Vedic meditation wikipedia

Vedic meditation wikipedia DEFAULT

Dhyāna in Hinduism

Term for contemplation and meditation

For Meditation concept in Pali called Jhana, see Dhyāna in Buddhism.

Dhyāna in Hinduism means contemplation and meditation.Dhyāna is taken up in Yoga practices, and is a means to samadhi and self-knowledge.

The various concepts of dhyana and its practice originated in the Sramanic movement of ancient India,[4] which started before the 6th century BCE (pre-Buddha, pre-Mahavira),[5][6] and the practice has been influential within the diverse traditions of Hinduism.[7] It is, in Hinduism, a part of a self-directed awareness and unifying Yoga process by which the yogi realizes Self (Atman, soul), one's relationship with other living beings, and Ultimate Reality.[7][9] Dhyana is also found in other Indian religions such as Buddhism and Jainism. These developed along with dhyana in Hinduism, partly independently, partly influencing each other.

The term Dhyana appears in Aranyaka and Brahmana layers of the Vedas but with unclear meaning, while in the early Upanishads it appears in the sense of "contemplation, meditation" and an important part of self-knowledge process.[7][11] It is described in numerous Upanishads of Hinduism,[12] and in Patanjali's Yogasutras - a key text of the Yoga school of Hindu philosophy.[14]

Etymology and meaning[edit]

Dhyāna (Sanskrit: ध्यान, Pali: झान) means "contemplation, reflection" and "profound, abstract meditation".[15]

The root of the word is Dhi, which in the earliest layer of text of the Vedas refers to "imaginative vision" and associated with goddess Saraswati with powers of knowledge, wisdom and poetic eloquence.[7][16] This term developed into the variant dhya- and dhyana, or "meditation".[7]

Thomas Berry states that Dhyana, is "sustained attention" and the "application of mind to the chosen point of concentration".[17] Dhyana is contemplating, reflecting on whatever Dharana has focused on.[18] If in the sixth limb of yoga one is concentrating on a personal deity, Dhyana is its contemplation. If the concentration was on one object, Dhyana is non-judgmental, non-presumptuous observation of that object.[19] If the focus was on a concept/idea, Dhyana is contemplating that concept/idea in all its aspects, forms and consequences. Dhyana is uninterrupted train of thought, current of cognition, flow of awareness.[20][21][22]

A related term is nididhyāsana, the pondering over Upanishadic statements. It is a composite of three terms, namely dhyai, upasana ("dwelling upon"), and bhavana ("cultivating").[web 1]


The term dhyana is used in Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism, with somewhat different meanings.

Vedic teachings hold that, since the universal divine Self dwells within the heart, the way to experience and recognize divinity is to turn one's attention inward in a process of contemplative meditation.

—William Mahony, The Artful Universe: An Introduction to the Vedic Religious Imagination[23]

The origins of the practice of dhyana, which culminates into samadhi, are a matter of dispute. According to Bronkhorst, the mainstream concept is evidenced in Jain, Buddhist and early Hindu scriptures.[note 1] Dhyana, states Sagarmal Jain, has been essential to Jaina religious practices, but the origins of Dhyana and Yoga in the pre-canonical era (before 6th-century BCE) is unclear, and it likely developed in the Sramanic culture of ancient India,[4] Several śramaṇa movements are known to have existed in India before the 6th century BCE (pre-Buddha, pre-Mahavira), and these influenced both the āstika and nāstika traditions of Indian philosophy.[5][6]

The earliest Jaina texts, on Dhyana such as Sutrakranga, Antakrta-Dasanga and Rsibhashita, mention Uddaka Ramaputta[note 2] who is said to be the teacher of some meditation methods to Buddha, as well as the originator of Vipassana and Preksha meditation techniques.[4] The Jaina tradition believes Rishabhanatha, the first Tirthankara, to have founded meditation, but there is no historical confirming evidence. The earliest mention of Dhyana in the canonical Jaina texts simply mention Dhyana as a means of emancipation, but in them ascetic practices are not emphasized nor is the discussion as systematic as in later Jaina texts or Hindu texts such as the Patanjali's Yogasutras.[30] There is no archeological or literary evidence, states Sagarmal Jain, about the origins of systems for Dhyana and Yoga, and there is a great deal of similarity between Jaina, Buddhist, Ajivika, Samkhya, Yoga and other ancient Indian traditions.[4] The earliest texts, such as Tattvarthasutra suggest that these ideas developed in parallel, sometimes with different terms for similar ideas in various Indian traditions, influencing each other.[30]

Buddhism introduced its own ideas, states Bronkhorst, such as the four dhyanas, which did not affect the mainstream meditation traditions in Jaina and Hindu traditions for a long time.[note 3] All traditions, Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism, introduced unique aspects and context to Dhyana, and mutually influenced each other. According to Bronkhorst, while Jaina and Hindu meditation traditions predate Buddhism, the Buddhist terminology such as Samadhi, may have influenced the wording found in one of the several types of Dhyana found in the Mahabharata as well as parts of Patanjali's Yogasutras.

Alexander Wynne interprets Bronkhorst as stating that dhyana was a Jaina tradition, from which both Hinduism and Buddhism borrowed ideas on meditation. Wynne adds that Bronkhorst opinion "understates the role of meditation" in early Brahmanical tradition. Dhyana was incorporated into Buddhism from Brahmanical practices, suggests Wynne, in the Nikayas ascribed to Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta. In early Brahamical yoga, the goal of meditation was considered to be a nondual state identical to unmanifest state of Brahman, where subject-object duality had been dissolved. The early Buddhist practices adapted these old yogic methods, pairing it to mindfulness and attainment of insight. Kalupahana states that the Buddha "reverted to the meditational practices" he had learned from Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta.

In Hinduism, state Jones and Ryan, the term first appears in the Upanishads. Techniques of concentration or meditation are a Vedic tradition, states Frits Staal, because these ideas are found in the early Upanishads as dhyana or abhidhyana.[11] In most of the later Hindu yoga traditions, which derive from Patanjali's Raja Yoga, dhyana is "a refined meditative practice", a "deeper concentration of the mind", which is taken up after preceding practices such as mastering pranayama (breath control) and dharana (mental focus).

Discussion in Hindu texts[edit]

Vedas and Upanishads[edit]

The term dhyanam appears in Vedic literature, such as hymn of the Rigveda and verse of the Taittiriya Aranyaka.[36][37] The term, in the sense of meditation, appears in the Upanishads.[37][38] The Kaushitaki Upanishad uses it in the context of mind and meditation in verses to , for example as follows:[39]

मनसा ध्यानमित्येकभूयं वै प्राणाः
With mind, meditate on me as being prana

—&#;Kaushitaki Upanishad, [39][40]

The term appears in the context of "contemplate, reflect, meditate" in verses of chapters , , , , and of the Chandogya Upanishad, chapters , and of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and verses to of the Maitri Upanishad.[38][41] The word Dhyana refers to meditation in Chandogya Upanishad, while the Prashna Upanishad asserts that the meditation on AUM (ॐ) leads to the world of Brahman (Ultimate Reality).[11]


See also: Yajna §&#;The changing nature of Vedic offerings, and Tapas (Indian religions) §&#;Hinduism

The development of meditation in the Vedic era paralleled the ideas of "interiorization", where social, external yajna fire rituals (Agnihotra) were replaced with meditative, internalized rituals (Prana-agnihotra).[11][42][43] This interiorization of Vedic fire-ritual into yogic meditation ideas from Hinduism, that are mentioned in the Samhita and Aranyaka layers of the Vedas and more clearly in chapter 5 of the Chandogya Upanishad (~ to BCE),[note 4] are also found in later Buddhist texts and esoteric variations such as the Dighanikaya, Mahavairocana-sutra and the Jyotirmnjari, wherein the Buddhist texts describe meditation as "inner forms of fire oblation/sacrifice".[45][46] This interiorization of fire rituals, where life is conceptualized as an unceasing sacrifice and emphasis is placed on meditation occurs in the classic Vedic world, in the early Upanishads and other texts such as the Shrauta Sutras and verse of Vedic Vaikhanasa Smarta Sutra.[47]

Beyond the early Upanishads composed before 5th-century BCE, the term Dhyana and the related terms such as Dhyai (Sanskrit: ध्यै, deeply meditate)[48] appears in numerous Upanishads composed after the 5th-century BCE, such as: chapter 1 of Shvetashvatara Upanishad, chapters 2 and 3 of Mundaka Upanishad, chapter 3 of Aitareya Upanishad, chapter 11 of Mahanarayana Upanishad, and in various verses of Kaivalya Upanishad, Chulika Upanishad, Atharvasikha Upanishad, Brahma Upanishad, Brahmabindu Upanishad, Amritabindu Upanishad, Tejobindu Upanishad, Paramahamsa Upanishad, Kshuriki Upanishad, Dhyana-bindu Upanishad, Atharvasiras Upanishad, Maha Upanishad, Pranagnihotra Upanishad, Yogasikha Upanishad, Yogatattva Upanishad, Kathasruti Upanishad, Hamsa Upanishad, Atmaprabodha Upanishad and Visudeva Upanishad.[12]

Dhyana as Dharma

Practice righteousness (dharma), not unrighteousness. Speak the truth, not the untruth. Look at what is distant, not what's near at hand. Look at the highest, not at what's less than highest. () The fire is meditation (dhyana), the firewood is truthfulness (satya), the offering is patience (kshanta), the Sruva spoon is modesty (hri), the sacrificial cake is not causing injury to living beings (ahimsa), and the priestly fee is the arduous gift of safety to all creatures.

Vasistha Dharmasutras [49][50]

Brahma Sutras[edit]

The Brahma-sutras, which distills the teachings of the Upanishads and is one of three foundational texts of the Vedanta school of Hinduism, states that Dhyana is not Prativedam (or, one for each Veda), and meditation belongs to all Vedic schools.[11]

Adi Shankara dedicates an extensive chapter on meditation, in his commentary on the Brahma-sutras, in Sadhana as essential to spiritual practice.[51] His discussion there is similar to his extensive commentary on Dhyana in his Bhasya on Bhagavad Gita and the early Upanishads.[51]

Dharma Sutras[edit]

The verse of the ancient Vasistha Dharma-sutra declares meditation as a virtue, and interiorized substitute equivalent of a fire sacrifice.[52]

Bhagavad Gita[edit]

The term Dhyana, and related words with the meaning of meditation appears in many chapters of the Bhagavad Gita, such as in chapters 2, 12, 13 and [12] The chapter 6 of the Gita is titled as the "Yoga of Meditation".[53]

The Bhagavad Gita, one of the three key books of Vedanta school of Hinduism, states four Marga (paths) to purify one's mind and to reach the summit of spirituality – the path of Unselfish Work, the path of Knowledge, the path of Devotion and the path of Meditation (Dhyana).[54]Huston Smith summarizes the need and value of meditation in Gita, as follows (abridged):

To change the analogy, the mind is like a lake, and stones that are dropped into it (or winds) raise waves. Those waves do not let us see who we are. () The waters must be calmed. If one remains quiet, eventually the winds that ruffle the water will give up, and then one knows who one is. God is constantly within us, but the mind obscures that fact with agitated waves of worldly desires. Meditation quiets those waves (Bhagavad Gita V).

—&#;Huston Smith, Foreword, The Bhagavad Gita: Twenty-fifth–Anniversary Edition[54]

Dhyana along river Ganges in Varanasi (left), Om in Tamil script as an instrument for meditation (right).

Meditation in the Bhagavad Gita is a means to one's spiritual journey, requiring three moral values – Satya (truthfulness), Ahimsa (non-violence) and Aparigraha (non-covetousness).[55] Dhyana in this ancient Hindu text, states Huston Smith, can be about whatever the person wants or finds spiritual, ranging from "the manifestation of divinity in a religious symbol in a human form", or an inspiration in nature such as "a snow-covered mountain, a serene lake in moonlight, or a colorful horizon at sunrise or sunset", or melodic sounds or syllables such as those that "are intoned as mantras and rhythmically repeated" like Om that is audibly or silent contemplated on.[55] The direction of deep meditation, in the text, is towards detaching the mind from sensory distractions and disturbances outside of oneself, submerging it instead on the indwelling spirit and one's soul towards the state of Samadhi, a state of bliss (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6: Yoga of Meditation).[53][55]

The Gita presents a synthesis of the Brahmanical concept of Dharma with bhakti, the yogic ideals of liberation through jnana, and Samkhya philosophy.[web 2][note 5] It is the "locus classicus" of the "Hindu synthesis" which emerged around the beginning of the Common Era, integrating Brahmanic and shramanic ideas with theistic devotion.[web 2]

The Bhagavad Gita talks of four branches of yoga:[54]

  • Karma Yoga: The yoga of work in the world
  • Jnāna yoga: The yoga of knowledge and intellectual endeavor
  • Bhakti Yoga: The yoga of devotion
  • Dhyāna Yoga: The yoga of meditation (sometimes called Raja yoga or Ashtanga yoga)

The Dhyana Yoga system is specifically described by Krishna in chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna.[54]

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali[edit]

Main article: Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (dated ca. CE), a key text of the Yoga school of Hindu philosophy, Dhyana is the seventh limb of this path, following Dharana and preceding Samadhi. Dhyana is integrally related to Dharana, one leads to other. Dharana is a state of mind, Dhyana the process of mind. Dhyana is distinct from Dharana in that the meditator becomes actively engaged with its focus.

Patanjali defines contemplation (Dhyana) as the mind process, where the mind is fixed on something, and then there is "a course of uniform modification of knowledge".[63] Bronkhorst states that Buddhist influences are noticeable in the first chapter of the Yogasutras, and confirmed by sutra because it mentions asamprajnata samadhi is preceded by "trust (sraddha), energy (virya), mindfulness (smriti), concentration (samadhi), and insight (prajna)". According to Bronkhorst, "the definition of Yoga given in the first chapter of the Yoga Sutra does not fit the descriptions contained in the same chapter," and this may suggest the sutra incorporated Buddhist elements as described in the four jhanas. Wynne, in contrast to Bronkhorst's theory, states that the evidence in early Buddhist texts, such as those found in Suttapitaka, suggest that these foundational ideas on formless meditation and element meditation were borrowed from pre-Buddha Brahamanical sources attested in early Upanishads and ultimately the cosmological theory found in the Nasadiya-sukta of the Rigveda.

Adi Shankara, in his commentary on Yoga Sutras, distinguishes Dhyana from Dharana, by explaining Dhyana as the yoga state when there is only the "stream of continuous thought about the object, uninterrupted by other thoughts of different kind for the same object"; Dharana, states Shankara, is focussed on one object, but aware of its many aspects and ideas about the same object. Shankara gives the example of a yogin in a state of dharana on morning sun may be aware of its brilliance, color and orbit; the yogin in dhyana state contemplates on sun's orbit alone for example, without being interrupted by its color, brilliance or other related ideas.[67]

In Patanjali's Raja Yoga, also called "meditation yoga",[68] dhyana is "a refined meditative practice", a "deeper concentration of the mind", which is taken up after preceding practices. In Hinduism, dhyāna is considered to be an instrument to gain self-knowledge. It is a part of a self-directed awareness and unifying Yoga process by which a world that by default is experienced as disjointed, comes to be experienced as Self, and an integrated oneness with Brahman.[7] The Brahman has been variously defined in Hinduism, ranging from non-theistic non-dualistic Ultimate Reality or supreme soul, to theistic dualistic God.[69][70][71]


The stage of meditation preceding dhyāna is called dharana. Dharana, which means "holding on", is the focusing and holding one's awareness to one object for a long period of time. In Yogasutras, the term implies fixing one's mind on an object of meditation, which could be one's breath or the tip of one's nose or the image of one's personal deity or anything of the yogi's choice.[74]

In the Jangama Dhyāna technique, for example, the meditator concentrates the mind to a spot between the eyebrows. According to Patañjali, this is one method of achieving the initial concentration (dhāraṇā: Yoga Sutras, III: 1) necessary for the mind to become introverted in meditation (dhyāna: Yoga Sutras, III: 2). In deeper practice of the technique, the mind concentrated between the eyebrows begins to automatically lose all location and focus on the watching itself. This step prepares one to begin the practice of Dhyana.


The Yogasutras in verse and elsewhere, states Edwin Bryant, defines Dhyana as the "continuous flow of the same thought or image of the object of meditation, without being distracted by any other thought".[75] Vivekananda explains Dhyana in Patanjali's Yogasutras as, "When the mind has been trained to remain fixed on a certain internal or external location, there comes to it the power of flowing in an unbroken current, as it were, towards that point. This state is called Dhyana".[76]

While Dharana was the stage in yoga where the yogi held one's awareness to one object for a long period of time, Dhyana is concentrated meditation where he or she contemplates without interruption the object of meditation, beyond any memory of ego or anything else.[74]

In Dhyana, the meditator is not conscious of the act of meditation (i.e. is not aware that he/she is meditating) but is only aware that he/she exists (consciousness of being), his mind and the object of meditation. Dhyana is distinct from Dharana, in that the yogi contemplates on the object of meditation and the object's aspects only, free from distractions, with his mind during Dhyana. With practice, the process of Dhyana awakens self-awareness (soul, the purusha or Atman), the fundamental level of existence and Ultimate Reality in Hinduism, the non-afflicted, conflictless and blissful state of freedom and liberation (moksha).[77][78]


Main article: Samadhi §&#;Hinduism

The Dhyana step prepares a yogi to proceed towards practicing Samadhi. Swami Vivekananda describes the teachings of Yogasutras in the following way:

When one has so intensified the power of dhyana as to be able to reject the external part of perception and remain meditating only on the internal part, the meaning, that state is called Samadhi.[note 6]

Michael Washburn states that the Yogasutras text identifies stepwise stages for meditative practice progress, and that "Patanjali distinguishes between Dharana which is effortful focusing of attention, Dhyana which is easy continuous one-pointedness, and Samadhi which is absorption, ecstasy, contemplation".[79] A person who begins meditation practice, usually practices Dharana.[79] With practice he is able to gain ease in which he learns how to contemplate in a sharply focussed fashion, and then "he is able more and more easily to give uninterrupted attention to the meditation object; that is to say, he attains Dhyana".[79] With further practice, the yogi "ceases being detachedly vigilant" and enters "a state of fusion with the meditation object" which is Samadhi.[80]

Samadhi is oneness with the object of meditation. There is no distinction between act of meditation and the object of meditation. Samadhi is of two kinds,[web 3] with and without support or an object of meditation:[82]

  • Samprajnata Samadhi, also called savikalpa samadhi and Sabija Samadhi, is object-centered, and is associated with deliberation, reflection, blissful ecstasy that has been assisted by an object or anchor point.[82] The first two, deliberation and reflection, form the basis of the various types of samapatti:
    • Savitarka, "deliberative": The citta(चित्त)is concentrated upon a gross object of meditation, and the yogi's deliberates and fuses with it, becoming unaware of everything else.[note 7] Conceptualization (vikalpa) here is in the form of perception and the knowledge of the object of meditation. When the deliberation is ended this is called nirvitaka samadhi.[note 8]
    • Savichara, "reflective": the citta(चित्त)is concentrated upon an abstract object of meditation, which is not perceptible to the senses, but arrived at through inference. The object of meditation can be inferred from the senses, the process of cognition, the mind, the I-am-ness, or the buddhi (intellect).[note 9] The stilling of reflection is called nirvichara samapatti.[note 10]
  • Asamprajnata Samadhi, also called Nirvikalpa Samadhi[web 3] and Nirbija Samadhi:[web 3] the state achieved when the meditation is without the help of a support or an object.

Both object-centered and objectless-centered meditative practice, in Hindu texts, leads to progressively more bright, pellucid and poised state of "powerful, pure, Sattvic" state of blissful Self, ultimately leading to the knowledge of purusha or Atman-Brahman (soul), states Michael Washburn.[82] This is the state, in Hindu tradition, where states Gregor Maehle, the yogi or yogini realizes "the Atman in you is the Atman in everyone", and leading to the realization of Self.


The practice of Dharana, Dhyana and Samādhi together is designated as Samyama (Sanskrit: संयम, holding together) in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[89] Samyama, asserts the text, is a powerful meditative tool and can be applied to a certain object, or entire class of objects.[89] A yogi who does Samyama on Pratyaya (notions, customs) of men, states sutra of the text, knows the series of "psycho-mental states of other men".[89] A yogi after successfully completing Samyama on "distinction of object and idea" realizes the "cries of all creatures", states sutra [89] A Samyama on friendliness, compassion and joy leads to these powers emerging within the yogi, states sutra The meditation technique discussed in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is thus, states Mircea Eliade, a means to knowledge and siddhi (yogic power).[89][91]

Vācaspati Miśra, a scholar of the Vedanta school of Hinduism, in his bhasya on the Yogasutra's wrote, "Whatever the yogin desires to know, he should perform samyama in respect to that object".[92]Moksha (freedom, liberation) is one such practice, where the object of samyama is Sattva (pure existence), Atman (soul) and Purusha (Universal principle) or Bhagavan (God).[93]Adi Shankara, another scholar of the Vedanta school of Hinduism, extensively commented on samyama as a means for Jnana-yoga (path of knowledge) to achieve the state of Jivanmukta (living liberation).[94][95]


Main article: Samāpatti


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January )

By the time the Yogasutras were compiled, the Hindu traditions had two broad forms of meditation, namely the ecstatic and enstatic types.[96][97]

Comparison of Dhyana in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism[edit]

Main articles: Dhyāna in Buddhism and Jain meditation


According to Jianxin Li Samprajnata Samadhi of Hinduism may be compared to the rupa jhanas of Buddhism. This interpretation may conflict with Gombrich and Wynne, according to whom the first and second jhana represent concentration, whereas the third and fourth jhana combine concentration with mindfulness. According to Eddie Crangle, the first jhana resembles Patanjali's Samprajnata Samadhi, which both share the application of vitarka and vicara.

Asamprajnata Samadhi, states Jianxin Li, may be compared to the arupa jhanas of Buddhism, and to Nirodha-Samapatti. Crangle and other scholars state that sabija-asamprajnata samadhi resembles the four formless jhanas, with the fourth arupa jhana of Buddhism being analogous to Patanjali's "objectless dhyana and samadhi".[]

The paths to be followed in order to attain enlightenment are remarkably uniform among all the Indian systems: each requires a foundation of moral purification leading eventually to similar meditation practices.

—&#;David Loy, National University of Singapore[]

According to Sarbacker and other scholars, while there are parallels between Dhyana in Hinduism and in Buddhism, the phenomenological states and the emancipation experiences are described differently.[] Dhyana in Buddhism is aiming towards cessation and realization of shunya (state of null), while Dhyana Hinduism is aiming towards realization of Atman (soul) and consequent union with Brahman.[]Nirvana (or Nibbana), the desired end through Dhyana in Buddhism, is the realization that there is no permanent self nor permanent consciousness; while Moksha, the desired end through Dhyana in Hinduism, is acceptance of Self, realization of liberating knowledge, the consciousness of Oneness with all existence and understanding the whole universe as the Self.[][note 11][note 12] Nirvana of Buddhism starts with the premise that "Self is merely an illusion, there is no Self", Moksha of Hinduism on the other hand, starts with the premise that everything is the Self, states David Loy.[] The soteriological emphasis in Dhyana, therefore is different in Buddhism and Hinduism.[]


Ancient Jaina scholars developed their own theories on Dhyana like other Indian religions, but little detail is mentioned in Jaina texts,[] and the Dhyana practices varied by sects within the Jaina tradition.[] Broadly, Jainism texts identify four types of meditation based on the nature of object.[][]Arta-dhyana, states Jaina meditation literature, occurs when one's focus is on anguish and unpleasant things.Raudra-dhyana occurs when the focus is on anger or perverse ideas or objects.[]Dharmya-dhyana focuses on religious ideas or virtuous objects, while Shukla-dhyana is the focus on pure ideas or bright objects.[] This classification of four Dhyana types may have roots, suggests Paul Dundas, in the earlier Hindu texts related to Kashmir Shaivism.[]

Dundas states that Jaina tradition emphasized Dhyana, but its meditation-related literature likely went through two stages of formulation, the early stage independent of other Indian traditions, one which concerned itself with "cessation of mind and physical activities" rather than their transformation as in other Indian traditions; followed by a later stage, likely post-Yogasutras, where Jaina scholars of different sects restructured the contemplative model to assimilate elements of Hindu and Buddhist techniques on Dhyana.[] The terminology used in some Jainism texts however, states John Cort, are different.[]

The premise of Atman (soul) exists, that is found in Hinduism, is also present in Jainism. The soteriological goals of Jaina spiritual meditation are similar to Hindu spiritual meditation, aimed at experiential contact with the "ultimate self", wherein the yogi realizes the blissful, unfettered, formless soul and siddha-hood – a totally liberated state of being.[]

Related concept: Upasana[edit]

Two concepts associated with Dhyana found in ancient and medieval Hindu texts are Upasana and Vidya.[38] Upasana means "come near to something, some idea" and denotes the act and state of meditation, while Vidya means knowledge and is the consequence of Dhyana.[] The term Upasana typically appears in the context of ritual meditative practices, such as before a devotional symbol such as deity or during a yajna type practice or community oriented bhakti worship singing, and is a subtype of Dhyana.[][]

The 11th-century Vishishtadvaita Vedanta scholar Ramanuja noted that upasana and dhyana are equated in the Upanishads with other terms such as vedana (knowing) and smrti (remembrance). Ramanuja holds that all these are phases of meditation, adding that they must be done with love or bhakti.

See also[edit]


  1. ^Bhagavad Gita (2nd-century BCE); Katha Upanishad (pre- or post-Buddha, ca. 5th century BCE); Maitrayaniya Upanishad (ca, 3rd centrury BCE).
  2. ^Scholars such as Hans Wolfgang Schumann state that Uddaka Ramaputta was a Vedic era teacher of Upanishadic ideas.[29]
  3. ^According to Bronkhorst, Buddhism probably had a marginal influence before Asoka, while this mainstream did influence Buddhism; but the specific Buddhist form of meditation, with the four dhyanas, are considered to be an authentic Buddhist development.
  4. ^See of Taittiriya Samhita, of Aitareya Aranyaka, of Satapatha Aranyaka, sections through of Chandogya Upanishad. Also see discussion on Agnihotra to Pranagnihotra evolution by Staal.[44]
  5. ^The Bhagavad Gita also integrates theism and transcendentalism[web 2] or spiritual monism, and identifies a God of personal characteristics with the Brahman of the Vedic tradition.[web 2]
  6. ^See Swami Vivekenanda on Dhyana and Samadhi in Raja Yoga.
  7. ^Yoga Sutra "Deliberative (savitarka) samapatti is that samadhi in which words, objects, and knowledge are commingled through conceptualization."
  8. ^Yoga Sutra "When memory is purified, the mind appears to be emptied of its own nature and only the object shines forth. This is superdeliberative (nirvitaka) samapatti."
  9. ^Following Yoga Sutra , meditation on the sense of "I-am-ness" is also grouped, in other descriptions
  10. ^Yoga Sutra "In this way, reflective (savichara) and super-reflective (nirvichara) samapatti, which are based on subtle objects, are also explained."
  11. ^Loy's discussion covers Samkhya-Yoga, Nyaya-Vaishesika and Advaita Vedanta schools of Hindu philosophies.
  12. ^Crangle states, "Buddhists denied the authenticity of any claim by non-Buddhists to the attainment of the ninth state which is the release of Nirvana: the destruction of consciousness and sensation which was specifically a discovery of the Buddha".


  1. ^ abcdSagarmal Jain (), Yoga in Jainism (Editor: Christopher Key Chapple), Routledge, ISBN&#; pages
  2. ^ abReginald Ray (), Buddhist Saints in India, Oxford University Press, ISBN&#;, pp. –, –
  3. ^ abAndrew J. Nicholson (), Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History, Columbia University Press, ISBN&#;, Chapter 9
  4. ^ abcdefWilliam Mahony (), The Artful Universe: An Introduction to the Vedic Religious Imagination, State University of New York Press, ISBN&#;, pages ,
  5. ^Edwin Bryant (), The Yoga sūtras of Patañjali: a new edition, translation, and commentary with insights from the traditional commentators, North Point Press, ISBN&#;, pages xxii, xxix-xxx
  6. ^ abcdeFrits Staal (), Discovering the Vedas: Origins, Mantras, Rituals, Insights, Penguin, ISBN&#;, pages
  7. ^ abcG. A. Jacob (), A concordance of the Principal Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, Motilal Banarsidass, OCLC&#;, pages
  8. ^Stuart Sarbacker (), Yoga Powers (Editor: Knut A. Jacobsen), Brill, ISBN&#;, page
  9. ^dhyAna, Monier Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary ( revision), Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon, Germany
  10. ^Jan Gonda (), The Vision of Vedic Poets, Walter de Gruyter, ISBN&#;, pages
  11. ^Thomas Berry (), Religions of India: Hinduism, Yoga, Buddhism, Columbia University Press, ISBN&#;, page
  12. ^Jan Gonda (), The Vision of Vedic Poets, Walter de Gruyter, ISBN&#;, pages
  13. ^Charlotte Bell (), Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice, Rodmell Press, ISBN&#;, pages
  14. ^GN Jha (Translator)(), The Yoga-darsana: The sutras of Patanjali with the Bhasya of Vyasa - Book 3; Harvard University Archives, pages
  15. ^K Ramakrishna Rao (), Consciousness Studies: Cross-Cultural Perspectives, McFarland, ISBN&#;, page
  16. ^TR Anantharaman (), Ancient Yoga and Modern Science, PHISPC monograph, Volume 14, Issue 7, ISBN&#;, pages
  17. ^William Mahony (), The Artful Universe: An Introduction to the Vedic Religious Imagination, State University of New York Press, ISBN&#;, page
  18. ^Hans Wolfgang Schumann (), The Historical Buddha: The Times, Life, and Teachings of the Founder of Buddhism, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN&#;, page 49
  19. ^ abSagarmal Jain (), Yoga in Jainism (Editor: Christopher Key Chapple), Routledge, ISBN&#;, pages
  20. ^Maurice Bloomfield, A Vedic concordance, Harvard University Press, page
  21. ^ abJan Gonda (), The Vision of Vedic Poets, Walter de Gruyter, ISBN&#;, pages
  22. ^ abcWilliam Cenkner (), A Tradition of Teachers, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN&#;, pages
  23. ^ abPaul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN&#;, pages 25–58;
  24. ^Max Muller (Translator), Kaushitaki Upanishad, Oxford University Press, page
  25. ^Paul Deussen (). Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN&#;, pages , ,
  26. ^Henk Bodewitz (), Jaiminīya Brāhmaṇa I, 1– Translation and Commentary, Brill Academic, ISBN&#;, pp. 23, – with footnote 6,
  27. ^Paul Deussen (). Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN&#;, pages
  28. ^JF Staal ( Reprint, Original: ), Advaita and Neoplatonism, DBNL, OCLC&#;, pages
  29. ^Tsunehiko Sugiki (), Homa Variations: The Study of Ritual Change across the Longue Duree (Editors: Richard Payne and Michael Witzel), Oxford University Press, ISBN&#;, pages , , ,
  30. ^Yael Bentor (), Interiorized Fire Rituals in India and in Tibet, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. , No. 4, pages
  31. ^Yael Bentor (), Interiorized Fire Rituals in India and in Tibet, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. , No. 4, pages
  32. ^Dhyai Sanskrit English Dictionary, Koeln University, Germany
  33. ^Patrick Olivelle (), Dharmasutras, Oxford World Classics, Oxford University Press, ISBN&#;, pages ; For Sanskrit manuscript original: see Archive
  34. ^Georg Buhler, The Sacred Books of the East at Google Books, Volume XIV Part II, Editor: Max Muller, Oxford University Press, pages
  35. ^ abWilliam Cenkner (), A Tradition of Teachers, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN&#;, pages with footnotes
  36. ^Henk Bodewitz (), Violence Denied (Editors: Jan E. M. Houben and Karel Rijk van Kooij), BRILL, ISBN&#;, page 28 footnote 19
  37. ^ abEknath Easwaran (), Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, Nilgiri, ISBN&#;, pages ,
  38. ^ abcdWinthrop Sargeant (), The Bhagavad Gita: Twenty-fifth–Anniversary Edition (Editor: Christopher Chapple), State University of New York Press, ISBN&#;, page xv
  39. ^ abcWinthrop Sargeant (), The Bhagavad Gita: Twenty-fifth–Anniversary Edition (Editor: Christopher Chapple), State University of New York Press, ISBN&#;, pages xvi, ,
  40. ^The Yoga Philosophy TR Tatya (Translator), with Bhojaraja commentary; Harvard University Archives, page
  41. ^Trevor Leggett (), Shankara on the Yoga Sutras, Volume 2, Routledge, ISBN&#;, pages
  42. ^Vyn Bailey (), Patanjali's Meditation Yoga, Simon & Schuster Australia, ISBN&#;
  43. ^Stephen Philips (), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Brahman to Derrida (Editor; Edward Craig), Routledge, ISBN&#;, pages
  44. ^Klaus K. Klostermaier (), A Survey of Hinduism, Third Edition, State University of New York Press, ISBN&#;, Chapter Atman and Brahman - Self and All
  45. ^Michael Myers (), Brahman: A Comparative Theology, Routledge, ISBN&#;, pages
  46. ^ abThe New Encyclopædia Britannica ( Edition), Volume 4, ISBN&#;, page 56, Article on Yoga
  47. ^Edwin Bryant (), The Yoga sūtras of Patañjali: a new edition, translation, and commentary with insights from the traditional commentators, North Point Press, ISBN&#;, pages
  48. ^Swami Vivekananda (), The Complete Works of the Swami Vivekananda at Google Books, Volume 1, 2nd Edition, Harvard University Archives, page ; Archive 2: Vedânta Philosophy: Lectures, p. 82, at Google Books
  49. ^Basant Pradhan (), Yoga and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, Springer Academic, ISBN&#;, pages
  50. ^RS Bajpai (), The Splendours And Dimensions Of Yoga, Atlantic Publishers, ISBN&#;, pages
  51. ^ abcMichael Washburn (), The Ego and the Dynamic Ground: A Transpersonal Theory of Human Development, State University of New York Press, ISBN&#;, page
  52. ^Michael Washburn (), The Ego and the Dynamic Ground: A Transpersonal Theory of Human Development, State University of New York Press, ISBN&#;, page
  53. ^ abcMichael Washburn (), The Ego and the Dynamic Ground: A Transpersonal Theory of Human Development, State University of New York Press, ISBN&#;, pages
  54. ^ abcdeMircea Eliade, Willard Ropes Trask and David Gordon White (), Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, Princeton University Press, ISBN&#;, pages
  55. ^Stephen Phillips (), Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy, Columbia University Press, ISBN&#;, pages
  56. ^Mircea Eliade, Willard Ropes Trask and David Gordon White (), Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, Princeton University Press, ISBN&#;, page 88 with footnote
  57. ^TS Rukmani (), Researches in Indian and Buddhist Philosophy (Editor: Rāma Karaṇa Śarmā), Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN&#;, pages , also
  58. ^Jeaneane D Fowler (), The Bhagavad Gita, Sussex University Press, ISBN&#;, pages 53, ,
  59. ^Jonathan Bader (), Meditation in Śaṅkara's Vedānta, Aditya Prakashan, ISBN&#;, pages
  60. ^Stuart Ray Sarbacker (), Samadhi, State University of New York Press, ISBN&#;, pages
  61. ^Frits Staal (), Exploring Mysticism: A Methodological Essay, University of California Press, ISBN&#;, pages
  62. ^ abcStuart Ray Sarbacker (), Samadhi, SUNY Press, ISBN&#;, pages
  63. ^ abcDavid Loy (), Enlightenment in Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta: Are Nirvana and Moksha the Same?, International Philosophical Quarterly, 23(1), pp
  64. ^Stuart Ray Sarbacker (), Samadhi, SUNY Press, ISBN&#;, pages
  65. ^ abcPadmanabh S Jaini (), The Jaina Path of Purification, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN&#;, pages
  66. ^Kurt Titze (), Jainism, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN&#;, page
  67. ^ abcdePaul Dundas (), The Jains, Routledge, ISBN&#;, pages
  68. ^John Cort (), Open Boundaries: Jain Communities and Cultures in Indian History, State University of New York Press, ISBN&#;, pages
  69. ^ abWilliam Cenkner (), A Tradition of Teachers, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN&#;, pages ,
  70. ^John C Plott (), A Philosophy of Devotion, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN&#;, pages


Published sources[edit]

  • Bronkhorst, Johannes (), The Two Traditions Of Meditation In Ancient India, Motilal Banarsidass
  • Comans, Michael (), The Question of the Importance of Samadhi in Modern and Classical Advaita Vedanta. In: Philosophy East and West Vol. 43, No. 1 (Jan. ), pp. 19–
  • Comans, Michael (), The Method of Early Advaita Vedānta: A Study of Gauḍapāda, Śaṅkara, Sureśvara, and Padmapāda, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass
  • Crangle, Eddie (), "A Comparison of Hindu and Buddhist Techniques of Attaining Samādhi"(PDF), in Hutch, R.A.; Fenner, P.G. (eds.), Under The Shade of the Coolibah Tree: Australian Studies in Consciousness, University Press of America
  • David, John (), The Yoga System of Patanjali with commentary Yogabhashya attributed to Veda Vyasa and Tattva Vaicharadi by Vacaspati Misra, Harvard University Press
  • Dense, Christian D. Von (), Philosophers and Religious Leaders, Greenwood Publishing Group
  • Deutsch, Eliot; Dalvi, Rohit (), The Essential Vedānta: A New Source Book of Advaita Vedānta, World Wisdom, Inc, ISBN&#;
  • Farquhar, John Nicol (), An outline of the religious literature of India, Oxford University Press
  • Hiltebeitel, Alf (), Hinduism. In: Joseph Kitagawa, "The Religious Traditions of Asia: Religion, History, and Culture", Routledge
  • Jones, Constance; Ryan, James D. (), Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Infobase Publishing
  • Kalupahana, David J. (), A history of Buddhist philosophy, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass
  • King, Richard (), "Orientalism and the Modern Myth of "Hinduism"", NUMEN, BRILL, 46 (2): –, doi/
  • King, Richard (), Orientalism and Religion: Post-Colonial Theory, India and "The Mystic East", Taylor & Francis e-Library
  • Lochtefeld, James G. (), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M and N-Z (Vol 1 & 2), The Rosen Publishing Group, ISBN&#;
  • Maas, Philipp A. (), Samādhipāda: das erste Kapitel des Pātañjalayogaśāstra zum ersten Mal kritisch ediert, Aachen: Shaker, ISBN&#;
  • Maehle, Gregor (), Ashtanga Yoga: Practice and Philosophy, New World Library
  • Mukerji, Mādhava Bithika (), Neo-Vedanta and Modernity, Ashutosh Prakashan Sansthan
  • Raju, P.T. (), The Philosophical Traditions of India

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Indian guru

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (born Mahesh Prasad Varma, 12 January [2] – 5 February ) was an Indian yoga guru,[3] known for developing and popularizing Transcendental Meditation, and for being the leader and guru of a worldwide organization that has been characterized in multiple ways including as a new religious movement and as non-religious.[4][5][6] He became known as Maharishi (meaning "great seer")[1][7] and Yogi as an adult.[8][9]

After earning a degree in physics at Allahabad University in , Maharishi Mahesh Yogi became an assistant and disciple of SwamiBrahmananda Saraswati (also known as Guru Dev), the Shankaracharya (spiritual leader) of the Jyotir Math in the Indian Himalayas. The Maharishi credits Brahmananda Saraswati with inspiring his teachings. In , the Maharishi began to introduce his Transcendental Deep Meditation (later renamed Transcendental Meditation) to India and the world. His first global tour began in [10] His devotees referred to him as His Holiness,[11] and because he often laughed in TV interviews he was sometimes referred to as the "giggling guru".[12][13][14]

The Maharishi is reported to have trained more than 40, TM teachers, taught the Transcendental Meditation technique to "more than five million people" and founded thousands of teaching centres and hundreds of colleges, universities and schools,[1][15][16] while TM websites report tens of thousands learned the TM-Sidhi programme. His initiatives include schools and universities with campuses in several countries including India, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.[17] The Maharishi, his family and close associates created charitable organisations and for-profit businesses including health clinics, mail-order health supplements and organic farms. The reported value of the Maharishi's organization has ranged from the millions to billions of U.S. dollars and in , the organization placed the value of their United States assets at about $ million.[1]

In the late s and early s, the Maharishi achieved fame as the guru to the Beatles, the Beach Boys and other celebrities. In the late s, he started the TM-Sidhi programme, which proposed to improve the mind-body relationship of practitioners through techniques such as Yogic flying.[18] The Maharishi's Natural Law Party was founded in , and ran campaigns in dozens of countries. He moved to near Vlodrop, the Netherlands, in the same year.[19] In , he created the Global Country of World Peace, a non-profit organization, and appointed its leaders. In , the Maharishi announced his retirement from all administrative activities and went into silence until his death three weeks later.[20]



Maharishi Mahesh Yogi belonged to the Kayastha caste, a subcast of scribes and administrators, of the Hindu religion.[21] The birth name and the birth dates of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi are not known with certainty, in part because of the tradition of ascetics and monks to relinquish family connections.[22] Many accounts say he was born Mahesh Prasad Varma into a Kayastha family living in the Central Provinces of British India.[1][23] A different name appears in the Allahabad University list of distinguished alumni, where he is listed as M.C. Srivastava[24] and an obituary says his name was "Mahesh Srivastava".[25][26]

Various accounts give the year of his birth as , or [14] Authors Paul Mason and William Jefferson say that he was born 12 January in Jabalpur, Central Provinces, British India (now Madhya Pradesh, India).[27][28] The place of birth given in his passport is "Pounalulla", India, and his birth date 12 January [2] Mahesh came from an upper-caste family,[29] being a member of the Kayasthacaste, a high-status caste whose traditional profession is writing.[30][31]

Early life[edit]

Mahesh studied physics at Allahabad University and earned a degree in [32] While a few sources say that he worked at the Gun Carriage Factory in Jabalpur for some time,[33][34] most report that in , he became an administrative secretary to the Shankaracharya of the Jyotir Math, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (also known as Guru Dev, which means "divine teacher")[30][35][36][37][9] and took a new name, Bal Brahmachari Mahesh.[38] Coplin refers to bala brahmachari as both a title and a name, and considers that it "identified him as a fully dedicated student of spiritual knowledge and life-long celibate ascetic."[39] Saraswati insisted that before accepting Mahesh as a pupil he must first complete his university degree and get permission from his parents.[8] The Maharishi recalls how it took about two and a half years to attune himself to the thinking of Brahmananda Saraswati and to gain "a very genuine feeling of complete oneness".[40] At first Brahmachari Mahesh performed common chores but gained trust and became Guru Dev's "personal secretary" and "favored pupil".[27] He was trusted to take care of the bulk of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati's correspondence without direction, and was also sent out to give public speeches on Vedic (scriptural) themes.[38] The Maharishi said his life truly began in , at the feet of his master, when he learned the secret of swift and deep meditation.[42]

Brahmachari Mahesh remained with Swami Brahmananda Saraswati until the latter died in , when he moved to Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand in the Himalayas where he undertook a reclusive life for two years.[43] Although Brahmachari Mahesh was a close disciple, he could not be the Shankaracharya's spiritual successor because he was not of the Brahmincaste.[44][45] The Shankaracharya, at the end of his life, charged him with the responsibility of travelling and teaching meditation to the masses, while he named Swami Shantananda Saraswati as his successor.[33][46]

Tour in India (–)[edit]

In ,[14][47][48][49] Brahmachari Mahesh left Uttarkashi and began publicly teaching what he stated was a traditional meditation technique[50] learned from his master Brahmananda Saraswati, and that he called Transcendental Deep Meditation.[51] Later the technique was renamed Transcendental Meditation.[52] It was also then that he was first publicly known with the name "Maharishi" an honorific title meaning "great sage" after the title was given to him according to some sources from "Indian Pundits" and according to another source the honorific was given along with Yogi by followers in India. Later in the west the title was retained as a name.[9][53]

He traveled around India for two years[54] interacting with his "Hindu audiences" in an "Indian context".[55] At that time, he called his movement the Spiritual Development Movement,[30] but renamed it the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in , in Madras, India, on the concluding day of the Seminar of Spiritual Luminaries.[14] According to Coplin, in his visits to southern India, the Maharishi spoke English rather than the Hindi spoken in his home area to avoid provoking resistance among those seeking linguistic self-determination, and to appeal to the "learned classes".[56]

World tours (–)[edit]

According to William Jefferson, in , the Maharishi went to Madras to address a large crowd of people who had gathered to celebrate the memory of Guru Dev. It was there that he spontaneously announced that he planned to spread the teaching of TM throughout the world. Hundreds of people immediately asked to learn TM.[28] In , Maharishi Mahesh Yogi began his first world tour,[14] writing: "I had one thing in mind, that I know something which is useful to every man".[12]

The Maharishi's book, Thirty Years Around the World, gives a detailed account of his world tours, as do two biographies, The Story of the Maharishi, by William Jefferson, and The Maharishi by Paul Mason.[8][28] The first world tour began in Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar) and included the countries of Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong and Hawaii.[57][58][59] He arrived in Hawaii in the spring of [30] and the Honolulu Star Bulletin reported: "He has no money, he asks for nothing. His worldly possessions can be carried in one hand. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is on a world odyssey. He carries a message that he says will rid the world of all unhappiness and discontent."[60] In , the Maharishi lectured and taught the Transcendental Meditation technique in Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, New York and London.[15][57][61][62][63] While in Los Angeles the Maharishi stayed at the home of author Helena Olson,[57][64] and during this period he developed a three-year plan to propagate Transcendental Meditation to the whole world.[30] Though most of his audience consisted of average middle class individuals, he also attracted a few celebrities, such as Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Nancy Cooke de Herrera and Doris Duke.[9]

When the Maharishi came to the U.S. in , his Spiritual Regeneration Movement was called Transcendental Meditation.[12] That same year he began the International Meditation Society and other organizations to propagate his teachings,[65] establishing centres in San Francisco and London.[66] For years, the sole teacher of Transcendental Meditation in America was a San Diego woman named Beulah Smith.[9]

In , the Maharishi travelled to many cities in India, France, Switzerland, England, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Africa.[67][68]

While in Manchester, England, the Maharishi gave a television interview and was featured in many English newspapers such as the Birmingham Post, the Oxford Mail and the Cambridge Daily News.[69] This was also the year in which the Maharishi trained Henry Nyburg to be the first Transcendental Meditation teacher in Europe.[70][71]

In , the Maharishi visited the United States,[27] Austria, Sweden, France, Italy, Greece, India, Kenya, England, and Canada.[72] While in England, he appeared on BBC television and gave a lecture to 5, people at the Royal Albert Hall in London, organised by Leon MacLaren of the School of Economic Science.[73] In April , the Maharishi conducted his first Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training Course in Rishikesh, India, with sixty participants from various countries.[15][74] Teachers continued to be trained as time progressed.[75] During the course, the Maharishi began to introduce additional knowledge regarding the development of human potential, and began writing his translation and commentary on the first six chapters of the ancient Vedic text, the Bhagavad Gita.[76][77]

His world tour included visits to Europe, India, Australia and New Zealand.[citation needed] In Britain, he founded a branch of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement.[27] The year concluded in California where the Maharishi began dictating his book The Science of Being and Art of Living.[78][79] In Rishikesh, India, beginning on 20 April , a forty-day course was held for "sadhus, sanyasis, and brahmacharis" to introduce TM to "religious preachers and spiritual masters in India".[80]

The Maharishi toured cities in Europe, Asia, North America and India in , and also addressed ministers of the Indian Parliament.[81][82] According to his memoirs, twenty-one members of parliament then issued a public statement endorsing the Maharishi's goals and meditation technique.[83] His Canadian tour[84] was also well covered by the press.[85]

The Maharishi's fifth world tour, in , consisted of visits to many cities in North America, Europe and India.[86][87] During his visit to England, he appeared with the Abbot of Downside, Abbot Butler, on a BBC television show called The Viewpoint.[88][89] In October of that year, in California, the Maharishi began teaching the first Advanced Technique of Transcendental Meditation to some experienced meditators.[90][91] While travelling in America, the Maharishi met with Robert Maynard Hutchins, the head of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, and U Thant, the Secretary General of the United Nations.[92][93] During this same year, the Maharishi finished his book The Science of Being and Art of Living, which sold more than a million copies and was published in fifteen languages.[94]

The Maharishi’s activities in included a course in India and a one-month tour in South America. He established Transcendental Meditation centers in Port of Spain, Trinidad; Caracas, Venezuela; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Porto Alegre, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; Lima, Peru; and Bogota, Colombia.[95]

In addition, in the Maharishi founded the Students' International Meditation Society ("SIMS"), which The Los Angeles Times later characterised as a "phenomenal success".[14][96] In the s, SIMS centres were established at "over one thousand campuses",[97] including Harvard University, Yale University, and UCLA.[9]

In , the Maharishi gave a lecture at Caxton Hall in London which was attended by Leon MacLaren, the founder and leader of the School of Economic Science (SES).[38] He also lectured at UCLA, Harvard, Yale and Berkeley.[98] That year, an article in Time magazine reported that the Maharishi "has been sharply criticised by other Indian sages, who complain that his programme for spiritual peace without either penance or asceticism contravenes every traditional Hindu belief".[99] Religion and culture scholar Sean McCloud also reported that traditional Indian sages and gurus were critical of the Maharishi, for teaching a simple technique and making it available to everyone, and for abandoning traditional concepts of suffering and concentration as paths to enlightenment.[] At the end of , the Maharishi said that after ten years of teaching and world tours, he would return to India.[]

Association with the Beatles[edit]

Main articles: The Beatles in Bangor and The Beatles in India

In , the Maharishi's fame increased and his movement gained greater prominence when he became the "spiritual advisor to the Beatles",[94][] though he was already well known among young people in the UK and had already had numerous public appearances that brought him to the band's attention.[] Following the Beatles' endorsement of TM, during and the Maharishi appeared on American magazine covers such as Life, Newsweek, Time and many others.[] He gave lectures to capacity crowds at the Felt Forum in New York City and Harvard's Sanders Hall.[9] He also appeared on The Tonight Show and the Today TV shows.[9]

He and the Beatles met in London in August , when George Harrison and his wife Pattie Boyd urged their friends to attend the Maharishi's lecture at the Hilton on Park Lane. The band members went to study with the Maharishi in Bangor, Wales, before travelling to Rishikesh, India,[27] in February to "devote themselves fully to his instruction".[]Ringo Starr and his wife Maureen left after ten days,[][][]Paul McCartney and Jane Asher left after five weeks;[][][] the group's most dedicated students, Harrison and John Lennon, departed with their wives sixteen days later.[]

During their stay, the Beatles heard that the Maharishi had allegedly made sexual advances towards Mia Farrow.[] On 15 June , in London, the Beatles formally renounced their association with the Maharishi as a "public mistake". "Sexy Sadie" is the title of a song Lennon wrote in response to the episode.[][][] Lennon originally wanted to title the song "Maharishi",[] but changed the title at Harrison's request. Harrison commented years later, "Now, historically, there's the story that something went on that shouldn't have done – but nothing did." In , Harrison gave a benefit concert for the Maharishi-associated Natural Law Party, and later apologised for the way the Maharishi had been treated by saying, "We were very young" and "It's probably in the history books that Maharishi 'tried to attack Mia Farrow' – but it's bullshit, total bullshit." Cynthia Lennon wrote in that she "hated leaving on a note of discord and mistrust, when we had enjoyed so much kindness from the Maharishi". Asked if he forgave the Beatles, the Maharishi replied, "I could never be upset with angels." McCartney took his daughter, Stella, to visit the Maharishi in the Netherlands in , which renewed their friendship.[]

The New York Times and The Independent reported that the influence of the Maharishi, and the journey to Rishikesh to meditate, steered the Beatles away from LSD and inspired them to write many new songs.[66][] In , McCartney commented that Transcendental Meditation was a gift the Beatles had received from the Maharishi at a time when they were looking for something to stabilise them.[] The Beatles' visit to the Maharishi's ashram coincided with a thirty-participant Transcendental Meditation teacher training course that was ongoing when they arrived. Graduates of the course included Prudence Farrow and Mike Love.[][][]

Although the Rishikesh ashram had thrived in its early days it was eventually abandoned in By , some of it had been reclaimed with building repairs, cleared paths, a small photo museum, murals, a cafe and charges for visitors although the site remains essentially a ruin.[]

Further growth of the TM movement (–)[edit]

The Maharishi's headquarters in Seelisberg, Switzerland

In , the Maharishi announced that he would stop his public activities and instead begin the training of TM teachers at his new global headquarters in Seelisberg, Switzerland.[96] In , he inaugurated a course in his Science of Creative Intelligence at Stanford University, which was then offered at 25 other American universities.[27]

In , the Maharishi held a TM teacher training course at a Victorian hotel in Poland Springs, Maine, with 1, participants. Later that year, he held a similar four-week course with participants at Humboldt State College in Arcata, California.[] In , after having trouble with Indian tax authorities, he moved his headquarters to Italy, returning to India in the late s.[][] That same year, the City of Hope Foundation in Los Angeles gave the Maharishi their "Man of Hope" award.[]

By , the Maharishi had completed 13 world tours, visited 50 countries, and held a press conference with American inventor Buckminster Fuller at his first International Symposium on SCI at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts.[27][][][] From to , about 10, people attended the Maharishi sponsored symposia on his modern interpretation of Vedanta philosophy called Science of Creative Intelligence. During these conferences, held at universities, the Maharishi spoke with "leading thinkers" of the day such as Hans Selye, Marshall McLuhan, and Jonas Salk.[9]

The Maharishi announced his World Plan in , the goal of which was to establish 3, TM centres around the world.[27][30] That year, a TM training course was given by the Maharishi at Queen's University and was attended by 1, young people from the USA and Canada. At the start of the course, the Maharishi encouraged the attendees to improve their appearance by getting haircuts and wearing ties.[] He also persuaded the U.S. Army to offer courses in TM to its soldiers[27] and made videotaped recordings of what was thought to be the West's first comprehensive recitation of the Rig Veda.[]

In March , the Maharishi addressed the legislature of the state of Illinois. That same year, the legislature passed a resolution in support of the use of Maharishi's Science of Creative Intelligence in Illinois public schools.[27][][] Later that year he organized a world conference of mayors in Switzerland.[27] In that same year, he also addressed educators at an American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) conference on quality of life and higher education.[7]

In , the Maharishi International University was founded. In October , the Maharishi was pictured on the front cover of Time magazine. He made his last visit to the Spiritual Regeneration Movement centre in Los Angeles in , according to film director David Lynch, who met him for the first time there.[]

In , the Maharishi embarked on a five-continent trip to inaugurate what he called "the Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment". The Maharishi said the purpose of the inaugural tour was to "go around the country and give a gentle whisper to the population".[][] He visited Ottawa during this tour and had a private meeting with Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau, during which he spoke about the principles of TM and "the possibility of structuring an ideal society".[][][] That same year, the Pittsburgh Press reported that "The Maharishi has been criticised by other Eastern yogis for simplifying their ancient art."[] The Maharishi appeared as a guest on The Merv Griffin Show in and again in , and this resulted in "tens of thousands of new practitioners" around the USA.[14][][][]

The Maharishi during a visit to Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa

In the mid s, the Maharishi's U.S. movement was operating TM centres manned by 6, TM teachers.[12] At that time, the Maharishi also began approaching the business community via an organisation called the American Foundation for SCI (AFSCI), whose objective was to eliminate stress for business professionals. His TM movement came to be increasingly structured along the lines of a multinational corporation.[96]

The teaching of TM and the Science of Creative Intelligence in a New Jersey public school was stopped when a US court, in , declared the movement to be religious, and ruled adoption of TM by public organisations in breach of the separation of church and state (First Amendment).[]

During the s, the organisation continued to expand and his meditation technique continued to attract celebrities[12] despite its "outlandish claims" and accusations of fraud from disaffected former disciples.[96] The TM organization made a number of property investments, buying a former Rothschild mansion in England, Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, Roydon Hall in Maidstone, Swythamley Park in the Peak District, and a Georgian rectory in Suffolk.[96] In the United States, resorts and hotels, many in city centres, were purchased to be used as TM training centres. Doug Henning and the Maharishi planned a magical Vedic amusement park, Vedaland, and bought large tracts of land near Orlando, Florida, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to host the park. The theme park was supposed to be a gateway into understanding the mysteries of the universe. According to the Maharishi's official Vedic city website, "Entering Veda Land through a secret cave on a windswept plateau high in the Himalayas the adventure starts as one travels through a waterfall that leads to a forest where an ancient Vedic civilization awaits to reveal the deepest secrets of the universe (sic)".[] These plans were never executed and, for Niagara Falls, Veda Land turned out to be just another theme park proposal that never materialized, joining an eclectic list that includes the Worlds of Jules Verne, the Ancient Chinese City and even Canada's Wonderland when it was first being planned.[] The Maharishi commissioned plans from a prominent architect for the world's tallest building, a Vedic-style pyramid to be built in São Paulo, Brazil, and to be filled with Yogic Flyers and other TM endeavours.[] The Maharishi founded Maharishi Ved Vigyan Vishwa Vidyapeetham, a self-described educational institution located in Uttar Pradesh, India, in The institution reports that it has trained 50, pundits in traditional Vedic recitation.[][] In , the Maharishi invited government leaders to interact with his organization called "World Government".[30]

