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.


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.




Pranayama: A 7step practical guide

All the methods of pranayama are described in the classic scriptural texts and each pranayama has its own importance. However, a practitioner will find it hard to practice all the seven types of pranayama on a daily basis. Therefore we have formulated a sequence and time for all the seven pranayamas with our experience and divine blessings of God and teachers.

This revised process takes around 20 minutes and a practitioner reaps the following benefits with regular practice:

1. Overcomes Vata, Pitta and Kapha problems.

2. Maintains the functioning of the digestive system and cures all the stomach diseases.

3. Relieves the diseases related to the heart, lungs, and brain.

4. It is beneficial in cases of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, constipation, gastric trouble, acidity, respiratory problems, allergy, migraine, high blood pressure, kidney diseases, sexual diseases in men and women and even fatal diseases like cancer.

5. It can prevent hereditary diseases like diabetes and heart problems.

6. It prevents aging and is beneficial in controlling hair loss, premature graying of hair, wrinkled skin, poor eyesight, forgetfulness, etc.

7. The seven-step pranayama process gives a natural glow and shine on the face.

8. It purifies the chakras and arouses their strength, thereby providing spiritual strength and arousal of kundalini.

9. It keeps the mind calm, peaceful and cheerful and overcomes depression.

10. It is helpful in contemplation and also gives the strength to meditate for several hours.

11. It relieves all the physical and mental problems along with negative conditions like anger, lust, greed, attachment, and ego.

12. It cures all physical problems, removes foreign particles from the body, etc.

13. Negative conditions are replaced with positive ones and the practitioner remains happy and cheerful.



1.Bhastrika Pranayama

Sit in any meditative posture and breath in deeply with both the nostrils and breath out with full force. This is known as Bhastrika pranayama. This can be done in three ways depending on the capacity, slow, medium or fast. People with weak heart and lungs should do it slowly. A healthy person and old practitioners (experts) should increase the pace gradually. This pranayama should be done for three to five minutes.

Resolution at the time of doing Bhastrika Pranayama:

Breathe in deeply and think in the mind that the divine strength, energy, purity, peace, and happiness present in the universe are entering into my mind along with the vital life energy. I am filled with divine strengths.

Special Points for Practicing Bhastrika Pranayama:

1. Patients with high blood pressure and heart disease should not practice this pranayama at a fast pace.

2. Do not fill the air into the stomach and do not expand it. Breath into the diaphragm, the stomach will not expand but the ribs and chest will expand.

3. Practice it for less duration during summers.

4. In case of Kapha and sinusitis, people suffer from nose blockage. Such people should close the right nostril and breathe in through left nostril and then repeat it on the other side. Then they should breathe in and out from both the nostrils.

5. This pranayama should be done up to five minutes regularly.

6. Keep the eyes closed and chant Aum mentally with every breath.

Benefits of Bhastrika Pranayama:

1. It overcomes cold-catarrh, allergy, respiratory diseases, asthma, chronic cold, sinusitis and other Kapha related problems. It strengthens the lungs, heart, and brain and gives pure oxygen.

2. It cures thyroid problems, tonsil problems, and other throat problems.

3. It maintains the equilibrium of all the three doshas and evacuates toxic and foreign substances from the body.

4. It stabilizes the mind and prana and is helpful in the arousal of kundalini.



2.Kapalbhati Pranayama

Kapal means brain and bhati means glow, shine, brightness, light, etc. The pranayama which gives a natural glow, brightness, and shine to the face is known as Kapalbhati. It is slightly different from the previous one. In case of Bhastrika, breathing in and out is done with equal force and pace, but in this case, the breathing out is done with full force and breathing in is done automatically as a reaction to throwing out the air. Breathing out process is done with full concentration. This contracts and expands the stomach and strengthens Muladhara, Swadishthana and Manipur chakras. This should be done for at least five minutes.

Resolution at the Time of Doing Kapalbhati Pranayama:

At the time of practicing this pranayama, the practitioner should think that he is throwing out all the problems of the body. Along with the breath, the problems are getting relieved. The person should throw out the air with this feeling whatever it might be, doshas, anger, lust, greed, hatred, jealousy, etc. Think that diseases are getting relieved while breathing out to reap the full benefit.

Time for Practicing Kapalbhati Pranayama:

It should be done for three to five minutes. Take rest in between whenever you feel tired in the beginning. After one or two months, practice it for five minutes without stopping. This is the complete duration. Initially, the person could suffer from stomach or a backache but it will get relieved gradually. The people with pitta nature should do it for two minutes in summers.

