Jainism and Patanjali Yoga (Comparative Study)

by Deepak bagadia | 2016 | 109,819 words

This page relates ‘Supernatural powers’ of the study dealing with the Spiritual Practices of Jainism and Patanjali Yoga in the context of ancient Indian Philosophy (in Sanskrit: Darshana), including extracts from the Yogasutra and the Tattvartha-Sutra. The system of Yoga offers techniques which are scientifically designed for the spiritual development of an individual. Jainism offers ethicical principles and meditation practices to assist with spiritual development.

Part 4.11 - Supernatural powers

[Full title: The Concept and Content of Patanjali Yogadarsana (11): Supernatural powers]

Patanjali has mentioned various vibhutis which are not always easy to explain in a way as would make it possible to understand reasonably as to how they are produced. The penetrative power of the mind in the highly concentrative state of dharana, dhyana and further to samyama is extraordinary. Modern science also has proved the abnormal effects of elevated power of human mind. These powers are also termed as Siddhis.

Sutra 4.1 enumerates different methods, modes and sources of acquiring vibhutis or siddhis. These (occult powers) are the result of birth, herbs or drugs, incantations (mantras), austerities or samadhi[1]. A few people are born (janma) with some occult powers like clairvoyance, may be due to spiritual practices like Yoga in the previous births and have such samskaras with them or inherent in their body.

Theory of karma supports this quality. Certain drugs, herbs (ausadha) like opium (ganja) can also give similar powers, but of the lower order. Some chemical change gives some extra sensory experiences; one should not go for those. Application of mantras (like chanting of pranava) is an important and potent means of developing siddhis. Mantra is a sacred formula made up of meaningful words in the form of prayer except bija mantras where we can”t derive meaning as such. Such practices unfold consciousness taking it to the higher level, where some inherent powers appear naturally in the aspirant’s life. Most of the time, such powers are of the higher order. Though, the true practioner may not use or exhibit them.

Some occult powers could also be attained and will-power is accomplished with the practice of austerities (tapas). Tapa removes all the impurities from the body and mind. Those powers may be of restricted nature limited to the current life. The various siddhis developed with the practice of samyama are of superior nature, most of them get developed due to natural unfoldment of consciousness in its evolution towards perfection. The experience of samyama is of instantaneous sabija samadhi which is also a type of siddhi.

Some of the vibhutis mentioned by Patanjali in his third chapter of Yogadarsana are of great spiritual value for attainment of kaivalya. For example, samyama on surya (sun which is the centre of the whole creation) giving rise to bhuvanajnana (knowledge of the entire universe) mentioned in sutra 3.26 is of this type. As these vibhutis are not merely occult powers but, are extraordinary powers attained through Yoga practices of samyama, they are also called as “accomplishments” for the higher state of consciousness. As such these powers don”t free one from the basic illusions of life and so, can not bring him enlightenment and peace. One has to use them strictly for scientific purpose and for helping others maintaining an attitude of utter indifference towards them. Some of them are mentioned here.

The application of samyama to the proper triad of parinamas i.e . essential attribute (dharma), temporal character (laksana) and the state (avastha) in relation to the nature of the thing will bring results to him[2]. On account of the high penetrative power developed in samyama, the yoga aspirant starts knowling perfectly the past and future; the minds and language of others including animals and can get the knowledge of previous lives[3] through direct perception of the latent impressions and also the death of others and himself through maturity of his karma. Anyone who can see and know the mental image (pratyaya) occupying his mind, can know the mind of others[4]. Once, he masters the technique of samyama and learns to resolve complex processes which results into external sounds, he can know the meanings of these sounds produced by any birds, animals or insects instantaneously when he hears those sounds (yogasutra- 3.17). This knowledge, for a real Yogi at the stage of samyama, would help him to increase and speed up the sadhana (the intensity and depth of the yoga practices). All these accomplishments are governed by natural laws so; there is no place for any miracles in this philosophy. But, a true aspirant should also know his limitations while practicing samyama on various objects.

On account of the rupatanmatra of the kaya (body) being curbed through samyama, the body looses the ability of absorbing and therefore differentially and partially reflecting the light so that particular body automatically becomes invisible.

Thus, when an aspirant wants himself, someone or an object to disappear, he directs the samyama on the rupatanmatra on that particular body[5]. The interrelationship between the tattvas, tanmatras and the organs of sensations form an integral part of the sutrachology are well known and upon which the science of yoga is based. All the visual phenomena are dependent upon the interplay of the tanmatra (rupa), the tattva (tejas) and the organ of sensation i.e. vision which is called eye. The same is applied to other four tanmatras also, to justify the invisibility of the referred object.

