pachai maamalai pol mene

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Food as per Indian Traditions..

Food as per Indian Traditions..
by k v ananthanarayanan 

दीपो भक्षयते ध्वान्तं कज्जळं च प्रसूयते। यदन्नं भक्ष्यते नित्यं जायते तादृशी मनः॥ dīpo bhakṣayate dhvāntaṁ kajjaḻaṁ ca prasūyate| yadannaṁ bhakṣyate nityaṁ jāyate tādṛśī manaḥ||

"The lamp through its burning bright wick, feeds itself on the darkness outside, and in the process of burning gives out thick black soot.. In the same way our mental and physical output depends entirely on the quality of the food we consume.."
When a lamp is lit, the darkness outside disappears and bright light replaces the gloom.. The poet imagines that the darkness is gobbled up by the lamp.
And we know that the burning lamp gives out a lot of soot.. or fine carbon granules.. This is compared to the output in terms of activities or behaviour of a person.. Blackness delivers blackness.. And bad food brings out the worst in a human being..
This is true in many ways. .
If the food is not properly digestible, is stale or contaminated and not exactly in agreement with the needs of the body, such food causes untold physical misery and destroys our mental peace too.
It is also an established fact that our body grows and maintains itself utilizing the energy-producing starch and hydrocarbons, minerals, proteins and vitamins ingested mainly through the food we take..
There is the normal metabolism which happens when the biochemical and electrical balance of the human body is maintained..
However, lack of nutrition, as well as intake of the wrong food and beverages whether deliberately or innocently, turns the activities of the body haywire, and the body becomes sick and the organs do not function optimally..
The bad food habits can affect the secretion of hormones by the glands too.. which again affects the physical activities and the functioning of the sense organs and the mind too.. It is a vicious circle..
If necessary corrective steps by changing or adjusting food habits and often taking drug supplements too. the activities of the body would in general return to normalcy.
But if we ignore the warning signals indicated by minor ailments and just fill our stomach with the same garbage as ever, and fill up our fluid tank with spirited potions, we reach some point of no return at some stage or other..
It is a fact that mental stress too causes disease of the mind and body, but even that happens through the interference of food.. because we over eat or under eat under stress, we take wrong food when our digestive system is disturbed by tension, and our hormonal balance is badly affected through emotional disturbance.. causing severe impediments to the metabolism and hormonal activities..
So let us ensure that we eat diligently, and we avoid eating and drinking the wrong food and beverages..
The above discussion would sum up our ideas about food in a general way..
But in India, all through ages, we were treating food not just as a nourisher and provider of health, but as a part of the Divine..
When we say हरिर् धाता हरिर् भोक्ता हरिरन्नम् प्रजापतिः
harir dhātā harir bhoktā harirannam prajāpatiḥ Hari is the giver, Hari is the one who parakes in or enjoys everything, Hari is Annam(the food) and Hari is the creator we are assigning the most superior position of Hari to food too..
The Blessed Lord Krishna declared in Gita, as to how he prepares the food Himself. अहम् वैश्वानरो भूत्वा प्राणिनाम् देह आश्रितः। प्राणापान्समायुक्तः पचाम्यन्नम् चतुर्विधम्॥ भगवत् गीता॥१५-१४ aham vaiśvānaro bhūtvā prāṇinām deha āśritaḥ| prāṇāpānsamāyuktaḥ pacāmyannam caturvidham|| bhagavat gītā||15-14 this great Slokam from Gita is interpreted in so many ways by thousands of scholars.. Bhagavan Krishna says,
I, incarnating as Vaishvanara.. fire the source of eternal energy, reside in the bodies of living beings and with the assistance of Prana (the vital life giving gas Oxygen) and apana ( the exhaust gas.. Carbon di oxide) am cooking or making or digesting food all sorts..
Two processes can be envisaged here.. As the sun, entering the bodies of the plants through his rays, using Carbon Dioxide and the vital fluids of the plant is generating food for the consumption of all.. This process was defined by science as Photosynthesis
Residing inside the body as the digestive energy.. the Jaadaraagni, He is converting or cooking the food consumed to energy that sustains the living bodies.. using Prana, the Oxygen and giving out the Apana or Carbon dioxide and other products of such burning.
So food is God Himself and appears in its form in which we can consume it is presented to Us again by the God Himself.. And our Holiest Scriptures always worshipped the Food..
Bodhaayana quotes from Vedas..
Anne Shritaani Bhootani Annam Praanamiti..
अन्ने श्रितानि भूतानि अन्नं प्राणमिति
All beings depend of food for their existence.Food is verily out life itself.. And we believed that as the Gods provided us with the food, it was our duty to offer the same food to Gods in Yajnas.. Our worship of the Eternal Being always took the shape of offering food as Naivedyam to Divine beings..
Our propensities to take various types of foods depended on our basic natures, which varies from persons to person. At the same time the type of food we take affects our activities, mental setup health and well being..
The Blessed Lord Krishna in the Seventeenth Chapter gives a precise classification of the nature of people as Sattwik, Rajasik, and Tamasik.. and he describes about the food which are relished by the respective type according to their basic Nature..
The people with Sattwik Gunas are steadfast, clear in thought and action, love being in empathy with others, wishing always for the good of others the same way they would wish for themselves.. and their presence would spread only peace and amity all over the world..
The people with Rajasic Gunas are also hardworking , but apply such hard work only on issues which they consider beneficial to their own interest, tend to feel overly self sure about beliefs and creeds they have took fancy for and intolerant to variant views, and they would not mind co operating with others or even showing peripheral love for others as long as their own comforts are not disturbed, who put their own interest ahead of all others, and their presence would spread competitions and moderate to stiff intolerance all over.. The people with Tamasic Gunas just do not care for anything else other than the fulfilling of their own short-lived pleasure, they never care for the misery they cause to other fellow beings, and they are even oblivious to the dangers that would befall them through the actions in furtherance of their pleasures of the present.. They are lazy and would expect and fancy for results without any efforts, and have no sense of propriety.. ( The three gunas are defined in great detail in Shastras so minutely.. and sure, the classification is not water-tight.. The Sattwic might have Rajasic and Tamasic qualities in him in small qualities.. and the other two types too might have some sort of cross mixing.. But for our limited understanding of the subject, the above definitions must suffice)
Gita Chapter 17 Shraddhatrayavibhaagayogam… श्रद्धात्रयविभागयोगः śraddhātrayavibhāgayogaḥ sloka 7 आहारस्त्वपि सर्वस्य त्रिविधो भवति प्रियः। यज्ञस्तपस्तथा ज्ञानं तेषां भेदमिमं शृणु॥
āhārastvapi sarvasya trividho bhavati priyaḥ| yajñastapastathā jñānaṁ teṣāṁ bhedamimaṁ śṛṇu||
The blessed Lord is telling Arjuna.. Do hear from me, Arjuna, the favourite food for the three types ( of Sattwa, Raja and Tamas qualities) varies according to the respective types.. Their mode of sacrifice, penance and acquiring enlightenment also do vary..
Here were restrict ourselves to the food habits..
In the next slokam the Blessed Lord proceeds to describe the food relished by the Saattvikas.. आयुः सत्त्वबलारोग्य सुखप्रीतिविवर्धनाः। रस्याः स्निग्धाः स्थिराः हृद्याः आहाराः सात्विकप्रियाः॥८
āyuḥ sattvabalārogya sukhaprītivivardhanāḥ| rasyāḥ snigdhāḥ sthirāḥ hṛdyāḥ āhārāḥ sātvikapriyāḥ||8
Foods relished by Saatwik people are those which augment and sustain longevity, mental strenghth and purposefulness, health and firmness of the body, easy comfort in actions and movements, pleasantness of the mind, foods which are very tasty, which are soft especially as a result of the presence of nourishing oils, foods which take reasonable and predictable time to digest and would supply nutrition and strenghth to the body for prolonged periods, and foods which are eminently suited for the functioning of the body organs including the heart, Food relished by people with Rajasic turn of mind is described by the Blessed Lord in sloka 9
कट्वम्ललवणात्युष्णतीक्ष्णरूक्षविदाहिनः। आहाराः राजसस्येष्टा दुःखशोकामयप्रदाः॥९ kaṭvamlalavaṇātyuṣṇatīkṣṇarūkṣavidāhinaḥ| āhārāḥ rājasasyeṣṭā duḥkhaśokāmayapradāḥ||9
Foods that are by nature very bitter, extremely sour or acidic, very salty, very hot to the body system, severely pungent, dry and lacking in softness, causing burn, producing short and long term pains and consumption of which cause various ailment are classified as Rajasic Foods. And then the Blessed Lord describes the repugnant qualities of Tamasic food.. the food relished by people with Tamasic qualities..
यातयामं गतरसं पूति पर्युषितं च यत्। उच्छिष्टमपि चामेध्यं भोजनं तामसप्रियम्॥१०
yātayāmaṁ gatarasaṁ pūti paryuṣitaṁ ca yat| ucchiṣṭamapi cāmedhyaṁ bhojanaṁ tāmasapriyam||10
Food not properly cooked including food which has been remaining cooked for three hours, Food which has lost its natural nutrient values and taste too, Food so decayed that putrid smell is emerging from it, Food that has been cooked and kept to decay overnight, Food that is left over after partially being used by someone else, Food that is of such low quality that it cannot ever be used for any religious purposes These items of Food used as staple meals are the favourites of a person with Tamasic turn of mind..
