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Dharana

Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi

The progress in meditation is marked by three stages. These three stages are progressions of the same process. These stages are Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. These stages are closely related to each other. Dharana means concentration. Dhyana means meditation and Samadhi means super conscious state of mind. You begin with Dharana and it evolves into Dhyana. You continue Dhyana further and it evolves into Samadhi. The Samadhi is the final destination of a Yogi wherein he attains the self-realization.

Dharana

The word Dharana refers to binding your mind onto some object. This object can be external or internal. Often Dharana is translated as concentration. Though in general sense we can call it as concentration there is a difference. Concentration is a process by which your mind becomes one pointed. It remains focused on the object of concentration. Concentration need not be a pleasurable experience. Let me give you an example. Suppose that you have gone for rock climbing. You are enjoying the thrill in the new experience. Suddenly you slip down while climbing up. A cold wave of fear rushes through your body and spontaneously you cling to a steep edge of a rock. Your fingers are paining. To survive you must hold the steep edge with full focus and concentration. Even a slight mistake can cost you your life. Till some help arrives you stick to your position with utmost concentration. Now, this is no doubt an example of great concentration. But is this concentration giving you any joy or pleasure? Certainly not. So to summarize concentration need not be always joyous. On the other hand Yogic Dharana will give you joy and happiness. You will never feel tensed or stressed (as in the above example) after the act of Dharana.

Dharana is a process in which you focus your awareness on some external and internal object. You continuously try to glue your mind to the object of Dharana. Mind moves with a speed of light. You need to bring it to the object of concentration time and again. Thus Dharana is a stage wherein you are sincerely "trying" to unite with the object of concentration. You might be wondering as to how this process of focusing brings joy and happiness. You need to understand here that happiness and sorrow are nothing but states of mind. When you are unhappy your mind is filled with bitter feelings. How would you remove this unhappiness? By cleansing the debris of bitter feelings. How to remove this debris? By replacing them with something else. That's what exactly happens in Dharana. When we come in contact with an object, our sense organs sense it and convey its impressions to the mind. Mind then takes those signals to the brain and we perceive the object. In other words our mind "creates" a subtle replica of the object and sends it to the brain. Thus mind is occupied with the impressions of the newly sensed object. In Dharana the same thing happens. Your mind keeps generating impressions of the object being focused again and again. In the process mind flushes other impressions. Thus your mind is cleansed and bitter (and also happy) feelings are washed temporarily. That is why when you come out of Dharana you feel very fresh. Your mind is recharged to face the world again. During initial stages this time span of joy might be very small and you may find that worries start accumulating again. But after a continuous and sincere practice this time window can be expanded to a great length.

Dhyana

When you sit for dharana you are essentially concentrating on some internal or external object. During dharana your overall awareness is divided into three types:

  • You are aware about the object of concentration
  • You are aware about your own body, breathing etc.
  • You are aware about the process of concentration

Each of this awareness may or may not be continuous. For example while performing dharana you can easily get distracted by surrounding sounds. You then again bring your mind back onto the object of concentration. That means dharana is not absolutely continuous. You concentrate on the object on and off. You need to spend some efforts to glue the mind again and again on the object.

A stage is reached when your dharana becomes so mature that the three types of awareness merge together. That means you no longer possess bodily awareness. Naturally the sense organs cannot get distracted by any means. This process is dhyana. Thus dhyana is like a continuous flow of oil.

Since dhyana is a progression of dharana the same techniques of dharana can lead you to dhyana. However, you may find internal and subtle techniques more suitable. Dhyana is often classified as Saguna Dhyana and Nirguna Dhyana. The former refers to dhyana on an object with name, form and qualities whereas the later refers to dhyana on formless, nameless and qualityless aspect of the supreme reality. It is very difficult to attain the stage of Nirguna Dhyana unless you practice Saguna Dhyana for a long time.

Samadhi

In the state of Dhyana though there is merging of the three fields of consciousness each type of consciousness still has independent existence. For example, when you put a spoonful of sugar in a glass of water, both of them unite but for some amount of time the sugar still has an independent existence. Only when you stir the water with a spoon the sugar completely dissolves in it and can no longer hold an independent existence. The same thing can be said about Dhyana also. When your Dhyana becomes so deep that your consciousness (i.e. the last two fields of awareness) vanishes completely and what remains is the consciousness of the object alone. This state is called as Samadhi. Remember that in Samadhi there is no role for the "physical" object what remains is the "Bhava" or meaning of the object expressed by its consciousness.

Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are, thus, progressive stages of the same process. You may choose different techniques for Dharana and Dhyana as explained in the previous lessons or you may choose just one object for all these three stages. If you practice Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi on the same object this trio is referred as Samyama. Samyama is said to give the practitioner various Siddhis or supernatural powers. However, a real Yogi ignores such Siddhis and continues his practice further.

Samadhi itself is a progressive step. It further undergoes a series of progressions before a Yogi reach its final destination. These stages or type of Samadhi are explained below:

  • Samprajnata Samadhi
    • Savitarka Samadhi
    • Nirvitarka Samadhi
    • Savichara Samadhi
    • Nirvichara Samadhi
  • Asamprajnata Samadhi

Samprajnata Samadhi

The word Samprajnata is combination of Sam + Prajnata. Sam means "with" and Prajnata means "knowledge with awareness". Thus Samprajnata Samadhi is a state where there exists knowledge with awareness. This awareness is in the form of reasoning, reflection, bliss and individuality.

Asamprajnata Samadhi

Asamprajnata Samadhi is the next stage in which there is no mental activity such as reasoning etc. However, some traces of Samskara or impressions still exist.

Savitarka Samadhi

Savitarka Samadhi means "Samadhi with reasoning". In this stage word, its meaning and knowledge of that meaning exists.

Nirvitarka Samadhi

Nirvitarka Samadhi is the next stage where mind becomes pure and expresses the object of meditation alone. Thus there is no process of reasoning in Nirvitarka Samadhi.

Savichara Samadhi

Savichara Samadhi means "Samadhi with mental reflection" (Sa + Vichara). Vichara is more accurate and subtle than Vitarka. In this stage the object expresses itself as a reflection.

Nirvichara Samadhi

Nirvichara Samadhi means "Samadhi without any reflection".

All the above type of Samadhi are called as "Sabija" or "with seed" because they involve a seed in the form ones ego or individuality. The final stage is called Nirbija Samadhi which does not involve even a seed. It is total absorption of mind.

In is important to remember that knowing this classification is fine but what is more important is to experience the state of Samadhi. Don't bother too much about various types of Samadhi and their meaning. Keep practicing with full efforts and you yourself will experience them.

 


Bipin Joshi is a software consultant, an author and a yoga mentor with more than 22 years of experience in classical yoga system of India. He is an internationally published author and has authored or co-authored more than ten technology books for Apress and WROX press. He has been awarded as a Most Valuable Professional by Microsoft. He has also written a few Marathi books including Devachya Davya Hati and Natha Sankentincha Danshu. Having embraced yoga way of life he also teaches Kriya and Meditation to selected individuals.

बिपीन जोशी लिखित देवाच्या डाव्या हाती आणि नाथ संकेतींचा दंशु या पुस्तकांची आपली प्रत आजच विकत घ्या. त्यांच्या अजपा योग मार्गदर्शनाविषयी अधिक माहिती येथे उपलब्ध आहे.


Posted On : 23 Jan 2007


Tags : Patanjali Kundalini Chakras Kriya Yoga Ashtanga Yoga Meditation Natha Courses