Continuing his teaching of the Gita, Swami Paramarthananda said, Sri Krishna has been talking about vedantic meditation that closely follows Ashtanga Yoga. Now he talks about the actual process of meditation and its culmination. As discussed in last class, culmination of meditation is the mental absorption in flow of similar thoughts also called Sajathiya pratyaya pravaha. In vedantic meditation, the
flow of thought should be dealing with the very nature of atma; and atma has got different features as we saw in the previous chapters, you can change the thought from one feature of atma to another feature of atma; but you should not change from atma to any other object.
Thus, Atma’s features were discussed in chapters 2, 4 and 5 respectively. These features include: atma chaitanya svarupah; atma nityah; atma ekah and atma sarvagathah. The features were detailed in shlokas 12-25, chapter 2.
Vedantic meditation is impossible without having studied under a Guru. A non-vedantic student cannot perform Atma dhyanam. That is why Sri Krishna is introducing the topic after five chapters. Non-Vedantic students can, however, perform Upasana Dhyanam. Swamiji said we would have a guided meditation at the end of this chapter as well.
A vedantic student has learned the different features of atma from the guru and guru has pointed out how atma is the nature of consciousness. Thus, Atma is nitya, satyah, sarvagatah; asangah; ekah, akarta; nirvikarah and abhokta. All these he has heard and understood.
If the student has not understood enough about the Atma, then he or she should listen to the teacher again. The student has to re-live the teaching. You can recollect only if you have been taught. Meditation is recollecting and remembering all his teachings. I am witness of thought; I am the changeless consciousness etc. When my mind dwells on the Atma (or any specific object) continuously it is called Sajathiya Pratyaha Pravaha. In time this dwelling becomes stronger and effortless as well.
This process of dwelling of the mind in Atma has three stages as per Yoga shastra.
- First is collecting the mind and pulling thoughts together is Dharana.
- Then comes Dhyana
- Lastly comes Samadhi. Here there are two types of Samadhi. One is called Savikalpa and the other Nirvikalpa (spontaneous absorption without any will power). Nirvikalpa Samadhi is the culmination of Ashtanga Yoga. The first eight steps of Ashtanga Yoga are called anga’s. The ninth is called angi, the goal, or Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
Sri Krishna is discussing this Samadhi in shlokas 20-23. Sri Krishna provides seven definitions of Samadhi even as he discusses their phalam.
Shloka # 20:
यत्रोपरमते चित्तं निरुद्धं योगसेवया।
यत्र चैवात्मनाऽऽत्मानं पश्यन्नात्मनि तुष्यति।।6.20।।
When through the practice of Yoga the motionless mind withdraws (from objects) and rejoices in the Self, beholding the Self by one’s inner sense.
In this shloka two definitions are given.
First definition of Samadhi is that it is Chitta Uparamanam or total relaxation of mind. That is why the word samadhi is given different Sanskrit derivations; and one derivation given is sama dheehi yasmin saha; Samadhi. Sama means equanimous; tranquil, like a waveless lake. Kalidasa compares a lake to the mind of a gyani. In those days there were many Gyani’s. Thus, Manas Sarovar means a lake like a mind of a Gyani.
How to tranquilize the mind? It is Chittam Nirudham or withdrawal of mind from the world that tranquilizes the mind. It means withdrawal of all roles such as of father, mother, worker etc. This is withdrawing the mind from An-atma prapancha. Keep in mind Shankaracharya’s shloka:
na mē mr̥tyuśaṁkā na mē jātibhēdaḥ
pitā naiva mē naiva mātā na janma .
na baṁdhurna mitraṁ gururnaiva śiṣyaḥ
cidānaṁdarūpaḥ śivō:’haṁ śivō:’ham .. 5
No bandhu; no mitram; no father; no mother. Come out of all relationships during meditation. This is called niruddham chittam.
Practicing it is a way of transforming life. Practicing Ashtanga Yoga’s path of: Yama, Niyama ,Asana, Pranayama and Prathyahara will transform you. In these five steps one is following Antaranga and Bahiranga sadhanani. Here, the mind reaches a stage of deep silence.
Atmanam Pashyan: Silencing the mind is not our aim. Silencing only gives temporary tranquility. Having silenced the mind, bring vedantic teaching into the silent mind. Thus, consider bringing the following mantra to mind:
na ca śrōtrajivhē na ca ghrāṇanētrē .
na ca vyōmabhūmiḥ na tējō na vāyuḥ
cidānaṁdarūpaḥ śivō:’haṁ śivō:’ham .
Know the meaning of the mantra and meditate on it. One should see the Atma, as revealed by the Guru and shastras during sravanam of Vedanta; hence the need for Vedanta sravanam. Without it, Vedanta dhyanam is not possible.
Where does he see the Atma? He sees it in his mind by recollecting the teaching of his Guru. This is vedantic meditation. It is like a cow chewing the cud. And in shloka atmanam means the atma; atmani means the mind; and atmana, means with the help of the mind itself. So, with help of mind see the Atma, in mind itself. Here you see Atma as a Sakshi. Atma darshanam is second definition of Samadhi.
What benefit do I get? Suppose you have a clock. Do you notice its ticking during day time; Probably not. But at night, in bed, you can hear it clearly. Nothing changed with the clock. In daytime the outside disturbances overpower. In Nidhidhyasanam all other noises are removed. In Nidhidhyasanam, when I recollect the teaching, it has more impact. Thus, the teaching becomes stronger. Citing another example, on poornami day, at daytime, it is difficult to see the moon. But once it gets dark, you see the full moon. Did the moon suddenly brighten? No. In daylight, the moonlight was obscured and at night it became clear.
Similarly, during shravanam itself; knowledge does take place; every student gets the Teaching. In nidhidhyasanam he brings the same teaching into a silent mind; in a withdrawn mind, then the teaching becomes more powerful. Here Gyanam becomes Gyana nishta. It is strongly registered; and therefore the second definition can be called atma darshanam.
The benefit one obtains is that one feels joy of poornatvam.
Shloka # 21:
वेत्ति यत्र न चैवायं स्थितश्चलति तत्त्वतः।।6.21।।
When the Yogin experiences the endless bliss beyond the senses, that may be grasped only by the intellect, becomes steadfast and does not move away from the Truth.
In this shloka, two more definitions are provided.
Third definition: One owns up to the highest ananda. Ananda is different from experiential sense pleasures in every way including space and time. Every experiential pleasure is time bound. Thus, the telling that I enjoyed music on that day is in the past tense. Any experiential sense pleasure is bound by time, place and quality of experience. Ananda is not an experiential pleasure. If it is ananda only in Samadhi, then it is also an experiential pleasure, since once you come out of Samadhi you come back to normal state.
It is ananda when it is born out of knowledge. I am poornaha, I was and I will be. Even outside of meditation, I will be poornaha. It is a permanent state of knowledge that cannot be displaced by anything. It remains with us, in both happiness and unhappiness. This sense of fulfillment born out of knowledge is called Atyantikam sukham; the limitless ananda. It is a state that is beyond sense pleasures.
So, the third definition is Atyantika Sukham.
Then comes the fourth definition in the second line. Remaining in this; in this absorption; or abiding in this atma; one does not deviate into anatma; Citing example of cycling, when you are learning, somebody holds you. Later you get to bike on your own. Then you start cycling without even thinking about it anymore. This is called Nishta. One who practices this will never come out of it even in transactions. Actually after this, life becomes a drama. You realize you are not a beggar in the green room. Going to the green room is Nidhidhyasanam. Whatever be the transaction, he does not forget his core or center of gravity.
If during the transaction one does not deviate, it is called Sahaja Samadhi. When I deliberately practice it, it is samadhi; when effortlessly I am in it, it is sahaja samadhi. It is like one driving the cycle without worrying about the cycle.
Fourth definition of Samadhi is that one, who is in it, is a Tatva nishta or Sthita pragyaha.
Shloka # 22:
यं लब्ध्वा चापरं लाभं मन्यते नाधिकं ततः।
यस्मिन्स्थितो न दुःखेन गुरुणापि विचाल्यते।।6.22।।
That prize, winning which one deems no other greater; established in which, one is not overpowered even by grievous pain.
Here Sri Krishna gives two more definitions. Once, one owns up poornatvam, I don’t lack or need anything. Swamiji cited the tamil saying “Kurai onrum illai, Nirai iruku”. The saying means “I am full and I have everything.” Since I don’t miss anything, whatever I enjoy due to my punyam, they will all be luxuries. What is luxury? It is which you enjoy when you have it but don’t miss when not available.
Need is that you don’t recognize when it is there. But once you don’t have it you realize the need.
Citing example of car , one who has no car does not consider it a necessity as he is used to travel by public transportation. However, one who has grown up using a car, for him car is a necessity. This is the difference between luxury and need; luxury is that whose presence you enjoy; whose absence, you do not miss; need is that whose presence you do not recognize, whose absence you very badly feel.
For a Gyani everything in life is a luxury. When they are not there he does not miss them. Sanyasi’s in Hrishikesh live on Bhiksha. They are used to it. Then tourists come. They want to feed the Sanyasi’s with puri, halwa etc. Sanyasi’s enjoy it knowing the next day they will be back on Roti and Dal.
So Sri Krishna says yam labdhva, having owned up this purnatvam, all the other aims in life; all other accomplishments become insignificant.
Therefore, the fifth definition of Samadhi is athyantika labhah. It is the highest gain in front of which all the other gains are insignificant.
They become insignificant in face of poornatvam.
Sixth definition: Remaining in Atma Nishta one is not shocked or shaken by the worst tragedy in life. Reacting to a situation, he says “What? When he hears about it at first, then changes to “ so what”? He knows everything in life is subject to arrival and departure.
In shloka, the word guru is not a noun; rather it is an adjective, meaning, even by the heaviest sorrow.
The sixth definition of Samadhi here is atyantika dukhena nivrithhi or total freedom from sorrow.
- Vedantic meditation is recollecting and remembering all of Guru’s teachings.
- First definition of Samadhi is total relaxation of mind.
- Second definition of Samadhi is with help of mind see the Atma, in mind itself.
- Third definition of Samadhi is Atyantikam sukham or limitless ananda. It is a state that is beyond sense pleasures.
- Fourth definition of Samadhi is remaining in this absorption; or abiding in this atma; one does not deviate into anatma;
- The fifth definition of Samadhi is athyantika labhah or obtaining poornatvam. It is the highest gain in front of which all the other gains are insignificant.
- The sixth definition of Samadhi is atyantika dukhena nivrithhi or total freedom from sorrow.
- Luxury versus need: luxury is that whose presence you enjoy; whose absence, you do not miss. Need is that whose presence you do not recognize, whose absence you very badly feel.
With Best Wishes