Jhana, Jhāna: 13 definitions


Jhana means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Marathi. 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 Hinduism

Yoga (school of philosophy)

Source: Wisdom Library: Yoga

Meditation; Seventh step of the Ashtanga;

In yoga philosophy dhyana is a state of being keenly aware without focus.

Yoga book cover
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Yoga is originally considered a branch of Hindu philosophy (astika), but both ancient and modern Yoga combine the physical, mental and spiritual. Yoga teaches various physical techniques also known as āsanas (postures), used for various purposes (eg., meditation, contemplation, relaxation).

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Ayurveda (science of life)

Source: Wisdom Library: Local Names of Plants and Drugs

Jhana [ঝানা] in the Bengali language is the name of a plant identified with Rhizophora mucronata Lam. from the Rhizophoraceae (Burma Mangrove) family. For the possible medicinal usage of jhana, you can check this page for potential sources and references, although be aware that any some or none of the side-effects may not be mentioned here, wether they be harmful or beneficial to health.

Ayurveda book cover
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Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.

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In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

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

Jhana refers to “mental absorption”.—A state of strong concentration focused on a single physical sensation (resulting in rupa jhana) or mental notion (resulting in arupa jhana). Development of jhana arises from the temporary suspension of the five hindrances (see nivarana) through the development of five mental factors: vitakka (directed thought), vicara (evaluation), piti (rapture), sukha (pleasure), and ekaggatarammana (singleness of preoccupation).

Source: Dhamma Dana: Pali English Glossary

Jhana [N] refers to a “particular state of mind in which consciousness does focus on a single object or no object at all”.—The jhana is the outcome of a pure concentration obtained by focusing the mind on a single object. [...] There do exist forty different meditative supports meant for the one pointedness of mind. We do distinguish two types of jhanas, which do comprise each four different levels that can be experienced according to the profundity of mental concentration. In the first category (rupa jhana), consciousness is locked into a single object. In the second category (arupa jhana), only consciousness does remain, devoid of any object.

Source: Journey to Nibbana: Patthana Dhama

Jhana (Cf. Jhanacitta).—When the jhana practitioner wants to practise jhana, he has to fulfil sila or moral conduct which must be at least ajiva attha kammatthana sila.

They are:

  1. avoiding killing,
  2. stealing,
  3. all sex including thoughts,
  4. telling lies,
  5. telling harsh words,
  6. telling dividing speech,
  7. telling non sense tales, and
  8. drinking alcohol

Altogether 8 conducts have to be avoided. The jhana practitioner has set up pure sila which encompasses avoiding hurting nature.

Source: Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines

Jhana “absorption” (meditation) refers chiefly to the four meditative absorptions of the fine-material sphere (rūpa-jjhāna or rūpāvacara-jjhāna; s. avacara).

They are achieved through the attainment of full (or attainment -, or ecstatic) concentration (appanā, s. samādhi), during which there is a complete, though temporary, suspension of fivefold sense-activity and of the 5 hindrances (s. nīvarana).

The state of consciousness, however, is one of full alertness and lucidity. This high degree of concentration is generally developed by the practice of one of the 40 subjects of tranquility meditation (samatha-kammatthāna; s. bhāvanā).

Often also the 4 immaterial spheres (arūpāyatana) are called absorptions of the immaterial sphere (arūpa-jjhāna or arūpāvacara-jjhāna). The stereotype text, often met with in the Suttas, runs as follows:

(1) "Detached from sensual objects, o monks, detached from unwholesome consciousness, attached with thought-conception (vitakka) and discursive thinking (vicāra), born of detachment (vivekaja) and filled with rapture (pīti) and joy (sukha) he enters the first absorption.

(2) "After the subsiding of thought-conception and discursive thinking, and by gaining inner tranquility and oneness of mind, he enters into a state free from thought-conception and discursive thinking, the second absorption, which is born of concentration (samādhi), and filled with rapture (pīti) and joy (sukha).

(3) "After the fading away of rapture he dwells in equanimity, mindful, clearly conscious; and he experiences in his person that feeling of which the Noble Ones say, 'Happy lives the man of equanimity and attentive mind'; thus he enters the 3rd absorption.

(4) "After having given up pleasure and pain, and through the disappearance of previous joy and grief, he enters into a state beyond pleasure and pain, into the 4th absorption, which is purified by equanimity (upekkhā) and mindfulness.

(5) "Through the total overcoming of the perceptions of matter, however, and through the vanishing of sense-reactions and the non-attention to the perceptions of variety, with the idea, 'Boundless is space', he reaches the sphere of boundless space (ākāsānañcāyatana) and abides therein.

("By 'perceptions of matter' (rūpa-saññā) are meant the absorptions of the fine-material sphere, as well as those objects themselves . . . " (Vis.M. X.1).

