I, 19, 20 ? Types Of Samadhi ? Aspirants Or Sadhakas


[B]I, 19 Bhava pratyaya videha prakritilayanaam
I, 20 Sraddha virya smirti samadhi prajna purvakah itaresam

Thorough knowledge
may arise from one?s disposition
at birth
as in the case of illumined souls
who experience only their incorporeal state,
merged with nature.

For others
who are not born
with this thorough knowledge,
being absorbed in Spirit
is preceded by faith
indomitable vigor
and a mindfulness
that is
always concerned
with the wisdom
of Oneness[/b]

M. Stiles

These two sutras describe two groups of sadhakas. The first is some one who is on the path to nirbija samadhi but dies before experiencing it. The second sutra explains to all others how to achieve nirbija samadhi.

Both Sw. Shyam and Sw. Satchidananda agree that the advanced sadhaka is reborn into a family of a yogi, and continues where he/she left off prior to death. Sw. Satchidananda says that gods or siddha purushas are those that have mastered sa-asmita samadhi; however, they have not yet attained liberation and therefore, they have to come back as human beings to become liberated.

Iyengar has a different interpretation. He says that the sadhaka that has achieved asamprajnata is between the sabija and nirbija samadhi. This sadhaka may experience bodilessness but in ?merging with nature, they forget to climb to the he topmost rung of the ladder? (p. 68) and in doing so achieve isolation rather than liberation.

For those of us who are not advanced souls, we are still able to achieve nirbija samadhi by

  1. Sridhar = trust or faith coupled with mental and intellectual firmness
  2. virya = vigor and strength
  3. smirti = memory, recollection or mindfulness
  4. samadhi = absorption in the Spirit
  5. prajna = awareness of real knowledge acquired through intense contemplation.

Iyengar, B.K.S., Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. New Delhi, India: Harper Collins Publications India. 1993

Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Buckingham, VA: Integral Yoga Publications. 2004
Swami Shyam, Patanjali Yog Darshan, India: International Meditation Institute, 2001, 3rd. edition.

Stiles, M., Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Boston, MA: Red Wheel/Weiser LLC. 2002.


The idea that a persistent Yogi is reborn into a Yogic family accords with my Buddhist understanding of the results of the Karma we make for ourselves. For those of us who are not advanced souls sutra I,20 gives a map to follow. That is in Desikachar?s words (The Heart of Yoga) ?Through faith, which will give sufficient energy to achieve success against all odds, direction will be maintained. The realization of the goal of Yoga is a matter of time?. In ?How to Know God? faith is not ?blind credulity? but ?True faith is provisional, flexible, undogmatic, open to doubt and reason.? So if we have the idea of the Possibility of achieving or moving towards liberation, that is faith. But we also need energy because without it we won?t practice and see the results. On energy I find the following observation quite encouraging ?.. energy is like a muscle; it grows stronger through being used.?


In zen it is said that a person requires great faith, great doubt and great courage to follow the spiritual path: “A person who commits himself to the practice of zen must be equipped with three essentials. A great root of faith. A great ball of doubt. A great tenacity of purpose. Lacking any one of them, he is like a tripod with only two legs.” These statements echo sutra I-20. Great faith is required to tread an unknown path - faith in teacher, teachings, and your Self. Doubt is needed to balance faith, so that it does not become blind faith. One needs to critically examine the teachings in the light of one’s own experiences on the path. Courage is needed to overcome obstacles - in the form of both positive and negative experiences, a courage to proceed, regardless of one’s experiences and perceived progress or lack of it.


good commentary. there is much help coming from those who consider the triple aspects of sadhana and its inner workings. In each tradition there is this trinity. It is vata-pitta-kapha = selfstudy-practice-devotion and also reflection/meditation - courage - and homage to your lineage. namaste mukunda


I find it interesting that Taimni considers the Videhas and Prakrtilayas of sutra 19 to be pseudo and “inferior to those who tread the normal path of Yoga outlined in the Yoga-Sutras.” He recognises that this is at variance with other commentators.

As you have previously mentioned, sutra 20 lists certain character traits which are essential for the attainment of a high spiritual ideal.

The Science of Yoga I K Taimni The Theosophical Publishing House 2005 p.45 - 50