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Atma Dhyan Sadhna by Acharya Dr. Shivmuniji


An article on Jaina Meditation with special reference to Atma Dhyan sadhana by Acharya Dr. Shivmuniji


Meditation has been such an indispensable part of Jainism that you cannot imagine Jaina spiritual practices without meditation. It is so intrinsic and imbibed in its values that every Tirthankara is seen to be sitting or standing in the posture of meditation. This practice has evolved and changed with time. However, the values of Jainism were never compromised in the evolution of this practice. Ātma Dhyāna is one such meditation technique which focuses on self-realization and finds its base in the Jaina spiritual canons. All the meditation techniques use a certain medium to dive in the depth of inner mystery. These mediums can be mantra, yantra or tantra. Ātma Dhyāna devised with years of research on Jain Agamas focuses on the qualities of Atma (Soul/Self) as described in Jain scriptures and aims in using those qualities as a medium to realize self. This is an efficient technique as it directly aims the goal of self-realization. This article aims to elaborate on Atma Dhyan and explaining its connection with the Jain ideology of spiritual development. Also, it aims to explain its various practices and how it is connected with other meditational techniques in Jainism.


History and Evolution of Meditation in Jainism

Jaina meditation has its roots in the preaching of enlightened ‘Jinas’. It is worth noticing that this tradition despite of the changes in its original form, still believes in liberation to be the utmost goal of existence. This focus on liberation was never lost in its historical evolution. Jainism thus adopted various methods and practices for spiritual advancement. Meditation often termed as ‘Dhyan’ in Jain literature stands out to be the primary one. Meditation as a spiritual practice has been practiced in all the Indian traditions. Jainism emphasized on its immense possibilities of causing liberation of soul through self realization.

Considering the pre-canonical age eminent scholar Sagarmal Jain points out that the concepts of Yoga and meditation are as old as Indian culture itself. According to him, from the earliest period we find two types of evidences regarding Yoga and meditation- Sculptural evidence and literary evidence. Both the pieces of evidence are available for the beginning phase of civilization but it is difficult to say that they support the jain method of Yoga and meditation. However the earliest phase belonged to the Shramanic culture of which Jainism, Buddhism, Ajivika and some others are offsprings. The earliest sculptural traces of Yoga are found in Mohenjodaro and Harrapan sites which are similar to Jain posture of Kayotsarg. Considering ‘Dhyan’ as an elaborative expansion of ‘Jain Yoga’ we find a detailed mention of it in scriptures. Traditionally, it is believed to have been initiated by first Tirthankar Rishabhdev. Whereas considering the written evidence available, we find the earliest mention of it in Acharanga Sutra which pre-dates Bhagwad Gita. According to Uttaradhyayan Sutra liberation cannot happen without knowing the self. To attain liberation one must put efforts towards its four causes- right knowledge, right vision, right conduct and right austerity.

The epitome of right austerity gets articulated and experienced through Dhyan.

Meditation as a practice has developed in various phases in Jainism. It is noteworthy that meditation which was practiced during Mahavira lost its familiarity among the layman after Acharya KundKund. There were many factors behind this. The prominent one was an inclination towards self-study (swadhyay) in order to preserve scriptures after the death of many monks in a famine which lasted for twelve years. During this time Acharya Pujyapad wrote Samadhi tantra and Ishtopadesha which are authentic explanation of Meditation and Yoga in Jainism.

However, works written after him were influenced by other cultures and traditions. In the 10th century Vikrami, Baba Gorakhnath pioneered Hath-Yoga which diverted the interest of people towards Yantra and Tantra. Influenced by this, Acharya Haribhadrasuri combined Jain spiritual practices with the Yoga philosophy of Patanjali in his work. During the 11-12th century, many acharyas did a noteworthy work in the field of Yoga. Acharya Shubhchandra and Acharya Hemchandra Suri authored Jnanarnava and Yogashastra respectively. In Jnanarnava and Yogshastra, the four-fold meditation on objects, syllables, form and the formless have been given prominence as a category of virtuous meditation. Cult of devotion also left an impression on Jain spiritual practices. Yogi Anandganaji and Chidanandji were influenced by the Vaishnav and Shaiva cult of devotion respectively. Breathing techniques were used for spiritual advancement and books like swarvigyan focused on the effect of breathing pattern on our day to day activities.

Considering this evolution of meditation as a spiritual practice, it is worth noticing that Jainism never left aside its core principles. Every practice that evolved with time revolved around these core principles of Mahavira- Truth, Non-stealing, Non- violence, Non-adultery and Non- Possession. The utmost goal of every spiritual practice was considered to be liberation. However, in current time it is being realized that the distinction of Living (Jiva) and Non-Living (Ajiva) is the basis of all the spiritual understanding of Jainism. Thus, developing a meditation practice around it can lead us to the meditational techniques being used during Mahavira. Atma Dhyan is one such practice which find its base in the spiritual understanding of Jain canons. Also, every meditation technique developed in Jainism find its aim to be self-realization which leads to liberation. There are various aspects to this Atma Dhyan practice which makes it closely related to the practice of meditation during Mahavira by acknowledging this aim.

Atma Dhyan as the base of all meditation techniques

Meditation allows the introspection of your life. One such introspection on the life journey of a human being puts forth a contemplative question. This question finds its answer in the practical approach of Jaina meditation. If you question yourself, which period of my life would I love to live again? The poetic instincts of human mind will take you to your childhood. Not just because you were happier then but also because your current intellect finds that period of life to be easy and free of challenge. This happiness which a human loses with age and maturity, is thought to be real nature. Losing this nature is resultant of a rat race that we all are part

Life in today’s era is developing around technology and is surrounded by artificial influence. This race has made us devoid of self realization. This brings in a perfect notion to quote

Until you find yourself you will always be someone else.

Jain philosophy emphasizes on empathy rather than sympathy. Simply because empathy allows you to see yourself in others. It brings down all the differences and allows you to step forward towards self realization. It is a misconception that you have to forget everything and everyone to realize yourself.

Self realization is rather a process where you transcend physicality and see the same possibility of liberation in each and every creature. Self realization should also not be misunderstood as a step towards God as it is rather a step towards Godliness.

This entire explanation of self realization finds its base in the quote of Mahavira-

“Je egam janai se savvam janai” which translates as- “One who knows self knows everything.” Jain Philosophy takes empathy to universal extent and finds no difference in the form of self (Often understood as Atma, Chetna, Soul, etc.) and the form of God (often termed as Parmatma which translates as supreme atma). It is liberation from the bondages of Karma that arouses the potential and a power in the soul to become God. This is a unique spiritual understanding that negates any dominating authority and aims in becoming one.

Self realization through meditation is such a medium which brings together all the causes of liberation that we discussed earlier. This journey has a major obstacle which is inbuilt in the substantial existence of humans- ‘MIND’. Mind according to Jain philosophy carries imprints of opinions, learning and ideas of previous lives as well. Meditation allows a person to put these imprints aside and be with the self. Longer the consciousness connects with the self, sooner one realizes the self.

Here the self is often misinterpreted. In Indian tradition the word ‘Atma’ turns out to be the perfect word to explain the notion of self. We associate self with our identity, our relationships, our wealth and everything substantial.

Considering self as a substance is the biggest mistake one can commit in this spiritual practice of Jaina Dhyan. The idea of self is so intrinsic to this practice that it won’t be wrong to term Jain Dhyan as Atma Dhyan.

When Mahavir was asked about the form of Atma he simply said that it is indescribable. It is indescribable because it is not a substance. As it is not a substance it is constant and never changes. As it is constant and never changes it is truth. As it is truth it is the only realization worth happening in your existence!

The practice of Jain Dhyan starts with the acceptance of self. The moment you accept yourself you become natural. The nature of self is to know and observe. Every action conducted by this body is the cause of bondage if you do it being unconscious of your existence. A conscious self realizes its observant nature in the depth of meditation. It simply separates itself from the body and acknowledges the difference in the nature of self (Atma) and substance (Pudgal).

