Nirvikalpa Samadhi and Self-Knowledge: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar
Sometimes people say that Nirvikalpa Samadhi is a state where there is no knower and known. That is really a half-truth. To capture the essence of Nirvikalpa Samadhi, it is better to say that in Nirvikalpa the KNOWER and the KNOWN are IDENTICAL. It is only pure consciousness that by its very nature is self-revealing and self-knowing.
Nirvikalpa in Sanskrit means “without thought or doubt or mental modification”. It is the absence of mental modification and presence of fullness of consciousness in Nirvikalpa Samadhi which allows for the clear recognition of the Self.
Self is both the Knower and the Known, the Seer and the Seen, without any duality. Self, being one without a second, is always self-knowing. There is no “other” for it to know. That is why we refer to the Self as Nirvikalpa. The reference to Nirvikalpa implies the nondual nature of the Self.
While deep sleep is a state of complete unconsciousness, Nirvikalpa Samadhi is the state of Full and Complete Consciousness. Deep sleep and Nirvikalpa Samadhi are the two sides of the same coin. In a very real and true sense Nirvikalpa Samadhi is the state of “deep awake”. One is fully asleep to the world of perceptions and fully awake in the Self, which is Sat-Chit-Ananda.
Nirvikalpa Samadhi cannot be understood without direct experience. But it is not impossible to understand it. If it was a state that is beyond understanding, Sages such as Shankracharya and Ramana Maharishi would not be able to speak of it. Such is not the case. People who speak about Nirvakalpa Samadhi without actually experiencing it can only speculate about its nature. Because such people are confused about Nirvikalpa Samadhi, their statements create confusion for others.
The mind can continue to exist and function after Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Through the existing mental apparatus, the Sage can teach and experience via the mind and the body. The Sage may weep or laugh or eat or sleep or dream. All those things are due to mental modifications and unrelated to the Self-nature.
After Self-Realization, the mind is seen as existing but not separate from the Self. The Self Knows Itself even though the mind still exists. The mind exists as a condition that rises from the Self and then is absorbed back into it. It is due to the presence of the Mind, (until the departure from the body), that Knowledge of the Self can be passed on by the Realized beings to others who seek such knowledge.
Namaste and love to all