Karma is of two types, active and dormant. Knowledge of time of death could be obtained if samyama on them, by segregating accumulated dormant karma and currently active (prarabdha) karma or on portents is performed. By applying the process of Samyama on various good qualities or virtues like friendliness (maitri), compassion (karuna) and love (prem), a true Yogi can produce great powers of universal love, friendliness and other good human traits like sympathy and courage and use them for selfless universal welfare. Thus, samyama provides with him the most efficient and powerful technique of character building.

Apart from these mental powers, one can gain abnormal physical strength of an elephant by process samyama on virtues like friendship and then on the strength attained in this process[6]. Deeper and hidden knowledge of outer and inner objects could be obtained by intensifying the perceiving powers of sense organs with the practice of samyama on them. The power of samyama on moon gives us knowledge of stellar constellation, other stars and planets and knowledge of their movements is obtained by process of samyama on the “polar star” (dhruva)[7]. The knowledge of the structure of solar system, which is fundamental unit in the whole cosmos, arrangement of different stars in the galaxies and the law which governs their movements is obtained by performing samyama on these three different objects. Otherwise, with all physical means and methods available currently, it is almost impossible to get the clear, exact and overall picture of the whole cosmos.

Yoga as a practical science is concerned mainly with the raising human consciousness into progressively higher levels of existence, practice of samyama brings us this result. Yogic methods are different from logical scientific methods as it discards totally the external aids and relies on the unfoldment of inner organs of perception, which are more perfect and reliable.

The knowledge of organization of our systems in the body is obtained by performing samyama on navel centre (nabhi-cakra), also called as umbilicus which is origin of development of all the organs[8]. Performing samyama on the throat region or pharynx, feeling of thirst and hunger can be made disappeared[9]. The Yogi can enable these sensations to become voluntary through the control of secretions of various glands and related physiological actions. Samyama on kurma-nadi (cochlea in ear to maintain balance of the body) results into steadiness, calmness and firmness of the body[10]. By taking voluntary control over this nadi, the practioner can make his body motionless. To attain total control over mind, steadiness of body is the first pre-requisite.

Patanjali mentions in his sutra[11], that if the samyama is directed on the luminescence (light) at the top apex of the head, we get the vision of any desired siddhayogi. This brahmarandhra is the centre of manifestation of the spiritual force or light. It is affirmed that the prana of a person who attains moksa, the final liberation, leaves the body at its fall, only through this tenth “door” of our body[12].

If samyama is directed on the inspirational power (pratibha) or intuitional inspirational potentiality, we gain all the knowledge of all the subjects whichever the practitioner desires for. Though, the inspirational faculty is inherent in each person, the power of this pratibha produces the correct knowledge in a man spontaneously just like a flash, mostly involuntarily. Pratibha is that transcendent spiritual faculty of perception which can dispense with the use of not only senses but also the mind. By samyama, ordinary pratibha is transformed into fully developed rtambhara prajna[13] The samyama on heart gives the complete knowledge of citta to the citta itself[14]. With the application of samyama, the knowledge of purusa principle and clear distinction of sattva (citta) and purusa is obtained[15]. From this knowledge of purusa which is result of samyama, abnormal development (pratibha) of faculties of audition, tactility, vision, taste and smell takes place as per yogasutra 3.35. It makes the knowledge “direct”, without instruments of mind and senses. So, knowledge obtained is divine or inspirational. Now, the citta experiences external knowledge and knowledge of the truth directly. This experience is of different kind than normal one. As it is extra-sensory, it is divine. We start understanding the nature of intuitional perception if we remember that purusa is the real perceiver (drsta).

When cause of binding of citta to the body is removed, it gets freedom to move out of that body and can go out to all directions, can get transferred to another body[16]. Such process should be carried out for spiritual purpose only and not for mundane means.

Patanjali cautions us about these powers or so called siddhis in the form of special developments as mentioned in previous sutras. It says that all these siddhis are obstacles in the path of samadhi[17]. Such powers are hindrances for spiritual sadhana. Even if one uses these powers for the welfare of masses, it makes him so popular that his fame, wealth and attachments would entangle him more and more towards worldliness and hence away from attainment of spiritual goal. Such powers also give wisdom to the practioner not to get driven by the forces of vibhutis.

Sensual experiences of super-normal level as mentioned in above sutra 3.36 are much more alluring and Patanjali warns us about such siddhis only. Actually, vibhutis mentioned elsewhere are helpful in spiritual progress and for attainment of kaivalya.

