by Swami Chidananda
Through the constant practice and through perfect establishment in Vairagya (dispassion) concentration increases and it becomes more continuous and unbroken, when we reach a stage of deep intense absorption, and this deep intense absorption is the eighth stage in Raja Yoga. It is called Samadhi. I think this word ‘Samadhi’ is by far one of the most widely misunderstood terms. What is Samadhi? Everyone knows the word and everyone is apt to know the meaning of the word wrongly. There are many things you have to know of Samadhi if you want to know what it actually implies.
Firstly, Samadhi is the eighth stage in Raja Yoga. It is only a stage in Yoga. Samadhi itself is not Realisation. That is the point which you have to understand, especially in Raja Yoga: It does not mean that a person who has attained Samadhi is a realised sage. He has to proceed further.
This Samadhi is not peculiar to Raja Yoga alone. Jnanins speak of Advaita Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Hatha Yogins have got their Samadhi through the union of Prana and Apana and forcing it through Sushumna. These Pranas are forced up by means of Mudras and Kriyas through the various Chakras (plexus or centres of psychic energy) and you get Samadhi. Devotees refer to as going into Bhava Samadhi. So we find that the eighth stage of Raja Yoga, viz., Samadhi, is found everywhere in Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga. What is the difference between these various Samadhis? Is there only a distinction in name, or is there real difference? And in what sense these several Samadhis are used? Are these used in the same sense or are they used in different senses?
In the Samadhi of Hatha Yogins, through processes like Mudras and Pranayama, certain occult states are produced in the mind and the mind gets totally absorbed. In that Samadhi, they say the Vrittis are not completely destroyed once for all. Complete eradication of Vrittis does not take place. So, that Samadhi is not that which leads to Illumination. It is only a state of suppression. It is perfect suppression, but the total annihilation of the Vrittis is not achieved. So what happens? When he returns back to his normal consciousness, the Vrittis are still there. These Vrittis which are suppressed during Jada-Samadhi, as it is sometimes called, may spring up again to some extent. Therefore, this Samadhi—the Jada-Samadhi achieved by certain Hatha Yogic techniques like Mudras, Pranayama, etc.,—cannot give perfect freedom, is the view held by some people.
The Samadhi of Jnana Yogins is more or less similar to that of Raja Yogins. Raja Yogins attain Samadhi by perfect concentration on the all-pervading Purusha. The Jnani meditates upon the nameless and formless transcendental Atman and it is the totally impersonal Samadhi that is attained by him. There is not a least trace of the meditator’s personality. The meditator’s personality is completely wiped out.
According to some philosophers, the process of absorption is like this. Suppose there is a Himalayan mountain of sugar and a small grain of sugar is put on the mountain. You cannot distinguish it. You cannot separate it. Yet, it retains its separate, existence, It is only a way of putting it.
Once a Bhakta or Jnani or Dhyani reaches the ultimate Realisation in the depth of Samadhi, he is once for all free. There is no more pain or suffering and no craving. He reaches a state of plenitude where there is no more desire. He becomes, as it were, an ever-free, immortal Being. The body may persist. He may live and move, yet he has attained perfection and supreme realisation. Even when he comes out of Samadhi, he remembers the experience in Samadhi.
Peace, love, harmony