The individual items of food which can be classified in any of the above categories have been considered in Dharmasastras by one and every great sage including Vyasa, Yajnavalkya, Vasishta, Vishnu, Yama, Apastambha, Bodhayana, and so on..
The items which were relevant at the time when the Dharmasastras were written may not be accepted by the man of today, for various reasons..
Various lists have garlic, onion, raddish, some meats, frothing fresh milk and such items in common..
Listing of such items can by itself form subject matter of a long article… And the names of various items of vegetables, liquids and meats are not amenable to translation..
In fact in the Smritimukthaphalam of Deekshita, he has cited many names givng their Tamil, Marathi or Telugu names.. But a detailed analysis is too far beyond the scope of this article.
However, we know by experience that many food items are hot, dry, itchy .. many food items kept longer than a couple of hours would become stale.. And we know that mere refrigeration is not the panacea for this.. We can use our discretion.. in proper quantities..
But a reading of the ancient texts revealed on interesting fact..
Our ancestors were extremely hospitable.. and sharing of food was not considered as a matter of coutesy but was accepted as a beholden duty.. and a man who has some means under his disposal was warned of grave sins if he permitted anyone, of any caste or creed, or any living being existing around him or coming his way as a guest or a stray visiter, to starve and suffer without shelter..
That was the greatness of our civilization and culture.
The five duties of a Grihastha or householder, as per our Vedic traditions are Vaishvadeva, Devayajna, Pitruyajna, Bhuta yajna and Manushyayajna..
Vaishvadeva again consists of oblations for Pitrus, Gods and Bhuthas.. In all these rituals, food plays a vital part.. It is offering morsels of food in fire, for Devas, offering morsels of food as pindams for the departed souls.. Bhuta yajna involves Baligrahana.. offering food to all living beings living just in the surroundings, and also to the aboriginees and people with lesser social privileges..
देवतातिथिभूतानं पितृनामात्मनश्च यः न निर्वपति पञ्चानामुछ्वसन्न स जीवति॥। मनुस्मृत्याम् devatātithibhūtānaṁ pitṛnāmātmanaśca yaḥ na nirvapati pañcānāmuchvasanna sa jīvati||| manusmṛtyām
It is said in Manusmrithi that those who do not discharge their duties by offering proper food to the Gods, The Guests, the bhootas.. or other beings, the manes or pitrus, and also to oneself, will be taking their breaths but cannot be considered a living.
A householder is dutybound to wait for the arrival of a guest for taking food..
आचम्य च ततः कुर्यात् प्राज्ञो द्वारावलोकनं। मुहूर्तस्याष्टमो भागमुदीक्ष्यो ह्यतिथिर्भवेत्॥ व्यास
ācamya ca tataḥ kuryāt prājño dvārāvalokanaṁ| muhūrtasyāṣṭamo bhāgamudīkṣyo hyatithirbhavet|| vyāsa
After completing Vaisvadeva and other yajnaas, the householder should wait looking out through the front door for at least one eighth of a muhurtam.. ( it would be between eleven and twelve minutes as per present calculation) and whoever appears within that time should be received as an honoured guest..
If no guest appears, then too the duty of the householder does not cease..
He should offer the food meant for the guest to a cow.. He should ensure that the cow to whom food is offered does not belong to himself. Offering of food to the Cow is called Gavaahnikam..
This can be done every day in addition to offering of food to guests too. Sage Markandeya prescribes that the food should be offered to the Cow with the following prayer..
सौरभेय्यः सर्वहिताः सर्वपापप्रणशनाः। प्रतिगृह्णन्तु मे ग्रासं गावः त्रैलोक्य्मातरः॥
saurabheyyaḥ sarvahitāḥ sarvapāpapraṇaśanāḥ| pratigṛhṇantu me grāsaṁ gāvaḥ trailokymātaraḥ||
the Cows who are the daughters of Surabhi the Kamadhenu, the cows who live for the welfare of all the living beings, the cows who are capable of dispelling all the sins committed by the humans, the cows who are the Mothers of the three worlds, may be pleased to receive these morsels of food offered by me.. (graasam represent the quantity of food prepared by cooking two hundred pieces of full grains of edible yava, rice, etc..) The cows should in addition be fed with grass to the best of their contentment.
The scriptures are very strict in instructing us that the food should not be for just consumption by the householder.. The food has to be used for Vaisvadevam, Pitruyjnam, Devayajnam, Bhootayajnam, and for feeding the guests, and only whatever is left over should be used to satisfy one’s personal hunger. It is declared by the Blessed Lord in Gita यज्ञशिष्टाशिनः सन्तो मुच्यन्ति सर्वकिल्बिषैः। भुञ्चते ते त्वघम् पापा ये पचन्त्यात्मकारणात्॥गीता ३-१३ yajñaśiṣṭāśinaḥ santo mucyanti sarvakilbiṣaiḥ| bhuñcate te tvagham pāpā ye pacantyātmakāraṇāt||gītā 3-13
