QUESTION: Is Dharana just "meditation" in an advanced state?
RESPONSE: Remember that "meditation" is an English word that is used
in many different ways by different people. Most often,
however, "meditation" is linked with "dhyana". It is extremely common
in English speaking cultures to use the word "meditation" for any
form of attention or concentration. Hence, for example, we
have "meditation music" where the person is not at all concentrating
in the strictest sense of the word, but is instead just listening to
music (which is useful and pleasant, though not meditation as
There is a sequence:
Attention leads to concentration (dharana).
Concentration leads to meditation (dhyana).
Meditation (dhyana) leads to absorption (samadhi).
Like most arts or sciences, yoga has its own language, which is
usually Sanskrit. The terms are more specific than the English words.
English words are fine, once we understand the context of their use.
See also Yoga Sutras 3.1-3.3: