What is Nirvikalpa Samadhi?

Nirvikalpa samadhi represents the second stage of samadhi, a profound state of meditation or self-realization characterized by complete absorption and bliss through right knowledge (yoga or union with the divine). As the eighth and ultimate step on the path of yoga according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, samadhi stands as the pinnacle of spiritual attainment otherwise known as god-realization.

The term "nirvikalpa" derives its meaning from various Sanskrit roots, combining "sam" signifying "together" or "completely," "a" denoting "toward," and "she" implying "put."

While direct translations may vary, interpretations encompass realms from "bliss" to "liberation" and even "enlightenment." Notably, "nirvikalpa" can be translated as "not wavering," emphasizing the unwavering and steadfast nature of this stage of samadhi, an "unwavering state of bliss".

Attaining the state of nirvikalpa samadhi demands advanced practitioners who have progressed through preceding stages such as dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation) or jnana (which is basically science in the truest sense of the word).

This state for extended periods, ranging from hours to even days, potentially leading to permanent transcendence of consciousness from the physical body to cosmic or universal consciousness or complete self-realization.

Nirvikalpa Samadhi is related to the Western concept known as the dark night of the soul (truth is that there is only One Soul or One Self). The dark night of the soul is where you go from thinking all is separate to knowing all is self. That's one. So while it is true that there is still diversity or difference in the world (it must be noted that the world is self really), the final step in self-realization is the understanding that the purpose of self is companionship i.e. love which is why self is diverse or different in life. It is this a state of love bliss also known as sat chit ananda.

In Western terms, there isn't a direct equivalent or commonly used name for Nirvikalpa samadhi. However, some Western spiritual or mystical traditions may describe similar states of consciousness using different terminology. For example, in Christian mysticism, the concept of "union with God" or "mystical union" may bear some resemblance to the idea of Nirvikalpa samadhi. St. Therese of Lisieux described it as follows: "Heaven for me is hidden in a little Host where Jesus, my Spouse, is veiled for love. I go to that Divine Furnace to draw out life, and there my Sweet Savior listens to me night and day."

Similarly, in certain forms of Sufism (Islamic mysticism), the concept of "annihilation in God" or "fana" could be seen as parallel.

In Buddhism, one concept that aligns with the idea of deep meditative absorption is called "Jhana" or "Dhyana." Jhana refers to states of concentrated meditation where the mind becomes completely absorbed in the object of focus, leading to deep tranquility, bliss, and insight. There are different levels or stages of Jhana described in Buddhist teachings, with each stage representing a deepening of meditative absorption and realization. A similar state exists in Buddhism with the Adi-Buddha which represents the ultimate nature of enlightenment, which transcends concepts of duality and is beyond ordinary perception. The depiction of Adi-Buddha with a consort or lover on his lap. The consort or lover, known as a "Dakini" or "Khandro," symbolizes these qualities. The union of Adi-Buddha and the consort on his lap not only signifies the integration and harmony of wisdom and skillful means, representing the nondual nature of reality and the ultimate goal of enlightenment but also a state of tantric love bliss through having realized one's true nature.