The virtuous people who partake in the food that is remaining after the performance of the yajnas (Vaishvadevam, feeding of guests etc) are freed of all sins and blemishes. But the sinners who cook for their own sake just eat their own sins.. The order in which a householder should distribute food in his household is also clearly stated by the ancient lawgivers.. Apastambha says.. अतिथीनेवाग्रे भोजयेत्। बालान् वृद्धान् रोगसम्ब्द्धान् स्त्रींस्चान्तर्वर्त्नी॥ atithīnevāgre bhojayet| bālān vṛddhān rogasambddhān strīīṁscāntarvartnī|| The guests should be fed first. Then the children, the elderly people, the people who are laid up with illness, the ladies and then the servants of the house.. ( The householder and his wife are expected to eat only after all these are fed in that order..)
Gautama also reflects the same idea.. भोजयेत् पूर्वमतिथिकुमारव्याधितगर्भिणीसुवासिनीस्थविरान् जघन्यान्श्च। bhojayet pūrvamatithikumāravyādhitagarbhiṇīsuvāsinīsthavirān jaghanyānśca| The guest should be fed first and then the boys, person who are ill, the pregnant ladies, the Suvaasinees ( the sisters, and daughters of the house), the elderly persons and the servants too.. ( Of course the man and the lady of the house are expected to take food only after this.) Bodhayana quotes slokas from Annagita.. The food itself is supposed be speaking as follows. यो मामदत्वा पितृदेवताभ्यो भृत्यातिथीभ्यस्च सुहृज्जनेभ्यः। संपन्नमश्नन्विषमत्ति मोहात् तमप्यहं तस्य च मृत्युरस्मि। हुताग्निहोत्रः कृतवैश्वदेवः पूज्यातिथीन्भृत्यजनावशिष्टम् तुष्टः शुचिः श्रद्धधदत्ति यो मां तस्यामृतं स्याम् स च मां भुनक्ति॥ yo māmadatvā pitṛdevatābhyo bhṛtyātithībhyasca suhṛjjanebhyaḥ| saṁpannamaśnanviṣamatti mohāt tamapyahaṁ tasya ca mṛtyurasmi| hutāgnihotraḥ kṛtavaiśvadevaḥ pūjyātithīnbhṛtyajanāvaśiṣṭam tuṣṭaḥ śuciḥ śraddhadhadatti yo māṁ tasyāmṛtaṁ syām sa ca māṁ bhunakti||
Meaning.. A deluded person who eats me without first giving me to the Gods, the manes, to the servants, to the guest is really eating poison, in fact I am eating him, and I am death for him.. But if a person who performs agnihotra, vaishvadeva, worships the guests and eats with great reverence and with a neat body and happy mind, me, the food which is remaining after even his servants have eaten, I am amrutham or ambrosia for him and he is the one who really eats well.. There are ever so many rules regarding hospitality.. but the praise of hospitality to Bhikshus or mendicants is worth mentioning here..
Vyasa defines Bhikshus as follows.. यतिश्च ब्रह्मचारी च विद्यार्थी गुरुपोषकः अध्वगः क्षीणवृत्तिस्च षडेते भिक्षुकाः स्मृताः। yatiśca brahmacārī ca vidyārthī gurupoṣakaḥ adhvagaḥ kṣīṇavṛttisca ṣaḍete bhikṣukāḥ smṛtāḥ| Six categories of people are called Bhikshus or Bhikshukas.. 1. The Sannyaasin 2. The initiate student of Vedas who has to live on alms. 3. The student in general 4. The assitant or menial support of a teacher. 5. One who is on a long journey by foot , by way of pilgrimmage or migration 6. One who is rendered jobless. It is prescribed that if a Bhikshuka arrives even before the yajnas like Vaisvadeva are completed, food should be offered him even from that prepared for the yajna.. It is ordained that any shortcoming or sin arising out of incomplet yajna shall be nullified by the honour accorded to the bhikshuka, but if the bhishuka is neglected, any number of yajnas would not suffice to wipe of such sin.
Haaritha the lawmaker says. अकृते वैश्वदेवे तो भिक्षुके गृहमागते। उद्दृत्य वैश्वदेवार्थम् भिक्षाम् दत्वा विसर्जयेत्॥ हारीतः akṛte vaiśvadeve to bhikṣuke gṛhamāgate| uddṛtya vaiśvadevārtham bhikṣām datvā visarjayet|| hārītaḥ If vaisvadeva yajna is not yet performed when the Bhikhuka arrives in the house and the preparations are ready for the yajna, the things meant for Vaisvadeva should be given to the Bhikhu.. who should be offered Bhiksha and the yajna becomes complete.. Haaritha further States.
भक्त्या यः शक्तितो नित्यं विष्णुमभ्यर्च्य सादरम्। भिक्षां च भिक्षवे दद्यात् परिव्राड् ब्रह्मचारिणो॥ विष्णुरेव यतिश्चायमिति निश्चित्य भावयेत्। यतिर्यस्य गृहे भुङ्क्ते तस्य भुङ्क्ते हरिः स्वयम्।
bhaktyā yaḥ śaktito nityaṁ viṣṇumabhyarcya sādaram| bhikṣāṁ ca bhikṣave dadyāt parivrāḍ brahmacāriṇo|| viṣṇureva yatiścāyamiti niścitya bhāvayet| yatiryasya gṛhe bhuṅkte tasya bhuṅkte hariḥ svayam| One should worships Lord Vishnu with great reverence and according to his own capacity, and also feed the Bhikshus who graces his home in the shape of Parivraajakas (Sannyasins) and Brahmacharis.. One should realize in his mind that the Sannyaasi is Lord Vishnu Himself and that when a Yati eats food in a house, it is actually Lord Hari Himself who is taking for there.. The subject is so vast and the discussion can never conclude.. Krishno rakshatu..

