Siddhis, Riddhis and Mystical Experiences

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It has become quite popular nowadays to speak about mystical experiences and “siddhis”. Most yoga and meditation groups speak of them, along with other esoteric blabber such as the raising of kundalini, opening of chakras, and other things which no one has actually experienced. On one side we have new age gurus speaking of siddhis very cheaply as though they are as common as sand on a beach, and on the other hand we have “rationalists” who discount siddhis all together as mere fantasy.

Siddhis are a reality, and the science behind them has been passed down from time immemorial by the rishis and preserved in the Vedic texts. In actuality nothing is mystic. Everything functions according to natural laws. The rishis, by virtue of their expanded consciousness, understood the functioning of matter on the subtle levels of sound and mind. They actually understood the absolute laws of nature and not just the surfacial reactions caused by mixing gross physical elements.

True transcendentalists have no interest in mundane material life. As such, the rishis did not give much importance to material powers and perfections. They were not interested in acquiring wealth, power, fame, etc. Their aim was much higher.

Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita:

vishaya vinivartante
niraharasya dehinah
rasa-varjam raso ‘py asya
param drishtva nivartate

“The embodied soul may be restricted from senses enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.”

We must imagine how great the spiritual experience of the rishis and yogis must be to turn away from absolute material power – control over the fundamental laws of nature – and sit alone in the forest absorbed in meditation. That is the brahmananda, paramananda, shivananda, yogananda spoken of in the scriptures – the spiritual bliss which is the constitutional nature of the self. Experiencing a higher taste of spiritual bliss, they are able to renounce all lower material sensual enjoyment – both subtle and physical.

How else can we explain the countless yogis, jnanis, tapasvis, siddhas, and rishis who dwell in the sacred realm of the Himalayas. High in the mountains, surrounded by a forest covered in snow. The rishis are there even today meditating on the banks of the Ganges. What keeps them there, living in apparent poverty? Are they fools, are they mad? No, on the contrary, the world is mad and we are all fools. For we are chasing after the broken glass of sense enjoyment, while they are offering us the diamonds of spiritual bliss.

The rishis are calling to us. We must heed their call. Whether we are in the city or in the forest, it makes no difference. Internally we must all become rishis and sadhus – transcendentalists of the concrete jungle. Be situated in your place and attain the goal of life, this is the message of the rishis and the Upanishads – sthane sthitah shruti gatam tanu-van-manobhih.

The aim of those following spiritual discipline is to become free from the desire to lord over material nature. Those seeking mystic perfections are motivated by their desire to control matter, subtle and gross. Those who are sincerely interested in spiritual life should try their best to become free from such material desires. I have seen many people who belong to lines that focus on siddhis. Some of the siddhis are amazing, some are just stupid. Everything from being able to pull chocolate out of the sand (the specialty of one particular sadhu) to being able to change the density of matter. Through various processes of meditation one’s mind is expanded and the understandings of matter become much greater. All matter is based on sound, so through sound, it can be manipulated. Furthermore, the physical realm of our experience exists and is based on the subtle mental realm. Those who have conscious access to that realm can know and do things that we would consider to be mystical or supernatural.

There are eight primary siddhis described in the scriptures and ten secondary perfections. Lord Krishna confirms this in the Srimad Bhagavatam as follows:

siddhayo ‘shtadasa prokta
dharana yoga-para-gaih
tasam ashtau mat-pradhana
dasaiva guna-hetavah

“The masters of the yoga system have declared that there are eighteen types of mystic perfection and meditation, of which eight are primary, having their shelter in Me, and ten are secondary, appearing from the material mode of goodness.”

The eight primary mystic perfections are as follows:

Anima-siddhi – The ability to decrease the size of one’s body and become smaller than the smallest particle. Through this siddhi one may enter into stone or change the density in one’s body, enabling one to pass through solid matter.

Mahima-siddhi – The ability to increase the size of one’s body, ultimately enveloping the universe.

Laghima-siddhi – The ability to make one’s body lighter than air and fly at will. The perfection of this siddhi enables one to travel on the sun’s rays and enter into the sun planet.

Prapti-siddhi – The ability to manifest any object one desires within one’s hand. This siddhi removes the limitations of space which separate two objects from each other. It is said one will even be able to touch the moon with one’s finger [i.e. the limitation of distance is removed].

Prakamya-siddhi – The ability to attain anything one desires.

Ishita-siddhi – The ability to control the sub-potencies of the laws of nature. This enables one to control various energies and seemingly defy the laws of nature. On the lowest level, one may make fire come from one’s mouth, etc.

Vashita-siddhi – The ability to bring others under one’s control.

Kamavasayita-siddhi – The ability to attain anything anywhere. This is the highest of the eight and contains most of the abilities of the other perfections.

The ten secondary perfections are as follows:

1) The ability to be free from hunger and thirst. With this perfection one no longer depends on food and water for maintenance of one’s body. One will be able to sustain himself simply on prana, the life air.

