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How Alcohol Became Intoxicant: Story of Origin of Madya in Hindu Scriptures

A story in the Devi Bhagavatam explains how alcohol (Madya) became intoxicant. Legend has it that Ashwini Devas (Ashwinikumar) were once banished from Devaloka (heaven) by Indra, the king of devas. Madya the drink associated with Devas were also banned to Aswini Devas.

Ashwini Devas took refuge in the Ashram of Sage Chyavana. During this period the Sage conducted a special yajna and invited Ashwini Devas to partake the Yajnamsha.

Indra objected to this by stating that they were banished from heaven and were not allowed to drink wine.

Story of Origin of Madya in Hindu Scriptures


Sage Cyavana was not ready to accept Indra’s arguments. A fight ensued between them.

Sage Cyavana produced from the sacrificial fire a demon named Mada. The demon fought with Indra and defeated him. When the demon was about to kill Indra, he took refuge at the feet of Sage Chyavana.

Sage Chyavana forgave Indra and withdrew the demon.

As the demon had no place to go, Sage Chyavana asked him to reside in alcohol, dice, hunting and prostitutes.

It must be noted here that Ashwini Devas and Sage Chyavana are associated with medicine in Hindu tradition.