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Can monks and nuns eat garlic?

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  • Can monks and nuns eat garlic?

    Dear Ajahn Brahmali,

    While doing search on some part of the vinaya, I came across a rule about garlic as found in

    Now at that time the Lord, surrounded by a large assembly, was teaching dhamma sitting down. A certain monk had eaten garlic; he sat down to one side, thinking: “In case the monks are incommoded.” The Lord saw that monk who was sitting down at one side; seeing him, he addressed the monks, saying: “Monks, why is this monk sitting to one side?”

    “Lord, this monk has eaten garlic, so he sat down at one side, thinking: ‘In case the monks are incommoded’.”

    “But, monks, should that be eaten which, when eaten, can (make the eater) outside such a dhamma-talk as this?”

    “That is not so, Lord.”

    “Monks, garlic should not be eaten. Whoever should eat it, there is an offence of wrong-doing.”

    Does it mean that you should not eat garlic if you are not ill? If so, perhaps we should educate lay supporters?

    With great respect,


  • #2
    Dear Dheerayupa,

    Yeah, this is a funny story: the monk whose breath is so bad he has to sit far away from everyone else! It seems to me that one would need to eat a fair amount of garlic before this is a problem, and that it probably refers to raw garlic. I cannot see that a bit of garlic in the food one is eating would be a problem. However, if one starts to eat whole cloves of garlic, especially if they are raw, then perhaps one has gone beyond what is acceptable. In general, it is important to interpret these minor rules in reasonable manner.

    With metta.
    Last edited by Ajahn Brahmali; 24th-March-2015, 09:26 AM.


    • #3
      Thank you, Ajahn!


      • #4
        Venerable Brahmali,

        Much metta to you. I greatly appreciated your comments and your sense of humor. Should the same approach of moderation be taken for all five "pungent spices," i.e., leeks, scallions, garlic, onion, and ginger (if I have them correctly)? And, if it's not too inconsiderate to ask without opening another thread, could you please elaborate on what foods are strictly forbidden, according to the suttas and/or Vinaya? I have never been quite clear on that point. Much thanks to Dheerayupa Sukonthapanthu, also, for bringing up such a wonderful topic for discussion! No offense is intended by adding to your thread.

        May you all be well,