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Adhyatmika, Adhidaivika and Adhibhautika

Sorrow and suffering (duhkha, tapa) are inevitable in life. In fact, they are a part of life.A knowledge of their origin, causes and even categorisation helps one to minimise their effect if not eradicate them. The Hindu religious works usually call them ‘tapatraya’Tapatraya: ‘the three miseries’. They are: adhyatmika, adhidaivika and adhibhautika.

The adhyatmika duhkha or tapa is that which is caused by bodily suffering and mental anguish.Hereditary diseases like leprosy, disabilities like blindness or lameness and diseases caused by the violation of the rules of health and sanitation are classed under this.

The mental agony caused by worries and anxieties, attachment and aversion, also comes under this group.The adhidaivika duhkha or tapa is that which is caused by daiva. The word daiva includes the power of time, nature and the unseen hand of fate.Diseases caused by the changing seasons, misery caused by the elemental forces like floods and fire, suffering caused by black magic or gods who are displeased, natural tribulations due to hunger, thirst and old-age belong to this group.The adhibhautika duhkha or tapa is that which is caused by other bhutas or living beings, like wild animals, snakes or enemies.

Some of these, like hereditary diseases or physical disabilities cannot be got rid of. Hence they must be endured.Some like the diseases caused by change of seasons or the machinations of enemies can be countered by taking appropriate precautions.However, raising the mind to the level of the spirit, thus transcending the limitations imposed by the body-mind complex, is the best solution to offset the effects of tapatraya.

Source : A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism by Swami Harshananda