1.46 – These four preliminary forms of samadhi require the support of an object.

ता एव सबीजस्समाधिः ॥४६॥

tah eva sabijah samadhih

  • tah – they; these
  • eva – same; way; like
  • sabijah – with seed
  • samadhih – unity consciousness; union of subject and object; bringing together; deep absorption

1.47 – In the undisturbed flow of samadhi without the support of even subtle objects, the true Self is clearly perceived.

निर्विचारवैशारद्येऽध्यात्मप्रसादः ॥४७॥

nirvichara vaisharadye adhyatma prasadah

  • nirvichara – without subtle thoughts
  • vaisharadye – undisturbed flow; skill in; wisdom; experience
  • adhyatma – true Self; Supreme Spirit
  • prasadah – tranquility; clarity; calmness; brightness; grace

1.48 – In that samadhi, one has direct insights which are filled with truth.

ऋतंभरा तत्र प्रज्ञा ॥४८॥

ritambhara tatra prajna

  • ritambhara – filled with truth; supreme intellect; upholder of truth
  • tatra – there; therein; in that
  • prajna – wisdom; intuitive insight

1.49 – The higher knowledge gained from those insights differs from that acquired through inference or the testimony of others in that it contains a special purpose.

श्रुतानुमानप्रज्ञाभ्यामन्यविषया विशेषार्थत्वात् ॥४९॥

shruta anumana prajnabhyam anya vishaya vishesha-arthatvat

  • shruta – heard; sacred knowledge; oral tradition
  • anumana – inference; consideration; reflection
  • prajnabhyam – higher knowledge; great wisdom; intuitive insight
  • anya – other; different
  • vishaya – object of sensory experience; content; subject matter; impressions
  • vishesha – distinction; difference; special
  • arthatvat – purpose; significance

Commentary on Sutras 1.46—1.49:

Patanjali began to describe the various stages of absorption in Sutras 1.41—1.45. He continues in this next series. Throughout this journey, the yogi travels through finer and finer layers of reality.

To recap:

First, there’s the partial absorption with gross objects accompanied by gross thoughts (savitarka samadhi). Then, there’s the full engrossment with a gross object where all the ripples in consciousness have subsided, and nothing but the object remains (nirvitarka samadhi).

Next, two stages of samadhi supported by subtle objects are described—partial absorption on those subtle objects, with subtle thoughts still present (savichara samadhi), and total absorption on a subtle object with nothing but the object remaining (nirvichara samadhi).

All four types of absorption listed above are forms of sabija samadhi, samadhi “with seed.” Each requires the support of an object.

Now, Patanjali describes nirbija samadhi (samadhi without seed). In this samadhi, the yogi transcends the object of meditation, and their attention flows uninterrupted toward the source of all things, Awareness Itself. Here, the yogi clearly perceives their true Self.

Intuitive insights pour in. Unlike the knowledge gained through inference or testimony of others (as described in Sutra 1.7), this insight is direct. There’s no medium, no filter, just the pure truth of the essence of being.