In January , offices at the Maharishinagar complex in New Delhi were raided by Indian tax authorities and the Maharishi and his organisation were accused of falsifying expenses.[] Reports on the value of stocks, fixed-deposit notes, cash and jewels confiscated, vary from source to source.[][][][] The Maharishi, who was "headquartered in Switzerland" at the time, reportedly moved to the Netherlands "after the Indian government accused him of tax fraud".[]) Following an earthquake in Armenia, the Maharishi trained Russian TM teachers and set up a Maharishi Ayurveda training centre in the Urals region.[] Beginning in , the Maharishi's movement began incorporating the term "Maharishi" into the names of their new and existing entities, concepts and programmes.[]

Years in Vlodrop (–)[edit]

The Maharishi's headquarters in MERU, The Netherlands

In , the Maharishi relocated his headquarters from Seelisberg, Switzerland, to a former Franciscan monastery in Vlodrop, the Netherlands, which became known as MERU, Holland, on account of the Maharishi European Research University (MERU) campus there.[][] During his time in Vlodrop, he communicated to the public mainly via video and the internet. He also created a subscription-based, satellite TV channel, called Veda Vision, which broadcast content in 22 languages and countries.[96]

In , the Maharishi called Washington D.C. a "pool of mud" after a decade of attempts to lower the rate of crime in the city, which had the second-largest TM community in the US. He told his followers to leave and save themselves from its "criminal atmosphere".[] The Maharishi is believed to have made his final public appearance in , in Maastricht, the Netherlands.[]Deepak Chopra, described as "one of the Maharishi's top assistants before he launched his own career",[14] wrote that the Maharishi collapsed in with kidney and pancreas failure, that the illness was kept secret by the Maharishi's family and that he tended to Maharishi during a year-long recovery. According to Chopra, the Maharishi accused him, in July , of trying to compete for the position of guru and asked him to stop travelling and writing books, which led to Chopra's decision to leave the movement in January []

As part of a world plan for peace, the Maharishi inaugurated the Natural Law Party (NLP) and calling it a "natural government".[] His adherents founded the NLP in [] It was active in forty-two countries.[]John Hagelin, the NLP's three-time candidate for U.S. president, denied any formal connection between the Maharishi and the party.[] According to spokesman Bob Roth, "The Maharishi has said the party has to grow to encompass everyone".[] Critics charged that the party was an effort to recruit people for Transcendental Meditation,[] and that it resembled "the political arm of an international corporation" more than a "home-grown political creation".[] The Indian arm of the NLP, the Ajeya Bharat Party, achieved electoral success, winning one seat in a state assembly in [] The Maharishi shut down the political effort in , saying, "I had to get into politics to know what is wrong there."[]

In , the Maharishi began to send groups of Yogic Flyers to countries like India, Brazil, China and America in an effort to promote world peace through "coherent world consciousness".[] In and , he decided to raise the fees for learning the TM technique.[][][]

In the Maharishi's organization built the largest wooden structure in the Netherlands without using any nails.[96][] The building was the Maharishi's residence for the last two decades of his life. In later years, the Maharishi rarely left his two-room quarters in order to preserve his health and energy.[19] He used videoconferencing to communicate with the world and with his advisors.[19][] Built to Maharishi Sthapatya Veda architectural standards, the structure, according to the Maharishi, is said to have helped him infuse "the light of Total Knowledge" into "the destiny of the human race".[][]

In , the Maharishi founded the Global Country of World Peace (GCWP) "to create global world peace by unifying all nations in happiness, prosperity, invincibility and perfect health, while supporting the rich diversity of our world family".[1][] The Maharishi crowned Tony Nader, a physician and MIT-trained neuroscientist,[36] as the king or Maharaja of the GCWP in [] The GCWP unsuccessfully attempted to establish a sovereign micronation when it offered US$ billion to the President of Suriname for a year lease of 3, acres (14&#;km2) of land and in , attempted to choose a king for the Talamanca, a "remote Indian reservation" in Costa Rica.[][]

In , followers of the Maharishi founded Maharishi Vedic City a few miles north of Fairfield, Iowa, in the United States. This new city requires that the construction of its homes and buildings be done according to the Maharishi Sthapatya Veda principles of "harmony with nature".[]

In a appearance on the CNN show, Larry King Live, the first time in twenty-five years that the Maharishi had appeared in the mainstream media, he said "Transcendental Meditation is something that can be defined as a means to do what one wants to do in a better way, a right way, for maximum results".[94] It was occasioned by the reissue of the Maharishi's book The Science of Being and Art of Living.[] That same year, the Maharishi Global Financing Research Foundation issued the "Raam" as a currency "dedicated to financing peace promoting projects".[96]

In , David Lynch began a fundraising project to raise US$1 billion "on behalf of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi" to build a meditation centre large enough to hold 8, skilled practitioners.[]

The Maharishi ordered a suspension of TM training in Britain in due to his opposition to prime minister Tony Blair's decision to support the Iraq War.[] The Maharishi said that he did not want to waste the "beautiful nectar" of TM on a "scorpion nation".[][] He lifted the ban after Blair's resignation in [] During this period, skeptics were critical of some of the Maharishi's programmes, such as a US$10 trillion plan to end poverty through organic farming in poor countries and a US$1 billion plan to use meditation groups to end conflict.[]


Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, concerned about his health,[] became increasingly secluded in two rooms of his residence.[] During this period he rarely had in-person meetings and instead communicated with his followers almost exclusively by closed-circuit television.[1]

On 12 January , his ninetieth birthday, the Maharishi declared: "It has been my pleasure at the feet of Guru Dev (Brahmananda Saraswati), to take the light of Guru Dev and pass it on in my environment. Now today, I am closing my designed duty to Guru Dev. And I can only say, 'Live long the world in peace, happiness, prosperity, and freedom from suffering.'"[][][]

A week before his death, the Maharishi said that he was "stepping down as leader of the TM movement" and "retreating into silence" and that he planned to spend his remaining time studying "the ancient Indian texts".[94][] The Maharishi died peacefully in his sleep of natural causes on 5 February at his residence in Vlodrop, Netherlands.[] The cremation and funeral rites were conducted at the Maharishi's Allahabad ashram in India, overlooking the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers.[][]

The funeral, with state honours, was carried by Sadhana TV station and was presided over by one of the claimants to the seat of Shankaracharya of the North, Swami Vasudevananda Saraswati Maharaj.[] Indian officials who attended the funeral included central minister Subodh Kant Sahay; Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Ashok Singhal; and former Uttar Pradesh assembly speaker and state BJP leader Keshri Nath Tripathi, as well as top local officials.[] Also in attendance were thirty-five rajas of the Global Country of World Peace, one-time disciple Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and David Lynch.[] A troop of uniformed policemen lowered their arms in salute.[] The funeral received its status as a state funeral because the Maharishi was a recognised master in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta founded by Shankara.[]

The Maharishi is survived by a brother and "a number of nephews".[] One nephew, Girish Chandra Varma,[] is chairman of the Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools Group[][] and a "senior functionary of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement in India."[] Other nephews include Prakash Shrivastav,[] president of Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools[] and Anand Shrivastava,[] chairman of the Maharishi Group.[]

In its obituary, BBC News reported that the Maharishi's master had bequeathed him "the task of keeping the tradition of Transcendental Meditation alive" and that "the Maharishi's commercial mantras drew criticism from stricter Hindus, but his promises of better health, stress relief and spiritual enlightenment drew devotees from all over the world".[33]Paul McCartney commented saying that "Whilst I am deeply saddened by his passing, my memories of him will only be joyful ones. He was a great man who worked tirelessly for the people of the world and the cause of unity."[]


Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on a stamp of India

The Maharishi left a legacy that includes the revival of India's ancient spiritual tradition of meditation, which he made available to everyone.[] He is considered responsible for the popularisation of meditation in the west,[][] something he accomplished by teaching Transcendental Meditation worldwide through a highly effective organization of his own development.[] The Maharishi is also credited with "the proposal of the existence of a unique or fourth state of consciousness with a basis in physiology" and the application of scientific studies to research on the physiological effects of Transcendental Meditation and the development of higher states of consciousness, areas previously relegated to mysticism.[][][][] Partly because of this, Newsweek credited him with helping to launch "a legitimate new field of neuroscience".[][] According to The Times of India, his "unique and enduring contribution to humankind was his deep understanding of – and mechanics of experiencing – pure consciousness".[] A memorial building, the Maharishi Smarak, was inaugurated at Allahabad in February [][]

Philosophy and teaching[edit]

The Maharishi had come out to teach with the "avowed intention" to change "the course of human history".[] When he first began teaching he had three main aims: to revive the spiritual tradition in India, to show that meditation was for everyone and not just for recluses, and to show that Vedanta is compatible with science.[] The Maharishi had a message of happiness, writing in that "being happy is of the utmost importance. Success in anything is through happiness. Under all circumstances be happy. Just think of any negativity that comes at you as a raindrop falling into the ocean of your bliss".[94] His philosophy featured the concept that "within everyone is an unlimited reservoir of energy, intelligence, and happiness".[15] He emphasised the naturalness of his meditation technique as a simple way of developing this potential.[]

Beginning in , the Maharishi began to recommend the daily practice of yoga exercises or asanas to further accelerate growth.[]

He also taught that practising Transcendental Meditation twice a day would create inner peace and that "mass meditation sessions" could create outer peace by reducing violence and war.[94] According to a TM website, the performance of yagyas by 7, pandits in India, plus hundreds of Yogic Flyers in Germany, brought "coherence and unity in the collective consciousness of Germany" and caused the fall of the Berlin Wall.[][][] One religion scholar, Michael York, considers the Maharishi to have been the most articulate spokesman for the spiritual argument that a critical mass of people becoming enlightened through the practice of "meditation and yogic discipline" will trigger the New Age movement's hoped-for period of postmillennial "peace, harmony, and collective consciousness".[] Religious studies scholar Carl Olson writes that the TM technique was based on "a neo-Vedanta metaphysical philosophy in which an unchanging reality is opposed to an ever-changing phenomenal world" and that the Maharishi says it is not necessary to renounce worldly activities to gain enlightenment, unlike other ascetic traditions.[]

According to author Jack Forem, the Maharishi stated that the experience of transcendence, which resulted in a naturally increasing refinement of mind and body, enabled people to naturally behave in more correct ways. Thus, behavioral guidelines did not need to be issued, and were best left to the teachings of various religions: "It is much easier to raise a man's consciousness than to get him to act righteously" the Maharishi said.[]

Some religious studies scholars have further said that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is one of a number of Indian gurus who brought neo-Hindu adaptations of Vedantic Hinduism to the west.[][][] Author Meera Nanda calls neo-Hinduism "the brand of Hinduism that is taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Deepak Chopra, and their clones".[] J. R. Coplin, a sociologist and MIU graduate, says that the Maharishi saw his own purpose as "the 'revival' of the knowledge of an integrated life based upon Vedic principles and Vedantist reality".[39]

Author Barry Miles writes that, in spite of the media's scepticism for the Maharishi's spiritual message, they seized upon him because young people seemed to listen to his pro-establishment, anti-drug message with one TM participant saying the Maharishi "signaled the beginning of the post-acid generation".[][]

Transcendental Meditation[edit]

Main article: Transcendental Meditation

During a CNN interview in , the Maharishi said "Transcendental meditation is something that can be defined as a means to do what one wants to do in a better way, a right way, for maximum results".[94] His movement offered in-residence style TM advanced courses.[] By the time of his death, there were nearly 1, TM training centres around the world.[96]

The Maharishi is credited as having contributed to the western world a meditation technique that is both simple and systematic as well as introducing the scientific study of meditation.[]

In the mid s, the Maharishi began the TM-Sidhi programme, which included Yogic Flying, as an additional option for those who had been practising the Transcendental Meditation technique for some time. According to Coplin, this new aspect of knowledge emphasised not only the individual, but also the collective benefits created by group practice of this advanced programme.[] This new programme gave rise to a new principle called the Maharishi Effect, which is said to "create coherence in the collective consciousness" and to suppress crime, violence, and accidents.[]

Maharishi Vedic Science[edit]

Entrance to the Maharishi University of Management and Maharishi Vedic University campus in Vlodrop, the Netherlands

Maharishi Vedic Science (MVS) is based on the Maharishi's interpretation of the ancient Vedic texts based on his master, Brahmananda Saraswati's teachings.[] MVS aims to put forward traditional Vedic literature in the light of Western traditions of knowledge and understanding.[] According to Roy Ascott, MVS also explains the potential for every human being to experience the infinite nature of transcendental consciousness, also defined as Being or Self, while engaged in normal activities of daily life.[] Once this state is fully established an individual is no longer influenced by outer aspects of existence and perceives pure consciousness in everything.[] MVS includes two aspects, the practical aspect of the Transcendental Meditation technique and the TM-Sidhi programme, as well as the theoretical aspect of how MVS is applied to day to day living.[] These applications include programmes in: Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health (MVAH);[][]Maharishi Sthapatya Veda, a mathematical system for the design and construction of buildings;[][] Maharishi Gandharva Veda,[] a form of classical Indian music; Maharishi Jyotish (also known as Maharishi Vedic Astrology),[][] a system claiming the evaluation of life tendencies of an individual; Maharishi Vedic Agriculture, a trademarked process for producing fresh, organic food; and Consciousness-Based Education.[][] According to educator James Grant, a former Maharishi University of Management Associate Professor of Education and the former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Maharishi brought out a "full revival of the Vedic tradition of knowledge from India" and demonstrated its relevance in many areas including education, business, medicine and government.[]


The Maharishi wrote more than twenty books on the Transcendental Meditation technique and Maharishi Vedic Science.[]

The Beacon Light of the Himalayas[edit]

In , the organisers of the Great Spiritual Development Conference of Kerala published The Beacon Light of the Himalayas, a transcribed page "souvenir" of the conference. Authors Chryssides, Humes and Forsthoefel, Miller, and Russel cite this as the Maharishi's first published book on Transcendental Meditation, although Transcendental Meditation is not mentioned in the text of the book.[][][][][] The book is dedicated to Maharshi Bala Brahmachari Mahesh Yogi Rajaram by his devotees of Kerala and contains photographs, letters and lectures by numerous authors which appear in various languages such as English, Hindi and Sanskrit.[]

Science of Being and Art of Living[edit]

In , the Maharishi audiotaped the text of the book Science of Being and Art of Living, which was later transcribed and published in fifteen languages.[94][][] K.T. Weidmann describes the book as the Maharishi's fundamental philosophical treatise, one in which its author provides an illustration of the ancient Vedic traditions of India in terms that can be easily interpreted and understood by the scientific thinking of the western world.[7] In the Science of Being, the Maharishi illustrates the concepts of relative existence as the experience of everyday reality through one's senses, and absolute reality as the origin of being, and the source of all creative intelligence.[] The Maharishi describes this absolute reality, or Being, as unchanging, omnipresent, and eternal. He also identifies it with bliss consciousness. The two aspects of reality, the relative and the absolute, are like an ocean with many waves.[] The waves represent the relative, and the ocean beneath is the foundation of everything, or Being. Establishing oneself in the field of Being, or unchanging reality, ensures stability.[]

In his Science of Being the Maharishi introduced an additional concept: that of fulfillment viewed as something to be obtained not through exertion or self effort, but through the progressive settling of the mind during the practice of TM.[][] This was the first full systematic description of the principles underlying the Maharishi's teachings.[]

Bhagavad-Gita: A New Translation and Commentary: [edit]

In his publication, Bhagavad-Gita: A New Translation and Commentary, the Maharishi describes the Bhagavad Gita as "the Scripture of Yoga". He says that "its purpose is to explain in theory and practice all that is needed to raise the consciousness of man to the highest possible level."[] According to Peter Russell, the Bhagavad-Gita deals with the concept of loss of knowledge and subsequent revival, and this is brought out by the Maharishi himself in the introduction.[] In the Preface, the Maharishi writes: "The purpose of this commentary is to restore the fundamental truths of the Bhagavad-Gita and thus restore the significance of its teaching. If this teaching is followed, effectiveness in life will be achieved, men will be fulfilled on all levels and the historical need of the age will be fulfilled also."[]

A second concept, that of freedom, presented as the antithesis of fear, is also prevalent in the book, according to Jack Forem.[] Forem states that in his interpretation of the Gita, the Maharishi expressed several times that as man gains greater awareness through the practice of Transcendental Meditation, he gradually establishes a level of contentment which remain increasingly grounded within him and in which the mind does not waver and is not affected by either attachment or fear.[]

Characterizations and criticism[edit]

The Maharishi was reported to be a vegetarian,[27] an entrepreneur, a monk and "a spiritual man who sought a world stage from which to espouse the joys of inner happiness".[1] He was described as an abstemious man with tremendous energy who took a weekly day of silence while sleeping only two hours per night.[27] He did not present himself as a guru or claim his teachings as his own. Instead he taught "in the name of his guru Brahmananda Saraswati"[23] and paid tribute to him by placing a picture of Saraswati behind him when he spoke.[27] He was on a mission to bring the ancient techniques of TM to the world.[65] Scientist and futurist Buckminster Fuller spent two days with the Maharishi at a symposium at the University of Massachusetts in and said, "You could not meet with Maharishi without recognizing instantly his integrity."[] Authors Douglas E. Cowan and David G. Bromley write that the Maharishi did not claim any "special divine revelation nor supernatural personal qualities".[] Still others said he helped to "inspire the anti-materialism of the late 60s" and received good publicity because he "opposed drugs".[15][] According to author Chryssides, "The Maharishi tended to emphasize the positive aspects of humanity, focusing on the good that exists in everyone."

According to The Times the Maharishi attracted scepticism because of his involvement with wealthy celebrities, his business acumen, and his love of luxury, including touring in a Rolls-Royce.[96] A reporter for The Economist calls this a "misconception" saying: "He did not use his money for sinister ends. He neither drank, nor smoked, nor took drugs. He did not accumulate scores of Rolls-Royces, like Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh; his biggest self-indulgence was a helicopter. "[][] When some observers questioned how his organisation's money was being used, the Maharishi said, "It goes to support the centres, it does not go on me. I have nothing."[] However, when the Maharishi died in , he left behind an estate worth an estimated $ million (U.S.). He was survived by four nephews, who inherited 12, acres of land in India, and Tony Nader, a Lebanese neuroscientist whom he had anointed as his successor in the movement.[1]. Since his death, several memoirs have been written by former followers and their children who described the Maharishi as a cult leader who could be controlling, and his Centers a financial business.[2][3]

He was often referred to as the "Giggling Guru" because of his habit of laughing during television interviews.[][] Diminutive at a little over five feet tall, the Maharishi often wore a traditional cotton or silk, white dhoti while carrying or wearing flowers.[1] He often sat cross-legged on a deerskin and had a "grayish-white beard, mustache and long, dark, stringy hair".[1][]Barry Miles described the Maharishi as having "liquid eyes, twinkling but inscrutable with the wisdom from the East".[] Miles said the Maharishi in his seventies looked much younger than his age.[] He had a high pitched voice and in the words of Merv Griffin, "a long flowing beard and a distinctive, high pitched laugh that I loved to provoke".[][]

Biographer Paul Mason's web site says that Swami Swaroopananda, one of three claimants to the title Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, is "an outspoken critic" of the Maharishi. According to Swaroopananda, the Maharishi "was responsible for the controversy over Shankaracharyas" because he gave Shankaracharya Swami Shantanand encouragement and assistance in fighting the court case which challenged Shantanand's inheritance of the title.[] In a review of the documentary film David Wants to Fly, Variety magazine reported Swaroopananda's assertion that "as a member of the trader class" the Maharishi "has no right to give mantras or teach meditation".[29] According to religious scholar Cynthia Humes, enlightened individuals of any caste may "teach brahmavidya"[] and author Patricia Drake writes that "when Guru Dev was about to die he charged Maharishi with teaching laymen to meditate".[] Mason says Shantanand "publicly commended the practice of the Maharishi's meditation"[] and sociologist J.R. Coplin says that Shantanand's successor, Swami Vishnudevanand, also "speaks highly of the Maharishi".[25][]

While the Beatles were in Rishikesh allegations of sexual improprieties by the Maharishi in his ashram were circulated but participants later denied them and no law suits were ever filed.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

The British satirical magazine Private Eye ridiculed him as "Veririchi Lotsamoney Yogi Bear".[66] The Maharishi was also parodied by comedians Bill Dana and Joey Forman in the comedy album The Mashuganishi Yogi,[] by actor Cash Oshman in the film Man on the Moon, by comedian Mike Myers in the film The Love Guru,[citation needed] and in the BBC sketch show Goodness Gracious Me.[] He was portrayed by actor Gerry Bednob in the film Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

He was also the subject of the Beatles' song "Sexy Sadie" in which John Lennon characterized him as a fraud.[] In an episode of the popular BBC Radio 4 fictional comedy show Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge a comment is made about Yogi when Partridge is interviewing a spiritual man comparing him to Buddha, Dalai Lama, Uri Geller and "that man The Beatles went to see"

Other initiatives, projects and programmes[edit]

Main article: Transcendental Meditation movement

Maharishi International University (renamed Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in ), the first university the Maharishi founded, began classes in Santa Barbara, California, in In the university moved to Fairfield, Iowa, where it remains today. The university houses a library of the Maharishi's taped lectures and writings, including the thirty-three-lesson Science of Creative Intelligence course, originally a series of lectures given by the Maharishi in Fiuggi, Italy, in Described in the MUM university catalogue as combining modern science and Vedic science,[] the course also defines certain higher states of consciousness, and gives guidance on how to attain these states.[] Though the university claims to grant PhDs, including in neuroscience and psychology, the university is not accredited by either the America Psychological Association (APA)[] or the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.[]

MCEE School Campus at Bhopal, India

The Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools (MVMS), an educational system established in sixteen Indian states and affiliated with the New Delhi Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), was founded in by the Maharishi.[] It has branches in cities with 90, to , students and 5, teaching and support staff.[]

In , Maharishi Open University was founded by the Maharishi. It was accessible via a network of eight satellites broadcasting to every country in the world, and via the Internet.[][]

The Maharishi also introduced theories of management, defence, and government[] programmes designed to alleviate poverty, and introduced a new economic development currency called the Raam.[] In , the Maharishi began building administrative and teaching centres called "Peace Palaces" around the world, and by at least eight had been constructed in the US alone.[] The Maharishi Institute, an African university that is part of a group of schools around the world that are named after him, was founded in and uses his Transcendental Meditation technique in their teaching.[][]

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in his farewell message on 11 January , announced the establishment of the Brahmananda Saraswati Trust (BST), named in honour of his teacher, to support large groups totalling more than 30, peace-creating Vedic Pandits in perpetuity across India.[] The Patron of the Brahmanand Saraswati Trust is the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math.[]

Organizations and businesses[edit]

The Maharishi is credited with heading charitable organisations, for-profit businesses, and real estate investments whose total value has been estimated at various times, to range from US$2 to US$5 billion. The real estate alone was valued in at between $ and $5 billion.[] Holdings in the United States, estimated at $ million in , include dozens of hotels, commercial buildings and undeveloped land.[] The Maharishi "amassed a personal fortune that his spokesman told one reporter may exceed $1 billion".[] According to a article in The Times, the Maharishi "was reported to have an income of six million pounds".[96] The Maharishi's movement is said to be funded through donations, course fees for Transcendental Meditation and various real estate transactions.[]

In his biography of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Story of the Maharishi (published ), William Jefferson suggests that the financial aspect of the TM organisation was one of the greatest controversies it faced. Questions were raised about the Maharishi's mission, comments from leaders of the movement at that time, and fees and charges the TM organisation levied on followers. Jefferson says that the concerns with money came from journalists more than those who have learned to meditate.[28]

Published works[edit]

  • Beacon Light of the Himalayas, Azad Printers,
  • Meditation&#;: easy system propounded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi., International Meditation Centre,
  • Science of Being and Art of Living – Transcendental Meditation, Allied Publishers, ISBN&#;
  • Love and God, Spiritual Regeneration Movement,
  • Yoga asanas, Spiritual Regeneration Movement,
  • Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita – A New Translation and Commentary, Chapters 1–6, Arkana ISBN&#;
  • Meditations of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Bantam books,
  • Alliance for knowledge, Maharishi International University,
  • Creating an ideal society: a global undertaking, International Association for the Advancement of the Science of Creative Intelligence,
  • Results of scientific research on the Transcendental Meditation program, MERU Press,
  • Enlightenment to every individual, invincibility to every nation, Age of Enlightenment, ISBN&#;
  • Freedom behind bars: enlightenment to every individual and invincibility to every nation, International Association for the Advancement of the Science of Creative Intelligence,
  • Dawn of the age of enlightenment, MVU Press, ISBN&#;
  • Life supported by natural law&#;: discovery of the Unified Field of all the laws of nature and the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field, Age of Enlightenment Press, ISBN&#;
  • Thirty years around the world: dawn of the Age of Enlightenment, Maharishi Vedic University, ISBN&#;
  • Maharishi's Programme to create world peace: global inauguration, Age of Enlightenment Press, ISBN&#;
  • Maharishi's master plan to create heaven on earth, Maharishi Vedic University Press, ISBN&#;
  • A Proven program for our criminal justice system: Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation and Corrections, Maharishi International University,
  • Vedic knowledge for everyone: Maharishi Vedic University, an introduction, Maharishi Vedic University Press, ISBN&#;
  • Maharishi's Absolute Theory of Government – Automation in Administration, Maharishi Prakshan, ISBN&#;
  • Maharishi University of Management – Wholeness on the Move, Age of Enlightenment Publications, ISBN&#;
  • Constitution of India Fulfilled through Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation, Age of Enlightenment Publications, ISBN&#;
  • Inaugurating Maharishi Vedic University, Maharishi Vedic University Press, ISBN&#;
  • Maharishi's Absolute Theory of Defence – Sovereignty in Invincibility, Age of Enlightenment Publications, ISBN&#;
  • Celebrating Perfection in Education – Dawn of Total Knowledge, Maharishi Vedic University Press, ISBN&#;
  • Maharishi Forum of Natural Law and National Law for Doctors – Perfect Health for Everyone, Age of Enlightenment Publications, ISBN&#;
  • Maharishi Speaks to Educators – Mastery Over Natural Law, Age of Enlightenment Publications, ISBN&#;
  • Maharishi Speaks to Students – Mastery Over Natural Law, Age of Enlightenment Publications, ISBN&#;
  • Celebrating Perfection in Administration, Maharishi Vedic University, ISBN&#;
  • Ideal India – The Lighthouse of Peace on Earth, Maharishi University of Management, ISBN&#;
  • Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on Bhagavad-Gita – Chapter 7, , Maharishi Foundation International-Maharishi Vedic University, The Netherlands


  1. ^ abcdefghijkKoppel, Lily (6 February ). "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Spiritual Leader, Dies". The New York Times.
  2. ^ abYogi's passport.
  3. ^Chetan, Mahesh (5 March ). "10 Most Inspiring Yoga Gurus of India". Indian Yoga Association. Retrieved 16 August
  4. ^Beckford, James A. (). Cult controversies: the societal response to new religious movements. Tavistock Publications. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  5. ^Parsons, Gerald (). The Growth of Religious Diversity: Traditions. The Open University/Methuen. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  6. ^Chryssides, George D. (August ) "Defining the New Spirituality, CESNUR 14th International Conference, Riga, Latvia: "One possible suggestion is that religion demands exclusive allegiance: this would ipso facto exclude Scientology, TM and the Soka Gakkai simply on the grounds that they claim compatibility with whatever other religion the practitioner has been following. For example, TM is simply – as they state – a technique. Although it enables one to cope with life, it offers no goal beyond human existence (such as moksha), nor does it offer rites or passage or an ethic. Unlike certain other Hindu-derived movements, TM does not prescribe a dharma to its followers – that is to say a set of spiritual obligations deriving from one's essential nature."
  7. ^ abcWeidmann, K.T. (). "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi". In von Dehsen, Christian (ed.). Philosophers and Religious Leaders: An Encyclopedia of People Who Changed the World. Greenwood. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  8. ^ abcMason (), p. 28
  9. ^ abcdefghiGoldberg, Philip (). American Veda: from Emerson and the Beatles to yoga and meditation. Harmony Books, Crown Publishing/Random House. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  10. ^Oates, Robert M. (). Celebrating the dawn: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the TM technique. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  11. ^Carlton, Jim (15 April ). "For $1, a Head, Maharishi Promises Mellower Inmates Transcendental Meditation Goes to Prison as Backers Try to Lock Up Contracts". The Wall Street Journal. New York, N.Y. p.&#;A
  12. ^ abcdeShankar, Jay (6 February ). "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 20 July Retrieved 15 August
  13. ^Richardson, Mark (12 October ). "A leap of faith". The Ottawa Citizen. p.&#;A
  14. ^ abcdefghWoo, Elaine (6 February ). "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi". Los Angeles Times.
  15. ^ abcdeHudson, Alexandra (6 February ). "Beatles Indian Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi". Reuters. Archived from the original on 29 August
  16. ^Page, Jeremy; Hoyle, Ben (6 February ). "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Dies a Recluse". The Times. London.
  17. ^"Gifts of the Global Country of World Peace: Education Products Services". Archived from the original on 26 March Retrieved 28 August
  18. ^Warren, Jenifer (27 October ). "Party Asks Voters to Put Their Faith in Meditation; Politics: Skeptics scoff at Natural Law Party's answer to nation's ills, but backers say they have more to offer". Los Angeles Times. p.&#;1.
  19. ^ abcKoppel, Lily (8 October ). "Encounter: Outer Peace". The New York Times.
  20. ^Srinivasan, Hinduism For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons.
  21. ^Goldberg, Philip, –. American Veda&#;: from Emerson and the Beatles to yoga and meditation—how Indian spirituality changed the West (First paperback&#;ed.). New York. ISBN&#;. OCLC&#;CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. ^Coplin, Ch. 2, Socio-Historical Context for SRM's Emergence, Footnote # "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's caste background is a matter of some uncertainty because it is the tradition of yogis, ascetics, and renunciants to relinquish their family ties. His education and family status are known by many long-time movement members, however. Shrivastava is the family name of his cousins and nephews, and that name can be traced to the Hindu Kayasthas."
  23. ^ abHumes, p. 61
  24. ^Distinguished Alumni. Allahabad University
  25. ^ abKalambakal, Jupiter (6 February ). "Transcendental Meditation Founder Maharishi Dies". All Headline News. Archived from the original on 17 March Retrieved 3 September
  26. ^"Our Proud Past, Allahabad University Alumni Association". 7 July Archived from the original on 7 July
  27. ^ abcdefghijklmnKroll, Una () The Healing Potential of Transcendental Meditation, John Knox Press. Ch. 1: The Guru, pp 17– ISBN&#;
  28. ^ abcdJefferson, William () The Story of The Maharishi, Pocket Books. pp 7– ISBN&#;
  29. ^ abSimon, Alyssa (14 February ). "David Wants to Fly". Variety. [Swami Swaroopanand, successor to Guru Dev, in a village near Tibet. The swami tells Sieveking that the Maharishi, from a trader caste, was merely Guru Dev's bookkeeper and, besides, he notes, "Gurus don't sell their knowledge, they share it."]
  30. ^ abcdefgLewis, James () Prometheus Books, Odd Gods, New Religions and the Cult Controversy, pp –,
  31. ^Coplin, p. "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi . . . was most likely born into a family of Hindu Kayasthas, a well-known and high-status literary caste of Hindustan – with reference to varna, a kshatryia not a brahmin jati".
  32. ^Ruthven, Malise (6 February ). "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 April
  33. ^ abc"Obituary: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi". BBC News. 6 February
  34. ^Coplin, Ch.2, footnote 74
  35. ^Humes, pp. 59–
  36. ^ abWilliamson, p. 81
  37. ^Goldberg, Philip (). American Veda. Harmony Books. p.&#;
  38. ^ abcMason (), p. 22
  39. ^ abCoplin, Ch. 3, SRM as Cultural Revitalization Text: "While his association with the illustrious Shankaracharya tradition served as vital letter of introduction throughout India, his title, "bala brahmachari" identified him as a fully dedicated student of spiritual knowledge and life-long celibate ascetic. Literally, the name means "childhood or boy" (bala) "student of sacred knowledge" (brahmachari), and it has signified from Vedic times one who has taken the vow of chastity."
  40. ^'Thirty Years Around the World- Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment', MVU, , pp
  41. ^Mason, Paul, – (). The Maharishi&#;: the biography of the man who gave transcendental meditation to the world. Shaftesbury, Dorset. ISBN&#;. OCLC&#;CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  42. ^Bloomfield, Harold H (). TM*: discovering inner energy and overcoming stress. Cain, Michael Peter, –, Jaffe, Dennis T. New York: Delacorte Press. pp.&#; ISBN&#;. OCLC&#;
  43. ^Williamson
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History of meditation

The practice of meditation is of prehistoric origin, and is found throughout history, especially in religious contexts.[1]


Further information: Axial Age

In Hinduism, meditation as a spiritual exercise and religious practice is first mentioned in the Upanishads.[2] The Upanishad discuss meditation as a way to remove ignorance and to acquire knowledge and oneness with the Absolute.[2]

Around the 6th to 5th centuries BCE, other forms of meditation developed in Taoist China and Buddhist India. Dhyana in early Buddhism also takes influence on Vedanta by ca. the 4th-century BCE.[1]

The exact origins of Buddhist meditation are subject to debate among scholars.[3] Early written records of the multiple levels and stages of meditation in Buddhism in India are found in the sutras of the Pāli Canon, which dates to 1st century BCE. The Pali Canon records the basic fourfold formula of salvation via the observance of the rules of morality, contemplative concentration, knowledge and liberation, thus placing meditation as a step along the path of salvation.[4] By the time Buddhism was spreading in China, the Vimalakirti Sutra which dates to CE included a number of passages on meditation and enlightened wisdom, clearly pointing to Zen.[5]

In the west, by 20 BCE Philo of Alexandria had written on some form of "spiritual exercises" involving attention (prosocial) and concentration[6] and by the 3rd century Plotinus had developed meditative techniques, which however did not attract a following among Christian meditators. Saint Augustine experimented with the methods of Plotinus and failed to achieve ecstasy.[7]

The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism introduced meditation to other oriental countries. Bodhidharma is traditionally considered the transmitter of the concept of Zen to China. However, the first "original school" in East Asia was founded by his contemporary Zhiyi in the 6th century in central China. Zhiyi managed to systematically organize the various teachings that had been imported from India in a way that their relationship with each other made sense.[8]Wonhyo and Uisang promoted Korean Buddhism in the 7th century.

There is evidence that Judaism has inherited meditative practices from its predecessor traditions[citation needed] in Israelite antiquity. For instance, in the Torah, the patriarch Isaac is described as going "lasuach" in the field - a term understood by most commentators as some type of meditative practice (Genesis ).[9] There are indications throughout the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) and ancient rabbinic literature of practices of Jewish meditation.[9]

Middle Ages[edit]

With the growth of Japanese Buddhism from the 7th century onwards, meditative practices were brought to and further developed in Japan. The Japanese monk Dosho learned of Zen during his visit to China in and upon his return opened the first meditation hall in Japan, at Nara.[10] Meditative practices continued to arrive in Japan from China and were subjected to modification. When Dōgen returned to Japan from China around , he wrote the instructions for Zazen, or sitting meditation, and conceived of a community of monks primarily focused on Zazen.[11][12]

Early practices of Jewish meditation grew and changed by the Middle Ages. Jewish meditation practices that developed included meditative approaches to prayer, mitzvot and study. Some forms of meditation involved Kabbalistic practices, and some involved approaches of Jewish philosophy.[13]

Sufi view or Islamic mysticism involves meditative practices. Remembrance of God in Islam, which is known by the concept Dhikr is interpreted in different meditative techniques in Sufism or Islamic mysticism.[14][15] This became one of the essential elements of Sufism as it was systematized in the 11th and 12th centuries. It is juxtaposed with fikr (thinking) which leads to knowledge.[16] By the 12th century, the practice of Sufism included specific meditative techniques, and its followers practiced breathing controls and the repetition of holy words.[17]

Eastern Christian meditation can involve the repetition of a phrase in a specific physical posture, and can be traced back to the Byzantine period. Between the 10th and 14th centuries, hesychasm was developed, particularly on Mount Athos in Greece, and continues to the present. It involves the repetition of the Jesus prayer.[18] It is possible that there were interactions between Hesychasts and the Indians or the Sufis, but this can not be proven.[19][20]

WesternChristian meditation contrasts with most other approaches in that it does not involve the repetition of any phrase or action and requires no specific posture. Western Christian meditation progressed from the 6th century practice of Bible reading among Benedictine monks called Lectio Divina, i.e. divine reading. Its four formal steps as a "ladder" were defined by the monk Guigo II in the 12th century with the Latin terms lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio (i.e. read, ponder, pray, contemplate). Western Christian meditation was further developed by saints such as Ignatius of Loyola and Teresa of Avila in the 16th century.[21][22][23][24]

Modern dissemination in the West[edit]

By the 18th century, the study of Buddhism in the West was a topic for intellectuals. The philosopher Schopenhauer discussed it,[25] and Voltaire asked for toleration towards Buddhists.[26] There was also some influence[clarification needed] from the Enlightenment through the Encyclopédie of Denis Diderot (–), although he states, "I find that a meditation practitioner is often quite useless and that a contemplation practitioner is always insane".[27] Meditation has spread in the West since the late 19th century, accompanying increased travel and communication among cultures worldwide. Most prominent has been the transmission of Asian-derived practices to the West. In addition, interest in some Western-based meditative practices has been revived,[28] and these have been disseminated to a limited extent to Asian countries.[29]

Ideas about Eastern meditation had begun "seeping into American popular culture even before the American Revolution through the various sects of European occult Christianity",[30]:&#;3&#; and such ideas "came pouring in [to America] during the era of the transcendentalists, especially between the s and the s."[30]:&#;3&#; The following decades saw further spread of these ideas to America:

The World Parliament of Religions, held in Chicago in , was the landmark event that increased Western awareness of meditation. This was the first time that Western audiences on American soil received Asian spiritual teachings from Asians themselves. Thereafter, Swami Vivekananda [founded] various Vedanta ashrams Anagarika Dharmapala lectured at Harvard on Theravada Buddhist meditation in ; Abdul Baha [toured] the US teaching the principles of Bahai, and Soyen Shaku toured in teaching Zen[30]:&#;4&#;

New schools of yoga developed in Hindu revivalism from the s. Some of these schools were introduced to the West, by Vivekananda and later gurus. The first English translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead was published in [31]

More recently, in the s, another surge in Western interest in meditative practices began. Observers have suggested many types of explanations for this interest in Eastern meditation and revived Western contemplation. Thomas Keating, a founder of Contemplative Outreach, wrote that "the rush to the East is a symptom of what is lacking in the West. There is a deep spiritual hunger that is not being satisfied in the West."[32]:&#;31&#;Daniel Goleman, a scholar of meditation, suggested that the shift in interest from "established religions" to meditative practices "is caused by the scarcity of the personal experience of these [meditation-derived] transcendental states&#;– the living spirit at the common core of all religions."[33]:&#;xxiv&#; Another suggested contributing factor is the rise of communist political power in Asia, which "set the stage for an influx of Asian spiritual teachers to the West",[30]:&#;7&#; oftentimes as refugees.[34]

In addition to spiritual forms of meditation, secular forms of meditation have taken root. These were introduced in India in the s as a modern form of Hindu meditative techniques, arrived in Australia in the late s[35] and the United States and Europe in the s. Rather than focusing on spiritual growth, secular meditation emphasizes stress reduction, relaxation and self-improvement.[36][37] Other schools of yoga were designed as secularized variants of yoga traditions for use by non-Hindus, e.g. the system of Transcendental Meditation popular in the s, and numerous forms of Hatha Yoga derived from the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga school, which became known simply as "Yoga" in western terminology.[citation needed]

Both spiritual and secular forms of meditation have been subjects of scientific analyses. Research on meditation began in , with scientific research increasing dramatically during the s and s.[38] Since the beginning of the '70s more than a thousand studies of meditation in English have been reported.[38] However, after 60 years of scientific study, the exact mechanism at work in meditation remains unclear.[39]

From the s through the first part of the twenty-first century, the 'Jubu' (Jewish Buddhist) tradition has been a significant influence on meditation thinking in the West.[40]


In , Claudio Naranjo noted that "The word 'meditation' has been used to designate a variety of practices that differ enough from one another so that we may find trouble in defining what meditation is."[41]:&#;6&#; There remains no definition of necessary and sufficient criteria for meditation that has achieved universal or widespread acceptance within the modern scientific community, as one study recently noted a "persistent lack of consensus in the literature" and a "seeming intractability of defining meditation".[42]:&#;&#; Since then many attempts have been made to define meditation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ abA clinical guide to the treatment of human stress response by George S. Everly, Jeffrey M. Lating ISBN&#; page
  2. ^ abDhavamony, Mariasusai (). Classical Hinduism. Università Gregoriana Editrice. pp.&#;– ISBN&#;.CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  3. ^The origin of Buddhist meditation by Alexander Wynne ISBN&#; page 4
  4. ^Zen Buddhism: a History: India and China by Heinrich Dumoulin, James W. Heisig, Paul F. Knitter ISBN&#; pages 15
  5. ^Zen Buddhism: a History: India and China by Heinrich Dumoulin, James W. Heisig, Paul F. Knitter ISBN&#; pages 50
  6. ^Hadot, Pierre; Arnold I. Davidson () Philosophy as a way of lifeISBN&#; pages
  7. ^, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Christian meditation Ignatius Press ISBN&#; page 8
  8. ^The Sutra of perfect enlightenment: Korean Buddhism's guide to meditation by A. Charles Muller, ISBN&#; page 5
  9. ^ abKaplan, Aryeh (). Jewish Meditation. New York: Schocken Books. pp.&#;40– ISBN&#;.
  10. ^Zen Buddhism: a History: Japan by Heinrich Dumoulin, James W. Heisig, Paul F. Knitter ISBN&#; page 5
  11. ^Soto Zen in Medieval Japan by William Bodiford ISBN&#; page 39
  12. ^The Cambridge History of Japan: Medieval Japan by Kōzō Yamamura, John Whitney Hall ISBN&#;, p.
  13. ^Alan Brill, Dwelling with Kabbalah: Meditation, Ritual, and Study in Jewish Spirituality and Divine Law by Adam Mintz, Lawrence H. Schiffman ISBN&#; page
  14. ^Prayer: a history by Philip Zaleski, Carol Zaleski ISBN&#; pages –
  15. ^Global Encyclopaedia of Education by Rama Sankar Yadav & B.N. Mandal ISBN&#; page 63
  16. ^ Sainthood and revelatory discourse by David Emmanuel Singh ISBN&#; page
  17. ^Spiritual Psychology by Akbar Husain ISBN&#; page
  18. ^"Mount Athos: History". Macedonian Heritage. Archived from the original on 7 December Retrieved 12 May
  19. ^An introduction to the Christian Orthodox churches by John Binns ISBN&#; page
  20. ^"Hesychasm". OrthodoxWiki. Retrieved 12 May
  21. ^Christian Spirituality: A Historical Sketch by George Lane ISBN&#; page 20
  22. ^Christian spirituality: themes from the tradition by Lawrence S. Cunningham, Keith J. Egan ISBN&#; page 38
  23. ^The Oblate Life by Gervase Holdaway, ISBN&#; page
  24. ^After Augustine: the meditative reader and the text by Brian Stock ISBN&#; page
  25. ^Abelson, Peter (April ) Schopenhauer and BuddhismArchived 28 June at the Wayback Machine. Philosophy East and West Volume 43, Number 2, pp. University of Hawaii Press. Retrieved on: 12 April
  26. ^Enlightenment and reform in 18th-century Europe by Derek Edward Dawson Beales ISBN&#; page 13
  27. ^Diderot (Possibly) (Biography), Denis (15 December ). "Meditation". Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert – Collaborative Translation Project.
  28. ^Gustave Reininger, ed. (). Centering prayer in daily life and ministry. New York: Continuum. ISBN&#;.
  29. ^The organization Contemplative OutreachArchived at the Wayback Machine, which teaches Christian Centering Prayer, has chapters in non-Western locations in Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea (accessed 5 July )
  30. ^ abcdEugene Taylor (). Michael Murphy; Steven Donovan; Eugene Taylor (eds.). "Introduction". The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation: A Review of Contemporary Research with a Comprehensive Bibliography –: 1–
  31. ^Shakya, Tsering "Review of Prisoners of Shangri-la by Donald Lopez". online[permanent dead link]
  32. ^Keating, Thomas () [First published in ]. Open mind, open heart. New York: Continuum. ISBN&#;.
  33. ^Goleman, Daniel (). The meditative mind: The varieties of meditative experience. New York: Tarcher. ISBN&#;.
  34. ^Taylor (, p. 7) stated that "the increased Soviet influence in India, the Cultural Revolution in China, the Communist Chinese takeover of Tibet and Mongolia, and the increased political influence of Chinese Communism in Korea and Southeast Asia were key forces that collectively set the stage for an influx of Asian spiritual teachers to the West. An entirely new generation of them appeared on the American scene and they found a willing audience of devotees within the American counter-culture. Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Swami Satchidananda, Guru Maharaji, Kirpal Singh, Nyanaponika Thera, Swami Rama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Chogyam Trungpa, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Muktananda, Sri Bagwan Rujneesh, Vilayat Inayat Khan, and the Karmapa were but a few of the names that found followers in the United States [and] the most well known and influential today remains Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in "
  35. ^Bruhn, O () Ainslie Meares on Meditation.
  36. ^A clinical guide to the treatment of human stress response by George S. Everly, Jeffrey M. Lating ISBN&#; page
  37. ^Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion by David A. Leeming, Kathryn Madden, Stanton Marlan ISBN page
  38. ^ abMurphy, Michael. "1". The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation: Scientific Studies of Contemplative Experience: An Overview. Archived from the original on 15 June
  39. ^A clinical guide to the treatment of human stress response by George S. Everly, Jeffrey M. Lating ISBN&#; pages
  40. ^Sigalow, Emily (12 November ). American JewBu: Jews, Buddhists, and Religious Change. Princeton University Press. ISBN&#;.
  41. ^Claudio Naranjo (, originally published ), in Naranjo and Orenstein, On the Psychology of Meditation. New York: Viking.
  42. ^Kenneth Bond; Maria B. Ospina; Nicola Hooton; Liza Bialy; Donna M. Dryden; Nina Buscemi; David Shannahoff-Khalsa; Jeffrey Dusek; Linda E. Carlson (). "Defining a complex intervention: The development of demarcation criteria for "meditation"". Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. 1 (2): – doi/a
Why You Shouldn't Practice Transcendental Meditation


Sacred utterance or sound used in meditation, often repeated

"Om Shanti" redirects here. For the film, see Om Shanti (film). For other uses, see Mantra (disambiguation).

The Omsyllable is considered a mantra in its own right in the Vedantaschool of Hinduism.

A mantra (Sanskrit: मन्त्र, romanized:&#;mantra, ; Pali: mantaṃ)[2] is a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words in Sanskrit, Pali and other languages believed by practitioners to have religious, magical or spiritual powers.[3][4] Some mantras have a syntactic structure and literal meaning, while others do not.[3][5]

The earliest mantras were composed in Vedic Sanskrit in India.[6] At its simplest, the word ॐ (Aum, Om) serves as a mantra, it is believed to be the first sound which was originated on earth. Aum sound when produced creates a reverberation in the body which helps the body and mind to be calm. In more sophisticated forms, mantras are melodic phrases with spiritual interpretations such as a human longing for truth, reality, light, immortality, peace, love, knowledge, and action.[3][7] Some mantras without literal meaning are musically uplifting and spiritually meaningful.[6]

The use, structure, function, importance, and types of mantras vary according to the school and philosophy of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.[4][8] In Japanese Shingon tradition, the word Shingon means mantra.[9] Similar hymns, antiphons, chants, compositions, and concepts are found in Zoroastrianism,[10]Taoism, Christianity, and elsewhere.[3] Mantras serve a central role in tantra.[6][11] In this school, mantras are considered to be a sacred formula and a deeply personal ritual, effective only after initiation. In other schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or Sikhism, initiation is not a requirement.[10][7]

Etymology and origins[edit]

The Sanskrit word mantra- is derived from the root man- "to think".[12][13][14][15][16]

Scholars[3][6] consider the use of mantras to have begun before BC. By the middle Vedic period ( BC to BC) – claims Frits Staal – mantras in Hinduism had developed into a blend of art and science.[6]

The Chinese translation is 眞言, 真言; zhenyan; 'true words', the Japanese on'yomi reading of the Chinese being shingon (which is also used as the proper name for the Shingon sect). According to Alex Wayman and Ryujun Tajima, "Zhenyan" (or "Shingon") means "true speech", has the sense of "an exact mantra which reveals the truth of the dharmas", and is the path of mantras.[9][17]

According to Bernfried Schlerath, the concept of sātyas mantras is found in Indo-Iranian Yasna and the Rigveda, where it is considered structured thought in conformity with the reality or poetic (religious) formulas associated with inherent fulfillment.[18]


There is no generally accepted definition of mantra.[19]

Renou has defined mantra as a thought.[20] Mantras are structured formulae of thoughts, claims Silburn.[21] Farquhar concludes that mantras are a religious thought, prayer, sacred utterance, but also believed to be a spell or weapon of supernatural power.[22] Zimmer defines mantra as a verbal instrument to produce something in one's mind.[23] Bharati defines mantra, in the context of the Tantric school of Hinduism, to be a combination of mixed genuine and quasi-morphemes arranged in conventional patterns, based on codified esoteric traditions, passed on from a guru to a disciple through prescribed initiation.[24]

Jan Gonda, a widely cited scholar on Indian mantras,[25] defines mantra as general name for the verses, formulas or sequence of words in prose which contain praise, are believed to have religious, magical or spiritual efficiency, which are meditated upon, recited, muttered or sung in a ritual, and which are collected in the methodically arranged ancient texts of Hinduism.[26] There is no universally applicable uniform definition of mantra because mantras are used in different religions, and within each religion in different schools of philosophy. In some schools of Hinduism for example, suggests Gonda, a mantra is sakti (power) to the devotee in the form of formulated and expressed thought.[3] Staal clarifies that mantras are not rituals, they are what is recited or chanted during a ritual.[6]

In Oxford Living Dictionary mantra is defined as a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.[27] Cambridge Dictionary provides two different definitions.[28] The first refers to Hinduism and Buddhism: a word or sound that is believed to have a special spiritual power. The second definition is more general: a word or phrase that is often repeated and expresses a particularly strong belief. For instance, a football team can choose individual words as their own "mantra."

There is a long history of scholarly disagreement on the meaning of mantras and whether they are instruments of mind, as implied by the etymological origin of the word mantra. One school suggests mantras are mostly meaningless sound constructs, while the other holds them to be mostly meaningful linguistic instruments of mind.[7] Both schools agree that mantras have melody and a well designed mathematical precision in their construction and that their influence on the reciter and listener is similar to that is observed in people around the world listening to their beloved music that is devoid of words.[3][6]

Staal[6] presents a non-linguistic view of mantras. He suggests that verse mantras are metered and harmonized to mathematical precision (for example, in the viharanam technique), which resonate, but a lot of them are a hodgepodge of meaningless constructs such as are found in folk music around the world. Staal cautions that there are many mantras that can be translated and do have spiritual meaning and philosophical themes central to Hinduism, but that does not mean all mantras have a literal meaning. He further notes that even when mantras do not have a literal meaning, they do set a tone and ambiance in the ritual as they are recited, and thus have a straightforward and uncontroversial ritualistic meaning.[6] The sounds may lack literal meaning, but they can have an effect. He compares mantras to bird songs, that have the power to communicate, yet do not have a literal meaning.[29] On that saman category of Hindu mantras, which Staal described as resembling the arias of Bach's oratorios and other European classics, he notes that these mantras have musical structure, but they almost always are completely different from anything in the syntax of natural languages. Mantras are literally meaningless, yet musically meaningful to Staal.[30] The saman chant mantras were transmitted from one Hindu generation to next verbally for over years but never written, a feat, suggests Staal, that was made possible by the strict mathematical principles used in constructing the mantras. These saman chant mantras are also mostly meaningless, cannot be literally translated as Sanskrit or any Indian language, but nevertheless are beautiful in their resonant themes, variations, inversions, and distribution.[6] They draw the devotee in. Staal is not the first person to view Hindu mantras in this manner. The ancient Hindu Vedic ritualist Kautsa was one of the earliest scholars to note that mantras are meaningless; their function is phonetic and syntactic, not semantic.[31]

Harvey Alper[32] and others[33] present mantras from the linguistic point view. They admit Staal's observation that many mantras do contain bits and pieces of meaningless jargon, but they question what language or text doesn't. The presence of an abracadabra bit does not necessarily imply the entire work is meaningless. Alper lists numerous mantras that have philosophical themes, moral principles, a call to virtuous life, and even mundane petitions. He suggests that from a set of millions of mantras, the devotee chooses some mantras voluntarily, thus expressing that speaker's intention, and the audience for that mantra is that speaker's chosen spiritual entity. Mantras deploy the language of spiritual expression, they are religious instruments, and that is what matters to the devotee. A mantra creates a feeling in the practicing person. It has an emotive numinous effect, it mesmerizes, it defies expression, and it creates sensations that are by definition private and at the heart of all religions and spiritual phenomena.[3][24][34]



The name ‘Veda’ is given to the vast body of literature made up of Mantra and Brahmana. So far we have been referring mostly to Mantras which constitute the Samhita portion of the Veda. The Rigveda Samhita contains about Mantras, classified into ten books called Mandalas. A Sukta is a group of Mantras.[35] Mantras come in many forms, including ṛc (verses from the Rigveda for example) and sāman (musical chants from the Sāmaveda for example).[3][6]

According to Indian traditional thoughts ‘Veda’ is regarded as revealed scripture, it is not composed by any human authors. The Vedic hymns (Suktas) or verses (Mantras) are seen and only spoken by the seers (Rishis). These seers are neither author of the Mantras nor are they responsible for the contents of the Mantras. Yaska, the oldest expositor of Veda, has distinctly said that these seers received the sacred knowledge or knowledge was revealed to them. They then handed it down to descendants by oral instruction. They are oral compilations which survived from the time immemorial. They are not only identified as scriptures, but also as the fountain head of Indian culture and human civilization.[35]

During the early Vedic period, claims Staal,[6] Vedic poets became fascinated by the inspirational power of poems, metered verses, and music. They referred to them with the root dhi-, which evolved into dhyana (meditation) of Hinduism, and the language used to start and assist this process manifested as a mantra. By the middle vedic period ( BC to BC), mantras were derived from all vedic compositions. They included ṛc (verses from Rigveda for example), sāman (musical chants from the Sāmaveda for example), yajus (a muttered formula from the yajurveda for example), and nigada (a loudly spoken yajus). During the Hindu Epics period and after, mantras multiplied in many ways and diversified to meet the needs and passions of various schools of Hinduism. Mantras took a center stage in the Tantric school,[36] which posited that each mantra (bijas) is a deity;[11] it is this distinct school of Hinduism and 'each mantra is a deity' reasoning that led to the perception that some Hindus have tens of millions of gods. In the Linga Purana, Mantra is listed as one of the 1, names of Lord Shiva.[37]

Function and structure[edit]

One function of mantras is to solemnize and ratify rituals.[38] Each mantra, in Vedic rituals, is coupled with an act. According to Apastamba Srauta Sutra, each ritual act is accompanied by one mantra, unless the Sutra explicitly marks that one act corresponds to several mantras. According to Gonda,[39] and others,[40] there is a connection and rationale between a Vedic mantra and each Vedic ritual act that accompanies it. In these cases, the function of mantras was to be an instrument of ritual efficacy for the priest, and a tool of instruction for a ritual act for others.

Over time, as the Puranas and Epics were composed, the concepts of worship, virtues and spirituality evolved in Hinduism. Religions such as Jainism and Buddhism branched off, and new schools were founded, each continuing to develop and refine its own mantras. In Hinduism, suggests Alper,[41] the function of mantras shifted from the quotidian to redemptive. In other words,[42] in Vedic times, mantras were recited a practical, quotidian goal as intention, such as requesting a deity's help in the discovery of lost cattle, cure of illness, succeeding in competitive sport or journey away from home. The literal translation of Vedic mantras suggests that the function of mantra, in these cases, was to cope with the uncertainties and dilemmas of daily life. In a later period of Hinduism,[43] mantras were recited with a transcendental redemptive goal as intention, such as escape from the cycle of life and rebirth, forgiveness for bad karma, and experiencing a spiritual connection with the god. The function of mantras, in these cases, was to cope with the human condition as a whole. According to Alper,[7] redemptive spiritual mantras opened the door for mantras where every part need not have a literal meaning, but together their resonance and musical quality assisted the transcendental spiritual process. Overall, explains Alper, using Śivasūtra mantras as an example, Hindu mantras have philosophical themes and are metaphorical with social dimension and meaning; in other words, they are a spiritual language and instrument of thought.[43]

According to Staal,[6] Hindu mantras may be spoken aloud, anirukta (not enunciated), upamsu (inaudible), or manasa (not spoken, but recited in the mind). In ritual use, mantras are often silent instruments of meditation.


