Samadhi

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Samadhi is a state of deep meditation, and the aspirant forgets about the point at which he is meditating. The sense of oneness can be found in samadhi. When there is no fluctuation of any kind in mind (thought waves, feelings, awareness), then only one can achieve the state of samadhi. It has been mentioned in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism etc., with different names. Still, all conclude that it will give liberation from this world without leaving the body. Ayurveda, a health science or science of life, mentions samadhi and its utility for preventing and treating mental disorders (manasa vyadhi). Samadhi is more elaborately explained in the Yogic texts. Gheranda Samhita says samadhi means separating mind from the body and uniting it with the Paramatma (ultimate self).[1] According to Hathratnavali, the state of samadhi can be attained when the mind becomes motionless due to deep concentration. However, the description of samadhi for psychological disorders in Ayurveda texts appears to be in a therapeutically applicable form. To attain the samadhi, as mentioned in Yoga Shastra may not be easy for psychiatric patients with severely afflicted minds. In these conditions, as part of sattvavajaya chikitsa, samadhi may be implied to improve mental strength and prevent progression of mental disorders. Dhyana is the preceding stage of samadhi. This article describes the concepts and practices of samadhi with therapeutic utility.

Contributors
Section/Chapter Concepts/Samadhi
Authors Bhojani M. K. 1,
Singh Priti2
Jain Rahul 1
Reviewer Basisht G.3,
Editor Deole Y.S.4
Affiliations 1 Department of Sharir Kriya, All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi, India
2Department of Swasthavritta, All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi, India
3 Rheumatologist, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.
4 Department of Kayachikitsa, G. J. Patel Institute of Ayurvedic Studies and Research, New Vallabh Vidyanagar, Gujarat, India
Correspondence emails meera.samhita@aiia.gov.in,
carakasamhita@gmail.com
Publisher Charak Samhita Research, Training and Development Centre, I.T.R.A., Jamnagar, India
Date of publication: February 14, 2023
DOI 10.47468/CSNE.2023.e01.s09.128

Etymology

The word samadhi can be spilt into three parts- Sama (together) + Aa (towards) + Dha (to hold).
Thus, the word samadhi means to hold or to get towards togetherness. It can also be broken down as sama (equal/ equilibrium) + dhi (intellect/ to perceive), a state in which our mind or intellect is in balance. The meaning of samadhi from all the definitions lead to the fact that samadhi is a state of meditation when the meditator and the object of meditation becomes the one.

Synonyms of samadhi[2]

  • Raja Yoga
  • Amanaskam
  • Unmani
  • Advaita
  • Manomani
  • Nirlamba
  • Amaratva
  • Niranjana
  • Laya
  • Jivanmukti
  • Sahaja Tattwa
  • Sahajaa
  • Shoonyashoonya
  • Turya
  • Parampad

Definitions of samadhi[3]

In Upanishada:

Yogatatva Upanishada[4] and Shandilya Upanishada[5] : Samadhi is a state of equipoise, in which the Jeevatma (self) and Paramatma (supreme) become one and the same.

Varaha Upnishada[6] : When the practitioner experiences the oneness of the mind, just like the salt in the water, that state is called samadhi.

Tejobindu Upnishada[7] : That “I am myself Brahma” is Savikalpa samadhi, when one forgets even that state is called Nirvikalpa samadhi.

In Puranas:

Shiva Purana[8] : In the samadhi state, the intellect gets flooded with light. In this state, only abstract content remains, and the material substance vanishes. Here also, one becomes still like curd.

Naradiya Purana[9] : In this state, the spiritual practitioner (yogi)’s senses cease all of their activities, and he experiences extreme bliss like that of deep and dreamless sleep. When the yogi becomes motionless, like the flame of a lamp in the absence of wind that state is called samadhi in Naradiya Purana.

Agni Purana[10] : When the yogi becomes still like curd (Milk has a property to flow, means it has some motion, but when it is converted to curd, then the flow property changes and it becomes stable) and where dhyana gets reduced to pure consciousness (when the object of dhyana also disappears), that is samadhi.

Samadhi in Ayurveda

Samadhi is one of the treatments for psychiatric diseases (manasika roga). It is indicated to preserve and protect mental health and prevent diseases. [Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/58] One can attain a samadhi state by controlling the indriyas (especially mind) from indulging in their objects (vishaya) and restraining the chitta from various inclinations (vritti). [Chakrapani on Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/58]

Ashtanga Yoga[11]

Maharishi Patanjali describes eight steps of practicing yoga (ashtanga yoga) in Patanjala Yoga sutras. He defined yoga as means of controlling the thoughts, emotions etc. (vrittis) of subconscious mind (chitta). The eight steps of yoga practice help to attain samadhi. It starts with control from the outside of the body to the inside.

