The Siddhis of Patanjali are some of the most advanced tools of consciousness. Does the practice of these extraordinary tools interest you? See if you are ready to learn these advanced formulas.
Patanjali, known as Gonardiya or Gonikaputra, is credited with these formulas. Legend teaches that Patanjali divided the knowledge of his work between eight students. It leads historians to suspect Patanjali was not the only one to contribute to the final piece. Patanjali lived sometime between the 2nd and 5th centuries CE.
The Eight Siddhis Yoga Sutras
Patanjali describes these formulas and results but not how to use them. What are they? The word Siddhis translates as extraordinary powers, which causes more confusion.
Some people are interested in learning these sutras because they want supernatural powers. Levitation and invisibility are among the exceptional abilities on the list. So, they spark broad interest. These controversial results make mastering the Siddhis Yoga Sutras of Patanjali challenging.
The TM Siddhis Sutras of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is this tradition’s most widely taught form. Maharishi helped bring meditation to the West with his transcendental meditation technique (TM). His organization has two main ways they teach these Siddhis. The first way is in eight two to three-week segments. Obtaining all the sutras takes a little over a year with this schedule. The second way is to learn them all in one six-month-long residence course.
The process and Sutras have evolved since they were first introduced to the public in the 1970s. Reports from the movement’s inner circle say the Sutras come from research by Maharishi and his senior students dating back to the 1950s. The idea was to create the path of life that would lead to fulfillment.
The Eight Siddhis Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Okay, first off, there are several translations and explanations for the work of Patanjali. You’ll likely find ten variations if you pick up ten books on the subject. Many prominent teachers from India have created their own variations of these sutras. So, the following description and points apply to the TM Siddhis tradition. It is the most widely used, but that doesn’t mean it is more or less accurate than other variations. The proof is in the results.
Another thing, it’s easy to mix up the Eight Yoga Sutras with the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Patanjali used the term Eight Limbs of Yoga to refer to the classical progression of Yoga. This progression includes:
2. spiritual observances
3. the physical postures of yoga
4. breathing exercises
5. focusing and expanding awareness
6. outward concentration
8. union with the transcendent
The eight limbs are a comprehensive system involving the evolution of the outer to the inner. In the West, the focus is primarily on physical postures or Yoga asanas. It often neglects the ethical and spiritual observances which prepare the mind for practice. Breathing exercises and methods to expand awareness, build a platform to reach the 4th state of consciousness. The main aim is kaivalya, or the state of witnessing where one realizes the observer is separate from the physical body.
Whereas the Eight Siddhis Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are specific formulas used while in a deep meditative state. The Siddhis are a different vertical of knowledge from the Eight Limbs of Yoga. They are not the same thing. Yes, they both have the word Yoga in the name, but that’s as far as the similarities go.
Second, each of the eight siddhis has multiple components, words, or phrases. For example, one Siddis may be the attribute of friendliness. It is not an Indian mantra but a word in your native language. Each word follows a progression using an expression of three or sometimes four other words.
Third, if you use the formula on the surface of the conscious mind, it will have zero effect. The recipe only works when introduced while in the 4th state. Using the formula on a conscious level dilutes the effectiveness of the Sutra. So, once learned, you only recall them when in the 4th state. You do not verbalize or chant them. The Siddhis yoga sutras are stored in the subconscious, awaiting you to prompt them.
Fourth, you use the Sutras in a specific progression. You don’t pick one Sutra and try to make it work. You practice the sutras along with other techniques in a round.
Fifth, the round starts with gentle physical Yoga postures to awaken the body and bring attention to the body. The preparation practices also include some specific pranayama breathing exercises. Then you meditate using Japa or TM for 20 minutes. After about 20 minutes, while in the 4th state, you interject the Sutras in progression, using a prescribed process. The last part of the round is listening to a segment of Sama Veda; this helps normalize the practice.
The round is called the path of life. Many people practice this twice a day. Some recommend a vacation round for a week or more to increase effectiveness. When one goes on this intensive retreat, you practice the round twice in the morning and then twice in the afternoon. So, you practice these four times a day for 4 to 5 hours.
Mastering the Siddhis Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Many of the most famous teachers from India have written books on their interpretation of Patanjali’s Siddhis. Most books on the subject talk about the effects and expressions of these sutras. They talk about the goals and supernatural manifestations of the technique. It’s like telling someone what it’s like to fly an airplane without explaining how.
Most teachers will tell you the sutras for flying and invisibility refer to internal experience, not external events. In other words, you manifest a unique phenomenon in the mind that makes you feel like you are flying or becoming transparent. Once the student understands this aspect, it removes unnecessary expectations. Remember, this is a journey inward. The power you experience will be within the mind.
