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Samāpatti stands for correct (samyag) acquisition (āpatti) of Truth. It is a form of alaukika-pratyakṣa (extraordinary perception) forming thus a legitimate part of the perceptual (pratyakṣa) instruments of adequate knowledge (pramāṇa).
In the Pātañjala Yoga, samāpatti is discussed as the universal form of the Yoga called samprajñāta-yoga, or cognitive Yoga, followed by asamprajñāta-yoga, or transcognitive Yoga. It has as its prerequisite the annihilation of all (non-sattvic) modifications (vṛtti) of consciousness (citta).
There are four realms and eight stages of samāpatti.
- The coarse (sthūla) realm of the physical mahābhūta world down to the triple atoms (tryaṇuka) and possibly molecules (dvyaṇuka) is covered by
- The subtle (sūkṣma) world of the atoms and their constituents (tanmātras) down to the primary material (prakritic) "soap" out of which everything physical evolves (bhūtādi) is cognized in two steps:
- The state of the Nirvicāra-samāpatti is also known as the dharmamegha, "Dharma Cloud," where the truths about this world start pouring like a rain. Nirvicāra-samāpatti brings the sadhaka into the realm of Sukhavati because of the happiness associated with the acquisition of the Perfect Dharma; hence the next two stages:
- The realm of the last fight with samsāra, where one should destroy the very feeling of I-am (aham asmi, ego sum):
- Sāsmitā-samāpatti, the sphere of action of the Cartesian Cogito ergo sum which brings the Transcendental Self (Ātman) to wrong identifications with the pure sattvic evolutes of prakṛti, i.e., with manas-sattva.
- Nirasmitā-samāpatti, acquisition of that final stage of meditation where there is no more wrong self-identifications (abhimāna) and the form of the Seer (Draṣṭṛ) coincides with the own-form of Puruṣa, thus allowing Patañjali to say, "then Draṣṭṛ is established in its own form" (Yoga-sūtra I.3).
Methodologically, from the point of view of their certainty and veridicality, the eight samāpattis can be represented in two formal groups: