28 April 2014

What Is Samadhi? — According To Swami Vivekananda

Samadhi (Sanskrit: समाधि) is an intense concentrated state of mind achieved through meditation. In Hindu Raja Yoga this is regarded as the final stage.1 Samadhi is a very important part or idea of Hinduism, Vedanta, Buddhism and Jainism.

In this website we are preparing to create a series of articles on Swami Vivekananda's quotes and comments on Samadhi. This is the first article of the series and here the topic is— definition of Samadhi, according to Swami Vivekananda.

Samadhi is. . .

Swami Vivekananda defined "Samadhi" as—
  • All are parts of the same ocean of Prana, they differ only in their rate of vibration. If I can bring myself to the quick vibration, this plane will immediately change for me: I shall not see you any more; you vanish and they appear. Some of you, perhaps, know this to be true. All this bringing of the mind into a higher state of vibration is included in one word in Yoga — Samadhi. All these states of higher vibration, superconscious vibrations of the mind, are grouped in that one word, Samadhi, and the lower states of Samadhi give us visions of these beings. The highest grade of Samadhi is when we see the real thing, when we see the material out of which the whole of these grades of beings are composed, and that one lump of clay being known, we know all the clay in the universe.[Source]
  • Concentration is Samādhi, and that is Yoga proper; that is the principal theme of this science, and it is the highest means. The preceding ones are only secondary, and we cannot attain to the highest through them. Samadhi is the means through which we can gain anything and everything, mental, moral, or spiritual.[Source]
  • In order to reach the superconscious state in a scientific manner it is necessary to pass through the various steps of Raja-Yoga I have been teaching. After Pratyâhâra and Dhâranâ, we come to Dhyâna, meditation. When the mind has been trained to remain fixed on a certain internal or external location, there comes to it the power of flowing in an unbroken current, as it were, towards that point. This state is called Dhyana. When one has so intensified the power of Dhyana as to be able to reject the external part of perception and remain meditating only on the internal part, the meaning, that state is called Samadhi.[Source]
  • . . . It is the highest and last stage of Yoga. Samadhi is perfect absorption of thought into the Supreme Spirit, when one realises, "I and my Father are one."[Source]
  • Samadhi is the means through which we can gain anything and everything, mental, moral, or spiritual.(comment on Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms)[Source]
  • सर्वार्थतैकाग्रतयोः क्षयोदयौ चित्तस्य समाधि-परिणामः ॥११॥ 11. Taking in all sorts of objects, and concentrating upon one object, these two powers being destroyed and manifested respectively, the Chitta gets the modification called Samadhi. (comment on Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms)[Source]
  • When the mind goes beyond this line of self-consciousness, it is called Samadhi or superconsciousness.[Source]

A Hymn of Samadhi

In the poem The Hymn of Samadhi (original Bengali title: নাহি সূর্য নাহি জ্যোতি) Swamiji narrated the experiences of Samadhi—

Lo! The sun is not, nor the comely moon,
All light extinct; in the great void of space
Floats shadow-like the image-universe.

In the void of mind involute, there floats
The fleeting universe, rises and floats,
Sinks again, ceaseless, in the current "I".

Slowly, slowly, the shadow-multitude
Entered the primal womb, and flowed ceaseless,
The only current, the "I am", "I am".

Lo! 'Tis stopped, ev'n that current flows no more,
Void merged into void — beyond speech and mind!
Whose heart understands, he verily does.

নাহি সূর্য, নাহি জ্যোতিঃ, নাহি শশাঙ্ক সুন্দর,
ভাসে ব্যোমে ছায়াসম ছবি বিশ্ব চরাচর ।।
অস্ফুট মন-আকাশে, জগতসংসার ভাসে,
ওঠে ভাসে ডোবে পুনঃ অহং-স্রোতে নিরন্তর ।।
ধীরে ধীরে ছায়াদল, মহালয়ে প্রবেশিল,
বহে মাত্র 'আমি' 'আমি'-এই ধারা অনুক্ষণ ।।
সে ধারাও বদ্ধ হ'ল, শূন্যে শূন্য মিলাইল,
'অবাঙ‍্মনসোগোচরম্', বোঝে—প্রাণ বোঝে যার ।।

Editor's note: This is undoubtedly an excellent narration of Samadhi (Swamiji himself experienced Samadhi more than once, if time permits we'll write an article on Swamiji's Samdhi experiences). Here please concentrate on "শূন্যে শূন্য মিলাইল/Void merged into void" — it seems impossible to think something like "void merged into view". First, it is very difficult to think about absolute void. We may think about a large empty room or sky, but that is not absolute void, and then this first void gets merged into a second void — this might be the experience of Samadhi.

Suggested reading


  1. Samadhi is the final stage of Raja Yoga (Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi). There are different types of Samadhi, such as Savikalpa Samadhi, Nirvikalpa Samadhi, but we'll discuss these in separate articles.

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