Table 1: Eight steps of yoga practice
1.Yama Social restraints Ahimsa (Non- Violence) Satya (Truth) Asteya (Non- Stealing) Brahmacharya (Control over senses) Aparigraha (No greed)
2.Niyama Personal restraints Shaucha (Purity) Santosha (Contentment) Tapa (Discipline) Swadhyaya (Self- study) Ishwarpranidhan (Devotion)
3.Asana Postures
4.Pranayama Controlling breath or Prana Suryabhedi Ujjayi Sheetali Sheetkaari Bhastrika
5.Pratyahara Withdrawal from senses
6.Dharana Concentration Parthivi Ambhasi Agneyi Vayavi Akashi
7.Dhyana Meditation Sthoola Dhyana Jyoti Dhyana Sukshma Dhyana
8.Samadhi One-pointedness Sabeeja Samadhi Nirbeeja Samadhi
Fig 01: Eight steps of yoga practice
Fig 01: Eight steps of yoga practice

Samadhi is the last step of ashtanga yoga. The eight steps of yoga can be further classified into two groups:

  1. Steps controlling external stimuli : Yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara
  2. Steps controlling internal stimuli : Dharana, dhyana, samadhi

Difference between dharana, dhyana and samadhi

When one has mastered all five steps controlling external stimuli, then only he/she can go for practicing further steps controlling internal stimuli. Dharana, dhyana, samadhi represent the different stages of inner experience. Together these three are called restraint (Sanyam).[12]

Dharana Dhyana Samadhi
Fixing or focusing the mind (chitta) at a particular point or spot is called dharana.
(“Deshabandhashchittasya Dharana”)[13]
When the mind is fixed or focused at a point, unbroken concentration is called Dhyana.
(“Tatra Pratyaiktanta Dhyanam”)[14]
When the object of concentration vanishes and the practitioner forget what point he is concentrating is called samadhi. It is the ultimate point of bliss.
(“Tadevarthamatranirbhasam Swaroopshoonyamiva Samadhih”)[15]

Types and stages of samadhi

Maharishi Patanjali described the types of samadhi in the form of stages. Every kind of samadhi is the precursor of the next samadhi.
Broadly samadhi can be divided into two types:

  1. Sabeeja Samadhi/ Savikalpa Samadhi/ Salambana Samadhi: Sa (with) + Beeja (seed- object of meditation).
    So, sabeeja samadhi is the stage of samadhi that is attained by focusing or concentrating on any object called Pratyaya by Maharishi Patanjali.
    There are two subtypes of sabeeja samadhi:
    1. Sampragyata samadhi
      Sampragyata is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘known accurately’. So, Sampragyata samadhi is the stage of samadhi in which the practitioner repeatedly concentrates on the pratyaya. However, he is still conscious and knows accurately what pratyaya he focuses on. Four progressive stages of this samadhi are:
      • Vitarka/ savitarka samadhi: When the meditator goes in deep meditation, concentrating on one object and yet aware of that. The presence of vitarka means the thoughts, counterthoughts, and fluctuations are present. Our intellect sees grosser visible forms of prakriti like panchamahabhuta, ekadasha indriyas.
      • Vichara/ savichara samadhi: When the object of meditation is more subtle forms of prakriti like tanmatras (Shabda, sparsha, roopa, rasa, Gandha), that stage is savichara samadhi.
      • Ananda: At this stage of samadhi, all the mediation objects, either gross or fine, are given up. The only object left is the mind itself, which is the awareness of the existence of “I am”. It is the state of bliss hence the name Ananda.
      • Asmita: Asmita is a Sanskrit word that means egoism. At this stage of samadhi, the awareness of the object and consciousness become one, but there is still the seed of ego. It is the sattwika state of consciousness.
    2. Asampragyata samadhi/ Virama pratyaya
      Asampragyta means ‘not known’. So, in this stage of samadhi, the practitioner is unaware of the object or pratyaya he focuses on. In this stage, the meditator is not available to the outside world. These are the transition stages between the sampragyata samadhi.
      • Nirvitarka samadhi: Transitional stage between savitarka and savichara samadhi.
      • Nirvichara samadhi: Transitional stage between savichara and ananda samadhi.
      • Ananda to asmita
      • Asmita to nirbeeja samadhi
  2. Nirbeeja Samadhi/ Nirvikalpa Samadhi: Nir (without)+ Beeja (seed object of meditation).
    So, Nirbeeja samadhi is the stage at which the object of focus or pratyaya vanishes.
  3. Fig.1 Types of Samadhi
    Fig.1 Types of Samadhi
    • Dharma megha samadhi: Dharma means virtue, and megha means cloud, so, in this stage of samadhi, clouds of goodness pour down upon the meditator. At this moment, one does not seek anything, be it siddhi of any kind or bliss, peace, oneness. All the desires end at this stage of samadhi.
    • Kaivalya: Kaivalya is a Sanskrit word whose root is Keval, which means alone or only. Kaivalya is the stage of freedom. Nothing matters at this stage, any kind of vedana (sukhatmaka or dukhatmaka), desire, etc.
    Fig. 2 Stages to achieve Samadhi
    Fig. 2 Stages to achieve Samadhi

