Sura (alcoholic beverage)

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Surāh (Sanskrit and Pāli; Devanāgarī: सुरा) is a strong distilled alcoholic beverage. It is referred to as an anaesthetic by Suśruta (a surgeon in India around 4 BCE) before the advent of surgical operation. Other ancient medical authorities also mention it; Charaka referred to making a woman with a miscarriage senseless to pain by administering alcoholic drinks like surā, sīdhu, ariṣṭa, madhu, madirā or āsava.[1]

The method for preparation appears in the Atharvaveda[2] in the Kandas 5 and 8.

In Buddhist texts surāh is mentioned as one of intoxicating drinks, along with (Pali) meraya (Sanskrit maireya, a drink made with sugar cane and several spices[3]) and majja (maybe equivalent of Sanskrit madhu, mead or hydromel), and renunciation of its usage constitutes the 5th of the Buddhist precepts (pañca-sīlāni): "I undertake the training rule to abstain from fermented drinks which cause heedlessness" (Surāmerayamajjapamādaṭṭhānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi).


  1. ^ Shri C. DWARAKANATH (1965) Use of opium and cannabis in the traditional systems of medicine in India. UNODC Bulletin on Narcotics. Issue 1, No. 003.
  2. ^ Marianne S. Oort (2002) Sura in the Paippalada Samhita of the Atharvaveda J. Am. Orient. Soc. Vol. 122, No. 2. JSTOR 3087630.
  3. ^ Arthashastra