Thursday, April 06, 2017

English translation of 67th Vardanti Guru Vandana Anugraha Bhashanam by His Holiness Mahasannidhaanm Jagadguru Bharathi Teertha Madurai

Vardanti Anugraha Bhashanam of Jagatguru Mahasannidhanam.. at Madurai..
Translation of Speech made in Tamil

                                                                translation attempted by K V Ananthanarayanan

Sharadindu vibhaasi mandahaasaam
Sphurad indeevara lochanaabhiraamaam
Aravindasamaana sundaraasyaam
Aravindaasana sundareemupaase

(शरदिन्दु विभासि मन्दहासाम्
स्फुरदिन्दीवर लोचनाभिरामाम्।
अरविन्दसमान सुन्दरास्याम्

It  was indeed with the most benevolent  hope and foresight that  the tenets of Dharma should be spread for ever far and wide all over India that the Acharya Shankara Bhagavatpada established the Chaturaamnaaya peethas  and his  solemn desire was that people  should always be blessed with an unbroken line of  gurus who will effectively guide them in the path of virtue  and that by following the path of Dharma the people with prosper from welfare and divine grace to greater welfare and divine grace..

And among these four peethams the Bagavatpatha established  Dakshinaamnaaya Sharada Peetham at Sringeri  specially for that purpose and  He directed that the principles and messages of dharma should be spread  be spread all over South India through such madam. 
In eternal obedience to the solemn orders of the Bhagavatpada  the Peetathipathis of Shringeri Sharatha peetam are  ever engaged   in spreading the message of Dharma  all over  the South, right from the establishment of the madham
When we talk about dharma, many people wonder aloud  that all is being spoken of is already known to most of the people  for a long time  and that hardly anything new or novel is being spoken.
Yes, we have nothing new or fresh to present before you when it comes to Dharma.. We can only explain what is ordained in Dharma Shastams.  If we say something new that is not found in Shastras,  it would be rather adharmam.. because  dharmam is just what is found in Shastras. 

If we are to present before you and explain something which  you have not heard till now, we would have to deal with ideas and things which are not already available in Dharmasastras .
 If we do that that would be adharmam.

Sankarabhagavatpada has not created our order to talk about and spread adharmam.  He has employed us with the sole expectation  that we should reiterate only what is already available in Shastras.

Therefore, it is our duty to repeat again and again what is known and accepted as dharma and you should be patient enough and willing to hear that again and again.
  I would caution  you all that none of you should take my words as mere repetition of what has already been  explained and reiterated many times over
While speaking of Dharma, the Shastras divide the duties and codes for us into two categories.
 The first set of rules,  are  meant for all who are born as human beings and which are expected to be followed by all eternally. 
The second set of rules  comprise of dharma to be followed by  particular types or classes of people  according to their stauts or avocation or function.
The first code of conduct is  called Saamaanya Dharmam.  The second one is called Vishesha Dharmam
Vishesha Dharmam  refers to the code of conduct  prescribed for a particular sect or type of people..
If one is a brahmachari, he has to follow certain unique rules.
A grahasta or Sannyasi  would have to follow  certain other rules..

 What applies for a Brahmachari will not apply for a Grihasta .
 What applies for a Grihasta would not apply for a Sannyasi. 
 Rules applicable for a Sannyasi would not apply for a Grihasta.
 These are all Vishesha Dharmas unique for each category.

But the Samanya Dharma would apply to all people.  Such rules are binding on Bramacharis, Grihastas, Sannyasis, Men, Women,  Brahmanas, Kshatriyas and all others.
No one can ever say Saamaanya Dharmam is not applicable to him

Such exceptions can however be claimed for vishesha dharmas.
 One who is not a Sannyasi may say  about the Sannyasa Dharma ,
 “ Why, that rule is not  for me.  It applies only to a sannyasi.”
Grihasta would ask “ why should Sannyasa rules apply for me?’
But no one can ever ask about Samaanya Dharma..
” Why should it apply to me?”
  Every person should follow such rules without any let up or interruption.  If someone gives up  or transgresses such Saamaanya rules,  grave sins will visit him, grief will be his due,  he will go to hell or narakam..

