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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Siddhis (Sanskrit: सिद्धि siddhi; fulfillment, accomplishment) are spiritual, paranormal, supernatural, or otherwise magical powers, abilities, and attainments that are the products of spiritual advancement through sādhanās such as meditation and yoga.[1] The term ṛddhi (Pali: iddhi, "psychic powers") is often used interchangeably in Buddhism.

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Transcription

Hi everybody welcome to this episode of Enlightenment Today, I'm Jason. In this episode I am going to speak about siddhis. The word siddhi is a Sanskrit noun which means attainment, accomplishment, perfection, power, realization, or success, in the sense of liberation or attaining magical powers. So siddhis are the magical powers or paranormal abilities attained through rigorous spiritual practice. In the Hindu sect of Shaivism they define siddhis as the "Extraordinary powers of the soul, developed through consistent meditation and often uncomfortable and grueling tapas, or awakened naturally through spiritual maturity and yogic sadhana." Now tapas in Sanskrit means asceticism and sadhana in Sanskrit means spiritual exertion towards an intended goal. The modern day students of yoga and spirituality often dismiss siddhis and are naturally skeptical when it comes to this magical dimension. And I would say it is healthy to show some skepticism because there are many charlatans and fake gurus and yogis out there who depend on people believing they have paranormal abilities. But even though it is sane to be skeptical of such people, in this episode I am going to give the subject of siddhis an honest an open hearing based on the knowledge available. And I can tell you, between Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, there is a ton of information and texts about siddhis going back thousands of years. You also need to remember that Patanjali dedicated a whole chapter to siddhis in the Yoga Sutras. So out of respect to Patanjali its only fair to give siddhis an honest hearing. This strong siddhi component in India and other parts of Asia originates from the archaic tradition of asceticism, tapas, and also Tantra, especially the hatha yoga element of Tantra. For thousands of years we've heard of world-renouncing yogins and sadhus who have attained access to this magical dimension. But keep in mind Tantrism is concerned with siddhis both in the sense of ultimate liberation and also magical powers. The reason for this is because Tantra affirms the phenomenal world and has a positive relationship with cultivating the innate psychospiritual potential within the body-mind system. Vedanta, on the other hand, dismisses siddhis for their own reasons which I will discuss shortly. Tantra regards siddhis as an advantage which allows us to reach our spiritual goals more fully. But as with most things there are two sides to each coin. For example, many practitioners of Tantra, or tantrikas, will use these powers for less noble goals. Actually there are whole texts composed to deal with these unsavory practices. And you still find tantrikas following this less noble path in India today. This less noble orientation is referred to as "lower Tantrism." While, on the other hand, higher Tantrism is motivated by spiritual liberation and the spiritual upliftment of all beings, not just humans but also nonhuman beings. So be mindful that the Tantric scriptures are focused on the higher element of liberation. Yoga and Tantra scriptures often mention siddhis as part of an accomplished adepts arsenal of skills. The relatively unknown text called the Yoga Bija states: "The yogin is endowed with unthinkable powers. He who has conquered the senses can, by his own will, assume various shapes and make them vanish." The Yogashikha Upanishad also explains that siddhis are the mark of a true Yoga adept. From this the Yogashikha Upanishads perspective siddhis are encountered in the course of one's own spiritual practice in the same way that a pilgrim passes by sacred spots on the way to the sacred city of Varanasi. The Yogashikha Upanishad also distinguishes two fundamental types of siddhis, first the artificial which is called kalptia in Sanskrit, and the second one is the nonartifical which is called akalpita in Sanskrit and means spontaneously arising. The artificial siddhis are produced by means of herbal concoctions, magic, mantra recitations, rituals, and alchemical elixirs. While the nonartificial spontaneous abilities spring from self-reliance. This natural spontaneous ability is thought to be pleasing to Ishvara. Ishvara here can either mean God, the lord, a personal god, or the ultimate reality which is just another word equal to that of the concept Brahman. So your interpretation all depends on what school of Hinduism you follow. It is said that these nonartificial spontaneous siddhis manifest in those who are free from desire. In the third chapter of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali explains a long list of siddhis. This chapter is called the Vibhuti Pada. Vibhuti means manifestation or incarnation of powers and it probably stems from the Bhagavad Gita because the Bhagavad Gita mentions Krishna's far-flung powers. It is believed that a fully realized adept has access to these divine powers. She or he is known as a mahasiddha, which means great adept. These great adepts enjoy what is known as the mahasiddhis, which means great powers. In the Yoga Bhashya it refers to these great powers, commonly known in Hinduism as the Astha Siddhi, or eight great perfections. I will explain these eight great powers, well actually there are nine that are used among various schools of thought. The first is Anima, which means miniaturization. This is the ability to reduce one's