Shiva’s Divine Ecstacies : Stages of Samadhi or Enlightenment
Many a long tale of the Omnipotent Shiva, in bodily form have been narrated for mortals to hear & adopt as model behavior. To really experience his essence is another matter. In fact, it requires a colossal paradigm shift, to transcend the limited conceptions of the mind, which mistakenly identifies this infinite being with form.
To realise Shiva, is to experience the secrets of his all pervading spirit which is “everywhere & yet nowhere”. Language however, fails miserably to capture the nuances of this divine reality. This is because language is incumbent upon the intellect & paradoxically Shiva exists in nothingness. He personifies that state of emptiness, which is beyond the intellect’s scope- which is limited to relativity.
Of course, the play of semantics can make these descriptions a bone of contention between scholars & ascetics, based on their personal experiences. So at the outset allow me to share with you the simple truth that the lines that follow are an interpretation open to debate.
Nevertheless, this article endeavours to furnish your intellect with enough knowledge so as to imbue you with the spark to go & find Shiva dear reader, all by yourself and on your own terms. In general parlance, this attainment of peace and bonding with one self so completely as to to be able to connect with divinity within each of us is called “Samadhi” or enlightenment.
Described by adepts as “an expanded state of consciousness which provides knowledge about the universe, man & god” Samadhi is the ultimate experience. Drawing from historical sources like “Vedanta” & “Yoga Sutras”, these Samadhi states begin with Samprajnata or Savikalpa & Asamprajnata or Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Eventually these divine ecstasies flower into higher states of enlightenment termed as “Dharma Megha Samadhi” & Kaivalya or “Brahma Nirvana”.
To achieve Samprajnata Samadhi the consciousness goes through some key phases. Beginning with an “analytical introspection” of the gross physical form, the consciousness, seeking liberation, is engaged with an object of meditation & its gross appearance. Gradually, as the focus increases the consciousness seeks deeper absorption with the physical form & indulges in “reflective contemplation”. This intimacy deepens, even more as the mental activities slow down & the consciousness widens its perspective, transcending the physical appearance of the object of its meditation. It begins to be aware of itself in an ocean of love & oneness with everything in creation. This state of supreme bliss is often termed as “satta, chitta, ananda” (truth, consciousness, bliss). The dualities of existence fall way & extreme satisfaction is experienced as one enters the “divine mind” which wants no more. So, in this state the “Chitta” or the conscious mind is so quietened, that the thoughts, thought forms (mental ideation) & visual images dissolve. This allows the consciousness to disentangle from the preoccupations of the minds & expand its awareness to subtler dimensions.
The yogi then proceeds to achieving an even higher state of divine awareness. This is known as “Asamprajnata Samadhi.” Here the yogi aims at attaining a “content less consciousness”. By this we mean, that while he had dissolved all mental ideation in the previous state, residual thoughts “subconscious tendencies or samskaras” continued to exist in his memory bank. By a gradual process of yogic breathing, he transforms these remembered experiences into pristine mindlessness. This ecstasy deepens the bliss and the consciousness freed of the stored impressions & Gunas (tendencies of inertia, luminosity & activity) further dissociates itself from the mind, to achieve Nirbija or seedless Samadhi.
By a series of repetitive efforts, when the yogi is steadily established in seedless Samadhi so that all his past karma by way of Samskaras & dissolution of Gunas is worked out he is said to be in “Dharma Megha” Samadhi. In this phenomenal finale not only is the consciousness completely disconnected from the mind but the mind does not exist anymore. It reverses into a state of zero (laya).
It is in this supreme ecstasy then that the consciousness is finally reunited with its parent source. “Kaivalya” as the state is described, is the final liberation, where the consciousness merges with the absolute & eternal Sadasiva. Words are a hopeless medium to describe this spectacle, as the soul, merges with god & becomes God-realised in a state often also called “Brahma Nirvana.”
That in a nutshell, is the trajectory of Samadhis experienced variously by seekers of spiritual enlightenment.
May all seekers of wisdom, be blessed with the divine ecstasies with guidance & grace.