Just what is Samadhi?
We are continuing our journey through Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is and have now come to the place where Krishna explains to Arjuna what the actual perfection of yoga really is. And that perfection is the state of samadhi. Many of us have heard the word ‘samadhi’ but the true meaning of the word still escapes most of us. Please read this short message and understand from Krishna Himself the true meaning of the word ‘samadhi.’
The stage of perfection is called trance, or samadhi, when one’s mind is completely restrained from material mental activities by practice of yoga. This is characterized by one’s ability to see the self by the pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the self. In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness and enjoys himself through transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of greatest difficulty. This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries arising from material contact. (Bhagavad-gita 6.20-23)
Srila Prabhupada has given us a very wonderful explanation of these verses in his purport so I am just including that “as it is” below. Please read it carefully and if you have any questions or realizations please post them as comments on the article below.
By practice of yoga one becomes gradually detached from material concepts. This is the primary characteristic of the yoga principle. And after this, one becomes situated in trance, or samadhi, which means that the yogi realizes the Supersoul through transcendental mind and intelligence, without any of the misgivings of identifying the self with the Superself. Yoga practice is more or less based on the principles of the Patanjali system. Some unauthorized commentators try to identify the individual soul with the Supersoul, and the monists think this to be liberation, but they do not understand the real purpose of the Patanjali system of yoga. There is an acceptance of transcendental pleasure in the Patanjali system, but the monists do not accept this transcendental pleasure, out of fear of jeopardizing the theory of oneness. The duality of knowledge and knower is not accepted by the nondualist, but in this verse transcendental pleasure–realized through transcendental senses–is accepted. And this is corroborated by the Patanjali Muni, the famous exponent of the yoga system. The great sage declares in his Yoga-sutras: purusartha-sunyanam gunanam pratiprasavah kaivalyam svarupa-pratistha va citi-saktir iti.
This citi-sakti, or internal potency, is transcendental. Purusartha means material religiosity, economic development, sense gratification and, at the end, the attempt to become one with the Supreme. This “oneness with the Supreme” is called kaivalyam by the monist. But according to Patanjali, this kaivalyam is an internal, or transcendental, potency by which the living entity becomes aware of his constitutional position. In the words of Lord Caitanya, this state of affairs is called ceto-darpana-marjanam, or clearance of the impure mirror of the mind. This “clearance” is actually liberation, or bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam. The theory of nirvana–also preliminary–corresponds with this principle. In the Bhagavatam this is called svarupena vyavasthitih. The Bhagavad-gita also confirms this situation in this verse.
After nirvana, or material cessation, there is the manifestation of spiritual activities, or devotional service of the Lord, known as Krsna consciousness. In the words of the Bhagavatam, svarupena vyavasthitih: this is the “real life of the living entity.” Maya, or illusion, is the condition of spiritual life contaminated by material infection. Liberation from this material infection does not mean destruction of the original eternal position of the living entity. Patanjali also accepts this by his words kaivalyam svarupa-pratistha va citi-saktir iti. This citi-sakti, or transcendental pleasure, is real life. This is confirmed in the Vedanta-sutras as ananda-mayo ‘bhyasat. This natural transcendental pleasure is the ultimate goal of yoga and is easily achieved by execution of devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. Bhakti-yoga will be vividly described in the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita.
In the yoga system, as described in this chapter, there are two kinds of samadhi, called samprajnata-samadhi and asamprajnata-samadhi. When one becomes situated in the transcendental position by various philosophical researches, it is called samprajnata-samadhi. In the asamprajnata-samadhi there is no longer any connection with mundane pleasure, for one is then transcendental to all sorts of happiness derived from the senses. When the yogi is once situated in that transcendental position, he is never shaken from it. Unless the yogi is able to reach this position, he is unsuccessful. Today’s so-called yoga practice, which involves various sense pleasures, is contradictory. A yogi indulging in sex and intoxication is a mockery. Even those yogis who are attracted by the siddhis (perfections) in the process of yoga are not perfectly situated. If the yogis are attracted by the by-products of yoga, then they cannot attain the stage of perfection, as is stated in this verse. Persons, therefore, indulging in the make-show practice of gymnastic feats or siddhis should know that the aim of yoga is lost in that way.
The best practice of yoga in this age is Krsna consciousness, which is not baffling. A Krsna conscious person is so happy in his occupation that he does not aspire after any other happiness. There are many impediments, especially in this age of hypocrisy, to practicing hatha-yoga, dhyana-yoga and jnana-yoga, but there is no such problem in executing karma-yoga or bhakti-yoga.
As long as the material body exists, one has to meet the demands of the body, namely eating, sleeping, defending and mating. But a person who is in pure bhakti-yoga or in Krsna consciousness does not arouse the senses while meeting the demands of the body. Rather, he accepts the bare necessities of life, making the best use of a bad bargain, and enjoys transcendental happiness in Krsna consciousness. He is callous toward incidental occurrences–such as accidents, disease, scarcity and even the death of a most dear relative–but he is always alert to execute his duties in Krsna consciousness or bhakti-yoga. Accidents never deviate him from his duty. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita, agamapayino ‘nityas tams titiksasva bharata. He endures all such incidental occurrences because he knows that they come and go and do not affect his duties. In this way he achieves the highest perfection in yoga practice.