size to the size of an atom. The second one is Mahima, which means magnification. This is the ability to expand yourself to an infinitely large size. So it is believed you can become as large as a mountain, city, continent and so on. But in the Mani Prabha text it defines Mahima as "pervasiveness." This means it is not the physical body that expands but rather the subtle body or mind. The third siddhi is known as Garima, which means becoming infinitely heavy. The fourth great power is Laghima, which means weightlessness or levitation. Think of the famous levitating yogin. The fifth great power is Prapti, which means extension. This is the ability to be anywhere anytime according to your will. It is the ability to bridge great distances. Think of teleportation. The Yoga Bhashya seriously suggests that a great adept can touch the moon with their fingertips if they have access to this power. The sixth great power is Prakamya, which means irresistible will. This is the ability to use your will as freely as you like. You can apparently realize whatever you desire. The Yoga Bhashya explains that we can dive into the solid earth as if it were liquid. The seventh great power is Vashitva, which means mastery. This is the complete mastery over the material elements and their products. You essentially have control of the natural forces of life. The eighth great siddhi is Ishitva, which means lordship or supremacy over nature. This great power is the ability to have perfect mastery over the subtle energies of the material world which brings the great adept on par with Brahma the creator. There is also a ninth siddhi which is sometimes included in the great eight siddhis and it is known as Kama-avasayita, which means the fulfillment of all desires or complete satisfaction. This is the unobstructed ability to will whatever you want into manifestation. But keep in mind that this ability cannot go against the will of Ishvara. Contrary to these great powers which vary from school to school we have the black magical aspect of lower Tantrism. In Tantrism these are recognized as the six magical actions or Shat karma. The first magical action is shanti, meaning peace, but don't think of it how you're used to hearing shanti as peaceful. In this context it is the ability to pacify anyone by magical means through the use of mantras, yantras, and visualization. The second magical action is Vashikarana, which means subjugation. This is the ability to bring people under complete control making them as subservient as slaves. The third magical power is Stambhana, which means stoppage. This is the ability immobilize another being or make a situation ineffective. The fourth magical action is Uccatana, which means eradication. This is the ability to destroy someone from a distance where you don't even have to see them for this to happen. This is used to influence emotions between two people. The fifth magical action is Vidveshana, which means casing dissension. This is the ability to create discord among groups of people. With this ability you'd be great at instigating a riot. And the sixth and last magical action is Marana, which means causing death. This is the ability to kill someone from a distance. A pretty handy ability for assassins or anyone at war. As interesting as these six magical actions may sound they definitely fall short of the high Tantric ideal of liberation through knowledge and spiritual upliftment. These six magical actions in no way reflect the ideals of Tantrism, which is first and foremost, a path to liberation encompassed by high moral values. Yet this misguided use of siddhis is why many traditions believe we should avoid them at all costs. Vedanta is especially critical of the attraction to magical powers. This is also the view held in Buddhism and Taoism. Why these traditions are super critical is because siddhis are useless on their own. They are just more ways for us to posture and show off, which in the end strengthens our ego and this defeats the purpose of the spiritual process. If the spiritual processes purpose of thinning the ego out is not met by people who possess siddhis then all this does is lead one to peacock consciousness, where people want to use siddhis to showcase that they are somehow special. You find this peacock temperament especially in hatha yoga and the Taoist arts. All of this implies that the ego is still strong within you and it also implies that you are not ready for the deeper mystical states of consciousness. Trying to externalize your spirituality is one of the most ego-driven things you could do and this goes for those trying to showcase their magical powers. We must remain sensitive to the distinction between magical powers and the great work of real spiritual transformation, which in the end goes beyond siddhis. The goal of authentic spirituality has nothing to do with attaining magical powers, but instead it is about self-realization or God-realization, meaning you have transcended your ego construct to merge with the ultimate reality. The Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati text attributed to Gorakhnath has an interesting insight into the matter of transcending siddhis. In the fifth chapter it states that "when the yogin has renounced all siddhis they begin to merge with Shiva," in this case Shiva as the ultimate Brahman. This insight in the Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati agrees with the concerns of Vedanta because they highlight that siddhis can be the last obstacle before true liberation. So in conclusion, liberation is not dependent on siddhis. Though from the perspective of Tantra, they can benefit our liberation and benefit the spiritual upliftment of others and the world if we understand them correctly. In the end the question you have to ask yourself is do you believe in siddhis or not?

