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Guide to Samadhi

by Swami Sivananda

CHARACTERISTICS OF SAMADHI

When the mind is completely absorbed in one object of meditation, it is termed Samadhi. The mind identifies itself with the object of meditation. In Samadhi, there is neither Dhyana nor Dhyata (neither meditation nor meditator). The meditator and meditated, the thinker and the thought, the worshipper and the worshipped become one or identical. The Triputi (triad) vanishes. The mind loses its own consciousness and becomes identical with the object of meditation. The meditator has dissolved his personality in the sea of God, drowned and forgotten there till he becomes simply the instrument of God. When his mouth opens, it speaks God's words without effort or forethought through direct intuition and, when he raises his hand, God flows again through that to work a miracle.

In Samadhi, there is neither seeing nor hearing. There is neither physical nor mental consciousness. There is only spiritual consciousness. There is only Existence (Sat). That is your real Svarupa. When the water dries up in a pool, the reflection of the sun in the water also vanishes. When the mind melts in Brahman, when the mind-lake dries up, the reflected Chaitanya (Chidabhasa) also vanishes. The Jivatman (personality) goes away. There remains Existence alone.

Turiya is the spiritual condition where there is no play of mind, where the mind is dissolved in Brahman. It is the "fourth dimension," where there is infinite Brahmic bliss. It is not a condition of inertia, forgetfulness or annihilation. It is a state of absolute consciousness which baffles all attempts at description. It is the final goal of all. It is Mukti. It is Moksha.

Generally, when you have what you call dreamless sleep, it is one of two things; either you do not remember what you dreamt of or you fell into absolute unconsciousness which is almost death-a taste of death. But, there is the possibility of a sleep in which you enter into an absolute silence, immortality and peace in all parts of your being and your consciousness merges into Satchidananda. You can hardly call it sleep, for there is perfect "awareness." In that condition, you can remain for a few minutes or hours or days; but, these few minutes give you more rest and refreshment than hours of ordinary sleep. You cannot have it by chance. It requires a long training.

Samadhi is not a stone-like inert state as many people imagine. A life in the spirit (Atman or Divine) is not annihilation. When the self is bound down to its empirical accidents, its activities are not fully exercised and, when the limitations of the empirical existence are transcended, the universal life is intensified and you have enrichment of Self. You will have a rich inner life. You will have an expanded cosmic life and supra-cosmic life, too.

THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF SAMADHI

A Raja Yogi gets Nirodha-Samadhi through Chitta-Vritti-Nirodha (by restraining the mental modifications). A Bhakta gets Bhava-Samadhi through Prema of the Lord. A Vedanti gets Bheda-Samadhi through Mithyatva-Buddhi and concentration on the idea of the Asti-Bhati-Priya (the Anvaya method).

It is only the Raja Yogi who attempts the annihilation of the Vrittis, the Nirodha Samadhi ("Yogaschittavrittinirodhah" -Patanjali Yoga Sutras, I-2). A Vedanti has always Atma-Bhava, Brahma-Bhava whenever he comes across objects. So he does not try to annihilate the Vrittis. There is no Pratyahara for him. There is no Bahirmukha Vritti for him. He rejects Nama-Rupa and takes Asti-Bhati-Priya (Bheda-Samadhi). A Bhakta sees Narayana or Krishna in all objects. He also does not check the Vrittis. He, like the Vedanti, changes his mental attitude. It is the mind that creates all the differences and separateness. The world is all Ananda, only if you change your angle of vision, your mental attitude. You will find heaven on earth.

You can bring down to normal objective consciousness a Raja Yogi or Bhakti Yogi or Jnana Yogi by mere shaking of the body or blowing a conch. Chudalai brought down her husband Sikhidhvaja from Samadhi by shaking his body. Lord Hari brought Prahlada down from his Samadhi by blowing His conch.

SAMADHI THROUGH HATHA YOGA

A Hatha Yogi draws all his Prana from the different parts of his body and takes it to the Sahasrara Chakra (thousand-petalled lotus) at the top of the head. Then he enters into Samadhi (superconscious state). Therefore it is very difficult to bring him down to objective consciousness by merely shaking his body. Hatha Yogis have remained buried underneath the earth in Samadhi for years together. They plug the posterior nostrils through Khechari Mudra (a king of Hatha Yogic Kriya) with their long tongues.

