Friday, October 29, 2010


There are 12 Reflections given in Jainism to meditate and there are also four compassionate Reflections or Bhavanas some times known as auxiliary Bhävanäs. They represent the positive means of supporting the Five Vows. They are intended to develop purity of thought and sincerity in the practice of religion. They play a very important role in the day - to - day life of a householder and these reflections can be practiced very easily. Adopting these Bhävanäs in daily life can make a person very virtuous.

These four Bhävanäs (reflections) represent the positive means of supporting the Five Great Vows.
The qualities, which a devotee of nonviolence must possess, are:

• Maitri (amity, love, friendship): Friendliness strengthens each other; friendliness softens the heart and nourishes the capacity for forgiveness and forbearance
• Pramod (joy and respect): Praising the virtues of others with joy and respect corrodes one’s own ego and conceit.
• Karunä (compassion): Compassion for their misfortune fosters a charitable heart
• Mädhyastha (neutrality): The cultivation of neutrality and equanimity has the power to chastise vainglory in self and others.
These Bhävanäs are designed to make the devotee a good person, to serve as aids to spiritual progress, to produce detachment, and to lead the devotee from the realm of desire to the path of purification. They are intended to develop purity of thought and sincerity in the practice of religion.

01. Maitri Bhävanä (Universal Friendship)
The cultivation of friendliness without any selfishness towards all living beings is Maitri (Universal friendship). The devotee should show equal friendship to all living beings without any reservation due to gender, color, race, wealth, nationality, look, size, and so on. Bhagawän Mahävir said that we must be friends of all living beings. Feelings of friendship should be the foundation of all our future thinking. Thus, when we become friends with someone or for that matter with all living beings, how can we possibly think of harming, deceiving or quarreling with them? How can our actions be harsh towards anybody? We would never hurt our friends; on the contrary, we support them and protect them. That way we develop bonds with each other. Friendship teaches us to be tolerant, to forgive, and to care and share among one another. There will be times when our thoughts may be reactionary and harsh; at that time instead of reacting right away, it would be better to wait and think of friendship with the person concerned. This always serves to ease the reaction, making you more reluctant to do anything that is not desirable. Since human nature is such that it always happens to react, Bhagawän Mahävir said, “If you want to react, then react with Pramod (respect)”.

02. Pramod Bhävanä (Respect for Virtue)
Pramod (joy, praise, and respect), or delight in the virtues of others, is defined as a state of experience of real joy and enthusiasm for those who possess higher and superior qualities. In this Pramod Bhävanä, we admire the successes and virtues of our friends, and spiritual leaders. Whenever we come across virtuous people, we should really respect, honor, and admire their virtues. When we are overwhelmed with joy because of such fine virtues in our friend, and spiritual leaders, the process of becoming virtuous begins. Good virtues are the right faith, the right knowledge, the right conduct, and the right penance. We should praise and show our highest respect to Tirthankars who showed the path and Gurus who help us in following that path for our spiritual journey.

Human nature is such that sometimes it cannot tolerate even the successes of friends or virtuous people. Sometimes, we are so jealous that we label their good virtues as bad qualities. When we are burning in the fire of jealousy, it ignites the fires of cheating, lying, and hurting others. However, instead of being jealous of the success or higher virtues of our friends or our spiritual leaders, we should feel content that if not me at least my friends are doing well; that way our unhappiness will turn into happiness. In addition, as soon as such thoughts come in our mind, we may feel silly that we had become jealous. That way the friendship or feeling of admiration would turn the negative impulses into the positive ones and we would be more at peace.
When we consider everyone as our friend, hostility stops, and when we start admiring successes of our friends even a negative force like jealousy would disappear.

03. Karunä Bhävanä (Sense of Compassion)
There are two types of compassion, (1) material and (2) spiritual. When we see someone is homeless, poor, and sick, or in need of something, the feeling we get to help is called material compassion. By helping the needy materially, we are able to reduce their material suffering. At the same time, there are people who are ignorant, have wrong beliefs, are suffering from internal passions such as anger, ego, deceit and greed; the feeling to help them is spiritual compassion. We try to show them the right spiritual path to reduce their internal suffering.

04. Mädhyastha Bhävanä (Neutrality)
To have indifference or to stay neutral in an irretrievable situation is Mädhyastha Bhävanä. In Mädhyastha Bhävanä one should stay neutral, uninvolved with those who, even after realizing and knowing what is right and wrong, carry on wrong ways. We can try our best to help, support, or advice; but some, out of their arrogance, obstinacy, stubbornness, or ignorance, may refuse to walk the right path. Instead of developing hatred, anger, contempt, or abhorrence towards them, we should think that we have done all we can; and changing is up to them. We should not let our mind be disturbed by what they are doing. Even though we desire the well-being of such people, we do not get involved unless they come for help.

May the sacred stream of amity flow forever in my heart

May the universe prosper, such is my cherished desire;

May my heart sing with ecstasy at the sight of the virtuous,

And may my life be an offering at their feet.

May my heart bleed at the sight of the wretched,

And may tears of compassion flow from my eyes;

May I always be there to show the path to the pathless wanderers of life,

Yet if they should not hearken to me, may I bide

May the spirit of goodwill enter into all our hearts,

May we all sing together the immortal song of brotherhood

The immortal song of sisterhood,

The immortal song of brotherhood

- Chitrabhanu


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