For almost every mantra, there are six limbs called Shadanga.[44] These six limbs are: Seer (Rishi), Deity (Devata), Seed (Beeja), Energy (Shakti), Master (chanda), and Kilaka (Lock).


The most basic mantra is Om, which in Hinduism is known as the "pranava mantra," the source of all mantras. The Hindu philosophy behind this is the premise that before existence and beyond existence is only One reality, Brahman, and the first manifestation of Brahman expressed as Om. For this reason, Om is considered as a foundational idea and reminder, and thus is prefixed and suffixed to all Hindu prayers. While some mantras may invoke individual gods or principles, fundamental mantras, like the 'Shanti Mantra, the 'Gayatri Mantra' and others all ultimately focus on the One reality.


In the Tantric school the universe is sound.[45] The supreme (para) brings forth existence through the Word (Shabda). Creation consists of vibrations at various frequencies and amplitudes giving rise to the phenomena of the world.

Buhnemann notes that deity mantras are an essential part of Tantric compendia. The tantric mantras vary in their structure and length. Mala mantras are those mantras which have an enormous number of syllables. In contrast, bija mantras are one-syllabled, typically ending in anusvara (a simple nasal sound). These are derived from the name of a deity; for example, Durga yields dum and Ganesha yields gam. Bija mantras are prefixed and appended to other mantras, thereby creating complex mantras. In the tantric school, these mantras are believed to have supernatural powers, and they are transmitted by a preceptor to a disciple in an initiation ritual.[46] Tantric mantras found a significant audience and adaptations in medieval India, Southeast Asia and numerous other Asian countries with Buddhism.[47]

Majumdar and other scholars[3][48] suggest mantras are central to the Tantric school, with numerous functions. From initiating and emancipating a tantric devotee to worshiping manifested forms of the divine. From enabling heightened sexual energy in the male and the female to acquiring supernormal psychological and spiritual power. From preventing evil influences to exorcizing demons, and many others.[49] These claimed functions and other aspects of the tantric mantra are a subject of controversy among scholars.[50]

Tantra usage is not unique to Hinduism: it is also found in Buddhism both inside and outside India.[51]


Main article: Japa

Mantra japa is a practice of repetitively uttering the same mantra for an auspicious number of times, the most popular being , and sometimes just 5, 10, 28 or [3][52][53]Japa is found in personal prayer or meditative efforts of some Hindus, as well during formal puja (group prayers). Japa is assisted by malas (bead necklaces) containing beads and a head bead (sometimes referred to as the 'meru', or 'guru' bead); the devotee using his/her fingers to count each bead as he/she repeats the chosen mantra. Having reached repetitions, if he/she wishes to continue another cycle of mantras, the devotee turns the mala around without crossing the head bead and repeats the cycle.[54] Japa-yajna is claimed to be most effective if the mantra is repeated silently in mind (manasah).[52]

According to this school, any shloka from holy Hindu texts like the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Sutra, even the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Durga saptashati or Chandi is a mantra, thus can be part of the japa, repeated to achieve a numinous effect.[55][56][57] The Dharmasāstra claims Gāyatri mantra derived from Rig Veda verse , and the Purușasūkta mantra from Rig Veda verse are most auspicious mantras for japa at sunrise and sunset; it is claimed to purify the mind and spirit.[3]

Transcendental Meditation

Main article: Transcendental Meditation

The Transcendental Meditation technique, also known as 'TM', uses mantras that are assigned to the practitioner to be used as thought sound only, not chanted, without connection to any meaning or idea.[58]

The spiritual exercises of Surat Shabda Yoga include simran (repetition, particularly silent repetition of a mantra given at initiation), dhyan (concentration, viewing, or contemplation, particularly on the Inner Master), and bhajan (listening to the inner sounds of the Shabda or the Shabda Master).

Repetition of a "mantram" (i.e., mantra) or holy name is Point 2 in the eight-point Passage Meditation program taught by Eknath Easwaran, who recommended using a mantram drawn from a faith tradition, east or west. The mantram is to be used frequently throughout the day, at opportune moments.[59]This method of mantram repetition, and the larger program, was developed for use in any major faith tradition, or outside all traditions.[60] Easwaran's method of mantram repetition has been the subject of scientific research at the San DiegoVeterans Administration, which has suggested health benefits that include managing stress and reducing symptoms of PTSD.[61][62]


Mantra of the Hare Krishna bhakti school of Hinduism

Main article: Gayatri Mantra

The Gayatri mantra is considered one of the most universal of all Hindu mantras, invoking the universal Brahman as the principle of knowledge and the illumination of the primordial Sun. The mantra is extracted from the 10th verse of Hymn 62 in Book III of the Rig Veda.[63]
ॐ भूर्भुवस्व: |तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यम् |भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि |धियो यो न: प्रचोदयात्
Oṁ BhūrbhuvaswahaTatsaviturvarenyambhargo devasya dhīmahidhiyo yo naḥa prachodayāt,[64]
"Let us meditate on that excellent glory of the divine Light (Vivifier, Sun). May he stimulate our understandings (knowledge, intellectual illumination)."[63]

Main article: Pavamana Mantra

असतो मा सद्गमय ।तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।मृत्योर्मामृतं गमय ॥asato mā sad-gamaya, tamaso mā jyotir-gamaya, mṛtyor-māmṛtaṃ gamaya.
(Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad )[65]
"from the unreal lead me to the real, from the dark lead me to the light, from death lead me to immortality."

Main article: Shanti Mantra

Oṁ Sahanā vavatu
sahanau bhunaktu
Sahavīryam karavāvahai
Tejasvi nāvadhītamastu
Mā vidviṣāvahai
Oṁ Shāntiḥ, Shāntiḥ, Shāntiḥ.
"Om! Let the Studies that we together undertake be effulgent;
Let there be no Animosity amongst us;
Om! Peace, Peace, Peace."
– Taittiriya Upanishad

There are numerous other important mantras.[66]

Shiva sutra

Apart from Shiva Sutras, which originated from Shiva's tandava dance, the Shiva Sutras of Vasugupta[67] are a collection of seventy-seven aphorisms that form the foundation of the tradition of spiritual mysticism known as Kashmir Shaivism. They are attributed to the sage Vasugupta of the 9th century C.E. Sambhavopaya ( to 1–22), Saktopaya ( to 2–10) and Anavopaya ( to 3–45) are the main sub-divisions, three means of achieving God consciousness, of which the main technique of Saktopaya is a mantra. But "mantra" in this context does not mean incantation or muttering of some sacred formula. The word "mantra" is used here in its etymological signification.[68] That which saves one by pondering over the light of Supreme I-consciousness is a mantra. The divine Supreme I-consciousness is the dynamo of all the mantras. Deha or body has been compared to wood, "mantra" has been compared to arani—a piece of wood used for kindling fire by friction; prana has been compared to fire. Sikha or flame has been compared to atma (Self); ambara or sky has been compared to Shiva. When prana is kindled by means of mantra used as arani, fire in the form of udana arises in susumna, and then just as flame arises out of kindled fire and gets dissolved in the sky, so also atma (Self) like a flame having burnt down the fuel of the body, gets absorbed in Shiva.[69]



The use of mantra or the repetition of certain phrases in Pali is a highly common form of meditation in the Theravada tradition. Simple mantras use repetition of the Buddha's name, "Buddho", [as "Buddho" is actually a title rather than a name] or use the "Dhamma", or the "Sangha", the community, as mantra words. Other used mantras are directed toward developing loving kindness. Some mantras direct attention to the process of change by repeating the Pali phrase that means "everything changes", while other mantras are used to develop equanimity with phrases that would be translated, "let go".

Mantra practice is often combined with breathing meditation, so that one recites a mantra simultaneously with in-breath and out-breath to help develop tranquility and concentration. Mantra meditation is especially popular among lay people. Like other basic concentration exercises, it can be used simply to the mind, or it can be the basis for an insight practice where the mantra becomes the focus of observation of how life unfolds, or an aid in surrendering and letting go."[70] The "Buddho" mantra is widespread in the Thai Forest Tradition and was taught by Ajahn Chah and his students.[71] Another popular mantra in Thai Buddhism is Samma-Araham, referring to the Buddha who has 'perfectly' (samma) attained 'perfection in the Buddhist sense' (araham), used in Dhammakaya meditation.[72][73]

In the Tantric Theravada tradition of Southeast Asia, mantras are central to their method of meditation. Popular mantras in this tradition include Namo Buddhaya ("Homage to the Buddha") and Araham ("Worthy One"). There are Thai Buddhist amuletkatha: that is, mantras to be recited while holding an amulet.[74]

East Asia[edit]


In Chinese Buddhism, various mantras, including the Great Compassion Mantra, the Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī from the Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī Sutra, the Mahāmāyūrī Vidyārājñī Dhāraṇī, the Heart Sutra and various forms of nianfo are commonly chanted by both monastics and laymen. A major mantra in the Chan Buddhist tradition is the Śūraṅgama Mantra from the Śūraṅgama Sutra, which extensively references Buddhist deities such as the bodhisattvas Manjushri, Mahākāla, Sitatapatra, Vajrapani and the Five Tathagatas, especially Bhaisajyaguru. It is often used for protection or purification, as it is often recited as part of the daily morning session in monasteries. In addition, various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and deities also have mantras associated with them.

In China and Vietnam, a collection of ten small mantras (Chinese: 十小咒; Pinyin: Shíxiǎozhòu)[75] were fixed by the monk Yulin (Chinese: 玉琳國師; Pinyin: Yùlín Guóshī), a teacher of the Shunzhi Emperor, for monks, nuns, and laity to chant during morning liturgical services.[76] They are as follows:

Cintamani Cakravartin Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 如意寶輪王陀羅尼, Pinyin: Rúyìbǎolúnwáng Tuóluóní; associated with Cintamanicakra):



Námó fótuó yé. Námó dámó yé. Námó sēngjiā yé. Námó guānzìzài púsà móhēsà. Jùdà bēixīnzhě. Dázhítā. Ǎn. Zhuójié luōfádǐ. Zhènduō mòní. Móhē. Bōdēn mí. Lǔ lǔ lǔ lǔ. Dǐsèzhā. Shuòluō ājiélì. Shāyèhōng. Báshāhē. Ǎn. Bōtàmó. Zhènduō mòní. Shuòluōhōng. Ǎn bálǎtuó. Bōdǎn míhōng.


Adoration to the three gems. Adoration to the noble (ārya) Lord (īśvarā) who gazes down (avalokite) the world (loka), the enlightened sentient being, the great sentient being, the great compassionate one! Like this: Oṃ! Turn the wheel, the wish-fulfilling jewel, the great lotus, (quick, quick), Flame stays firm! Calling for the holy mind to destroy obstacles, So be it!


Jvala Mahaugra Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 消災吉祥神咒, Pinyin: Xiāozāi Jíxiáng Shénzhòu):



Nǎngmó sānmǎnduō. Mǔtuónán. Ābōluōdǐ. Hèduōshě. Suōnǎngnán. Dázhítā. Ǎn. Qū qū. Qū xì. Qū xì. Hōng hōng. Rùfùluō. Rùfùluō. Bōluō rùfùluō. Bōluō rùfùluō. Dǐsèchà. Dǐsèchà. Sèzhìlī. Sèzhìlī. Suōbázhā. Suōbázhā. Shàndǐ jiā. Shìlīyè. Suōfùhē.


Adoration to the universal Buddhas (and their) unimpeded religions (śāsana)! Thus: om! in the sky (ākāśa 虛空中), in emptiness, destroy, destroy (all obstacles), the holy mind! the holy mind! Flame, light, brilliant light, brilliant light, stay, stay. Shatter, shatter, burst, burst, disperses calamities (and brings) fortune/opulence (śrī) So be it!


Guna Ratna Sila Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 功德寶山神咒, Pinyin: Gōngdé Bǎoshān Shénzhòu):



Námó fótuó yé. Námó dámó yé. Námó sēngjiā yé. Ǎn. Xīdì hùlǔlǔ. Xīdōulǔ. Zhǐlìbō. Jílìpó. Xīdálī. Bùlǔlī. Suōfùhē.


Adoration to the Buddha! adoration to the Buddhist teaching! adoration to the Buddhist community! Accomplished one, quick, quick, accomplishes quick, be merciful, be compassionate, accomplishes perfectly. So be it!


Mahācundi Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 準提神咒, Pinyin: Zhǔntí Shénzhòu; associated with Cundi):



Námó sàduōnán. Sānmiǎo sānpútuó. Jùzhīnán. Dázhítā. Ǎn. Zhélì zhǔlì. Zhǔntí suōpóhē.


Adoration to 'seven billions perfect status, perfect enlightened beings', like this: om cha'le chu'le Chundi (the Extreme purity), All hail!


Aparimitāyur-jñāna-suviniścita-tejo-rājāya Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 大乘無量壽決定光明王陀羅尼, Pinyin: Dàchéng Wúliàngshòu Juédìng Guāngmíngwáng Tuóluóní; associated with Amitabha):



Ǎn. Nàmó bāgéwǎdì. Ābāluōmìdá. Āyōulī ānà. Sūbìnǐ. Shízhídá. Diézuǒ luōzǎi yě. Dátǎgědá yě. Āluōhēdì. Sānyào sānbùdá yě. Dánǐyětǎ. Ǎn. Sàlībā. Sāngsīgélī. Bālīshùdá. Dáluōmǎdì. Gěgěnà. Sāngmǎwù gědì. Shābāwǎ bǐshùdì. Mǎhē nàyě. Bālīwǎlī suōhē.


Adoration to the Honourable, Highest(pari)-Infinite(amita)-life(ayus)- insight(jnna) -decisive-light(tejo)-king(raja), Exalted-one (Tathagata, thus come), perfect disciple (Arahat), completely, perfectly enlightened one (Samyak-sambuddha). Like this: Om! all (sarva) righteous behaviour are in highest purity, reality of phenomena enters into emptiness, intrinsic nature are completely purified. Family of Great School have auspiciously completed.


Bhaiṣajyaguru Vaiḍūrya Prabhasa Tathāgatā Abhisecani Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 藥師灌頂真言, Pinyin: Yàoshī Guàndǐng Zhēnyán; associated with Bhaiṣajyaguru):



Nánmó báojiāfádì. Bǐngshāshè. Jùlǔ xuēliúlí. Bōlǎpó. Hēluōdū yě. Dátājiēduō yě. Āluōhēdì. Sānmiǎo sānbótuó yé. Dázhítā. Ǎn. Bǐngshāshì. Bǐngshāshì. Bǐngshāshè. Sānméi jiēdì shāhē.


Give Praise to Honorable Medicine-teacher lipis-light-king, the Exalted One, The perfected disciple, Perfectly Self-Awakened One! Like this: "Auspicious one! on medicine, on medicine, the medicine appears, so be it!"


Āryavalokiteśvarā Bodhisattva Vikurvana Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 觀音靈感真言, Pinyin: Guānyīn Línggǎn Zhēnyán; associated with Guanyin):



Ǎn. Maní bāmí hōng. Máhé níyánà. Jīdōutè bādá. Jītè xiēnà. Wēidálīgé. Sàérwòértǎ. Bolī xītǎgé. Nà bǔluōnà. Nàbolī. Diūtè bānnà. Nàmá lújí. Shuōluōyé shāhē.


Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ. Determined to leave greatly (the passions and delusions). Constant thought of reflection. All truths are greatly accomplished (siddha) with full (pūrṇa) satisfaction (kāmam). Manifestation (utpannā) of great (bhūri) luminosity (dyota). Adoration to the Lord (iśvarā) of the world. All hail!


Sapta Atitabuddha Karasaniya Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 七佛滅罪真言, Pinyin: Qīfó Mièzuì Zhēnyán; associated with The Seven Buddhas of Antiquity):



Lípó lípó dì. Qiúhē qiúhē dì. Tuóluóní dì. Níhēluō dì. Pílínǐ dì. Móhē jiādì. Zhēnlínggàn dì. Shāpóhē.


Calling, calling out! Revealing, Revealing all! Making heartfelt prayers! Dissolving, disappearing blame! Vanishing vanished blame! Eminent virtues appear, and all blame is truly buried and gone by this power, svaha!


Sukhāvatī-vyūha Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 往生淨土神咒, Pinyin: Wǎngshēng Jìngtǔ Shénzhòu; associated with Amitabha and his Pure Land of Sukhāvatī):



Námó ēmíduōpó yè. Duōtājiāduō yè. Duōdeyètā. Ēmílì. Dōupópí. Ēmílìduō. Xīdān pópí. Ēmílìduō. Píjiālándì. Ēmílìduō. Píjiālánduō. Jiāmínì. Jiājiānà. Zhǐduō jiālì. Suōpóhē.


Adoration to the Perfect One of Infinite Light, namely: Nectar-producing one! Nectar-creation-perfecting one! Nectar-miracle one! (One) performs miracle with nectar, he makes (nectar) to pervade as widely as sky, All Hail!


Sridevi Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 大吉祥天女咒, Pinyin: Dà Jíxiáng Tiānnǚ Zhòu; associated with Lakshmi):

南無佛陀。南無達摩。南無僧伽。南無室利。摩訶提鼻耶。怛你也他。波利富樓那。遮利三曼陀。達舍尼。摩訶毗訶羅伽帝。三曼陀。毘尼伽帝。摩訶迦利野。波祢。波囉。波祢。薩利縛栗他。三曼陀。修缽黎帝。富隸那。阿利那。達摩帝。摩訶毗鼓畢帝。摩訶彌勒帝。婁簸僧只帝。醯帝簁。僧只醯帝。三曼陀。阿他阿 [少/免] 。婆羅尼。娑婆訶


Námó fótuó. Námó dámó. Námó sēngjiā. Námó shìlì. Móhē tíbí yé. Dánǐyětā. Bōlì fùlóunà. Zhēlì sānmàntuó. Dáshění. Móhē píhēluó jiādì. Sānmàntuó. Píní jiādì. Móhē jiālì yě. Bō mí. Bō luō. Bō mí. Sàlì fùlìtā. Sānmàntuó. Xiūbōlí dì. Fùlìnà. Ālìnà. Dámódì. Móhē pígǔbì dì. Móhē mílè dì. Lóubǒ sēngzhǐ dì. Xīdìshāi. Sēngzhǐ xīdì. Sānmàntuó. Ā tā ā [shǎo/miǎn]. Póluóní. Suōpóhē.


Adoration to the Buddha, adoration to the Buddhist teaching, adoration to the Buddhist community, adoration to the great auspicious goddess! Like this: Oṃ (She) completes (pūrṇa) the deed (ka're, kama) successively (pari), all good to be seen, abides in great position, understands (mana) all good knowledge stays peaceably in great practice (caryā), in procuring (sādhane) all truths perfectly, and approaching great indestructible nature benefits (all) with great compassion, manages the great defilements, supports the welfare (of all), All Hail!



Kūkai (–), a noted Buddhist monk, advanced a general theory of language based on his analysis of two forms of Buddhist ritual language: dharani (dhāra.nī) and mantra. Mantra is restricted to esoteric Buddhist practice whereas dharani is found in both esoteric and exotericritual. Dharanis for instance are found in the Heart Sutra. The term "shingon" is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese transcription of the Sanskrit word "mantra", 真言 (zhēnyán). Kūkai classified mantra as a special class of dharani and suggested that every syllable of a dharani was a manifestation of the true nature of reality&#;– in Buddhist terms that all sound is a manifestation of shunyata or emptiness of self-nature. Thus rather than being devoid of meaning, Kūkai suggests that dharanis are in fact saturated with meaning&#;– every syllable is symbolic on multiple levels.

One of Kūkai's distinctive contributions was to take this symbolic association even further by saying that there is no essential difference between the syllables of mantras and sacred texts, and those of ordinary language. If one understood the workings of mantra, then any sounds could be a representative of ultimate reality. This emphasis on sounds was one of the drivers for Kūkai's championing of the phonetic writing system, the kana, which was adopted in Japan around the time of Kūkai. He is generally credited with the invention of the kana, but there is apparently some doubt about this story amongst scholars.

This mantra-based theory of language had a powerful effect on Japanese thought and society which up until Kūkai's time had been dominated by imported Chinese culture of thought, particularly in the form of the Classical Chinese language which was used in the court and amongst the literati, and Confucianism which was the dominant political ideology. In particular, Kūkai was able to use this new theory of language to create links between indigenous Japanese culture and Buddhism. For instance, he made a link between the Buddha Mahavairocana and the Shinto sun Goddess Amaterasu. Since the emperors were thought to be descended form Amaterasu, Kūkai had found a powerful connection here that linked the emperors with the Buddha, and also in finding a way to integrate Shinto with Buddhism, something that had not happened with Confucianism. Buddhism then became essentially an indigenous religion in a way that Confucianism had not. And it was through language and mantra that this connection was made. Kūkai helped to elucidate what mantra is in a way that had not been done before: he addresses the fundamental questions of what a text is, how signs function, and above all, what language is. In this, he covers some of the same ground as modern day Structuralists and others scholars of language, although he comes to very different conclusions.

In this system of thought, all sounds are said to originate from "a". For esoteric Buddhism "a" has a special function because it is associated with Shunyata or the idea that no thing exists in its own right, but is contingent upon causes and conditions. (See Dependent origination) In Sanskrit "a" is a prefix which changes the meaning of a word into its opposite, so "vidya" is understanding, and "avidya" is ignorance (the same arrangement is also found in many Greek words, like e.g. "atheism" vs. "theism" and "apathy" vs. "pathos"). The letter a is both visualised in the Siddham script and pronounced in rituals and meditation practices. In the Mahavairocana Sutra which is central to Shingon Buddhism it says: "Thanks to the original vows of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, a miraculous force resides in the mantras, so that by pronouncing them one acquires merit without limits". [in Conze, p.&#;]

A mantra is Kuji-kiri in Shugendo. The practice of writing mantras, and copying texts as a spiritual practice, became very refined in Japan, and some of these are written in the Japanese script and Siddham script of Sanskrit, recited in either language. There are thirteen mantras used in Shingon-Buddhism, each dedicated to a major deity. The mantra for each deity name in Japanese, its equivalent name in Sanskrit, a transliteration of mantra, and the Japanese version in Shingon tradition are as follows:[77]

  1. Fudōmyōō (不動明王, Acala): nōmaku samanda bazaratan senda makaroshada sowataya untarata kanman (ノウマク・サマンダ・バザラダン・センダマカロシャダ・ソワタヤ・ウン・タラタ・カン・マン)
  2. Shaka nyorai (釈迦如来, Sakyamuni): nōmaku sanmanda bodanan baku (ノウマク・サンマンダ・ボダナン・バク)
  3. Monju bosatsu (文殊菩薩, Manjushri): on arahashanō (オン・アラハシャノウ)
  4. Fugen bosatsu (普賢菩薩, Samantabhadra): on sanmaya satoban (オン・サンマヤ・サトバン)
  5. Jizō bosatsu (地蔵菩薩, Ksitigarbha): on kakaka bisanmaei sowaka (オン・カカカ・ビサンマエイ・ソワカ)
  6. Miroku bosatsu (弥勒菩薩, Maitreya): on maitareiya sowaka (オン・マイタレイヤ・ソワカ)
  7. Yakushi nyorai (薬師如来, Bhaisajyaguru): on korokoro sendari matōgi sowaka (オン・コロコロ・センダリ・マトウギ・ソワカ)
  8. Kanzeon bosatsu (観世音菩薩, Avalokitesvara):on arorikya sowaka (オン・アロリキャ・ソワカ)
  9. Seishi bosatsu (勢至菩薩, Mahasthamaprapta): on san zan saku sowaka (オン・サン・ザン・サク・ソワカ)
  10. Amida nyorai (阿弥陀如来, Amitabha): on amirita teisei kara un (オン・アミリタ・テイセイ・カラ・ウン)
  11. Ashuku nyorai (阿閦如来, Akshobhya): on akishubiya un (オン・アキシュビヤ・ウン)
  12. Dainichi nyorai (大日如来, Vairocana): on abiraunken basara datoban (オン・アビラウンケン・バサラ・ダトバン)
  13. Kokūzō bosatsu (虚空蔵菩薩, Akashagarbha): nōbō akyashakyarabaya on arikya mari bori sowaka (ノウボウ・アキャシャキャラバヤ・オン・アリキャ・マリ・ボリ・ソワカ)

India and Tibet[edit]

Mantrayana (Sanskrit), which may be translated as "way of the mantra", was the original self-identifying name of those that have come to be determined 'Nyingmapa'.[citation needed] The Nyingmapa which may be rendered as "those of the ancient way", a name constructed due to the genesis of the Sarma "fresh", "new" traditions. Mantrayana has developed into a synonym of Vajrayana.

Noted translator of Buddhist texts Edward Conze (–) distinguishes three periods in the Buddhist use of mantra.

Initially, according to Conze, like their fellow Indians, Buddhists used mantra as protective spells to ward off malign influences. Despite a Vinaya rule which forbids monks engaging in the Brahminical practice of chanting mantras for material gain, there is a number of protective mantras for a group of ascetic monks. However, even at this early stage, there is perhaps something more than animistic magic at work. Particularly in the case of the Ratana Sutta the efficacy of the verses seems to be related to the concept of "truth". Each verse of the sutta ends with "by the virtue of this truth may there be happiness".

Conze notes that later mantras were used more to guard the spiritual life of the chanter, and sections on mantras began to be included in some Mahayana sutras such as the White Lotus Sutra, and the Lankavatara Sutra. The scope of protection also changed in this time. In the Sutra of Golden Light the Four Great Kings promise to exercise sovereignty over the different classes of demigods, to protect the whole of Jambudvipa (the Indian subcontinent), to protect monks who proclaim the sutra, and to protect kings who patronise the monks who proclaim the sutra. The apotheosis of this type of approach is the Nichiren school of Buddhism that was founded in the 13th century Japan, and which distilled many previously complex Buddhist practices down to the veneration of the Lotus Sutra through a recitation of the daimoku: "Nam myoho renge kyo" which translates as "Homage to the Lotus Sutra".

The third period began, according to Conze, in about the 7th century, to take center stage and become a vehicle for salvation in their own right. Tantra started to gain momentum in the 6th and 7th century, with specifically Buddhist forms appearing as early as CE. Mantrayana was an early name for what is now more commonly known as Vajrayana, which gives us a hint as to the place of mantra in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. The aim of Vajrayana practice is to give the practitioner a direct experience of reality, of things as they really are. Mantras function as symbols of that reality, and different mantras are different aspects of that reality&#;– for example wisdom or compassion. Mantras are often associated with a particular deity, one famous exception being the Prajnaparamita mantra associated with the Heart Sutra. One of the key Vajrayana strategies for bringing about a direct experience of reality is to engage the entire psycho-physical organism in the practices. In one Buddhist analysis, the person consists of 'body, speech and mind' (refer: Three Vajra). So a typical sadhana or meditation practice might include mudras, or symbolic hand gestures; the recitations of mantras; as well as the visualisation of celestial beings and visualising the letters of the mantra which is being recited. Clearly here mantra is associated with speech. The meditator may visualise the letters in front of themselves, or within their body. They may be pronounced out loud, or internally in mind only.

Om mani padme hum[edit]

Main article: Om mani padme hum

Probably the most famous mantra of Buddhism is Om mani padme hum, the six syllable mantra of the Bodhisattva of compassion Avalokiteśvara (Tibetan: Chenrezig, Chinese: Guanyin). This mantra is particularly associated with the four-armed Shadakshari form of Avalokiteśvara. The Dalai Lama is said to be an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, and so the mantra is especially revered by his devotees.

The book Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism by Lama Anagarika Govinda, gives a classic example of how such a mantra can contain many levels of symbolic meaning.


The following list of mantras is from Kailash: A Journal of Himalayan Studies, Volume 1, Number 2, (pp.&#;–) (augmented by other contributors). The mantras used in Tibetan Buddhist practice are in Sanskrit, to preserve the original mantras. Visualizations and other practices are usually done in the Tibetan language.

  • Om vagishvara hum This is the mantra of the Mahabodhisattva Manjusri, Tibetan: Jampelyang (Wylie "'jam dpal dbyangs") The Buddha in his wisdom aspect.
  • Om vajrasattva hum The short mantra for White Vajrasattva, there is also a full syllable mantra for Vajrasattva.
  • Om vajrapani namo hum The mantra of the Buddha as Protector of the Secret Teachings. i.e.: as the Mahabodhisattva Channa Dorje (Vajrapani).
  • Om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum The mantra of the Vajraguru Guru Padma Sambhava who established Mahayana Buddhism and Tantra in Tibet.
  • Om tare tuttare ture mama ayurjnana punye pushting svaha The mantra of Dölkar or White Tara, the emanation of Arya Tara [Chittamani Tara]. Variants: Om tare tuttare ture mama ayurjnana punye pushting kuru swaha (Drikung Kagyu), Om tare tuttare ture mama ayu punye jnana puktrim kuru soha (Karma Kagyu).
Om Tare Tutare Ture Soha.
  • Om tare tuttare ture svaha, mantra of Green Arya Tara—Jetsun Dolma or Tara, the Mother of the Buddhas: om represents Tara's sacred body, speech, and mind. Tare means liberating from all discontent. Tutare means liberating from the eight fears, the external dangers, but mainly from the internal dangers, the delusions. Ture means liberating from duality; it shows the "true" cessation of confusion. Soha means "may the meaning of the mantra take root in my mind."