Shastras have underlined five cardinal principles  as the Saamaanya Dharma.
If you ask what are these,  they are,
Ahimsaa Satyam Astheyam Shaucham indriyanigraham  etam saamasitam dharmam saadhurmanvevamabraveet.
(अहिंसा सत्यं अस्तेयं शौचं इन्द्रियनिग्रहं एतं सामासितं धर्मं साधुर्मन्वेवमब्रवीत्।)
In all moral codes, Ahimsa .. non violence or avoiding harm to others,  is given a place of pride.  In every moral code, Ahimsa takes precedence over all other rules.
Even in our Hindu systems there are two distinct types of philosophies.
  Aastika Dharma and Naastika Dharma

Aastika Dharma is the dharma which accepts  Vedas as pramanam  and the primary guiding principle for conduct of life .
 Nastika Dharmam is the school of thought which does not accept Veda as pramanam or authority. 

Both these, irrespective of whether they accept Vedas as authority,  accept ahimsa as a binding dharma.  
On this issue there was no difference of opinion. 
Even those who followed nastika dharshanam accept ahimsa as a guiding tenet that must be followed  by all.
Not only the Hindu sects of Astika an Nastika darshanams  accept ahimsa as dharma but  other religions too  give a prime position for non violence  as an important  aspect in their  codes for living.
No one should harm anyone else.  “Anyone else” would mean not only human beings but would mean all living beings and things.  
Ahimsa should be the approach of every human being to any other living being and not merely to fellow human beings.
Praani Himsa or causing harm to other living beings is  a grievous sin
Praani Himsas Should be stopped

Even among living being other than humans, special  care should be taken to ensure that cows are not harmed.
Cow is an animal which deserve our utmost respect and  devout worship. 
Vedas Say
GauH dheer vidyaa maathaa rudraanaam duhitaa vasoonaam swasaa aadityaanaam amrutasya naabhiH
(गौः धीर् विद्या माता रुद्राणां दुहिता वसूनां स्वसा आदित्यानां अमृतस्य नाभिः।)
So saying the cow is declared by the scriptures as most sacred and  subject  of  great reverence.
Maathaa, amoghaa, atithir vasishtaa..
(माता अमोघा अतिथिर्वसिष्टा)
Cow does no harm to anyone and she blesses each and every one with benefits only.. She should not be harmed at any cost.

(Harm to other beings occurs due to our tendency to eat flesh too.)
We talk about eating flesh.. which is called Maamsam मांसं  .. 
Maamsam is defined by two words.. Maam मां  meaning  me  and 
SaH  सः meaning  He

Manusmriti says

Maam sa bhakshayitaamutra yasya maamsam ihaatmyaham
Etan maamsasya maamsatvam pravadanti maneeshinaH

(मां स भक्षयितामुत्र यस्य माम्सं इहाद्म्यहम्।
एतन् माम्सस्य माम्सत्वम् प्रवदन्ति मनीषिणः॥)
 In essence,  it means “whose flesh I eat now  will eat me on a later date’.

If the meaning of this belief is understood properly, will anyone do harm to any living beings.
When it is prescribed that we should not cause harm to any living beings, is it not  all the more relevant that we should never cause any harm to the Cow?
The cow is completely harmless and she gives us so many benefits
and  so much of welfare..
Sashtras call her as maathaa or mother. 
When it is so , how can we harm her?

 We do not call any other animal as mother.
 We do not have Aja matha, Ashva maatha or gaja maatha  like Go maatha..
We call cow alone as Go maathaa. 
This is because, cow is blessing us with so much of benefits and she is just like our own mothers for us..

If someone does harm to the sacred Go matha,, the cow,  he becomes a grave sinner, a mahaapaapi.

We cannot allow such grave sin happening in any manner  in our Sacred Land of Bharatavarsha. 
This is OUR  well considered view.  
The reason  why  I am expostulating my view in the matter  very clearly is that people in India should form a crystal clear opinion in this matter.
Many people may be eager to know  and may be awaiting  to know  the views of their Acharyaals in this matter.
 I am making a declaration in very clear terms here  in this place ( Madurai)  at this time (occasion the Vardhanti celebration)  as above about our approach to cow, the Go mathaa.
The reverence for cow is self evident because, the most important tenet of Samanya dharmas is ahimsa, is it not? 
This is my saamaanya dharmam.

The next saamanya dharmam is Truthfulness or Satyam.
If you are trying to achieve benefits by telling lies or untruths, you do not know or you are not aware that if you tell lies a lot of sin will accrue to you. 
Satyameva Jayate Naanrutham  satyena panthaa vitatho devayaanah
(सत्यमेव जयते नानृतम् सत्येन पन्था विततो देवयानः)
This was so declared in Upanishads  so many years ago. 
Lakhs of years ago. 
When people of the current generation hear about this, they may say that such principles are not relatable or compatible to the present day.
They may think so.
  They may think that progress in life today is possible only through telling lies and indulging in misrepresentation. 
They may ask “ Who can come up in life these days telling truth alone?  They have to tell lies if they have to prosper.”
True, one may reach heights of prosperity and pomp telling lies.  But then they will surely fall from such heights  abruptly and steeply.
Shastras have dealt with adharma extensively.
The one who treads the path of adharma and the one who tells lies are on the same footing.. Same level.
Adharmenaidhate poorvaiH tato badraani pashyati  tato sapatnaan jayati samoolastu vinashyati..
(अधर्मेनैधते पूर्वैः ततो भद्राणि पश्यति। ततो सपत्नम् जयति समूलस्तु विनश्यति॥)

