[Advaita-l] Re: Qn. on yoga and advaita

Sundar Rajan avsundarrajan at yahoo.com
Fri Mar 25 13:37:12 CST 2005

Namaste Amuthan Arunkumar-ji and others

to sum it up, is nirvikalpa samAdhi a
necessary condition for the attainment of moksha?
The short answer to your question even by the greatest proponents of Yoga in the Advaitic tradition is NO. Nirvikalpa Samadhi is NOT a necessary condition for liberation. 
I will refer you to the following answer by Sringeri Sankaracharya, Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Swamigal, who in the words of Sri Vidyasankar Sundaresan of this list has 'widespread reputation of mastery over Yoga':

D: Can one attain Jnana without experiencing nirvikalpa-samadhi?

A: Jnana is nothing but the knowledge of one's True nature. 

Technically, it can be obtained even through just vichara (enquiry). 

Nirvikalpa-samadhi is a wonderful means but it is improper to say 

that it is the only means.


D: Will a single experience of nirvikalpa-samadhi be sufficient to 

attain brahma-jnana?


A: Normally, it is not sufficient. During nirvikalpa-samadhi the 

Atman is experienced. After emergence from that state, the 

experience gradually begins to fade.



Acharyal clearly explains Nirvikalpa samAdhi is NOT (repeat NOT) 


Having said that, 

does NS have a important place in the Advaitic tradition?. 

The answer is a categorical YES.

Bhagavatpadal (Sankara) explains in his Brahma Sutra Bhasya"In the Upanishads Samadhi is taught as the means for realization of the oupanishad Atma (the atman that is known through the Upanishads alone)"The importance of Samadhi is shown by Sankara in the phrase atmapratipattiprayojana ("whose purpose is the realization of the Self") 

In the Gita bhasya, also Sankara says 
y°gasya phalan brahmaikatva dar¿anaÆ sarvasaÆs¡ra vicch®dak¡ra¸am 

the fruit of Yoga is the identity with Brahman which is the 

cause of uprooting of Samsara in its entirety.



please provide references where this subject is dealtwith in detail.>>


The quotes were from the book:"Exalting Elucidations" of H.H. Sri Abhinava VidyaTheertha Mahaswamigal, 35th Pontiff (Sankaracharya) of Sringeri Sarada Peetam.


For a detailed discussion on various Samadhis and their role in Advaita you may refer to 

Sri Madhusudana Saraswati's Gita commentary (Gudharta Dipika) published by Advaita Ashrama.

In the words of Swami Gambhirananda , Gudharta Dipika is second only to Sankara Bhasya in its importance to Advaitic seekers.

As to your other questions:

>> the main contention is thatnirvikalpa samAdhi alone does not lead to moksha...andin some places it is treated on par with deep sleep;in that there is no citta vr.tti during nirvakalpasamAdhi and in deep sleep. >>

Unfortunately there is a lot of confusion regarding the term Samadhi itself. 

Patanjali himself lists 3 different types of Asamprajnata Samadhi in the Yoga Sutras which is what the vedantins term Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Of these only one Samadhi is referred to by Advaitins as being conducive to liberation. And this is integrated into the practice of Nidhidhyasana. There is a Samadhi called laya Samadhi "packed with latency" as in the case of deep sleep but Sri Madhusudana Saraswati explains this is NOT the principla Samadhi. The principal Samadhi Nirbhija Samadhi also called Nirvikalpa Samadhi is the one that the Advaitins adopted from the Patanjali tradition.

Please refer Sri Madhusaudana Saraswati's Gudharta Dipika on this.

Remember Patanjali Yoga Sutras is like a catalog or compilation of various 

Yoga practices or steps , not all of them are useful by Advaitins. 

Nevertheless certain dharana, dhyana and Samadhi of Yoga Sutras

have been integrated into the Advaitic tradition as Nidhidhyasana.

To quote Sri Vidyasankar Sundaresan from a old post in this list


Clearly, it would be foolhardy to think that there is a great unbridgeable

gap between yoga and advaita vedAnta. Maybe in terms of the doctrine

presented in the yogasUtra bhAshya, there is room for difference of

opinion, but in terms of the practice of yoga, there is ample room for

agreement. That is why Sankara explicitly says (in brahmasUtra bhAshya 2.

1. 3) that there are many doctrines in sAMkhya and yoga that are identical

with those of vedAnta, but there are other doctrines that are different.

Also please refer to my post in the other Advaitin list

"Sruti basis for Patanjali Yoga Sutra - Yogah Chitti Vritti Nirodah.."


Where I have shown the link between the Samadhi of the Upanishads and Patanjali Yoga Sutras


>>recently, i have been coming across many sources (bothin this list and outside) that yoga was later modifiedto fit into advaita. 


Here again there is no clear verdict. 

There is a old post in this list that seems to indicate that Yoga has 

always been an integral part of Advaita in some form or other:


The relationship of yoga to advaita has been noted by Buddhist writers

also. For the observations of Bhavya on advaita, a pre-Shankara Buddhist,

refer to: "The vedAnta philosophy described by bhavya in his

madhyamakahR^idaya", V.V.Gokhale, Indo-Iranian Journal-2, 1958, pp.

165-180. So yoga was not something taken up by post-Shankara vedAntins as some

would very much like to imagine.

 My *understanding* on NS is this: =====Quote======================================================== Nirvikalpa Samadhi is prescribed not as an independent pramana but  as an important means to know the import of the Mahavakyas and  thereby the dawn of Realization=====End Quote===== I believe a lot of questions can be clarified if we approach NS from the perspective above. regards

Sundar Rajan





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