[Advaita-l] [advaitin] What is Samadhi?

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Fri Feb 2 07:12:06 EST 2024

Dear Sadaji,

About a year and a half ago (Sep 2022), I had written an email with some
quotations based on a reading of the Jivan Mukti Viveka, which may be of

Pasting it here after fixing some minor typos. I think it addresses some of
the questions you have raised.


I spent the last few days reading the Jivanmuktiviveka fully so that I can
understand Swami Vidyaranya's position with respect to the necessity of
samAdhi as a fundamental requirement for advaita tattva jnAna.

First of all, this thread has proven to be a true blessing, because this
has been the push for me to study the text. I can say that Jivanmuktiviveka
is truly an invaluable / indispensable primer to any student of vedAnta,
containing a lot of practical tips and pointers which are very helpful in
one's sAdhana. I wish I had studied it earlier, but better late than never.

I have only read the text in its original in Sanskrit, because I didn't
want to allow the possibility of translations mischaracterising the true
intent of AchArya.

First of all, my view is that the work is completely in sync with the
prasthAna traya bhAShya. There is certainly information contained in here
which is not there in the prasthAnatrayabhAShya, and vice versa, but in my
view, there is no instance of contradiction between the views of vidyAraNya
svAminah and Sankara bhagavatpAda.

Secondly, I didn't find a basis to conclude that the practice of samAdhi
was a necessity for the rise of tattvajnAna. On the contrary, I found
several passages where tattvajnAna was said to be the basis for further
sAdhana for the attainment of jIvanmukti. However, yoga does play an
important role in jIvanmukti.

Some examples from the text are below. Page numbers below refer to the
electronic page numbers in the pdf provided earlier in the thread by Sundar
Rajan ji. There may be some typos in the Sanskrit text - I had to type it
out, and sometimes my phone tends to autocorrect, thinking it is Hindi.

Page 20: सम्यगनुष्ठितैः श्रवणमनननिदिध्यासनैः परं तत्त्वं विदितवद्भिः
संपाद्यमानो विद्वत्संन्यासः
vidvatsannyAsa is to be taken up by those who have attained the supreme
truth by means of shravaNa manana nididhyAsana undertaken properly.

Page 23:   वेदनस्यैव विविदिषासंन्यासफलत्वात्
The result of vividiShA sannyAsa is knowledge alone.

Page 24: यथा विविदिषासंन्यासिना तत्त्वज्ञानाय श्रवणादीनि संपादनीयानि, तथा
विद्वत्संन्यासिनापि जीवन्मुक्तये मनोनाशवासनाक्षयौ संपादनीयौ ।
Just like for the purpose of gaining tattvajnAna through vividiShA
sannyAsa, one must achieve shravaNa manana nididhyAsana, in the same way,
for the purpose of gaining jIvanmukti through vidvat sannyAsa, one must
achieve manonAsha and vAsanAkshaya.

From the above, it is clear that  vidyAraNya svAminah holds that
tattvajnAna is through shravaNa manana nididhyAsana, whereas jIvanmukti
requires the achievement of manonAsha and vAsanAkshaya.

What is this manonAsha and vAsanAkshaya?

manonAsha - Page 90 - तस्य (मनस्य) नाशो नाम‌ वृत्तिरूपपरिणामं परित्यज्य
निरुद्धत्वाकारेण परिणामः
manonAsha means the renunciation of the modification of the mind into
vRtti-s and to take on the modification of the form of nirodha, cessation.

Page 91 पूर्वापरपरामर्शान्तरेण सहसोत्पद्यमानस्य क्रोधादिवृत्तिविशेषस्य
हेतुश्चित्तगतः संस्कारो वासना पूर्वापूर्वाभ्यासेन चित्ते वास्यमानत्वात्
The cause of different types of vRttis in the mind, such as anger etc,
which arise automatically without any consideration of what has happened
before or after, are latent impressions called vAsana, called so because
they reside (vAsyamAnah) in the mind due to prior occurrences (of that type
of vRttis).

vAsanAkshaya - तस्याश्च वासनायाः क्षयो नाम विवेकजन्यायां
शान्तिदान्त्यादिशुद्धवासनायां दृढायां सत्यपि बाह्यनिमित्ते
क्रोधाद्यनुत्पत्तिः ।
The destruction of that latent impression means the prevention of anger etc
even when there are external factors to cause it, as a result of strong
favourable latent impression such as calmness, control etc that are born
from discrimination.