2) The ability to hear things far away. With this perfection, one can hear any conversation spoken anywhere in the world.

3) The ability to see things far away. With this perfection, one develops a mystic vision, by which one can see any person or place. Sanjaya, the disciple of Vyasa, used this siddhi to see and hear the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna (known as Bhagavad Gita) which took place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, though he was situated far away.

4) The ability to travel at the speed of the mind. With this perfection, one can travel great distances in a moment simply by thinking of the destination.

5) The ability to assume any form one desires. This enables one to change one’s physical body at will.

6) The ability to enter the bodies of others. This perfection enables one to enter into the bodies of others and enjoy through their senses. Since ghosts do not have physical senses, they often resort to this to satisfy their desires through other’s bodies.

7) The ability to control the time of one’s death. With this perfection, one may choose the time of leaving his body.

8) The ability to witness the pastimes between the demigods and the celestial girls called apsaras.

9) Satya-sankalpa – Perfect accomplishment of one’s determination. Whatever one desires to happen will happen.

10) Satya-vak – Giving orders that are unimpeded. With this perfection one’s very word is truth. Simply by saying something it occurs.

Besides these eighteen, there are five inferior perfections as follows:

The ability to know past, present and future.

The ability to tolerate heat, cold and other dualities.

The ability to know the minds of others.

The ability to check the influence of fire, water, poison, and weapons.

The ability to remain unconquered by others.

The primary eight siddhis are of a much higher order than the rest, and require severe discipline to accomplish. It is very rare that one will achieve such a perfection. But for every siddhi there is a reflection that is easily attained. The processes for attaining these minor siddhis are usually outlined in the Tantra-shastra. [Please refer to the course on Vedic literature to understand what is Tantra-shastra.] The processes generally involve doing upasana to a particular deity, who when pleased reveals their form to the Sadhaka. On the way many siddhis naturally develop due to expansion of the consciousness through mantra upasana and meditation. According to the category of deva one worships the result will come either quickly or after a long time, and the result will either be temporary or permanent. If you aim at a low entity, for example a ghost, the result will be quick, but it will be of minimal value. Whereas if your upasana is to a higher divinity, the result will be much more permanent and significant, but will take much more time to accomplish. The aim of the Sadhaka generally depends on his conditioning within the modes of nature. This is described by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita:

yajante sattvika devan
yaksa-raksamsi rajasah
pretan bhuta-ganams canye
yajante tamasa janah

“Men in the mode of goodness worship the demigods; those in the mode of passion worship the yakshas and rakshasas; and those in the mode of ignorance worship ghosts and spirits.”

As you progress in the modes, the worship becomes more and more purified, from ignorance to goodness. When you finally transcend the modes by worship of Krishna, the worship is completely transcendental beyond the influence of material nature.

The long term results of various upasanas are also described by Lord Krishna:

yanti deva-vrata devan
pitrin yanti pitri-vratah
bhutani yanti bhutejya
yanti mad-yajino ‘pi mam

“Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship the ancestors go to the ancestors (pitruloka); those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings, and those who worship Me will live with Me.”

Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, our divine spiritual master, says in his commentary to this verse:

“Pishacha (ghost) worship is called ‘black arts’ or ‘black magic.’ There are many men who practice this black art, and they think that it is spiritualism, but such activities are completely materialistic.”

It should be noted that in this verse from Bhagavad Gita the first three types of worship are described as a vow (vrata). The worshipper is making a vow to the object of worship in exchange for some material gain. An agreement is being made between the two parties. But in regards to the worship of Krishna it is stated to be devotion (mad-yajinah). There is no expectation on the part of the devotees. The true yogi, meditating on the Paramatma within his heart, has no desire for mundane mystical perfections. Their worship is completely unalloyed, without a tinge of desire for material enjoyment.

Another category of siddhi involves the control of the object of worship. You do not directly acquire a siddhi, but you maintain control over an entity who by nature of their higher existence possess natural powers. This relationship is maintained through your worship to the entity, who receives nourishment from the worship.

According to the level of the deity, the results are greater and more permanent. But the greater the results the more difficult the process is. As you move up from the lowest levels of worship of ghosts, to yakshas and yakshinis, to minor devas, the process becomes harder and harder (i.e. there is more sacrifice and sincerity involved). The perfection one achieves by worshipping a ghost cannot be compared to that attained by worshipping someone like Ganesha, but the worship of Ganesha will require more on the part of the Sadhaka. The results will not nearly be as temporary as that attained by worshipping a ghost or spirit. In the same way, when you go beyond the worship of the devas and you take up the worship of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the perfection you will achieve will be much greater than anything that is offered within this material world. And more than that, it will be the most permanent (eternal to be precise). But at the same time, to attain it will require the most sacrifice and sincerity. From the bottom of the grades of worship up to the topmost level (worship of Lord Krishna) there is a direct correspondence between the necessary endeavor for perfection and the permanence of the result.

The third chapter of the Yoga sutras describe the following minor siddhis:

The ability to know all languages including those of animals.

Knowledge of one’s past lives.

Knowledge of the nature of other peoples minds.

The ability to make one’s body invisible.

The ability to make the sounds of one’s body unhearable.

The ability to make everyone happy and joyful.

The ability to possess great strength.

The ability to locate hidden things.

The knowledge of the fourteen planetary systems.

The knowledge of the arrangements of stars.

The knowledge of the movement of stars.

The knowledge of bodily anatomy.

The ability to remain motionless.

The ability to perceive the celestial beings known as siddhas.

The understanding of consciousness.

The knowledge of the soul.

The ability to walk on water, thorns and similar objects.

The ability to surround oneself with a blaze of light.

The ability to be omnipotent and omniscient.

How these powers are attained is summarized by Patanjali as follows:

janmaushadhi-mantra-tapah-samadhijah siddhayah

“The mystical perfections may be obtained either by birth, by elixir, by the chanting of mantras, by austerities, of by attainment of samadhi.”

The Vedic texts describe 400,000 different species of humans existing throughout the universe (such as yaksha, rakshasa, vanara, etc.) In many of the species, they are born automatically with various powers. This is the siddhi attained by birth. By reciting certain mantras and performing austerities one’s consciousness is expanded and one develops supernatural abilities. Finally, by attaining the state of complete absorption in meditation, samadhi, one attains powers depending on the object of one’s meditation. For example, one who meditates on the sun gains complete knowledge of the planetary systems; one who meditates on the relationship between the ear and the ether attains the ability to hear anything.

After listing all of these apparently wonderful powers, Patanjali provides a warning:

tad-dvairamyadipi doshabijajakshaye kaivalyam

“By giving up even these powers the seed of evil is destroyed and liberation follows.” This is the last test of the yogi.

Patanjali mentions one final method for attaining these perfections:

pratibhadva sarvam

“All these powers will come to one whose mind is spontaneously enlightened through purity.”

Even without following a mechanical process of meditation, if one’s mind is naturally purified by spiritual advancement and unalloyed devotion to God, one will automatically attain these various supernatural abilities. Lord Krishna confirms this in the Bhagavad Gita when He says:

yoginam api sarvesham
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam
sa me yuktatamo matah

“Of all the yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me – he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and the highest of all. That is My opinion.”

The topmost yogi is not someone who has artificially restricted his senses through mechanical processes (like asana, pranayama, pratyahara, etc.), but one who has naturally engaged all of his senses in the devotional service of the Lord. The devotee, having experienced the spiritual bliss of bhakti-yoga, has no interest in mundane perfections and remains fixed on his ultimate aim to attain the lotus feet of Krishna. That is the ultimate perfection, sam-siddhi:

mam upetya punar janma
duhkhalayam ashashvatam
napnuvanti mahatmanah
samsiddhim paramam gatah

“After attaining Me, the great souls (mahatmas), who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection (sam-siddhi).”

Questions and Answers

Question: For most of my life I have been able to feel objects in my left hand that aren’t there and manipulate their texture and shape, etc. Do you know anything about this?

Thank you very much for your question. What you are experiencing is the residual effects of prapti-siddhi from your previous life. One of the sadhakas at our ashram had similar experiences when he was young. He would feel something like an itching sensation in his hand and he would feel the subtle presence of some object. When he would close his eyes, he could see what object was there. Later by mantra upasana he was able to revive the siddhi to the extent that he could materialize things within his hand.

The prapti siddhi enables one to acquire any object one desires by transfering it from one location to one’s hand. As mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, there are eight material elements:

bhumir apo ‘nalo vayuh
kham mano buddhir eva ca
ahankara itiyam me
bhinna prakritir ashtadha

“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego – all together these eight constitute My separated material energies.”

The Sankhya system of philosophy explains how each element telescopes out from the previous element. The first physical or gross element is the ether. Within the ether, all the other four gross elements are present (earth, water, fire and air) in a subtle form. The subtle quality of ether is sound, and from the sound expands the air. The subtle quality of air is touch (movement), and from the touch expands the fire. The subtle quality of fire is sight, and from the sight expands the water. The subtle quality of water is taste, and from the taste expands the earth. And finally, the subtle quality of earth, the last of the physical elements, is the smell.

Thus you have a telescoping effect of the elements and their subtle qualities beginning from ether down to earth. Since each element is manifesting from the previous, each new element contains all of the qualities of the previous elements. The ether element, being the first, only possesses the quality of sound. One cannot touch, see, taste or smell ether. The air element, having expanded from the ether, possesses both the qualities of sound and touch. One can feel and hear the movements of air, but one cannot see, taste or smell the air. The fire element’s added quality is the sight. Thus one can see, touch and hear the fire, but one cannot taste or smell fire. The water, having expanded from the fire, can be heard, felt, seen and tasted, but not smelt. And earth, being the final element, contains all the five qualities of sound, touch, sight, taste and smell.

This sequence is the natural sequence of manifestation of gross matter. The prapti siddhi enables one, through mantra, to reverse this process and transform gross physical objects into ethereal objects by merging the respective elements into their source element. Thus one takes an object located in a particular location, and by utilizing mantra siddhi, one merges the earth element into the water element, the water element into the fire element, the fire element into the air element, and finally the air element into the ether element. As you merge each element into the previous, the corresponding quality disappears (being merged back into the source element). In this way, a physical object is transformed into an ethereal object with no quality other than sound. This ethereal object can be transferred over space by mind, and then the entire process is reversed to re-manifest the original object in one’s hand.

What appears as a mystical feat to most is actually the manipulation of the subtle laws that govern physical nature. There are eight major siddhis and ten secondary siddhis, all of which are based on manipulation of the subtle laws of nature.

To revive this latent siddhi you will need to take up mantra upasana very seriously. At present we are shifting our library from one location to another, so all of our manuscripts are in trunks. After one or two weeks, when the shifting is over, I will be able to provide you with the necessary mantra and yantra for prapti siddhi.

You must rekindle your spiritual pursuits. In your previous life you had undertaken much sadhana. Now continue from where you left off and perfect your life. These siddhis are not important at all. They will arise in anyone who takes seriously to spiritual practices. For the weak minded they are an obstacle on the path of self-realization. Their use is only to reaffirm one’s faith that one is progressing on the path.

You have mentioned [in Tattva Prakasha 1.1] that at the final devastation Lord Brahma will also have to face his karma but I have indeed read that Lord Brahma goes to Vaikuntha upon the final devastation. Please clarify.

The scriptures state:

brahmana saha te sarve
samprapte pratisancare
parasyante kritatmanah
pravishanti param padam

“Brahma along with all of his followers enter into the supreme abode at the time of devastation.”

This verse is in reference to the present Brahma of this particular universe, who is a pure devotee of the Lord. It does not mean that every Brahma in every universe will automatically attain liberation. Neither will every inhabitant of Brahma-loka automatically go to the spiritual world. Brahma is no different than any other living entity. If he engages in pure devotional service he goes to the spiritual world. The same is the case for any of us. If he does not execute unalloyed devotional service, he will take his birth according to his desires.

Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura, a great saint in the line of Chaitanya, has sung:

kita-janma hau jatha tuwa das
bahir-mukha brahma-janme nahi as

“May I be born again even as a worm, so long as I remain Your [Krishna’s] devotee. I have no desire to be born as a Brahma averse to You.”

Very rarely there is a bahir-mukha brahma, a Brahma who is averse to the Lord’s devotional service. Generally all Brahma’s are favourable to bhakti, but there are exceptions. Sri Viraraghava acharya has stated, based on revelation, that two brahma-kalpas (lives of brahma) ago within this universe there was a bahir-mukha brahma. Otherwise, we generally do not get information of what has occurred in other universes, or even within the same universe in prior creations.

Question: Is it possible to tell one’s future?

Dear Sadhaka,

There are ancient sciences that enable one to know the destiny one has created for himself in previous lives. Our future is based on the previous activities we have performed and the karmic reactions we have accumulated. At the same time, free will is powerful enough to overcome any fate that one may have, provided it is powered by a spiritual source. It is like the water flowing in a river. Generally, the water will follow the river bed, and it will not flow above the river bank. But it is possible if there is enough force for the water to make a new path. Such an occurrence is very rare. Thus, if a man sees a river flowing, he can “predict” the path it will follow. It will naturally follow the riverbed towards the ocean. Our futures can be known in a similar manner, but 99% of modern astrologers do not know the actual science behind it. They are simply interested in making money from the public. Only a spiritually powerful person has the purity and honesty to be able to tell your future in truth.

Question: Can I know what will be my future. Also, can I get rid of bad luck and if so how?

Dear Sadhaka,

Everyone’s future in this world is the same. We are all moving towards death. Time is constantly ticking away, decreasing our life by the second. This is the only future that everyone can be certain of. It is possible to know other aspects of one’s future and destiny, but the information is not as important as this.

For all the wealth in the world, one cannot buy back one second of time wasted. Thus there is nothing more valuable than time. Use your time valuably in spiritual pursuit. Then you will be able to know your ultimate future and become free from the bondage of “destiny”.

Bad luck is very simple to remove. You must take up a daily spiritual sadhana, for by spiritual strength only can destiny be changed. Spend at least 10 minute a day in the morning doing nama japam. Recite the names of Hari and meditate on the sound vibrations of the divine names. Swami Shivananda, the great saint from Rishikesh, has advised that this is the simplest way by which we can become free from the influence of bad luck.

Actually, there is no such thing as “luck”. Everything happens due to our previous activities. The Karmic reactions are coming to us from previous lives of activity. We must burn up the seeds of karma before they sprout into reactions. For our previous good activities we will experience enjoyment or happiness, and for our previous bad activities, we will experience suffering or disturbance. Those who have knowledge of these laws of nature know there is no luck, but only the natural law. Develop your spiritual strength and you can burn the karmic reactions to ashes. The scriptures describe that just as dry grass is instantly burnt to ash, in the same way, the chanting of Hari’s name will burn away the sinful reactions. If you truly want to become free from the control of your karmic reactions, take up a daily spiritual sadhana. Spend ten minutes a day in meditation on the mantra:

hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare

This will benefit you immensely.


Indian Shastras and Scriptures in the Field of Science

Shastra is a broad term and include any book which has codes and conduct given by God. Shastras include Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads. The term Veda means knowledge and in ancient India all science were believed to be derived from and based on Vedas. Vedas were spoken by lord himself to brahma, from within his heart. Vedic knowledge is “sruti” mean to be learned by aural reception.

In kali, due to lower intelligence and memory the people were unable to acquire knowledge by just hearing hence Vedas were compiled in written form by Vyasadeva rishi. Numerous rishis and scholars have acquired the knowledge of Vedas and have discovered and invented many things and have written many books in various fields of sciences.

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Concept of Atom

Acharya Kanad conceptualized atomic theory. Kanad was a sixth-century scientist of Vaisheshika School, one of the six systems of Indian philosophy. His original name was Aulukya. He got the name Kanad, because even as a child, he was interested in very minute particles called “kana”. He says, “Every object of creation is made of atoms which in turn connect with each other to form molecules.” In Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto-3, Chapter 11, Calculation of Time, from the Atom is been described.

Concept of Matter

Matter can neither be created nor destroyed. In Bhagavad gita chapter 2. 16th verse it is written as – “naasato vidyate bhavo naabhavo vidyate satah” it means that “The non-existence cannot be brought into being and that which exist cannot be un-existed, destroyed”.

Concept of Gravity

Varahamihira was another well-known scientist of the ancient period in India. He lived in the Gupta period. Varahamihira made great contributions in the fields of hydrology, geology and ecology.Varahamihira stated that there were some attractive forces in the stars of the universe due to such forces the earth was able to float

Bhaskaracharaya had referred to gravity in his work of Siddhanta Siromany Bhuvanakosham 6


Many rishis and scholars have done a splendorous job in the field of mathematics, such as Baudhayan, Aryabhatta, Brahmgupta, Bhaskaracharya, Mahaviracharya etc.

The value of pi was first calculated by ‘Baudhayan’. The Baudhayan’s Sulva Sutra describes Pythagoras theorem which was written several years before the age of Pythagoras.. Baudhayan was the first one ever to arrive at several concepts in Mathematics, which were later rediscovered by the western world.

Aryabhatta was a fifth-century mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, and physicist. He was a pioneer in the field of mathematics. At the age of 23, he wrote Aryabhattiya, which is a summary of the mathematics of his time. Aryabhatta showed that zero was not a numeral only but also a symbol and a concept. Discovery of zero enabled Aryabhatta to find out the exact distance between the earth and the moon. The discovery of zero also opened up a new dimension of negative numerals.

Bhaskaracharya was the leading light of 12th Century. He was born in Bijapur, Karnataka. He is famous for his book Siddhanta Shiromani. It is divided into four sections: Lilavati (Arithmetic), Beejaganit (Algebra), Goladhyaya (Sphere) and Grahaganit (mathematics of planets). Bhaskara introduced Chakrawat Method or the Cyclic Method to solve algebraic equations. This method was rediscovered six centuries later by European mathematicians, who called it inverse cycle. In the nineteenth century, an English man, James Taylor, translated Lilavati and made this great work known to the world.

In the 7th century, Brahmgupta took mathematics to heights far beyond others. In his methods of multiplication, he used place value in almost the same way as it is used today. He introduced negative numbers and operations on zero into mathematics. He wrote Brahm Sputa Siddantika through which the Arabs came to know our mathematical system.

There is an elaborate description of mathematics in the Jain literature (500 B.C -100 B.C). Jain gurus knew how to solve quadratic equations. They have also described fractions, algebraic equations, series, set theory, logarithms and exponents in a very interesting manner. Jain Guru Mahaviracharya wrote Ganit Sara Sangraha in 850A.D., which is the first textbook on arithmetic in present-day form. The current method of solving Least Common Multiple (LCM) of given numbers was also described by him. Thus, long before John Napier introduced it to the world, it was already known to Indians.

Astronomy and Astrology

In ancient India, the science of astronomy was well advanced. It was called ‘Khagolshastra’. Khagol was the famous astronomical observatory at Nalanda, where Aryabhatta studied. In fact the science of astronomy was highly advanced and our ancestors were proud of it. The aim behind the development of the science of astronomy was the need to have accurate calendars, a better understanding of climate and rainfall patterns for timely sowing and choice of crops, fixing the dates of seasons and festivals, navigation, calculation of time and casting of horoscopes for use in astrology. Knowledge of astronomy, particularly knowledge of the tides and the stars, was of great importance in trade, because of the requirement of crossing the oceans and deserts during night time.

Aryabhatta explained that earth is round and rotates on its own axis and disproved that earth is Achala. He also gave a scientific explanation for solar and lunar eclipse. He explained that the appearance of the sun moving from east to west is false by giving examples. One such example was: When a person travels in a boat, the trees on the shore appear to move in the opposite direction. He also correctly stated that the moon and the planets shined by reflected sunlight. Another prominent astronomer was Varahamihira who declared that the earth was spherical before Aryabhata. He proposed that the Moon and planets are lustrous not because of their own light but due to sunlight.

Astrology/Jyotish- Astrology is the science of predicting the future, which means the science of light, originated with the Vedas. Astrology was given a very high place in ancient India and it has continued even today. It was presented scientifically by Aryabhatta and Varahamihira. Aryabhatta devoted two out of the four sections of his work Aryabhattiyam to astronomy, which is the basis for Astrology. Astrology is the science of predicting the future. Varahamihira’s predictions were so accurate that he was considered one of the nine gems, in the court of Vikramaditya.

Medical Science

Medical Science was highly developed in India and this ancient Indian system of medicine not only helps in the treatment of diseases but also in finding the causes and symptoms of diseases. It is a guide for the healthy as well as the sick.

One such science is Ayurveda which is an indigenous system of medicine that was developed in Ancient India. The word Ayurveda literally means the science of good health and longevity of life. It defines health as equilibrium in three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) and diseases as the disturbance in these three doshas. While treating a disease with the help of herbal medicines, it aims at removing the cause of disease by striking at the roots. The Atreya Samhita’ is the oldest medical book in the world. . Charak, Madhava, Vagbhatta, and Jeevak were noted ayurvedic practitioners and Charak was called the father of Ayurvedic medicine. He was the Raj Vaidya (royal doctor) in the court of Kanishka. His Charak Samhita is a remarkable book on medicine. It has the description of a large number of diseases and gives methods of identifying their causes as well as the method of their treatment. He was the first to talk about digestion, metabolism, and immunity as important for health and so medical science. In Charak Samhita, more stress has been laid on removing the cause of disease rather than simply treating the illness. Charak also knew the fundamentals of Genetics.

Surgery: Susruta was a pioneer in the field of surgery and was the main author of the treatise Susruta Samhita. In Susruta Samhita, over 1100 diseases are mentioned including fevers of twenty-six kinds, jaundice of eight kinds and urinary complaints of twenty kinds are described. He studied human anatomy with the help of a dead body. In Susruta Samhita, the method of selecting and preserving a dead body for the purpose of its detailed study has also been described.

Susruta’s greatest contribution was in the fields of Rhinoplasty (plastic surgery) and ophthalmic surgery (removal of cataracts). In Susruta Samhita, there is a very accurate step-by-step description of these operations. Surprisingly, the steps followed by Susruta are strikingly similar to those followed by modern surgeons while doing plastic surgery. Susruta Samhita also gives a description of 101 instruments used in surgery. Some serious operations performed those days include taking the fetus out of the womb, repairing the damaged rectum, removing a stone from the bladder, etc.

Education and Ethics

Gurukul system of education existed during ancient times where students used to reside at guru’s place and learn everything which can be later implemented to find solutions to real life problems Ancient India very well understood that science and spirituality complement one another. Albert Einstein said that “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind” Science studies mainly the material nature, whereas Vedanta studies both material nature as well as spiritual nature. The spiritual nature includes the deeper study of reality beyond material nature that is beyond atoms and molecules, thus it realizes the existence of soul, atman, and consciousness.


The first precept of Vedanta sutura states- athato brahma jijnasa means in the human form of life one should inquire about brahman, the absolute truth. The apara-vidya (scientific knowledge) is lower knowledge and para-vidya (spiritual knowledge) is higher knowledge. Therefore ancient India and its scriptures lead us to the Absolute Truth or Higher Knowledge.



Author: Adarsh M.Kalla ~ Via IndianDivine

The story of Aravan, the God of the Transgender

Most of us find Mahabharata to be a very mystifying chronicle. This is because Mahabharata has a lot of characters and each character is associated to the other in some or the other way.

As this epic has so many legendary characters such as Pandavas, Draupadi, Kauravas around whom the whole story revolves, people are not quite familiar with the other characters that also have a crucial role in the epic.

Today, I will try to narrate you the story of Aravan or Iravan, one such minor yet crucial character of Mahabharata. It is from his lineage that the transgender are said to have been born. That is why the transgenders or hijras are also known as Aravanis.

