Asamprajñāta

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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Asamprajnata, AsamprajJAta, Asamprajyaata


Asamprajñāta literally means ‘ultra-cognitive absorption’.

Patañjali's Yogasutra is one of the popular darśanas since it gives practical methods to control the mind.

When a systematic attempt is made to control and eliminate the vṛttis or modifications of the mind through the practice of the various steps of yoga such as yama and niyama, it will result in ‘samādhi,’ total absorption in the object of contemplation. This samādhi is of two types :

  1. Samprajñāta - Cognitive. In this, the object of contemplation will be vividly revealed. In this state, though all other mental modifications are eliminated, that of the object of contemplation continues to remain active. Hence in the strictest sense of the definition of ‘yoga’ as ‘cittavrtti- nirodha’[1] (‘suppression of modifications of mind’) this samādhi indicates a lower state of yoga.
  2. Asamprajñāta - Ultra-cognitive. A higher samādhi is called asamprajñāta where all modifications of mind are eliminated, leaving only the sanskāras (latent tendencies) behind.[2] In this state, it looks as though even the mind does not exist, since there are no mental modifications to reveal its presence. This samādhi is sometimes called ‘nirbīja-samādhi’ (seedless samādhi) since the seeds of rebirth are eliminated as a result of this experience.

Intense vairāgya (‘paravairāgya’) or detachment is said to be the means of achieving this samādhi.


References

  1. Yogasutras 1.2
  2. Yogasutras 1.18
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore