they too have relations and feelings), oh Jātveda make my teeth kalyānkāri(not harming them)

2. Oh teeth, you eat rice, barley, black gram, til, these are allotted to you do not harm those who are mother and father( Animals)

Clearly Vedas tell us what to eat, and not to harm animals for our food.

What about sacrifice? Vedas call Yajña as Adhvar It has been used many times in Vedas for yagya for example Rigveda(1/1/4),Rig(1/19/1),Atharv Veda(1/4/2) etc.

Nirukta 1/8 Says अध्वरिति यज्ञ नाम ।। ध्वरिति हिंसाकर्माः, तत्प्रतिषेधः It says “we call Yajya as Adhvar, Dhvar means Himsa, Himsa is prohibited in Yajya.”

Further is we see Bhagwat Purana 4.25.7-8 Narad says

नारद उवाच भो भो: प्रजापते राजन् पशून् पश्य त्वयाध्वरे ।संज्ञापिताञ्जीवसङ्घान्निर्घृणेन सहस्रश: । 7

एते त्वां सम्प्रतीक्षन्ते स्मरन्तो वैशसं तव ।सम्परेतम् अय:कूटैश्छिन्दन्त्युत्थितमन्यव: ।8

Oh King, see these animals you have killed in Yajña, they are all waiting for you remembering the injuries you gave them, they will tear you with iron thorns after you die. Interestingly Narad ji used “Adhwar” for Yajña here, taunting the king for sheer irony of his act.

Hence Animal sacrifice in Yajña is not Vedic and certainly started afterwards, not denying that it happened, just saying that it is not good and it should not happen as Muni Narad said in Bhagwatam.

So on basis of this we resolve the contradiction in Manusmriti, the verses supporting meat are certainly later Interpolations.

नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय नमः।।

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