Bhavana (Sanskrit: bhāvana or bhāvanā ; Pali: bhāvanā) means "mental creation ", "mental development", "meditation", "contemplation " or "practice ".
Used in Buddhism and certain schools of Indian philosophy, this term is usually associated with another, thus forming a compound word.
It is also the name of a minor Upanishad.
In Buddhism, especially Theravāda, practices associated with the term bhāvanā are, for example:
samatha-bhāvanā: the development of stillness (samatha), i.e., concentration (samādhi), which purifies from the five impediments (nīvaraṇa).
vipassanā-bhāvanā: the development of inspection (vipassanā), i.e., higher intelligence or wisdom (paññā), which produces the four stages of enlightenment and liberation of the mind.
brahma-vihāra-bhāvanā: the development of the four immeasurables (kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, equanimity).The Bhāvanākrama (en) is a text by Kamalaśīla on the stages of meditation.
The term is found in several texts: the mahābhārata, the vedāntasāra, and writings of Shankaracharya.
In Hindu ritual the officiant uses hand gestures (mudrā) in association with mantra and mental concentration (bhāvanā) on the sacred act.