According to Gherand Samhita[16] :

Samadhi types

Samadhi is of 6 types, according to the path one can follow to reach the state of samadhi.

  1. Dhyanayoga samadhi: Meditating while performing shambhavi mudra will give bliss and help in reaching the samadhi state.
  2. Nadayoga samadhi: Nadayoga samadhi is practiced by doing the bhramari pranayama and focusing on the humming sound of the breath.
  3. Rasananda samadhi: While performing khechari mudra, the practitioner gets to taste Bhahmarandhra.
  4. Layasiddhiyoga samadhi: Meditating in yoni mudra and feeling connected to the supreme energy.
  5. Bhaktiyoga samadhi: Meditating and remembering one’s Ishta deva or any supreme energy you have faith in. It will give cause the meditator to cry while feeling bliss.
  6. Rajayoga samadhi: Rajayoga samadhi is one in which one feels connected to Paramatma, and inner conflicts vanish away.

Samadhi in Buddhism[17]

From Theravada (A major branch of Buddhism)

Samadhi is the state of firmly fixing the focus on one object, eventually leading to one-pointedness. Three stages of samadhi-

  1. Parikamma samadhi- preparatory stage
  2. Upachara samadhi- in deep meditation but not yet achieved the one-pointedness.
  3. Apanna samadhi- attainment.

From Mahayana (A major branch of Buddhism)

Samadhi means the set of three concentrations- Shunyata (emptiness), Apranihita (devoid of any wishes), Animitta (Oneness)

Samadhi in Jainism[18]

In Jainism the concept of samadhi can be understood by Nirvana. Jain Darshan tells about the Teerthankar (24). They are the one who found their teertha; liberation from the death and re-birth cycle. Nirvana is the final stage of liberation or moksha.

Samadhi as a treatment:

Samadhi is advised as a treatment for atatvabhinivesha (perversion of intellect). [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 10/ 63]

Application of Samadhi in daily life:

In the present scenario of improper lifestyle, people indulge in activities that lead to excess stress, anxiety, and mood disorders. This can be easily prevented if one can get acquainted with the eternal truth of the universe. One can start practicing samadhi to find peace and contentment and to know ourselves. The prerequisite step is meditation. Practicing meditation can help attaining that stage of oneness and pure bliss.

Contemporary approach:

To practice samadhi, one has to go through steps of ashtanga yoga. Practicing dhyana (meditation) is a popular method. When people hear yoga, only two things come to their minds: asana (physical postures) and dhyana (meditation). Everyone has some type of stress, which has been accepted as a part of life. Everyone is searching for peace and contentment that can be achieved through meditation. Meditation followed by samadhi is the best way to attain knowledge of self. Many ways can practice meditation. Some of them are- focusing on the point between the eyes (bhrumadhya), concentrating on our breath, or chanting Om. Meditation is a preparatory step for samadhi. Meditation can be an initial move to reach the final stage of samadhi.

Researches on samadhi

  1. Evaluation of Siddha Samadhi Yoga for anxiety and depression symptoms: A Preliminary Study by Elisa Harumi kozasa, Ruth Ferreira Galduróz, Adriana Dourado, Ana Amélia Benedito-Silva, Felipe Leite Moraes De Ornellas, José Roberto Leite. [2008][19]
  2. Effects of Sahaj Samadhi meditation on heart rate variability and depressive symptoms in patients with late-life depression by Emily Ionson, Jayneel Limbachia, Soham Rej, Klajdi Puka, Ronnie I. Newman, Stephen Wetmore, Amer M. Burhan and Akshya Vasudev. [2019][20]
  3. Sahaj Samadhi Meditation versus a Health Enhancement Program for depression in chronic pain: protocol for a randomized controlled trial and implementation evaluation by Abhimanyu Sud, Michelle L. A. Nelson, Darren K. Cheng, Alana Armas, Kirk Foat, Michelle Greiver, Fardous Hosseiny, Joel Katz, Rahim Moineddin, Benoit H. Mulsant, Ronnie I. Newman, Leon Rivlin, Akshya Vasudev and Ross Upshur. [2020][21]

All the studies showed results in which Sahaja Samadhi meditation or Siddha Samadhi Yoga gives promising results in Late-life depression, Depression in chronic pain, and anxiety. Acharya Charaka has mentioned it in the treatment of Mansika Vikara. In the present era, our life has become stressful and causing a lot of Mansika Rogas. Samadhi practice can help prevent as well as treat them.

