The Catu-Bhanavara-Pali (critical study)

by Moumita Dutta Banik | 2017 | 50,922 words

This study deals with the Catu-Bhanavara-Pali, (lit. “Text of the Four Recitals”) which in Buddhism is popularly known as “The Book of Protection”. This text, in the Pali language, represents a recital of the Dhamma meant for protection and deliverance from evil and sorrows as well as promoting welfare and well-being. The spreading time of Catubhan...

The Karaniya-Metta Sutta[1] contains teaching and advises that are completely equal to Buddhists practice in “Metta meditation” so when chanting it essentially becomes the metta meditation. So this is the power of it that brings security to the practitioner. This was a sutta advised by Lord Buddha to be practiced by all beings.

Buddhism does not believe in magic. We only believe in completely logical things.

This sutta (a Discourse) was delivered by the Buddha to a set of his disciples who had gone to meditate in a forest close to the Himalayan mountain ranges. They complained that they were being disturbed by some spirits of the forest. The Buddha exhorted them to follow this course of conduct. They went back to the same abode, and putting the advise into practice and found that they were not disturbed anymore.

The Metta Sutta is the name used for two Buddhist discourses (pali sutta) found in the pali canon. The one, more often chanted by Theravadin monks is also referred to as karaniyametta sutta after the opening word karaniyam. “(this is what) should be done.” It is found in the suttanipata and khuddakapatha. It is often verses in length and it extols both the virtuous qualities and the meditative developments of metta (pali) traditionally translated as “loving kindness” or friendliness.

The other sutta is also chanted by the Theravadin Buddhist monks at times. It extols the benefits of the practice of metta (pali) and it is found in the Anguttara nikaya. This article will focus on the first version.

Background: In the Theravada school of pali canon, metta is one of four “divine abodes” (Brahmanihara) recommended for cultivating interpersonal harmony and meditative concentration (see, for instance, kammatthana). In later canonical works (such as the cariya pitaka) metta is one of perfections parami that facilitates the attainment of awakening (Bodhi) and is a prerequisite to attaining Buddha-hood.

According to post-canonical sutta Nipata commentary, the back ground story for the metta sutta is that a group of monks were harassed by tree-dwelling deities in a forest when the monks seek the Buddha’s aid in dealing with the deities.

The Buddha teaches the monks the Metta Sutta for them to recite regularly. The monks did accordingly and, as a result, they could win over the deities good will.

It is known what is truly good for one and realized the possibility of reaching a state of perfect peace one needs to live. One owes to be a capable person being upright, gentle speaker, flexible should be conceited. One should be contented and happy with few worries and should lead to uncomplicated life. One should make sure of one’s senses, expected to calm and controlled and be respectful without hankering after families or groups and he showed to avoid anything unworthy. Avoiding wiser people’s criticism one should meditate that all should be happy and secure. All should be happy in their heart of hearts. Every living thing, whether weak or strong, the smallest or largest, whether visible or invisible, living near by or far away, being living now or yet to arise-all should be happy in their heart of hearts. No one should deceive or look down upon any one any where for any reason. No one showed want for another to suffer through feeling of anger or through reacting to some one else.

One should develope his heart as a strong mother to cherish her only child, develop an unlimited heart of friendliness for the entire universe, sending ‘metta’ above, below and all around beyond all narrowness, beyond all rivalry, beyond all hatred. One should know as like living in heaven whether he stays in one place or travelling, sitting down or in bed, in all his walking hours, rest in mind fullness. In this way one will come to let go of views and will be spontaneously ethical and have perfect in sight. One should leave behind craving for sensual pleasures from the rounds of rebirth and will finally be completely free.

In our daily lives, we meet all kinds of people. Some are pleasant and some are ill disposed. There are also moments of anxiety, moments of stress and circumstances which are perplexing. On encountering unpleasant people and in difficult times a recital or perusal of the sutta will produce beneficial results. The practice of what is contained in it will induce a tranquil state of mind, give us self confidence and help us to overcome difficulties. “True peace in the world can only come about when every individual’s mind is at peace. A mind vibrant with thoughts of loving kindness is the safest guarantee for all beings to live happily and unharmed. Metta (Loving-kindness) can be used as an object of meditation. This beautiful mental state protects one against ill-will, anger, and other unwholesome mental tendencies.

As an attitude of mind, Metta seeks to promote happiness and radiates benevolence towards all without discrimination-humans, non-humans, known and unknown, visible and invisible. With steady perseverance in the meditation on Metta, a point will be reached when it would not be possible to harbor any thought of ill will in the mind.

In the cultivation of loving-kindness, one begins with oneself-the nearest object in any situation. This should not be confused with self-love is unmindful of the flows and deficiencies in One’s character. It is a psychological truth that a mind which is poisoned at the source can not radiate whole some thoughts of love towards others.

Before starting to meditate on Metta, it is good to recollect the benefit of loving-kindness and the danger of anger. Then, begin by arousing loving-kindness by repeating the following lines in the mind.

May I be free from harm and danger.
May I be free from mental suffering.
May I be free from physical suffering.
May I be well and happy.

Keeping repeating these words until they sink into the mind which gradually becomes concentrated, happy and peaceful.

Next, are extend to others the same happiness that we have wished for ourselves. For a start, choose a person to whom we have good feelings. He or she cloud be apparent, teacher, relative or friend, but must be one of the same sex and is still living. Think of his or her good qualities as we radiate.

May he / she be free from harm and danger.
May he / she be free from mental suffering.
May he / she be free from physical suffering.
May he / she be well and happy.

For a beginner, it is best not to choose four types of persons. One who is very intimate, one who is dead, one of the opposite sex, and one who is an enemy. After one’s loving-kindness and concentration become powerful through consistent practice, one may proceed to radiate Metta to others in the following order? A very dear friend, a natural person, an unpleasant person, and an enemy. One can also radiate metta to all types of beings and in all directions.

Loving-kindness is universal and all-embracing. It has no religious or racial barriers. Therefore, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike can practice loving-kindness and experience good results.

The practice of Loving-kindness is the very essence of the Buddhist way of life. It is a positive quality of the mind which promotes an ethical attitude. The man who extends to his fellow beings the love and affection which a mother reverse for her only son, and says with conviction and feeling, “May all beings be happy”, finds no place in his mind and malice, jealousy, envy or pettiness. By the very practice of loving kindness. He becomes in capable of killing, stealing, lying, slandering or using harsh language. Not only does he avoid doing harm to others whether by deed, word or thought, but he also develops the tendency to engage himself in the task of relieving others of suffering and agony. A Buddhist as exemplified by the life of the greatest Buddhist of all times, Asoka, is not merely a harmless and innocent person, but one who goes out to make his neighbours happy, to help them in times of difficulty, to care for the sick and the old and to look after the welfare of the poor and the destitute. Charity is his first obligation. It is significant that even virtue and mental training follow charity in the system of Buddhist ethics. He that practices loving kindness lives the sublime life. Free from malice and jealousy, he speaks pleasant words; he looks upon all with equanimity. He is generous in his fits; he speaks pleasant words; he works for others’ welfare and he treats every one as his equal. He, indeed, is an ideal Buddhist and should recite the above formula.”[2]

Footnotes and references:


Khuddaka-patha. No. 9; sn 25, under the title Metta-sutta.


Buddhist pali recitals, by Ven. Waragoda Sarada nayaka mahathera and rev. waragoda sunanda, jointly compiled. And edited by Prof. Chandima Wijebandara, Singapore 2007. Page–307-309.

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