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Lesson 21 - Samyama and Siddhis

In lesson 20 you learnt about Samadhi and its progressive stages. It was also mentioned that if you practice Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi on the same object this trio is referred as Samyama. The practice of Samyama bestows various supernatural powers called Siddhis on the practitioner. This lesson will introduce with these Siddhis are and make you realize that they are not the final goal of a Yogi.

What are Siddhis?

Siddhis are psychic or spiritual powers that one attains because of Yoga, Meditation, Spiritual Practices or Medicines. There are eight AshtaMahaSiddhis or Eight Great Powers. Further there are ten Upasiddhis or Sub Powers. There are also five Sudrasiddhis or Minor Powers.

Classification of Siddhis

Let's see Ashtamahasiddhis first:

  • Anima: This power allows you to shrink your body as small as an atom. You can pass through anything easily. You can also assume the nature of animals, insects or even microcosms (in short anything smaller than you). In Ramayana there is a story of Hanuman who burnt Lanka. He used this power to shrink his body and escape through the palace.
  • Mahima: This power allows you to expand your body as big as you want. Shri Krishna demonstrated this power to Arjuna during Vishwarupadarshan. Hanuman also possessed this power.
  • Garima: This power allows you to become infinitely heavy at will. In Mahabharata Hanuman used this power to teach a lesson to Bhima.
  • Laghima: Through this power you can reduce your weight almost to nil. You can then travel easily from one place to another along with the wind.
  • Prapti: Using this power you can obtain anything that you wish. In ancient texts there are references of small amount of food being distributed to thousands of people. It is possible because of this power.
  • Prakashaya: This power allows you to fetch anything from any distance to you. You can bring anything that is miles away from you. You can also listen distant sounds.
  • Ishita: This power allows you to know past, present and future. You become like a god.
  • Vashita: This is a very important power. Once you acquire this power you can subjugate anything in this world. You can rule anybody.

Now let's see Upasiddhis:

  • Anurmimatwa: Because of this power hunger, thrust, sorrow, lust, diseases and death can not touch you.
  • Doorshravan: This power allows you to listen from distant places. You also understand speech in any language.
  • Doordarshan: Because of this power you can see anything from anywhere.
  • Manojawa: This power means astral traveling. You can travel to any place anytime. Narada Muni possesed this power.
  • Kamayukta: This power allows you to assume body of any creature.
  • Parakaya Pravesh: Using this power you can enter any other body - dead or live. Adi Shankaracharya and Mytsendranatha possessed this power.
  • Swatchanda Mritu: Using this power one can die at will. Bhishma possessed this power and died as per his will.
  • Surakrida: This power allows you to enjoy the company of gods.
  • Sankalpasiddhi: This power allows you fulfill any wishes.
  • Apratihat Ajna: Because of this power even gods obey your orders.

Finally, the five Sudrasiddhis are:

  • Trikalajana: This power allows you to know the past, present and future.
  • Advandva: Because of this power you remain unaffected by extremities such as good-bad, pleasure-sorrow, hot-cold and hard-soft.
  • Parachittajana: Because of this power you can know what is going on other's mind. You can also tell them about their dreams.
  • Pratishtambha: Because of this power you can combat fire, poison, ice cold water etc.
  • Aparajaya: One who obtains this power can never be defeated.

There are many other lower Siddhis as well.

Are Siddhis important?

The answer to this question is Yes and No. Siddhis are important because they can tell you your advancement in the practice. They make you realize that nature is not a boundary to human life. Things beyond nature can be made possible with the help of Yoga. This is a tremendous confidence booster. You then realize the true potential of body, mind and soul.

Siddhis are bad if used in wrong way. Siddhis are like capacitors. If you discharge them by wrong earthing they loose their power. Instead if the same power is circulated correctly in the circuit it gives constructive results. There are many stories of Babas possessing Siddhis who used them in wrong way. They of course got fruits of their wrong deeds.

Siddhis can act as an obstacles to your progress if used in wrong manner. So it depends on how you use them. If, for example, you use Siddhi of astral traveling to attempt a robbery, it would be certainly a wrong use of the power. 

Though Siddhis can be useful, they should not be considered as the final result of Yoga. They are just bi-products of your practice. If you get them that's fine even otherwise you should remain unaffected. To emphasis this point let me tell you a short story.

Once upon a time there used to be a monk residing in a forest. He used to stay in his small Ashrama surrounded by beautiful trees and river. The environment inside the Ashrama used to be calm, peaceful and tranquilizing. Animals, birds, butterflies used to wander playfully inside his Ashrama.

One day another monk came to the same forest. He built his Ashrama just next to the existing one. This monk was having all sorts of supernatural powers. He used to see the other monk every day. He started feeling jealous about him and his Ashrama. He tried inviting animals, birds and butterflies to his Ashrama as well but in vein. They used to run away because of fear. He could never win their hearts.

One day he ordered all his Siddhis to assemble immediately (in ancient days it was believed that each Siddhi has an associated goddess). All the Siddhis were standing with their hands folded in front of him. He ordered them - "Go and do something so that just like that monk those animals, birds and butterflies will play in my premises. Make the same kind of peaceful environment in my Ashrama too". The Siddhis politely replied - "We are extremely sorry master but we do not have power to bring you the peace you want. We can not also win the hearts of the animals, birds and butterflies for you. These things are beyond our reach.". The monk thus realized his mistake and took diksha from the newly found Guru.

The moral of the story is - Siddhis are not the destination. They are just a bi-product of your practice. Do not crave for them. There is much more to life than Siddhis. They can prove to be dangerous for your spiritual progress. A Yogi who can overcome the temptation of showing off his Siddhis alone can reach the final abode of liberation.

After a Yogi attains Samadhi what happens next? How he lives his life? Is he like an ordinary person? The next article of the series will throw light on these questions.

May the peace be with you.



Bipin Joshi is an independent software consultant and trainer by profession specializing in Microsoft web development technologies. Having embraced the Yoga way of life he is also a yoga mentor, meditation teacher, and spiritual guide to his students. He is a prolific author and writes regularly about software development and yoga on his websites. He is programming, meditating, writing, and teaching for over 27 years. To read more about him go here. More details about his Kriya and Meditation online course are available here.

Posted On : 10 June 2007

Tags : Yoga Patanjali Raja Yoga Ashtanga Yoga Meditation Courses