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Loving-kindness is a specific kind of love conceptualized in various religious traditions, both among theologians and religious practitioners, as a form of love characterized by acts of kindness.

Use in Religion[edit]


Loving-kindness is an English equivalent for the Buddhist term Mettā,[1] as described in the Metta Sutta of the Pali Canon's Sutta Nipata (Sn 1.8) and Khuddakapatha (Khp 9), and practiced in Loving kindness meditation.[2]


The term Loving-kindness (or "lovingkindness") was coined by Myles Coverdale in his Coverdale Bible of 1535,[3][4] as an English translation of the Hebrew word chesed (which appears in the Latin Vulgate as "misericordia"); in that text it is spelled "louinge kyndnesse". It is also used in this sense in the American Standard Version and other versions of the Christian Bible.


Priti (Sanskrit: प्रीति) means loving kindness in Hindu traditions. The word, states Monier Williams, refers to "amity, kindness, friendly disposition, love, affection, harmony, peacefulness" to others in texts such as Grhyasutras, the Mahabharata and the Puranas.[5][6]

Maitri is another term found in Hindu literature that means "loving-kindness".[7][8] It is particularly found in Hindu Yoga-related literature.[7][9]


Yogabindu, the 6th-century Jain yoga text by Haribhadra uses the Sanskrit word Maitri in verses 402-404, in the sense of loving-kindness towards all living beings.[10]


Loving-kindness is used as an English translation for the Hebrew word חסד (chesed). This term is used often in the book of Psalms, and refers to acts of kindness, motivated by love. It is used primarily in reference to God, rather than people. One example is found in Psalm 107, where verse 43 reads:

"Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD." [11]

The term is also used in Pirkei Avot, with the quote "The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of God, and deeds of loving-kindness." (1:2)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nagabodhi (2003). Metta: The Practice of Loving Kindness. Windhorse Publications. p. 3. ISBN 9780904766998. 
  2. ^ Ven. Pannyvaro. "An Overview of Loving-kindness Meditation". Retrieved May 1, 2016. 
  3. ^ OED
  4. ^ Grace Cathedral episcopal church: "Brush Up Your Bible" Archived 2007-10-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Monier Monier-Williams (1923). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 662. 
  6. ^ F. P. Luigi Josa (1907). Introductory Manual of the Hindi Language with Extracts from the Premsâgar. Trübner & Company. p. 82. 
  7. ^ a b Stephen Phillips (2009). Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy. Columbia University Press. p. 344. ISBN 978-0-231-51947-2. 
  8. ^ Arthur B Keith, Taittiriya Samhita iv,3,12,i:k, The Veda of the Black Yajus School, Part 2: Kandas IV-VII, Harvard University Press, page 335
  9. ^ Quote: मैत्री करुणा मुदितोपेक्षाणां सुखदुःखपुण्यापुण्यविषयाणां भावनातश्चित्तप्रसादनम् ॥ ३३॥ - Yogasutra 1.33; Source, SanskritDocuments.Org
  10. ^ Christopher Key Chapple (2015). Yoga in Jainism. Routledge. p. 175. ISBN 978-1-317-57217-6. 
  11. ^ "Psalm 107".