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Samādhi is the highest state of consciousness that a human can reach in life. It is the goal of our spiritual journey on earth. Samadhi has been divided into two parts: Samprajnata and Asamprajnata.

  1. What is the difference between the two?
  2. Is it true that in Samadhi a human can control Nature?
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In meditation there are two different states depending upon the consciousness of the yogi. That samadhi where the consciousness of the yogi retains his sense of I'ness, that is, his nature, personality, etc. remains is called as samprajnata samadhi. In it there remains analysis, deliberation, sense of the outer world, along with feeling of happiness. So the Patnatjali yoga sutra defines as thus:

vitarkavicārānandāsmitārūpānugamātsaṃprajñātaḥ [PYS - 1.17]
- Cognitive meditation is accompanied by reasoning, discrimination, bliss and the sense of 'I am.'

But other than it where the personal I'ness doesn't remain, that is, the individuality is lost and the mind is free of analysis, reflection, sense of the world, etc. is called as asamprajnata samadhi:

virāmapratyayābhyāsapūrvaḥ saṃskāraśeṣo'nyaḥ [PYS - 1.18]
- There is another meditation which is attained by the practice of alert mental suspension until only subtle impressions remain.

Controlling nature doesn't happen in samprajnata state, but in the advanced asamprajnata state when the yogi concentrates upon different objects the power of that object he gains. Also there are other siddhis obtained about which the Bibhuti Pada of the yoga sutras describe.

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In his translation and commentary on the Yoga Sutras, Swami Vivekananda commenting on I. 17. says:

...In the Samprajnata Samadhi come all the powers of controlling nature. It is of four varieties [he then gives details of the four varieties]...There is no liberation in getting powers. It is a worldly search after enjoyments, and there is no enjoyment in this life; All search for enjoyment is vain; this is the old lesson which man finds so hard to learn. When he does learns it, he gets out of the universe and becomes free. The possession of what are called occult powers is only intensifying the world, and in the end, intensifying suffering. Though as a scientist Patanjali is bound to point out the possibilities of this science, he never misses a an opportunity to warn us against these powers.

To become free, liberated, the seedless Samadhi of verse 18 is recommended. A person who gets the powers of verse 17 is barred from liberation and must face rebirth and the consequent karma generated by those powers....

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Roughly speaking, Samprajnata Samadhi refers to conscious or concrete meditation, whereas Asamprajnata Samadhi refers to unconscious or abstract meditation. These terms originate in the First Pada of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras:

1.17. Cognitive meditation is accompanied by reasoning, discrimination, bliss and the sense of 'I am.'

1.18. There is another meditation which is attained by the practice of alert mental suspension until only subtle impressions remain.

Now the Yoga Sutras consist of extremely concise aphorisms, so for more detail on the subject we need to turn to a commentary. Thankfully, the sage Vyasa himself composed a commentary on the Yoga Sutras, the famous Yoga Bhashya. Here is what Vyasa says about the two Sutras above in this excerpt from his Yoga Bhashya:

Question : — " When the agent has suppressed his internal organ through the two means (just described ), how can the meditation be said to be Conscious ? "

( Answer ) : —

Sutra (17) : — Conscious, because attended with the forms of argumentation, deliberation, joy, and egoism.

Com. : —(1)" Argumentation " is the gross perception of the internal organ, with regard to its object : whereas (2) " Deliberation " is subtle in its nature. (3) "Joy" is delight. (4) " Egoism " is the partial cognition of identity....

Now, what is the nature of Unconscious or Abstract meditation and what are the means to it ?

Reply: —

Sutra (18): — The other, preceded by the practice of the cause of suspension, is that in which the residua alone remain behind.

Com: — When all the functions have been suspended and the residua alone remain behind, then we have a suppression of the internal organ, which constitutes (a form of) meditation, called the Unconscious or Abstract.

Of this the means is the highest] form of Dispassion (see above). And, because an exercise based on an object would not be capable of being fit for its accomplishment, therefore the objectless (or immaterial) cause of suspension is made the basis here ; and this cause is devoid of any material object. (Consequently) the internal organ, preceded by the practice thereof, becomes immaterial, as if non-existing. This Immaterial or seedless meditation is what is called the Unconscious or the Abstract.

To sum up, in Samprajnata Samadhi, your attention is from you as an individual onto a particular concrete thing. In Asamprajnata Samadhi, on the other hand, both the sense of individuality disappears as well, and the concrete thing being meditated upon. So it's a more abstract and impersonal experience, and it's highest aspiration it leads to Kaivalya, which I discuss here.

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Raj Yoga divides Samadhi into two parts:

  • Samprajnata : Samprajnata Samadhi also known as sa-bija samadhi - 'with support'
  • Asamprajnata : Asamprajnata Samadhi also known as nir-bija samadhi - 'without support'

The main difference between two is Samprajnata Samadhi need an objective support to meditate until final stage of Samprajnata attained. Asamprajnata has no objective support.

Ref: The Yoga Book - Stephen Sturgess

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