The Eight Great Paranormal Powers
Yogic literature associates mahasiddhas with supreme spiritual liberation. In this context, a siddha is a realized being. However, siddhis are paranormal powers. The mahasiddhis (“great perfection” or “great accomplishment”) refer to a set of eight great paranormal powers. Another name for them is ashta siddhi (eight siddhis).
In Tantra Yoga, Hatha Yoga, and Raja Yoga, siddhis are considered a consequence of the spiritual process. In Jnana Yoga, they are seen as simple illusions that should also be transcended. From the perspective of authentic spiritual practice, they should never be a goal in themselves. Many texts insist that these powers should not be exhibited, but be kept secret, as they can reawaken and inflate the ego of the yogi.
According to Hindu Literature, the Mahasiddhis Are:
- Animan: The capacity to reduce the body to the size of an atom. The pure spiritual dimension of this siddhi consists in the revelation of the absolute “smallness” (subtlety) of atman.
- Mahima: The capacity to expand the body to an infinitely large size. The pure spiritual dimension of this siddhi consists in the revelation of the absolute “greatness” (omnipresence) of atman.
- Garima: The capacity to become infinitely heavy. Those with this ability can make themselves as heavy as they desire and cannot be moved by anyone or anything. The pure spiritual dimension of this siddhi consists in the revelation of absolute “heaviness” (the immutable background of the Supreme Consciousness).
- Laghima: The capacity to become weightless, including levitation. The practitioner can, at will, become any creature and enter its body. The pure spiritual dimension of this siddhi consists in the revelation of the absolute “lightness” (psychological transparency) of the Witness Consciousness.
- Prapti: The capacity to touch anything (however far away), to have unrestricted access to all places; an infinite extension.
- Prakamya: The capacity to materialize anything at will, to realize whatever is desired. By achieving this ability, practitioners attain an irresistible will. They can fly in the sky or walk on the water.
- Ishitva: The seventh of the mahasiddhis is the capacity to possess absolute lordship over all creation. This siddhi enables the yogi to create, sustain, and destroy matter at will. The pure spiritual dimension of this siddhi consists in the revelation of the absolute “lordship” of atman (the Supreme Self).
- Vashitva or Vashikaran: The power of mastery, of gaining control over life and death. With the help of this siddhi, the yogi attains control over all kinds of living and non-living things. The pure spiritual dimension of this power consists in the revelation of the eternal reality of atman (the Supreme Self).