Dhyäna (Meditation)

Meditation In Jain Scriptures. 1

Ärta Dhyäna (Sorrowful Meditation) 1

Raudra Dhyäna (Wrathful Meditation) 2

Dharma Dhyäna (Righteous and Religious Meditation) 2

Shukla Dhyäna (Spiritual and Purest Meditation) 3


Meditation In Jain Scriptures

Meditation (Dhyäna) is the process of concentration of mind on a single topic preventing it from wandering.  This concentration could arise from intense passions like attachment, aversion, (hatred), animosity, etc. This is not virtuous meditation.  Since non-virtuous meditation is a cause of rebirth, it is worthy of rejection.  On the other hand, if it arises from the search for the truth and from absolute detachment towards worldly affairs, it is virtuous meditation.  It is the cause of spiritual good and liberation, so worthy of acceptance.  It can be practiced by a person with a physical constitution who can keep his thought-activity from drifting and concentrate solely on the nature of self.  We are always, every moment in meditation, it is either virtuous or non-virtuous. When the soul gets rid of all auspicious and inauspicious intentions and dilemmas, and attains a state of unbiased absorption then all bonds of Karma break down.  In fact, virtuous meditation entails forgetting all worries, intentions and dilemmas, and stabilizing the mind.  It involves contemplating about the nature of soul, thinking of the difference between soul and matter, and concentrating on the true self.

Virtuous meditation purifies the mind, speech and body.  However, it is of no avail to inflict pain on the body if it is not going to purify the thoughts.  One who stabilizes the mind and concentrates on the self definitely achieves salvation.   To do the virtuous meditaion, it has to be preceded by Swädhyäya. Here Swädhyäya is the cause and meditaion is the effect. One of the part of Swädhyäya is contemplation (Anuprekshä), and deep contemplation about the self, universe, fruits of karma, spiritual practices, etc. leads to the meditation. Without the knowledge of what is soul, what is karma, what is the teachings of Tirthankars and similar subjects, how one can engage in a virtuous meditation?

Meditation is of four kinds:

Non-virtuous Meditation

·         Sorrowful (Ärta Dhyäna) meditation

·         Inclement (Raudra Dhyäna) meditation

Virtuous Meditation

·         Righteous (Dharma Dhyäna) meditation

·         Spiritual (Shukla Dhyäna) meditation


Ärta Dhyäna (Sorrowful Meditation)

The Sanskrit word Ärta means sorrow.  The thought or activity caused by an outburst and intensity of sorrow is sorrowful meditation.  In other words, it is to feel sorry for losing likeable things or for not getting rid of dislikable things.  It is of the following four types:

01.   Dislike related (Anishta-samyoga) sorrowful meditation is persistent thoughts and worry about the removal of disagreeable orients, situations or events.

02.   Attachment related (Ishta-viyoga) sorrowful meditation is the constant feelings of anguish on the loss of some likeable object or person, such as wealth, spouse or child, and the preoccupation to recover the lost objects.

03.   Suffering related (Vedanä) sorrowful meditation is having persistent desires for less suffering.  This is the thinking of getting rid of or remedying agony and malady.

04.   Desire related (Nidäna) sorrowful meditation is having persistent desires for better future pleasures and comforts.  One doing religious activities with the thinking that of obtaining material pleasure as the fruits of these activities is called desire related sorrowful meditation.


Raudra Dhyäna (Wrathful Meditation)

The Sanskrit word Raudra, means wrathful (harsh, lacking mercy).  The meditation involving inclement thoughts is called inclement meditation.  In other words, one becomes happy by performing sinful acts.  Based on the cause, wrathful meditation has been divided into four types:

05.   Violence enchantment (Hinsä -änand) wrathful meditation involves thoughts of enchantment (delight) generated by teasing, hurting and /or killing other living beings.  Cruel, angry, immoral, non-religious and passionate people indulge in such meditation.  Violence-enchantment meditation also includes contemplation about revenge, planning to beat or kill someone and enjoying visions of deadly war scenes.