Page 95 - तत्त्वज्ञानस्य श्रवणादिकं साधनम्, मनोनाशस्य योगः, वासनाक्षयस्य
प्रतिकूलवासनोत्पादनमिति ।
The means to tattvajnAna is shravaNa etc, the means to manonAsha is yoga,
and the means to vAsanakshaya is the rise of opposing vAsana-s.

The text goes on to say each of tattvajnAna, manonAsha and vAsanAkshaya are
mutually reinforcing. He takes each pair and proves how they mutually
reinforce each other. Therefore, he says that efforts to attain all three
must be conducted simultaneously.

This raises a question - if vividiShA sannyAsa is to be first taken up for
tattvajnAna and then one ought to take vidvatsannyAsa for jIvanmukti, how
is it being now said that one should seek tattvajnAna, manonAsha and
vAsanAkshaya simultaneously? The reply given is

Page 97
नायं दोषः, प्रधानोपसर्जनभावेन व्यवस्थोपपत्तेः -
विविदिषासंन्यासिनस्तत्त्वज्ञानं प्रधानम्, मनोनाशवासनाक्षयावोपसर्जनीभूतौ,
विद्वत्संन्यासिनस्तु तद्वैपरीत्यम्
This is not a defect - because this arrangement is tenable on the basis of
primary and supporting aim. For vividiShA sannyAsis, tattvajnAna is the
primary aim, manonAsha and vAsanAkshaya are supporting aims, whereas for
vidvatsannyAsis it is the opposite.

Page 104 - तदेवं जीवन्मुक्तिं प्रति वासनाक्षयमनोनाशयोः
साक्षात्साधनत्वात्प्राधान्यम् । तत्त्वज्ञानं तूभयोत्पादनेन
व्यवहितवादुपसर्जनम् ।
vAsanAkshaya and manonAsha being the direct means to jIvanmunti, they are
the primary aim. tattvajnAna though, being a necessity for the achievement
of both (vAsanAkshaya and manonAsha), is said to be secondary because it is
not a direct means for jIvanmukti.

Thus, contrary to the view that manonAsha as manifesting in samAdhi being a
necessary precondition for tattvajnAna, tattvajnAna is said to be the
necessary for the achievement of manonAsha.

Page 120 - विद्याधिकारी द्विविधः,‌‌कृतोपास्तिरकृतोपास्तिश्चेति ।
तत्रोपास्यसाक्षात्कारपर्यन्तमुपास्तिं कृत्वा यदि ज्ञाने प्रवर्तेत, तदा
वासनाक्षयमनोनाशयोर्दृढतर‌त्वेन ज्ञानादूर्ध्वं विद्वत्संन्यासजीवन्मुक्ती
स्वत एव सिध्यतः । तादृश एव‌ शास्त्राभिमतो मुख्यो विद्याधिकारी। ततस्तं प्रति
शास्त्रेषु सहोपन्यासात् स्वरूपेण विविक्तावपि विद्वत्संन्यासविविदिषासंन्यासौ
संकीर्णाविव प्रतिभासेते ।
There are two kinds of candidates for knowledge. Those who have performed
upAsana and those who have not. When a candidate has performed upAsana to
such an extent that he has had a direct vision of the object of his upAsana
(the upAsya devatA darshana) attempts to gain jnAna, as manonAsha and
vAsanakshaya are firmly established, upon the rise of knowledge, vidvat
sannyAsa and jIvanmukti are automatically obtained. It is such a candidate
that shAstra has in mind as the main candidate for knowledge. As the
shAstra addresses such a candidate, vividiShA and vidvat sannyAsa, despite
being different, are spoken of together in the same place, and it may
appear, as a result, that they are one and the same.