Prana and Apana that move in the chest and anus respectively are united by the Yogic processes of Jalandhara, Mula and Uddiyana Bandhas and the united Prana-Apana is driven into the Sushumna Nadi of the spinal canal. The Pranas, when thus driven, draw up the mind also along the Sushumna Nadi which is otherwise known as Brahma Nadi. During the ascent in the Sushumna Nadi, the three Granthis or knots, viz., Brahma-Granthi at Muladhara-Chakra, Vishnu-Granthi at Manipura-Chakra and Rudra-Granthi at Ajna-Chakra should be cut asunder by strenuous efforts. These knots prevent the ascent of Kundalini. Bhastrika Pranayama breaks down these knots. When Kula-Kundalini Sakti that lies dormant in the Muladhara-Chakra in the form of a coiled serpent with 3 curves or turns, with the face downwards is awakened by spiritual Sadhana, it ascends upwards towards Sahasrara Chakra or the thousand-petalled lotus in the crown of the head and takes along with it the mind and Prana also. When the mind is in the Sushumna, the Yogi is shut out from the objective, physical consciousness of the world. He is practically dead to the world, sees various visions and moves in the mental, ethereal space (Chidakasa). Samadhi starts.

SAMADHI THROUGH RAJA YOGA

Deep meditation leads to Samadhi or oneness with God. If you can fix the mind for ten seconds steadily on a particular object or Murti, it is Dharana (concentration). Ten such Dharanas become Dhyana (meditation). Ten such Dhyanas form a Samadhi. The mind is filled with Atman or God. Mind loses its own consciousness and becomes identified with the object of meditation (Tatchitta, Tanmaya, Tadakara). Just as a toy made of salt melts in water, even so, the mind melts in Brahman in Nirvikalpa Samadhi. A sudden stroke of mystic illumination puts an end to all the empirical existence altogether and the very idea or remembrance of such a thing as this world or the narrow individuality of the spirit in this world absolutely leaves the Self.

In trained Yogis, you cannot say where Pratyahara (abstraction) ends and Dharana (concentration) begins; where Dharana ends and Dhyana (meditation) begins; where Dhyana ends and Samadhi (superconscious state) begins. The moment they sit on the Asana, all the processes occur simultaneously with electric or lightning speed and they enter Samadhi at their conscious will. In the neophytes, Pratyahara first takes place. Then Dharana begins. Then Dhyana slowly commences. Before Samadhi manifests, their minds, getting impatient and tired, drop down. Constant and intense Sadhana, with light but nutritious food, will bring about sanguine success in getting Samadhi.

YOGIC SAMADHI AND VEDANTIC SAMADHI

There is a difference between the Nirvikalpa state of a Yogi and the Nirvikalpa state of a Vedantin. The former concerns the mind. The latter concerns the pure Atman or Brahman only. In Yogic Samadhi, Dhyeya remains. Dhyeya means the object of meditation. In Vedantic Samadhi, Kevala Asti (Existence alone) remains.

SAVIKALPA SAMADHI AND NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI

The ground floor represents the life of passion in the sense-universe. The first storey corresponds to Savikalpa Samadhi. The second storey is tantamount to Nirvikalpa Samadhi. The third storey represents the Sahajavastha or a Jivanmukta. The moving of a bullock cart can be compared to Savikalpa Samadhi. It stops. This is Nirvikalpa Samadhi. The bulls are detached. This is Sahajavastha. When the Yogi has reached the last perfect stage of meditation and Samadhi, the fire whereof burns surely all the residue of his actions, he at once gets Liberation (Jivanmukti) in this very life.

