According to Raja Yoga, Samadhi is of two kinds, viz., Samprajnata and Asamprajnata. In the former, the seeds of Samskaras are not destroyed. In the latter, the Samskaras are fried or annihilated in toto. That is the reason why the former is called Sabija Samadhi (with seeds) and the latter as Nirbija Samadhi (without seeds or Samskaras). Samprajnata Samadhi leads to Asamprajnata Samadhi.
The Samprajnata Samadhi is also known by the name Savikalpa Samadhi or Sabija Samadhi. This Samadhi brings perfect knowledge of the object of meditation. The mind continuously and to the exclusion of all other objects assumes the nature and becomes one with the object of its contemplation. The Yogi attains all the powers of controlling the nature in this Samadhi.
The Samprajnata Samadhi is of four kinds, viz., Savitarka, Savichara, Sananda and Asmita Samadhi. All these Samadhis have something to grasp. There is Alambana or argumentation or questioning. They give intensive joy but they are not the best and finest forms of Samadhi. They cover the gross or the subtle elements of nature and the organs of sense. They give you the direct knowledge of the elements, objects and instruments of knowledge and some freedom.
These stages are in the form of steps of an ascending staircase. To begin with, meditation should be done on a gross form. When you advance in this meditation, you can take to abstract meditation, or meditation on subtle things or ideas. Mind should be gradually disciplined and trained in meditation. It cannot all at once enter into the highest Asamprajnata Samadhi or that which constitutes the highest subtle essence. That is the reason why Patanjali Maharshi has prescribed the practice of various kinds of lower Samadhis. When the mind is extremely attached to gross objects, it is not possible to fix it on subtle objects all at once. There must be gradual ascent in the ladder of Yoga. You should place your footstep cautiously in each rung of the ladder. You should pass through successive stages before you attain the highest Asamprajnata or Nirvikalpa Samadhi. But Yoga-Bhrashtas who have passed through the lower stages in their previous birth can attain to the highest stage at the very outset through the grace of the Lord. If the Yogic student had reached the higher stage, he need not revert to the lower stages.
All the forms of Samprajnata Samadhi are Salambana Yoga (with support) and Sabija Yoga (with seed of Samskara). The Yogins enjoy a form of freedom. Dharma Megha in Raja Yoga means “the cloud of virtue”. Just as clouds shower rain, so also this Dharma Megha Samadhi showers on the Yogins omniscience and all sorts of Siddhis or powers. The Yogi enjoys a form of freedom. Therefore, this Samadhi is called the Showerer or cloud (Megha) of virtue (Dharma). The Yogi enjoys expanded vision of God.
Ritambhara, Prajnaloka, Prasannavahita are the three stages or Bhumikas of Samprajnata Samadhi. In Ritambhara the content of the mental Vritti is Satchidananda. There is still a separate knower. You get Yathartha Jnana or real wisdom. In the second, every kind of Avarana (veiling) is removed. The third state is the state of peace in which the mind is destitute of all mental modifications. The knowledge that you get from testimony and inference is above objects of the world; but the knowledge that you obtain from Samadhi is Divine Knowledge. It is super-sensual, intuitive knowledge where reason, inference and testimony cannot go.
Savitarka Samadhi is Samadhi with reasoning. It is a superficial attempt of the mind to grasp any object. In this Samadhi, Sabda (sound), Artha (meaning), Jnana (knowledge) are mixed up.
The. aspirant can meditate on the body of Virat or Lord Vishnu with four hands or Lord Krishna with flute in hand or any ordinary object. He will obtain the direct perception of all the peculiar features, the excellences (Gunas) and defects (Doshas) of the object of meditation. He will have complete knowledge of the object. He will be endowed with all the features of the object unheard of and unthought of. He will obtain these through Savitarka Samadhi. The Yogic student meditates on the object again and again by isolating it from other objects.
You can meditate on the gross elements also. You will gain power over them through intense meditation. The elements will reveal to you their truths.
Just as the new archer first aims at big object only and then at smaller ones gradually, so also the beginner in Yoga concentrates on the gross objects such as the five Maha Bhutas, Lord Hari with four hands, and then on subtle ones. In this manner the grasp of the objects by the mind becomes subtle. A Yogi directly perceives the real body of the Lord Vishnu as He lives in Vaikuntha, by the force of his meditation although he remains at a great distance from the Lord.
In Savitarka Samadhi concentration is practised on gross objects and their nature in relation to time and space. This is a gross form of Samadhi. When the Yogi meditates on the elements as they are by taking them out of time and space, then it is called Nirvitarka Samadhi without questioning or reasoning or argumentation. This is a subtle form of Samadhi.
In Savitarka there is Vikalpa or fanciful notion of word (Sabda), object (Artha) and idea (Jneya). There is no such notion in Nirvitarka Samadhi. There are three factors in the comprehension of a word, e.g., cow–(1) cow, the word, (2) cow, the object, (3) cow, the idea in the mind. When the meditator imagines these three to be one and the same, it is an instance of Vikalpa or fanciful notion of the word, object and idea.
