Dharana Dhyana Samadhi



Dharana Dhyana and Samadhi are set out in the Patanjalis Yoga Sutras and are the final three of the eight limbs of yoga.   


Dharana is the sixth limb of Patanjalis Sutras and is the fixing of the mind on a particular point. Dharana is the ability to focus the mind on a point, without another associated thought drawing the awareness away from the original point.

Although fixing the mind plays an important part of a Pranayama practice, it should not be confused with Dharana.

Dharana dhyana samadhi

Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali

Book 3, Super Normal Powers. Sutra 1.  

The five external aids to (or accessories of) Yoga have been explained; (now) Dharana is to be explained.

Dharana Is the mind’s (Chitta’s) fixation on a particular point in space

Dharana consists in holding or fixing the mind on the navel circle, or on the lotus of the heart, or on the effulgent centre of the head, or on the tip of the nose or of the tongue, or on such like spots in the body, (Adharas) or on any external object, by means of the modifications of the mind. (Pratyahara)

In the case of internal regions, the mind is fixed directly through immediate feeling. But in the case of external objects the mind is fixed not directly but through the modifications of the senses.

By external objects are meant external sounds, forms and the like. That fixation of the mind in which there is consciousness only of the region or object on which it has been fixed, and the other senses being withdrawn do not apprehend their respective objects, is Pratyahara-based Dharana nd is an aid to Samadhi.

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Fixing the mind in Pranayama is called Bhavana or contemplative thinking. The Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali says:

On attaining certain maturity and refinement such Bhavana develops into Dharana and Dhyana properly so called.

In Dharana although the mind is fixed towards a single point, it may not be of a continuous and uninterrupted flow. When there is an uninterrupted flow of awareness then it becomes Dhyana.


Dhyana is the uninterrupted flow of awareness towards a single point. Dhyana as defined in The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (10 chapters) comes in two types, Saguna (with features like colour) Nirguna (devoid of qualities or absolute) In Dhyana, the meditator is not conscious of the act of meditation, and is unaware of the outside world, there is only a continuous and uninterrupted flow of awareness towards an object. 

Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali

Book 3, Super Normal Powers. Sutra 2.  

In that (Dharana) the continuous flow of similar mental modifications Is Called Dhyana or Meditation

In Dharana or fixity, the flow of similar mental modifications on the same object is confined to the desired place. But the thought-on the same object is intermittent and in succession.

  • When practice that becomes continuous, i.e. appears as an unbroken flow then it is called Dhyana
  • If flow of knowledge in Dharana may be compared to a succession of similar drops of water, in Dhyana the flow of knowledge is continuous like of oil or honey.


Hatha Yoga Pradipka 7.5

When Prana becomes subtle and the mind steady, one attains the state of equilibrium, which is called Samadhi

Etymology of Samadhi

  • Sam = together – toward
  • dhā = puts – places 
  • Joining or putting together
  • Sam = integrated – together
  • Ā = towards
  • dhā = to get or to hold
  • Integration and wholeness or truth


  • Samadhi is a non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the consciousness of the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object
  • The object shines back unmodified
  • Samadhi represents the stage where the mediator merges with its object of focus and transcends the self altogether to a higher understanding


  • Samadhi, the person who, in all places, has surrendered to a certain object and is absorbed in that object, he too attains a state of Samadhi
  • Samadhi-If in that meditation the object shines back without being modified (Kleshas) by the mind at all, that is Samadhi.


Patanjali describes two states of Samadhi, objectless Samadhi and objective Samadhi.


In objectless Samadhi the object shines back unmodified. That means the object being observed is free from mental modifications, such as how shall I describe the object? Is it useful to me?

In objective Samadhi there remains an element of modification. The difference is the observer is aware the object being observed is through mental modifications. 


The origin of the word Samadhi is said to come from the Maitri Upanishad, which dates from around the 1st century

  • Oneness with the object    
  • No distinction between the act of meditation and the object of meditation


Remaining detached from experiences brought about by mediation is essential if we are to proceed along the path.

If we identify with the experience, we are longer the observer seeing it for what it is, just another experience.

If we identify with the experience it will undoubtedly be from a position of ego.   

Martin Thompson.


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