He continues, and this is quite funny, because he makes a comment on the
type of candidates for jnAna during his time, which could apply to today's
times too (if he was saying that about people then, what would he say of us
all?) -
इदानींतनास्तु प्रायेणाकृतोपास्तय एवौत्सुक्यमात्रात्सहसा विद्यायां
प्रवर्तन्ते । वासनाक्षयमनोनाशौ च तात्कालिकौ संपादयन्ति । तावता
श्रवणमनननिदिध्यासनानि निष्पाद्यन्ते ।
तैश्चदृढाभ्यास्तैरज्ञानसंशयविपर्ययनिरासात् तत्त्वज्ञानं सम्यगुदेति ।
उदितस्य ज्ञानस्य‌ बाधकप्रमाणाभावान्निवृत्ताया अविद्यायाः
पुनरुत्पत्तिकारणाभावाच्च‌ नास्ति तस्य शैथिल्यम् । वासनाक्षयमनोनाशौ तु
दृढाभ्यासाभावात् भोगप्रदेन प्रारब्धेन तदा तदाबाध्यमानत्वाच्च
सवातप्रदेशदीपवत्सहसा निवर्तेते ।... तस्मादिदानीन्तनानाम्
विद्वत्संन्यासिनाम् ज्ञानस्यानुवृत्तिमात्रम् । वासनाक्षयमनोनाशौ तु
प्रयत्न‌सिद्धाविति स्थितम् ।
However, the candidates these days, not having performed upAsana
beforehand, seek knowledge merely out of curiosity. They somehow obtain a
(basic) level of vasanAkshaya and manonAsha for the time being. With that
much they undertake shravaNa, manana, nididhyAsana. Having performed these
well, as ignorance, doubt and wrong knowledge are overcome, valid knowledge
rises. As there is no cognition that contradicts the arisen knowledge,
there being no reason for the subsequent rise of ignorance, there is no
wavering in the knowledge. However, in the absence of the rigorous practice
of vAsanAkshaya and manonAsha, they are quelled in the face of experiences
arising due to prArabdha, and like a lamp located in a windy place, they
are extinguished. Therefore, the reinvocation of knowledge is necessary for
vidvat sannyAsi-s of current times. vAsanAkshaya and manonAsha however must
be attained with practice.

Very interesting passage above, establishing that jnAna is a result of
shravaNAdi sAdhana in the presence of a certain level of vAsanAkshaya /
manonAsha even if temporary and easily extinguished. Because they are
extinguished, they both are to be acquired in right earnest once again
during vidvat sannyAsa, ie after the rise of jnAna.

How should manonAsha be attained? He says:
Page 199 (मनस्य) क्रमनिग्रहः एव योग्यः । क्रमनिग्रहे
अध्यात्मविद्याप्राप्त्यादय एवोपायाः । सा च विद्या दृश्यमिथ्यात्वं
दृग्वस्तुनः स्वप्रकाशत्वं च बोधयति । तथा च सत्येतन्मनः स्वगोचरेषु विषयेषु
प्रयोजनाभावं दृग्वस्तुन्यगोचरत्वं च बुद्ध्वा
निरिन्धनाग्निवत्स्वयमेवोपशाम्यति ।
The step by step control of the mind is alone appropriate. The means for
the stepwise control of the mind is self knowledge etc. That knowledge
reveals that the objective world is mithyA and the witness is
self-effulgent. That being the case, knowing that there is no benefit from
this mind going towards objects, and there being no possibility for the
mind to objectify the witness, the mind automatically extinguishes itself,
like fire in the absence of fuel.

Thus - AtmajnAna is the means for manonAsha.

Page 200 यस्तु बोधितमपि तत्त्वं न समयग्बुध्यते, यश्च विस्मरति, तयोरुभयोः
साधुसंगम एवोपायः । साधवो हि पुनः पुनः बोधयन्ति, स्मारयन्ति च ।
यस्तुविद्यामदादिदुर्वासनया पीड्यमानो न साधूननुवर्तितुमुत्सहते तस्य
पूर्वोक्तविवेकेन वासनापरित्याग उपायः ।  वासनानां प्राबल्येन
त्यक्तुमशक्यत्वे प्राणस्पन्दनिरोधनमुपायः ।
Those who despite being taught, either fail to understand this truth, or
forget it -  in either case, the only solution is to seek the refuge of
sages, for it is sages who repeatedly teach and remind one of the truth.
However, in the case of those who suffer from pride associated with
learning, and are not disposed to seek the company of sages, their means
(for manonAsha) is renouncing vAsana-s with the help of the aforesaid
viveka. If vAsanas are very strong and cannot be given up, the means is
control over the movement of the breath.

