Samadhi is the commonly used Sanskrit word that means a high state of meditation when outward consciousness is lost. It is considered to be the last stage of meditation or spiritual life. Therefore, it is necessary to know the detailed meaning of this word. This is a Sanskrit word. Sanskrit is a classical language like Greek, Latin, and Persian. And in Sanskrit, as in most classical languages, most words are derived from a stem or root.


The word ‘samadhi’ has been derived from the root word dha, which means to put, place, set, lay, bestow, impart, or present. The word ‘samadhi’ means placing together, joining, combining, union, completion, concentration, attention, or agreement. In spiritual life, ‘samadhi’ is a state of meditation when the meditator and the meditated merge. There is no thought process at this stage. This is considered the highest state of meditation and the best state of a calm mind. This is also the highest state of concentration, where the object concentrated upon and the person who is concentrating become one. In this state of meditation, the difference between one’s self and the object being meditated upon is completely removed.


The Upanishads require one to refrain from needless activity, restraint of speech, body, and mind in renunciation and forbearance and patient bearing of all hardships of spiritual life, before one can attain samadhi. One can attain one’s true nature, the Atman, only through samadhi. However, samadhi can be brought about by following of any one of the four yogas propounded by Swami Vivekananda: raja, karma, bhakti, and jnana. One can attain samadhi by following the different stages of the practice of raja yoga or psychic control. One can attain samadhi also by performing selfless action as envisaged by Swamiji in karma yoga. So is the case with bhakti and jnana yoga.


In samadhi the mind loses cognition of all other objects, including the cognition that one is meditating. In this state, the mind is so engrossed with the object of meditation that nothing else is cognised. Samadhi also means going beyond the three states of awareness of waking, dreaming, and sleeping. In the state of samadhi, the ego is completely destroyed. Then, the mind ceases to exist and is merged into a state that is beyond the mind and the ego, where the self loses its consciousness. Samadhi converts one from a normal person to one who is enlightened and has broken free of the fetters of the bondage of transmigration.


Samadhi involves transcending the cycle of cause and effect and also the narrow realm of reason or logic. Nothing is logical with samadhi. The body almost entirely stops its metabolic activities, yet the person does not die. There is no thought in that state, and yet the person returns as a person with complete and uninterrupted clarity of thought and a very clear worldview. Samadhi can thus be termed as a state that is beyond logic, beyond awareness, and beyond thoughts.


Author is Editor of Prabuddha Bharata


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This article was first published in the December 2017 issue of the Prabuddha Bharata, monthly journal of The Ramakrishna Order started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896. This article is courtesy and copyright Prabuddha Bharata www.advaitaashrama.org I have been reading the Prabuddha Bharata for years and found it enlightening. Cost is Rs 180/ for one year, Rs 475/ for three years, Rs 2100/ for twenty years. To subscribe http://advaitaashrama.org/pbSubscription

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