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Understanding Dhyana – Ekagrata – Meditation

If one is meditating on a particular divine form of Rama at a particular center of consciousness, say the heart, then there would be a continuous flow of the same thought representing the divine form of Rama, to the exclusion of all other thoughts, even the thoughts related to Rama’s qualities or his life. This continuous flow of one same thought is called meditation.

Normally there is a continuous flow of thoughts in our minds related to different objects, events and persons. If one thought represents one particular object, the subsequent one would be related to some other object or person. This state of mind is called sarvarthata in Yoga literature.

In contrast to this, the flow of similar thoughts pertaining to our particular object of meditation is called ekagrata. This is a higher form of concentration in which there will be different, but similar, thoughts representing one and the same object. As a result of quick succession of these thoughts, the object of meditation appears to be steady and, as the concentration deepens, the object becomes more vivid and bright. This is somewhat similar to the case when still pictures are taken and projected on the screen: the form on the screen appears to be one and steady though the images are different. This meditative state is described as taila dharavat, ‘like a stream of oil’. According to Patanjali, ‘Tatra pratyayaikatanata dhyanam; an unbroken flow of thoughts of that object (of meditation) is called dhyana.

Source - Excerpts from article titled 'Meditation According to Hinduism' by Swami Nityasthananda published in the May 2005 issue of Prabuddha Bharata magazine.