Karuṇā; Anuddaya; Anukampa; Anukampati


karuṇā: (unlimited) compassion

kāruñña: compassion

anuddaya: sympathy

parānuddayata: feeling sorry for others

anukampa: tender concern

anukampati: to be tenderly concerned for

anukampati: tenderly reciprocate

anukampin: being tenderly concerned


(Unlimited) compassion

The practices of mettā, karuṇā, muditā and upekkhā are sometimes called the four divine abidings (cattāro brahmavihārā, D.2.196)and sometimes the four unlimited states (catasso appamaññā, D.3.223). Practising them together is called the ‘unlimited liberation (from perceptually obscuring states)’ (appamāṇā cetovimutti, S.4.296). The Mahāvedalla Sutta (M.1.298) and Godatta Sutta (S.4.296) say the ‘makers of limitation’ (pamāṇakaraṇo) are rāgo doso and moho (rāgo kho āvuso pamāṇakaraṇo doso pamāṇakaraṇo moho pamāṇakaraṇo). Therefore the four brahmavihāras should be practised unlimited by rāgo doso and moho. And therefore we call karuṇā ‘(unlimited) compassion’:

• In this regard a bhikkhu abides pervading one quarter with a mind of (unlimited) compassion, likewise the second quarter, the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across, in all directions, everywhere, he abides pervading the whole world (of beings) with a mind of (unlimited) compassion, vast, exalted, unlimited, free of unfriendliness and hostility.
Idha bhante bhikkhu karuṇāsahagatena cetasā ekaṃ disaṃ pharitvā viharati tathā dutiyaṃ tathā tatiyaṃ tathā catutthiṃ iti uddhamadho tiriyaṃ sabbadhi sabbatthatāya sabbāvantaṃ lokaṃ karuṇāsahagatena cetasā vipulena mahaggatena appamāṇena averena avyāpajjhena pharitvā viharati (S.4.296).

• It is impossible, friend, out of the question, that one might develop and cultivate the liberation (from perceptually obscuring states) through (unlimited) compassion, make it one’s vehicle and practice, carry it out, pursue it, and properly undertake it, yet still maliciousnesswould plague your mind. There is no such possibility.
Aṭṭhānametaṃ āvuso anavakāso yaṃ karuṇāya cetovimuttiyā bhāvitāya bahulīkatāya yānīkatāya vatthukatāya anuṭṭhitāya paricitāya susamāraddhāya atha ca panassa vihesā cittaṃ pariyādāya ṭhassatī’ti netaṃ ṭhānaṃ vijjati. Nissaraṇaṃ hetaṃ āvuso vihesāya yadidaṃ karuṇā cetovimutti (D.3.249).

• When resentment has arisen for someone one can develop (unlimited) compassion for that person.
Yasmiṃ bhikkhave puggale āghāto jāyetha karuṇā tasmiṃ puggale bhāvetabbā (A.3.185).


Illustration: karuṇā, (unlimited) compassion

―’The Blessed One abides in a state of (unlimited) compassion’
bhagavā hi bhante karuṇāvihārī ti.

―’Jīvaka, any attachment, hatred, or undiscernment of reality whereby maliciousness might arise, have been abandoned by the Perfect One… If what you said referred to that, then I allow it to you’
☸… vihesavā assa.. (M.1.370).

Illustration: karuṇaṃ, (unlimited) compassion

He who abides in solitary retreat for the four months of the Rains, practising the meditation on (unlimited) compassion, sees Brahmā.
yo vassike cattāro māse paṭisallīyati karuṇaṃ jhānaṃ jhāyati so brahmānaṃ passati (D.2.237).

Illustration: karuṇaṃ, (unlimited) compassion

If anyone from a clan of khattiyas goes forth from the household life into the ascetic life, and on account of the teaching and discipline proclaimed by the Perfect One, develops (unlimited) universal love, (unlimited) compassion, (unlimited) warmhearted joy, and (unlimited) detached awareness, and thereby gains inward peace: on account of that inward peace, he is one who is applied to a practice that is proper for ascetics, I declare.
Evameva kho bhikkhave khattiyakulā cepi agārasmā anagāriyaṃ pabbajito hoti so ca tathāgatappaveditaṃ dhammavinayaṃ āgamma evaṃ mettaṃ karuṇaṃ muditaṃ upekkhaṃ bhāvetvā labhati ajjhattaṃ vūpasamaṃ. Ajjhattaṃ vūpasamā samaṇasāmīcipaṭipadaṃ paṭipanno ti vadāmi (M.1.284).

