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Title: Bhava  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Twelve Nidānas, Bhava (disambiguation), Hindu astrology, Jāti (Buddhism), Outline of Buddhism
Collection: Buddhist Philosophical Concepts, Buddhist Terminology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Translations of
भाव, bhāva
English: feeling, emotion, mood, becoming
Pali: भाव, bhāva
Sanskrit: भाव, bhāva
Burmese: ဘာဝ
(IPA: )
Mon: ဘာဝ
Glossary of Buddhism

The term "bhāva" (Skt. भाव, 'status of being, a subjective becoming, states of mind', from भू bhū, 'to become') is often translated as 'feeling, emotion, mood, devotional state of mind'.[1] In Buddhist thought, bhāva denotes the continuity of life and death, including reincarnation, and the maturation arising therefrom.[2] In the bhakti traditions, bhāva denotes the mood of ecstasy, self-surrender, and channelling of emotional energies that is induced by the maturation of devotion to one's ishtadeva (object of devotion).[3]


  • In Buddhism 1
  • In bhakti traditions 2
  • Sources 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5

In Buddhism

In Buddhism, bhava (not bhāva) is the continuity of life and death, conditioned upon "grasping" (upādāna), the desire for further life and sensation. This bhava is the condition for the arising of living beings in particular forms, through the process of birth (jāti).

Bhava is listed as the tenth of the Twelve Nidānas, the links in the cycle of pratītyasamutpāda or dependent origination.

In the Jātakas, in which the Buddha didactically reminds various followers of experiences they shared with him in a past life, the hearers are said not to remember them due to bhava, i.e. to having been reborn.[4]

In bhakti traditions

Swami Sivananda stated that bhava means mental attitude or mental disposition. He explains bhava as an "internal feeling".[5] For the bhakta (भक्त, devotee), bhāva is the fruit of devotion to one's ishtadeva, which culminates in bhāvasamādhi [6] In bhaktiyoga (work of devotion), "bhāva is neither controlled nor suppressed, but is transformed into devotion and channelled to the Lord."[7] This channeling may be pursued by means of devotional practices found to evoke and develop bhāva. Such devotional practices are not themselves essential: how and whether to practice them is thought to depend on the temperament of the bhakta.[8]

Swami Sivananda identified three kinds of bhava - sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. Which predominates in a person depends on their own nature, but sattvic bhava is "Divine bhava" or pure bhava (Suddha bhava). This bhava can be developed by proper practice just like any other faculty of the mind like will power or memory.[9]

Shiva Rudra Balayogi explains that there are three stages of bhava. Where there is violent movement or a state of mind lacking peace generally it is to be considered the lowest form of bhava - bhava udreka. Higher than that is bhava unmathatta which is like the "intoxication or ecstasy" but does not involve any violent movements. Bhava samadhi is the highest form when the mind recedes and one becomes totally non-violent and quiet. In bhava samadhi the mind recedes and becomes purified. He explains that it is transformational causing a change in attitude as one gains greater consideration for others and become more broad-minded.[10]

Shivabalayogi described bhāva as follows:

"Everyone is in some sort of bhāva of the guru because of their attachment to the guru. The mind's attachment and devotion is the true bhāva."[11]

Once the bhāva of the devotee fully matures, the mind's emotional energies converge into bhāvasamādhi, a state of consciousness in which the mind becomes still in single-pointed concentration upon the object of devotion.[12]

One may speak of bhāvas plural, often glossed as devotional attitudes. A traditional reckoning of ideal bhāvas, as exemplified in the Hindu scriptures, is as follows:[13]

  • śāntabhāva, the calm, peaceful, gentle or saintly attitude adopted by the ancient Rishis
  • dāsyabhāva, the attitude of a servant towards his master, exemplified by Hanuman
  • sakhyabhāva, the attitude of a friend as exemplified by Arjuna and Uddhava towards Krishna
  • vātsalyabhāva, the attitude of a mother towards her child as exemplified by Kausalya towards Rama and of Yasoda towards Krishna
  • madhurabhāva (or kantabhava), the attitude of a woman in love as exemplified by Radha and Mirabai toward Krishna
  • tanmayabhava, the attitude that the Lord is present everywhere.

Ramakrishna Paramahansa stated that real bhava means establishing a relationship with the Divine and maintaining it brightly in our consciousness at all times, "whether eating, drinking, sitting or sleeping." [14]


Swami Vishnu-devananda, Meditation and Mantras. Motilal Banarsidass 1978
Swami Nikhilananda, Vivekananda: The Yogas and Other Works. Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center 1953
Bruce Young, Guru-Disciple.
Swami Saradananda, Shri Ramakrishna: The Great Master. (India, Madras, 1952)
Swami Sivananda,
Shri Shiva Rudra Balayogi The Path Supreme 2010

See also


  1. ^ Shri Shiva Rudra Balayogi, The Path Supreme 2010 page 44 See also here, here, here and here
  2. ^ Caroline A.F. Rhys Davids, Stories of the Buddha (Being Selections from the Jātakas), 1989, Dover Publications, Introduction, pp. xvii-xix
  3. ^ Lt. Gen. Hanut Singh, Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj: Life & Spiritual Ministration, pp. 108.
  4. ^ Caroline A.F. Rhys Davids, Stories of the Buddha (Being Selections from the Jātakas), 1989, Dover Publications, Introduction, pp. xix, also see pp. 2,6,11,etc.
  5. ^ Swami Sivananda, See here
  6. ^ Swami Devananda Meditation and Mantras Matilal Banarsidass 1978 ISBN 81-208-1615-3 pp258
  7. ^ Shri Shiva Rudra Balayogi The Path Supreme 2010 page 160 also see See here
  8. ^ Lt. Gen. Hanut Singh, Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj: Life & Spiritual Ministration pp. 108-110.
  9. ^ See here
  10. ^ Shri Shiva Rudra Balayogi, The Path Supreme 2010, pp 159 - 160
  11. ^ Shri Shiva Rudra Balayogi, The Path Supreme 2010 page 44. Bruce Young, Guru-Disciple pp. 186.
  12. ^ Lt. Gen. Hanut Singh, Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj: Life & Spiritual Ministration, pp. 108.
  13. ^ Lt. Gen. Hanut Singh, Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj: Life & Spiritual Ministration, pp. 108. Swami Sivananda, See [1] and Swami Nikhilananda Vivekananda: The Yogas and Other Works Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1984 [1953] ISBN 0-911206-04-3 pp. 450-453.
  14. ^ Swami Saradananda Shri Ramakrishna: The Great Master (India, Madras, 1952), ISBN 81-7120-480-5 p432
Preceded by
Twelve Nidānas
Succeeded by
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