The one who does unrighteous things will come to the forefront  very quickly.  He will be victorious over all.  He will think  that no one else is superior to him  but finally he will be destroyed and uprooted completely.
The examples for this course of events  are those of  Ravana in Ramayanam and Duryodhan in Bharatham.  
Both of them became prominent by following unrighteous means. 
But finally both were destroyed and  razed upto the roots.
Do you need any more examples  other than these to  prove this?

If one thinks that he will come up in his life telling lies, doing injustice to others and treading unrighteous path,  Ravana and Duryodhana  who faced destruction on that count should be the witnesses for the futility of such thoughts.  
Will anyone who have  read  about  the fall of these two will ever think that they can come up in life by doing adharma? 
No, definitely not..
Both adharma and untruthfulness would produce the same results.
Therefore, no one of us should follow the path of untruthfulness in life.

We have dealt with ahmisa and satyam now. 
The third of the dharmas is Astheyam.  
Stheyam is the tendency  to  rob from others what is theirs..
The action of unjustly  divesting others of their rightful possession or wealth against their wishes  is a grave sin. 
There is of course nothing sinful in accepting something that  someone gives you as a gift.
 But if you steal  something from someone else all by yourself without  the owner’s consent  then you are incurring great sin..
You should never do that.

Then comes brahmacharyam.   
What is defined by Shastras  by the word brahmacharyam is that a grihasta or a householder should discharge his dharmas in the company of his wife whom he has married  in the manner prescribed by dharmas. 
He can perform all his grihasta functions in the company of the woman he has married  but he is prohibited even from casting a glance  on any other woman.  This is real brahmacharyam.
In our Dharma all women are considered as the manifestations of Ambaal.
vidyaassamasthaastava devi bhedaaH striyaH samastaaH sakalaa jagatsu
(विद्याः समस्ताः तव देवि भेदाः स्त्रियः समस्ताः सकला जगत्सु)
All arts and knowledge are the manifestation of the Mother of the Universe
All women are the physical manifestations of the mother of the Universe

Therefore when one looks at any woman, he should feel and behave only as if the is seeing the Devi Herself in that woman, and he should never entertain and wrong, improper or sinful thoughts about the women.
This attitude and action is the real Brahmacharyam.
If any attitude contrary to what is said  above arises in his mind,  the person becomes the worst sinner.

Was that not this the mistake committed by Ravana?
 He had Mandodari  as his wife  wedded to him in the dharmic way. 
He was living in all splendour and glory in her company too.
But then he abducted Sita the wife of Rama  and committed a sin which is  not pardonable. 
This action led to his abysmal fall and destruction.  

In fact, many well wishers advised Ravana against the wrong action. 
They told him .. “You have your Mandodari as dharmapatni.. And there are many others who are attached to you.  Then why are you going after that lady Sita?”
Ravana scoffed at their advice  and chose to ignore them .
He told them.  “ You people better keep quiet. This matter will be dealt with according to my own wishes.’
But what happened.?  Finally he was finished.

Therefore life following brahmacharyam is  to be followed very strictly and it is all the more so for Grihastas or householders..

Immediately after Ahimsa, Satyam and Astheyam comes Shaucham or cleanliness and then Indriyanighgaham too.

Shaucham particularly  means keeping the mind free of all blemishes and ill feelings. 
That is precisely called aanthara shaucham or internal purity.
 Keeping the body neat, clean and trim is baahya saucham or external cleanliness. 
It is definitely not sufficient that we should keep our body clean by bath etc.but we should keep our mind too clean. 
If your mind is not clean and pure  you will not be clean even if you keep the body clean. 
If the mind is to be kept clean there should not be any feelings like Kama.. lust, Krodha.. rage or anger etc arising   and residing there.
If the mind is free of Kama, Krodha and such negative tendencies, then it is clean