Illustration: karuṇaṃ, (unlimited) compassion

Karuṇā: the liberation (from perceptually obscuring states) through (unlimited) compassion has the state of awareness of boundless space as its culmination.
ākāsānañcāyatanaparamāhaṃ bhikkhave karuṇā cetovimuttiṃ vadāmi (S.5.120).

Illustration: kāruññam, compassion

’Ānanda, would you just simply passively observe an elder bhikkhu while he is being harassed?
atthi nāma ānanda theraṃ bhikkhuṃ vihesiyamānaṃ ajjhupekkhissatha

… Truly, Ānanda, compassion does not develop in allowing an elder bhikkhu to be harassed’
Na hi nāma ānanda kāruññampi bhavissati theramhi bhikkhumhi vihesiyamānamhī ti (A.3.194).

Illustration: karuṇaṃ (Commentary: anuddayaṃ), sympathetic

Namuci approached me, uttering sympathetic words
Namuci karuṇaṃ vācaṃ bhāsamāno upāgamī

‘You are thin and sallow-faced. You are nearly dead… Live, sir. Life is better (than death)…. The path of striving is hard: hard to undertake, and hard to bear’
duggo maggo padhānāya dukkaro durabhisambhavo (Sn.v.425-6).


Karuṇaṃ: ‘sympathetic.’ Treating karuṇaṃ as anuddayaṃ. Commentary: Karuṇaṃ vācan ti anuddayāyuttaṃ vācaṃ.

Illustration: kāruññataṃ, compassion

Then the Blessed One, understanding the Brahmā’s request, out of compassion for beings surveyed the world with the vision of a Buddha.
atha kho bhagavā brahmuno ca ajjhesanaṃ viditvā sattesu ca kāruññataṃ paṭicca buddhacakkhunā lokaṃ volokesi (S.1.137).

Illustration: kāruññatā, compassion; anukampatā, tender concern

If a bhikkhu is wanting to reprove another, having contemplated five principles within himself he may do so:
paraṃ codetukāmena pañca dhamme ajjhattaṃ manasikaritvā paro codetabbo

• (I will speak out of) compassion

• (I will speak out of) seeking welfare

• (I will speak out of) tender concern

• (I will speak aiming at the) removal of offences

• (I will speak) aiming at vinaya
vinayapurekkhāratā ti (Vin.2.250).


Parentheses in accordance with Codanā Sutta:

If a bhikkhu is reproving, wanting to reprove another, he should do so having established five principles within himself.
Codakena āvuso bhikkhunā paraṃ codetukāmena pañca dhamme ajjhattaṃ upaṭṭhepetvā paro codetabbo:

I will speak at the right time, not the wrong time
kālena vakkhāmi no akālena

I will speak truth not falsehood
bhūtena vakkhāmi no abhūtena

I will speak gently not harshly
saṇhena vakkhāmi no pharusena

I will speak what is conducive to spiritual well-being not unconducive to spiritual well-being
atthasaṃhitena vakkhāmi no anatthasaṃhitena

I will speak with a mind of (unlimited) universal love not with inner hatred
mettacittena vakkhāmi no dosantarenā ti (D.3.236-7; A.3.196).

Illustration: kāruññaṃ, compassion ; anuddayaṃ, sympathy; anukampaṃ, tender concern

He explains the Buddha’s teaching to others

• out of compassion
kāruññaṃ paṭicca paresaṃ dhammaṃ deseti

• out of sympathy
anuddayaṃ paṭicca paresaṃ dhammaṃ deseti

• out of tender concern
Anukampaṃ upādāya paresaṃ dhammaṃ deseti (S.2.200).

Illustration: kāruññaṃ, compassion; anuddayaṃ, sympathy; anukampaṃ, tender concern

Suppose a sick and ailing man were to go along the highway with no village nearby, and unable to get proper food and medicine; and suppose another man, also going along the road, were to see him; it might

• raise compassionin that man
kāruññaṃ yeva upaṭṭhāpeyya

• raise sympathy
anuddayaṃ yeva upaṭṭhāpeyya

• raise tender concern
anukampaṃyeva upaṭṭhāpeyya

so that he might say to himself: Alas for this man! he ought to have proper food and medicine, or a guide to some village. Wherefore? Lest he suffer misfortune and disaster.

Equally, of one whose ways are impure, who obtains no mental clarity, mental calm: for such a person

• compassion ought to arise
kāruññaṃ eva upaṭṭhāpetabbaṃ

• sympathy ought to arise
anuddayāyeva upaṭṭhāpetabbā

• tender concern ought to arise
anukampāyeva upaṭṭhāpetabbā

so one says to oneself: ‘Alas for this Venerable! He should give up bad habits in deed, word and thought and develop good habits. Wherefore? Lest this Venerable, with the demise of the body at death, is reborn in the plane of sub-human existence, in the plane of misery, in the plane of damnation, or in hell (A.3.189).

Illustration: anukampituṃ, have tender concern; anuddayā, sympathy

If, O Sakka, for some reason intimacy with anyone should arise, the wise man ought not to have tender concern in his mind for such a person.
Yena kenaci vaṇṇena saṃvāso sakka jāyati
Na taṃ arahati sappañño manasā anukampituṃ.

But if with a pure mind he teaches others, he does not become tethered (to them) by his tender concern and sympathy.
Manasā ce pasannena yadaññamanusāsati
Na tena hoti saṃyutto sānukampā anuddayā ti

Illustration: anuddayataṃ sympathy

One who explains the teaching to others should establish five principles within himself. What five?
Paresaṃ ānanda dhammaṃ desentena pañca dhamme ajjhattaṃ upaṭṭhapetvā paresaṃ dhammo desetabbo. Katame pañca:

One should explain the teaching to others with the thought:

1) ‘I will speak step-by-step
Ānupubbīkathaṃ kathessāmīti paresaṃ dhammo desetabbo

2) ‘I will speak observing a proper method of exposition
Pariyāyadassāvī kathaṃ kathessāmīti paresaṃ dhammo desetabbo

3) ‘I will speak out of sympathy
Anuddayataṃ paṭicca kathaṃ kathessāmīti paresaṃ dhammo desetabbo

4) ‘I will speak not for the sake of worldly benefits
Na āmisantaro kathaṃ kathessāmīti paresaṃ dhammo desetabbo

5) ‘I will speak without hurting myself or others
Attānañca parañca anupahacca kathaṃ kathessāmī ti paresaṃ dhammo desetabbo (A.3.184).

Illustration: anuddayatā, sympathy

There are these three kinds of spiritually unwholesome thinking (akusalavitakkā). Which three?

• thinking concerned with not wanting to be despised
anavaññattipaṭisaṃyutto vitakko

• thinking concerned with gains, honour, and renown
lābhasakkārasilokapaṭisaṃyutto vitakko

• thinking concerned with feeling sorry for others
parānuddayatāpaṭisaṃyutto vitakko (It.72).


As an example of feeling sorry for others, consider Nissaggiyā Pācittiyā Rule 22 which says that if a bhikkhu wrongfully gets himself a new bowl from a lay supporter, that bowl should be forfeited to the group of bhikkhus. The bowl should be first offered to the senior bhikkhu, who should be persuaded to swap his own bowl for the new bowl if he prefers it. The senior bhikkhu should not refuse to swap out of feeling sorry for the offender (na ca tassa anuddayatāya na gahetabbo), otherwise it is a dukkaṭa offence (yo na gaṇheyya āpatti dukkaṭassa) (Vin.3.247).

Illustration: anukampamāno, being tenderly concerned

Being tenderly concerned for friends and comrades, one neglects one’s own spiritual well-being, being emotionally bound (to others). Seeing this danger in intimacy, one should live the religious life as solitarily as a rhinoceros horn.
Mitte suhajje anukampamāno hāpeti atthaṃ paṭibaddhacitto
Etaṃ bhayaṃ santhave pekkhamāno eko care khaggavisāṇakappo

Illustration: anukampanti, tenderly reciprocate

‘There are five ways in which a son should minister to his parents as the eastern direction’
Pañcahi kho gahapatiputta ṭhānehi puttena puratthimā disā mātāpitaro paccupaṭṭhātabbā

‘And there are five ways in which the parents, so ministered to by their son as the eastern direction, will tenderly reciprocate’
Imehi kho gahapatiputta pañcahi ṭhānehi puttena puratthimā disā mātāpitaro paccupaṭṭhitā pañcahi ṭhānehi puttaṃ anukampanti (D.3.189).

Illustration: anukampanti, tenderly reciprocate

Wherever a wise man makes his dwelling, here he should feed the virtuous, those restrained (in conduct), those who live the religious life. He should dedicate a gift to the devas who are in that place.
Yasmiṃ padese kappeti vāsaṃ paṇḍitajātiyo
sīlavantettha bhojetvā saṃyate brahmacārayo
Yā tattha devatā āsuṃ tāsaṃ dakkhiṇamādise.

Venerated, they will venerate them, revered, they will revere them. They will tenderly reciprocate, as a mother for her own son. He with whom the devas tenderly reciprocate always has good fortune.
Tā pūjitā pūjayanti mānitā mānayanti naṃ
tato naṃ anukampanti mātā puttaṃ’ca orasaṃ
Devatānukampito poso sadā bhadrāni passatī ti
(D.2.88-9) (Ud.89) (Vin.1.229-230).

Illustration: anukampāya, tender concern

For two good reasons the Perfect One establishes training rules for disciples:
sāvakānaṃ sikkhāpadaṃ paññattaṃ

Out of tender concern for the layfolk; and to stop factions of bhikkhus with unvirtuous desires.
☸ gihīnaṃ anukampāya pāpicchānaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ
pakkhupacchedāya (A.1.98).

Illustration: anukampako, have tender concern

‘The (attainment to the) Untroubled-without-residue of the Teacher who had such tender concern for me (will be tonight in the last watch).’
satthu ca me parinibbānaṃ bhavissati yo mamaṃ anukampako ti (D.2.143).

Illustration: anukampikāya, tender concern

If a foolish baby through the negligence of the nurse puts a stick or stone into its mouth, the nurse would quickly pay attention, and quickly remove it. If she failed to do so, then, taking hold of his head with her left hand, and crooking the finger of her right hand, she would fetch it out even if she drew blood. Why so? There would be some injury to the boy, I don’t deny it, but really, bhikkhus:

• This is what should be done by the nurse wishing for the child’s well-being, seeking its welfare, from tender concern, out of tender concern.’
karaṇīyañca kho etaṃ bhikkhave dhātiyā atthakāmāya hitesiniyā anukampikāya anukampaṃ upādāya (A.3.6).

Illustration: anukampamāno, tender concerned for

Considering two good reasons, brahman, I frequent secluded abodes in forests and quiet groves: in considering a pleasant abiding for myself in this lifetime, and being tenderly concerned for future generations.
attano ca diṭṭhadhammasukhavihāraṃ sampassamāno pacchimañca janataṃ anukampamāno ti (M.1.23).

Illustration: anukampī, tenderly concerned

The Buddha told bhikkhus that in whatever way they are spoken to, they should train themselves thus:

‘Neither shall our minds be troubled by this, nor shall we utter unvirtuous words, but we shall abide tenderly concerned for their welfare, with a mind of (unlimited) universal love, without inner hatred.’
na ceva no cittaṃ vipariṇataṃ bhavissati. Na ca pāpakaṃ vācaṃ nicchāressāma. Hitānukampī ca viharissāma mettacittā na dosantarā (M.1.126).

Illustration: anukampī, tenderly concerned

He abides tenderly concerned for the welfare of all living beings.
☸ sabbapāṇabhūtahitānukampī viharati (A.5.290).

Illustration: anukampī, be tenderly concerned

―Lohicca, do you reside at Sālavatikā?

―Yes, reverend Gotama.

―Well, if anyone said: “The Brahman Lohicca resides at Sālavatikā, and he should enjoy the entire revenue and produce of Sālavatikā, not giving anything to others” would not anyone who spoke like that be a source of danger to your tenants?
evaṃvādi so ye taṃ upajīvanti tesaṃ antarāyakaro vā hoti no vā ti

―He would be a source of danger, reverend Gotama.
Antarāyakaro bho gotama

―And as such, would he be tenderly concerned for their welfare or not?
Antarāyakaro samāno lohicca hitānukampī vā tesaṃ hoti ahitānukampī vā ti

―He would not, reverend Gotama.
Ahitānukampī bho gotama (D.1.228).