SriVaishnava Ahara Niyamam


Right from Vedic literature down to the Itihasas and Puranas, we find scattered references to vegetables and other edibles that can be consumed and those that are better avoided in order to ensure augmentation of Satva and preclusion of Rajo and Tamo.

Here we tried to collect some basics on aahara niyamam laid by our Acharyas.

According to swami Ramanuja, There are three kinds of food to be avoided, as enjoined in the Sruthi. The classification covers the details of the discrimination to be followed among vegetarian foods, and it is understood that non-vegetarian to be completely avoided.

They are known as

  • 1) JATHIDUSHTAM, that belonging to prohibited class of food, like eating onion, garlic, etc…
  • 2) ASHRAYA DUSHTAM: prohibited on account of asraya, source like chAndAlAdhidhravya, coming from impure (immoral) houses etc
  • 3) NIMITTHA DUSHTAM: contaminated food like remains of food eaten by someone else, ucchishtam, or polluted by hair etc.. we can say hygiene wise

Omitting these kinds of Food is viveka with reference to body, resulting in kAyasuddhi(Purity of the body), physical purity.The purity observed in eating helps one to attain satthvasuddhi(purity of the mind) which in its turn helps to attain dhruvasmrthi(continuous and constant association with lord),

1) JATHIDUSHTAM : Vegetables to be avoided: Country Fig (அத்தி), White Fig (இறலி), White Egg Plant/White Brinjal (வெள்ளை கத்தாரி), Fruit and flower from banyan tree (ஆல்)/ Peepal Tree, palm heart, Onion, Garlic, Drumstick, சிறிய அவரை (A small type of beans, small avarakkai), Mushrooms (காளான்), Radish (முள்ளங்கி), Bottle Gourd (சுரைக்காய்), Ridge Gourd (பீர்கங்காய்), Celosia (பண்ணைக் கீரை), Unripe Pomegranate (மாதுளங்காய்), Lotus Stalk (தாமரைக் கிழங்கு), Pasalakkeerai (பசலைக்கீரை), Sanarkeerai (சனர்க்கீரை), Sirukkeerai (சிறுக்கீரை), Red Agathik keerai (சிவப்பு அகத்தி), pannaikkeerai, thoyyirkkeerai and all that grew on tainted ground. Other than Asafoedita (பெருங்காயம்) any food item that is made out of the sap of trees is to be avoided.

2) ASHRAYA DUSHTAM : Food that is bought through money earned in illegitimate ways (not authorized by the sastras), Food that is borrowed from a sanyasi and food that has come in contact with a sanyasi’s vessel, Unwashed fruits/vegetables bought from outside shops are to be avoided

3) NIMITTHA DUSHTAM : Food that has been contaminated by the presence of flies, worms, hair, nails, Spittle, cloth (ie food that spills on to our clothes), thread, sneeze , saliva (even its is of one’s own), partially `bitten’ by others are to be avoided


Other than above some division on taste, time etc :

  • Food that is extremely – salty, sour,bitter, spicy, cold, hot, overheated is to be avoided.
  • Food that is burnt should be avoided.
  • Food that is not offered to the Lord and then guest before consumption is to be avoided
  • Food smelt by animals or people, touched by people with disease, contacted by fly/worm/thread/hair/nail, touched by mouth of people/rat/dogs/chicken/crow/cat should be avoided.
  •   Calcium (சுண்ணம்பு) extracted from sea shells, bubbles and forth from water should be avoided
  • Other than buttermilk, any other food item whose composition has been diluted is not to be consumed.
  • Donot consume puffed rice (பொரி) and wood-apple fruit (விளாம்பழம்) during the day time.
  • Do not consume any food item containing sesame (எள்ளு)/sesame seed seed oil , gingelly, curds during night time.
  • Ghee that served after you started eating should not be consumed.
  • No food can be taken at sunrise, sunset and midnight.
  • Food cooked  on Ekadasi and other days of fasting should be avoided
  • Food cooked  without bathing should not be consumed.
  • Food cooked twice (reheated) should not be consumed.
  • Food that interfere with mantra japam/penance or that said to give magical powers should be avoided.
  • No food can be taken without taking bath and washing hands, and completing ablutions (Parishechanam) and Should not leave without completing the final Parishechanam
  • Don’t eat under moonlight or fire (should eat with burning lamp) .
  • Don’t eat – with left hand.
  • Don’t eat food served by bare hands or spatulas made of Iron (*uncooked food may be served by bare hands)
  • Don’t eat the food that are mashed by someone else.
  • Foods –  intended for dEvathaas , offered to dEvathaas such as Sivan should be avoided
  • Foods that harm our praaNan/ indhriyam and that are  unrecognizable are to be avoided
  • Food offered without love and affection should be avoided.

