Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda has mentioned that there are the eight forms of samadhi. They are mentioned below. The explanations are compiled from the teachings of Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda and experiences of devotees. The points on Prema Samadhi are taken from “How to cultivate Divine Love” in Guruji’s book “The Divine Romance”.
FORMS OF SAMADHI :
1. AUM SAMADHI – ONENESS WITH COSMIC SOUND
2. MAHAPRANA SAMADHI – ONENESS WITH COSMIC LIFE FORCE, after the devotee is conscious of cosmic vital forces
3. ASTRAL SAMADHI – ONENESS WITH COSMIC LIGHT, after perception of cosmic light
4. ANANDA SAMADHI – ONENESS WITH COSMIC JOY in everything
5. GYANA SAMADHI – ONENESS WITH COSMIC WISDOM OR INTELLIGENCE in everything
6. DEVOTIONAL SAMADHI – DEVOTEE ATTAINS DIVINE DEVOTION
7. PREMA SAMADHI – DEVOTEE IS ONE WITH THE COSMIC LOVE IN ALL CREATURES, AND IN EVERYTHING, AND IN GOD 8. COSMIC SUNDARA SAMADHI – DEVOTEE BECOMES ONE WITH ALL GLORY AND BEAUTY IN SPIRIT
1.The first samadhi is Aum Samadhi which is is oneness with Om sound. As we know, the Om sound is not a physical sound. Scientific instruments cannot detect them. The sound is present throughout the cosmos. We can say that it is one manifestation of the unseen God.
The chanting of Om (as heard by our ears) is far from the actual cosmic sound. Nevertheless, there is a mantric value of the chanting. The real Om sound is primarily an oceanic roar mixed with a combination of the sounds generated at other chakras.
2. After Om samadhi comes oneness with Mahaprana or cosmic energy. You know that intelligent cosmic energy is spread through the universe. It is perceived by deeply meditating yogis inside the body and around him. “Man is made in the image of God.” Whatever He has, it is also with us on a microcosmic level. The prana or life force is visible as pale blueish light spread throughout the body and also outside the body. Thus, in a semi superconscious state, we can actually see the physical body parts like hands, astral trunk, etc with closed eyes. We can test whether you are in this state by moving hands before blindfolded eyes and being able to see them moving. Oneness with this prana links one to the prana outside the body. This is merging with Mahaprana.
3. Then comes Astral samadhi or oneness with cosmic light. The light of God is omnipresent. It is sometimes visible to the yogi as a sunburst of a thousand suns. Paramahansa Yogananda has mentioned this in one of his talks. One can sometimes see golden light spread everywhere during meditation. Oneness with this light is Astral Samadhi. I will soon post an experience of Gurudeva where he had described this light. Preceding this samadhi, one may be able to perceive the different chakras, main nadis like sushumna, ida and pingla and also the astral body with internal vision keeping eyes closed. Astral samadhi is indeed a high state in the route to self realization.
4. Then comes Ananda Samadhi. As you know, God manifests also as Joy. When it is in a high measure, we call it Bliss. It is felt to more or lesser extent from the start of one’s spiritual journey. We feel joyful at times without reason. We find that that Joy is self generated. When we merge with this Bliss, we have achieved Ananda samadhi. The joy experienced is so great that it cannot ordinarily be contained. It comes from God. The devotee often simply abandons material possessions and sometimes a householder’s life or a kingly life to remain in Bliss ! You must have heard about all this. It doesn’t mean that we have to leave our homes and go to forests to experience Bliss ! The Bliss can be felt right in our homes after sincerely following Guru given techniques and through his blessings !
5. Gyana Samadhi, can be attained with the mental process of “Neti, Neti”. This means “I am not this, I am not that”. In this way we say, I am not this body. I am not mind. I have a mind. But I am different from mind. Ultimately we come to the conclusion that we are formless beings without even feelings. But this is also a mental concept and therefore not true. The real discovery of oneself is when we discover our omnipresence everywhere. This is called Christ consciousness, Krishna Consciousness or Kuthastha Chaitanya. This state comes later on through more sadhana. This is hard to attain simply by reasoning or intelluctualizing. Guru given techniques are necessary.
6. Devotional samadhi is when the yogi feels oneness with the feeling of devotion to God. The yogi is hardly conscious of himself as a body-mind complex. He may forget to do many chores that are to be done as a householder. He spends his time in prayer and mostly in solitude.
The following excerpt was written by Brother Mokshananda :
The scientific meditation techniques of Raja Yoga [the techniques of meditation taught in Self-Realization Fellowship] combined with the great energizing power of devotion constitute the easiest and most natural way to attain divine realization. Unconditional devotion by itself is capable of taking the sincere seeker all the way to God, but individuals who come into this world with that kind of purity are very rare. Some persons of emotional temperament may think they are bhaktas; they say that they already have a deep feeling for God, so why make the effort to practice meditation techniques? Often such individuals make only slow progress, at best, or remain in the nonprogressive status quo of an overly emotional or sentimental approach to religion.
