Milk and Yogurt in the Vedas!

Curd Rice

Written by London swaminathan

Research Article No: 1827

Date: 25 April 2015; Uploaded in London at 21-26

The vegan concept is unknown in ancient India. Vedic Hindus used milk and other dairy products without any hesitation. The definition of vegan is “a person who does not eat or use animal products”. Vegans don’t use honey or milk; but Vedic Hindus used madhuparka, a mixture of curd and honey. This was offered to honoured guests and distinguished visitors “rtviks, Acharya, bridegroom, king and someone who is dear to one. The references are available in Manava, (1-9-1),Baudayana (1-2-65) and  Asvalayana (1-24-5) Grhya sutras.

No book in the ancient world gave so much importance and respect to cow, bull and milk products. My view is that only the Vedic Hindus introduced the cow and its products to the world. Milk and honey are offered to gods until today during the ritual bathing of the idols every day. The ritual bathing is called Abhishek.

Milk (ksira), also called go or payas played a large part in the economy of the Vedic Hindus RV 1-109-3, 1-167-7, 8-2-9, 9-67-32; AV 2-26-4, 5-19-5, 8-3-15, 10-9-12). Later literature has got more references.

Milk was cooked with grain. They drank it fresh or in the form of curd or butter. Boiled milk and cream of boiled milk were in common use. They ate milk and rice (ksira odanam). Grain s the word sed here so it may even be the Payasa (sweet liquid). Hindus nowadays offer to God Payasa (sweet liquid made up of milk with vermicelli or rava or pounded rice/powa or rice ).

Payasam photo by T Suchasini

Goat’s milk was also used (TB 4-1-6-1; SB 14-1-2-13)

There were people who lived on milk alone (payavrata SB 9-5-1-1; KB 8-9). Ascetics in India survived just by drinking milk and eating fruits.

They used pieces of Putika creeper, bark of palasa tree or kuvala (jujube).

The term payasya in later samhitas and brahmanas denotes curds and hot or cold milk. I think this is what now we call Shrikhand, a sweet made up of Youghurt (curd).

Lord Krishna who lived 5100 years ago according to Hindus tradition is linked with the cows and all dairy products. He is known as Buttter Krishna (Navaneetha Krishna). Several Upanishad stories are spined around raising cows or making two cows into 1000 cows (Satyakama Jabala in Chandigya Upanishad and 1000 cows for Yajnavalkya in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad). All these 1000 cow stories as early as 900 BCE show the wealth of the Vedic Hindus.

Churning Curd

The process of churning with a churning stick was known from Rig Vedic times (1-28-4, BU 6-3-13).

The mixture of curds and minute globules of butter,when the latter have not been removed, was called prasadajya.

Two varieties of cheese – one with pores and the other without pores were mentioned in the RV6-48-18

A preparation of curds with boiled milk was very popular The solid part of the preparation was called amiiksa, while the liquid part was called vajina (lot of references in TS, M, VS, AV 10-9-13, SB, TA, CU, JU.

Butter was heated to make ghee. Butter was used to make apupas.




Vedic society was the one that showed the importance of cow and milk to the mankind.

Sweets like Rice Pudding and Shrikhand existed even during Vedic times.

Milk and honey were considered holy and they are offered to God until today.

Vegan concept is a modern, western concept, unknown in India.