[Advaita-l] Re: Pa~nchapAdikAchArya

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sun Oct 29 07:12:14 CST 2006

>   Could you please share your thoughts on  the terms "nirvikalpa", 
>"savikalpa" and "sabiija" samaadhi !

What makes this topic of Yoga and Advaita difficult to address 
comprehensively is that there is a profusion of terminology and everybody 
seems to mean different things by these terms.

If we go back to the core texts and traditions, sabIja and nirbIja are used 
in Yoga, but the terms nirvikalpa and savikalpa are never applied to samAdhi 
within the Yoga texts. Indeed, it would make no sense for yogasUtra and its 
bhAshya to talk of nir-vikalpa samAdhi at all, because vikalpa is itself one 
of the vRtti-s of the citta. According to yoga thought, the mind can only be 
arrested (nirodha) by practice (abhyAsa), but even at the highest level of 
samAdhi, where all thought is stilled, the mind does not disappear. The seer 
(drashTA) stands alone and views all of a prakRti as distinct and separate, 
the mind itself being part of this prakRti.

On the other hand, it makes sense for advaita vedAntins to talk of 
nir-vikalpa samAdhi as a state where even this seed of a duality is 
transcended, because even the mind does not exist as a separate entity any 
more. As gauDapAda says, vikalpo vinivarteta (kArikA 1.18) and nirvikalpo 
hyayam (kArikA 2.35), nigRhItasya manaso nirvikalpasya (kArikA 3.34) etc. 
Some talk of this as sahaja sthiti or samAdhi, but again, I find different 
people using the word sahaja in different ways. After all, along with 
(saha-) what is this state born (-ja)? The Atman is unborn (aja) and as far 
as advaita is concerned, every state of accomplishment of yogic samAdhi 
(savicAra/nirvicAra, savitakra/nirvitarka, sabIja/nirbIja, ...) still falls 
short of the Atma-darSana.

If one were to say "yoga influence," every time an advaitin (especially 
post-Sankaran) talks of nirvikalpa samAdhi, that is absolutely incorrect. 
Not only is the very term nirvikalpa used by gauDapAda (and not by 
patanjali), the term samAdhi is used in the brahmasUtra and bhAshya in a 
specific sense of Atma-darSana. After all, there is the word "drashTavyaH" 
in front of "Srotavyo mantavyo nididhyAsitavyaH" and all of it is termed as 
a teaching of samAdhi (samAdhir upadishTo vedAnteshu - BSBh 2.3.39; see post 
numbered 5 in the Yoga and Advaita Vedanta series).


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