06.   Untruth enchantment (Mrushä- änand) wrathful meditation is thoughts involving false imagination stained with sinful intentions.  A person with this type of meditation takes delight in a variety of intentions and alternatives based on untruth.

07.   Stealing enchantment (Chaurya -änand) wrathful meditation involves thoughts of ways to steal and misappropriate other’s wealth or beautiful things.

08.   Protection and preservation of property (Parigraha -änand) wrathful meditation is contemplation about schemes of accumulation of material wealth and the means of material comforts.

Summary of above two types of Dhyäna

Sorrowful and wrathful meditations hinder spiritual uplift.  They obscure the attributes of soul.  They cause the natural disposition of self to disappear and initiate corrupt dispositions.  Both these meditations are inauspicious and lead to undesirable destination.  They are not related to spiritual advancement in any manner.

Dharma Dhyäna (Righteous and Religious Meditation)

Contemplation about devotion beneficial to self and others, and proper conduct is righteous meditation.  It is one for the purification of the soul.  By practicing this meditation in all of its aspects right perception, right knowledge and right conduct are attained, and karmas start shedding. Righteous meditation is of four types.  (Note that Vichaya means thinking or Vichär)

09.   Doctrine oriented (Äjnä Vichaya) righteous meditation: It is the contemplation about reality as described in the scriptures.  Äjnä means whatever all-knowing omniscient has said about religious truth is correct and true, and acceptable.  One should not raise any doubts about them.  Instead, one should think that it is possible that because of degrading time, or absence of omniscient person, or low caliber of my intellect, or any such reasons, I cannot comprehend the said religious truth but it is the truth.  Omniscient Lord has no reason to tell anything untrue.  To think this way is called doctrine oriented righteous meditation (Äjnä Vichaya Dharma Dhyäna).

10.   Self-dependence oriented (Apäya Vichaya) righteous meditation: To think of nature of unhappiness and misery as generated by the attachment, hate, strong desire for worldly objects or for pleasure of sense etc. and then think about how to get rid of them is called self-dependence oriented righteous meditation (Apäya Vichaya Dharma Dhyäna).

11.   Karmic fruition oriented (Vipäk-Vichaya) righteous meditation: To think that whatever pain or misery I suffer at every moment, or wherever I move in the cycle of birth and death in worldly life, or whatever ignorance I suffer, are the results of my own deeds (Karma).  I must practice equanimity during the fruition of different kinds of Karma, so that new karmas are not acquired. I must perform austerities to get rid of the existing Karma.  This is karmic fruition oriented righteous meditation (Vipäk Vichaya Dharma Dhyäna).

12.   Universe oriented (Samsthäna-Vichaya) righteous meditation: It is the contemplation about the nature and structure of the universe.  There are three worlds in the universe.  They are upper world, middle world and lower world.  These three worlds are filled with living (Jiv) and non-living (Ajiv) elements.  The transmigratory soul has gone through all these three worlds since the beginningless time (Anädi Käl).  As a result of the fruits of one’s own past deeds, he/she has been going through the infinite cycle of birth and death.  This has happened due to ignorance, false beliefs, and not understanding the truth and reality.  To think this way is called universe oriented righteous meditation (Samsthäna Vichaya Dharma Dhyäna).

According to the Svetämbar tradition the six Gunasthänas from 7th to 12th where Dharma‑Dhyäna is possible. On the other hand, the Digambara tradition maintains that Dharma Dhyäna is possible only in the four Gunasthänas from  4th  to 7th. Regardless of what Gunasthäna one is in, he/she should try to engage in Dharma Dhyäna following Swädhyäya, and continue to put self-efforts to get rid of Ghäti Karma. From a broader point of view, all spiritual activities  such as six Ävashyakas, Worshipping, Sämäyik, recitation of auspicious Sutra, prayers and Swädhyäya which lead to shedding of Karma, purification of soul, suppressing of passions (Kashäya) and spiritual advancements are Dharma Dhyäna or leading to Dharma Dhyäna. One should not be misled that physical excersices, Äsana and similar health improving activities are Dharma Dhyäna. However, good health for a good spiritual practice is desirable. Dharma Dhyäna is essentially a spiritual contemplation. Namokär Mahä Mantra meditation and other similar meditations can be considered as Dharma Dhyäna.

