Siddhi

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For Wives of Ganesha, Siddhi and Riddhi and relationship of Ashta Siddhi with Ganesha, see Consorts of Ganesha.
Not to be confused with the African Siddi or the Karnataka Siddi
Ganesha with the Ashta Siddhi, personified as goddesses - painting by Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906)

Siddhis[note 1] are spiritual, paranormal, supernatural, or otherwise magical powers, abilities, and attainments that are the products of spiritual advancement through sadhana (spiritual practices), such as meditation and yoga.[1] There is a related Buddhist term, "Iddhi", that translates as "psychic powers", and is often used interchangeably. People who have attained one or more Siddhis are formally known as siddhas.[2] The attainment of Siddhis are typically independent of one another, although it is not uncommon for many Siddhis to arise simultaneously out of the proper conducive state of consciousness.

Etymology[edit]

Siddhi is a Sanskrit noun which can be translated as "perfection", "accomplishment", "attainment", or "success".[3] In Tamil the word Siddhar/Chitthar refers to someone who has attained the Siddhic powers & knowledge. Chith is pure consciousness/knowledge in Sanskrit also.

Origins[edit]

The earliest appearance in Indian history of the idea that magical powers (Pāli iddhi) are generated by spiritual practices, (Pāli jhāna) is the account that appears in the Buddhist canon, in the [Sāmaññaphalasutta] of the [Dīghanikāya].[4]

The Yoga Sutras, of which Patanjali compiled around 400 BCE from many older traditions, goes into great depth about how to obtain the various Siddhis through a scientific-yogic approach.[5][6][7][8]

The term siddhi is later found in the Mahabharata.[9][10] As a term in the Manusmriti, the Laws of Manu, it refers to the settlement of a debt.[citation needed]

Usage in Hinduism[edit]

In the Pancatantra, a siddhi may be the term for any unusual skill or faculty or capability.

Eight primary siddhis[edit]

In Hinduism eight siddhis (Ashta Siddhi) are known:[11]

  • Aṇimā: reducing one's body even to the size of an atom
  • Mahima: expanding one's body to an infinitely large size
  • Garima: becoming infinitely heavy
  • Laghima: becoming almost weightless
  • Prāpti: having unrestricted access to all places
  • Prākāmya: realizing whatever one desires
  • Iṣṭva: possessing absolute lordship
  • Vaśtva: the power to subjugate all[12]

Bhagavata Purana[edit]

Five siddhis of yoga and meditation[edit]

In the Bhagavata Purana, the five siddhis of yoga and meditation are:

  1. tri-kāla-jñatvam: 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 and so on
  4. agni arka ambu viṣa ādīnām pratiṣṭambhaḥ: checking the influence of fire, sun, water, poison, and so on
  5. aparājayah: remaining unconquered by others[13]

Ten secondary siddhis[edit]

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

  • anūrmi-mattvam: Being undisturbed by hunger, thirst, and other bodily appetites
  • dūra-śravaṇa: Hearing things far away
  • dūra-darśanam: Seeing things far away
  • manaḥ-javah: Moving the body wherever thought goes (teleportation/astral projection)
  • kāma-rūpam: Assuming any form desired
  • para-kāya praveśanam: Entering the bodies of others
  • sva-chanda 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
  • ājñā apratihatā gatiḥ: Orders or commands being unimpeded [14]

Samkhya[edit]

In the Samkhya Karika and Tattva Samasa 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[note 2] are as explained in verse 51 of Samkhyakarika:[15]

  1. Uuha: based on the samskaras of previous births, the attainment of knowledge about the twenty-four Tatwas gained by examining the determinable and the indeterminable conscious and the non-conscious constituents of creation,
  2. Shabad: 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,

The attainment of these eight siddhis renders one no longer in a painful state of ignorance but in possession of greater knowledge and experience of bliss. The aim of Samkhya is to eliminate all kinds of physical and mental pains and to receive liberation.

Patanjali's Yoga Sutras[edit]

In Patanjali's Yoga Sutras IV.1 it is stated (rendered in IAST):

janma auṣadhi mantra tapaḥ samādhijāḥ siddhayaḥ

In translation:

Accomplishments may be attained through birth, the use of herbs, incantations, self-discipline or samadhi.[16][note 3]

Hindu gods associated with gaining siddhi[edit]

In Hinduism, both Ganesha and Hanuman possess the eight supernatural powers (ashtamahasiddhis)[17] and can give one access to Ashta Siddhis.

Usage in Vajrayana Buddhism[edit]

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, having access to memories from past lives. The term is also used in this sense in the Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha of Madhvacharya (1238–1317).

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Devanagari सिद्धि; IAST: siddhi; Tibetan: དངོས་གྲུབWylie: dngos grub[web 1]
  2. ^ अष्टधा सिद्धिः १५ The Journal of Oriental Research, Madras. 1928. A note on the date of the Tattvasamasa. Pages 146&147. http://ebookbrowse.com/samkhya-tattva-samasa-1928-pdf-d284611874
  3. ^ Separate translations: janma, "birth"; auṣadhi, "medicinal plant, herb, drug, incense, elixir"; mantra, "incantation, charm, spell"; tapaḥ, "heat, burning, shining, as ascetic devotional practice, burning desire to reach perfection, that which burns all impurities"; samādhi, "profound meditation, total absorption"; jāḥ, "born"; siddhayaḥ, "perfections, accomplishments, fulfillments, attainments"[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ White, David Gordon; Dominik Wujastyk (2012). Yoga In Practice. Princeton: Princeton UP. p. 34. 
  2. ^ Davidson 2004, p. 347.
  3. ^ Apte year unknown, p. 986.
  4. ^ White, David Gordon; Dominik Wujastyk (2012). Yoga In Practice. Princeton: Princeton UP. p. 34. 
  5. ^ Wuyastik 2011, p. 33.
  6. ^ Feuerstein 1978, p. 108.
  7. ^ Tola, Dragonetti & Prithipaul 1987, p. x.
  8. ^ The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Chapters 3, and a fair bit of 4, deal with the explicit obtainment of powers.
  9. ^ White, David Gordon; James L, Fitzgerald (2012). "2". Yoga In Practice. Princeton: Princeton UP. pp. 43–57. 
  10. ^ Jacobsen, Knut A.; Angelika Malinar (2011). Yoga Powers: Extraordinary Capacities Attained Through Meditation and Concentration. Leiden: Brill. pp. 33–60. ISBN 9789004212145. 
  11. ^ Ashta siddhi
  12. ^ Danielou, Alain (1987). While the Gods Play: Shaiva Oracles and Predictions on the Cycles of History and the Destiny of Mankind; Inner Traditions International.
  13. ^ The Concise Srimad Bhagavatam, trans. Swami Venkatesananda, SUNY Press 1989, ISBN 0-7914-0149-9
  14. ^ The Concise Srimad Bhagavatam, trans. Swami Venkatesananda, SUNY Press 1989, ISBN 0-7914-0149-9
  15. ^ The Samkhya Karika, with commentary of Gaudapada. Published in 1933 by The Oriental Book Agency, Poona
  16. ^ a b Iyengar 2002, p. 246.
  17. ^ Lord Hanuman & Siddhis[1]

Sources[edit]

Published sources[edit]

  • Apte, A (year unknown), A Practical Sanskrit Dictionary  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • 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[edit]

  1. ^ Dharma Dictionary (April, 2010). 'dngos grub'. (accessed: Thursday April 15, 2010)

Further reading[edit]