Technique of samyama on various types or aspects of prana results into various siddhis as mentioned in sutras 3.38 and 3.39 . Through mastery (samyama) over udana, body gets lightness of various degrees (laghima) and there is no contact with water, marsh mud, thorns and such others. The Yogi can do levitation and can get death at his will. He can neutralize the gravitational pull of the earth on the body by regulating the udana prana[18]. Mastery over udana brings about all kinds of activities in the body which are directed upwards towards the head. One can manipulate this force the way he may like and by counteracting the downward pull of the earth, he can make his body as light as to walk on water surface. Through voluntary release of udana through the brahmarandhra, the Yogi can attain death at his will and of his choice of type and time.

Through control over samana prana, effulgence (glow) and body fire could be produced[19]. Samana prana mainly regulates the body heat production, secretion of digestive enzymes and works in the lower part of the body. Therefore, the gastric fire or digestive power is enhanced by this samyama on samana. The level of effulgence of the Yogi is measured and recorded by the aura around him by modern scientific instruments. The colour and brightness of the aura varies according to every individual’s personality and the state of mind at the particular time.

The next sutra states that if samyama is directed upon the relationship between the space and sound or sense of hearing, the ability of ear discern sound becomes highly enhanced[20]. Divyam srotam means becoming sensitive to the subtler sounds vibrations which are beyond the range of the physical ear. One starts hearing the far distant sounds, even if those are normally inaudible or mystic sounds. Such ear is divine.

Patanjali mentions the great unbelievable vibhuti of moving through the space or flying by directing samyama on the relationship between the body and the space accompanied by samapatti with a small light tuff of cotton[21]. The power of mind here is actually developed to its fullest force in this recommended samyama and with it the body can be made to fly in the space over the air. One acquires knowledge of forces of cohesion and power to manipulate them the way he likes. After gaining this power, the aspirant brings about the coalescence of the mind with fluffy substance like cotton down he causes the dispersion of the particles of the body and their resolution into space (akasagamana).

From this, the aspirant moves out of the body and mahavideha (the great bodiless state or vrtti) which is unimaginable is attained, which further results into diminution and disappearance of the covering on the inner illumination[22]. To reassemble the particles at the destination, all that is necessary is to withdraw the force of will. With this, the particles reassert themselves and the body materializes instantaneously, apparently from nowhere. By the development of the power to move to any point of the Universe without any restraint, the citta is now able to get knowledge of anything anywhere through direct perception. Citta becomes almost omniscient. At any moment, our mind is filled with two sets of images, one through the actual contact of our senses with the external world and another is the product of our own imagination. This world image in our mind is the result of impact of the universal mind on our individual mind.

If samyama is performed on the grossness, the naturalness, the subtleness, the relatedness and the purposefulness of five basic elements (pancamahabhutas), the mastery over these elements is attained[23]. They are also called pancatattvas. Literary, tattva means “that-ness”, the essential quality or a principle of a thing that differentiates it from others. Bhutas basically are principles which find expression through the medium of matter and energies of different types. These five innumerable elements have some special function in the manifested universe that of relating matter with consciousness and are always in combined state with each other in varying proportions to form the gross object in the world. The whole theory and practice of Yoga is based upon the idea of interdependence of three realities of existence namely, matter, mind and consciousness and extra-ordinary power that is possible to acquire through Yogic practices proves the correctness of fundamental basis of Yogic doctrine. In samadhi, we come in touch with the reality of the object meditated upon, while in intellectual comprehension we merely contact the blurred and distorted image produced by the object in our mind. The difference between two is the difference a substance and its shadow.

Thus, total control over functioning of the elements could be achieved by directing samyama on development of those. And from this, we gain eight types of siddhis (occult powers) as mentioned below. It includes excellent physique and non-affliction by the body’s natural tendencies like aging, diseases and death[24].

1. Anima: (miniaturization) It is an ability to become as small as size of an atom or as one may want.

2. Mahima: (magnification) ability to expand and to become as big as one may desire. In his tattvavaisaradi (3.45), Vacaspati Mishra explains this as an ability to become as large as an elephant, a mountain or a town. However, maniprabha defines mahima as “pervasiveness”, saying it is the subtle body that expands.

3. Laghima: ability to become light to any extent upto weightless.

4. Garima: ability to become as heavy as one needs

5. Prapti: ability to bridge great distances instantly and easy grasping by hand of any object at any distance

6. Prakamya: ability to realize one’s will and to have anything as soon as one has desire for it

7. Isitva: power to create and control things

8. Vasitva: subjugation of everyone and everything in his surrounding

Thus, we get control of body and all elements of which it is made up of. We can work at our optimum level to make the performance excellent.

