"Holding on to the supreme state is Samadhi. When it is with effort due to mental disturbances, it is Savikalpa. When these disturbances are absent, it is Nirvikalpa. Remaining permanently in the primal state without effort is Sahaja."
Ramana Maharshi on Samadhi
Question : What is samadhi?
Ramana Maharshi : The state in which the unbroken experience of existence-consciousness is attained by the still mind, alone is samadhi. That still mind which is adorned with the attainment of the limitless supreme Self, alone is the reality of God.
When the mind is in communion with the Self in darkness, it is called nidra [sleep], that is, the immersion of the mind in ignorance. Immersion in a conscious or wakeful state is called samadhi. Samadhi is continuous inherence in the Self in a waking state. Nidra or sleep is also inherence in the Self but in an unconscious state. In sahaja samadhi the communion is con-tinuous.
Question : What are kevala nirvikalpa samadhi and sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi?
Ramana Maharshi :The immersion of the mind in the Self, but without its destruction, is kevala nirvikalpa samadhi. In this state one is not free from vasanas and so one does not therefore attain mukti. Only after the vasanas have been destroyed can one attain liberation.
Question : When can one practise sahaja samadhi?
Ramana Maharshi : Even from the beginning. Even though one practises kevala nirvikalpa samadhi for years together, if one has not rooted out the vasanas one will not attain liberation.
Question : May I have a clear idea of the difference between savikalpa and nirvikalpa?
Ramana Maharshi : Holding on to the supreme state is samadhi. When it is with effort due to mental disturbances, it is savikalpa. When these disturbances are absent, it is nirvikalpa. Remaining permanently in the primal state without effort is sahaja.
Question : Is nirvikalpa samadhi absolutely necessary before the attainment of sahaja?
Ramana Maharshi : Abiding permanently in any of these samadhis, either savikalpa or nirvikatpa, is sahaja [the natural state]. What is body-consciousness? It is the insentient body plus consciousness. Both of these must lie in another consciousness which is absolute and unaffected and which remains as it always is, with or without the body-consciousness. What does it then matter whether the body-consciousness is lost or retained, provided one is holding on to that pure consciousness? Total absence of body-consciousness has the advantage of making the samadhi more intense, although it makes no difference to the knowledge of the supreme.
Source: Be As You Are, David Godman
Sri Chinmoy on Samadhi
Sahaja samadhi encompasses the other samadhis— savikalpa and nirvikalpa—and it goes beyond, beyond. Samadhi is like a big building with many floors. When one is in sahaja samadhi, he is the owner of the whole building. He has the height of nirvikalpa, and the heights far above that, and at the same time he has achieved the perfection, wealth and capacity of all the other floors. On the one hand he has encompassed within himself all the Doors, and on the other hand he is above them. Nirvikalpa is like one height, say the thirtieth floor; it is very high, but it has only its own limited capacity. It cannot bring any of its capacity to the basement. If one has nirvikalpa, he is afraid to go down into the basement, because he may not be able to go back up again. But sahaja consciousness is above the thirtieth floor and, at the same time, it can be in the basement also. Sahaja samadhi will not be satisfied with thirtieth floor; it will be satisfied only when it touches the basement, the first floor, the second floor, all the floors. The power of sahaja samadhi is such that it can take one to any floor.
Source: The Summits of God-Life: Samadhi and Siddhi, Sri Chinmoy.
Swami Chidananda on Samadhi
The word “Samadhi” is used to mean trance as a practice, as a technique, being one of the eight Angas of the Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali. It is a Sadhana; it is something that is practised. But, quite often, the same word “Samadhi” is also used in the sense of the culmination of Yoga or the ultimate objective or goal of Yoga; then it denotes a state of superconsciousness, a state transcending all mind-activity. Therefore, it will not be wrong to say that in the Yoga Shastra the term as such is used to mean both a practice as well as a state of superconsciousness. As a practice or a technique, it is referred to by various names as Asmita Samadhi, Savitarka Samadhi, Savichara Samadhi and so on. In English sometimes, writers have been in the practice of alluding to these as the lower Samadhis. When the Arurukshu Yogi—a Yogi who has already climbed sufficiently well up on the ladder of Yoga and has reached a very high state—goes on practising Samadhi, diligently and with great exertion, without giving up, without tiring, with sustained zeal, with Vairagya and great regularity, with great tenacity of purpose, for months and years, then he ascends into higher and higher states of Samadhi. The Samadhi in such a high state is referred to as Nirbija Samadhi or Nirvikalpa Samadhi or Asamprajnata Samadhi. When the word “Samadhi” is used in this way to refer to the Nirbija Samadhi or Asamprajnata Samadhi, then it means the superconscious state. They even go so far as to say that it is a state of non-dual consciousness. That is a matter of opinion. When the term “Samadhi” is used to indicate the Savitarka Samadhi or the Savikalpa Samadhi or other lower Samadhis, then it means trance which is a technique and a practice. When one reaches the level of the Asamprajnata Samadhi or the Nirvikalpa or Nirbija Samadhi, sometimes the Yogi goes on practising such a state until he becomes so much established in that state of consciousness that even when he comes back into the waking state, down from the deep inward state, where he is not aware of the body or the time or the surroundings, even when he comes back into the normal state, his awareness continues to be qualified by the same state of non-duality. In other words, he is so much established in that state of spiritual consciousness or awareness that even while he is moving and acting, he still remains in that state of inner awareness, and they call this the state of Sahaja Samadhi. Sahaja means natural. So, in Sahaja Samadhi, the state of non-dual consciousness becomes to the Yogi his natural state, and not a state which he tries hard to reach and then reaches only to come back to the waking state after a while. Rather, the state of non-dual consciousness becomes normal to him. The Yogi thus gets established in Sahaja Avastha. But, the Sahaja Avastha is a rare phenomenon and is itself the fruit of intense practice of the other stages and gradations of Samadhi. It is only after intense practice of Savitarka Samadhi, Savichara Samadhi and Asmita Samadhi and the continued practice of being in a state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi that the Nirvikalpa Samadhi becomes natural to the Yogi, that it becomes continued and unbroken in all the three states, namely, waking, dream and deep sleep. Thus, in the Sahaja Avastha, even in the waking state, even in the midst of activity, the Yogi rests in non-dual consciousness.
Source: THE PHILOSOPHY, PSYCHOLOGY AND PRACTICE OF YOGA, Chapter 16, Swami Chidananda
FOR THE RECORD: In clarification, the two stages of Samadhi found in the yoga philosophy of Patanjali, Samprajnata Samadhi and Asamprajnata Samadhi, are virtually if not totally indistinguishable from Savikalpa Samadhi and Nirvikalpa Samadhi as found in Vedanta.
NOTE: Links to the above sources can be found by going to either of the two links below:
NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI, SAHAJA SAMADHI
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
ON THE RAZOR'S