1.18 Half Asleep
Updated: Jul 30, 2021
YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJALI | CHAPTER 1 - SAMADHI PADA | VERSE 18 | COMMENTARY
Vira̅mapratyaya̅bhya̅sapu̅rvaḥ saṁska̅raśeṣo’nyaḥ ||1.18||
There is another type of Samadhi which is achieved due to prior practices. In this state the mind is devoid of content but latent impressions remain.
The other Samadhi is Asamprajnatah Samadhi translated into non-deliberate meditation in his book by Ashwini Aggarwal.
Different stages of Samprajnatah Samadhi were given by Maharishi Patanjali in the previous sutra. The distinguishing character of Samprajnatah Samadhi is the presence of Pratyaya – content on which the mind is dwelling which can be an object, an idea, a mantra, or even a person (Guru). In all stages of Samprajnatah Samadhi, the object of contemplation exists. As one progresses to different stages of Samprajnatah Samadhi, latent impressions are destroyed.
Samskaras mean impressions that we have collected over our lifetimes – they are the result and further cause of experiences, thoughts, emotions, identities, desires, and all other content of the consciousness. Samskara is called the seed (beej) of consciousness by Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Until the Samskaras exist, the consciousness is still not able to experience its infinity. Two broad categories of Samadhi have been given by Maharishi Patanjali: Sabeeja Samadhi and Nirbeeja Samadhi. Sabeeja literally means “with seed” and Nirbeeja literally means “without seed”. Here the seed refers to Samskaras. Sabeeja Samadhi consists of those states of samadhi in which the Samskaras are still present. Nirbeeja Samadhi is the highest state of Samadhi – here the very seeds of consciousness have been destroyed and Kaivalya (Liberation) has been achieved. Many commentators and authors have reportedly confused this Sutra as describing the Nirbeeja Samadhi. It is not so. This sutra simply talks about the state of Samadhi in which the object is not present but the latent impressions (Samskaras) remain.
The different stages of Samprajnatah Samadhi as given by Maharishi Patanjali in his previous sutra are Vitarka (Examination), Vichara (Reflection), Ananda (Joy), and Asmita (Oneness). In between every stage, there is a state in which Pratyaya (the object of contemplation) is dropped and mind has no awareness and is tranquil but, the latent impressions are still existing and active. Asamprajnatah Samadhi may be experienced while progressing from one stage of Samprajnatah Samadhi to another - between Vitarka and Vichara, Vichara and Ananda, and Ananda and Asmita, or may be directly experienced.
Therefore, the two distinguishing characteristics to understand Asamprajnatah Samadhi are: dropping of Pratyaya and existence of Samskaras. Asamprajnatah Samadhi may be achieved due to practice of Samprajnatah Samadhi or may result as a fruit of other practices in this lifetime and previous lifetimes. There are many people who experience this state of thoughtlessness without practicing Samprajnatah Samadhi due to other prior practices.
One does not need to analyze the kind of Samadhi that is being achieved because that itself won’t allow the practitioner to achieve Samadhi.