Etymology of Anupreksha
Anupreksha means reflections or contemplation on Fundamental facts of life. The word ‘Anu’ means "to follow" and ‘Preksha’ means "to see". Anupreksha detaches the mind from the worldly objects and hence is pre-requisite for meditation. Even after the completion of meditation the aspirant should practice Anupreksha as a means of swadhyaya or spiritual practice. They are intended to develop purity of thought and sincerity in practice of Religion.
Twelve Anuprekshas in Jainism
There are twelve subject matters for contemplation of 12 Anuprekshas described in Tattvartha Sutra. They are as follows:
1. Anitya Bhavana - It means reflection on the impermanent character of all phenomena or things. In this world, everything is transient, nothing is permanent. Everything is subject to change and decline. The bodies as well as the objects of pleasure of the senses are all transient like bubbles. Therefore, one should not be happy or unhappy over gain or loss.
2. Asarana Bhavana - It is a reflection on utter helplessness of every living being in the face of death. No one can provide protection at the time of old age, disease and death. The only help one can get is from true God, Teacher and Religion. Therefore, one should take refuge in the religion preached by the Omniscient.
3. Samsara Bhavana - It is reflection on the miserable course of existence in flux i.e. transmigration from one state of existence to another. It is an endless cycle full of pain and misery. Therefore, it is in the human birth that one can bring end to this cycle of birth and death by renouncing the activities which give suffering. This can be done by reflecting on Samsara and practicing detachment.
4. Ekatva Bhavan - It is a reflection on the utter solitariness of the soul in the course of transmigration. Soul is lonely, born alone, suffers alone and will go alone. It enjoys its karmas alone and transmigrates alone. Therefore, the soul should not depend on anything outside itself. Soul is its own friend and no one but soul itself can help in self-realization.
5. Anyatva Bhavana - It is a reflection on the distinction between the body and the soul. Soul is consciousness and body is matter. At the time of death, soul leaves one body and transmigrates into another body. Modifications in the soul are on account of bondage of karma. So, the soul should not develop attachment to the body or depend on any external objects for happiness.
6. Asuchi Bhavana - It is a reflection on the impurity of body. Body is made up of impure things like blood, bones, flesh, etc. and generates impure things like urine, stool, etc. Therefore, one should not have attachment for body.
7. Asrava Bhavana - It is a reflection on the defiling influx of karmas. The activity of mind, speech and body lead to the inflow of karmas and its bondage with the soul leading to suffering. Therefore, one has to reflect on the causes of inflow as well as the means to stop this influx.
8. Samvara Bhavana - It is a reflection on the method of controlling the defiling influx of karmas. One has to reflect on the ways of controlling the inflow by conscious efforts by undertaking 57 types of Samvara.
9. Nirjara Bhavana - It is a reflection on the process of destruction of karmas. Tapa or Penance is a means of Nirjara. One is victorious over the external and internal enemies when he observes six external and six internal Tapas. Hence, it is through Nirjara, one can attain liberation.
10. Loka Swarupa Bhavana - It is a reflection on the nature and extent of the universe, structure of universe, its vastness and man’s place in this vastness. This results in the true knowledge of the soul which wanders in Upper, Middle and Lower worlds, depending upon its karmas. Therefore, we should eradicate karmas by doing religious activities.
11. Bodhi Durlabha Bhavana - It is a reflection on the rarity of enlightenment i.e. difficulty in having the Right Perception, Knowledge and Conduct. It is important for the soul to realize the difficulties encountered on the path to self-realization.
12. Dharma Svakhya Bhavana - It is reflection on well expounded theory of Religion. It is known as ‘svakhyata’ because it has been proclaimed for the good of all beings without any discrimination of caste, creed, race etc. One should contemplate on the greatness and glory of Dharma, which has been provided for the good of all living beings. One should investigate the true nature and essence of religion. It lifts individuals from lower to higher state of existence. It is through Religion, a soul is liberated from cycles of birth and death.