The eight Siddhis use the traditional eight limbs for grounding and expanding awareness. However, they go beyond the traditional practice of Yoga onto the vertical path of knowledge. Mastering the Siddhis Yoga Sutras of Patanjali needs a solid foundation. You obtain this foundation through practicing the proper form of daily meditation.
Walking The Path of Life
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi devised this path to deliver the promises of the Siddhis Yoga Sutras. It’s a path that requires grounding in the transcendent and understanding how to implement the technique.
It’s the how-to part of the equation. So, instead of another book about it, he teaches how to use them. And Maharishi distinguishes them from Patanjali’s Sutras, calling them the TM Siddhis Sutras.
The proper meditative process to reach this 4th state of awareness has two common names, Japa or Transcendental Meditation (TM). Both are the same process, and the latter is commercially available. TM is the name given to the technique by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Maharishi is one of the Sages who helped to make meditation an acceptable practice in Judaic Christian culture.
Maharishi emphasized that the success of the Siddhis depends on your grounding in the 4th state of pure consciousness. Therein lies the main issue for those who want to learn them. As straightforward as the formula seems, the 4th state of consciousness is the key to their execution.
If you aren’t grounded in the transcendent, then they are ineffectual. To be grounded, one must meditate using a technique that regularly allows one to enter this state. Again, Japa Meditation is the generic name for the process Maharishi calls TM. If you can’t find someone who teaches the Japa technique, learn the TM technique.
A qualified teacher of the Siddhis will use a vetting and preparation process. This ensures the student is ready to learn. You will start by learning to meditate correctly and reach the 4th state. They will also be able to sit with you during your practice to answer questions or things that come up. They will debrief you to ensure your experience progresses correctly. It’s important not to set expectations that taint your practice. Walking the path of life is a significant time commitment for the teacher and student.
Story of The Man Who Has Never Slept
Explaining the experience of the Siddhis is like explaining what sleep is to someone who has never fallen asleep.
Let’s imagine you met someone who has never fallen asleep, so they have never had a dream. How could we explain how to fall asleep? If they asked you, how do you know you are asleep?
You’d have to tell them you don’t know you are asleep. That’s because when you are sleeping, you are unaware of time. Several hours pass, and you have no experience of time passing.
After you sleep, you awaken refreshed and rested. The only thing that could happen while you are asleep is to have dreams. Okay, now you have to explain what about dreaming. But, this leads to more trouble because some dreams become intense hallucinations known as nightmares. Yes, the most frightening things you could imagine. And they seem real.
At this point in our discussion, the other person is becoming more hesitant. They are not sure they want to attempt sleeping. Not only is it a waste of time, but they lose awareness of their body. And they don’t like the possibility of having a frightening nightmare. So, the answer to the sleep experience is no.
These are the excuses people use for not exploring other states of consciousness. They don’t have any similar experiences to compare. So, it is scary. The same applies to the practice of this technology.
Asking Mahrishi About Mastering the Siddhis
I recall someone asking Maharishi if someone could ever master the TM Siddhis Sutras. As I remember it, it replied, ” Can you master consciousness? So, these formulas are expressions of pure consciousness. It’s like swimming. You can become a great swimmer, but do you master the ocean? No. You can learn to swim in it expertly. There are always more things to learn on the path of life.
Some people experience the intense emotional energy of the Siddhis when they first learn them. Others take some time before the sparks begin. The embodiment of each Sutra returns a unique energetic response. The more attuned you become to their subtleties, the more distinct they become.
These Sutras, like any other spiritual practice, will ebb and flow. You will have plateaus, peaks, and valleys.
Different Ways to Understand The Eight Siddhis
Depending on your source, there are different ways to translate these sutras or formulas. There are eight classical Siddhis, or eight great perfections, that are translated generally as follows:
1) Aṇimā is the ability to become small, perhaps even reducing one’s body to the size of an atom. It is this Sutra that is the source of the legend of invisibility.
2) Mahimā is the opposite of Aṇimā. It’s the ability to become large, expanding one’s body to any size. Here we have the legend of giant warriors.
3) Laghimā is the ability to become weightless or lighter than air. From this Sutra, the TM movement gets its practice of levitation.
4) Prāpti To instantaneously travel or be anywhere at will. Here is the power of astral projection.
5) Prākāmya is the ability to achieve or realize whatever one desires. Some teachers say this Sutra is the ingredient that makes the other Siddhis work as advertised.