It is stated

Dadhyaat naavasaram kinchit  kaamaadeenaam manaagapi
(दद्यात् नावसरं किञ्चित् कामादीनाम् मनागपि)
Kaamaadeenaam  manaagapi  avasaram na dadhyaat..
Kama, Krodha etc are the evil influences  which affect the mind very badly  and therefore such influences cannot be permitted or entertained even to  a very little extent. 
Do not give any opportunities for such aberrations to influence your mind.
There should not be even traces of Kama and Krodha  in the mind. 
The mind should be kept completely unaffected by them.
Finally we should practice Indriya Nigraham.  
That means  we should keep  our organs (sense organs as well as  action(karma) organs)  under complete control. 
What is meant by control? 
We should not desire or covet  for anything and everything that comes to our  attention.
  If such desire for everything around us persists,  that means we have no control over our Indriyas.  
We should realize that we will get what God has ordained for us. 
It is  meaningless to desire or covet for more than that. 
Therefore there should  be no room for greed or avarice. 
We would definitely get what is ordained for us.
It should always be remembered that God is there to protect us  and take care of our interests. 
If we ask ourselves  as to when did God start protecting us  we would realize that such protection by God was there even when we were just growing  in the wombs of our mothers.
 Who else did protect us then? 
What strength of our own did we have  at that time? 
Now we think that we are having a lot of strength, but surely we did not have any strength  when we were just growing in our mother’s wombs.
 Who was it that protected us at that stage giving us life and growth ? 
Was it not Easwara the Supreme one?
 That very same God is  present even now  in all his glory.

Yo vai garbhagathasyaapi  vrittim  kalpitavaan prabhuH
Sheshavritti vidhaanepi suptaH kim vaa mritodhavaa?
(यो वै गर्भगतस्यापि वृत्तिम् कल्पितवान् प्रभुः।
शेषवृतिविधानेऽपि सुप्तः किम् वा मृतोथवा?)

So one should have faith  that God is ever there to protect him. 
One should never covet for things that belong to anyone else.

Duryodhana  faced doom  just because  he was greedy for the wealth of others.  He wanted to possess the wealth of Pandavas without any justification.
He divested them of their  wealth through unfair means and finally faced total annihilation. 
Seeing that we have to realize that avarice and greed are wrong propensities  that would ultimately lead us to our doom.

A person practicing Indriyanigraham would never fall prey to such avaricious tendencies.

Thus  Ahimsa, Satyam,Astheyam, Saucham and Indriya Nigraham… these five qualities are to be achieved and practices by each and every human being.
These dharmas are to be practices by all.  Be it Brahmacharis, Grihastas, Sannyasins, Brahmins, Kshatriyas or anyone else—all have to follow these dharmas.
If these  Saadhaarana Dharmas are not  followed  by all,  then what is the use of even  talking  about Vishesha dharmas..
kimastyanupaneetasya  vaajapeyaadi  yastibhiH
(किमस्त्यनुपनीतस्य वाजपेयादि यष्टिभिः)
If one is not  even initiated to the religious practices through upanayanam,  then what is the meaning in his talking about Vajapaya Sacrifice?   First let him  have upanayanam, practice Sandhyavandanam and then talk of Vajapeyam.
First, let us have a full understanding of the Samaannya Dharmas  and practice them.  This view is nothing ne.  Thousands of years ago  these  have been discussed in detail in Manusmriti.
Manusmriti has a special place of pride among all the  Dharmasastras.
Yat kinchit manuravadat  tad bheshajam
(यत्किञ्चित् मनुरवदत् तद् भेषजम्)
Whatever Manu has said is oushadham.. medicine.. elixir
We require medicine when there is any illness .  Medicine protects us and brings us relief from illness. What Manu said is just like medicine
Yat kinchit manuravadat  tad bheshajam
Therefor Manusmriti  has a special place among Dharmasastra texts  and Manu has expostulated the Saammannya Dharmas and has directed that everyone should follow these  eternally.
Then  alone can we observe Vishesha Dharmas effectively.

I had pointed out even at the beginning that whatever I tell here are all already known and discussed many a time.
Yes, these are all known to everyone. But such  knowledge does not manifest  in our day to day aachaarams or practices. We have read many books, listened to many discourses but when it comes to putting the principles into practice   nothing comes to our memory.  We continue to do wrong things.
Then what  purpose is going to be served by reading so many books and listening to so many upanyasams?
The Administrator was discussing about our Yathras. 
I asked him,  “Maybe, we will hold discourses on dharma but how many people do really listen and how many out of those listen practice what is imparted to them?  Can you give me the figures if you have them? “    He was baffled.
Therefore, even though you may think that I am repeating again and again only what is known to all, I am keeping on repeating the same thing  just to remind you all  that you  should not forget what I say, you should practice what  I  have been telling you repeatedly.
  Saamanya Dharmas should be scrupulously applied in our day to day  activities.
I am therefore repeating the same thing again and again.
You should not deviated from the path of Dharma at any time. By following the path of Dharma all should attain Divine Grace,  and welfare.  This has been the wish and advice of all our predecessors.
We are giving the same message to all of you.

In this city of Madurai, this year, this celebration has been conducted in an elaborate and exemplary manner  and the Satachandi Yajnam and Easvara Aradhanam  were conducted in a solemn manner .. May the bhagavan be pleased and bless this Madurai and all of you and the entire south, with  prosperity and welfare and especially with lot of rains. 
May all live with Divine Grace, prosperity and plentitude ..  I am making repeated prayers in the Sannidhi of Bhagavan.  May God bless us with plenty of rains.

The Upanyasam  concludes with  Aasheervadams and  Hara Hara Mahadeva..

the speech was in Tamil.. the video link