WRITINGS BY SRI AUROBINDO
© Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

Siddhis, their justification, dangers and use
A passage from Sri Aurobindo's description of the Sapta Chatusthaya1.

The two first chatusthayas of the adhara have reference mainly to the central principle of man’s existence, the antahkarana; but there is one superior faculty and one inferior instrument which have each its peculiar siddhi, the vijnana or supraintellectual faculty and the body. The siddhi of the vijnana and the siddhi of the body belong both of them to that range of experience and of divine fulfilment which are abnormal to the present state of humanity. These are called specially siddhis, because of their abnormal nature[,] rarity and difficulty; they are denied by the sceptic and discouraged by the saint. The sceptic disbelieves in them and holds them to be impos- tures, fables or hallucinations, as a clever animal might disbelieve in the reasoning powers of man. The saint discourages them because they seem to him to lead away from God; he shuns them just as he shuns the riches, power & attainments of this world, and for the same reason. We need not shun them and cannot shun them, because God is sought by us in His world-fulfilment as well as apart from the world and in the world these are the riches of His power and knowledge which we cannot avoid, once we dwell in Him perceiving and sharing His nature. Indeed, there is a stage reached by the Yogin, when, unless he avoids all action in the world, he can no more avoid the use of the siddhis of power and knowledge than an ordinary man can avoid eating and breathing unless he wishes to leave his body; for these things are the natural action of the vijnana, the plane of ideal consciousness, to which he is rising, just as mental activity and physical motion are the natural action of man’s ordinary life. All the ancient Rishis used these powers, all great Avatars and Yogins and vibhutis from Christ to Ramakrishna have used them; nor is there any great man with the divine power at all manifest in him who does not use them continually in an imperfect form without knowing clearly what are these supreme faculties that he is employing. If nothing else, he uses the powers of intuition & inspiration, the power of ishita which brings him the opportunities he needs and the means which make these opportunities fruitful and the power of vyapti by which his thoughts go darting & flashing through the world & creating unexpected waves of tendency both around him and at a distance. We need no more avoid the use of these things than a poet should avoid the use of his poetical genius which is also a siddhi unattainable by ordinary men or an artist renounce the use of his pencil. At the same time there is a justification for the denial of the sceptic and the renunciation by the saint, & of this justification we must take note. The saint renounces because when these siddhis show themselves fragmentarily in a weak adhara dominated by egoism, the egoism becomes enormously enhanced, the ignorant sadhaka thinking that he is the possessor & creator of these abnormal powers and a very great man indeed, (just as we find an abnormal egoism very frequent in the small poet and the half artist, for those who have a really great power, know well enough that the power is not theirs but a gift from God & feel that the power of God is using them & not they the power); so the sadhaka, misled by ahankára goes running after these powers for their own sake and leaves following after God. The denial of the sceptic is justified by the credulity of ordinary men who regard these things as miracles & invent them where they do not exist, and by the weakness & egoism of the sadhakas themselves and of many who are not sadhakas; for if they catch even a glimpse of these things in themselves or others, they exaggerate, puff, distort & build around some petty & imperfect experiences all sorts of jargon, mysticism, charlatanism & bujruki of all kinds which are an offence & a stumbling block to the world. We must therefore keep in view very strictly certain fixed principles;

  1. That these powers are not miraculous, but powers of Nature, which manifest of themselves as soon as the vijnanapadma in us begins to open, & are no more a cause for bragging & vanity than the power of eating & breathing or anything else that is Nature’s.
  2. That they can manifest fully only when we leave ego and offer up our petty separate being in the vastness of God’s being.
  3. That when they manifest in the unpurified state, they are a dangerous ordeal to which God subjects us and we can only pass through it safely by keeping our minds clear of vanity, pride, selfishness and by remembering continually that they are His gifts and not our acquirements.
  4. That these powers are not to be pursued for their own sake, but developed or allowed to develop as part of the flower of divine perfection which is by God’s grace blossoming out in us.

Subject to these cautions, we have not to reject these powers when they come but accept them, to be used in us by God for His own purposes and not by us for ours, to be poured out by vyapti on humanity and not kept for our own use & pride.

— Sri Aurobindo, Record of Yoga, pp. 15-16

Endnotes

1.   The sapta chatusthaya is a system of seven times four siddhis which Sri Aurobindo used to guide his own sadhana during his early years in Pondicherry. This passage is from Sri Aurobindo's description of the vijnanachatusthaya. It was published for the first time many years after his passing and as such is in the editorial style of his unpublished works.

This file: 10-15-siddhis.php
Next file: 0-0-0-preface.php