According to Tibetan Buddhism, this mantra (Om tare tutare ture soha) can not only eliminate disease, troubles, disasters, and karma, but will also bring believers blessings, longer life, and even the wisdom to transcend one's circle of reincarnation. Tara representing long life and health.

  • oṃ amaraṇi jīvantaye svāhā (Tibetan version: oṃ ā ma ra ṇi dzi wan te ye svā hā) The mantra of the Buddha of limitless life: the Buddha Amitayus (Tibetan Tsépagmed) in celestial form.
  • Om dhrung svaha The purification mantra of the motherNamgyalma.
  • Om ami dhewa hri The mantra of the Buddha Amitabha (Hopagmed) of the Western Pureland, his skin the color of the setting sun.
  • Om ami dewa hri The mantra of Amitabha (Ompagme in Tibetan).
  • Om ah ra pa ca na dhih The mantra of the "sweet-voiced one", Jampelyang (Wylie "'jam dpal dbyangs") or Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of wisdom.
  • Om muni muni maha muniye sakyamuni swaha The mantra of Buddha Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha
  • Om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha The mantra of the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra (Heart Sutra)
  • Namo bhagavate Bhaishajya-guru vaidurya-praba-rajaya tathagataya arhate samyak-sambuddhaya tadyata *Tadyata OM bhaishajye bhaishajye maha bhaishajya raja-samudgate svaha The mantra of the 'Medicine Buddha', Bhaiṣajya-guru (or Bhaishajyaguru), from Chinese translations of the Master of Healing Sutra.

There are mantras in Bön and some Chinese sects.[78][79][80]

Other sects and religions[edit]


The mantra in Chinese Buddhist canon are collected by Qianlong Emperor into a book. Kuang-Ming Lin (林光明) amended it.


The concept of mantras in Jainism mainly deals with seeking forgiveness, praising Arihants, or deities like Nakoda, Padmavati, Manibhadra, Saraswati, Lakshmi, and others.[citation needed] Yet some mantras are claimed to enhance intellect, prosperity, wealth or fame. There are many mantras in Jainism; most of them are in Sanskrit or Prakrit, but in the last few centuries, some have been composed in Hindi or Gujrati languages. Mantras, couplets, are either chanted or sung, either aloud or by merely moving lips or in silence by thought.[89]


Some examples of Jain mantras are Bhaktamara Stotra, Uvasagharam Stotra and [[Rishi Mandal Mantra. The greatest is the Namokar or Navkar Mantra.[90] Acharya Sushil Kumar, a self-realized master of the secrets of the Mantra, wrote in "There is a deep, secret science to the combination of sounds. Specific syllables are seeds for the awakening of latent powers. Only a person who has been initiated into the vibrational realms, who has actually experienced this level of reality, can fully understand the Science of Lettersthe Nomokar Mantra is a treasured gift to humanity of unestimable (sic) worth for the purification, upliftment and spiritual evolution of everyone.".[91] His book, The Song of the Soul, is a practical manual to unlock the secrets of the mantra. "Chanting with Guruji" is a compilation of well-known Jain mantras, including the Rishi Mandal Mantra.[92]

The Navkar Mantra (literally, "Nine Line Mantra") is the central mantra of Jainism. "It is the essence of the gospel of the Tirthankars."[93] The initial 5 lines consist of salutations to various purified souls, and the latter 4 lines are explanatory in nature, highlighting the benefits and greatness of this mantra.

Namo ArihantânamI bow to the Arihantâs (Conquerors who showed the path of liberation).
Namo SiddhânamI bow to the Siddhâs (Liberated Souls).
Namo ÂyariyânamI bow to the Âchâryas (Preceptors or Spiritual Leaders).
Namo UvajjhâyanamI bow to the Upadhyâya (Teachers).
Namo Loe Savva SahûnamI bow to all the Sadhûs in the world (Saints or Sages).
Eso Panch Namokkaro,
Savva Pâvappanâsano,
Mangalanam Cha Savvesim,
Padhamam Havai Mangalam.
This fivefold salutation (mantra) destroys all sins
and of all auspicious mantras, (it) is the foremost.

Universal compassion[edit]

Pratikraman also contains the following prayer:[94]

Khāmemi savva-jīve savvë jive khamantu meI ask pardon of all creatures, may all creatures pardon me.
Mitti me savva-bhūesu, veraṃ mejjha na keṇaviMay I have a friendship with all beings and enemy with none.


Forgiveness is one of the main virtues Jains cultivate. Kṣamāpanā,or supreme forgiveness, forms part of one of the ten characteristics of dharma.[95]
In the pratikramana prayer, Jains repeatedly seek forgiveness from various creatures—even from ekindriyas or single sensed beings like plants and microorganisms that they may have harmed while eating and doing routine activities.[96] Forgiveness is asked by uttering the phrase, Micchāmi dukkaḍaṃ.Micchāmi dukkaḍaṃ is a Prakrit phrase literally meaning "may all the evil that has been done be fruitless."[97]

In their daily prayers and samayika, Jains recite the following Iryavahi sutra in Prakrit, seeking forgiveness from literally all creatures while involved in routine activities:[98]

May you, O Revered One, voluntarily permit me. I would like to confess my sinful acts committed while walking. I honour your permission. I desire to absolve myself of the sinful acts by confessing them. I seek forgiveness from all those living beings which I may have tortured while walking, coming and going, treading on a living organism, seeds, green grass, dew drops, ant hills, moss, live water, live earth, spider web and others. I seek forgiveness from all these living beings, be they one sensed, two sensed, three sensed, four sensed or five sensed, which I may have kicked, covered with dust, rubbed with earth, collided with other, turned upside down, tormented, frightened, shifted from one place to another or killed and deprived them of their lives. (By confessing) may I be absolved of all these sins.


In the Sikh religion, a mantar or mantra is a Shabad (Word or hymn) from the Adi Granth to concentrate the mind on God. Through repetition of the mantra, and listening to one's own voice, thoughts are reduced and the mind rises above materialism to tune into the voice of God.

Mantras in Sikhism are fundamentally different from the secret mantras used in other religions.[99] Unlike in other religions, Sikh mantras are open for anyone to use. They are used openly and are not taught in secret sessions but are used in front of assemblies of Sikhs.[99]

The Mool Mantar, the first composition of Guru Nanak, is the second most widely known Sikh mantra.

The most widely known mantra in the Sikh faith is "Wahe Guru." According to the Sikh poet Bhai Gurdas, the word "Wahe Guru" is the Gurmantra, or the mantra given by the Guru, and eliminates ego.[]

According to the 10th Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh, the "Wahe Guru" mantra was given by God to the Order of the Khalsa, and reforms the apostate into the purified.


There are mantras in Taoism, such as the words in Dàfàn yǐnyǔ wúliàng yīn (大梵隱語無量音), the recitation of a deity's name. The Indian syllable om (唵) is also used in Taoist mantras. After the arrival of Buddhism many Taoist sects started to use Sanskrit syllables in their mantras or talisman as a way to enhance one's spiritual power aside from the traditional Han incantations. One example of this is the "heart mantra" of Pu Hua Tian Zun (普化天尊), a Taoist deity manifested from the first thunder and head of the “36 thunder gods” in orthodox religious Taoism. His mantra is "Ǎn hōng zhā lì sà mó luō - 唵吽吒唎薩嚩囉". Taoist believe this incantation to be the heart mantra of Pu Hua Tian Zun which will protect them from bad qi and calm down emotions. There are also mantras in Cheondoism, Daesun Jinrihoe, Jeung San Do and Onmyōdō.[]


The Sufis use the "Names of God" or particular phrases found in the Quran or hadith qudsi in a mantric way, which they call dhikr. Of particular importance is the phrase Lā ilaha īlla-Llāh (لا إله إلا الله) and numerous variations. These words or phrases are often counted on a string of beads called a tasbiḥ or misbaḥa or in Iraq "sibha", similar to a mala but generally consisting of 33 or 99 beads. The recitation of these formulas can be done individually, or in unison in large assemblies with musicians and directed by an elder (shaikh). Each Sufi order has its particular formulas and group ceremonials.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^This is a Buddhist chant. The words in Pali are: Buddham saranam gacchami, Dhammam saranam gacchami, Sangham saranam gacchami. The equivalent words in Sanskrit, according to Georg Feuerstein, are: Buddham saranam gacchâmi, Dharmam saranam gacchâmi, Sangham saranam gacchâmi. The literal meaning: I go for refuge in Buddha, I go for refuge in Buddhist teachings, I go for refuge in Buddhist Monastics.
  2. ^"mantra"Archived 18 December at the Wayback Machine. Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  3. ^ abcdefghijklJan Gonda (). The Indian Mantra. 16. Oriens. pp.&#;–
  4. ^ abFeuerstein, Georg (), The Deeper Dimension of Yoga. Shambala Publications, Boston, MA
  5. ^James Lochtefeld, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Volume 2, ISBN&#;, pages –
  6. ^ abcdefghijklmFrits Staal (). Rituals and Mantras, Rules without meaning. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN&#;.
  7. ^ abcdAlper, Harvey (). Understanding mantras. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN&#;. OCLC&#;
  8. ^Nesbitt, Eleanor M. (), Sikhism: a very short introduction, Oxford University Press, ISBN&#;
  9. ^ abLaw, Jane Marie (). Religious Reflections on the Human Body. Indiana University Press. pp.&#;– ISBN&#;. Archived from the original on 15 July Retrieved 16 October
  10. ^ abBoyce, M. (), Zoroastrians: their religious beliefs and practices, Psychology Press
  11. ^ abGoudriaan, Teun (). Hindu tantric and Śākta literature. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. p.&#;Chapter VIII. ISBN&#;. OCLC&#;
  12. ^Monier-Williams, Monier () []. A Sanskrit-English dictionary etymologically and philologically arranged with special reference to cognate Indo-European languages;. Leumann, Ernst, , Cappeller, Carl, (New&#;ed.). Oxford: The Clarendon Press. p.&#; ISBN&#;. OCLC&#;
  13. ^"Definition of MANTRA". Archived from the original on 31 March Retrieved 4 May
  14. ^Macdonell, Arthur A., A Sanskrit Grammar for Students § b, p. (Oxford University Press, 3rd edition, ).
  15. ^Whitney, W. D., Sanskrit Grammar § c, p. (New York, , ISBN&#;).
  16. ^"Mantra". Archived from the original on 4 May Retrieved 4 May
  17. ^Alex Wayman; Ryujun Tajima (). The Enlightenment of Vairocana. Motilal Banarsidass. pp.&#;, , – ISBN&#;. Archived from the original on 8 July Retrieved 16 October
  18. ^Schlerath, Bernfried (). ""Aša: Avestan Aša"". Encyclopaedia Iranica. 2. New York: Routledge. pp.&#;–
  19. ^Harvey Alper (), Understanding Mantras, ISBN&#;, State University of New York, pages 3–7
  20. ^T Renou (), Littérature Sanskrite, Paris, page 74
  21. ^L. Silburn (), Instant et cause, Paris, page 25
  22. ^J. Farquhar (), An outline of the religious literature of India, Oxford, page 25
  23. ^Heinrich Robert Zimmer (), Myths and symbols in Indian art and civilization, ISBN&#;, Washington DC, page 72
  24. ^ abAgehananda Bharati (), The Tantric Tradition, London: Rider and Co., ISBN&#;
  25. ^Harvey Alper (), Understanding Mantras, ISBN&#;, State University of New York, page 9
  26. ^Jan Gonda (), Vedic Literature (Samhitäs and Brähmanas), (HIL I.I) Wiesbaden: OH; also Selected Studies, (4 volumes), Leiden: E. J. Brill
  27. ^"Mantra"Archived 7 November at the Wayback Machine. Oxford Living Dictionary.
  28. ^"Mantra"Archived 29 June at the Wayback Machine. Cambridge Dictionary.
  29. ^Frits Staal (), Mantras and Bird Songs, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. , No. 3, Indological Studies, pages –
  30. ^Harvey Alper (), Understanding Mantras, ISBN&#;, State University of New York, pages 10–11
  31. ^Frits Staal (), Rituals and Mantras, Rules without meaning, ISBN&#;, Motilal Banarsidass, pages –
  32. ^Harvey Alper (), Understanding Mantras, ISBN&#;, State University of New York, pages 10–14
  33. ^Andre Padoux, in Understanding Mantras, ISBN&#;, State University of New York, pages –; see also Chapter 3 by Wade Wheelock
  34. ^Harvey Alper (), Understanding Mantras, ISBN&#;, State University of New York, pages 11–13
  35. ^ ab"Vedic Heritage". Retrieved 18 February
  36. ^Frits Staal (), Rituals and Mantras, Rules without meaning, ISBN&#;, Motilal Banarsidass, Chapter 20
  37. ^Lal Nagar, Shanti (Translator) (). Linga Mahapurana. I. Delhi, India: Parimal Publications. Chapter 65, page ISBN&#;. (Set ISBN&#;)
  38. ^Jan Gonda (), The Indian Mantra, Oriens, Vol. 16, pages –
  39. ^Jan Gonda (), Vedic Ritual: The non-Solemn Rites, Amsterdam; see also Jan Gonda (), The Ritual Functions and Significance of Grasses in the Religion of the Veda, Amsterdam; Jan Gonda (), The Ritual Sutras, Wiesbaden
  40. ^P.V. Kane (), History of Dharmasastra, Volume V, part II
  41. ^Harvey Alper (), Understanding Mantras, ISBN&#;, State University of New York, see Introduction
  42. ^Harvey Alper (), Understanding Mantras, ISBN&#;, State University of New York, pages 7–8
  43. ^ abHarvey Alper (), Understanding Mantras, ISBN&#;, State University of New York, Chapter 10
  44. ^Swami, Om (). The ancient science of Mantras. Jaico Publications. ISBN&#;.
  45. ^Spencer, L. (). Flotation: A Guide for Sensory Deprivation, Relaxation, & Isolation Tanks. ISBN&#;, ISBN&#;, p.
  46. ^Gudrun Bühnemann, Selecting and perfecting mantras in Hindu tantrism, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies / Volume 54 / Issue 02 / June , pages –
  47. ^David Gordon White (), Tantra in Practice, Princeton University Press, ISBN&#;
  48. ^Jean Herbert, Spiritualite hindoue, Paris , ISBN&#;
  49. ^Bhattāchārya, Majumdar and Majumdar, Principles of Tantra, ISBN&#;, see Introduction by Barada Kanta Majumdar
  50. ^Brooks (), The Secret of the Three Cities: An Introduction to Hindu Sakta Tantrism, University of Chicago Press
  51. ^David Gordon White (Editor) (), Tantra in practice (Vol. 8), Motilal Banarsidass, Princeton Readings in Religions, ISBN&#;, Chapters 21 and 31
  52. ^ abMonier Monier-Williams (), Indian Wisdom, Luzac & Co., London, pages –, see text and footnote
  53. ^A Dictionary of Hinduism, Margaret and James Stutley (Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers) , p
  54. ^Radha, Swami Sivananda (). Mantras: Words of Power. Canada: Timeless Books. p.&#; ISBN&#;. Archived from the original on 5 April Retrieved 16 October
  55. ^Some very common mantras, called Nama japa, are: "Om Namah (name of deity)"; for example, Om Namah Shivaya or Om Namo Bhagavate Rudraya Namah (Om and salutations to Lord Shiva); Om Namo Narayanaya or Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevãya (Om and salutations to Lord Vishnu); Om Shri Ganeshaya Namah (Om and salutations to Shri Ganesha)
  56. ^Meditation and Mantras, Swami Vishnu-Devananda (Motilal Banarsidass Publishers) , p
  57. ^A Dictionary of Hinduism, p; Some of the major books which are used as reference for Mantra Shaastra are: Parasurama Kalpa Sutra; Shaarada Tilakam; Lakshmi Tantra; Prapanchasara
  58. ^Shear Jonathon (Editor), The Experience of Meditation: Experts Introduce the Major Traditions, p Paragon House. St Paul, MN.,
  59. ^In Hinduism, frequent repetition at opportune moments is a common type of japa.
  60. ^Eknath Easwaran (). Mantram Handbook (see article) (5th ed.). Tomales, CA: Nilgiri Press. ISBN&#; (originally published ).
  61. ^Bormann, J. E.; Thorp, S.; Wetherell, J. L.; Golshan, S. (). "A spiritually based group intervention for combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder: Feasibility study". Journal of Holistic Nursing. 26 (2): – doi/ PMC&#; PMID&#;
  62. ^Jill E. Bormann & Doug Oman (). Mantram or holy name repetition: Health benefits from a portable spiritual practice. In Thomas G. Plante, & Carl E. Thoresen (Eds.), Spirit, science and health: How the spiritual mind fuels physical wellness (pp. 94–) (table of contentsArchived

Meditation wikipedia vedic

Transcendental Meditation

Form of silent mantra meditation

For the Beach Boys song, see Friends (Beach Boys album).

Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a form of silent, mantrameditation advocated by the Transcendental Meditation movement.[1][2]Maharishi Mahesh Yogi created the technique in India in the mids. Advocates of TM claim that the technique promotes a state of relaxed awareness, stress relief, and access to higher states of consciousness,[3] as well as physiological benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.[4]

Building on the teachings of his instructor Guru Dev, the Maharishi taught thousands of people during a series of world tours from to , expressing his teachings in spiritual and religious terms.[5][6] TM became more popular in the s and s, as the Maharishi shifted to a more technical presentation, and his meditation technique was practiced by celebrities. At this time, he began training TM teachers and created specialized organizations to present TM to specific segments of the population such as business people and students. By the early s, TM had been taught to millions of people; the worldwide TM organization had grown to include educational programs, health products, and related services.

The TM technique involves the use of a silently-used sound called a mantra, and is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day. It is taught by certified teachers through a standard course of instruction, which costs a fee that varies by country. According to the Transcendental Meditation movement, it is a non-religious method for relaxation, stress reduction, and self-development. The technique has been seen as both religious[7] and non-religious; sociologists, scholars, and a New Jersey judge and court are among those who have expressed views on it being religious or non-religious.[6][8][9] The United States Court of Appeals upheld the federal ruling that TM was essentially "religious in nature" and therefore could not be taught in public schools.[10][11]

Scientific research on meditation practices does not appear to have a common theoretical perspective and is characterized by poor methodological quality. Firm conclusions on the effects of meditation practices in healthcare cannot be drawn based on the available evidence.[12][13]


Main article: History of Transcendental Meditation

The Transcendental Meditation program and the Transcendental Meditation movement originated with their founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and continued beyond his death in In ,[14][15][16] "the Maharishi began publicly teaching a traditional meditation technique"[17] learned from his master Brahmananda Saraswati that he called Transcendental Deep Meditation[18] and later renamed Transcendental Meditation.[19] The Maharishi initiated thousands of people, then developed a TM teacher training program as a way to accelerate the rate of bringing the technique to more people.[19][20] He also inaugurated a series of tours that started in India in and went international in which promoted Transcendental Meditation.[21][22] These factors, coupled with endorsements by celebrities who practiced TM and claims that scientific research had validated the technique, helped to popularize TM in the s and s. By the late s, TM had been taught to millions of individuals and the Maharishi was overseeing a large multinational movement.[23] Despite organizational changes and the addition of advanced meditative techniques in the s,[24] the Transcendental Meditation technique has remained relatively unchanged.

Among the first organizations to promote TM were the Spiritual Regeneration Movement and the International Meditation Society. In modern times, the movement has grown to encompass schools and universities that teach the practice,[25] and includes many associated programs based on the Maharishi's interpretation of the Vedic traditions. In the U.S., non-profit organizations included the Students International Meditation Society, AFSCI,[27]World Plan Executive Council, Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation, Global Country of World Peace and Maharishi Foundation.[28] The successor to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and leader of the Global Country of World Peace, is Tony Nader.[29][30]


Main article: Transcendental Meditation technique

The meditation practice involves the use of a silently-used mantra for 15–20 minutes twice per day while sitting with the eyes closed.[31][32] It is reported to be one of the most widely practiced,[33][34] and among the most widely researched, meditation techniques,[35][36][37][38] with hundreds of published research studies. [39][40][41] The technique is made available worldwide by certified TM teachers in a seven-step course,[42] and fees vary from country to country.[43][44] Beginning in , the Transcendental Meditation technique has been incorporated into selected schools, universities, corporations, and prison programs in the US, Latin America, Europe, and India. In a US district court ruled that a curriculum in TM and the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) being taught in some New Jersey schools was religious in nature and in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.[8][45] The technique has since been included in a number of educational and social programs around the world.[46]

The Transcendental Meditation technique has been described as both religious and non-religious, as an aspect of a new religious movement, as rooted in Hinduism,[47][48] and as a non-religious practice for self-development.[50][51] The public presentation of the TM technique over its year history has been praised for its high visibility in the mass media and effective global propagation, and criticized for using celebrity and scientific endorsements as a marketing tool. Also, advanced courses supplement the TM technique and include an advanced meditation program called the TM-Sidhi program.[52]


Main article: Transcendental Meditation movement

The Transcendental Meditation movement consists of the programs and organizations connected with the Transcendental Meditation technique and founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Transcendental Meditation was first taught in the s in India and has continued since the Maharishi's death in The organization was estimated to have , participants worldwide in ,[53] a million by the s,[54][55][56] and 5 million in more recent years.[when?][57][58][59][60][61][62][63][excessive citations]

Programs include the Transcendental Meditation technique, an advanced meditation practice called the TM-Sidhi program ("Yogic Flying"), an alternative health care program called Maharishi Ayurveda,[64] and a system of building and architecture called Maharishi Sthapatya Ved.[65][66] The TM movement's past and present media endeavors include a publishing company (MUM Press), a television station (KSCI), a radio station (KHOE), and a satellite television channel (Maharishi Channel). During its year history, its products and services have been offered through a variety of organizations, which are primarily nonprofit and educational. These include the Spiritual Regeneration Movement, the International Meditation Society, World Plan Executive Council, Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation, the Global Country of World Peace, and the David Lynch Foundation.

The TM movement also operates a worldwide network of Transcendental Meditation teaching centers, schools, universities, health centers, herbal supplements, solar panel, and home financing companies, plus several TM-centered communities. The global organization is reported to have an estimated net worth of USD billion.[67][68] The TM movement has been characterized in a variety of ways and has been called a spiritual movement, a new religious movement,[69][70] a millenarian movement, a world affirming movement,[71] a new social movement,[72] a guru-centered movement,[73] a personal growth movement,[74] a religion, and a cult.[70][75][76][77] Additional sources contend that TM and its movement are not a cult.[78][79][80][81] Participants in TM programs are not required to adopt a belief system; it is practiced by atheists, agnostics and people from a variety of religious affiliations.[82][83][84][85] The organization has also been criticized as well as praised for its public presentation and marketing techniques throughout its year history.[citation needed]

The organization has been the subject of controversies that includes being labelled a cult by several parliamentary inquiries or anti-cult movements in the world.[86][87][88][70][75][76]

Some notable figures in pop-culture practicing TM include The Beatles, Kendall Jenner, Hugh Jackman, Tom Hanks, Jennifer Lopez, Mick Jagger, Eva Mendez, DJ Moby, David Lynch, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, Eric Andre, Jerry Seinfeld, Howard Stern, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Russell Brand and Oprah Winfrey. [89][90][91][92][93][94][95][96][excessive citations]

Health effects[edit]

It is not possible to say whether Transcendental Meditation has significant effect on health, as much of the research is of poor methodological quality,[12][13] and is marred by a high risk for bias owing to the connection of researchers to the TM organization and by the selection of subjects with a favorable opinion of TM.[97][98][99][12][][]

A meta-analysis published in Psychological Bulletin, which reviewed individual studies, tentatively found that Transcendental Meditation produced superior results in "reducing negative emotions, trait anxiety, and neuroticism" as well as improving markers of learning, memory, and self-actualization by comparison with other meditation approaches; the researchers nonetheless recommended improved methodologies for future research.[] A systematic review and meta-analysis funded by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found moderate evidence for improvement in anxiety, depression and pain with low evidence for improvement in stress and mental health-related quality of life.[][]

A statement from the American Heart Association said that TM could be considered as a treatment for hypertension, although other interventions such as exercise and device-guided breathing were more effective and better supported by clinical evidence.[] A Cochrane review of four studies found that it was impossible to draw any conclusions about whether TM is effective in preventing cardiovascular disease, as the scientific literature on TM was limited and at "serious risk of bias".[] By contrast, a systematic review and meta-analysis of 12 studies found that TM may reduce blood pressure compared to control groups, although the underlying studies may have been biased and further studies with better designs are needed.[] A review on non-pharmacological hypertension management showed that TM showed a significant decline in systolic and diastolic blood pressure in both men and women after 3 months of observation. []

The first studies of the health effects of Transcendental Meditation appeared in the early s.[] By the US government had given more than $20 million to Maharishi University of Management to study the effect of meditation on health.[]

Maharishi effect[edit]

In the s, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi described a paranormal effect claiming a significant number of individuals (1% of the people in a given area) practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique (TM) could have an effect on the local environment.[] This hypothetical influence was later termed the Maharishi effect. With the introduction of the TM-Sidhi program in , the Maharishi proposed that taking 1% of the population, and then taking its square root, would produce a threshold for the number of adherents necessary for the TM-Sidhi program to increase "life-supporting trends". This was referred to as the "extended Maharishi effect".[][] Evidence, which TM practitioners[] argue supports the existence of the effect, has been criticized as lacking a causal basis,[] being derived from cherry-picked data,[] and being based on the credulity of believers.[][]


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  114. ^Schrodt, Phillip A. (). "A methodological critique of a test of the Maharishi technology of the unified field". Journal of Conflict Resolution. 34 (4): – doi/ JSTOR&#; S2CID&#;
  115. ^Epstein, Edward (29 December ). "Politics and Transcendental Meditation". San Francisco Chronicle.