6) Īśiṭva It is the ability to control everything in nature. This includes the control of people and animals, etc. It is the total supremacy over nature and the ability to force your influence upon anyone.
7) Vaśiṭva is the ability to control all material elements or natural forces. Similar to Īśiṭva but applies to non-living things.
The eighth is either of the two following options:
8) a. Kāma-avasayitva: satisfaction, suppression of desire, or as wishes come true.
8) b. Garimā: is the ability to become infinitely heavy and so immovable.
We will use the TM Siddhis Sutras as our point of reference rather than the classical form. Other teachers have different approaches. Okay, so first, there are many more than eight individual sutras. They typically teach these in eight sets that contain more than one Sutra. Each group has one or more words or phrases. I generally say this because the learning method continues to evolve.
We have omitted the desired effect of these Sutras so as not to raise expectations.
If the goal is mastering the Siddhis Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, you may be tempted to try them out to see what happens. Don’t bother. Nothing will happen if you say the words from the list below, and there’s a good reason. Repeating these words on the conscious level of the mind is ineffectual. It’s like trying to pick up a pebble from the bottom of a deep lake by placing your hand on the surface. It will not work.
Nothing will happen if you don’t introduce them while in the 4th state of the transcend. Nothing will happen if you haven’t practiced enough to be grounded. If you don’t introduce them correctly, they won’t work either.
So, if you think you play around and see if you can get them to work, it will waste your time. The sutras are provided here as a reference for those who have the requisite level of grounding and are ready to begin.
After you learn, practice each set for at least four weeks before moving to the next. They are a progression. You will know if you are using the Sutra correctly by the response you get. If you aren’t getting a result, then keep practicing.
Here’s something else you probably don’t want to hear, but these sutras are like skills. To some extent, everyone can play basketball, but not everyone can play like Michael Jordan. So, your practice may stall out at any level. You may find it takes months to get consistent results with just the first set. Maybe that’s as far as you can go, and that’s alright. You aren’t the Michael Jordan of the Siddhis. You are still growing and developing.
So, what are you supposed to experience with the Eight Siddhis? That is a question we won’t answer. We don’t want to raise your expectations, which will taint your practice. If you use them, do so with a qualified teacher who knows what experiential phenomenon is within the optimal range.
If you have negative physical symptoms, increased nightmares, etc., your teacher will ask you to suspend their use for a time. They will want to determine if the sutras are causing the issue or something else. If you add or change things to your spiritual practice at the same time, it can be more challenging to pinpoint the reason for your problems.
Think of mastering the siddhis as a separate ladder you use on a steep wall. You don’t want anything else to get in the way when crawling up the ladder. Don’t add other things like Kundalini etc.
If you are an experienced Siddha, you understand the need to remove expectations and ensure people are grounded and prepared. The actual practice, like most powerful spiritual practices, is simple. You sit in the transcend for about 20 minutes. Then, introduce the Sutra and wait at least 30 seconds or more. You do this with one Sutra 3 or 4 times, depending on your instruction.
After the practice, you write what happened and debrief with your teacher. It’s the only way to be sure you are on the right path with the Sutra. The teacher can provide further guidance to correct your course.
The TM Siddhis Sutras
You will notice there are several differences between the eight siddhis of the classical form and the TM version:
1) The Sutras are given in your native language rather than Sanskrit.
2) They can be phrases or single words.
3) There isn’t a direct correlation between the TM and classical forms. However, the word or terms used in the TM form often invoke the meaning or functions you see in the classical Sutra forms.
4) The experiences of the sutras are internal expressions, except for the eighth. The eighth Sutra, known as the flying Sutra or first-stage levitation, is physical. Yogic bouncing is replicated in other forms of yoga, not as a method for energizing Kundalini.
- Strength of an Elephant
- Bronchial Tube
- Inner Light
- Find Things Hidden from View
- Distinction between Intellect and Transcendence
- Distinction between Heart and Mind
- Transcendence, Intuition
- Transcendence, Hearing
- Transcendence, Sight
- Transcendence, Taste
- Transcendence, Touch
- Transcendence, Smell
- Relationship of body and akasha – lightness of cotton fiber.
- Light as a feather
If you are a Siddha, please don’t email and tell us this list is incomplete or incorrect. Some differences or omissions in the above set of sutras are intentional.
The list comes (for the most part) from the earlier short version. This was taught to the public after twelve weeks of in-residence preparation. The Sutras of the six-month in-residence course are different. They also include other sutras not listed here.
If you want to learn these sutras correctly, it will require a significant investment of time and resources. Mastering the Siddhis Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a life-long process.