Dhyana in Hinduism
|Dhyana in Hinduism|
ध्यान (in Devanagari)|
See also: Dhyāna in Buddhism
Dhyāna (Sanskrit; Devanagari: ध्यान) or Jhāna (झान) (Pāli) in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism [note 1] means meditation which is "a deeper awareness of oneness which is inclusive of perception of body, mind, senses and surroundings, yet remaining unidentified with it".[web 1] Dhyana is taken up after preceding exercises, and leads to samadhi and self-knowledge, separating māyā from reality to help attain the ultimate goal of mokṣa.
The term 'dhyana' is used in Jainism, Dhyāna in Buddhism and Hinduism, with somewhat different meanings.
The origins of the practice of dhyana, which culminates into samadhi, are a matter of dispute. According to Bronkhorst, dhyana was a Buddhist invention, whereas Alexander Wynne argues that dhyana was incorporated from Brahmanical practices, in the Nikayas ascribed to Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta. These practices were paired to mindfulness and insight, and given a new interpretation. Kalupahana argues that the Buddha "reverted to the meditational practices" he had learned from Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta.
In the Hindu tradition, the term is considered to have first appeared in the Upanishads. In most of the later Hindu traditions, which derive form Patanjali's Raja Yoga, dhyana is "a refined meditative practice", a "deeper concentration of the mind", which is taken up after preceding exercises. In Hinduism, dhyāna is considered to be an instrument to gain self-knowledge, separating Maya illusion from reality to help attain the ultimate goal of moksha.
In the form of a dialogue between Pandava prince Arjuna and his guide Lord Krishna[note 2] it presents a synthesis of the Brahmanical concept of Dharma with bhakti, the yogic ideals of liberation through jnana, and Samkhya philosophy.[web 2][note 3] It is the "locus classicus" of the "Hindu synthesis" which emerged around the beginning of the Common Era, integrating Brahmanic and shramanic ideas with theistic devotion.[web 2]
The Bhagavad Gita talks of four branches of yoga:
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Main article: Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The most recent assessment of Patañjali's date, developed in the context of the first critical edition ever made of the Yoga Sūtras and bhāṣya based on a study of the surviving original Sanskrit manuscripts of the work, is that of Philipp A. Maas. Maas's detailed evaluation of the historical evidence and past scholarship on the subject, including the opinions of the majority of Sanskrit authors who wrote in the first millennium CE, is that Patañjali's work was composed in 400 CE plus or minus 25 years.
Vyasa's Yogabhashya, the commentary to the Yogasutras, and Vacaspati Misra's subcommentary state directly that the samadhi techniques are directly borrowed from the Buddhists' Jhana, with the addition of the mystical and divine interpretations of mental absorption.> According to David Gordon White, the language of the Yoga Sutras is often closer to "Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, the Sanskrit of the early Mahayana Buddhist scriptures, than to the classical Sanskrit of other Hindu scriptures."
According to Karel Werner:
Patanjali's system is unthinkable without Buddhism. As far as its terminology goes there is much in the Yoga Sutras that reminds us of Buddhist formulations from the Pāli Canon and even more so from the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma and from Sautrāntika."
Robert Thurman writes that Patañjali was influenced by the success of the Buddhist monastic system to formulate his own matrix for the version of thought he considered orthodox. However, it is also to be noted that the Yoga Sutra, especially the fourth segment of Kaivalya Pada, contains several polemical verses critical of Buddhism, particularly the Vijñānavāda school of Vasubandhu.
The Eight Limbs
The eight limbs are:
Dhyana, practiced together with Dharana and Samādhi constitutes the Samyama. Samyama's goal is to fully detach the mind from its physical world bindings. This aids the Yogis in reaching an enlightenment where a self or spirit is truly acknowledged, and made aware of. Samyama also can lead to one's accomplishment of repelling the human need for objects putting the Yogis in a state of self-satisfaction.
The stage of meditation preceding dhyāna is called dharana. In the Jangama Dhyāna technique, the meditator concentrates the mind and sight between the eyebrows. According to Patañjali, this is one method of achieving the initial concentration (dhāraṇā: Yoga Sutras, III: 1) necessary for the mind to become introverted in meditation (dhyāna: Yoga Sutras, III: 2). In deeper practice of the technique, the mind concentrated between the eyebrows begins to automatically lose all location and focus on the watching itself. Eventually, the meditator experiences only the consciousness of existence and achieves self realization. Swami Vivekananda describes the process in the following way:
When the mind has been trained to remain fixed on a certain internal or external location, there comes to it the power of flowing in an unbroken current, as it were, towards that point. This state is called dhyana. When one has so intensified the power of dhyana as to be able to reject the external part of perception and remain meditating only on the internal part, the meaning, that state is called Samadhi.[note 4]
In Dhyana, the meditator is not conscious of the act of meditation (i.e. is not aware that he/she is meditating) but is only aware that he/she exists (consciousness of being), and aware of the object of meditation. Dhyana is distinct from Dharana in that the meditator becomes one with the object of meditation. This means that the meditator although aware of the object through meditation detaches him/herself from its existence in the physical world. Just as meditation emphasizes the breath, Dhyana is rooted in the concentration of not being concentrated.
The final stage of meditation in dhyāna is considered to be jhāna. At this stage of meditation, one does not see it as a meditational practice, but instead merges with the idea and thought. One cannot reach a higher stage of consciousness without jhāna.[web 3]
Samadhi is oneness with the object of meditation. There is no distinction between act of meditation and the object of meditation. Samadhi is of two kinds,[web 4] with and without support of an object of meditation:[web 5]
With the onset of the British Raj, the colonialisation of India by the British, there also started a Hindu renaissance in the 19th century, which profoundly changed the understanding of Hinduism in both India and the west. Western orientalists searched for the "essence" of the Indian religions, discerning this in the Vedas, and meanwhile creating the notion of "Hinduism" as a unified body of religious praxis and the popular picture of 'mystical India'. This idea of a Vedic essence was taken over by the Hindu reformers, together with the ideas of Universalism and Perennialism, the idea that all religions share a common mystic ground.
A major proponent in the popularisation of this Universalist and Perennialist interpretation of Advaita Vedanta was Vivekananda, who played a major role in the revival of Hinduism, and the spread of Advaita Vedanta to the west via the Ramakrishna Mission. His interpretation of Advaita Vedanta has been called "Neo-Vedanta". Vivekananda emphasised samadhi as a means to attain liberation. Yet this emphasis is not to be found in the Upanishads nor with Shankara. For Shankara, meditation and Nirvikalpa Samadhi are means to gain knowledge of the already existing unity of Brahman and Atman, not the highest goal itself. Comans:
[Y]oga is a meditative exercise of withdrawal from the particular and identification with the universal, leading to contemplation of oneself as the most universal, namely, Consciousness. This approach is different from the classical Yoga of complete thought suppression.