SIDDHIS - powers

The word siddhi is a Sanskrit noun which means attainment, accomplishment, perfection, power, realisation, or success in the sense of liberation or attaining magical powers. 


Patanjali spends much of Chapter III of the Sutras describing mystical powers or paranormal abilities, that can be attained through the practice. Siddhis are awakened naturally through spiritual maturity along the yogic path. 


However, these abilities do little to help one achieve enlightenment. In fact, an interest in developing these powers is sometimes seen as a dangerous distraction that leads the contemplative astray.  


Patanjali himself seems to take this attitude in 3.38 where he states:  


3.37 Te samadhav upasarga vyutthane siddhayah. (Siddhis: accomplishments, powers; vyutthana: in outward going, in worldly persuits; te: these; upasargas: obstacles [(or) secondary]; samadhi: contemplation.) These (super physical senses) are obstacles to samadhi but are siddhis (powers or accomplishments) in the worldly pursuits


For a yogi, the powers noted in the previous sutra hinder the cultivation of samadhi, since they entice the mind back out into the realm of prakrti and thus are obstacles, upasargah, to the attainment of samadhi. But for those whose mind is outgoing, that is, interested in the enticements of the world, they appear to be desirable accomplishments... For how, can a genuine yogi take pleasure in things that are obstructions to the real goal of yoga? - Bryant 


Nevertheless, in the Yoga Sutras, the powers are : (among others)


  • Aṇimā: miniaturisation - the ability to become smaller than the smallest, reducing one's body to the size of an atom or even become invisible.

  • Mahimā: magnification - the ability to become infinitely large, expanding one's body to an infinitely large size. Pervasiveness subtle body/mind

  • Garima: becoming infinitely heavy

  • Laghimā: the ability to become weightless or lighter than air.

  • Prāpti: extension - the ability to instantaneously travel or be anywhere at will. Teleportation. 

  • Prākāmya: irresistible will. the ability to achieve or realise whatever one desires.

  • Vaśiṭva: mastery, the ability to control all material elements or natural forces

  • Īśiṭva: the ability to control nature, individuals, organisms, etc. Supremacy over nature and ability to force influence upon anyone.

  • kama-avasayita - the fulfilment of all desires or complete satisfaction - will anything to manifestation but cant go against isvara


“All the siddhis are beautiful, but they will bind us, because siddhis are the outcome of mind. The mind wants something. It wants to achieve this or that. What for? To be proud of itself. It develops ego ... 


... they are good when they come to you... When you run after them they are bad. that’s all the difference... 


... even in the Bible you come across these powers. Everything will come to you when you seek the kingdom. “Seek ye first the kingdom of Heaven; everything else will be added unto you.” 


... You don’t need to run after them one by one... Not only these siddhis are like that, but everything is like that: beauty, money, power, strength, scientific knowledge. All these things become misused and the world is trembling with fear. Why? Because we have not sought God first. What is God? Peace, contentment, egolessness. So, we are not really condemning siddhis. They are God’s powers, by-products of the search for God. Let them come after you..


... When your mind is that clean and calm, then you will be able to handle them well for good purposes, not for your ego ...


... But it is not that he is encouraging you to acquire siddhis. That is the beauty of Patanjali. He is not hiding anything. He says, these are all the possibilities, no doubt, but don’t run after them. You may get hurt by them. Let them run after you.” - Swami Satchidananda

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