"By 'perceptions of sense-reactions' (patigha-saññā) are meant those perceptions that have arisen due to the impact of sense-organs (eye, etc.) and the sense-objects (visible objects, etc.). They are a name for the perception of visible objects, as it is said (Jhāna-Vibh.): 'What are here the perceptions of sense-reactions? They are the perceptions of visible objects, sounds, etc.' - Surely, they do no longer exist even for one who has entered the 1st absorption, etc., for at such a time the five-sense consciousness is no longer functioning. Nevertheless, this is to be understood as having been said in praise of this immaterial absorption, in order to incite the striving for it" (Vis.M. X.16).

"Perceptions of variety (ñānatta-saññā) are the perceptions that arise in various fields, or the various perceptions" (ib.). Hereby, according to Vis.M. X.20, are meant the multiform perceptions outside the absorptions.)

(6) "Through the total overcoming of the sphere of boundless space, and with the idea 'Boundless is consciousness', he reaches the sphere of boundless consciousness (viññānañcāyatana) and abides therein.

(7) "Through the total overcoming of the sphere of boundless consciousness, and with the idea 'Nothing is there', he reaches the sphere of nothingness (ākiñcaññāyatana) and abides therein.

(8) "Through the total overcoming of the sphere of nothingness he reaches the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception (nevasaññā-n'asaññāyatana) and abides therein."

"Thus the 1st absorption is free from 5 things (i.e. the hindrances, nīvarana), and 5 things are present (i.e. the factors of absorption; jhānanga). Whenever the monk enters the 1st absorption, there have vanished sensuous desire, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and scruples, doubts; and there are present: thought-conception (vitakka), discursive thinking (vicāra) rapture (pīti), joy (sukha), and concentration (samādhi). In the 2nd absorption there are present: rapture, joy and concentration; in the 3rd: joy and concentration; in the 4th: equanimity (upekkhā) and concentration" (Vis.M. IV).

The 4 absorptions of the immaterial sphere (s. above 5-8) still belong, properly speaking, to the 4th absorption as they possess the same two constituents. The 4th fine-material absorption is also the base or starting point (pādaka-jhāna, q.v.) for the attaining of the higher spiritual powers (abhiññā).

In the Abhidhamma, generally a fivefold instead of a fourfold division of the fine-material absorptions is used: the 2nd absorption has still the constituent 'discursive thinking' (but without thought-conception), while the 3rd, 4th and 5th correspond to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th, respectively, of the fourfold division (s. Tab.I. 9- 13) . This fivefold division is based on sutta texts like A . VIII, 63 .

For the 8 absorptions as objects for the development of insight (vipassanā), see samatha-vipassanā. - Full details in Vis.M. IV-X.

Jhāna in its widest sense (e.g. as one of the 24 conditions; s. paccaya 17), denotes any, even momentary or weak absorption of mind, when directed on a single object.

Source: Pali Kanon: A manual of Abhidhamma

Jhana is Pali for “ecstasies” or “absorption”.

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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General definition (in Buddhism)

Source: WikiPedia: Buddhism

Jhana in Pāli canon refers to “eight progressive states”.—Four are called meditations of form (rūpa jhāna), and four are formless meditations (arūpa jhāna).

Jhanas are normally described according to the nature of the mental factors which are present in these states

  1. Movement of the mind onto the object, Vitakka (Sanskrit: Vitarka)
  2. Retention of the mind on the object, Vicara
  3. Joy, Piti (Sanskrit: Priti)
  4. Happiness, Sukha
  5. Equanimity, Upekkha (Sanskrit: Upeksa)
  6. One pointedness, Ekaggata (Sanskrit: Ekagrata)

Four progressive states of Jhana:

  1. First Jhana (Vitakka, Vicara, Piti, Sukha, Ekaggata): The five hindrances have completely disappeared and intense unified bliss remains. Only the subtlest of mental movement remains, perceivable in its absence by those who have entered the second jhana. The ability to form unwholesome intentions ceases.
  2. Second Jhana (Piti, Sukha, Ekaggata): All mental movement utterly ceases. There is only bliss. The ability to form wholesome intentions ceases as well.
  3. Third Jhana (Sukha, Ekaggata): One half of bliss (joy) disappears.
  4. Fourth Jhana (Upekkha, Ekaggata): The other half of bliss (happiness) disappears, leading to a state with neither pleasure nor pain, which the Buddha said is actually a subtle form of happiness (more sublime than piti and sukha). The Buddha described the jhanas as "the footsteps of the tathagata". The breath is said to cease temporarily in this state.

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Source: The University of Sydney: A study of the Twelve Reflections

Jhāṇa (झाण) (Sanksrit: Dhyāna) refers to the “four kinds of meditation”, according to the Sthānāṅga Sūtra chapter 4.1.—The classification of meditation in the Sthānāṅga Sūtra comprises four kinds—

  1. “anguished” (aṭṭa/ārta),
  2. “angry” (rodda/raudra),
  3. “virtuous” (dhamma/dharma) and
  4. “pure” (sukka/śukla).

It referred to four types of reflection as assisting in the process of “virtuous meditation” (dhammajhāṇa/dharmadhyāna) and “pure meditation” (sukkajhāṇa/ śukladhyāna).

