By Swami Harshanananda
Maitri literally means ‘friendship’.
The Vedic sages, while recognizing the existing natural divisions of the society, also prescribed some sāmanya dharmas or common virtues to be practiced by all the human beings irrespective of their āśrama or varṇa. Through this they contribute to greater peace and harmony in the society. Some of these are:
- Ahimsā - non-violence
- Satya - truth
- Asteya - non-stealing
- Kṣānti - forbearance
One such common virtue is maitri or an attitude of friendship towards all.
Patañjali (200 B. C.) in his monumental work, the Yogasutras, considers the cultivation of maitri or an attitude of friendship towards those who are happy will help in attaining greater control over one’s mind.
- Brahmapurāṇa 114.16-18
- Yogasutra 1.33
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore