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Bhavana – Reflection – In Jainism

Jainism sets out bhavanas or reflection of twelve different kinds, which helps one overcome any obstacles which hinder one in the realization of the goal.

Anitya Bhavana – This aspect is the reflection on the real nature and utility of any object. The reflection is turned to the overcoming of obstacles which may hinder one in realization of the objective.

Asaran Bhavana – Such reflection is on the helpless condition of the jiva in the world of phenomena. One must strive to gain release from worldly bondage by one’s own resolute will.

Samsar Bhavana – Suffering and misery are present in this life. What one ordinarily calls pleasure is really wrought with pain, as sorrow follows in its wake.

Ekatva Bhavana – He must realize that the onus of achieving freedom rests on himself and he alone can save himself from the consequences of his deeds. Such reflection is termed ekatva bhavana.

Anyatva Bhavana – Such reflection concerns the real nature of the self. The self is distinct from the physical body. The self, the ‘I’, is different from the non-self in every respect and hence should not be mistaken with the physical constitution of a being.

Asuci Bhavana – The mortal body is of composite substance, made up of various elements in and through the processes that are really repugnant to right thinking. This line of reflection is termed asuci bhavana.

Asraya Bhavana – Such reflection reveals that the influx of karma matter is due to the actions of body, speech and mind. Hence one must guard oneself against such tendencies and attitudes that lead to the formation of karma. Thus various kinds of desires and egotistic tendencies should be overcome and virtuous conduct should follow, accompanied by an attitude of detachment.

Samvara Bhavana – This kind of reflection is on the stoppage of the influx of karma. Darvya samvara refers to the physical stoppage of karma matter in the soul and bhava samvara refers to the complete elimination of the particular mental dispositions which precede dravya samvara.

Nirjara Bhavana – This aspect refers to the means of purging the soul of impurities. It refers to the reflection on the ways of voluntarily ridding oneself of karmic burdens so that the soul can attain beatitude.

Lokasvabhava Bhavana – This kind of reflection is on the symbolic conception of the universe as given in the Jaina scriptures and also refers to meditation on this conception.

Bodhidurlabhatva Bhavana – This mode of reflection is on the difficult path one has to traverse to attain pure intuition, involving the triratna of right vision, right knowledge and right conduct.

Dharma Bhavana – The last of the bhavanas is reflection on the essentials of a true religion, which includes a spirit of piety, service to humanity and to other sentient beings. Benevolence and mercy proceed from right vision, veracity and philanthropic attitudes.

It is the action of body, speech and mind that produce subtle karma which cause bondage to the jiva. For breaking the cycle of karma, the jiva is required to take up different types of ethical regulations. These include the different kinds of samiti-s (carefulness0, gupti-s (restraint), yati-dharma (observance), bhavana-s (reflections), pariksha-s (overcoming troubles) and caritra (conduct).