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Patanjali yoga sutras mention 8 stages to reach ultimate union with supreme. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyan, and Samadhi. But while reading tamil literature yesterday,it is mentioned, there are 18 stages in Turiya but have not explained in detail. Does Patanjali yoga sutras or any other yogic, tantra text mention about different stages of Samadhi?

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Yes, Patanjali's Yoga Sutras mention different stages of Samadhi.

Swami Vivekananda's Raja Yoga on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras:

वितर्कविचारानन्दास्मितानुगमात् सम्प्रज्ञातः ॥१७॥

17. The concentration called right knowledge is that which is followed by reasoning, discrimination bliss, unqualified egoism.

Samadhi is divided into two varieties. One is called the Samprajnâta, and the other the Asamprajnâta.

In the Samprajnata Samadhi come all the powers of controlling nature. It is of four varieties. The first variety is called the Savitarka, when the mind meditates upon an object again and again, by isolating it from other objects.

Again, in the very same meditation, when one struggles to take the elements out of time and space, and think of them as they are, it is called Nirvitarka, without question. When the meditation goes a step higher, and takes the Tanmatras as its object, and thinks of them as in time and space, it is called Savichâra, with discrimination; and when in the same meditation one eliminates time and space, and thinks of the fine elements as they are, it is called Nirvichâra, without discrimination. The next step is when the elements are given up, both gross and fine, and the object of meditation is the interior organ, the thinking organ. When the thinking organ is thought of as bereft of the qualities of activity and dullness, it is then called Sânanda, the blissful Samadhi. When the mind itself is the object of meditation, when meditation becomes very ripe and concentrated, when all ideas of the gross and fine materials are given up, when the Sattva state only of the Ego remains, but differentiated from all other objects, it is called Sâsmita Samadhi. The man who has attained to this has attained to what is called in the Vedas "bereft of body". He can think of himself as without his gross body; but he will have to think of himself as with a fine body. Those that in this state get merged in nature without attaining the goal are called Prakritilayas, but those who do not stop even there reach the goal, which is freedom.

So, primarily there are two class of Samadhi 1. Samprajnata and 2. Asamprajnata. 1st one gives various powers (Siddhis) but not the liberation (Mukti). 2nd one gives liberation. Samprajnata further has Savitarka, Nirvitarka, Savichara, Nirvichara, Sananda and Samsmita stages which are described in following Sutras of Patanjali.

  • Savitarka:

    तत्र शब्दार्थज्ञानविकल्पैः सङ्कीर्णा सवितर्का समापत्तिः ॥४२॥

    42. Sound, meaning, and resulting knowledge, being mixed up, is (called) Samadhi with question.

  • Nirvitarka:

    स्मृतिपरिशुद्धौ स्वरूपशून्येवार्थमात्रनिर्भासा निर्वितर्का ॥४३॥

    43. The Samadhi called "without question" (comes) when the memory is purified, or devoid of qualities, expressing only the meaning (of the meditated object).

  • Savichara and Nirvichara:

    एतयैव सविचारा निर्विचारा च सूक्ष्मविषया व्याख्याता ॥४४॥

    44. By this process (the concentrations) with discrimination and without discrimination, whose objects are finer, are (also) explained.

Here one thing is that the lower stages of (Asamptajnata) Samadhi (upto Savichara) are classified as Sabija (with seed) Samadhi which can't destroy past Karmas.

सूक्ष्मविषयत्वञ्चालिङ्ग-पर्यवसानम् ॥४५॥

45. The finer objects end with the Pradhâna.

ता एव सबीजः समाधिः ॥४६॥

  1. These concentrations are with seed.

These do not destroy the seeds of past actions, and thus cannot give liberation, but what they bring to the Yogi is stated in the following aphorism.

And when concentration reaches the level of Nirvichara, it purifies the mind, destroys the seeds of past Karma and hence the true knowledge is gained. These stages are also described in next Sutras:

निर्विचार-वैशारद्येऽध्यात्मप्रसादः ॥४७॥

47. The concentration "without discrimination" being purified, the Chitta becomes firmly fixed.

ऋतम्भरा तत्र प्रज्ञा ॥४८॥

48. The knowledge in that is called "filled with Truth".

तज्जः संस्कारोऽन्यसंस्कारप्रतिबन्धी ॥५०॥

50. The resulting impression from this Samadhi obstructs all other impressions.

And the higher stage of Samadhi obtained is called Nirbija Samadhi:

तस्यापि निरोधे सर्वनिरोधान्निर्बीजः समाधिः ॥५१॥

51. By the restraint of even this (impression, which obstructs all other impressions), all being restrained, comes the "seedless" Samadhi.

The 2nd level of Samadhi i.e Asamprajnata are described in following Sutra:

  • Asamprajnata:

    विरामप्रत्ययाभ्यासपूर्वः संस्कारशेषोऽन्यः ॥१८॥

    18. There is another Samadhi which is attained by the constant practice of cessation of all mental activity, in which the Chitta retains only the unmanifested impressions.

    This is the perfect superconscious Asamprajnata Samadhi, the state which gives us freedom. The first state does not give us freedom, does not liberate the soul.

So, the stages of Samadhi goes : Savitarka ➡ Nirvitarka ➡ Savichara ➡ Nirvichara ➡ Sananda ➡ Sasmita ➡ Asamprajnata.


Note: I've only quoted the simple interpretation of Sutras describing various stages of Samadhi. For deeper explanation read the Swami Vivekananda's commentary on particular Sutras.

  • Will wait for few days. If no answers, I will choose yours – Akshay S Jan 6 at 12:17
  • @AkshayS No problem. Meanwhile I've just updated the answer with more clarification. – Pandya Jan 6 at 13:35
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Samadhi is of one type only, here is what Sri Ramana Maharshi said on the kinds of Samadhi:

There is only one kind of samadhi, not many kinds. To remain temporarily subsided in the Reality, without any thought, is nirvikalpa samadhi. Permanently abiding in the Self without forgetting it [even while being active and with eyes open] is sahaja samadhi. Both will give the same happiness.

  • What is Maha Samadhi then? – Akshay S Jan 6 at 5:59
  • @AkshayS Permanently abiding in the self is Maha Samadhi, just a different name of Sahaja Samadhi. – Chinmay Sarupria Jan 6 at 7:30

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