"In Wonders We Sail, Questing for the Answers in Veil"

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Siddhis Explained by Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo

जन्मौषणधभन्त्रतऩ्सभाणधजा् णसद्धम् ॥ १॥

janmaushadhimantratapahsamadhijah siddhayah

The Siddhis (powers) are attained by birth, chemical means, power of words, mortification or concentration.

Sometimes a man is born with the Siddhis, powers, of course from the exercise of powers he had in his previous birth. In this birth he is born, as it were, to enjoy the fruits of them. It is said of Kapila, the great father of the Sankhya Philosophy,that he was a born Siddha, which means, literally, a man who has attained to success.

The Yogis claim that these powers can be gained by chemical means. All of you know that chemistry originally began as alchemy; men went in search of the philsopher’s stone, and elixirs of life, and so forth. In India there was a sect called the Rasayanas. Their idea was that ideality, knowledge,spirituality and religion, were all very right, but that the body was the only instrument by which to attain to all these. If the body broke now and then it would take so much more time to attain to the goal. For instance, a man wants to practice Yoga, or wants to become spiritual. Before he has advanced very far he dies. Then he takes another body and begins again,then dies, and so on, and in this way much time will be lost in dying and in being born again. If the body could be made strong and perfect, so that it would get rid of birth and death,we should have so much more time to become spiritual. So these Rasayanas say, first make the body very strong, and they claim that this body can be made immortal. The idea is that if the mind is manufacturing the body, and if it be true that each mind is only one particular outlet to that infinite energy, and that there is no limit to each particular outlet getting any amount of power from outside, why is it impossible that we should keep our bodies all the time? We shall have to manufacture all the bodies that we shall ever have. As soon as this body dies we shall have to manufacture another. If we can do that why cannot we do it just here and no, without getting out? The theory is perfectly correct. If it is possible that we live after death, and make other bodies, why is it impossible that we should have the power of making bodies here, without entirely dissolving this body, simply changing it continually? They also thought that in mercury and in sulphur was hidden the most wonderful power, and that by certain preparations of these a man could keep the body as long as he liked.Others believed that certain drugs could bring powers, such as flying through the air, etc. Many of the most wonderful medicines of the present day we owe to the Rasayamas, notably the use of metals in medicine.Certain sects of Yogis claim that many of their principal teachers are still living in their old bodies. Patanjali, the great authority on Yoga, does not deny this.

The power of words: There are certain sacred words called Mantrams, which have power, when repeated under proper conditions, to produce these extraordinary powers. We are living in the midst of such a mass of miracles, day and night,that we do not think anything of them. There is no limit to man’s power, the power of words and the power of mind.

Mortification: You will find that in every religion mortifications and asceticisms have been practised. In these religious conceptions the Hindus always go to the extremes.You will find men standing with their hands up all their lives,until their hands wither and die. Men sleep standing, day and night, until their feet swell, and, if they live, the legs become so stiff in this position that they can no more bend them, but have to stand all their lives.I once saw a man who had raised his hands in this way, and I asked him how it felt when he did it first.He said it was awful torture. It was such torture that he had to go to a river and put himself in water, and that allayed the pain for a little. After a month he did not suffer much.Through such practices powers (Siddhis) can be attained.

Concentration: The concentration is Samadhi, and that is Yoga proper; that is the principle theme of this science, and it is the highest means. The preceding ones are only secondary,and we cannot attain to the highest through them. Samadhi is the means through which we can gain anything and everything, mental, moral or spiritual.


The two first chatusthayas of the adhara have reference mainlyto the central principle of man’s existence, the antahkarana; butthere is one superior faculty and one inferior instrument which haveeach its peculiar siddhi, the vijnana or supraintellectual faculty andthe body. The siddhi of the vijnana and the siddhi of the body belong both of them to that range of experience and of divine fulfilmentwhich are abnormal to the present state of humanity. These are called specially siddhis, because of their abnormal nature[,] rarityand difficulty; they are denied by the sceptic and discouraged by thesaint. The sceptic disbelieves in them and holds them to be impostures,fables or hallucinations, as a clever animal might disbelieve in the reasoning powers of man. The saint discourages them because they seem to him to lead away from God; he shuns them just ashe shuns the riches, power & attainments of this world, and for the same reason. We need not shun them and cannot shun them,because God is sought by us in His world-fulfillment as well as apartfrom the world and in the world these are the riches of His power and knowledge which we cannot avoid, once we dwell in Him perceiving and sharing His nature. Indeed, there is a stage reachedby the Yogin, when, unless he avoids all action in the world, he can no more avoid the use of the siddhis of power and knowledgethan an ordinary man can avoid eating and breathing unless he wishes to leave his body; for these things are the natural action of the vijnana, the plane of ideal consciousness, to which he is rising,just as mental activity and physical motion are the natural action of man’s ordinary life. All the ancient Rishis used these powers, allgreat Avatars and Yogins and vibhutis from Christ to Ramakrishnahave used them; nor is there any great man with the divine power at all manifest in him who does not use them continually in animperfect form without knowing clearly what are these supreme faculties that he is employing. If nothing else, he uses the powersof intuition & inspiration, the power of ishita which brings him the opportunities he needs and the means which make these opportunities fruitful and the power of vyapti by which his thoughtsgo darting & flashing through the world & creating unexpected waves of tendency both around him and at a distance. We needno more avoid the use of these things than a poet should avoid the use of his poetical genius which is also a siddhi unattainableby ordinary men or an artist renounce the use of his pencil. At the same time there is a justification for the denial of the sceptic and therenunciation by the saint, &of this justification we must take note.The saint renounces because when these siddhis show themselves fragmentarily in a weak adhara dominated by egoism, the egoism becomes enormously enhanced, the ignorant sadhaka thinking thathe is the possessor & creator of these abnormal powers and a very great man indeed, (just as we find an abnormal egoism very frequentin the small poet and the half artist, for those who have a really great power, know well enough that the power is not theirs but a gift from God & feel that the power of God is using them & not theythe power); so the sadhaka, misled by ahank´ara goes running afterthese powers for their own sake and leaves following after God.The denial of the sceptic is justified by the credulity of ordinarymen who regard these things as miracles & invent them where they do not exist, and by the weakness & egoism of the sadhakasthemselves and of many who are not sadhakas; for if they catch evena glimpse of these things in themselves or others, they exaggerate,puff, distort & build around some petty & imperfect experiences all sorts of jargon, mysticism, charlatanism & bujruki of all kindswhich are an offence & a stumbling block to the world. We musttherefore keep in view very strictly certain fixed principles;

1. That these powers are not miraculous, but powers of Nature,which manifest of themselves as soon as the vijnanapadma inus begins to open,&are no more a cause for bragging&vanity thanthe power of eating & breathing or anything else that is Nature’s

2. That they can manifest fully only when we leave ego andoffer up our petty separate being in the vastness of God’s being.
3.That when they manifest in the unpurified state, they area dangerous ordeal to which God subjects us and we can onlypass through it safely by keeping our minds clear of vanity, pride,selfishness and by remembering continually that they are His giftsand not our acquirements.
4. That these powers are not to be pursued for their own sake,but developed or allowed to develop as part of the flower of divineperfection which is by God’s grace blossoming out in us.
Subject to these cautions, we have not to reject these powerswhen they come but accept them, to be used in us by God for Hisown purposes and not by us for ours, to be poured out by vyaption humanity and not kept for our own use & pride.
-'Siddhis, their Justification, Dangers and Use',From book 'The Record of Yoga'
by Sri Aurobindo


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