The story of Lord Aravan can be called one of the most tragic tales of Mahabharata where he sacrifices himself for the greater good. But he does leave a lineage before he dies which makes him immortal in the history of mankind. Want to know his story? Then, read on.

Aravan was the son of the great Mahabharata warrior, Arjuna and his wife Ulupi, the Naga princess. Aravan is the central God of the cult of Kuttantavar. Like his father, Aravan was a fierce warrior.


He participated in the Kurukshetra war with his father and the other Pandavas. He fought bravely and gave himself up for a huge sacrifice.

The earliest source of mention regarding Aravan is found in Peruntevanar’s Parata Venpa, a 9th-century Tamil version of the Mahabharata.

There it talks about a special sacrificial ritual known as the ‘Kalappali’, which means sacrifice to the battlefield. It was believed that whoever performs this sacrifice ensures victory in the battlefield.

In this ritual, the most valiant warrior must sacrifice his life in front of Goddess Kali in order to ensure the victory of his side. Aravan volunteered to sacrifice himself in the ritual.

In Parata Venpa, Aravan asks Krishna to grant him the boon of a heroic death in the battlefield. Aravan is believed to have been granted a second boon – to see the entire 18-day war.

The third boon is found only in the folk rituals. This third boon provides Aravan to be married before the sacrifice, entitling him to the right of cremation and funerary offerings (bachelors were buried).

However, no woman wanted to marry Aravan, fearing the inevitable doom of widowhood. In the Kuttantavar cult version, Krishna solves this dilemma by taking on his female form, Mohini, marries Aravan and spends that night with him.

The Koovagam version additionally relates Krishna’s mourning as a widow after Aravan’s sacrifice the next day, after which he returns to his original masculine form for the duration of the war.

Aravanis Aravan is known as Kuttantavar in the cult which bears his name, and in which he is the chief deity.

Here, the marriage of Aravan and Mohini, her widowhood and mourning after Aravan’s sacrifice form the central theme of an 18-day annual festival either side of the night of the full moon in the Tamil month of Cittirai.

The Alis or the Aravanis (transgenders) take part in the Koovagam festival by re-enacting the marriage of Aravan and Mohini. It is believed that all the Aravanis are married to Aravan and hence, when the sacrifice is re-enacted, the Aravanis become widows of Aravan and mourn his death.




Karwa Chauth Vrat Katha

Karwa Chauth is a very popular fasting observance practiced by married Hindu women in North India; to seek long life and welfare of their husbands.

On this auspicious day, women keep day-long fast and offer prayer to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

It is believed that those who observe this fast are blessed with lifelong prosperity and a healthy spouse. In the Indian culture, Hindu women observed this fast for their husbands.

During the day women abstain from food and water, and at night after moonrise, they break their fasts by reading the ‘vrat katha’ and performing the ‘puja vidhi’. There is a very interesting katha behind this fast.



Long ago, there lived a very beautiful princess named Veeravati, who was married to a wealthy and strong king. As per the usual practice during those days, the day of Karwa Chauth arrived and the queen left for her parents’ house.

She was very devoted to Lord Shiva and Parvati and therefore decided to observe the Karva Chauth fasting.

She woke up at sunrise and started the fasting abided by worship and pujas. The whole day she did not eat anything and therefore turned so weak and fell unconscious.Karwa-Chauth-Vrat-Katha-In-Hindi-Punjabi-Karva-Chauth-Puja-Vidhi-Samagri

As per the custom, food should be partaken only after sighting the moonrise.

Her loving brothers could not bear the pain of seeing her faint and therefore created a false scene of moonrise by lighting a lamp on the hill and asking Veeravati to sot it and conclude her fast.

Due to the breach of the fasting rule, immediately after breaking the fast in advance, the queen heard to news of her husband’s sudden death. As she was wailing and returning to the kingdom, she had the vision of Mother Parvati and Lord Shiva on the way.

When she prayed them to intervene in the issue, forgive and restore her husband back to life, they conceded.

With the blessings of Shiva and Parvati, her husband was restored to life but had fallen seriously ill without any consciousness. His whole body was found pricked with sharp needles.


With her sustained efforts, the queen managed to remove one needle per day. At the end of the year, only one needle was left. Veeravati left to the market to buy Karwa for the puja.

The maidservant in charge removed the remaining one needle and the king regained his consciousness and got back his health. He mistook the maid for the queen and made the queen his servant.

Veeravati sincerely served the king in the capacity of the maidservant faithfully all through the year. The next Karwa Chauti day arrived and the queen sincerely prepared for the fasting ceremony.

She bots two identical dolls and placed them near the altar. She started singing the song “Roli ki Goli ho gayi… Goli ki Roli ho gayi” meaning that the queen has become the maid and the mad has become the queen. The king asked Veeravati what the song meant.

Veeravati narrated all that happened so far.