Shukla Dhyäna (Spiritual and Purest Meditation)

The concentration achieved by an immaculate mind is the spiritual meditation.  Spiritual meditation occurs to very highly progressed spiritual souls.  It occurs at the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th stages of spiritual progress (11, 12, 13, and 14 Gunasthänas).  Highly spiritual soul has either suppressed or removed all deluding karmas.  This meditation is of four types as mentioned below.  It consists of four states: Multi aspect (Pruthaktva Vitarka), single aspect (Ekatva Vitarka), subtle activity (Sukshma Kriyä Apratipäti) and absorption in self (Vyuparat Kriyä Anivritti). Vitarka means scriptural text or Sutra. First two Shukla Dhyäna are performed by a person who is in 11th and 12th Gunasthäna and is versed in the Purva texts. There are exceptions possible inasmuch as personages like Masatusa and Marudevi even while not versed in the Purva texts can well perform Shukla Dhyäna. As for the last two subtypes of Shukla Dhyäna the person who performs them is only a Kevali ‑ that is, only one occupying the 13th  or 14th Gunasthäna.

01.   Multi aspect spiritual meditation (Pruthaktva-Vitarka) is performed by an aspirant with scriptural knowledge, and concentrates upon the three modes -origination, cessations, and continuity (modes) of a particular substance (one of Shad Dravya).  This type of meditation involves shifting of attention between the meaning, word and activity of the aspects of the substance (Dravya).  Hence, it is called multi aspect meditation with shifting.  This meditation leads to eradication of the remaining Ghäti Karma.

02.   Single aspect spiritual meditation (Ekatva Vitarka) is contemplation on a single aspect of reality on the basis of scriptural knowledge by an aspirant who is in the delusion free (Kshina Moha) spiritual stage.  The aspirant concentrates on one particular form, word, or activity of the aspect of a substance (Dravya) without shifting.  Such meditation is the single aspect stage of spiritual meditation.  This meditation eliminates remaining three destructive (Ghäti) karmas, namely intuition obscuring, knowledge obscuring and obstructing Karma.  Thus, it leads to omniscience.

03.   Subtle activity spiritual meditation (Sukshma Kriyä Apratipäti) is performed by an omniscient who has eliminated the gross activities of body, speech and mind, and has only subtle activities.  Here the association of soul with body causes only subtle movements of the space-points of the soul.  Hence, it is called the subtle activity stage of spiritual meditation.

Absorption in self-spiritual meditation (Vyuparat Kriyä Anivrtti) is performed by an omniscient that eliminates even the slightest activity of the soul in spite of its association with the body.  All activities (of the space-points of the soul) cease in this meditation.  Thus the influx of even the pleasant feeling pertaining (Shätä Vedaniya) Karma is stopped.  Finally, all karmas are shed and the soul attains salvation.  At the end of this meditation, soul obtains nirvana.  Soul becomes free of all karmas and reaches in the permanent adobe of Siddha (Siddha Loka), and resides in pure happiness forever.Per Jain Philosophy, Shukla Dhyäna is not possible here on this planet. Some misunderstand that Shukla Dhyäna as Meditaion of white bright color. It is not so. Shukla does not mean white but pure, and involves the meditation of the self (soul) which is colorless and formless.

Maximaum time, one can be in meditation is less than 48 minutes.


Meditation means the process of concentration of the mind on a single topic.  Meditation purifies the body, speech and mind, and most importantly the soul.  It is of no avail to inflict pain on the body without purifying thoughts.  One, who stabilizes the mind and concentrates on the self, definitely achieves salvation.  There are four kinds of meditations - sorrowful, inclement, righteous and spiritual.  Sorrowful and inclement meditations are inauspicious and make the soul wander in the transmigratory state with resultant suffering of innumerable births and deaths.  Righteous meditation is of an auspicious type.  Spiritual meditation occurs at a very high level of spiritual growth of the soul and it ultimately ends in salvation - nirvana of the soul.  Now the soul lives in permanent happiness in the pure state forever.