Jainism and Patanjali Yoga (Comparative Study)

by Deepak bagadia | 2016 | 109,819 words

This page relates ‘Five Attitudes (bhavana)’ of the study dealing with the Spiritual Practices of Jainism and Patanjali Yoga in the context of ancient Indian Philosophy (in Sanskrit: Darshana), including extracts from the Yogasutra and the Tattvartha-Sutra. The system of Yoga offers techniques which are scientifically designed for the spiritual development of an individual. Jainism offers ethicical principles and meditation practices to assist with spiritual development.

Part 8 - Five Attitudes (bhavana)

There are five attitudes (bhavana) for each of the five vrttas, namely [the following in Jainism as per Tattvarthasutra]:

  1. darsana,
  2. jnana,
  3. caritra,
  4. tapas and
  5. vairagya.

The scripture also has described twelve types of attitudes under Vairagya bhavana (attitude of detachment). Each one of them is already discussed. Ninth Adhyayan of “Shrutaskandha” of Acaramgasutta-II Agama classifies Atmanbhavana[1] into two types Samklista and Asamklista. This is comparable with Klista and Aklista vrttis of Patanjali.

The Asamklista (Aprasasta) bhavanas are of five types and they create hurdles in practicing right conduct so, should be avoided. They are:

  1. Kandarpika,
  2. Daiva killisika,
  3. Abhiyogika,
  4. Asuri and
  5. Sammohi.

If we want to summarise the positive attitudes suggested by Jainism through the practice of various kinds of Dhyana, we need to decrease the intensity of Asubha-dhyana (Artadhyana and Raudradhyana) and increase the intensity of Subh-dhyana (Dharma and Sukladhyana) even while practicing other practices like austerity if the progress in spirituality is the goal of one’s life. The best positive attitude could be developed as explained in both the philosophies Yoga and Jainism respectively as under:

maitrīkaruṇāmuditopekṣāṇām sukhaduḥkhapuṇyāpuṇyaviṣayāṇām bhāvanātaścittaprasādanam | (Yogasūtra 1.33)

maitrīpramodakāruṇyamādhyasthyāni ca sattvaguṇādhikakliśyamānāvinayeṣu | (Tatvārthasūtra 7.6)

Both these sutras from different philosophies guide us to develop an attitude of friendship towards all, happiness towards great knowledgeable people (by appreciating them), compassion towards suffering people and neutral towards rude and sinful people. In short no one should have an attitude of raga-dvesa towards anyone. For this, the scripture in Jainism suggests to meditate on attitude of forgiveness, appreci-ation, gratitude and compassion. This attitude creates opposite bhavas (emotions) converting negative thoughts to positive ones by an introspective attitude called as “Pratipaksa bhavana’, where we identify with our afflictions (klesas) first and then, try to meditate upon opposites. It is also a pure awareness development process as we become more and more aware of our negative thoughts; it leads to acknowledgement of our own negativities and faults and brings more virtues.


Patanjali has not explained or prescribed directly the virtue of forgiveness, but the person following the Yama of non-violence never thinks of hurting others and can use this practice if someone is hurt. Jainism speaks of “Ksamapana” as the biggest virtue and the seed of many virues like humbleness, compassion, simplicity, contentment, love, egolessness, equanimity, happiness and friendliness.

While answering to disciple Gautama, Lord Mahavira said,

“With the attitude of forgiveness, initially you get lightened and then delighted with inner joy. Slowly, you develop an attitude of love and friendliness with all, which brings about purification of mind and one becomes fearless and happy.”

The famous current Jain philosopher Kumarpal Desai described “forgiveness” as the opening gate to liberation[2]. “Ksa” is knott and “ma” is to demolish. It unites two hearts and helps self development by removal of all misunderstandings, ill-feeling among people. Sixth sermon of Lord Mahavira as mentioned in “Kalpasutta” addresses this issue of “Ksamapana’ as Kammasattunigghayanatthie. It means those are very strong and difficult to conquer who are always ready to destroy completely all enemies in the form of karmas.

Forgiveness is the most selfish act because of its immense benefits to the one who forgives. The universal truth is that those who can tolerate all troubles and pains without getting disturbed can definitely succeed in controlling and destroying karma. Jainism believes that actually our inner enemies are culprits. They are eight types of enemies or “asubha karma” (unwholesome deeds) as per “Avasyakasutra’.

One of the illustrations given in Kalpasutra is about great monk Gajsukumal, younger brother of Shri Krishna Vasudeo who could tolerate all problems without getting disturbed or blaming others for his miseries, thus avoiding generation of new “Asubha karma”. He praized and appreciated his father in-law, inspite of severe punishment he got from him during his meditation in crematorium. Gajsukumal took it as opportunity to burn and destroy his karma. He finally got liberated to moksa.

Attitude towards Food:

Mitahara or Unodari vrat (Alpahar), which is eating less than needed is common practice to both these philosophies and is prerequisite for spiritual progress. Jain monks go for Bhiksa (alms) and take minimum, not to waste any particle and also can not preserve for the next meal. If they don”t get sattvik food, they fast happily as they are used to it. So, they never crave for eating. Same is the characteristic of a Yogi. Hathayoga prescribes sattvika food and mitahara.

Footnotes and references:


Umaswati Maharaj, Sri Tatvarthadhigam sutra, tr. Sri Prabhudas Parekh, Sri Jain Shreyaskar mandal, Mehsana, Gujarat, 1960


Kumarpal Desai, Gujarat Samachar, daily newspaper, dt.19.09.12

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