If you meditate on the subtle Tanmatras (subtle elements of matter) and their nature in relation to time and space, it is Savichara Samadhi with deliberation or discrimination. This is Sukshma or subtle. This is subtler than Savitarka and Nirvitarka Samadhis. Tanmatras are the root-elements or Sukshma Bhutas. The five gross elements are derived from the Tanmatras through the process of quintuplication or mixing. Meditation goes a step higher in this Samadhi than in the previous one. The Yogi will get knowledge of the Tanmatras. He will obtain control over the Tanmatras. He will get the direct perception of the various subtle forms of the object culminating in primordial matter or Mula Prakriti.
The word ‘subtle’ indicates cause in general. It stands for all such causal principles as the Tanmatras or the primary elements egoism or Ahankara, Mahat Tattva or intellect and Prakriti.
There is mysterious power, Achintya Sakti, in meditation. Although ordinary meditation is possible only in ways already heard and thought of, yet even such things as have not been heard or thought of may be directly cognised by the force of meditation.
There is no difference between the cause and products. All gross objects are the products of the twenty-six principles. They are really of the same nature as that of twenty-six principles.
If you meditate on the subtle Tanmatras by taking them out of time and space by thinking as they are, it will constitute Nirvichara Samadhi without deliberation or discrimination. As there is pure Sattva only in the mind owing to the eradication of Rajas and Tamas the Yogi enjoys internal peace or contentment (Adhyatmic Prasada) and subjective luminosity. The mind is very steady.
Now we proceed to describe the joyful Samadhi. This is joyous Samadhi and it gives intense joy. In this Samadhi the gross and the five element’s are given up. The Yogi meditates on the Sattvic mind itself. He thinks of the mind which is devoid of Rajas and Tamas. There arises in the Yogi a peculiar perception in the form of intense joy through this type of Samadhi.
In this Samadhi the mind is the object of meditation. It bestows the knowledge of the subject of all experiences. The Self knows the Self. The Sattvic state of the ego only remains. The Yogi can think himself now as without his gross body. He feels that he has a fine body. This Samadhi takes the Yogi to the root of experiences and shows the way to freedom.
The Yogi feels “I am (Asmi) other than the body”. He experiences that the gross, subtle and joyous Samadhis are not the highest Samadhis. He finds defects in them also and gets disgusted with them. He proceeds further and practises Asmita Samadhi. He experiences Self-consciousness (Asmita). He experiences a feeling of ‘enough’ and develops dispassion in its highest form (Para Vairagya). This finally leads to the development of Asamprajnata Samadhi.
This is the highest form of Samadhi. This comes after Viveka-khyati or the final discrimination between Prakriti and Purusha. All the seeds or impressions are burnt by the fire of knowledge. This Samadhi brings Kaivalya or Absolute Independence. This is the culmination or climax of Yoga, or final Prasankhyana which bestows the supreme, undying peace or knowledge. The Yogi enjoys the transcendental glories of the Self and has perfect freedom from the mental life. The sense of time is replaced by a sense of Eternity.
In this Samadhi, there is neither Triputi nor Alambana. The Samskaras are fried in toto. This Samadhi alone can destroy birth end death and bring in highest knowledge and bliss.
When you get full success or perfection (Siddhi) in Raja yoga by entering into Asamprajnata Samadhi (Nirvikalpa State), all the Samskaras and Vasanas which bring on rebirths are totally fried up. All Vrittis or mental modifications that arise form the mind-lake come under restraint. The five afflictions, viz., Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (egoism), Raga-dvesha (love and hatred) and Abhinivesha (clinging to life) are destroyed and the bonds of Karma are annihilated. This Samadhi brings on highest good (Nihsreyasa) and exaltation (Abhyudaya). It gives Moksha (deliverance form the wheel of births and deaths). With the advent of the knowledge of the Self, ignorance vanishes. With the disappearance of the root-cause, viz., ignorance, egoism, etc., also disappear.
In the Asamprajnata Samadhi, all the modifications of the mind are completely restrained. All the residual Samskaras are totally fried up. This is the highest Samadhi of Raja yoga. This is also known as Nirbija Samadhi (without seeds) and Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
In this Samadhi, the Yogi sees without eyes, tastes without tongue, hears without ears, smells without nose and touches without skin. His Sankalpas can work miracles. He simply wills and everything comes into Being. This state is described in Taittariya Aranyaka–I-ii-5: “The blind man pierced the pearl, the fingerless put a thread into it; the neckless wore it and the touchless praised it.”
Eventually, the Purusha realises His own native state of Divine glory, Isolation or absolute Independence (Kaivalya). He has completely disconnected himself from the Prakriti and its effects. He feels his absolute freedom and attains Kaivalya, the highest goal of Raja Yoga. All Klesha Karmas are destroyed now. The Gunas having fulfilled their objects of Bhoga and Apavarga now entirely cease to act. He has simultaneous knowledge now. The past and the future are blended into the present. Everything is “Now”. Everything is “Here”. He has transcended time and space. The sum-total of all knowledge of the three worlds, of all secular sciences is nothing but mere husk when compared to the Infinite knowledge of a Yogi who has attained Kaivalya. Glory, glory to such exalted Yogins!