Tirumantiram Tantra 3 Verse 598 Dhyana

 In Ashtanga Eight Limbs, Dhyana, Eight Limbs, Meditation, Thirumoolar

Dhyana, which we often think of as meditation or contemplation upon the Divine, is born out of the perfection of Dharana. *According to Thirumoolar, when the five elements, the five senses, and the internal organs are contained, dhyana is born. Dhyana is of two kinds:

Parai Dhyana – Centered on Sakti (also spelled Shakti)
Siva Dhyana – Centered on Siva (also spelled Shiva)

Tantra 3, Verse 598: Dhyana is of Two Kinds
The ten–
The five elements and the five
Being contained, one by the
The internal organ Buddhi
In turn contains the senses;
Thus is Dhyana born;
The Para Dhyana first
That is on Sakti centered,
And Siva Dhyana next
That is by Guru blessed,
These two the Ways of Dhyana Yoga

“Dhyana has been defined as the state of Antahkarana (mind) of those whose Chaitanya (consciousness or Self) holds to and is occupied by the thought on one object, having first cast away the thought of all other objects. Through dhyana is acquired the quality of mental realization (Pratyaksha)”.

This may sound like dharana (occupied by the thought on one object by controlling the mind from getting diverted towards the senses) after pratyahara (casting away the thought of all other objects). Both definitions use the terms, “occupied by the thought on one object” but dharana feels more active. It is “to contain [the] body’s harassing senses five” (Tantra 3, verse 597).  Source – Thirumandiram: A Classic of Yoga and Tantra by Siddhar Thirumoolar, English Translation and Notes by Dr. B Natarajan, D. Littl.


Still, I believe Dr. Natarajan’s commentary may imply that in dharana, we are controlling the mind from getting diverted toward the senses. However, in dhyana, we are going a step further toward holding our attention in one of two ways: Saguna or meditation on a form (murti) and Nirguna, in which the Self is its own object. This leads to a connection with the Divine (Samadhi), in the Tantric Saivite tradition, Shakti or Siva. I think of dharana as a training ground for dhyana.

Dharana vs. dhyana

“The difference between dharana and dhyana can be a bit confusing. Dharana is the active focusing and concentration on one point. Dhyana is a state of mind where one’s focus is maintained or absorbed in the point of focus. Dharana is like focusing the lens of a camera on a moving object and dhyana is when the object remains still and the camera’s focus is locked on to the object.” Source – https://wellnessvoice.com/from-dharana-concentration-into-dhyana-meditation-yoga-basics/

I once heard that during dharana, we are focusing on one object and see only that one object, holding fast to it. But, in dhyana, we still focus on the object, yet it shifts into a place where we are so absorbed into meditation that we are no longer aware that we are focusing on the object. Someone else noted that they felt dharana is more active (almost felt like they were ‘making’ it happen) vs the more passive (‘letting’ it happen) nature of dhyana.  I found these helpful (but if you do not, just skip them!).


The 5 elements are earth, water, fire, ether, and space. According to Thirumoolar (verse 2152), the 5 senses are sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell

Verse 2152:
2152 Out of the Five Elements are
Born the Five Senses
One the child for Space–Sound
Two for Wind–Sound and Touch
Three for Fire–Sound, Touch and
Four for Water–Sound, Touch, Light
and Taste
Five for Earth–Sound, Touch, Light,
Taste and Smell
This was not of yore there, before
creation began
Before the Virgin Sakti (Spirit), the
Virgin Maya (Matter) loved




*Source: Thirumandiram: A Classic of Yoga and Tantry by Siddhar Thirumoolar with translation and notes by Dr. B Natarajan (Note that Thirumandiram is also spelled Tirumantiram)


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