- Samadhi refers to the highest state of concentra-tion and absorption in YOGA; the term in used in various yoga traditions. In some systems it is accompanied by a trance, whereby the yogi is completely detached from any external stimuli. Samadhi is a technical term in the yoga of PATA N-JALI, describing the next stage for the adept after concentration skills (dharana) have been developed and deep involvement in MEDITATION (DHYANA) has been achieved.There are two levels of samadhi: samprajnata samadhi, in which the yogi is still aware of a degree of worldly differentiation, and asampra-jnata samadhi, in which there is a full realization of the self, or PURUSHA, and its consciousness, and there is no involvement in worldly differentiation. Samprajnata samadhi is said to retain the “seeds” of awareness of the external world of differentia-tion, while aprajnata samadhi is said to be “seed-less”: it no longer engenders thoughts tied to the external world. Neither of these states can be pre-cisely described, because both take consciousness beyond language into indescribable realms.Samprajnata samadhi is seen by Patanjali to have four steps. At the savitarka step the adept can look directly into the essence of real things, but only at the gross level. This step is still bound by conventional understandings, such as that time is divided into past, present, and future.The second step is nirvitarka. At this point, conventional understandings, verbal and logical associations, cease. One transcends the cognitive or perceptive act itself, and one’s consciousness meets directly with true reality. However, this meeting is still at a gross and not a subtle level.At the third or savichara level consciousness is able to go beyond the surface of reality to its sub-tle level. One is still, however, bound by a certain residue of time and space (not as a felt experience, but as categories). Experience at this subtle level engenders the fourth step in this type of sama-dhi, the nirvichara level, in which consciousness descends into the very essence of the real world, no longer mediated by “concept.”Beyond the fourth stage of samprajnata samadhi is true asampranjata samadhi, in which concept is lost completely; there is a direct realization of the consciousness power of the self, with no limita-tion. This is sometimes also called dharma-megha-samadhi. Here one becomes completely aware that the self and its power of consciousness are not the body. All “knowledge” and all “consciousness” merge into an undifferentiated awareness that is absorbed in being itself. This does not mean that the person cannot and does not exist and act in the world as before. It merely implies that that person’s awareness is no longer in any way affected or per-turbed by that worldly reality. The yogi is then in the “isolated state” (kaivalya) and functions on a level beyond ordinary categories.Further reading: Swami Hariharananda Aranya, Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali: Containing His Yoga Aphorisms with Vyas’s Commentary in Sanskrit and Translation with Annotations Including Many Suggestions for the Practice of Yoga. Translated into English by P. N. Mukherji (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1983); Sri Chinmoy, The Summits of God-life: Samadhi and Siddhi (Jamaica, N.Y.: Agni Press, 1974); Ian Whicher, Cogni-tive Samadhi in the Yoga Sutras (Chennai: Adyar Library and Research Centre, 1997).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.