One of the fundamental features of the Indo-European mythologies, whether eastern or western, is the layers of older and younger gods. These correspond, at least partially, to the evolution of religious and cultural practices. In the Pali texts, the “old gods” are typically the asuras, corresponding to the Titans of Greek mythology. While these were regarded as less sophisticated than the modern Olympic gods, they were typically rendered in humanoid forms little different to the newer gods, as this image of Rhea.
In Buddhism, the situation is similar. While it’s normal to depict the old gods as less intelligent and more violent, they were usually not irredemable monsters, although they definitely had a dark side. The newer gods gave up practices like animal sacrifice, and taught rational ethics.
But one thing I haven’t noticed before is that the new gods also gave up drinking. In a note on SN 10.8, Ven Bodhi points out that the drinking of “mead” (madhu) is frequently mentioned in the Rig Veda. The commentary to SN 11.1 says that the drinking of mead was popular among the older gods in the heaven of the Thirty-Three, but was banned by Sakka. Here the old gods are not yakkhas or asuras, but still have their seat in heaven, even if displaced by that upstart, Sakka. There must have been a lot of grumbling when they were told they couldn’t even have a nice cup of mead after a hard days’ dancing with nymphs!
We also find similar patterns in Greek mythology. Certain strands feature the taking of intoxicants, whether this be the old ambrosia or the more modern Asian import of Dionysian revelry. Intoxication became a way of accessing a more primal consciousness, divested for a time of the cares and structures that hold society in place. Religiously sanctioned intoxication allows for the indulgence of this need, while placing clear and distinct boundaries around it. It only happens on certain days and in a certain context.
When religions became more civilized, they removed themselves from ritual madness/drunkenness. That didn’t stop people from getting drunk, unfortunately, it just meant they could do it whenever they wanted. Now it is our secular authorities that place boundaries on intoxication, with decidedly mixed results. I’m not saying one way is better than the other, just pointing out how things change, and how those changes are represented in our texts.