Siddhis are supernatural powers or spiritual abilities that are attained through the dedicated practices of yoga.
siddhi deep dive
Practitioners of yoga and meditation can develop siddhis, or advanced capabilities, through rigorous sadhana (spiritual practice). These occur involuntarily, whether you have an intention of developing them or not.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali tells us that anyone has the capacity to develop these enhanced powers with a little (or a lot) of spiritual practice. They are merely a secondary effect of moving towards enlightenment and are not necessary in order to achieve self-realization.
In yoga, siddhis are thought to be attained after mastery of the dharana, dhyana, and samadhi (the final 3 limbs of the 8 limbs). This requires an incredibly high level of mental control.
Depending on the school or tradition, the number, understanding, and specific powers of siddhis may vary.
In general, traditions agree that there are many minor siddhis (ranging from 20 to over a hundred) and 8 ashta siddhis (special siddhis).
They are 3 general categorizations of siddhis
- Control over one’s mind and the body
- Clairvoyance and the ability to tell the future or the past
- Using the mind to the move or create objects
The ashta siddhis are:
|Anima Siddhi||The ability to perceive the microscopic world by shrinking one’s body size. Some even say the attainment of this siddhi means that one can reduce their body to the size of an atom, becoming completely invisible.|
|Mahima Siddhi||The opposite of Anima, to be able to expand one’s body size to as large as possible, to larger than the universe if one wishes!|
|Garima Siddhi||To become infinitely heavy, so one becomes immovable by anyone or anything.|
|Laghima Siddhi||The opposite of Garima, to become weightless. |
The yogi may become lighter than air if they so desire. Because of their weightlessness, one can travel at the speed of light. Flying and levitation are an extension of this siddhi.
|Prapti Siddhi||To build or obtain anything anywhere, even out of thin air. One can materialize anything they desire – the power to have anything.|
|Prakamya Siddhi||The ability to be anything one desires, for example, staying youthful forever or walking on water. In some cases, this could also mean living in another person’s body.|
|Ishita Siddhi||This overlaps with other siddhis too and is the ability to create and destroy. It means possessing absolute lordship and having power over the laws of nature and the elements.|
|Vashita Siddhi||Having full control over life and death and the ability to bring others under one’s control. This ability can tame wild animals too.|
In the Hanuman Chalisa, it is also written that Lord Hanuman was granted these 8 siddhis by Goddess Sita:
Ashta siddhi nava nidhi ke dātā, asa bara dīnha jānakī mātā
Mother Janaki (Sita) granted you a boon to become the bestower of 8 Siddhis (supernatural powers) and 9 Nidhis (divine treasures)Verse 31 of Hanuman Chalisa
How Siddhis Are Acquired
Siddhis are superpowers for a reason – the attainment of them takes total dedication and they aren’t easy to develop!
Here are some ways they’re acquired:
Serious and long periods of meditation where the mind is completely absorbed in the practice.
Another tool to help you gain control over the constant fluctuations of the mind. You may be given a specific mantra by a guru to assist with the process of enlightenment.
3. Drugs, herbs, or psychedelics
Though siddhis gained through these means are most likely temporary, they are a popular way to expand the mind and obtain spiritual insight.
Ascetic practices and discipline – embracing austerity to strengthen the mind and spirit.
Yes, though rare, some are just born with it! This may be because of past life karma. In this case, the powers may remain inert until the time and environment are right.
siddhis in your life
As we’ve discussed, special siddhis are pretty rare, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to develop them without really lengthy and intense sadhana.
Though having said this, siddhis aren’t an all-or-nothing matter. With practice, you may develop weaker or more subtle versions of the powers, clairvoyance being a good example of this.
Minor siddhis may be more likely, though! Think: greater control of your own mind, freedom from the effects of heat and cold (à la Wim Hoff?), resilience to disease, and sharper thinking.
These powers are not needed for enlightenment and can be ignored in pursuit of self-realization.
In fact, over-identification with siddhis is discouraged by many teachers and often dismissed as a distraction from the true goal of yoga.
A word of warning; it’s easy for the ego to take over and for the practitioner to believe they are invincible. Power can corrupt! If attained, they may only feed the illusion of the separate self, the little ‘I’, which takes you further away from the path of oneness.
They can also be used in the wrong ways, to display notions of ‘superiority’ and cause the practitioner to live outside of the boundaries of ethical restraints set out in the 8-limbed path.
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