International Forum for NeoVedantins

The Story of Sri Ramakrishna:  Part 6
A Long Series

State Of Samadhi in the Life of Sri Ramakrishna

During the sadhana of Vedanta, Sri Ramakrishna tried to transcend all the limitations of body-mind duality. Under the guidance of his teacher - Tota Puri - Sri Ramakrishna took to the practice with intense zeal and determination that knew no bounds. When the effulgent form of Mother obstructed his entry into the realm of superconscious state, he put an end to it with the 'sword of discrimination'. He went into a state of highest nondual consciousness and was established in Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Continuously for three days Sri Ramakrishna was lost in that state, sitting like a stone - lifeless to outer world and stimuli. His face was calm, serene, and radiant. A doctor examined the functions of his heart and lungs, but he was dead like a wood to the external stimuli. After three days he gradually regained his normal consciousness. Afterwards Sri Ramakrishna was in state of samadhi continuously for six months.
"We intently watched Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in samadhi. His whole body relaxed and then became slightly rigid. There was no twitching of the muscles or the nerves, no movement of any limb. Both his hands lay in his lap with the fingers lightly interlocked. The sitting posture of the body was easy but absolutely motionless. The face was slightly tilted up and in repose. The eyes were nearly but not wholly closed. The eyeballs were not turned up or otherwise deflected, but they were fixed and conveyed no message of outer objects to the brain. The lips were parted in a beatific and indescribable smile. There was something in that wonderful smile which no photograph was ever able to reproduce."
"In the state of samadhi the master's body was bent on one side and therefore the cameraman went to make him sit erect by softly adjusting his chin. But as soon as he touched the chin the whole body of the Master came up like a piece of paper - so light it was. The Master was completely unaware of this incidence. Swami Nirvanananda said that he had heard that people experiencing samadhi of a certain type or depth generally do become light."

A) Conditions Necessary for Attaining the State of Samadhi

For a spiritual aspirant, Scriptures prescribe external and internal purity, continence, non-stealing, truthfulness, not injuring any being either by words or deeds, and similar moral-ethical basic values before he or she qualifies to achieve the state of samadhi.

Equally important are a few conditions to control the mind-stuff. These include steadfastness, forbearance, non-covetousness and contentment. The natural tendency of mind to go outward towards the objects of enjoyment should be checked and attempt made to draw it inwards. Thus an element of conscious and deliberate effort to control the mind becomes necessary. These preliminary preparations are known as Yama and Niyama in the ancient books on Yoga.
The necessity of a qualified teacher who has experienced transcendental reality is also emphasized by most of the knowledgeable persons.

B) Factors that Act as Milestones on the Way to Samadhi

I) Visions:

During the course of regular spiritual practice, when the mind-stuff is focused on one thought (or an idea, or a form of God) some exceptional visions may come to the consciousness of the sadhaka. All other modifications of the mind stuff are temporarily subdued and the person experiences a state wherein he is oblivious to the external stimuli and happenings. His mind dwells on one reality of internal nature, which other person cannot fathom.

In this state, however, the ego persists which is in a concentrated form. The mind takes the form of that vision and becomes one with that reality. This is very subtle experience and cannot be labeled as disease of the mind or psychiatric illness. On the contrary, 'it is through these visions, etc., that the special spiritual experiences have always been gained.' Prolonged vision may be called savikalpa samadhi - samadhi with form.
Continued part 7...  |   Previous Part 5...  |  Index to all Parts...
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