Compiled by  London Swaminathan


Date: 29 OCTOBER 2019

Time  in London – 19-24

Post No. 7155

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CHARAKA and SUSHRUTA  lived at least 2300 years ago. Kautilya, author of Athasastra also lived 2300 years before our time. It is amazing that they described various types of fermented drinks.

Charaka lists nine sources of spirituous liquor or fermented drinks.  These are- cereals, fruits, roots, wood, flowers, stems/stalks, leaves, barks of plants and sugar -yielding canes. From these, the preparation of 84 different kinds of ‘asava’(wine) has been described.

The nine main classes of liquors from the nine sources, mentioned above, are named respectively as-

Dhania asava










In Arthasastra

In a chapter defining the duties of the Superintendent of Liquor, Kautilya writes,

By employing such men as are acquainted with the manufacture of liquor and ferments 9kinva), the superintendent of liquor shall carry on liquor traffic not only in forts and county part (shops), but also in camps…………….

Illicit liquor destroyed

Various kinds of liquors described are-







Medaka is prepared from the fermentation of rice;

Prasanna from the fermentation of flour with addition of spices and the fruits of Putraka (a species of tree in the country of Kamarup/Assam).

Asava is the liquor derived from the fermentation of sugar mixed with honey.

Jaggery mixed with powder of long and black pepper or with the powder of triphala (mixture of Terminalia chebula, Terminalia balerica, and Phyllanthus emblica), when fermented , forms Maireya.

Fermented grape juice is Madhu. The preparation of different kinds of arista for different diseases can be learnt from the physicians.

Kinva or ferment is prepared from boiled or unboiled paste of ‘masha’ (Phaseolus radiatus), rice and Morata (Alanium salvifolium) and the like.

The liquor that is manufactured from mango fruits may contain a greater proportion of mango essence or of spices. It is called maha sura when it contains sambhara (spices).

It is interesting to note that Kautilya writes that all  varieties of liquor other than that used for the king are taxable with 5 percent as toll. These include acid drinks prepared from fruits (phalamla) and spirit distilled from molasses (amla sidhu). But on the occasion of festivals, fairs (samaja) and pilgrimage it is permissible to manufacture liquor for four days (chaturahassaurikah) – liberty to drink liquor without limit


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