This makes dhyan not just a practice done with closed eyes and being confined to a time duration but a practice that can be done with open eyes too and can be imbibed into the way of living your life.

This immense importance of self realization for liberation becomes prevalent when we understand the qualities of self. Self as said earlier is not a substance and thus its qualities are infinite. It is an endless source of life residing in a body.

It is omniscient (Anant gyan). It is Omnipotent (Anant shakti). It has an endless flow of joy within it (Anant sukh). It can’t be realized with sense organs. It was never born and thus it will never die. It is eternal. Its qualities are so empowering that its being is the only truth. This practice and efforts towards self realization were practiced by every enlightened soul and will be practiced in the field of spiritual advancement till the end of civilization. Not because it’s the only way but because it’s a highway which can’t be ignored. Atma dhyan has many practices interlinked to support the progress of a practitioner (sadhaka) towards selfrealization. Relating it with religion it also starts with a prayer and it is noteworthy that every other spiritual practice in Jainism starts with prayer. Here the process of prayer is designed in such a way that it allows the sadhak to reach the meditative state with a clear mind.


Prayer, like its parent concept religiosity, is clearly multidimensional and it does contribute to profiling of well-being. (Poloma and Pendleton,1991) This statement focuses on two aspects majorly- First religiosity as the origin of prayer and secondly the ability of prayer to bring well-being in one’s life. Here, connecting prayer with religion we do connect prayer with the idea of God. This thus brings in the quest to answer if the God exists or not. This question does not remain important in the context of Jaina meditation where we practice prayer as a means of self realization. Instead of putting efforts to achieve God the efforts are directed towards achieving Godliness. As far as wellbeing is concerned prayers in Jaina Meditation is offered to those souls who have attained Godliness (liberation). These prayers wish for the wellbeing of other creatures and thus bring in emotional equanimity which is essential for realizing self. Passions like anger, ego, deceit and greed nourish from Mind’s restlessness and thought process. Emotional equanimity brought from prayer lends peaceful experience to the mind.

In Indian tradition, every auspicious occasion starts with a prayer. As discussed earlier, prayer in Jaina Meditation is different from traditional prayers in terms of its method and Goal. Here neither God is institutionalized in some temple, mosque or church nor is God said to be achievable through some chants. God need not to be searched outside because Jainism believes that every Soul has a potential to be God.

Usually in every prayer that a person does, he/she seeks wordly pleasures. Such prayers bring them close to this world by increasing their journey of lifetimes.

Such prayers will also take them away from themselves by nurturing passions. Jaina meditation emphasises on a prayer where one seeks liberation. Prayer is thought to be the reflection of one’s desires. If a person seeks the wordly pleasures through prayers it simply reflects how attached they are to their body and physical existence. It is truth that a soul has to leave this body succumbed to the inevitable death. The acceptance of this truth comes to those who acknowledge this fact and seek for enlightenment in their prayers.

Jaina meditation is self-centric and thus it acts as a laboratory of self improvement. In spiritual terms it turns out to be an introspective practice. Practitioner of Jaina meditation puts Atma oriented efforts to achieve self realization. It is a sadhna which aims in vanishing everything that covers the potential of self. It thus does not believe in accumulating substance without need.

Therefore any prayer that nurtures these accumulative instincts has no place in Jaina Meditation. Prayer thus provide a base of clear mind to approach meditation but apart from this there are many other techniques designed to interlink the wellbeing of mind and body.

Breathing as a support action in meditation

Breathing is an involuntary action and this is something that continues in our entire life. Everything and every process may change or stop but something that we rely on in every second of our existence is breathing. We breathe and grow old. Interestingly most meditation techniques focus on the breathing in one or the other way. It is not in our conscious control but being conscious about breathing one can be close to the self and its nature. Breathing and life are interconnected and thus they are interchangeably referred as Prana in Indian tradition. Prana means the life force. This relation can be understood by a different interpretation too. Every inhalation is an opportunity and assurance that you will live and thus can be understood as a reincarnation. On the other hand, every exhalation is comparable with death. A sadhak of Atma dhyan thus stays aware of his/her breathing and observes the journey of breath to and from the body. In this process breathing is carried out with awareness.

According to Acharya Mahapragya rhythmic flow of breathing during meditation provides enough oxygen to the brain. This causes relaxation in body and controls the thought, senses and emotions. A sadhak of Atma Dhyan treats breath as a thread that connects body and soul. One being aware of their body stays unaware of its center which is the source of life. Breathing consciously and staying aware allows a person to reach this center. It took 12 years of austerity for Mahavir to reach this center. An Atma Dhyan sadhak relates each and every practice of meditation with breath. Soham and Koham are perfect manifestations of this practice meant to reach self through different approaches.


Jain Meditation uses some powerful base sounds to remove the obstacles in the path of self-realization. One such powerful sound is ‘Soham’ If you notice the sound of your breath while inhaling and exhaling you will discover that your breath is already attuned to this sound. The moment you inhale relate this sound as ‘So’ and relate the sound of exhaling as ‘Ham’. Soham means every life in this universe is me. Resonating these vibrations while meditating breaks down every difference between creatures and you find no one worse or better than you.

Through this one gets empowered to acknowledge those infinite qualities of self, residing in every other creature in this universe. This realization is worthy of enlightening you with the expanse of this universe by aligning you with the energy of the same.

A line from Uttradhyayan sutra- ‘Saddha Param Dullaha’ which translates as

Faith is rarest of all

emphasizes the need of self-acceptance and having faith on the path of liberation; in order to advance towards self-realization. This faith becomes practicable when all the difference around the sadhak is obliterated and envisioning self in others arouses empathy.


Another Sound based meditation which relates the sound with the rhythm of breath is ‘Koham’ meditation. Koham similar to soham is broken into two sounds Ko and Ham. Ko is related to the inhalation and ham is related to exhalation. But unlike Soham, Koham is a journey to seek reality rather than a practice of acknowledging it. Koham means ‘Who am I’. In this meditation a practitioner questions the base of each and every identity that we relate with our existence.

Negating each and every physical attribute brings the practitioner closer to the non-substantial nature of self. This starts with neglecting one’s name. The first thing that we usually relate with our identity is name. Whole life gets committed to nurture fame for this name but if given a proper thought name is not an identity in spiritual field. This is because name is not that someone is born with. It is given by others and is thought to have been a forced identity not the natural one that seems close to self. Even if you evaluate your identity in terms of your relationships it seems to be a flawed concept. Relationships are abstract but are made between two bodies and they nurture passions which makes someone devoid of self realization. It forces a person to evaluate their worth on the basis of others. Thus, the individualistic worth gets neglected and identity simply gets dependent on someone else.

Every living creature in this universe has a physical attribute. These attributes are the creation of nature. This creation is so vast that human has not been able to decipher its mystery till now. These creatures may differ in terms of their physical attributes but in spiritual understanding their intrinsic self is acknowledged to be same across all the living creatures. A human residing in India would want joy in his life and so would be the human living in America or any other place in this world. An elephant would want a safe and secure environment to live and so would ant or any other creature. Joy and safety are imbibed desires of each and every creature and this is thought to be one of the inner qualities of self (Atma); which a person mistakenly searches outside.

Koham meditation is a practice of differentiation (Bhed gyan) and equanimity (Abhed gyan). Through this meditation one realizes that he is different from others in terms of physical attributes of body but in terms of atma he is equal. Koham dhyan affirms the notion of vasudhaiva kutumbakam (whole world is a family). The practitioner of this meditation starts acknowledging that world cannot be changed but it can be made favourable by changing one’s own viewpoint. This understanding allows a person to fulfill his/her responsibilities towards others but with non-attachment.

After observing the physical attributes and putting efforts to go beyond them, it is consciousness that is targeted in Atma Dhyan. Consciousness is fluid and is multidimensional and thus even during sleeping a technique is developed to make this favorable for self-realization.