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

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

jhāna : (nt.) concentration of mind; meditation (on a religious subject).

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

1) Jhāna, 2 (nt.) (from jhāyati2) conflagration, fire D. III, 94; J. I, 347. (Page 286)

2) Jhāna, 1 (nt.) (from jhāyati, 1 BSk. dhyāna. The (popular etym-) explanation of jhāna is given by Bdhgh at Vism. 150 as follows: “ārammaṇ’ûpanijjhānato paccanīka-jhāpanato vā jhānaṃ, ” i.e. called jh. from meditation on objects & from burning up anything adverse) literally meditation. But it never means vaguely meditation. It is the technical term for a special religious experience, reached in a certain order of mental states. It was originally divided into four such states. These may be summarized: 1. The mystic, with his mind free from sensuous and worldly ideas, concentrates his thoughts on some special subject (for instance, the impermanence of all things). This he thinks out by attention to the facts, and by reasoning. 2. Then uplifted above attention & reasoning, he experiences joy & ease both of body and mind. 3. Then the bliss passes away, & he becomes suffused with a sense of ease, and 4. he becomes aware of pure lucidity of mind & equanimity of heart. The whole really forms one series of mental states, & the stages might have been fixed at other points in the series. So the Dhamma-saṃgani makes a second list of five stages, by calling, in the second jhāna, the fading away of observation one stage, & the giving up of sustained thinking another stage (Dhs. 167—175). And the Vibhaṃga calls the first jhāna the pañcaṃgika-jhāna because it, by itself, can be divided into five parts (Vbh. 267). The state of mind left after the experience of the four jhānas is described as follows at D. I, 76: “with his heart thus serene, made pure, translucent, cultured, void of evil, supple, ready to act, firm and imperturbable. ” It will be seen that there is no suggestion of trance, but rather of an enhanced vitality. In the descriptions of the crises in the religious experiences of Christian saints and mystics, expressions similar to those used in the jhānas are frequent (see F. Heiler Die Buddhistische Versenkung, 1918). Laymen could pass through the four jhānas (S. IV, 301). The jhānas are only a means, not the end. To imagine that experiencing them was equivalent to Arahantship (and was therefore the end aimed at) is condemned (D. I, 37 ff.) as a deadly heresy. In late Pali we find the phrase arūpajjhānā. This is merely a new name for the last four of the eight Vimokkhā, which culminate in trance. It was because they made this the aim of their teaching that Gotama rejected the doctrines of his two teachers. Āḷāra-Kāḷāma & Uddaka-Rāmaputta (M. I, 164 f.).—The jhānas are discussed in extenso & in various combinations as regards theory & practice at: D. I, 34 sq.; 73 sq.; S. II, 210 sq.; IV, 217 sq. , 263 sq.; V, 213 sq.; M. I, 276 sq. , 350 sq. , 454 sq.; A. I, 53, 163; II, 126; III, 394 sq.; IV, 409 sq.; V, 157 sq.; Vin. III, 4; Nd2 on Sn. 1119 & s. v.; Ps. I, 97 sq.; II, 169 sq.; Vbh. 257 sq.; 263 sq.; 279 sq.; Vism. 88, 415. -They are frequently mentioned either as a set, or singly, when often the set is implied (as in the case of the 4th jh.). Mentioned as jh. 1—4 e.g. at Vin. I, 104; II, 161 (foll. by sotāpanna, etc.); D. II, 156, 186; III, 78, 131, 222; S. II, 278 (nikāmalābhin); A. II, 36 (id.); III, 354; S. IV, 299; V, 307 sq.; M. I, 21, 41, 159, 203, 247, 398, 521; II, 15, 37; Sn. 69, 156, 985; Dh. 372; J. I, 139; VvA. 38; PvA. 163.—Separately: the 1st: A. IV, 422; V, 135; M. I, 246, 294; Miln. 289; 1st-3rd: A. III, 323; M. I, 181; 1st & 2nd: M. II, 28; 4th: A. II, 41; III, 325; V, 31; D. III, 270; VvA. 4.—See also Mrs. Rh. D. Buddh. Psych. (Quest Series) p. 107 sq.; Dhs. trsl. p. 52 sq.; Index to Saṃyutta N. for more refs.; also Kasiṇa.

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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Marathi-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English

jhaṇa (झण) [-kan-kara-diśī-dinī, -कन्-कर-दिशी-दिनी].—ad With a whiz or twang. In a trice or shake.

context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Prakrit-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: Paia-sadda-mahannavo; a comprehensive Prakrit Hindi dictionary

1) Jhāṇa (झाण) in the Prakrit language is related to the Sanskrit word: Dhyāna.

2) Jhāṇa (झाण) also relates to the Sanskrit word: Dhyāna.

context information

Prakrit is an ancient language closely associated with both Pali and Sanskrit. Jain literature is often composed in this language or sub-dialects, such as the Agamas and their commentaries which are written in Ardhamagadhi and Maharashtri Prakrit. The earliest extant texts can be dated to as early as the 4th century BCE although core portions might be older.

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