Food which can be consumed without restriction :

  • Food items like sugarcane juice (கரும்புச்சாறு), curd (தயிர்), milk (பால்), ghee (நெய்), betel nut (பாக்கு)( Widows, Brahmacharis and Sannyasis should not use betel leaves), pepper, honey (தேன்), cardamom (ஏலக்காய்), jaggery,flours,wheat flour,Tender Coconut Water ,Juice of flowers/ raw vegetables/ fruits are beyond dhoshams and can be consumed anytime.
  • Food items that have been cooked in heat without the addition of water, fruits that ripe naturally (and not by artificial methods), raw vegetables ,boiled rice (புழுங்கல் அரிசி*), vadaam (வடாம்), appam (அப்பம்), seedai (சீடை), thenkuzhal (தேன்குழல்), milk derivatives like thiratti paal (திரட்டிப்பால்), etc. can be consumed even if they have gone beyond their use-by date.
  • On fasting days, one is allowed to consume water, tubers (கிழங்குகள்), ghee, milk, havis (ஹவிஸ்) from yagams and medicines.
  • Food that is contaminated by the saliva of one’s father, one’s acharyan and one’s first elder brother can be consumed. Wives can consume the food contaminated by the saliva of their husbands.
  • Also, cooked rice from the previous night, when stored in clean water (பழையது/பழைய சாதம்) can be consumed

Sri Ramanujacharya’s Sri Bhasyam – `Sarvanna Anumatyati Karanam’ Sutras 446 to 448 declares – that in times of danger to life one can consume any food and such intake will not go against Pramanas and Smritis. But, SUTRA 449, However, Clearly and Categorically Forbids Consumption of Liquor even in the Face of Danger to Life.

For detailed Thiruvaradhana Kramam audio/video/text refer:

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  1. Dear
    srivasihnava Asthikas/srivaishnava Mutt heads ,
    Sri Perundevi nayika sametha Perurulalan templeof Kanchi is one of the most important Divyadesams.
    Decades ago there was a temple elephant maintained by the temple devasthanam bearing Vadagalai Thiruman. Due to court litigation (which went upto Supreme court) regarding which Thiruman the elephant should have onthe face, it was finally decreed by the court that both sects ie Vadagalis and thengalais can have each one elephant bearing respective namam (thiruman) but the elephanrts are to be maintained by the respective sects and NOT BY the temple.

    The temple elephant which was there died before all these court proceedings ended.
    After this , during festival seasons like Bramhotsavam etc, some Mutts like Ahobila mutt provided elephant with Vadagali thiruan and the Thengalais also arranged elephant with thengalai thiruman. Both the elephants were sporting majestically in the procession along with other paraphernalia like horse etc..But what has been a daily feature for decades , has become occasional. Had the court decreed to have both Vadagalai and Thengalai elephants to be maintained by Devasthanam, it would have been welcome. No party tookup this issue for amendments.
    Now it is the duty of all Sri Vaishnavas (both vadagalis& thengalais) Mut heads of both sects should approach the Government of Tamilnadu to direct the temple Devasthanam to purchase and maintain two elephants (each one of Vadagai and thenglai) so that the great temple will restore its old glory. Otherwise a trust can be created which should be handled by the Devasthanam as accommodation, food etc can be easily provided by the temple. Many devotees/mutheads will willing ly donate to raise funds. Please bring this to the notice of all the sri Vaishanvites and oblige through your news letter with bold captions.

  2. regards, my name is srivatsan, i have a doubt please clarify
    what is difference between PARAMPATHAM & VAIKUNTAM. Kindly enlighten me with correct references. Thanks and regards


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