Yog Nidra

With the scientific development, we are now beginning to understand the basis of the system that control the changes of consciousness associated with sleep and wakefulness. Dream consciousness is not the same as wakeful consciousness.

Consciousness allows a person to relate to the self and it is this consciousness, which is used as a tool to move past all the thoughts in mind. A meditation practitioner knows that how the difference in the state of consciousness can influence the journey towards self realization. Underlining this fact, a practitioner of Atma Dhyan undergoes a practice of wakeful sleeping.

This practice is known as Yog Nidra. This is the most interesting aspect of meditation as it is aimed to reprogram the consciousness and provide rest to the body. A Yogi or a Sanyasi sleeps using this technique in order to stay away from the laziness. Staying away from the laziness allows them to achieve restfulness along with maintaining an in-depth connection with the self. This practice is directed towards restfulness and ends after achieving the same. The practitioner abstains from entering the stage of sleep during this practice and is also not allowed to move their body.

While doing this practice a practitioner lays down in shavasana and observes the physical changes in the body. The practitioner directs the flow of their observation to each and every part of their body. While doing so, they calm down that body part and feel relaxed. Then the practitioner starts counting their breath which makes inhalation and exhalation a conscious effort. After feeling relaxed in the whole body the practitioner visualizes themselves to be leaving their body in the meditation room and then they start a journey outside the room which is visualized through their mind. The journey ends at the cremation ground where the practitioner visualizes the end of their body. This end is understood to be a death experience where the practitioner reprograms their perceptions towards life and death. This gives an opportunity to rethink and introspect the life they have lived till now and to keep them ready for the death that will come at any moment.

This death is related to the body whereas soul is understood to be immortal. Thus, until the moment of liberation, soul goes on changing these bodies as we change clothes.

The realization aims to make the practitioner understand that each and every creature on this earth has received different body as per their karma. Body being mortal, merges in the five elements of the universe whereas soul being immortal has no difference in its nature and existence. This practice thus inculcates an idea of accepting the ephemeral nature of life and transcending the same.

Me and Mine

In this session of Atma Dhyan, body is relaxed as done during yog nidra. After relaxing the whole body, the practitioner affirms that he is different from the body and everything associated with this body will end someday. These continuous affirmations lead to the utmost affirming sensation of accepting the self as soul and not as body. The attachment towards everything that a human beholds in his life is the major cause of his sufferings. This is termed as ‘Moha’ in Jaina literature and Jain philosophical understanding. While accepting the self as soul one also accepts that everything that they have understood to be under their ownership is no longer theirs because even this body in which one resides as soul is not theirs. Everything is thought to end and, in the end, everything is thought to leave this soul for its next lifetime or liberation. Thus, accepting this future departure from everything at present, a soul separates itself from everything and gets empowered to be unattached from the things, relationships, property, wealth, etc. that one beholds in their life. It does not mean that a practitioner has to forget his family, home and wealth but it means that he has to give least value to materialistic things and has to fulfill each and every duty of his life being unattached to their physical aspect of existence.

There is a moral story in Jain Literature to explain this concept with more clarity. One day King Nami was standing on the terrace of his palace. He saw that a bird holding meat in its beak was followed by a flock of other birds. Driven by the greed to snatch away the food from it, the flock attacked this bird and it got wounded. Tired and lost because of its wounded condition, the bird got frustrated and threw the piece of meat on the other side. As soon as he threw the meat his problem got resolved and the birds stopped attacking it. Seeing this entire incident King Nami contemplated that attachment and hold on the things is the major cause of struggle and quarrels in life. As soon as one loses attachment, they achieve peace in life. This peace clears the path towards self realization.

Self-Criticism (Alochana)

निंदक नेड़ा राखिये, आँगणि कुटी बँधाइ।
बिन साबण पाँणीं बिना, निरमल करै सुभाइ॥

The above doha of Kabir emphasizes the importance of criticism for self improvement. It translates as- one should keep critics around as they will lean your character with their criticism without any soap and water. This practice of alochana allows a person to use this method but instead of depending on others it gives this authority to the practitioner. This is considered to be a very important session of Atma dhyan. Introspection allows an atma to purify itself but still remnants of past deeds stay with the atma. To clean this karmic matter from atma Jain philosophy suggests the medium of Garihami (Confession). Initially this practice was prevalent in every religion in some or the other form. Jainism kept it alive through forgiveness as well as garihami. Christianity kept it alive through confession.

You might have seen confession box in church. The Father seats on one side of it. People come and confess their misdeeds in this box. The father thereafter suggests some remedial steps as per the rules and culture of The Bible. This is a very beautiful practice. Zoroastrian New year is called Nowruz. A day before Nowruz is celebrated as Pateti. The Parsi word Pateti translates as atonement. On this day Zoroastrians meet their friends and relatives and ask their forgiveness for any misdeed they might have committed in the last year. This process allows a person to be free from guilt and inferiority complex. Jain practice of confession (Garihami) should be done in front of a Sadguru only.

For this one must seek a person who is able to see the sea in waves. Such a person would not judge you for your deeds but will see the soul in you and will value your efforts towards liberation. Sadguru will bury your confession in his heart and he won’t reveal it to the world. Garihami is a way to seek the path toward self. Meditation will take you to the gate of the self realization and if you want to enter within, you must show a pass which is Garihami. Conducting this process in Atma Dhyan there was a necessity to create a similar confession box which with base of spiritual understanding was found in the meditative state of the practitioner. Accordingly, in the Aalochna session there is no audience and listener. The sadhak is directed to close his eyes and visualize Parmatma in front of himself. The sadhak then bows down to the Parmatma and then keeps forth his entire life as an open book. This opportunity may not be available to a person on his deathbed therefore a wise practitioner of Atma dhyan does this in his meditative state and confesses all the deeds he has or he might have committed in the eternal journey of Soul.


Kayotsarg is made up of two words- Kaya and Utsarg. Kaya means body and Utsarg means Oblation. Thus, the practice of Kayotsarg emphasizes the nonattachment with body. Kayotsarg is considered to be the 12th tap (austerity) in Jainism and is considered to be the supreme austerity.

Kayotsarg is often misunderstood as the sacrifice of body and being ready for death. However, it originally indicates leaving the idea of identifying yourself as body or identifying body as self. If we see above our physical needs we can rise above our attachments and relations. Body is thus thought to be the root cause of our attachments. However, this same body if understood as a tool or medium can be used to rise above these physical attachments. Accordingly differentiating body and soul in the meditative state is the practice of Kayotsarg. This is the utmost goal of meditation. A sadhak of Atma Dhyan can experience this truth.

Even people practicing Jainism misinterpret Kayotsarg as a practice done during Pratikraman or Samayik. Kayotsarg indeed finds its base in the idea of ‘samvara’, which means stoppage of influx of new Karmic bond. But people now days have confined it to duration of time. The truth is that it is that practice which can become a medium of letting go tension which a person may feel in his life.

Thus to understand Kayotsarg it is essential that we understand tension. If you try remembering the moments of tension in your life you will be able to list down all the physical change in your body that you experienced at that moment.

In the moment of tension when your body parts where struggling you lost your calmness and your true nature. For example, whenever you close your fist you have to produce a tension and direct your efforts to keep your fist closed. On the other side when you relax that fist it opens up naturally. It is hypothetically clear that whenever we try to hold something in life, we experience tension.

It is said that ‘Ichchha nirodhahstapah’. It translates as- Opposing your desires is austerity. It is true that austerity is to oppose desire but at the same time it is also true that a layman cannot be desire-less. Lending a middle path to this contradiction, the practice of Kayotsarg turns out to be an approachable path. All that one has to do is to let desires arouse if they do. If it gets fulfilled accept it with equanimity and if it does not get fulfilled then also accept it with the same feeling. Being obstinate to fulfill the incomplete desires is the cause of all the chaos and struggle. Even after being obstinate if someone is unable to fulfill their desire it may lead them to depression and frustration.

The process of kayotsarg starts with the relaxing of entire body. The body is then set to be motionless and with every breath the consciousness is directed inward towards the source of existence and away from the body. This practice aims in breaking down the attachment towards physicality and to be able to transcend it in perception. In this way Kayotsarg turns out to be the final step of Atma Dhyan which builds up on the base of various other steps intended to make mind, body and speech favorable for self-realization.


In Avashyak sutra, Meditation is categorized into 4 categories out of which two are evil and other two are divine. Arta dhyan and raudra dhyan are considered to be evil as these meditations nurture passions and build ego. On the other hand, Dharm dhyan and Shukla Dhyan are considered to be divine. These meditations lead one towards right knowledge, right vision and right conduct. Shukla dhyan is something that happens during kayotsarg and thus is a right austerity. The idea of meditation propagated by Mahavira and other tirthankaras intend in leading a sadhak towards self; which is the central idea of Atma Dhyan and thus seems to be authentically related to their preaching. Also, all other transitional phases that meditation has faced in Jainism aims self-realization through different mediums.

The difference in mediums leads to the same goal of self-realization but creating an understanding of self in sadhaks seems missing in these practices; which is thought to be present during the time of Mahavira. Atma dhyan in a nutshell establishes the understanding of self through various steps and aims to be authentic in its practice as preached by Mahavira. Atma Dhyan thus targets the core concept of Jiva and Ajiva which is the base of understanding of entire Universe in Jainism. Keval Gyan which is the enlightened knowledge is achieved by a being when the consciousness of that sadhak stays in the self realized state for 48minutes. This is achievable in 3rd or 4th aara as per the Jain mystical chronological division. Here, the shukla dhyan which is considered to be the medium of Karm Nirzara (releasing the bondages of karma) is seen to be occurring through atma dhyan whereas other techniques seem to be focusing more on Dharm dhyan which is considered to be the cause of Punya (Good Karma)

In Indian Philosophy, the quest of Dharma has always been to connect with the true nature of self. Interestingly, all the meditation techniques aim to take us towards this self realization but the nature of self is disclosed in none. It requires patience and guidance as it is an unknown terrain of exploration which is very much away from a layman. A layman is now stuck in the complexities of these practices rather than understanding their hidden intentions. The idea of atma was so closely related to the spiritual practice of Mahavira that it would be wrong to imagine any meditation technique in Jainism which neglects the same. Atma dhyan thus turns out to be the most authenticated technique. It can be summed up as a path to resolve the quest of Dharma as it allows a sadhak to be self and neglect everything that is misunderstood as self. In conclusion, Atma Dhyan turns out to be a practice of allowing a soul to get situated in its true being rather than manifesting into false identities.




  • Acharanga Sutra
  • Acharya Hemchandracharya, Yogashastra.
  • Acharya Mahapragya, Preksha Dhyan.
  • Acharya Shubhchandra, Jnanarnava.
  • Acharya Umasvati/Umasvami. Tattvartha Sutra.
  • Avashyak Sutra
  • Bhagavad Gita
  • Jain Metaphysics (MA Coursebook)
  • Jain Yoga (MA Coursebook)
  • Jain, Sagarmal. Equanimity and Meditation.
  • Jain, Sagarmal. Jaina Literature and Philosophy a Critical Approach.
  • Kabir Dohavali
  • Koch, Christof. “Dream States: A Peek into Consciousness”. Scientific American, November 2010.
  • Poloma, Margaret M., and Brian F. Pendleton. “The Effects of Prayer and Prayer Experiences on Measures of General Well-Being.” Journal of Psychology and Theology 19, no. 1
  • (March 1991): 71–83.
  • Prakash Biyani. Jainacharya Dr. Shivmuni ki khoj Atma Dhyan.
  • Uttradhyayan Sutra


About the Author

Acharya Dr. Shivmuniji MA, Ph.D, D.Lit is a scholar, a true karma yogi, Peace activist and a leading exponent of Jainism. He is the Acharya and leading the glorious sect of Shraman Sangh in Shwetambar Sthanakwasi culture. Click here to know more.

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