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References

  1. Gherand Samhita, commentary on Maharishi Gherand’s Yoga teachings by Swami niranjanand Saraswati, 3rd edition, Bihar yoga Bharati 2011.
  2. Hatha yoga pradika, commentary by Swami Muktibodhananda under the guidance of Swami Satyananda saraswati, first digital edition, Yoga publications Trust, 2016
  3. Yoga perceived and practiced by sages of India, author J.c. Singhal,first edition, Abhishek prakashan, 2009
  4. Yoga perceived and practiced by sages of India, author J.c. Singhal,first edition, Abhishek prakashan, 2009, chapter 23- Samadhi,page no. 448, Yogatatva Upanishad-107.
  5. Yoga perceived and practiced by sages of India, author J.c. Singhal,first edition, Abhishek prakashan, 2009, Chapter 23- Samadhi, Page no. 448, Shandilya Upanishad 1-11.
  6. Yoga perceived and practiced by sages of India, author J.c. Singhal,first edition, Abhishek prakashan, 2009, Chapter23- Samadhi, page no. 448, Varaha Upanishad II-75.
  7. Yoga perceived and practiced by sages of India, author J.c. Singhal,first edition, Abhishek prakashan, 2009, Chapter 23- Samadhi, page no. 448, Tejobindu Upanishad I- 37.
  8. Yoga perceived and practiced by sages of India, author J.c. Singhal,first edition, Abhishek prakashan, 2009, Chapter 23- Samdhi, Page no. 448, Shiva purana 36/ 61-62.
  9. Yoga perceived and practiced by sages of India, author J.c. Singhal,first edition, Abhishek prakashan, 2009, Chapter23- Samadhi, page no. 448, Naradiya Purana 33/ 43.
  10. Yoga perceived and practiced by sages of India, author J.c. Singhal,first edition, Abhishek prakashan, 2009, Chapter 23- Samadhi, page no. 448, Agni Purana 372.
  11. Patanjala yogadarshana of Maharishi Patanjali, edited with yogasiddhi hindi commentary by prof. Suresh Chandra Shrivastava, chaukhambha publishing house, 2020, ch. 2, sutra 29.
  12. Patanjala yogadarshana of Maharishi Patanjali, edited with yogasiddhi hindi commentary by prof. Suresh Chandra Shrivastava, chaukhambha publishing house, 2020ch. 3, sutra 4.
  13. Patanjala yogadarshana of Maharishi Patanjali, edited with yogasiddhi hindi commentary by prof. Suresh Chandra Shrivastava, chaukhambha publishing house, 2020, ch. 3, sutra 1.
  14. Patanjala yogadarshana of Maharishi Patanjali, edited with yogasiddhi hindi commentary by prof. Suresh Chandra Shrivastava, chaukhambha publishing house, 2020, ch.3, sutra 2.
  15. Patanjala yogadarshana of Maharishi Patanjali, edited with yogasiddhi hindi commentary by prof. Suresh Chandra Shrivastava, chaukhambha publishing house, 2020, ch.3, sutra 3.
  16. Gherand Samhita, commentary on Maharishi Gherand’s Yoga teachings by Swami niranjanand Saraswati, 3rd edition, Bihar yoga Bharati 2011
  17. https://www.wisdomlib.org/definition/samadhi
  18. Padarth vigyana, Dr. Heeralal R. shivhare, chaukhamba publishing house, 2017, ch. 1 page no. 10.
  19. Kozasa EH;Santos RF;Rueda AD;Benedito-Silva AA;De Ornellas FL;Leite JR; (no date) Evaluation of siddha samadhi yoga for anxiety and depression symptoms: A preliminary study, Psychological reports. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18982958/ (Accessed: December 25, 2022).
  20. Ionson E;Limbachia J;Rej S;Puka K;Newman RI;Wetmore S;Burhan AM;Vasudev A; (no date) Effects of Sahaj Samadhi meditation on heart rate variability and depressive symptoms in patients with late-life depression, The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30482255/ (Accessed: December 26, 2022).
  21. Peckham, S.B. et al. (2019) Sahaj Samadhi Meditation vs a health enhancement program in improving late-life depression severity and executive function: Study protocol for a two-site, randomized controlled trial - trials, BioMed Central. BioMed Central. Available at: https://trialsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13063-019-3682-z (Accessed: December 26, 2022).