The king appreciated the patience and forbearance of the queen in addition to her strong devotion. The dauntless faith Veeravati had in Shiva and Parvati was heavily tested and found to be genuine.

The observance of the Karwa Chauth fasting sincerely despite troubles made her get Gods blessings in abundance. With the blessings of Shiva and Parvati, the king and the queen happily lived with health, wealth, happiness, and prosperity thereafter.








5 Differences Between Ashtanga Yoga and Hatha Yoga

Understand how Ashtanga-yoga and Hatha-yoga are different in theory and practice though the objective of spiritual upliftment is common to both.

Browsing through yoga classes offering an array of styles and approaches could be a real exercise in confusion. This five thousand-year-old discipline of mind-body wellness has evolved over the ages, mushrooming into a variety of interpretations and interrelated approaches. While some styles highlight dynamism and core strengthening exercises others shed light on restful postures, the most common categories being Hatha and Ashtanga. The two modes are contrasting in the way Hatha demonstrates a generic set of seated and standing postures while Ashtanga engages practitioners in a specific sequence of more exacting asanas.

While it would be unfair to state that one style is superior to the other, it remains true that Hatha and Ashtanga are meant for people of two different temperaments. Let us explore in detail characteristics unique to these two styles:

Gentleness in Hatha and Ashtanga’s Intensive Potentials

One of the greatest differentiating factors—with Hatha you can simply perform as one asana at a time, but Ashtanga practice won’t let you stop before completing a series of asanas in an unremitting flow. This is vinyasa. To flow from one asana to the next makes the whole practice more vigorous, consequently, a greater heat generation within. Ashtanga is thus good for fast calorie burning and dynamic strength building. With the motion slow and focused, you can utilize Ashtanga to potentials of cardiovascular exercise as well. Hatha is more effective as a warm up, restorative workout, and relaxant.

Single Asana Observance and Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow

While Hatha lets you focus deeply upon the bends and flexes in each asana, in Ashtanga, it all passes in a blur. Ashtanga gets a little more complex when the instructor brings your attention to the synergy of movement and breath. Not only must you set your movements in a rhythm while Ashtanga Vinyasa, your breath must fall in curves too. To master synchronized breath-intensified asana movement, it is highly recommended to start your journey in yoga with Hatha first. After you have followed through the nuances of yoga breath and the importance of synchronizing yoga movement with pranayamic yoga breath in singular Hatha exercises, move to the more complex system of Ashtanga yoga.

Hatha Harmonization of the Sun and the Moon Energies and Ashtanga’s “Eight Limbs”

Hatha, translated literally is the coming together of the “sun” and the “moon”. Figuratively, this indicates a harmony or blend of different and oppositional forces. The coming together of the sun and the moon is an image of resolving conflicts and united energy in diversity. In case of the human body, it indicates a healthy system in which every unit is at par with others and is governed by a singular universal force. The main strategy of achieving such perfection is through asana observance. Hatha is thus a discipline with an objective which is same as one of the “limbs” of Ashtanga yoga, that being – asana.

Ashtanga, on the other hand, is an eight-fold path to the final stage of bliss. The “eight limbs” are:

Yama – This refers to moral restraints which prohibit the practitioner from adhering to any action or thought that disavows the commitment to universal love and brotherhood. The first limb concerns our relationship with the world, the people and our day to day interaction with them.

Niyama – This refers to our duties. Ashtanga yoga codifies a set of regulations and duties to which a practitioner must commit to. The duties concern one’s responsibility to the society, family, and individual selves.

Asana – The third step to the path to freedom is physical exercise. This is the main scope of concern in Hatha yoga and forms a part of Ashtanga discipline. To adapt one’s body to a steady and comfortable posture is the goal. It does not necessarily have to be a striking bend or an appealing headstand. Anything that sets the body at ease and aligns internal organs and the mind to their optimum efficiency is satisfactory.

Pranayama – Prana is the vital life force that flows through us and the universe around. It is often equated with breath and thus, by working with the way we breathe we can create a more progressive flow of prana. This limb of Ashtanga is an important part of Hatha exercises as well, where pranayamic breath is incorporated in all its asana movements.

Pratyahara – This limb of Ashtanga refers to sense withdrawal. Drawing inwardly from the distractions of sense perceptions help a meditative mind delve deeper into spiritual immersion.

Dharana – Dharana refers to focus and unwavering concentration, a part of the meditative practice.

Dhyana – This is meditation in the most absorbed state, a vital component of yoga common to all its stylistic forms

Samadhi – The final stage of bliss as the yogic goal comes after reorganizing our oppositions and contradictions within the self and outside in the world around.

Thus, Hatha and Ashtanga yoga are not different in their spiritual objective but appeals yogis of different temperaments. For a dedicated practitioner, an integrated learning approach combining the vital aspects of Ashtanga and Hatha will be ideal.


author: Manmohan (