[Advaita-l] Topic for Discussion: What is Nirvikalpaka Samaadhi?

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 9 09:57:24 CST 2016

PraNAms to all

I posed this question in both lists. There were few who discussed on this topic. I thank all of them who participated in the discussion. I am presenting below my understanding for whatever it is worth.


I am providing below my understanding. Some of these aspects are discussed exhaustively by Shree Vidyaranya swami in Panchadashi – which we are doing now. We are doing now the 10th Chapter. Just of info- The talks on the Chapters covered so far are available on Yu-tube under Acharya Sadaji.

Is Self-realization involves objectless-awareness as some subscribe.

The objectless awareness is nothing but pure sat chit ananda. It is always there - with the objects at the very substantive and without the objects as Brahman. It is paaramaarthika satyam. na vaaak gacchati na manaH - no speech can go there nor the mind - says the scripture. yato vaacho nivartante apraapya manasaa saha. For pure Brahman - there is no need of self-realization too, as it is one without a second. Jnaanam and ajnaanam etc., are all at vyaavhaarika level only. Hence self-realization cannot be object-less awareness, and one cannot reach there and one need not reach there too, since it is ever present and infinite.  

Self-realization is by the mind only - Mind has to recognize or re-cognize that the existence that supports the mind or the consciousness that enlivens the mind is due to the pure self that I am; since I say I am existent-conscious entity – I am, in fact, a self-existent and self-conscious entity. 

 Thoughts or vRittis that arise my mind are also objects of my awareness. As every thought (either due to external perceptions or internal perceptions) arises in the mind - as - this is a pot-, or - this is chair,  simultaneously or spontaneously subject thought - I am - as knower arises in the mind- Bhagavan Ramana calls this as aham vRitti centered on the knower, in contrast to idam vRitti centered in objective-thought. 

Aham vRitit is not objective thought but the - knower thought, as -I know this is a pot - I know this is a chair, etc. Thus we have object-thought of idam vRitti as in, this is a pot or this is a chair, etc.; and along with this, spontaneously a knower thought - I am the knower that this is a pot, etc ., arises. This aham vRitti is not objective thought, but subject-or knower vRitti, which also owns the knowledge as in - I am the knower of this thought.  Shifting the mind from the object thought to the subject vRitti is object-less awareness. It is not elimination of the thoughts but shifting the mind to the knowing principle because of which every objective thought is known. I am neither known or unknown but the very knowing principle of both known and unknown says kena up. To recognize and claim I am that - without the objective thoughts or more correctly in spite of objective thoughts - requires a very discriminative mind or mind with viveka.  While remaining within the upaadhi recognizing I am is the pure existence-consciousness that enlivens the upAdhi- it is called upahita chaitanya. To be able to shift my mind without getting lost in the objective thoughts that floods the mind, meditation on the single thought – as in japa- would help or even the meditation on the thought – aham brahmaasmi – once one has understood the truth – brahma sayam, jagan mithyaa and aham brahma eva na aparaH though Vedanta shravana and manana. 

A similar analogy is looking at the moon (which is actually the presiding deity of the mind) and the moonlight and claim that I am actually seeing the sunlight that is illumining the moon. I cannot really see the sunlight directly. I need the moon to RECOGNIZE the presence of sunlight. What I see is only moon-light. I have to use viveka to shift my attention from the moon light to that because of moon has the light.  There is sunlight outside the moon too but I cannot recognize that since there is no object to reflect that light. Hence I need the reflecting object and from the reflection recognize cognitively the original light. Similarly I cannot see the objectless awareness but I have to recognize I am in the every objective awareness - Hence Kenopanishad says- pratibhoda viditam matam - It is revealed in every thought or experience as the knower or experiencer, which has to be conscious-existent entity since non-existent or unconscious entity cannot have any experience. 

The thought-less mind happens normally in deep-sleep state.  In the deep-sleep state there is akhanda ajnaana vRitti or constant unbroken thought of ignorance of subject-object duality, as the mind is folded. Deep sleep state is not meditation since mind is folded and cannot abide in the knowledge of aham brahmaasmi. 

Patanjali yoga talks about the chitta vRitti nirodha – or shutting of all the thoughts – essentially a thoughtless mind or empty mind. As Swami Dayanandaji puts it – an ignorant thought full mind has now become ignorant thoughtless mind. The ignorance remains. When the mind awakens with thoughts you are back to square one and Patanjali yoga advocates dvaita only and not advaita. Hence no knowledge of advaita occurs in that thoughtless mind. 

Nirvikalpaka samaadhi:

Nirvikalpaka samaadhi is described for the one who has studied Vedanta under a sampradaaya teacher and the mind has grasped truth – aham brahmaasmi. Hence it is not a substitute for the knowledge since muula avidya or ignorance of the self can only by knowledge of the self – via Vedanta pramaana. Even after gaining the knowledge, if such a mind is not able to abide in that knowledge of aham brahmaasmi due to remnant raaga-dweshaas, one can meditate on the knowledge – aham brahmaasmi as the single thought without any other thoughts in the mind. That is nirvikalpaka samAdhI with the knowledge of aham brahamsmi single thought. Thus one slowly eliminates the remnant raaga dweshas and such a person even if he comes out of that meditation, the knowledge remains with him – now even with the thoughts – since he has understood that He is pure sat chit ananda and presence or absence of thoughts do not affect him since they are mithyaa. 

Hence what is needed is a) clear understanding of the truth – brahma satyam, jagan mithyaa and aham brahmaasmi – that involves a) paroksha jnaanam of the jagat and Iswara and b) aparoksha jnanam via mahaavaakya vichaara. – There are no short cuts here. Nidhidhyaasana is required for madhyama adhikaari who is not able to abide in the knowledge – aham brahmaasmi. For him, constant enquiry is the best approach, so that the mind does not get entangled with the day to day life in vyavahaara, which he cannot but do, as long as BMI is there. If he cannot enquire or do vichaara – then one can do meditation on aham brahmaasmi with the background knowledge via mahaavaakyaas.  

If absence of thoughts is required for self-realization, then we are giving more reality to the thoughts or as much reality to the thoughts as the self. Ontologically Self or Brahman is of higher order of reality and thoughts cannot replace Brahman or the self for me to remove the thoughts to recognize the self. What is required is detachment of the mind from the thoughts (as they involve ahankaara and mamakaara due to raaga and dweshas – I-ness and my-ness due to likes and dislikes) so that mind can shift its attention to aham vRitti from idam vRitti.  

Some can even experience a thought-less state or nirvikalpaka samAdhI. However without Vedanta knowledge such an experience is neither needed nor necessary. What is required is clear understand of the truth – Brahma satyam, jagan mithyaa, aham brahmaasmi – knowledge – though Vedanta mahaavaakya vichaara, via shravana and manana. Meditation or even nirvikalpaka samAdhI is not a pramaana or means of knowledge – one can have experience but such an experience is not needed for self-knowledge. Meditation or continuous enquiry is required for the mind to abide in the knowledge gained via shravana and manana – that is listening to the sampradaaya teacher on Vedanta for prolonged length of time until the knowledge is crytal clear and doubt-free. Even after gaining the knowledge, one is unable abide in the knowledge for them nidhidhyaasana including nirvikalpaka samadhi is recommended. The later ones are not alternatives to Vedanta shravana and manana. 

Hope this helps. 

I want to thank all those who presented their view.

Hari Om!

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