Brahmavihara, aka: Brahmavihāra, Brahma-vihara, Brahman-vihara; 8 Definition(s)

Introduction

Brahmavihara means something in Buddhism, Pali, 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)

[Brahmavihara in Theravada glossaries]

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): Access to Insight: A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist Terms

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.

Literature:

  • 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).

(Source): Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines
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)

[Brahmavihara in Mahayana glossaries]

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”.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
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)

[Brahmavihara in Buddhism glossaries]

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 (eg., brahma-vihāra). The work is attributed to Nagarjuna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgraha

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): WikiPedia: Buddhism

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.

(Source): Buddhism Tourism: Glossary of Buddhist Terms

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

[Brahmavihara in Pali glossaries]

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

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary
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-English dictionary

[Brahmavihara in Sanskrit glossaries]

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): DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. 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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Relevant definitions

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