Indian Ethics the Concept of Brahma-Viharas & Brahmanic and Sramanic Traditions for Competitive Exams

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Indian Ethics: The Concept of Brahma-Viharas & Brahminic and Shamanic Traditions (Philosophy)


  • Brahma-vihara is a concept of Buddhism.
  • Etymologically speaking, Brahma means divine and Viharas means abode/place.
  • According to Buddhism, brahma-vihara or abodes of Brahma is a series of four Buddhist virtues.
  • They are also known as the Four-Immeasurable or Apramana.
  • They are called so because these virtues are considered to be boundless, infinite, etc.
  • In Pali, they are called cattāri brahmavihārā.
  • These four virtues according to Buddhism require meditation and conduct practices and the Brahma-viharas are the result of them.
  • According to Metta Sutta, the four Brahma-viharas have the power and this power helps the practitioner to have rebirth into a higher realm or the Brahma realm.
  • The Brahma-Viharas are found to exist in pre-Buddhism literature and also in Post-Buddha Vedic and Sramanic literature (for instance, Yoga-sutras by Patanjali) .
  • Indian philosophy consists of two trends;
    • Brahmanic tradition
    • Sramanic tradition
  • Brahmanic tradition: Brahminic tradition or the vedic tradition accepts the authority of the Vedas and the Vedic literature. For example, Samkhya, Mimamsa, Yoga, Vedanta, etc.
  • Sramanic tradition: Sramanic tradition includes schools like Buddhism, Jainism, Carvaka, etc.
  • They are called so because they do not accept the authority of the Vedas and the Vedic literature.
  • Rather, they accept the authority of their own canons and canonical literature and accept the authority of their authors alone.
  • For example, Carvaka accept Brhaspati sutra, Jainism accepts the authority of their own twenty-four Tirthankaras (or the founders of the faith) and they accept their own literature which is called the Agamas.
  • The Agamas are the canonical texts of Jainism based on the teachings of Lord Mahavira, and Buddhism accepts the authority of Buddha and some of the names of their accepted literatures are Gandaran, Lankavatarasutra, Visuddhimagga, etc.
Image Brahmaviharas
  • The four Brahma-Viharas which come under Buddhist ethics and are accepted by both Hinayana and Mahayana traditions of Buddhism are;

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  • It is called metta in Pali.
  • It means love-kindness.
  • It a universal virtue of love and kindness which should be within all the sentient beings.
  • It also means an active goodwill towards all the beings or benevolence.


  • It is called karunā in Pali.
  • It means compassion.
  • It means a virtue of compassion or hope towards all.
  • It also means attaining a happy present life.


  • It is called mudita in Pali.
  • It means empathetic joy.
  • It means showing sympathetic joy where one person is happy because of other՚s happiness, success or well-being.
  • This empathetic joy is totally disconnected with one՚s self-interest.
  • It is also called appreciative joy.


  • It is called upekkha in Pali.
  • It means even-mindedness, serenity and treating everyone around impartially.
  • It basically aims at maintaining equality amongst all, where no one is favoured more than the others.
  • The concept of Brahma-vihara is also found in Jainism with a slight variation. Jainism accepts the four virtues of 1. Maitri or love and kindness, 2. Pramoda or appreciation, 3. Karuna or compassion and Madhyastha or Equanimity towards all.





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