Different qualities like grace, beauty, strength, endurance and supermost sturdiness make our body perfect[25]. The mastery over the bhutas will naturally lead to the body acquiring all above qualities as they depend on actions of bhutas. The mastery over the senses is achieved by performing Samyama on the power of apprehension or grasping ability of an individual, own natural state (svarupatva of relationship between five mahabhutas and five tanmatras), asmita (awareness of I), relatedness (cooperative functioning of various principles) and purposefulness of the senses[26]. By making samyama on the transformation that the sense-organs undergo when they contact objects and on their power of illumination, on the ego-sense, on the gunas which constitutes the organs and on the experiences they provide for the individual, one gains mastery of the organs. From this mastery over senses (indriyajaya), one can move with the speed of mind independent of senses (similar to pratyahara) and can have mastery over pradhana i.e. mulaprakrti. Mastery over both these i.e. bhutajaya and indriyajaya avoids danger of getting trapped in pradhanajaya and facilitates the spiritual path towards final goal, kaivalya.

The Yogi who has attained the realization of the distinction between the sattva (pure state of citta) and purusa principle posseses the potentiality to have the supreme control on all states of existing (omnipotence) and the potentiality of having all the knowledge (omni-science)[27]. These two vibhutis automatically appear due to actual realization of the clear distinction of the purusa from the sattva-citta. And this experience or realization leads to attainment of controllership of all states resulting into nirbija samadhi. Through detachment for these vibhutis eliminates the seeds of defects (dosabija), the prerequisite for kaivalya[28]. Mastery over an object does not necessary mean independence from that. This keeps him in bondage. Omniscience and omnipotence means mastery over prakrti. To get complete freedom, full detachment is needed. Vairagya is essential for kaivalya. During this spiritual journey, one should not get trapped into these miraculous powers (vibhutis) and fame due to them. If the root-seed of the faults (dosabija) get destroyed with elimination of last trace of avidya and renunciation of these powers, then no other dosas (faults) will remain with him.

Once, the Yogi almost reaches such state of Godliness or superpower, the celestial beings invite him to offer honours and gifts. But Patanjali (sutra 3.50) warns him that he should not get attached to such attractions due to possibility of the danger of getting tempted and trapped into worldy engagement. He should totally discard and overcome the allurements offered by divine beings. Actually, he is tested by the powers of different types. With great efforts, one can remove the weakness to enable himself to move towards the final goal. Only through highest level of vairagya (disinterstedness), one can become eligible for entering into the final stage of attaining spiritual goal.

When we feel that something is destroyed or disappeared and became past, actually what happens that some dharma go back into unmanifested state from their manifest condition. Other fresh dharma will become manifest from their unmanifest state and we say that they will come up later or infuture. So, there is no reality to time. It is a conception created merely by the two directions of the movement of dharmas. A clear comprehension of this illusoriness of time removes the bondage of time, which is a great constraint on the freedom of citta and the most difficult hurdle in the path of kaivalya. The total abolition of this constraint of time is accomplished by the samyama on ksanas and their sequentiality as per sutra 3.52, which leads to vivekajajnana[29]. Dharmas here are different combinations of the three primary gunas, which are nothing but three fundamental principles of motions (inertia, mobility and vibrations). The essence of the object consists in the uniqueness (ekattva) of transformation of these gunas[30]. Patanjali further explains that the object perceived by the citta is itself undergoing transformations in its own independent way[31]. Different cittas due to their different natures perceive and so experience these transformations, each one in its own separate manner as that perception by a citta is admixed with and so coloured by its own transformations. This different perception also is according to each one’s past samskaras and the proportion of trigunas in their personalities[32]. A calm and dispassionate mind can alone see things correctly as far as this is possible under the limitations of ordinary life. This is possible with yoga practices to minimize vrttis with meditation and samadhi.

If samyama is directed on both ksana (instant moment) and its sequence, the realization is produced out of the vivekaja jnana (intellect-born-knowledge or discriminative ability)[33]. It is the knowledge born of the awareness of the ultimate Reality. Though each moment is different independent of the other, feeling of an unbroken continuity of these ksanas, unbroken flow of time is an illusion. This viveka-jnana enables the practitioner to have the knowledge of any subject, whatsoever it is of any aspect which he would like to know[34]. He has this knowledge without any constraint imposed by the order or sequence with respect to time (sarvatha visayam) or place (sarvavisayam) or inter-subject relationships (akramam). He can have ultimate discrimination of any duality in the universe like purusa and prakrti as transcendental truth leading to salvation or kaivalya. This apparent and illusionary union (samyoga as per Samkhya) gets abolished at last.

