ancient times alcohol was often believed to have divine
origins, to be "a gift of the gods" and is
still used in the rituals of some religions. Buddhism
took a far more realistic view of alcohol's beginnings.
According to a legend in the Jatakas
a fruit tree with a fork in its main trunk once grew
in a certain forest. Rain water and ripe fruit would
collect in a hollow in the fork and, warmed by the sun,
the resulting concoction would turn into a crude natural
ale. One day a forester came across a flock of happy
drunk birds and discovering that their inebriation was
due to drinking the concoction, became the first person
to discover and introduce alcohol into the world.
Buddha's main objection to alcohol and indeed to all
recreational drugs was that it befuddles consciousness
thus making mental development difficult. He also often
warned against alcohol's negative social effects. Consequently
abstaining from all recreational drugs including alcohol
is the last of the five Precepts that all Buddhists
are expected to practice.