Further reading[edit]

  • Alexander, Charles and O'Connel, David F. () Routledge Self Recovery: Treating Addictions Using Transcendental Meditation and Maharishi Ayur-Veda ISBN&#;
  • Bloomfield, Harold H., Cain, Michael Peter, Jaffe, Dennis T. () TM: Discovering Inner Energy and Overcoming StressISBN&#;
  • Sharma, Hari; Clark, Christopher (). Contemporary Ayurveda. Churchill Livingstone. ISBN&#;.
  • Deans, Ashley () MUM Press, A Record of Excellence, ISBN&#;
  • Denniston, Denise, The TM Book, Fairfield Press ISBN&#;X
  • Forem, Jack () Hay House UK Ltd, Transcendental Meditation: The Essential Teachings of Maharishi Mahesh YogiISBN&#;
  • Geoff Gilpin, The Maharishi Effect: A Personal Journey Through the Movement That Transformed American Spirituality, Tarcher-Penguin , ISBN&#;* Pollack, A. A., Weber, M. A., Case, D.
  • Jefferson, William () Pocket Books, The Story Of The Maharishi, ISBN&#;
  • Kropinski v. World Plan Executive Council, F, 2d , (D.C. Cir, )
  • Marcus, Jay () MIU press, Success From Within: Discovering the Inner State That Creates Personal Fulfillment and Business SuccessISBN&#;
  • Oates, Robert and Swanson, Gerald () MIU Press, Enlightened Management: Building High-performance People ASIN: BL8DBY2
  • Rothstein, Mikael (). Belief Transformations: Some Aspects of the Relation Between Science and Religion in Transcendental Meditation and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Language: English. Aarhus universitetsforlag. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  • Roth, Robert () Primus, Transcendental MeditationISBN&#;
  • Skolnick, Andrew "Maharishi Ayur-Veda: Guru's Marketing Scheme Promises the World Eternal 'Perfect Health'!", JAMA ;–,2 October
  • Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh () (Bantam Books) Transcendental Meditation: Serenity Without DrugsISBN&#;X
  • Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh () Penguin, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita&#;: A New Translation and CommentaryISBN&#;

External links[edit]

Shri Rudram, an ancient Vedic Hymn by Music for Deep Meditation, Vidura Barrios

Transcendental Meditation in education

Application of Transcendental Meditation technique in education

Transcendental Meditation in education (also known as Consciousness-Based Education) is the application of the Transcendental Meditation technique in an educational setting or institution. These educational programs and institutions have been founded in the US, United Kingdom, Australia, India, Africa and Japan. The Transcendental Meditation technique became popular with students in the s and by the early s centers for the Students International Meditation Society were established at a thousand campuses[1] in the US with similar growth occurring in Germany, Canada and Britain.[2] The Maharishi International University was established in in the US and began offering accredited, degree programs. In courses in Transcendental Meditation and the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) were legally prohibited from New Jersey (USA) public high schools on religious grounds by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.[3][4] This "dismantled" the TM program's use of government funding in U.S. public schools[5] "but did not constitute a negative evaluation of the program itself".[6] Since , schools that incorporate the Transcendental Meditation technique using private, non-governmental funding have been reported in the US, South America, Southeast Asia, Northern Ireland, South Africa and Israel.[7][8][9]

A number of educational institutions have been founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Transcendental Meditation movement and its supporters. These institutions include several schools offering public and private secondary education in the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment (USA),[10]Maharishi School (England)[11][12] the Maharishi International School (Switzerland),[13] Maharishi School, (Australia),[14][15][16] South Africa (Maharishi Invincibility School of Management),[17] and a network of (Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools (India). Likewise, Maharishi colleges and universities have been established including Maharishi European Research University (Netherlands), Maharishi Institute of Management (India), Maharishi University of Management and Technology (India), Maharishi Institute (South Africa)[18][19] and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Vedic University (India). In the US, critics have called Transcendental Meditation a revised form of Eastern, religious philosophy and opposed its use in public schools[20][21] while a member of the Pacific Justice Institute says practicing Transcendental Meditation in public schools with private funding is constitutional.[22]

History of school programs[edit]

to [edit]

The Students' International Meditation Society (SIMS) incorporated in / and focused on offering the TM technique to students and faculty at schools and universities. The UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) chapter had 1, members and was co-founded by researcher and physiologist, Robert Keith Wallace, the first president of Maharishi International University.[24] By , 14 states had encouraged local schools to teach TM in the classroom, and it was taught at 50 universities.[25] Among the public school systems where TM was taught were Shawnee Mission, Kansas,[26]Maplewood, Paterson, Union Hill and West New York, New Jersey,[27]Eastchester, New York[25][28] and Toronto, Ontario.[29] The organization was described as a "phenomenal success"[30][31] and continues to function in some countries including the U.S.A.[32] A lesson video course called the Science of Creative Intelligence was offered at universities such as Stanford, Yale, the University of Colorado, the University of Wisconsin, and Oregon State University.[28][33]

In , the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the US District Court of New Jersey that a course in Transcendental Meditation and the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) was religious activity within the meaning of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and that the government funded teaching of SCI/TM in the New Jersey public high schools was prohibited.[3][4] The court ruled that, although SCI/TM is not a theistic religion, it deals with issues of ultimate concern, truth, and other ideas analogous to those in well-recognized religions. The court found that the religious nature of the course was clear from careful examination of the textbook, the expert testimony elicited, and the uncontested facts concerning the puja ceremony, which it found involved "offerings to deities as part of a regularly scheduled course in the schools' educational programs".[34] State action was involved because the SCI/TM course and activities involved the teaching of a religion, without an objective secular purpose.[4] According to religious scholar Cynthia Ann Humes the Malnak decision "dismantled" the TM program's use of government funding to incorporate Transcendental Meditation into public schools.[5] However, according to religious scholars Douglas E. Cowan and David G. Bromley this "judicial rebuff" of the New Jersey school project did not render "a negative evaluation of the program itself" and those who oppose the practice in public schools are said to be mainly conservative Christians and civil libertarians who seek to preserve church-state separation.[6]

to [edit]

Students in a Peru classroom practicing the TM technique

Since , schools and universities in the U.S. and abroad have introduced the Transcendental Meditation technique using private, non-governmental funding. The technique has been introduced on a voluntary basis, with parental consent, and teachers and parents are taught the meditation before the students learn.[20][35] Often referred to as the Quiet Time Program, the students and teachers meditate for 10 to 20 minutes twice per day.[35][36] The program consists of TM instruction and follow-up, as well as training of school faculty and staff to supervise the TM sessions offered at the school.[37]

The Fletcher Johnson Educational Center, a charter school with 1, students in Washington, D.C., introduced the TM program for schools in [20][38] Its principal, George H. Rutherford, is a member of the DLF's Board of Advisors.[39] The Ideal Academy Public Charter School began its program with the approval of the Washington, D.C. Board of Education in [20][40] The – pilot project at Ideal Academy was conducted along with research to document the effects of the program.[38] The Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse] in Detroit began using the program for students in the fifth through eighth grade in and was featured on the Today Show in [41][42] The school has since been classified by the Skillman Foundation as a "High-Performing Middle School".[43] Over the years, the program at Nitaki Talibah has been funded by various foundations including General Motors, Daimler Chrysler, the Liebler Foundation and the DLF.[41] The program at the school has been researched by Rita Benn of the University of Michigan's Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research Center.[41]

to present[edit]

The Chelsea School, a private school in of Silver Spring, Maryland, offers the program to its fifth through twelfth graders who have attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders (ADHD). The program was part of a three-month pilot study conducted by William R. Stixrud, a clinical neuropsychologist and health advisor for the TM's Committee for Stress-Free Schools.[41][44][45] The New York Times reported in that American University, in Washington D.C., was set to begin offering Transcendental Meditation classes as part of a research project to measure its potential effect on "grades, IQ's and mental health".[46] Later, the practice of the technique by students at American University, Georgetown University and Howard University in the Washington D.C. area was monitored as part of a research study conducted by American University and Maharishi University of Management.[20][47]

In , the New York Committee for Stress-Free Schools held a press conference in New York City. The conference included testimony from students, educators and scientists who support the use of TM in the school setting.[48][49] The following year the TM technique was taught to "more than administrators, teachers and students" and over the next five years, additional high school students learned the technique.[50] According to the DLF web site, the TM program was introduced to the Arts and Technology Academy at Weaver High School in Hartford CT in Four hundred and fifty students as well as principals and administrators are reported to have been instructed in the technique.[51] A voluntary program at the Kingsbury School, a Washington D.C. private school "for students with learning disorders" in grades K, was featured on the PBS program, To The Contrary in [52][53][54] According to the school director, about 10 percent of the teachers, parents and students declined to participate because they found it be religious and cult-ish.[20][52] Conferences sponsored by the New England Committee for Stress-Free Schools were held in Providence, Rhode Island; Fairfield, Connecticut; and Boston, Massachusetts in The Boston conference was attended by teachers and featured testimony from school principals who have experience with the TM program in schools.[36][55] In the mids the TM technique was incorporated into the educational program at the Daburiya High School in Israel.[56]

The David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace (DLF) was founded in and has provided funding for Transcendental Meditation instruction in many educational settings.[57][58] According to the DLF, it has funded school programs in New York City, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Vietnam, Nepal, Northern Ireland, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Israel.[7][8][9]

In , six public schools were each awarded $25, to begin a TM program and a total of twenty five public, private, and charter schools in the United States had offered Transcendental Meditation to their students.[40][59] In , the Terra Linda High School in San Rafael, California canceled plans for Transcendental Meditation classes due to concerns of parents that it would be promoting religion.[60] In the San Francisco area there are three schools that offer the technique as part of their school program, funded primarily by the David Lynch Foundation. The Visitacion Valley Middle School began the program in [61][62][63] and the Everett Middle School and John O'Connell High School began the program sometime after that.[64] The Maharishi Institute, an African university, was founded in and uses the Transcendental Meditation technique in its programs.[65][66]

As of , the David Lynch Foundation had funded TM instruction for "more than 2, students, teachers and parents" at "21 U.S. schools and universities", in addition to substantially higher numbers of instruction at schools outside the U.S.[20] Programs have been conducted in Washington D.C., Hartford CT, San Francisco CA, Detroit MI, Steamboat Springs CO, Tucson AZ, Los Angeles CA and Chicago IL.[35] One of those programs was the Lowell Whiteman Primary School in Steamboat Springs, Colorado which implemented a two-year trial program using Transcendental Meditation in their classrooms. The program was used with fifth through eighth graders. After instruction, the TM teachers visit the school once per month to assess the students' progress and their meditation technique.[67] The following year, about students and teachers at Tucson Magnet High School in Tucson AZ, took the training in Transcendental Meditation and meditate daily for 15 minutes before or after school.[68]

In , the women's squash team at Trinity College in Hartford, CT began practicing the TM technique together after every practice.[69][70] In music mogul Russell Simmons announced plans to provide financial support to the David Lynch Foundation to teach TM at Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Connecticut.[71] The TM technique was taught to students at Norwich University, a private military academy, as part of a long-term study on meditation and military performance.[72][73]

TM schools and universities[edit]

Consciousness-Based Education (CBE) refers to the educational approach that is utilized at schools and universities founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.[74]

United States[edit]

Maharishi University of Management campus

Maharishi University of Management (MUM), formerly known as Maharishi International University, was founded in [75] The campus is located in Fairfield, Iowa, United States.[76] The university is not-for-profit,[77] is accredited through the Ph.D. level by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and offers a Consciousness-Based Education approach that includes the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique.[78] Degree programs are offered in the arts, sciences, business, and the humanities.[79]

Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment (MSAE), located on the MUM campus, is an independent, non-denominational,[80]college preparatory school located in Fairfield, Iowa. The school has an open admissions policy and its curriculum includes the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique.[80] The Ideal Girls School was a single-gender college preparatory boarding school in Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa.[81] According to its website, the school was originally chartered in New York in , then set up its campus in North Carolina in , before finally moving to Iowa in where it received state accreditation in [82]

Maharishi International University College of Natural Law was located in Washington D.C. five blocks from the White House.[83] From to this was also the location of the TM movement's "administrative headquarters" for North America as well as a national organization of 6, American medical doctors who practiced TM, a private school, a clinic, and a TM meditation center.[83] In , the Washington Post reported that the Maharishi, referring to Washington DC, had advised TM practitioners: "save yourself from the criminal atmosphere". As a result, 20 to 40 TM practitioners put their homes up for sale in an effort to move away from the city.[84]

In the GCWP announced a plan to build a Maharishi Central University campus at "the geographical center of the Lower 48 states" in Kansas.[85] The facility was under construction until early , when, according to founding president John Hagelin,[86] the necessary $ million in construction funds was not readily available during the financial crisis of [85] As of April one building was near completion while the other 10 buildings were still under construction.[87] In an all boys, boarding school, called the Maharishi Academy of Total Knowledge, was founded in Antrim, New Hampshire with "just a handful of students".[88]

USA Reception[edit]

University of South Carolina sociologist Barry Markovsky described the TM technique in schools as "stealth religion",[89] and Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, says Transcendental Meditation is rooted in Hinduism and crosses the same constitutional line as in the Malnak case and decision of Since then, however, "TM has made a comeback of sorts with some governmental sponsorship" according to authors Forsthoefel and Humes. In May , Lynn said that the Americans United for Separation of Church and State was keeping "a close legal eye on the TM movement" and "there are no imminent cases" against the movement.[20][58] At the same time, Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute says doing Transcendental Meditation during a school's "quiet time" (a short period of school time for private prayer or relaxation) "is constitutional."[22]

According to a Newsweek article, there is a "growing movement to bring Transcendental Meditation into more U.S. schools as a stress-buster for America's overwhelmed kids".[58] At the same time, critics say that Transcendental Meditation is a revised form of Eastern, religious philosophy, and they oppose its use in public schools.[20] Some parents and critics view it as an overstepping of boundaries that could lead to "lifelong personal and financial servitude to a corporation run by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi".[21] At the same time, many parents feel the meditation has created "profound results" for their children, and that they "hardly view TM as exclusively, or even overtly, religious," and advocates describe it is a physiological technique that calms the mind, improves grades and attention span, while reducing disruptive behavior.[20] A research review said their "findings provide good support for the use of TM to enhance several forms of information processing in students".[91]


MERU branch campus in Vlodrop, the Netherlands

"MERU" redirects here. For other uses, see Meru (disambiguation).

Maharishi European Research University (MERU) was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Seelisberg, Switzerland in [1][92] The university's purpose is to conduct research into the effects of Transcendental Meditation and higher states of consciousness.[1][92] The original campus was located in a Victorian-era hotel above Lake Lucerne.[1][93] The first chancellor was physicist Larry Domash.[93]David Orme Johnson was the vice-chancellor. Institutions bearing the MERU name have also operated at Mentmore Towers, an estate in Buckinghamshire, England, and at Vlodrop, Netherlands. Notable alumni include Bevan Morris, Ashley Deans, Mike Tompkins, and a few sources say John Gray was a MERU graduate. The Maharishi Foundation purchased the Kolleg St. Ludwig campus in for US$,[94] and it became the MERU university campus.[95]

The Maharishi School in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, England[96] is the only specialist TM school in the country and has pupils aged between four and [97] At Limeside Primary in Oldham, half of the teaching staff now regularly meditate.[98] In September , the Maharishi School became one of 24 independent schools in the country to be awarded full state funding as part of the government Free Schools initiative.[99] In the Maharishi University of Natural Law for England was established.[] Another Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment is located in Wheaton, Maryland, USA,[10] and a single gender, secondary school called Maharishi International School is located in Zurich, Switzerland.[]


Maharishi Shiksha Sansthan (MSS) is a registered society that oversees Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools (MVMS) and Maharishi Ideal Girls Schools located across India. MSS also administrates the five campuses of the Maharishi Institute of Management and the Maharishi University of Management and Technology campus.[][]

The Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools were founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in MVMS is affiliated with the New Delhi Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)[] and/or their respective state-school, education boards.[][] Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools include branches in cities with a total of 90, to , students and 5, teaching and support staff.[][][]

Maharishi Centre for Educational Excellence, Bhopal, India.

The Maharishi Institute of Management has campuses in Bangalore, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Indore, Chennai and Maharishi Nagar (Delhi).[] The Institute was established in India in and offers several degrees including MBA, PGDBA, MCA, BCA and BBA.[][] The Institute describes its purpose as the elimination of "existing problems in the field of management in all areas of human concern by establishing automation in administration – management supported by the total intelligence of Natural Law."[] The Bangalore campus is reported to be an "important centre for computer training and hi-tech learning" in India.[]

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Vedic University, also known as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Vedic Vishwavidyalaya (MMYVV), is a public university located in Katni, Madhya Pradesh. Maharishi University of Management and Technology, with campuses in Bilaspur and Chhattisgarh, is a private University recognised by the University Grants Commission (UGC).[][] The Maharishi Center for Educational Excellence (MCEE) was established in by its chairman, Girish Chandra Verma.[]

The Maharishi College of Natural Law was established in Orissa India in and was supported by donations from Maharishi Institute of Creative Intelligence (MICI). In addition to the standard curriculum, the College offers courses in Transcendental Meditation and the Science of Creative intelligence. The College began as a school for boys with students and 17 teachers. The College is recognised by the Government of Orissa and is affiliated with the Council of Higher Secondary Education since []

The Cosmic Business School was founded in , "based on the principles of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi"and[][] according to the school, many of its graduates are placed with a company within the "Maharishi Group of Industries".[][]


Maharishi Invincibility Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Maharishi Institute, founded in , under South Africa's Community & Individual Development Association, provides tertiary education utilizing Transcendental Meditation and the Consciousness-Based educational approach.[17][] It aims at creating economically self-sufficient institutions that provide large scale, affordable education for students from Grades 11 through the master's degree level.[][] It was visited by Russell Simmons a year later and is located in the business district of Johannesburg.[] Its goal is to provide disadvantaged students with an "accelerated holistic education" that includes employment at "an in-house call centre" and other university positions during their course of study.[] The goal of the work/study program is to allow the institution to become self funded.[] Initial funding and grants for the institute were provided by Educating Africa foundation.[] It was established by the founders of CIDA City Campus with the goal of further addressing the issue of "accessible tertiary education" by utilizing Consciousness-Based education methods.[] The Maharishi Institute's goal is to set a precedent for the field of higher education that could be replicated in other African cities.[]

According to a press release, in , at a global educational summit in Bahrain, the Institute was granted an award that recognized it as an innovative institution with the potential to significantly improve educational outcomes through adaptable and replicable business models.[][] The web site for Consciousness-Based Education, South Africa lists 12 partner schools in the US, Netherlands, Australia, India, Ecuador, Thailand, China, and Great Britain and says that "Consciousness-Based Education has been introduced into more than schools and more than 25 universities or other tertiary institutions worldwide".[] A Maharishi Secondary School for Girls is located in Mbale, Uganda.[]

Australia and Japan[edit]

There is a Maharishi School near Melbourne, Australia[14][][] and a Maharishi Research Institute in Japan.[]


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External links[edit]


Now discussing:


Mental practice of focus on a particular object

This article is about the induction of specific modes or states of consciousness. For other uses, see Meditation (disambiguation).

Not to be confused with mediation or medication.

Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.[1]:&#;–29&#;[2]:&#;&#;[3]:&#;&#;[4]:&#;&#;[5][6]

Meditation is practiced in numerous religious traditions. The earliest records of meditation (dhyana) are found in the ancient Hindu texts known as the Vedas, and meditation plays a salient role in the contemplative repertoire of Hinduism and Buddhism.[7] Since the 19th century, Asian meditative techniques have spread to other cultures where they have also found application in non-spiritual contexts, such as business and health.

Meditation may significantly reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and pain,[8] and enhance peace, perception,[9]self-concept, and well-being.[10][11][12][13] Research is ongoing to better understand the effects of meditation on health (psychological, neurological, and cardiovascular) and other areas.


The English meditation is derived from Old Frenchmeditacioun, in turn from Latinmeditatio from a verb meditari, meaning "to think, contemplate, devise, ponder".[14][15] In the Catholic tradition, the use of the term meditatio as part of a formal, stepwise process of meditation goes back to at least the 12th century monk Guigo II,[15][16] before which the Greek word Theoria was used for the same purpose.

Apart from its historical usage, the term meditation was introduced as a translation for Eastern spiritual practices, referred to as dhyānain Hinduism and Buddhism and which comes from the Sanskrit root dhyai, meaning to contemplate or meditate.[17][18] The term "meditation" in English may also refer to practices from Islamic Sufism,[19] or other traditions such as Jewish Kabbalah and Christian Hesychasm.[4]


Meditation has proven difficult to define as it covers a wide range of dissimilar practices in different traditions. In popular usage, the word "meditation" and the phrase "meditative practice" are often used imprecisely to designate practices found across many cultures.[4][20] These can include almost anything that is claimed to train the attention of mind or to teach calm or compassion.[21] There remains no definition of necessary and sufficient criteria for meditation that has achieved universal or widespread acceptance within the modern scientific community. In , Claudio Naranjo noted that "The word 'meditation' has been used to designate a variety of practices that differ enough from one another so that we may find trouble in defining what meditation is."[22]:&#;6&#; A study noted a "persistent lack of consensus in the literature" and a "seeming intractability of defining meditation".[23]:&#;&#;

Dictionary definitions[edit]

Dictionaries give both the original Latin meaning of "think[ing] deeply about (something)";[6] as well as the popular usage of "focusing one's mind for a period of time",[6] "the act of giving your attention to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as a way of becoming calm and relaxed",[24] and "to engage in mental exercise (such as concentrating on one's breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness."[5]

Scholarly definitions[edit]

In modern psychological research, meditation has been defined and characterized in a variety of ways. Many of these emphasize the role of attention[4][1][2][3] and characterize the practice of meditation as attempts to get beyond the reflexive, "discursive thinking"[note 1] or "logic"[note 2] mind[note 3] to achieve a deeper, more devout, or more relaxed state.

Bond et al. () identified criteria for defining a practice as meditation "for use in a comprehensive systematic review of the therapeutic use of meditation", using "a 5-round Delphi study with a panel of 7 experts in meditation research" who were also trained in diverse but empirically highly studied (Eastern-derived or clinical) forms of meditation[note 4]:

three main criteria [] as essential to any meditation practice: the use of a defined technique, logic relaxation,[note 5] and a self-induced state/mode.

Other criteria deemed important [but not essential] involve a state of psychophysical relaxation, the use of a self-focus skill or anchor, the presence of a state of suspension of logical thought processes, a religious/spiritual/philosophical context, or a state of mental silence.[23]:&#;&#;

[] It is plausible that meditation is best thought of as a natural category of techniques best captured by 'family resemblances' [] or by the related 'prototype' model of concepts."[23]:&#;&#;[note 6]

Several other definitions of meditation have been used by influential modern reviews of research on meditation across multiple traditions:[note 7]

  • Walsh & Shapiro (): "[M]editation refers to a family of self-regulation practices that focus on training attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control and thereby foster general mental well-being and development and/or specific capacities such as calm, clarity, and concentration"[1]:&#;–29&#;
  • Cahn & Polich (): "[M]editation is used to describe practices that self-regulate the body and mind, thereby affecting mental events by engaging a specific attentional set regulation of attention is the central commonality across the many divergent methods"[2]:&#;&#;
  • Jevning et al. (): "We define meditation as a stylized mental technique repetitively practiced for the purpose of attaining a subjective experience that is frequently described as very restful, silent, and of heightened alertness, often characterized as blissful"[3]:&#;&#;
  • Goleman (): "the need for the meditator to retrain his attention, whether through concentration or mindfulness, is the single invariant ingredient in every meditation system"[4]:&#;&#;

Separation of technique from tradition[edit]

Some of the difficulty in precisely defining meditation has been in recognizing the particularities of the many various traditions;[27] and theories and practice can differ within a tradition.[28] Taylor noted that even within a faith such as "Hindu" or "Buddhist", schools and individual teachers may teach distinct types of meditation.[29]:&#;2&#; Ornstein noted that "Most techniques of meditation do not exist as solitary practices but are only artificially separable from an entire system of practice and belief."[30]:&#;&#; For instance, while monks meditate as part of their everyday lives, they also engage the codified rules and live together in monasteries in specific cultural settings that go along with their meditative practices.

Forms and techniques[edit]


In the West, meditation techniques have sometimes been thought of in two broad categories: focused (or concentrative) meditation and open monitoring (or mindfulness) meditation.[31]

Direction of mental attention A practitioner can focus intensively on one particular object (so-called concentrative meditation), on all mental events that enter the field of awareness (so-called mindfulness meditation), or both specific focal points and the field of awareness.[23]:&#;&#;[note 8]

Focused methods include paying attention to the breath, to an idea or feeling (such as mettā (loving-kindness)), to a kōan, or to a mantra (such as in transcendental meditation), and single point meditation.[32][33] Open monitoring methods include mindfulness, shikantaza and other awareness states.[34] Practices using both methods[35][36][37] include vipassana (which uses anapanasati as a preparation), and samatha (calm-abiding).[38][39] In "No thought" methods, "the practitioner is fully alert, aware, and in control of their faculties but does not experience any unwanted thought activity."[40] This is in contrast to the common meditative approaches of being detached from, and non-judgmental of, thoughts, but not of aiming for thoughts to cease.[41] In the meditation practice of the Sahaja yoga spiritual movement, the focus is on thoughts ceasing.[42]Clear light yoga also aims at a state of no mental content, as does the no thought (wu nian) state taught by Huineng,[43] and the teaching of Yaoshan Weiyan. One proposal is that transcendental meditation and possibly other techniques be grouped as an "automatic self-transcending" set of techniques.[44] Other typologies include dividing meditation into concentrative, generative, receptive and reflective practices.[45]


The Transcendental Meditation technique recommends practice of 20 minutes twice per day.[46] Some techniques suggest less time,[35] especially when starting meditation,[47] and Richard Davidson has quoted research saying benefits can be achieved with a practice of only 8 minutes per day.[48] Research shows improvement in meditation time with simple oral and video training.[49] Some meditators practice for much longer,[50][51] particularly when on a course or retreat.[52] Some meditators find practice best in the hours before dawn.[53]


Main article: Asana

Young children practicing meditation in a Peruvianschool

Asanas and positions such as the full-lotus, half-lotus, Burmese, Seiza, and kneeling positions are popular in Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism,[54] although other postures such as sitting, supine (lying), and standing are also used. Meditation is also sometimes done while walking, known as kinhin, while doing a simple task mindfully, known as samu or while lying down known as savasana.[55][56]

Use of prayer beads[edit]

Some religions have traditions of using prayer beads as tools in devotional meditation.[57][58][59] Most prayer beads and Christian rosaries consist of pearls or beads linked together by a thread.[57][58] The Roman Catholic rosary is a string of beads containing five sets with ten small beads. The Hindu japa mala has beads (the figure in itself having spiritual significance), as well as those used in Gaudiya Vaishnavism, the Hare Krishna tradition, Jainism and Buddhist prayer beads.[60][61] Each bead is counted once as a person recites a mantra until the person has gone all the way around the mala.[61] The Muslim misbaha has 99 beads. There is also quite a variance when it comes to materials used for beads. Beads made from seeds of rudraksha trees are considered sacred by devotees of Shiva, while followers of Vishnu revere the wood that comes from the tulsi plant.[62]

Striking the meditator[edit]

The Buddhist literature has many stories of Enlightenment being attained through disciples being struck by their masters. According to T. Griffith Foulk, the encouragement stick was an integral part of the Zen practice:

In the Rinzai monastery where I trained in the mids, according to an unspoken etiquette, monks who were sitting earnestly and well were shown respect by being hit vigorously and often; those known as laggards were ignored by the hall monitor or given little taps if they requested to be hit. Nobody asked about the 'meaning' of the stick, nobody explained, and nobody ever complained about its use.[63]

Using a narrative[edit]

Richard Davidson has expressed the view that having a narrative can help maintenance of daily practice.[48] For instance he himself prostrates to the teachings, and meditates "not primarily for my benefit, but for the benefit of others".[48]

Religious and spiritual meditation[edit]

Indian religions[edit]


Main article: Hindu meditation

See also: Yoga

There are many schools and styles of meditation within Hinduism.[64] In pre-modern and traditional Hinduism, Yoga and Dhyana are practised to realize union of one's eternal self or soul, one's ātman. In Advaita Vedanta this is equated with the omnipresent and non-dualBrahman. In the dualistic Yoga school and Samkhya, the Self is called Purusha, a pure consciousness separate from matter. Depending on the tradition, the liberative event is named moksha, vimukti or kaivalya.

The earliest clear references to meditation in Hindu literature are in the middle Upanishads and the Mahabharata (including the Bhagavad Gita).[65][66] According to Gavin Flood, the earlier Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is describing meditation when it states that "having become calm and concentrated, one perceives the self (ātman) within oneself".[64]

One of the most influential texts of classical Hindu Yoga is Patañjali's Yoga sutras (c. CE), a text associated with Yoga and Samkhya, which outlines eight limbs leading to kaivalya ("aloneness"). These are ethical discipline (yamas), rules (niyamas), physical postures (āsanas), breath control (prāṇāyama), withdrawal from the senses (pratyāhāra), one-pointedness of mind (dhāraṇā), meditation (dhyāna), and finally samādhi.

Later developments in Hindu meditation include the compilation of Hatha Yoga (forceful yoga) compendiums like the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the development of Bhakti yoga as a major form of meditation and Tantra. Another important Hindu yoga text is the Yoga Yajnavalkya, which makes use of Hatha Yoga and Vedanta Philosophy.


Main article: Jain meditation

Painting of Mahavira meditating under a tree
The āsanain which Mahavira is said to have attained omniscience

Jain meditation and spiritual practices system were referred to as salvation-path. It has three parts called the Ratnatraya "Three Jewels": right perception and faith, right knowledge and right conduct.[67] Meditation in Jainism aims at realizing the self, attaining salvation, and taking the soul to complete freedom.[68] It aims to reach and to remain in the pure state of soul which is believed to be pure consciousness, beyond any attachment or aversion. The practitioner strives to be just a knower-seer (Gyata-Drashta). Jain meditation can be broadly categorized to Dharmya Dhyana and Shukla Dhyana.[clarification needed]

Jainism uses meditation techniques such as pindāstha-dhyāna, padāstha-dhyāna, rūpāstha-dhyāna, rūpātita-dhyāna, and savīrya-dhyāna. In padāstha dhyāna one focuses on a mantra.[69] A mantra could be either a combination of core letters or words on deity or themes. There is a rich tradition of Mantra in Jainism. All Jain followers irrespective of their sect, whether Digambara or Svetambara, practice mantra. Mantra chanting is an important part of daily lives of Jain monks and followers. Mantra chanting can be done either loudly or silently in mind.[69]

Contemplation is a very old and important meditation technique. The practitioner meditates deeply on subtle facts. In agnya vichāya, one contemplates on seven facts&#;– life and non-life, the inflow, bondage, stoppage and removal of karmas, and the final accomplishment of liberation. In apaya vichāya, one contemplates on the incorrect insights one indulges, which eventually develops right insight. In vipaka vichāya, one reflects on the eight causes or basic types of karma. In sansathan vichāya, one thinks about the vastness of the universe and the loneliness of the soul.[69]


Main article: Buddhist meditation

Buddhist meditation refers to the meditative practices associated with the religion and philosophy of Buddhism. Core meditation techniques have been preserved in ancient Buddhist texts and have proliferated and diversified through teacher-student transmissions. Buddhists pursue meditation as part of the path toward awakening and nirvana.[note 9] The closest words for meditation in the classical languages of Buddhism are bhāvanā,[note 10]jhāna/dhyāna,[note 11] and vipassana.

Buddhist meditation techniques have become popular in the wider world, with many non-Buddhists taking them up. There is considerable homogeneity across meditative practices&#;– such as breath meditation and various recollections (anussati)&#;– across Buddhist schools, as well as significant diversity. In the Theravāda tradition, there are over fifty methods for developing mindfulness and forty for developing concentration, while in the Tibetan tradition there are thousands of visualization meditations.[note 12] Most classical and contemporary Buddhist meditation guides are school-specific.[note 13]

According to the Theravada and Sarvastivada commentatorial traditions, and the Tibetan tradition,[70] the Buddha identified two paramount mental qualities that arise from wholesome meditative practice:

  • "serenity" or "tranquility" (Pali: samatha) which steadies, composes, unifies and concentrates the mind;
  • "insight" (Pali: vipassana) which enables one to see, explore and discern "formations" (conditioned phenomena based on the five aggregates).[71]

Through the meditative development of serenity, one is able to weaken the obscuring hindrances and bring the mind to a collected, pliant and still state (samadhi). This quality of mind then supports the development of insight and wisdom (Prajñā) which is the quality of mind that can "clearly see" (vi-passana) the nature of phenomena. What exactly is to be seen varies within the Buddhist traditions.[70] In Theravada, all phenomena are to be seen as impermanent, suffering, not-self and empty. When this happens, one develops dispassion (viraga) for all phenomena, including all negative qualities and hindrances and lets them go. It is through the release of the hindrances and ending of craving through the meditative development of insight that one gains liberation.[72]

In the modern era, Buddhist meditation saw increasing popularity due to the influence of Buddhist modernism on Asian Buddhism, and western lay interest in Zen and the Vipassana movement. The spread of Buddhist meditation to the Western world paralleled the spread of Buddhism in the West. The modernized concept of mindfulness (based on the Buddhist term sati) and related meditative practices have in turn led to mindfulness based therapies.[73]


Main article: Nām Japō

In Sikhism, simran (meditation) and good deeds are both necessary to achieve the devotee's Spiritual goals;[74] without good deeds meditation is futile. When Sikhs meditate, they aim to feel God's presence and emerge in the divine light.[75] It is only God's divine will or order that allows a devotee to desire to begin to meditate.[76]Nām Japnā involves focusing one's attention on the names or great attributes of God.[77]

East Asian religions[edit]


Main article: Daoist meditation

Taoist meditation has developed techniques including concentration, visualization, qi cultivation, contemplation, and mindfulness meditations in its long history. Traditional Daoist meditative practices were influenced by Chinese Buddhism from around the 5th century, and influenced Traditional Chinese medicine and the Chinese martial arts.

Livia Kohn distinguishes three basic types of Taoist meditation: "concentrative", "insight", and "visualization".[78]Ding定 (literally means "decide; settle; stabilize") refers to "deep concentration", "intent contemplation", or "perfect absorption". Guan觀 (lit. "watch; observe; view") meditation seeks to merge and attain unity with the Dao. It was developed by Tang Dynasty (–) Taoist masters based upon the Tiantai Buddhist practice of Vipassanā "insight" or "wisdom" meditation. Cun存 (lit. "exist; be present; survive") has a sense of "to cause to exist; to make present" in the meditation techniques popularized by the Taoist Shangqing and Lingbao Schools. A meditator visualizes or actualizes solar and lunar essences, lights, and deities within their body, which supposedly results in health and longevity, even xian 仙/仚/僊, "immortality".

The (late 4th century BCE) Guanzi essay Neiye "Inward training" is the oldest received writing on the subject of qi cultivation and breath-control meditation techniques.[79] For instance, "When you enlarge your mind and let go of it, when you relax your vital breath and expand it, when your body is calm and unmoving: And you can maintain the One and discard the myriad disturbances. This is called "revolving the vital breath": Your thoughts and deeds seem heavenly."[80]

The (c. 3rd century BCE) Taoist Zhuangzi records zuowang or "sitting forgetting" meditation. Confucius asked his disciple Yan Hui to explain what "sit and forget" means: "I slough off my limbs and trunk, dim my intelligence, depart from my form, leave knowledge behind, and become identical with the Transformational Thoroughfare."[81]

Taoist meditation practices are central to Chinese martial arts (and some Japanese martial arts), especially the qi-related neijia "internal martial arts". Some well-known examples are daoyin "guiding and pulling", qigong "life-energy exercises", neigong "internal exercises", neidan "internal alchemy", and taijiquan "great ultimate boxing", which is thought of as moving meditation. One common explanation contrasts "movement in stillness" referring to energetic visualization of qi circulation in qigong and zuochan "seated meditation",[37] versus "stillness in movement" referring to a state of meditative calm in taijiquan forms. Also the unification or middle road forms such as Wuxingheqidao that seeks the unification of internal alchemical forms with more external forms.

Abrahamic religions[edit]


Main article: Jewish meditation

Judaism has made use of meditative practices for thousands of years.[82][83] For instance, in the Torah, the patriarch Isaac is described as going "לשוח" (lasuach) in the field&#;– a term understood by all commentators as some type of meditative practice (Genesis ).[84] Similarly, there are indications throughout the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) that the prophets meditated.[85] In the Old Testament, there are two Hebrew words for meditation: hāgâ (Hebrew: הגה&#;), to sigh or murmur, but also to meditate, and sîḥâ (Hebrew: שיחה&#;), to muse, or rehearse in one's mind.[86]

Classical Jewish texts espouse a wide range of meditative practices, often associated with the cultivation of kavanah or intention. The first layer of rabbinic law, the Mishnah, describes ancient sages "waiting" for an hour before their prayers, "in order to direct their hearts to the Omnipresent One (MishnahBerakhot ). Other early rabbinic texts include instructions for visualizing the Divine Presence (B. TalmudSanhedrin 22a) and breathing with conscious gratitude for every breath (Genesis Rabba ).[87]

One of the best known types of meditation in early Jewish mysticism was the work of the Merkabah, from the root /R-K-B/ meaning "chariot" (of God).[86] Some meditative traditions have been encouraged in Kabbalah, and some Jews have described Kabbalah as an inherently meditative field of study.[88][89][90] Kabbalistic meditation often involves the mental visualization of the supernal realms. Aryeh Kaplan has argued that the ultimate purpose of Kabbalistic meditation is to understand and cleave to the Divine.[86]

Meditation has been of interest to a wide variety of modern Jews. In modern Jewish practice, one of the best known meditative practices is called "hitbodedut" (התבודדות, alternatively transliterated as "hisbodedus"), and is explained in Kabbalistic, Hasidic, and Mussar writings, especially the Hasidic method of Rabbi Nachman of Breslav. The word derives from the Hebrew word "boded" (בודד), meaning the state of being alone.[91] Another Hasidic system is the Habad method of "hisbonenus", related to the Sephirah of "Binah", Hebrew for understanding.[92] This practice is the analytical reflective process of making oneself understand a mystical concept well, that follows and internalises its study in Hasidic writings. The Musar Movement, founded by Rabbi Israel Salanter in the middle of the nineteenth-century, emphasized meditative practices of introspection and visualization that could help to improve moral character.[93] Conservative rabbi Alan Lew has emphasized meditation playing an important role in the process of teshuvah (repentance).[94][95]Jewish Buddhists have adopted Buddhist styles of meditation.[96]


Main article: Christian meditation

Christian meditation is a term for a form of prayer in which a structured attempt is made to get in touch with and deliberately reflect upon the revelations of God.[98] The word meditation comes from the Latin word meditatum, which means to "concentrate" or "to ponder". Monk Guigo II introduced this terminology for the first time in the 12th century AD. Christian meditation is the process of deliberately focusing on specific thoughts (e.g. a biblical scene involving Jesus and the Virgin Mary) and reflecting on their meaning in the context of the love of God.[99] Christian meditation is sometimes taken to mean the middle level in a broad three stage characterization of prayer: it then involves more reflection than first level vocal prayer, but is more structured than the multiple layers of contemplation in Christianity.[]

In Catholic Christianity, the Rosary is a devotion for the meditation of the mysteries of Jesus and Mary.[][] “The gentle repetition of its prayers makes it an excellent means to moving into deeper meditation. It gives us an opportunity to open ourselves to God’s word, to refine our interior gaze by turning our minds to the life of Christ. The first principle is that meditation is learned through practice. Many people who practice rosary meditation begin very simply and gradually develop a more sophisticated meditation. The meditator learns to hear an interior voice, the voice of God”.[] Similarly, the chotki of the Eastern Orthodox denomination, the Wreath of Christ of the Lutheran faith, and the Anglican prayer beads of the Episcopalian tradition are used for Christian prayer and meditation.[][]

According to Edmund P. Clowney, Christian meditation contrasts with Eastern forms of meditation as radically as the portrayal of God the Father in the Bible contrasts with depictions of Krishna or Brahman in Indian teachings.[] Unlike some Eastern styles, most styles of Christian meditation do not rely on the repeated use of mantras, and yet are also intended to stimulate thought and deepen meaning. Christian meditation aims to heighten the personal relationship based on the love of God that marks Christian communion.[][] In Aspects of Christian meditation, the Catholic Church warned of potential incompatibilities in mixing Christian and Eastern styles of meditation.[] In , in A Christian reflection on the New Age the Vatican announced that the "Church avoids any concept that is close to those of the New Age".[][][]


Main article: Muraqabah

See also: Sufism, Sama (Sufism), and Dhikr §&#;Sufi view

Salah is a mandatory act of devotion performed by Muslims five times per day. The body goes through sets of different postures, as the mind attains a level of concentration called khushu.

A second optional type of meditation, called dhikr, meaning remembering and mentioning God, is interpreted in different meditative techniques in Sufism or Islamic mysticism.[][] This became one of the essential elements of Sufism as it was systematized traditionally. It is juxtaposed with fikr (thinking) which leads to knowledge.[] By the 12th century, the practice of Sufism included specific meditative techniques, and its followers practiced breathing controls and the repetition of holy words.[]

Sufism uses a meditative procedure like Buddhist concentration, involving high-intensity and sharply focused introspection. In the Oveyssi-Shahmaghsoudi Sufi order, for example, muraqabah takes the form of tamarkoz, "concentration" in Persian.[]

Tafakkur or tadabbur in Sufism literally means reflection upon the universe: this is considered to permit access to a form of cognitive and emotional development that can emanate only from the higher level, i.e. from God. The sensation of receiving divine inspiration awakens and liberates both heart and intellect, permitting such inner growth that the apparently mundane actually takes on the quality of the infinite. Muslim teachings embrace life as a test of one's submission to God.[]

Dervishes of certain Sufi orders practice whirling, a form of physically active meditation.[]

Baháʼí Faith[edit]

In the teachings of the Baháʼí Faith, meditation is a primary tool for spiritual development,[] involving reflection on the words of God.[] While prayer and meditation are linked, where meditation happens generally in a prayerful attitude, prayer is seen specifically as turning toward God,[] and meditation is seen as a communion with one's self where one focuses on the divine.[]

In Baháʼí teachings the purpose of meditation is to strengthen one's understanding of the words of God, and to make one's soul more susceptible to their potentially transformative power,[] more receptive to the need for both prayer and meditation to bring about and maintain a spiritual communion with God.[]

Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the religion, never specified any particular form of meditation, and thus each person is free to choose their own form.[] However, he did state that Baháʼís should read a passage of the Baháʼí writings twice a day, once in the morning, and once in the evening, and meditate on it. He also encouraged people to reflect on one's actions and worth at the end of each day.[] During the Nineteen Day Fast, a period of the year during which Baháʼís adhere to a sunrise-to-sunset fast, they meditate and pray to reinvigorate their spiritual forces.[]

Modern spirituality[edit]

Mantra meditation, with the use of a japa mala and especially with focus on the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, is a central practice of the Gaudiya Vaishnava faith tradition and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna movement. Other popular New Religious Movements include the Ramakrishna Mission, Vedanta Society, Divine Light Mission, Chinmaya Mission, Osho, Sahaja Yoga, Transcendental Meditation, Oneness University, Brahma Kumaris, Vihangam Yoga and Heartfulness Meditation (Sahaj Marg).

New Age[edit]

New Age meditations are often influenced by Eastern philosophy, mysticism, yoga, Hinduism and Buddhism, yet may contain some degree of Western influence. In the West, meditation found its mainstream roots through the social revolution of the s and s, when many of the youth of the day rebelled against traditional religion as a reaction against what some perceived as the failure of Christianity to provide spiritual and ethical guidance.[] New Age meditation as practised by the early hippies is regarded for its techniques of blanking out the mind and releasing oneself from conscious thinking. This is often aided by repetitive chanting of a mantra, or focusing on an object.[] New Age meditation evolved into a range of purposes and practices, from serenity and balance to access to other realms of consciousness to the concentration of energy in group meditation to the supreme goal of samadhi, as in the ancient yogic practice of meditation.[]

Secular applications[edit]

See also: Mindfulness §&#;Applications


See also: Analytic Psychology and Psychoanalysis

Carl Jung () was an early western explorer of eastern religious practices.[][] He clearly advocated ways to increase the conscious awareness of an individual. Yet he expressed some caution concerning a westerner's direct immersion in eastern practices without some prior appreciation of the differing spiritual and cultural contexts.[][] Also Erich Fromm () later explored spiritual practices of the east.[]

Clinical applications[edit]

See also: Mindfulness-based stress reduction, Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and Mindfulness-based pain management

The US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states that "Meditation is a mind and body practice that has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being."[][12] A review found that practice of mindfulness meditation for two to six months by people undergoing long-term psychiatric or medical therapy could produce small improvements in anxiety, pain, or depression.[] In , the American Heart Association issued a scientific statement that meditation may be a reasonable adjunct practice to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, with the qualification that meditation needs to be better defined in higher-quality clinical research of these disorders.[]

Low-quality evidence indicates that meditation may help with irritable bowel syndrome,[]insomnia,[]cognitive decline in the elderly,[] and post-traumatic stress disorder.[][] Researchers have found that participating in mindfulness meditation can aid insomnia patients by improving sleep quality and total wake time.[] Mindfulness meditation is not a treatment for insomnia patients, but it can provide support in addition to their treatment options.[]

Meditation in the workplace[edit]

A review of the literature on spirituality and performance in organizations found an increase in corporate meditation programs.[]

As of around a quarter of U.S. employers were using stress reduction initiatives.[][] The goal was to help reduce stress and improve reactions to stress. Aetna now offers its program to its customers. Google also implements mindfulness, offering more than a dozen meditation courses, with the most prominent one, "Search Inside Yourself", having been implemented since []General Mills offers the Mindful Leadership Program Series, a course which uses a combination of mindfulness meditation, yoga and dialogue with the intention of developing the mind's capacity to pay attention.[]

Sound-based meditation[edit]

Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School conducted a series of clinical tests on meditators from various disciplines, including the Transcendental Meditation technique and Tibetan Buddhism. In , Benson published a book titled The Relaxation Response where he outlined his own version of meditation for relaxation.[] Also in the s, the American psychologist Patricia Carrington developed a similar technique called Clinically Standardized Meditation (CSM).[] In Norway, another sound-based method called Acem Meditation developed a psychology of meditation and has been the subject of several scientific studies.[]

Biofeedback has been used by many researchers since the s in an effort to enter deeper states of mind.[]


Main article: History of meditation

Man Meditating in a Garden Setting

From ancient times[edit]

The history of meditation is intimately bound up with the religious context within which it was practiced.[] Some authors have even suggested the hypothesis that the emergence of the capacity for focused attention, an element of many methods of meditation,[] may have contributed to the latest phases of human biological evolution.[] Some of the earliest references to meditation are found in the HinduVedas of India.[] Wilson translates the most famous Vedic mantra "Gayatri" as: "We meditate on that desirable light of the divine Savitri, who influences our pious rites" (Rigveda ). Around the 6th to 5th centuries BCE, other forms of meditation developed via Confucianism and Taoism in China as well as Hinduism, Jainism, and early Buddhism in India.[]

In the Roman Empire, by 20 BCE Philo of Alexandria had written on some form of "spiritual exercises" involving attention (prosoche) and concentration[] and by the 3rd century Plotinus had developed meditative techniques.

The Pāli Canon from the 1st century BCE considers Buddhist meditation as a step towards liberation.[] By the time Buddhism was spreading in China, the Vimalakirti Sutra which dates to CE included a number of passages on meditation, clearly pointing to Zen (known as Chan in China, Thiền in Vietnam, and Seon in Korea).[] The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism introduced meditation to other Asian countries, and in the first meditation hall was opened in Singapore.[] Returning from China around , Dōgen wrote the instructions for zazen.[][]


The Islamic practice of Dhikr had involved the repetition of the 99 Names of God since the 8th or 9th century.[][] By the 12th century, the practice of Sufism included specific meditative techniques, and its followers practiced breathing controls and the repetition of holy words.[] Interactions with Indians or the Sufis may have influenced the Eastern Christian meditation approach to hesychasm, but this can not be proved.[][] Between the 10th and 14th centuries, hesychasm was developed, particularly on Mount Athos in Greece, and involves the repetition of the Jesus prayer.[]

Western Christian meditation contrasts with most other approaches in that it does not involve the repetition of any phrase or action and requires no specific posture. Western Christian meditation progressed from the 6th century practice of Bible reading among Benedictine monks called Lectio Divina, i.e. divine reading. Its four formal steps as a "ladder" were defined by the monk Guigo II in the 12th century with the Latin terms lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio (i.e. read, ponder, pray, contemplate). Western Christian meditation was further developed by saints such as Ignatius of Loyola and Teresa of Avila in the 16th century.[][][][]

Modern dissemination in the West[edit]

Meditation has spread in the West since the late 19th century, accompanying increased travel and communication among cultures worldwide. Most prominent has been the transmission of Asian-derived practices to the West. In addition, interest in some Western-based meditative practices has been revived,[] and these have been disseminated to a limited extent to Asian countries.[]

Ideas about Eastern meditation had begun "seeping into American popular culture even before the American Revolution through the various sects of European occult Christianity",[29]:&#;3&#; and such ideas "came pouring in [to America] during the era of the transcendentalists, especially between the s and the s."[29]:&#;3&#; The following decades saw further spread of these ideas to America:

The World Parliament of Religions, held in Chicago in , was the landmark event that increased Western awareness of meditation. This was the first time that Western audiences on American soil received Asian spiritual teachings from Asians themselves. Thereafter, Swami Vivekananda [founded] various Vedanta ashrams Anagarika Dharmapala lectured at Harvard on Theravada Buddhist meditation in ; Abdul Baha [toured] the US teaching the principles of Bahai [sic], and Soyen Shaku toured in teaching Zen[29]:&#;4&#;

More recently, in the s, another surge in Western interest in meditative practices began. The rise of communist political power in Asia led to many Asian spiritual teachers taking refuge in Western countries, oftentimes as refugees.[29]:&#;7&#; In addition to spiritual forms of meditation, secular forms of meditation have taken root. Rather than focusing on spiritual growth, secular meditation emphasizes stress reduction, relaxation and self-improvement.[][]

The US National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) (34, subjects) found 8% of US adults used meditation,[] with lifetime and month prevalence of meditation use of % and % respectively.[] In the NHIS survey, meditation use among workers was 10% (up from 8% in ).[]


Main article: Effects of meditation

Research on the processes and effects of meditation is a subfield of neurological research.[11] Modern scientific techniques, such as fMRI and EEG, were used to observe neurological responses during meditation.[] Concerns have been raised on the quality of meditation research,[11][][] including the particular characteristics of individuals who tend to participate.[]

Meditation lowers heart rate, oxygen consumption, breathing frequency, stress hormones, lactate levels, and sympathetic nervous system activity (associated with the fight-or-flight response), along with a modest decline in blood pressure.[][] However, those who have meditated for two or three years were found to already have low blood pressure. During meditation, the oxygen consumption decrease averages 10 to 20 percent over the first three minutes. During sleep for example, oxygen consumption decreases around 8 percent over four or five hours.[] For meditators who have practiced for years, breath rate can drop to three or four breaths per minute and brain waves slow from alpha waves seen in normal relaxation to much slower delta and theta waves.[]

Since the s, clinical psychology and psychiatry have developed meditation techniques for numerous psychological conditions.[] Mindfulness practice is employed in psychology to alleviate mental and physical conditions, such as reducing depression, stress, and anxiety.[11][][] Mindfulness is also used in the treatment of drug addiction, although the quality of research has been poor.[][] Studies demonstrate that meditation has a moderate effect to reduce pain.[11] There is insufficient evidence for any effect of meditation on positive mood, attention, eating habits, sleep, or body weight.[11] Moreover, a study, including subjective and objective reports and brain scans, has shown that meditation can improve controlling attention, as well as self-awareness.[]

A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of meditation on empathy, compassion, and prosocial behaviors found that meditation practices had small to medium effects on self-reported and observable outcomes, concluding that such practices can "improve positive prosocial emotions and behaviors".[][unreliable medical source?] However, a meta-review published on Nature showed that the evidence is very weak and "that the effects of meditation on compassion were only significant when compared to passive control groups suggests that other forms of active interventions (like watching a nature video) might produce similar outcomes to meditation".[]

Potential adverse effects[edit]

See also: Effects of meditation §&#;Potential adverse effects and limits of meditation

Meditation has been correlated with unpleasant experiences in some people.[][][][] In some cases, it has also been linked to psychosis in a few individuals.[]

In one study, published in , of 1, regular meditators with at least two months of meditation experience, about a quarter reported having had particularly unpleasant meditation-related experiences (such as anxiety, fear, distorted emotions or thoughts, altered sense of self or the world), which they thought may have been caused by their meditation practice. Meditators with high levels of repetitive negative thinking and those who only engage in deconstructive meditation were more likely to report unpleasant side effects. Adverse effects were less frequently reported in women and religious meditators.[]

Difficult experiences encountered in meditation are mentioned in traditional sources; and some may be considered to be just an expected part of the process: for example: seven stages of purification mentioned in Theravāda Buddhism, or possible “unwholesome or frightening visions” mentioned in a practical manual on vipassanā meditation.[]

See also[edit]


  1. ^An influential definition by Shapiro () states that "meditation refers to a family of techniques which have in common a conscious attempt to focus attention in a nonanalytical way and an attempt not to dwell on discursive, ruminating thought" (p. 6, italics in original). The term "discursive thought" has long been used in Western philosophy, and is often viewed as a synonym to logical thought (Rappe, Sara (). Reading neoplatonism&#;: Non-discursive thinking in the texts of plotinus, proclus, and damascius. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN&#;.).
  2. ^Bond, Ospina et al. () report that 7 expert scholars who had studied different traditions of meditation agreed that an "essential" component of meditation "Involves logic relaxation: not 'to intend' to analyze the possible psychophysical effects, not 'to intend' to judge the possible results, not 'to intend' to create any type of expectation regarding the process" (p. , Table 4). In their final consideration, all 7 experts regarded this feature as an "essential" component of meditation; none of them regarded it as merely "important but not essential" (p. , Table 4). (This same result is presented in Table B1 in Ospina, Bond, et al., , p. )
  3. ^This does not mean that all meditation seeks to take a person beyond all thought processes, only those processes that are sometimes referred to as "discursive" or "logical" (see Shapiro, /; Bond, Ospina, et al., ; Appendix B, pp. –82 in Ospina, Bond, et al., ).
  4. ^"members were chosen on the basis of their publication record of research on the therapeutic use of meditation, their knowledge of and training in traditional or clinically developed meditation techniques, and their affiliation with universities and research centers. Each member had specific expertise and training in at least one of the following meditation practices: kundalini yoga, Transcendental Meditation, relaxation response, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and vipassana meditation" (Bond, Ospina et al., , p. ); their views were combined using "the Delphi technique [] a method of eliciting and refining group judgments to address complex problems with a high level of uncertainty" (p. ).
  5. ^Bond et al. "Logic relaxation is defined by the authors as “not ‘to intend’ to analyzing (not trying to explain) the possible psychophysi"cal effects,” “not ‘to intend’ to judging (good, bad, right, wrong) the possible psychophysical [effects],” and “not ‘to intend’ to creating any type of expectation regarding the process.” (Cardoso et al., , p. 59)"
  6. ^The full quotation from Bond, Ospina et al. (, p. ) reads: "It is plausible that meditation is best thought of as a natural category of techniques best captured by 'family resemblances' (Wittgenstein, ) or by the related 'prototype' model of concepts (Rosch, ; Rosch & Mervin, )."
  7. ^Regarding influential reviews encompassing multiple methods of meditation: Walsh & Shapiro (), Cahn & Polich (), and Jevning et al. (), are cited >80 times in PsycINFO. Number of citations in PsycINFO: for Walsh & Shapiro, (26 August ); for Cahn & Polich, (26 August ); 83 for Jevning et al. () (26 August ). Goleman's book has 33 editions listed in WorldCat: 17 editions as The meditative mind: The varieties of meditative experience[25] and 16 editions as The varieties of meditative experience[26] Citation and edition counts are as of August and September respectively.
  8. ^The full quote from Bond, Ospina et al. (, p. ) reads: "The differences and similarities among these techniques is often explained in the Western meditation literature in terms of the direction of mental attention (Koshikawa & Ichii, ; Naranjo, ; Orenstein, ): A practitioner can focus intensively on one particular object (so-called concentrative meditation), on all mental events that enter the field of awareness (so-called mindfulness meditation), or both specific focal points and the field of awareness (Orenstein, )."
  9. ^For instance, Kamalashila (), p. 4, states that Buddhist meditation "includes any method of meditation that has Enlightenment as its ultimate aim." Likewise, Bodhi () writes: "To arrive at the experiential realization of the truths it is necessary to take up the practice of meditation At the climax of such contemplation the mental eye shifts its focus to the unconditioned state, Nibbana" A similar although in some ways slightly broader definition is provided by Fischer-Schreiber et al. (), p. "Meditation&#;– general term for a multitude of religious practices, often quite different in method, but all having the same goal: to bring the consciousness of the practitioner to a state in which he can come to an experience of 'awakening,' 'liberation,' 'enlightenment.'" Kamalashila () further allows that some Buddhist meditations are "of a more preparatory nature" (p. 4).
  10. ^The Pāli and Sanskrit word bhāvanā literally means "development" as in "mental development." For the association of this term with "meditation," see Epstein (), p. ; and, Fischer-Schreiber et al. (), p. As an example from a well-known discourse of the Pali Canon, in "The Greater Exhortation to Rahula" (Maha-Rahulovada Sutta, MN 62), Ven. Sariputta tells Ven. Rahula (in Pali, based on VRI, n.d.): ānāpānassatiṃ, rāhula, bhāvanaṃ bhāvehi.Thanissaro () translates this as: "Rahula, develop the meditation [bhāvana] of mindfulness of in-&-out breathing." (Square-bracketed Pali word included based on Thanissaro, , end note.)
  11. ^See, for example, Thanissaro (); as well as, Kapleau (), p.&#;, for the derivation of the word "zen" from Sanskrit "dhyāna". Pāli Text Society Secretary Rupert Gethin, in describing the activities of wandering ascetics contemporaneous with the Buddha, wrote:
    [T]here is the cultivation of meditative and contemplative techniques aimed at producing what might, for the lack of a suitable technical term in English, be referred to as "altered states of consciousness". In the technical vocabulary of Indian religious texts such states come to be termed "meditations" ([Skt.:] dhyāna / [Pali:] jhāna) or "concentrations" (samādhi); the attainment of such states of consciousness was generally regarded as bringing the practitioner to deeper knowledge and experience of the nature of the world. (Gethin, , p. )
  12. ^Goldstein () writes that, in regard to the Satipatthana Sutta, "there are more than fifty different practices outlined in this Sutta. The meditations that derive from these foundations of mindfulness are called vipassana, and in one form or another&#;– and by whatever name&#;– are found in all the major Buddhist traditions" (p. 92). The forty concentrative meditation subjects refer to Visuddhimagga's oft-referenced enumeration. Regarding Tibetan visualizations, Kamalashila (), writes: "The Tara meditation is one example out of thousands of subjects for visualization meditation, each one arising out of some meditator's visionary experience of enlightened qualities, seen in the form of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas" (p. ).
  13. ^Examples of contemporary school-specific "classics" include, from the Theravada tradition, Nyanaponika () and, from the Zen tradition, Kapleau ().


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