asamprajñāta

(‘ultra-cognitive absorption’)

Out of the Ṣaḍ-darśanas or six systems of Indian philosophy, that of Patañjali (200 B. C.) known as the Yoga-sūtras, is very popular since it gives highly practical methods of controlling the mind.

When a systematic attempt is made to control and eliminate the vṛttis or modifications of the mind through the practice of the various steps of yoga such as yama and niyama, it will result in ‘samādhi,’ total absorption in the object of contemplation.

This samādhi is of two types: sam-prajñāta (cognitive) and asamprajñāta (ultra-cognitive). In the former, the object of contemplation will be vividly revealed. In this state, though all other mental modifications are eliminated, that of the object of contemplation continues to remain active. Hence in the strictest sense of the definition of ‘yoga’ as ‘cittavṛtti-nirodha’ (Yogasūtras 1.2) (‘suppression of modifications of mind’) this samādhi indicates a lower state of yoga. As opposed to this, in the higher samādhi called asamprajñāta, all modifications of mind are eliminated, leaving only the saṁskāras (latent tendencies) behind. (vide Yoga-sūtras 1.18). In this state, it looks as though even the mind does not exist, since there are no mental modifications to reveal its presence.

This samādhi is sometimes called ‘nirbīja-samādhi’ (seedless samādhi) since the seeds of rebirth are eliminated as a result of this experience.

Intense vairāgya (‘paravairāgya’) or detachment is said to be the means of achieving this samādhi.

See also YOGADARŚANA.