Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa Samádhi

Shrii Shrii Anandamurti explains Savikalpa Samádhi and Nirvikalpa Samádhi.

In Nirvikalpa Samádhi or the stance of indeterminate contemplative contemplation, the causal mind is suspended due to the transcendency of Avidyá or Máyá and that is why that state is supersensible, beyond the comprehension of the senses. Following that state, after the break of that Samádhi or total mental suspension, when the faculty of senses and understanding returns, then alone one realizes that some unknown current of exhilaration from some unknown region has flooded one’s whole entity – is drifting it away to some ultra-sensual, pulsating realm of celestial bliss. Hence it is said that in a state of Nirvikalpa Samádhi the Sádhakas cannot understand whether they are in Nirvikalpa Samádhi nor can they say afterwards that they felt any such thing, for that state was a super-sensual ego-less one.

Tasya sthiti amánasikeśu
[This state (of nirvikalpa samádhi) is beyond the mind.]
–Ánanda Sútram

After the break of that self-lost, ego-less abstraction, when the Sádhakas feel the return of their hazy egos drifting away in the current of exuberant joy, they then realize that their preceding state must have been a state of the loftiest ecstasy which is called Nirvikalpa Samádhi. The post-Samádhi condition is reminiscent of the state following a deep slumber. In a state of slumber people do not feel that they are sleeping. After waking up, when their Kámamaya Kośa or crude mind becomes active, they realize, as they think of their preceding state of void or insensibility, “I was so long asleep.” As much as the Sádhakas are able to establish their heroism after escaping from the Serpent-noose of Avidyá, the Extroversive Force, so much Ánandasvarúpa or Supreme Exultation they experience; they then become Ánandasvarúpa Himself, the Ánandamúrti or the very image of Ánanda or Bliss.

O how long doth my ego await Thy grace
To merge in Thy likeness without a trace?
When will Thy name so glorious divine
Bid warmest tear in these eyes of mine
And my body and soul with vibration reel
In joyous rhythm of blissful thrill?

Savikalpa Samádhi or the determinate suspension comprises the fullness of Vidyá Prakrti (Introversive Force); that is, the full establishment of the introversive momentum in the Sádhakas’ austere spiritual life – the absence of any Extroversive Force (Avidyá), and total cessation of their extroversive momentum. So in such a state the ego not only exists, it exists in its total fullness and completeness. This very ego in its Brahmá-ic mood evolves the universe, in its Viśńu-ic mood it preserves the universe and in its Shiva-ic mood it destroys the universe. In the three manifestations of this very ego lies the anchor of this universe – in this short-long-slow rhythm of creation-preservation-destruction lies the tether of space, time, and person.

Who is the causal factor of creation, preservation and destruction – Puruśa or Prakrti? Actually in the varied expressions of creation, preservation and destruction the all-knowing Consciousness remains unaffected and undistorted. All these expressions are but the dance of Prakrti herself in her own receptacle, the Cosmic Body – the scintillating sports of Energy on the bosom of Shiva or Puruśa. The immutability (aparińámitva) of the Puruśa entity never was, never is and never will be affected[[, for the word]] “immutable” (aparińámii) means to be beyond the purview of space, time and person.

The waves created on the bosom of Shiva by the dance of Prakrti, have not changed and cannot change His true characteristic Self. The flower with its red colour is coming close to the mirror and going far from it. Such a sight makes one think that the mirror itself has become red and is moving forwards and backwards. But what is the reality? The mirror remains as motionless as it always was, does it not? Satya, Sat and immutability are indeed synonymous. He alone is the sympathetic reciprocator of all entities. In this reciprocation alone the relative existence of the entities is recognized. That is why He is the witnessing Consciousness of all the entities. Happiness or sorrow abides in the unit entities, the reciprocator only creates the suitable reflections. Hence He is beyond the compass of happiness and sorrow – He is the Bliss Absolute. So I say that the sweet, colourful, multi-expressive dance of Prakrti, on the bosom of Shiva, cannot influence Him at all. Shiva or Cosmic Consciousness is immutable: He is the witnessing entity. He is beyond the pale of pleasure and pain. Shiva is Sat (unchangeable), Cit (Consciousness), and Ánanda (Divine Bliss) – He is Saccidánanda.

Peace be with you.

Shrii Shrii Anandamurti
Paoś Púrńimá 1956 DMC, Bhagalpur
from “The Intuitional Science of the Vedas” published in “Subháśita Saḿgraha Part 3″

In the course of sádhaná, the unit mind takes the ideation of Parama Puruśa. According to the very nature of the mind, it will one day become converted into Parama Puruśa. Before being finally merged in Parama Puruśa, sádhakas [spiritual practitioners] pass through different phases of samádhi,(1) of which savikalpa and nirvikalpa are prominent.

