[Advaita-l] Seeking God - non-veg and alcohol

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Thu Mar 9 02:41:35 CST 2006

--- Santhosh  Nair <santhosh_twin at rediffmail.com> wrote:
> How should one live according to Advaita? Whom should one pray to? Is someone
> allowed to have nonveg and alcohol? Are there any specific rules regarding...

Gautama (II, 20) forbids liquor for all students and for brAhmaNa grihasthas -
so it is allowed for others. He sanctions flesh-eating with some restrictions.

Apastamba (I, 5, 17.21) clearly forbids all intoxicating drinks, and then gives
a detailed discussion of what kind of flesh can be eaten - indicating that
eating non-veg is OK. 

Manu (V, 56) declares flesh-eating, drinking spirituous liquor, and promiscuous
intercourse to be allowable, but the abstinence therefrom of greater merit.

(Source: Buhler, George; The Sacred Laws of the Aryas; Clarendon Press, Oxford,
1879 - Vol. No. 2 of the Oxford Sacred Books of the East) 

So much for what the authorities say. In all such matters, reasoning and common
sense should be used. 

Since the dharma-sutras themselves sanction consumption of non-veg food, let us
discuss alcohol. My view is that consumption of alcohol, within limits, is OK,
and here's why:

Very briefly, human beings are different from other animals primarily because
they can control themselves. This discretion has yielded huge rewards (we live
much longer than the caveman and rule the world) to us but has a down-side as
well in that all 'primordial' emotions (love, rage, happiness etc.) are
suppressed by the super-boss "discretion". It is much like working in the same
room as boss. So, it is natural that humans seek to escape the boss, and be
themselves without the control imposed by "discretion". Consumption of alcohol
provides this escape.

Biologically, the unique abilities of human-beings can be traced to the
cerebrum, or more properly the telencephalon (te-len-SEFF-a-lon). These
abilities include language and communication, motor-control (bipeds require
continuous balancing), and memory. Alcohol affects this region temporarily. Our
experience corroborates this. After the fifth (or whatever) drink people slur
(communication), stumble, cannot sign properly (motor-control), and are duller
(memory). They are also more indiscreet, and hence freer and get to experience
a 'pristine' state.

If alcohol is seen as a temporary suppressant of "discretion", we can take a
clear view on its usage.

For the non-sAdhaka, alcohol (within limits) is definitely beneficial. It can
even be lauded as a neat solution for dealing with the side-effects of the
hugely beneficial 'discretion'. 

For the sAdhaka seeking to gain even more control than the normal state,
alcohol should clearly not be required.

So, Santhosh gAru go ahead: eat, drink (with friends not with strangers -
parapeeDanam is always pApam; and not more than three if possible), and make
merry. That shouldn't conflict with dharma.


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