Raja Yoga – Part 13: Dhyana and Samadhi

Attain the Ultimate by the Fire of knowledge(Photo by Kalidas)

Reach the Absolute by the Fire of Knowledge! (Photo by Kalidas)

We discussed dharana  in the last post. The next step in the Raja Yoga is Dhyana(meditation).  Many of us would have heard about mediation in various contexts like – reducing the stress, improving the cardiovascular health, controlling the blood pressure and so on. Many people think meditation as a panacea to cure all diseases! Confusing right?

So, what is the real definition of this famous technique? Let us listen to our master Maharishi Patanjali on this. He says:

Tatra pratyayaikatanata dhyanam | – Yoga Sutras 3.2

In that place, series of continuous efforts like a flow of a stream (to fix the mind), is dhyana.

We know how to fix our mind in one place by practicing dharana. Our next step is to imagine our favorite deity or the Universal Self in that place. By nature, our mind wanders like a monkey! Whenever it drifts, we need to bring back our attention to the deity at the chosen place. No judgements on thoughts to drift again and getting carried away. The continuous stream of these efforts is called dhyana.

Is it becoming very abstract? Let us understand by an analogy. Let us go to kitchen and learn from there!  Open the water tap very slowly. What happens?  We see water droplets coming out of the tap one by one. Now, if we open the tap slightly more, we get a flow of water! Where are the drops now? The drops lost their identity in the stream!  So, we can only see the flow of water, no individual droplets.  Similarly, dhyana is a flow of efforts of fixing the mind on the deity (Universal Self).  Cool! Got it now? This is the real meaning of dhyana(also known as meditation).

In meditation or dhyana, we fix of our mind on the deity (Universal Self) by a stream of efforts. This is feasible after eliminating all natural disturbances of the mind by practicing the sequential steps from yama to pratyahara as described by Mahirishi Patanjali .

What happens if we establish in dhyana? We enter into the last step of Raja Yoga, i.e. Samadhi!  This is the ultimate summit of Raja Yoga! Maharishi explains:

Tadevartha nirbhasam swaroopa shoonyamiva samadhih | – Yoga Sutras 3.3

The state of dhyana itself losing its identity and merging with the deity is called Samadhi.

This is slightly abstract! Let us try to demystify.

As we constantly fix our mind on the deity, after sometime, we will not be aware of the process of fixing the mind itself! In other words, fixing happens automatically. This is what is meant by saying dhyana loses its identity. Where does our attention go? It is only on the deity! This happens because dhyana or fixing of mind itself gets possessed by the deity.  As commentator of Yoga Sutas, Shri Vyasa Maharishi puts it:

…. pratyayatmakena swaroopena shoonyamiva  yada bhavati dhyeyaaveshat tada samadhih bhavati |

Since dhyana becomes possessed by the deity itself, very nature of dhyana, i.e. effort of fixing, ceases completely and we get into samadhi state!

Fantastic! We are blessed by the meaning.  But, some of us are complaining that the concept here is still very abstract! Can we have some real life examples to understand it clearly? OK. Fine, here we go!

When we try to learn driving, initially our focus is on steering, accelerator, brake, signal levers etc. But, what were we supposed to focus? Road, right?  But, we cannot focus on the road in the beginning. After some days of practice, entire operation of driving becomes second nature! We no longer have to look for gear stick or levers! We can pay complete attention to the road very easily without any effort.

This is what is said in the sutra. The process loses its identity and it merges with the focus. In the driving analogy above, the process of driving loses its identity and merges on the road or destination. In other words, in samadhi, the process of fixing the mind is automatic and it becomes one with the focus, i.e. deity!

What is the nature of samadhi state? Can we have more details? We will answer them in the upcoming post!

Next post: Raja Yoga- Part 14 on Nature of Samadhi. We are almost there on the top. Stay with us!

Bhayebhyah trahi no devi durge devi namostu te |

Durge Devi! Protect us from  all fears!

Om Namah Shivaya ||

– Kalidas

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