After continued practice of sádhaná, when the mahattattva [“I” feeling] of the unit mind gets metamorphosed into the Cosmic “I” feeling, the citta [done “I”] of the microcosmic mind merges in the aham [“I do” feeling], the aham in mahat.

When an object is converted into its cause, this merger is called prańásha (utter destruction). Mahat is the cause of Aham. Aham is the cause of the citta of the Macrocosm (Bhúmá), and in the path of pratisaiṋcara(2) the citta merges in the aham and the aham in mahat. The unit mahat becomes one with the Macrocosmic Mahat.

At this stage, the unit mind feels that there are two entities – “I” and “my Lord”. The mind cannot think or feel anything except the existence of its own self because the feeling of the doer “I” is metamorphosed into the pure “I” feeling.

There are two tendencies of the mind – saḿkalpátmaka and vikalpátmaka. When the mind thinks and plans(3) to do this or that, it is the saḿkalpátmaka portion of mind, and those feelings or thoughts are translated into physical action by the vikalpátmaka portion of mind through the sense organs. In savikalpa samádhi, the vikalpátmaka portion of the mind is totally suspended; only a small portion of the saḿkalpátmaka mind remains active. The sádhaka thereby attains saguńásthiti. That is why it has been said in Ánanda Sútram,(4) Bhúmávyápte mahati ahaḿ cittayorprańáshe saguńásthiti savikalpa samádhi vá [“When the aham and the citta merge into the Macrocosmic Mahat, the merger is called saguńásthiti or savikalpa samádhi”].

But when the goal of a spiritual aspirant is Nirguńa Brahma [Non-Qualified, or Non-Attributional, Supreme Entity] then ultimately the microcosmic mahat will also merge in pure Citishakti.(5) The unit mind will totally lose its individual existence and become one with Supreme Consciousness. In such a case, where all mental activities are suspended in Bhúmábháva [Cosmic ideation], it will be a case of objectlessness, or nirvikalpa samádhi (the trance of indeterminate absorption, or total suspension of the mind).

This stage of spiritual attainment is only possible when all the guńas, or binding factors, have ceased exerting a static influence on the mind. This state is the state of mindlessness and consequently objectlessness. This state is verbally inexpressible, because Tasya sthiti amánasikeśu – “This state of objectlessness being beyond the orbit of the mind, it is not mentally apprehensible.

Proof of Samádhi

During samádhis, spiritual aspirants attain immense bliss, which the sádhakas feel and cannot describe. Then what is the proof that the one in samádhi actually experiences that bliss? In this connection Ánanda Sútram states:

Abhávottaránanda pratyayá lambanirvrttih tasya pramáńam.

[The lingering bliss which follows this state of vacuity is the proof of that state, the means of firm belief in that state.]

In the state of wakefulness all three stages of the mind, namely, conscious, subconscious and unconscious, remain active, but the subtler condition is inconspicuous due to the activeness of the cruder condition. While dreaming, the crude or conscious mind remains dormant, the subconscious and the unconscious minds remain active. During sleep [and during senselessness], only the unconscious mind remains active. The opinion that the state of sleep is the state of the sense of vacuity is unacceptable to a subtle philosophical judgement, because at that time the works of both the conscious and the subconscious minds are done by the unconscious mind. The real state of vacuity is verily the state of utter destruction of the mind, and so even savikalpa samádhi is not a state of vacuity. Only the state of nirvikalpa is the state of vacuity. In this state of absolute vacuity, the spiritual waves of exhilaration that fill the unit entity still continue to flow and trail on for some time even after that state of vacuity, that is, after the mind returns due to unserved saḿskáras [the consequential reactive momenta of one’s past deeds]. These very trailing waves of exhilaration and joyous exuberance keep reminding the “mindful” sádhaka [intuitional practitioner] that his or her “mindless” state had been one of absolute bliss.

Shrii Shrii Anandamurti (1969) “Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa Samádhi” published in “Ánanda Vacanámrtam Part 33″


(1) “Absorption” of the unit mind into the Cosmic Mind (savikalpa samádhi) or into Consciousness (nirvikalpa samádhi). –Eds.

(2) In the Cosmic Cycle, the step-by-step introversion and subtilization of consciousness from the state of solid matter to Nucleus Consciousness. –Eds.

(3) To think and plan is saḿkalpa. –Eds.

(4) Shrii Shrii Ánandamúrti, Ánanda Sútram, 1995. –Eds.

(5) Cognitive Principle, Puruśa, Pure Consciousness. –Eds.

About Suresh Emre

I have worked as a physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory. I am a volunteer for the Renaissance Universal movement. My main goal is to inspire the reader to engage in Self-discovery and expansion of consciousness.
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