The Highest Samadhi

Yoga Sutras, Chapter 3 on Raja Yoga (Royal Union) continued.


III:1  Concentration (dharana) is the binding of the mind-stuff (chitta) to one place.

III:2  When definitely established with certainty in that one place, concentration (dharana) becomes meditation (dhyana).

III:3  By this (meditation) samadhi is attained, and objects shine forth of their own light, in their own form, void of physical substance.

III:4  These three (concentration, meditation and samadhi) bind together as one.

III:5  Victorious in winning that (samyama and sabija samadhi), one sees with the wisdom of divine sight.

III:6  This progresses by degrees.

III:7  These three (concentration, meditation and samadhi) are inner limbs, and surpass the previous (five) limbs.

The Highest Samadhi
III:8  Moreover, they (concentration, meditation and samadhi) are external and subordinate limbs as compared to nirbija.

Sabija samadhi is external and subordinate as compared to nirbijaNirbija samadhi is the higher state of samadhi in which the mind dissolves and becomes non-mind, samadhi without the seed of desire, samadhi without subject-object distinction.

Patanjali is reminding us that, even after the attainment of the eighth and last stage of eight-limbs yogasamadhi, there is something so much greater that he is not even using the word samadhi in the sutra. Why? Perhaps this is because, although we do refer to nirbija as “nirbija samadhi,” nirbija surpasses samadhi as we have know it up to this point.

The word nirbija means ‘without-seed’. But what does without-seed mean? First we must ask, what is a seed? You might think of it this way: the seed of a plant is the plant in its potential state. Using the concept of potentiality as our seed, we would then ask, potential for what? What was present in sabija samadhi that is not present in nirbija? The answer is, the mind. Nirbija is the highest state of samadhi in which the mind, the seat of desire, dissolves.

In nirbija samadhi there is complete fulfillment—there is nothing left to desire—and one discovers the true nature of the Absolute: perfect bliss. There is nothing other than ‘perfect bliss’ that is at all useful in attempting to describe this indescribable state. One may have had blissful states in meditation and samadhi before, but they were nothing compared to the perfect bliss of nirbija. The word ‘joy’ carries a touch of excitement which is not present in nirbija, and the word ‘peace‘ is inadequate.

Another characteristic of nirbija is that the knower and the object known have merged and dissolved into the Blissful Absolute: there is no distinction between the object of meditation and the subject—”subject-object distinction” is gone. How could there be any distinguishing going on when the mind is out of the picture?

The knower would have been you, the meditator, the subject—but in nirbija there is no sense of self.

The known would have been the object—but there is no-thing to know or perceive in nirbija.


Sabija samadhi. Concentration, meditation and samadhi are simply three degrees of the same thing: samadhi—sabija samadhi, savikalpa samadhi, samprajnata samadhi.

Nirbija samadhi is the higher state of samadhi in which the mind dissolves and becomes non-mind, samadhi without the seed of desire, samadhi without subject-object distinction.

Kripalu says . . .

Dhyana (the meditative state) means concentration of mind. The mature form of this state is known as sabija (with ‘seed’ or mind), savikalpa (with subject-object distinction) or samprajnata (with thought or reasoning) samadhi. In this primary state of samadhi, various thoughts do exist, but they all flow in a single direction. Since there is existence of mind in this state, it is called active samadhi (chetana samadhi).

Nirbija samadhi, the highest embodiment of yoga, is the end-product of meditation. In that state there is no existence of mind. When the stage of concentration is crossed over, the mind dissolves into nature (prakriti), giving rise to nirbija (without ‘seed’ or mind), nirvikalpa (without subject-object distinction) or asamprajnata (without thought or reasoning) samadhi. Since the mind becomes non-mind, or inactive, in this state, it is also called inactive samadhi (achetana samadhi).
Now you may be wondering if there can possibly be any more to this samadhi business. Well, there is, and it’s coming up next week. See you then.
Durga Ma

__________ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ __________


2 thoughts on “The Highest Samadhi

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