Contents

Etymology

Siddhi is a Sanskrit noun which can be translated as "perfection", "accomplishment", "attainment", or "success".[2]

Method

The Visuddhimagga is one of the texts to give explicit details about how spiritual masters were thought to actually manifest supernormal abilities.[3] It states that abilities such as flying through the air, walking through solid obstructions, diving into the ground, walking on water and so forth are achieved through changing one element, such as earth, into another element, such as air.[3] The individual must master kasina meditation before this is possible.[3] Dipa Ma, who trained via the Visuddhimagga, was said to demonstrate these abilities.[4]

Usage in Hinduism

In the Panchatantra, an ancient Indian collection of moral fables, siddhi may be the term for any unusual skill or faculty or capability.[citation needed]

Patanjali's Yoga Sutras

In Patañjali's Yoga Sutras IV.1 it is stated, Janma auṣadhi mantra tapaḥ samādhijāḥ siddhayaḥ, "Accomplishments may be attained through birth, the use of herbs, incantations, self-discipline or samadhi".[5] Possible siddhis or siddhi-like abilities mentioned include:

  • Ahiṃsā: a peaceful aura
  • Satya: persuasion
  • Asteya: wealth
  • Brahmacarya: virility
  • Aparigraha: insight;
  • Śauca: sensory control
  • Saṃtoṣa: happiness
  • Tapas: bodily and sensory perfection
  • Svādhyāya: communion with the Divine
  • Īśvarapraṇidhāna: Samādhi[6]

Eight classical siddhis

According to different sources, seven of the eight classical siddhis (Ashta Siddhi) or eight great perfections are:[7][8]

  • Aṇimā: reducing one's body to the size of an atom
  • Mahimā: expanding one's body to an infinitely large size
  • Laghimā: becoming almost weightless
  • Prāpti: ability to be anywhere at will
  • Prākāmya: realizing whatever one desires
  • Īśiṭva: supremacy over nature
  • Vaśiṭva: control of natural forces

The eighth is given as either:

Shaivism

In Shaivism, siddhis are defined as "Extraordinary powers of the soul, developed through consistent meditation and often uncomfortable and grueling tapas, or awakened naturally through spiritual maturity and yogic sādhanā." [11]

Vaishnavism

In Vaishnavism, the term siddhi is used in the Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha of Madhvacharya (1238–1317), the founder of Dvaita (dualist) philosophy.

Five siddhis, according to Vaishnava doctrine

In the Bhagavata Purana, the five siddhis brought on by yoga and meditation are:

  1. trikālajñatvam: knowing the past, present and future
  2. advandvam: tolerance of heat, cold and other dualities
  3. para citta ādi abhijñatā: knowing the minds of others, etc.
  4. agni arka ambu viṣa ādīnām pratiṣṭambhaḥ: checking the influence of fire, sun, water, poison, etc.
  5. aparājayah: remaining unconquered by others[12]

Ten secondary siddhis, according to Vaishnava doctrine

In the Bhagavata Purana, Krishna describes the ten secondary siddhis:

  • anūrmimattvam: Being undisturbed by hunger, thirst, and other bodily appetites
  • dūraśravaṇa: Hearing things far away
  • dūradarśanam: Seeing things far away
  • manojavah: Moving the body wherever thought goes (teleportation/astral projection)
  • kāmarūpam: Assuming any form desired
  • parakāya praveśanam: Entering the bodies of others
  • svachanda mṛtyuh: Dying when one desires
  • devānām saha krīḍā anudarśanam: Witnessing and participating in the pastimes of the gods
  • yathā sańkalpa saḿsiddhiḥ: Perfect accomplishment of one's determination
  • ājñāpratihatā gatiḥ: Orders or commands being unimpeded[13]

Samkhya philosophy

In the Samkhyakarika and Tattvasamasa, there are references to the attainment of eight siddhis by which "one becomes free of the pain of ignorance, one gains knowledge, and experiences bliss". The eight siddhis hinted at by Kapila in the Tattvasamasa are, as explained in verse 51 of the Samkhyakarika:[14]