Thus, depending on the nature of the candidate, various means are
postulated for manonAsha and attenuation of vAsana-s. samAdhi is one such
path. As he says:
Page 219 तदेवमध्यात्मविद्यासाधुसंगमवासनाक्षयप्राणनिरोधाश्चित्तनाशोपाया
दर्शिताः । अथ तदुपायभूतं समाधिं वक्ष्यामः ।
In this manner, various means for chittanAsha, being self knowledge,
company of sages, attenuation of vAsanas, breath control, were shown. Now
(another) means being samAdhi will be described.

So what is the purpose of samAdhi? He says:
Page 255 आत्मदर्शनस्य स्वतःसिद्धत्वेऽप्यनात्मदर्शनवारणाय निरोधाभ्यासः।
Even though self perception is self accomplished, the practice of control
is undertaken for the purpose of avoiding thoughts of the non-self.

Page 264 तस्मात्तत्त्वविदोऽपि क्लेशक्षयायास्त्येवासंप्रज्ञातसमाध्यपेक्षा ।
Therefore, even for the knower of truth, there is a requirement for
asamprajnAta samAdhi for the purpose of destroying mental afflictions.

Page 288 ननु प्रमाणोत्पन्नस्य तत्त्वज्ञानस्य को नाम बाधप्रसंगः येन रक्षा
अपेक्ष्यत इति चेदुच्यते - चित्तविश्रान्त्यभावे संशयविपर्ययौ प्रसज्येयाताम् ।
If it is said - how can there be possibility of invalidation of the right
knowledge born from a valid pramANa, for one to argue that such a knowledge
must be protected?
The reply is - if the mind is not tranquil, doubts and incorrect cognitions
may arise.

vidyAraNya svAminah follows this (pages 288-290) with a beautiful anecdote
involving Shuka and Janaka, wherein, Shuka despite being born a jnAni, and
despite being taught the truth once again by his father, Vedavyasa, was
doubtful if the knowledge he possessed was the ultimate knowledge and if
anything else was needed.  He goes to King Janaka who tells him that there
is nothing else needed to be done. The knowledge he possesses is complete.
Reassured thus, Shuka immediately becomes tranquil and enters nirvikalpa
samAdhi for many years.

Page 291 तस्माद्विदितेऽपि तत्त्वे विश्रान्तिरहितस्य‌ शुकराघवयोरिव संशय
उत्पद्यते । स च अज्ञानमिव मोक्षस्य प्रतिबन्धकः ।
vidyAraNya svAminah concludes by saying - therefore, despite knowing the
truth, Shuka and Rama, who were not tranquil, had doubts. Those doubts,
like ignorance, are obstacles to liberation.

This ultimately is the purpose of yoga - prior to knowledge, to prepare the
mind for knowledge, and after the rise of knowledge, to preserve it.

In summary, my reading of the text has convinced me of a few things
1) JMV is totally in line with the bhAShya and the teachings of the
samanvayAdhikaraNa. I don't agree with the view that it is contrary to the
teaching of Shankara .
2) The means to knowledge is very clear - shravaNa, manana, nididhyAsana.
3) The means to jIvanmukti is vAsanAkshaya and manonAsha.
4) yoga serves as one of the means of manonAsha. It plays a subsidiary
role, as a supporting cause, for the rise of jnAna.
5) jnAna in turn also serves as a means for manonAsha.
6) However, I haven't found any evidence of the practice of samAdhi
postulated as a mandatory means to be performed for knowledge to arise.
While manonAsha and tattvajnAna are said to be mutually reinforcing, there
is no invariable requirement stated for the achievement of samAdhi for the
rise of jnAna.

Kind regards,

On Thu, 1 Feb 2024, 11:24 'Kuntimaddi Sadananda' via advaitin, <
advaitin at googlegroups.com> wrote:

> 1. What do you think is samadhi?
> 2. Is a thoughtless mind required for self-realization?
> 3. What do you think is involved in self-realization?
> 4. Is akhandaakaara vrutti involves thoughtless state?

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