Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 25 Jan 2019

     

Why is alcohol prohibited for human beings but not for angels?

Shri Kishore Ram asked: Padanamaskaram Swamiji! One of my friends requested You to kindly answer the question given below: When angels like Indra consumed alcohol (Surapanam), why is it prohibited for human beings? What is amrutapanam?

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Swami replied: Angels have energetic bodies without any trace of matter. Sattvam, rajas, and tamas are the three fundamental qualities or principles that are inherent in every aspect of creation. At the cosmic level, they are expressed as the three constituents of creation namely awareness, energy and matter respectively. In our minds, sattvam appears as knowledge and goodness, rajas appears as dynamism and desire, and tamas represents ignorance and rigidity. The bodies of angels are made of rajas. Rajas actually means dust or particles. It means inert energy since energy is made of quanta or subtle particles. Angels also possess awareness, which is sattvam. But they are not made of matter and so they are almost devoid of tamas. Even in their minds, they are almost free of ignorance. Since they do not possess material bodies, angels never consume material food. So, there is no question of angels drinking alcohol, which is matter in the liquid state. Drinking alcohol is only confined to human beings. It is a well-established fact that alcohol has serious mental and health effects and hence it has been prohibited in the scriptures. Angels directly consume the energy present in the cosmos as food. ‘Amrutam means immortality. Energy is immortal and hence, the energetic bodies of angels are immortal. The reason for their immortality is this cosmic energy and not some drink consumed by them.

The scriptures describe a story in which angels and demons churned the ‘Milk Ocean’ in order to obtain the nectar of immortality called Amrutam. Space is comparable to an ocean and the gross energy obtained from space is the Amrutam. The generation of gross energy of reduced frequency from space is metaphorically described as the evolution of Amrutam upon churning the ocean. The Mandara hill used for churning the ocean represents the inertia of the energy. Sattvam on one side and tamas on the other side are depicted as the angels on one side and demons on the other side participating in the churning. The middle is rajas, which is energy or Amrutam. During the churning, some energy was also evolved in the form of harmful radiation, which has been described as the horrible poison, ‘Halaahalam’. Its ill-effects were reduced by God and this is described as the drinking of the poison by God Shiva. The whole activity of generating gross energy from space was supported by God. This is represented by God Vishnu acting as the support for the Mandara hill in the form of a Tortoise. Thus, the inner meaning of the stories in the puranas is to be understood since they are expressed in a symbolic language. Sages used to offer the filtered juice of a plant called ‘somalataa’ to angels in their rituals. The Veda says “somah pavitramatyeti rebhan”. Here, the word pavitram indicates that the drink was filtered. Such offering of this drink to angels during rituals does not mean that the angels actually drank it. Moreover, this juice of somalataa is only green tea and not alcohol. Drinking alcohol is not recommended by the scriptures. In fact, it is one of the five serious sins called panchamahaapaatakaas. Human beings are prohibited from consuming alcohol and angels, of course, never consume any matter as food or drink.