  1. Uuha: based on the samskaras (karmic imprints) of previous births, the attainment of knowledge about the twenty-four tattvas gained by examining the determinable and indeterminable, conscious and non-conscious constituents of creation.
  2. Shabda: knowledge gained by associating with an enlightened person (Guru – upadesh).
  3. Addhyyan: knowledge gained through study of the Vedas and other standard ancillary texts.
  4. Suhritprapti: knowledge gained from a kind-hearted person, while engaged in the spread of knowledge.
  5. Daan: knowledge gained regardless of one’s own needs while attending to the requirements of those engaged in the search of the highest truth.
  6. Aadhyaatmik dukkh-haan: freedom from pain, disappointment, etc. that may arise due to lack of spiritual, metaphysical, mystic knowledge and experience.
  7. Aadhibhautik dukkh-haan: freedom from pain etc. arising from possessing and being attached to various materialistic gains.
  8. Aadhidaivik dukkh-haan: freedom from pain etc. caused by fate or due to reliance on fate.

It is believed that the attainment of these eight siddhis renders one free of the pain of ignorance, and gives one knowledge and bliss.

Hindu deities associated with gaining siddhi

Ganesha, Hanuman, various forms of Devi and various other deities are popularly seen as the keepers of siddhis, with the ability to grant them to the worshipper.[15]

Usage in Sikhism

In Sikhism, siddhi means "insight". "Eight Siddhis" is used for insight of the eight qualities of Nirankar or a.k.a. Akal Purakh mentioned in the Mul Mantar in the Guru Granth Sahib. God has eight qualities: EkOnkar, Satnam, Kartapurakh, Nirbhao, Nirvair, AkaalMurat, Ajooni and Svaibhang. The one who has insight of these qualities is called Sidh or Gurmukh.

Usage in Vajrayana Buddhism

In Tantric Buddhism, siddhi specifically refers to the acquisition of supernatural powers by psychic or magical means or the supposed faculty so acquired. These powers include items such as clairvoyance, levitation, bilocation, becoming as small as an atom, materialization, and having access to memories from past lives.

Notes

References

  1. ^ White, David Gordon; Dominik Wujastyk (2012). Yoga In Practice. Princeton University Press. p. 34.
  2. ^ Apte n.d., p. 986.
  3. ^ a b c Jacobsen, Knut A., ed. (2011). Yoga Powers. Leiden: Brill. pp. 83–86, 93. ISBN 978-9004212145.
  4. ^ Schmidt, Amy (2005). Dipa Ma. Windhorse Publications. p. Chapter 9 At Home in Strange Realms.
  5. ^ Iyengar 2002, p. 246.
  6. ^ Jacobsen, Knut A., ed. (2011). Yoga Powers. Leiden: Brill. p. 202. ISBN 978-9004212145.
  7. ^ a b Subramuniyaswami, Sivaya (1997). Glossary - Siddhi. USA: Himalayan Academy. ISBN 978-0945497974. Search: Siddhi.
  8. ^ a b Danielou, Alain (1987). While the Gods Play: Shaiva Oracles and Predictions on the Cycles of History and the Destiny of Mankind; Inner Traditions International.
  9. ^ Jacobsen, Knut A., ed. (2011). Yoga Powers. Leiden: Brill. pp. 165, 204, 285. ISBN 978-9004212145.
  10. ^ Jacobsen, Knut A., ed. (2011). Yoga Powers. Leiden: Brill. p. 449. ISBN 978-9004212145.
  11. ^ Subramuniyaswami, Sivaya (1997). glossary - Siddhi. USA: Himalayan Academy. ISBN 978-0945497974. Search: Siddhi.
  12. ^ The Concise Srimad Bhagavatam, trans. Swami Venkatesananda, SUNY Press 1989, ISBN 0-7914-0149-9
  13. ^ The Concise Srimad Bhagavatam, trans. Swami Venkatesananda, SUNY Press 1989, ISBN 0-7914-0149-9
  14. ^ The Samkhya Karika, with commentary of Gaudapada. Published in 1933 by The Oriental Book Agency, Poona Archived 1 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Lord Hanuman & Siddhis

Sources

Published sources

  • Apte, A (n.d.), A Practical Sanskrit Dictionary
  • Davidson, Ronald M. (2004), Indian Esoteric Buddhism: Social History of the Tantric Movement, Motilal Banarsidass Publ.
  • Iyengar, B.K.S. (2002), Light on the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, Hammersmith, London, UK: Thorsons

Web-sources

Further reading

This page was last edited on 6 September 2019, at 03:40
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