For most people it is very difficult to purify human feelings into real bhakti without practice of meditation. We cannot feel love for a God we do not know. Through meditation we contact God’s peace within; we begin to feel the joy of divine consciousness. If we meditate deeply, scientifically, regularly, our relationship with God changes from a mere concept or source of emotional stimulation into direct perception of a living Presence. Meditation is that lever which pries up the cover of consciousness and releases the fount of realization. To drink from that joyous fountain of truth is to know what God is.
7. Next comes Prema Samadhi. Prema is Divine Love (divine refers to an attribute of God). The world as a whole has forgotten the real meaning of the word love (meaning divine love). Love has been so abused and crucified by man that very few people know what true love is. We have to understand that love to permeates every part of creation. In order to understand what it is consider the following facts taken from “How to cultivate Divine Love” in Guruji’s book “The Divine Romance”.
– We recognize love as the feeling we have for relatives, friends, and others to whom we are strongly attached. We have tasted love in some form in our hearts.; therefore we know a little about what is love (meaning divine love). In human love, we have glimpses of the divine love of God.
– Human love is to be purified and expanded in order to feel divine love.
– The only way to describe real love is to tell you its effect. If you could feel a particle of divine love; so great would be your joy – so – overpowering – you could not contain it.
– The satisfaction of love is not in the feeling itself, but in the joy that feeling brings. So love gives joy. So the ultimate is not love, it is bliss. Both are native to the soul.
The experience of joy originates in the head chakra (sahasrara). It descends to the heart and is felt there. The joy comes from God’s bliss – the essential and ultimate attribute of spirit.
These point out to the nature of divine love and divine joy.
– In the universal sense, love is the divine power of attraction in creation that harmonises, unites, binds together. It is opposed by the power of delusion or maya. Love is a universal emotion, its expressions are distinguished by the nature of thought through which it moves. Hence, when love passes through the heart of the father, fatherly consciousness translates it into fatherly love. When it passes through the heart of the mother, motherly consciousness translates the same love into motherly love. When it passes through the heart of the lover, the consciousness of the lover gives that same universal love still another quality. Thus, by investigating human love , we can learn something about divine love.
– Conjugal, familial, fraternal – all forms of human love have blind alleys. There could be selfishness, lack of mutual respect, etc. Behind these lesser human loves is God’s all satisfying love.
– The relationship that exists between friends is the grandest of human love. It is pure because it is without compulsion. It can be used to cultivate divine love if there is mutual respect and no selfishness. One will taste divine love through such pure relationships.
– To wish for perfection for the loved one, and to feel pure joy in thinking of that soul, is divine love, and that is the love of true friendship.
– The realationship between Guru and disciple is the greatest expression of love in friendship.; it is unconditional divine friendship based on the desire to love God above all else.
– The greatest love you can experience is in communion with God in meditation. The love between soul and Spirit is the perfect love, the love we are all seeking.
– In oneness with divine love, one does not feel any difference between flower and beast, between one human being and another. You will commune with all nature and you will love equally all mankind. You will feel the sun and the moon as brother and sister.
– Oneness with divine love is Prema Samadhi
8. Finally comes Cosmic Sundara Samadhi. The devotee becomes one with all glory and beauty in Spirit. A description can only be given by one who has attained oneness with God. It is best to go through the poem on samadhi by Paramahansa Yogananda given in his “Autobiography of a Yogi”.
STAGES OF SAMADHI
It should be noted that all these forms of samadhi can be either with or without consciousness of our surroundings. In the former case the samadhis are called savikalpa samadhis also called samprajnata samadhis. In the latter case the samadhis are with consciousness of our surroundings and are called nirvikalva samadhis or asamprajnata samadhis. Maharishi Patanjali has mentioned ten stages of samadhi till the yogi reaches kaivalya which is the highest state of union with God. Out of these ten samadhis, eight are in the domain of savikalpa and nirvikalpa samadhis for each of the eight aspects of God discussed in this note. Thus each of the eight aspects of God leads to eight stages of samadhi which are in the domain of samprajnata and asamprajnata samadhis. All the stages of samadhi is shown in the diagram attached. For more information, devotees may like to see :https://dondeg.wordpress.com/
“Attunement with God as Aum ( or any aspect of God as mentioned in this note ) lifts the consciousness to the immanent Christ Consciousness. Through Christ Consciousness the adavanced yogi ascends to Cosmic Consciousness in the highest cerebral center… When the devotee attains cosmic consciousness in the highest cerebral center (the sahasrara) and can enter that state at will and remain in it as long as he wishes, he will in time be blessed to experience that ecstasy in the supreme or final undifferentiated state – nirvikalpa samadhi.” [Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda in his Gita commentary on pg 121].