Samādhi

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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Samadhi, SamAdhi, Samaadhi


Samādhi literally means ‘state of perfect concentration’.

The Yogasutras of Patañjali[1] deals with the techniques of controlling and concentrating the mind. The work gives eight steps, generally known as aṣṭāṅgas,[2] out of which the last three are:

  1. Dhāraṇā
  2. Dhyāna
  3. Samādhi

Process of Samādhi

Dhāraṇā is the fixing of attention on a definite locus, such as the lotus of the heart, the light in the brain, the tip of the nose or the tongue or on an external object like the moon or the image of gods and so on. When dhāraṇā ripens in a way that the thought-current becomes unbroken, it becomes dhyāna. Here the mind hovers round the object of meditation. There is still the consciousness of the trio:

  1. Ego-sense
  2. Object of meditation
  3. Process of meditation

When dhyāna becomes perfect and the mind is so deeply absorbed in the object that it loses itself and has no awareness of itself, the state attained is called samādhi. In this state, only the object of meditation will be shining in the mind and the yogi is not even aware of the thought process involved in it. Even the ego-sense is completely subjugated.

Rewards of Samādhi

In the state of samādhi, which is an intuitive and super-conscious experience, the object of meditation will reveal all its secrets to the yogi. If the yogi can make his own self or īśvara the object of meditation after learning about them from the Sāṅkhya,[3] he will get kaivalya.[4]

Types of Samādhi

Patañjali calls these two samādhis respectively as:

  1. Samprajñāta - In this the object of meditation is known in its entirety.[5]
  2. Asamprajñāta - In this nothing outside the Self is known.[6]

Samādhi, a Merchant

Samādhi is the name of a vaiśya[7] who also received the esoteric teaching concerning the greatness of Devī, the Divine Mother, along with the king Suratha, from the sage Sumedhas. He had been driven out of his home by his own greedy wife and children. When he strayed into the hermitage of the sage, he met the king Suratha. Both of them, then approached the sage for consolation. By his teachings, Samādhi was guided towards mukti or liberation.


References

  1. He lived in 200 B. C.
  2. Aṣṭāṅgas means the name Aṣṭāṅgayoga for Patañjali’s system.
  3. Sāṅkhya is an allied philosophical system declaring the knowledge of the Self as the means of liberation.
  4. Kaivalya means liberation.
  5. Samprajñāta means well-known.
  6. Asamprajñāta means not known.
  7. Vaiśya means merchant.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore