Request for discussion on Common Dharma

Anand V. Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun May 9 14:23:48 CDT 1999

As a topic related to the thread "Practical Vedanta", I urge
 list members to discuss the status of sAmAnya-dharma or
 sAdhAraNa-dharma today, with special reference to India.
 Before even a discussion of the importance of vedAnta,
 "practical" or not, is started, we must find out to what
 extent sAmanya-dharma is being practised. It does not make
 sense for one who is not even following sAmAnya-dharma to
 undertake a study of vedAnta.

 sAmAnya-dharma is the dharma which needs to be followed by
 all human beings, regardless of their status in society.

 The definition of sAmAnya-dharma occurs in many SmR^iti texts,
 including the Manu-smR^iti. But I found the mitAxarA commentary of
 VijnAneshvara on the YAjnavalkya smR^iti illuminating. So I will
 use the definition of sAmAnya dharma found in this smR^iti and
 the commentary thereon.

 ahiMsA satyamasteyaM shauchamindriyanigrahaH |
 dAnaM damo dayA kshhAntiH sarveshhAM dharmasAdhanam.h ||

 These are the means to dharma for all persons, regardless of
 whether they are brAhmaNas, kshhatriyas, vaishyas, shUdras,
 chaNDAlas, etc. (mitAxarA- ityete sarveshhAM purushhANAM
 brAhmaNAdyAchaNDAlAntaM dharmasAdhanam.h) :

 1) ahiMsA - not causing pain to creatures. This includes not
    causing pain to animals as well as humans. All killing of animals,
    except in vedic sacrifices, causes only pain to animals. So the
    pratice of consuming meat and other animal products that are
    produced by causing pain to animals is against this principle of

 2) satyam.h - the mitAxarA defines satyam.h as "aprANipIdAkaraM
    yathArthavachanam.h", which means speaking truth that does not
    cause pain to creatures (both humans and animals). To clarify
    one must always speak the truth unless doing so would cause
    only untold suffering to others.

 3) asteyam.h - non-stealing. This is defined as "adattAnupAdAnam.h"
    - not acquiring something that is not given/donated or earned.
    This is a much broader definition than merely saying that one must
    not steal anything. For example, if one finds some money in a
    public place, it is against the principle of asteyam if one
    pockets that money. That money was neither donated nor earned.

 4) shaucham.h - this includes not just external cleanliness but
    also internal or mental cleanliness. Living in dirty, shabby
    conditions even when one can possibly live in clean conditions is
    against this principle.

 5) indriyanigrahaH - this is defined as "buddhikarmendriyANAM
    niyatavishhayavR^ittitA", meaning "performing only restricted
    or obligatory actions with the 10 sense organs (such as eyes,
    tongue, hands, feet, organ of generation, etc.)"

 6) dAnam - yathAshakti prANinAmannodakAdidAnenArtiparihAro dAnam.h
    Donating(giving) food, water, etc, according to one's capacity,
    to creatures (animals and humans) so that their suffering is
    removed is "dAna".

 7) damaH - antaHkaraNasaMyamo damaH. The restraint of the mind
    is dama.

 8) dayA - ApannaraxaNaM dayA. Protecting one who is afflicted (by
    misery) is dayA. Merely expressing sympathy in eloquent words
    is not enough to be called dayA.

 9) xAntiH - apakAre .api chittasyaAvikAraH - Not changing one's
    mind even when faced with adversity is called xAnti or

   I request list members to discuss how these nine principles of
   sAmAnya-dharma are being practised and if they are not being
   practised, the reasons for nonconformity and possible solutions
   to remedy the situation.


More information about the Advaita-l mailing list