Now, the Yogi has transcended the limitation of the time by means of the mastery over current moment as per yogasutra[35], he can differentiate the identical things of same class, characteristics and existing at the same place (jati, laksana, desa), which is impossible otherwise. Everything for him is in the present moment. The nature and scope of this is already explained (2.53).

The essential nature of kaivalya is pure sattva, the primordial pure state of citta. It is also called pradhana or mula-prakrti (original) state. It has yet to develop its potentiality of consciousness, the ability to become aware and perceive. All types of samyamas thus, are mastery over sabija samadhi through which one can”t attain kaivalya directly. One has to reach and attain nirbija samadhi and dharmamegha to get kaivalya. Kaivalya does not necessary mean separation of purusa from prakrti. If sattva is purified to the necessary extent, the purusa can function through prakrti in full realization of his real nature and is always free. When there is equality of purity between purusa and sattva, the state of kaivalya is attained. This is realization of one’s own nature (mula svarupa) in the fullest degree which is the characteristic and indispensible condition of kaivalya. Thus, isolation of kaivalya is subjective and not necessary objective[36].

Footnotes and references:


janmauṣadhimantratapaḥsamādhijāḥ siddhayaḥ || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 4.1


pariṇāmatrayasaṃyamādatītānāgatajñānam || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.16


saṃskārasākṣātkaraṇātpūrvajātijñānam || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.18


pratyayasyaparacittajñānam || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.19


kāyarūpasaṃyamāttadgrāhyaśaktistambhecakṣuḥprakāśāsamprayoge'ntardhānam || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.20, P.V.Karambelkar, Patanjala Yogasutra, Kaivalyadham, Lonavla, p.409


Ibid, p.414-18


Patanjali Yoga Sutra, 3.25-3.27


nābhicakrekāyavyūhajñānam || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.28


kaṇṭhakūpe kṣutpipāsānivṛttiḥ || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.29


kūrmanāḍyāṃ sthairyam || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.30


mūrdhajyotiṣi siddhadarśanam || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.31


Ibid, p.432


Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.32


hṛdaye cittasaṃvit || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.33


sattvapuruṣayoratyantāsaṅkīrṇayoḥ pratyayāviśeṣobhogaḥ parārthatvātsvārthasaṃyamātpuruṣajñānam || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.34


bandhakāraṇaśaithilyātpracārasaṃvedanāccacittasya paraśarīrāveśaḥ || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.37


te samādhāvupasargāvyutthānesiddhayaḥ || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.36


udānajayājjalapaṅkakaṇṭakādiṣvasaṅgautkrāntiśca || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.38 P.V.Karambelkar, Patanjala Yogasutra, Kaivalyadham, Lonavla, 2005


samānajayājjvalanam || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.39


śrotrākāśayoḥ sambandhasaṃyamāddivyaṃ śrotram || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.40


kāyākāśayoḥ sambandhasaṃyamāllaghutūlasamāpatteścākāśagamanam || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.41


vahirakalpitāvṛttirmahāvidehātataḥ prakāśāvaraṇakṣayaḥ || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.42


sthūlasvarūpasūkṣmānvayārthavattvasaṃyamādbhūtajayaḥ || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.43


tato'ṇimādiprādurbhāvaḥ kāyasampattaddharmānabhighātaśca || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.44


rūpalāvaṇyabalavajrasaṃhananatvānikāyasampat || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.45


grahaṇasvarūpāsmitānvayārthavattvasaṃyamādindriyajayaḥ || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.46


sattvapuruṣānyatākhyātimātrasya sarvabhāvādhiṣṭhātṛtvaṃ sarvajñātṛtvaṃ ca || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.48


tadvairāgyādapidoṣavījakṣaye kaivalyam || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.50


Ibid, p.535-36


pariṇāmaikatvādvastutattvam || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 4.14, P.V.Karambelkar, Patanjala Yogasutra, Kaivalyadham, Lonavla, 2001, p.538


vastusāmyecittabhedāttayorvibhaktaḥpanthāḥ || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 4.15 I.K.Taimni, The Science of Yoga, The Theosoph-ical Publishing House, Chennai, 2005


Ibid, p.540


kṣaṇatatkramayoḥ saṃyamādvivekajaṃ jñānam || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.52, p.487


tārakaṃ sarvaviṣayaṃ sarvathāviṣayamakramaṃ cetivivekajaṃ jñānam || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.53


kṣaṇatatkramayoḥ saṃyamādvivekajaṃ jñānam || Patanjali Yoga Sutra 3.52


I.K.Taimni, The Science of Yoga, The Theosophical Publishing House, Chennai, 2005, p.329

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