In Savikalpa Samadhi, there is Triputi or the triad- Dhyata (the meditator), Dhyana (meditation) and Dhyeya (object of meditation). In Nirvikalpa Samadhi, this Triputi vanishes (Triputirahita). Nirvikalpa means "free from all sorts of modifications and imaginations." The mind completely melts in Brahman. The happiness or bliss that you get in Savikalpa Samadhi is termed Rasasvada. This is also an obstacle (Pratibandha or Vighna) for further spiritual progress. It makes you stop here. It cannot liberate you. You must further march onwards to attain the highest Nirvikalpa state wherein lies your whole freedom.

ADVANTAGES OF BHAKTI YOGA SADHANA

The practices of Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga are not suited to the majority of men in this age, while they have always an irresistible charm for such practices because of their apparent concreteness and promise of speedy rewards. A vast majority of persons have no good physique and robust constitution. They are weaklings. In this age, children beget children. There are baby mothers. Devotion or Bhakti Yoga is, therefore, easy and safe. Any man can repeat the Name of God. Anyone can sing His praise. Without a mother, you cannot have a son. Even so, without Ananya Bhakti (one-pointed or single-minded devotion), you cannot have Jnana. When Bhakti is fully ripe, Brahma-Jnana dawns of itself, without much effort on the part of the Sadhaka.

Any Mantra is very powerful. It purifies the mind. It induces Vairagya. It causes Antarmukha Vritti. Every Mantra has a Rishi who gave it; a Devata as its informing power; the Bija or seed, a significant word which gives it a special power; a Sakti or energy of the form of the Mantra, i.e., the vibration-forms set up by its sounds; the Kilaka or the pillar, that which supports and strengthens the Mantra. Kilaka is a sort of plug which conceals the Mantra-Chaitanya. By constant and prolonged repetition of the Mantra with Bhava (feeling or right mental attitude) and concentration, the Mantra-Chaitanya is awakened. Then the Sadhaka gets Mantra-Siddhi. There is a spiritual current in all Mantras. A Mantra takes the devotee's soul first to one centre and then to another and so on, till access is gained to the goal or final region. Dhruva had Darshana of Lord Hari by repeating the Dvadasakshara (consisting of twelve letters) Mantra 'Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya' given by Rishi Narada. Prahlada had Darshana of Mahavishnu by repeating the "Narayana" Mantra. Valmiki realised God by repeating "Mara-Mara" (which becomes Rama-Rama during the course of repetition). Tukaram of Maharashtra became one with Lord Krishna by chanting always "Vittala-Vittala," the name of the reputed image of Sri Krishna at Pandharpur.

CONTEMPLATION-FILLING-IDENTIFICATION

Mark the three processes that take place in the mind during meditation. These are: CONTEMPLATION, FILLING, IDENTIFICATION. This is another triplet. Remember these three word-images. Repeat them mentally while doing Sadhana. It will help you a lot really.

Contemplate on Atman. Fill the mind with Atman. Then the mind becomes identified with Brahman in accordance with what is known as the Bhramarakitanyaya (analogy of wasp and caterpillar). As you think, so you become. Think you are Brahman; Brahman you will become.

When the mind is withdrawn from the objects and deep reflection sets in, the objective consciousness is shut up; Savitarka Samadhi commences. Ratiocination, analysis and synthesis (a priori and a posteriori ways of reasoning), investigation and abstract reasoning take place. This is Samadhi with reasoning. Evil thoughts cannot enter now. The mind is Sattvic.

Deep study of philosophical works with Chitta Suddhi is itself a form of Samadhi. The mind here is free from worldly thoughts.

When your meditation becomes deep, you generally operate through the subtle Karana Sarira only. The Karana-Sarira consciousness becomes your normal consciousness. Yogis have a normal Karana-Sarira consciousness. Bhaktas like Lord Gouranga, Tukaram, Tulsidas identified themselves with their Karana Sarira and had a normal Karana-Sarira consciousness. A Bhakta of Karana-Sarira consciousness is an occupant of Brahma Loka even when living in the fleshy tabernacle. He is one with Brahman or Hiranyagarbha. He has Divine Aisvarya; yet he has a thin ethereal body. He keeps up his individuality. A whirlpool is one with the whole mass of the water. It has a separate existence also. Similar is the case with the Bhakta who has a life with his Karana-Sarira in Isvara.

