Brahmavihara, Brahmavihāra, Brahma-vihara, Brahman-vihara: 13 definitions


Brahmavihara means something in Buddhism, Pali, Jainism, Prakrit, Hinduism, Sanskrit. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

[«previous next»] — Brahmavihara in Theravada glossary
Source: Access to Insight: A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist Terms

The four "sublime" or "divine" abodes that are attained through the development of boundless metta (goodwill), karuna (compassion), mudita (appreciative joy), and upekkha (equanimity).

Source: Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines

the 4 'sublime' or 'divine abodes', also called the 4 boundless states (appamaññā), are:

  • loving-kindness (mettā),
  • compassion (karunā),
  • altruistic (or sympathetic) joy (muditā),
  • equanimity (upekkhā).

The stereotype text on the development of these 4 sublime abodes (brahma-vihāra-bhāvanā; s. bhāvanā), often met with in the Suttas,- is as follows:

"'There, o monks, the monk with a mind full of loving-kindness pervading first one direction, then a second one, then a third one, then the fourth one, just so above, below and all around; and everywhere identifying himself with all, he is pervading the whole world with mind full of loving-kindness, with mind wide, developed, unbounded, free from hate and ill-will."

Hereafter follows the same theme with compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity.


  • Detailed explanation in Vis.M. IX. -
  • For texts s. "Path", 97ff;
  • texts on mettā in The Practice of Loving Kindness, by Ñānamoli Thera (WHEEL 7). -
  • The Four Sublime States, by Nyanaponika Thera (WHEEL 6). -
  • Brahma Vihāra, by Narada Thera (Vajirarama, Colombo, 1962).

context information

Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

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Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

[«previous next»] — Brahmavihara in Mahayana glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

Brāhmavihāra (ब्राह्मविहार) refers to the “abode of Brahma” according to the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter V.—Accordingly, “The brāhmavihāras are the abodes of the Brahmā gods, etc., up to the gods who are neither with nor without perception... The four limitless minds (apramānacitta): loving-kindness (maitrī), compassion (karuṇā), joy (muditā) and equanimity (upekṣā) constitute the brāhmavihāras”.

Mahayana book cover
context information

Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

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General definition (in Buddhism)

[«previous next»] — Brahmavihara in Buddhism glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgraha

Brahmavihara (ब्रह्मविहर) or caturbrahmavihāra refers to the “four spiritual states” as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 16):

  1. maitrī (friendliness),
  2. karuṇā (kindness),
  3. mudita (gladness),
  4. upekṣā (equanimity).

The Dharma-samgraha (Dharmasangraha) is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit (e.g., brahma-vihāra). The work is attributed to Nagarjuna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

Source: WikiPedia: Buddhism

The four Brahmaviharas are a series of virtues and Buddhist meditation practices designed to cultivate those virtues. Brahmavihara is a term in Pali and Sanskrit meaning "Brahma abidings", or "Sublime attitudes." They are also known as the Four Immeasurables (Sanskrit: apramana).

According to the Metta Sutta, Shakyamuni Buddha held that cultivation of the Brahmaviharas has the power to cause the practitioner to be re born into a Brahma realm (Pali: Brahmaloka). The meditator is instructed to radiate out to all beings in all directions the mental states of:

  1. loving kindness or benevolence,
  2. compassion,
  3. sympathetic joy, and,
  4. equanimity.

These virtues are also highly regarded by Buddhists as powerful antidotes to those negative mental states (non virtues) like avarice, anger, pride and so on.

Source: Buddhism Tourism: Glossary of Buddhist Terms

Meaning divine abodes that are representatives of emotions like compassion,sympathetic joy and equanimity. These are usually linked with early Buddhism reflecting high ethical import. These emotions generally develop as one develops and matures through Buddhist practices.

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

[«previous next»] — Brahmavihara in Jainism glossary
Source: The University of Sydney: A study of the Twelve Reflections

Brahmavihāra (ब्रह्मविहार) refers to “four practices”, according to the Yogaśāstra 4.75 (vol. 2, p. 863).—Hemacandra explains that by the phrase “friendliness, etc.” (maitryādi), he means to say “friendliness” (maitrī), “joy” (muditā), “compassion” (karuṇā) and “equanimity” (upekṣā). These constitute the four practices known as the brahmavihāras mentioned in various Buddhist texts. They are also listed by Patañjali in Yogasūtra 1.33 as means for purification of the mind (see Mukerji 2000: 77-8; Bryant 2009: 128-30).

General definition book cover
context information

Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

[«previous next»] — Brahmavihara in Pali glossary
Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

brahmavihāra : (m.) divine state of mind; a name collectively given to mettā, karuṇā, muditā, and upekkhā.

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary

Brahmavihāra refers to: sublime or divine state of mind, blissful meditation (exercises on a, altruistic concepts; b, equanimity; see on these meditations Dial I. 298). There are 4 such “divine states,” viz. mettā, karuṇā, muditā, upekkhā (see Vism. 111; DhsA. 192; and cp. Expositor 258; Dhs. trsl. 65; BSk. same, e.g. Divy 224); D. II, 196; III, 220 (one of the 3 vihāra’s: dibba°, brahma°, ariya°); Th. 1, 649; J. I, 139 (°vihāre bhāvetvā ... brahmalok’ûpaga), II. 61; Dhs. 262; Vism. 295 sq. (°niddesa), 319.

Note: brahmavihāra is a Pali compound consisting of the words brahma and vihāra.

Pali book cover
context information

Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

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Sanskrit dictionary

[«previous next»] — Brahmavihara in Sanskrit glossary
Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Brahmavihāra (ब्रह्मविहार).—a pious conduct, perfect state; Buddh.

Derivable forms: brahmavihāraḥ (ब्रह्मविहारः).

Brahmavihāra is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms brahman and vihāra (विहार).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary

Brahmavihāra (ब्रह्मविहार).—m. (= Pali id.; compare vihāra), brahmic (supreme, highest religious) state; four such: Dharmasaṃgraha 16 maitrī, karuṇā, muditā, upekṣā (as in Pali); °rāś catvāraḥ Saddharmapuṇḍarīka 142.11; catvāri °rān bhāvayitvā Divyāvadāna 224.28 (prose); °ram (sg.) ācare Mahāvastu iii.105.17; same expressed by brāhmo (adj.) vihāraḥ Bodhisattvabhūmi 90.13 = catvāry apramāṇāni, see apramāṇa (in Pali also called appamaññā, fem., see Critical Pali Dictionary); brāhmya (as separate adj.) vihāra Asaṅga (Mahāyāna-sūtrālaṃkāra) vii.3; xvii.17 commentary See Abhidharmakośa LaV—P. viii.196.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Brahmavihāra (ब्रह्मविहार):—[=brahma-vihāra] [from brahma > brahman] m. pious conduct, perfect state (4 with Buddhists), [Lalita-vistara; Divyāvadāna; Dharmasaṃgraha 16.]

[Sanskrit to German]

Brahmavihara in German

context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family (even English!). Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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