Members of certain organizations say that Lord Rama and other great personalities would eat meat in jungle to survive. ( Ramayana, Aranya-Khanda Chapter 29, 39, and 59) They also say that mother Sita wanted the golden deer to eat its meat. Kindly clarify. 
(Tridev .Y. Shirodkar, Belgaum) 
Our Reply: In the above-mentioned chapters, there is no direct or indirect mention of meat eating. (Reference: Srimad-Valmiki Ramayana, Published by Gita Press) In Chapter 43 of Aranya-khanda mother Sita mentions the following reasons for wanting the deer: to play with it (verse 10), to display it as a wonderful object to the family members (verse 17, 18), and use its skin as an asana (verse 19, 20). Nowhere does She mention it as an eatable. 
In the verse 31 of same chapter, Lord Rama describes that the ksatriyas kill deers to practice hunting and to obtain its skin. The word mdmsa is used but it means skin not meat. In verse 50, Lord Rama describes that the golden deer is doomed to die because of its skin. "After killing the deer, O' Laksmana, I will return with its skin." Again, there is no mention of meat. 
In chapter 56, Ayodhya-khanda, verses 22,23 the verse mention mamsa and mrgam hatva. Mamsa here means the pulp of special root named Gajakanda. According to Madanpal Nighantu, the mrgam here stands for Gajakanda. 
Elsewhere in Ramayana Lord Rama vows that He would eat only fruits, roots, vegetables, other vegetarian food. Kanda-mula-phaler-jivanam – I will subsist only on roots, bulbs, and fruits. 2.20.29; phalani mulani ca bhaksyan vane – I will eat fruits and roots in the forest 2.34.59; mula-phalasana eat fruits and roots 2.54.16. 
Here Lord Rama clearly states that He will eat vegetarian food and subsist on fruits, roots, and bulbs etc. Lord Rama does not go back on His words. Whatever He says is like a line on stone – unchangeable. 
Your doubt arises because of inherent defect in inquiry about the absolute truth from non-bonafide sources. Just like a sane man would not submit himself for operation to someone who proclaims to have mastered surgical textbooks but has not undergone systematic study in a medical college, similarly we should not submit our attention and faith to someone who just claims to have read spiritual literature but does not come from a bonafide spiritual sampradaya or university. Half-baked conclusions drawn out of context by unscrupulo us persons to further their own selfish motivations can only create havoc in our devotional lives. Hence, it's important to learn the scriptures from a self realized soul by rendering submissive aural reception, menial service, and humble inquiry. The conclusions should be further tested by seeing that they follow the principles laid down by guru, saintly persons, and other bonafide scriptures. As for eating meat, it is rejected by Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam; rejected by saints like Narada Muni, Sankaracarya, Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, Nimbarka Svami etc., and completely rejected by the followers of Lord Caitanya. 
When someone asked a similar question to Srila Prabhupada, he replied that Lord Rama can eat the entire universe during the universal annihilat ion. Therefore, we should aspire to serve and follow Lord Rama and not try to imitate Him. 
The reply to the letter was written by Murari Gupta Dasa.
Please write to:
Back to Godhead, Amrut Industrial Estate, 3rd floor, Western express highway, Mira road (E) 401 104.
e-mail : ed.btgindia@pamho.net