HOW TO ATTAIN SAMADHI THROUGH VEDANTA

Purify the mind by Japa, Pranayama, Satsanga, Svadhyaya, Dana, Yajna, Tapas and selfless service. Then fix it on God. Destroy Sankalpa-Vikalpa of the mind. Unite the currents of the mind with the spiritual current. Abandon the idea or notion of "I," "he," "thou," Ghata (pot), Pata (cloth), i.e., Nana-Bhava, Dvaita-Bhava. Have Brahma-Bhavana instead. Then Samadhi or superconscious state will supervene automatically.

There are four ways of destroying the ego or Ahankara, viz., two Advaitic methods (positive and negative), one Bhaktas' method of ungrudging, unreserved, absolute self-surrender (Atmanivedana) and the fourth, complete self-sacrifice of Nishkama Karma Yogis.

The negative Vedantic method is denial: "I am not the body, I am not the mind." "Brahma satyam jaganmithya jivo brahmaiva na-aparah:-Brahman alone is real. The world is unreal. Jiva is identical with Brahman." World includes the body. Meditate on this idea. Aham will vanish. The positive method is that everything is Self only: "Sarvam khalvidam brahma-All is Brahman. There is nothing but Brahman."

INTELLIGENT MODERATION IN SADHANA INDISPENSABLE FOR SAMADHI

Should you hold communion with Brahman, devoid of mental fancies and modifications, then the great bondage of the mind will cease, all doubts will vanish and all Karmas will perish:

"Bhidyate hridayagranthih chhidyante sarvasamsayah
kshiyante chasya karmani tasmin drishte paravare"

The stupid bee, knowing that flowers are blossoming in a certain tree and setting out with a terrific speed, passes it; and, in turning back, reaches it when the juice is finished. Another stupid bee, setting out with a low speed reaches it when the juice is finished. A clever bee, on the other hand, setting out with just the necessary speed, easily reaches the bunch of flowers, takes the juice to its heart's content and, turning it into honey, enjoys its taste.

Similarly, among the students of surgery who are practising surgical work on a lotus-leaf placed in a vessel of water, one stupid student, letting fall the knife with speed, either cuts the lotus-leaf into two or sinks it in the water. Another stupid one, out of fear of cutting or sinking, dare not touch it with the knife. The clever one, on the other hand, makes the stroke with the knife with uniform force, finishes his course and earns money by doing similar work when occasion arises.

To take another instance: on an announcement from the King, "He who brings a cobweb four fathoms long gets 4,000 coins," a stupid man draws the cobweb in haste and cuts it here and there. Another stupid man, through fear of cutting it, dare not even touch it with his fingers. The clever man, on the other hand, rolls it from one end on a stick with mild force, brings it and gets the reward.

To take a fourth instance, a stupid sailor, who goes full sail when the wind is strong, causes the boat to rush off her course. Another stupid man, who lowers the sails when the wind is low, makes the boat remain in the same place. The clever one, on the other hand, goes full sail when the wind is low and half sail when the wind is strong and reaches his destination in safety.

Again, when the teacher announces to his pupils, "He who fills the tube without spilling the oil gets the reward," a stupid student, greedy of gain, filling with haste, spills the oil. Another stupid one, through fear of spilling oil, dare not attempt the task. A clever one, on the other hand, fills the tube with calm and steady force and gets the reward.

Even so, when the sign appears, an aspirant makes strong efforts, saying: "I will quickly attain Samadhi"; but, his mind, through excessive strain, becomes distracted and he is not able to attain ecstasy or Samadhi. Another person, seeing fault in excessive strenuousness, gives up the effort, saying: "What is the use of Samadhi to me now?" His mind, through over-slackness of energy, becomes idle and he too is not able to attain Samadhi. But, he who releases with an intelligent, calm, uniform force the mind that is slack ever so little from slackness and the distracted mind from distraction, drives it towards the goal or Lakshya (i.e., Brahman) and attains Nirvikalpa Samadhi (Advaita-Nishtha). Become like such a one.

Be silent. Know thyself. Know That. Melt the mind in That. Truth is quite pure and simple.


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