In Advaita, among the highest states of oneness with Brahman is "Nirvikalpa Samadhi". Do non-Advaitic Vaishnavite sects talk of Samadhi or anything similar?


Do non-advaitic vaishnavite sects have the concept of Samadhi?

Yes, Samadhi, otherwise known as Kaivala (or Kevala), is recognized by Visishtadvaitins. It is a state in which the Jivatma experiences the bliss of its own self, and not the bliss of Brahman. It is an inferior state compared to Moksha, or union with Brahman.

The state is very similar to what people experience in deep sleep.

According to Vedanta Desikan, those who achieve Samadhi or Kaivalya, return to this world again; it is not final liberation.

But anyways, Sri Vaishnavas don't care about Samadhi or Kaivalya because it is inferior compared to moksha, and even Lord Indra and Prajapati agree with this statement in the Chhandogya Upanishad:

  1. 'When a man being asleep, reposing, and at perfect rest, sees no dreams, that is the Self, this is the immortal, the fearless, this is Brahman.'

Then Indra went away satisfied in his heart. But before he had returned to the Devas, he saw this difficulty. In truth he thus does not know himself (his self) that he is I, nor does he know anything that exists. He is gone to utter annihilation. I see no good in this.

  1. Taking fuel in his hand he went again as a pupil to Pragâpati. Pragâpati said to him: 'Maghavat, as you went away satisfied in your heart, for what purpose did you come back?'

He said: 'Sir, in that way he does not know himself (his self) that he is I, nor does he know anything that exists. He is gone to utter annihilation. I see no good in this!

  1. 'So it is indeed, Maghavat,' replied Pragâpati; 'but I shall explain him (the true Self) further to you, and nothing more than this
  2. Live here other five years.'
  • Good Answer. But can Vishitadvaitavaad be included in Dvaitavaad?
    – user17294
    Feb 5 '19 at 4:12
  • @ParthaBanerjee No, Visishtadvaita is different from Dvaita. In fact, Visishtadvaita has Advaita in the name. The difference between Visishtadvaita and Dvaita is that Visishtadvaita believes Jivas and matter make up the body of Brahman, and have Brahman as their Antaryami, whereas Dvaitas think that Jiva, matter, and Brahman are completely separate and different.
    – Ikshvaku
    Feb 5 '19 at 14:42
  • @yes thats why i had questioned ur answer. the op asks for non-advaitic views
    – user17294
    Feb 5 '19 at 14:45
  • 2
    @ParthaBanerjee Oh ok. Well, even though Visishtadvaita has the name "advaita" in it, it is still considered a non-Advaitic, Vaishnava sect. It is neither Advaita proper, nor Dvaita; it is in between.
    – Ikshvaku
    Feb 5 '19 at 14:53

No, I do not think that the Vaishnavite sects have the concept of samadhi.

Samadhi as basically related to the yoga tradition and have different stages like sasmita, sananda etc which have been discussed elsewhere in details. The Asamprajnata samadhis are not Advaitic, by the way. Sri Adi Shankarachary's original notion of the Atmajnana (as revealed from His commentaries of the Prasthanatrayi) is not related to samdhi at all (Ref: Vedaante Jnaner Swarup by Dr. Govindagopal Mukhopadhya in Chetanaar Arohini ( Ananda Publishers, Kolkata).

In the bhaktimarga of the Vaishnavas, the focus is on attaining the Prema or Love of God in its purest form. In Brahmasamhita we get

Prabuddhe jnana-bhaktibhyam Atmanyaanda-chinmayi/ Udetyanttama bhaktir Bhagavad-premalakshanaa//

But some stages of bhakti are mentioned that look identical to samadhi externally. In Bhaktirasamritasindhu, we read

Chittam sattwibhavat praane nasyatyatmanamudvatam/ Pranastu vikriyam gachchhan deham vikshovatyalam/ Tada stambhadaayo bhava bhaktadehe bhavantyami/te stambha-sweda- romanchaah swarabhedo atha vepathuh/Vaivarna-masru-pralaya itystau sattwika smrita//

meaning, that as the chitta acquires sattwa-bhava, the body of the devotee experience stambha(stillness), sweada, romancha, swaraveda, vepathu, vaivarnya, asru, and pralaya(falling on floor like a dead body).

Stambha and pralaya look very similar to what we know as samadhi.

The above book further clarifies the stages of progress on the path of bhakti as

kshantir avyarthakalatwam viraktir mamasunyata/aashaavaddha-samutkantha naamagaane sadaaruchih//Ashaktis tadgunaakhyaane pritis tadvasatisthale/ityador anubhavah syur jaatabhaavankure jane//

So the stages mentioned do not end with samadhi. It goes on lie having forgiveness, no wasting of time, dispassion to wordly things, eagerness to have God-realization, always engaging in samkirtana, love of explaining the glories of God and Extreme Love of God.

When one attains Prema, he or she remains always in the ecstatic state and crosses the world of maya. He forgets the world and becomes mad of chanting the name of God,sometimes cries,sometimes laughs and sometimes dances.(Srimad-Bhagavatam, 11/2)

Sri Chaitanya-Charitamrita describes many such bhavas of Mahaprabhu.

There is mention of fifteen different bhavas in Sridhar Swami's commentary of the sloka 10/43/17 of Srimad-Bhagavatam. The last one (Santa) may again look very similar to samadhi.

By the way, almost identical features are mentioned in the Vayaviya Samhita of the Shiva-Purana, while stating the features of Shivabhakti (slokas 1 to 5), Padma-Purana (Uttar khanda, ch 101) stating the features of Vishnu-bhakti, in Merutantra and Kularnavatantra(Prauranta Ullas, sloka 1-6) in stating the features of the bhakti of the kaulikas, and in Devi-Gita describing the features of Para-Bhakti. So these features applies to any Dvaitavadi Bhaktimargi and not necessarily to the Vaishnava Dvaitavadis.

These are often referred to as Bhava-samadhi in many biographies of the bhaktimargi saints though.

(Reference: Dikshasaara, Amita, republished by Mahamilan Math,Chapter-Bhaktiyoga, page 226-261)

  • In this photo, Sri Ramakrishna is probably in Bhava Samadhi.
    – Pinakin
    Feb 4 '19 at 18:45
  • @Chimay Sarupria Sri Ramakrishna was siddha in 18 different bhavas and experience all types of samadhi every now and then. It is not possible so call it bhava-samdhi seeing this photo alone:)
    – user17294
    Feb 5 '19 at 4:16
  • He himself told about some stages like Bhava, Prema etc.. some 3-4 stages in total and said an ordinary human cannot reach them all but Sri Ramakrishna wasn't an ordinary human.
    – Pinakin
    Feb 5 '19 at 4:17
  • @Chinmay Sarupria He spoke of nirvikalpa samadhi also
    – user17294
    Feb 5 '19 at 4:19
  • One gets Advaita experience in Nirvikalpa Samadhi; Bhava, Prema etc.. are devotional states.
    – Pinakin
    Feb 5 '19 at 4:20

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