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Samadhi - A Scientific Phenomenon?


By Parikshiti Mhaispurkar

Parikshiti is a qualified yoga teacher from the Yoga Vidya Gurukul. He is currently working at the Howard Florey Institute of Neurosciences (Melbourne University) as a visting scientist and at the School of Physics (Monash University). He is also a research team member at Yoga Vidya Gurukul.


Samadhi - A Scientific Phenomenon?


Since ages human creed has always tried to explore the cause of the life and how to make it happy. The ancient philosophy of Yoga, developed by various sages and yogis, has successfully established some key aspects related to the whole shebang.

Quite a lot theories put forth and experimental results obtained by the modern scientific community are in well agreement with the abovementioned aspects. What follows is an attempt to explore such correlations.

Ishavasya Upanishad starts with the mystic syllables of peace :

Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih


Meaning : This is full. From full, the full is taken, the full has come. If full is removed from full, the full alone remains.
Om peace, peace, peace. [1]
("Poorna" = Complete or Full.)

This explains one of the key principles of physics, Conservation of Energy. The word POORNA is nothing but the ultimate principle or the energy source of creation. The word Yog has been derived from a Sanskrit word 'Yuj', means union. The union of life energy of an individual with the Poorna.

Sage Patanjali has elaborated eight dimensions of yoga in his Yogsutras as Yam (Observances), Niyama (Abstinences), Asana (Postures), Pranayam (Breath controlling), Pratyahar (Withdrawal of senses), Dharana (Determination), Dhyan (Meditation) and Samadhi (Self realization or Nirvana per Buddhist philosophy).

According to Sage Patanjali the Samadhi has three different categories Savikalpa, Asamprajnyata and Nirvikalpa or Sanjeevan. Savikalpa is an interface of trans meditation and higher awareness state, Asamprajnyata. In Savikalpa one can experience Vitarka (Guessing), Vichara (Thought), Anand (Bliss) and Asmita (Self awareness). [2]

Results obtained by various researchers on effects of meditation on human brain can be explained on the basis of Savikalpa. In one of the experiments Buddhist monks, at a significantly higher state of meditation, were asked to impose thoughts related to compassion and in-situ medical imaging was performed. It was found that the left hemisphere was much prominent. This proves that at the interface stage thinking, self-awareness and guessing were active. [3]

Another study showed that at the further higher state of meditation, different lobes of brain slowed down and the thalamus stopped signals from reaching to the lobes. This maybe considered as a step forward to the Asamprajnyata from Savikalpa. According to sage Patanjali Asamprajnyata is a higher awareness state with absence of gross awareness. [4]

The Nirvikalpa or Sanjivan Samadhi is well explained by the greatest yogi, Dhnyaneshwar. In his treatise, Bhavarthadeepika or Dhnyaneshwari, Dhnyaneshwar has emphatically talked about relation between higher awareness and light or pure energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation. In the book 'Swara Yoga', Swami Muktibodhananda has clearly elaborated the correlation between electromagnetic radiations and consciousness on the basis of explanations given by the all time great physicist, Albert Einstein [5].

Yoga is often considered as a journey from body to mind and from mind to soul or spirit or life energy. In other words Yoga is a journey from gross material energy to more refined form of the energy. This phenomenon of journey from gross material energy to more refined energy is apparently quite similar to the Bose-Einstein condensation. Noble prizewinner scientists have experimentally verified the Bose-Einstein condensation. [6]

In the experiment they conducted on the atoms of an alkali metal, the atoms got transferred into symmetric wave functions and interference pattern was observed at the absolute zero temperature (-273 deg. cent). Can it be compared with the higher three dimensions of the Ashtanga Yoga, Dharna, Dhyan and Samadhi? The alkali atoms were slowed down using a magnetic trap ( Dharana: Slowing down the fluctuations of mind and focusing it on the goal of self realization) and brought closer (Dhyan: Bringing one self closer to the ultimate principle) and ultimately the atoms were merged into each other forming light (Samadhi: Merging into the ultimate principle or Purna). Is it the reason, why Yogis perform their higher meditation practices at the serene and chilled areas in the Himalayas?




References -


  • Swami Satyananda Saraswati in Nine Principle Upnishadas, Yoga Publication Trust, Munger, Bihar, India.
  • Swami Satyananda Saraswati in Kundalini Tantra, Yoga Publication Trust, Munger, Bihar, India.
  • Newton Curt, Technology Review (An MIT Enterprises), 2004.
  • Stein Joel, Time Magazine, Vol.162 No.5, August 2003.
  • Swami Muktibodhananda in ‘Swara Yoga - The Tantric Science of Brain Breathing’, Yoga Publication Trust, Munger, Bihar, India.
  • Advanced Information on the Noble Prize in Physics 2001, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.