(Last Updated on : 16/03/2011)
Beverages in Mauryan Empire had been one of the important parts of ancient Indian food and drinks. This has been widely discussed in Arthashastra
that provides every details of Maurya Empire
. Beverages in Mauryan Empire include both intoxicating liquors as well as soft fruit beverages that had enchanting taste and alluring effect. Beverages were not only taken for self consumption but also formed a major part of trade in Mauryan Empire. As such it attracted the attention of a number of scholars and foreign visitors who mentioned about the liquor shops and manufacturing of liquors.
Beverages in Mauryan Empire include a large variety of intoxicating liquors which has been described in the writings of Magesthanese and Kautilya. Kautilya
gave a lot of importance to the manufacturing of liquors which formed one of the important trades of this time. The Mauryan Empire provided that there should be well organised liquor shops which shall function under the Superintendent of Liquors. The liquor shops which are described in Arthashastra included many rooms along with the provision of beds and seats and other comforts like scents and garlands.
Beverages in Maurya Empire used rice beer which was common in other parts of India as well. Kautilya gives a detailed account of the methods and ingredients to be used while preparing various intoxicating drinks. Two very popular and common drinks known as Medaka and Prassand were manufactured from rice. Kapittha and condensed juice of sugarcane were the principle ingredients while Arishta was a kind of medicine which was used in Maurya Empire. There were spice liquors which were prepared from the bark of trees. Such liquors were preferred by the nobles of Maurya Empire
. Types of wine were mainly prepared from the fruit extracts like grapes and palm fruit. Alongwith this Kautilya mentions five varieties of Surds which were mainly prepared with the juice of mango, and palm fruit which also included spice liquors as well.
Beverages in Mauryan Empire also included non-alcoholic soft beverages which were not intoxicating but refreshing fruit juice taken by all. This included some common drinks which were prepared from curds, butter milk, sour gruel, fruit juices and syrups which were prepared from molasses. Askoka found it necessary to provide plain water to the people so he got a number of villages constructed at recent intervals. Beverages remained under careful scrutiny because Kautilya realised that excessive intake of liquor was the root cause of loss of wealth, insanity, absence of consciousness, loss of knowledge, life, wealth and friends, surrender of virtues and suffering from pains.