Benefits of Practicing Kapalbhati Pranayama:

1. It increases glow, brightness and shine on the face.

2. Overcomes all Kapha related diseases like asthma, allergy, sinusitis, etc.

3. It is beneficial in case of heart, lung or cerebral problems.

4. It reduces weight, diabetes, gastric trouble, acidity, kidney and prostate problems.

5. Constipation is also cured with five minutes of regular practice. Diabetes is controlled without medicine and it also reduces excess fat from the stomach by four to eight kilos within one month. It opens blockages of the heart.

6. The mind becomes stable, calm and cheerful. It removes negative conditions and depression, etc.

7. It purifies the chakras and circulates a divine energy.

8. This pranayama is beneficial for the health of the stomach, pancreas, liver, spleen, intestines, prostate and kidney. This pranayama is sufficient to cure almost all the stomach problems, which even asanas cannot do. It also strengthens weak intestines.



3.Bahya Pranayama (with Tribandha)

1. Sit in padmasana or siddhasana and breathe out completely at one time.

2. Do moola bandha, uddiyana bandha, and jalandhara bandha and stop the breath (externally).

3. Remove the bandhas and breath in slowly.

4. Inhale and without stopping inside, breathe out and repeat the process as mentioned in the previous steps. This can be done three to 21 times depending on the capacity.

Resolution at the time of doing Bahya Pranayama:

Think mentally that all the diseases, doshas, negative energies are going out from the body as you throw out the air. Strong resolution at the time of doing this pranayama relieves all problems and gives instant results.

Benefits of Practicing Bahya Pranayama:

This is a harmless pranayama and overcomes playfulness of the mind. It increases digestive fire and is beneficial in case of stomach problems. It makes the mind sharp and bright. It purifies the body, overcomes seminal problems, night pollution, early ejaculation and other humour related diseases. This pranayama has special strength on all the stomach organs and initially, the practitioner could feel some pain in stomach or weakness. Therefore it should be done with all the bandhas.



4.Anulom-Vilom Pranayama

Method of closing the nostrils: Close the right nostril with the thumb and (alternately) the left nostril with the little finger and ring finger. The hand should be raised slightly above (it should not be in front of the nose).

The left nostril denotes the moon, strength or calm, therefore this pranayama begins with left nostril. Close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale through the left nostril. After inhaling close the left nostril with ring finger and little finger and exhale through the right nostril. The pace of inhaling and exhaling should be increased gradually. Breathe in and out with full force and maintain the pace of respiration either slow, medium or fast depending on the physical strength. The fast pace of inhaling and exhaling creates loud sound in breathing. After breathing out completely, close the left nostril and breath in from right nostril. Then close the right nostril and breathe in from left nostril. This is one cycle. Repeat it several times. In case of slight tiredness, take rest in between and repeat. Begin the practice from three minutes and increase it up to ten minutes. Regular practice for a few days increases the capacity of the person and the practitioner can do it for five minutes without stopping. Everybody practice it for at least five minutes and maximum ten minutes but not more. During summers it should be done for three to five minutes. Regular practice for five minutes arouses the energy accumulated in Muladhara chakra and helps in arousal of kundalini. Chant Aum mentally with every breath. This makes the mind suitable for attaining the stage of contemplation.

Resolution at the Time of Doing Anulom-Vilom Pranayama:

Think that Sushumna nadi is getting aroused with the friction of right and left nostrils. Imagine that a divine light is moving upwards till Sahasrara chakra.

Think that the whole body is enlightened with a divine light. Imagine the presence of divine light inside and outside the body and visualize Aum Kham Brahma.

Think that the divine energy, strength, and knowledge are present on all the four sides of the body, that almighty God is filling celestial energy in the body, take in the energy. Guru is the only source of inspiration for getting this energy and guru combines with heavenly feelings. Anulom-Vilom pranayama done in this manner gives physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Mooladhara chakra arouses a light and arouses kundalini, the divine knowledge will flow upwards and gain tremendous energy.

Benefits of Practicing Anulom-Vilom Pranayama:

1. This pranayama purifies 72 crore 72 lakh ten thousand two hundred and ten nerves. Purification of all the nerves makes the body strong, bright and healthy.

2. It cures joint pain, arthritis, gout, Parkinson’s disease, nervous weakness, Vata diseases, urinary problems, humour related diseases, seminal loss, acidity, Pitta, cold, catarrh, chronic cold, sinusitis, asthma, cough, tonsils and other Kapha diseases. It cures tri-doshas.

3. It opens heart blockages. Regular practice of this pranayama opens around 30 to 40 percent blockage within three to four months. We have experienced it practically on several patients.

4. It overcomes the irregularities of cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL or LDL, etc.

5. It replaces negative thoughts with positive thoughts. It helps in keeping the mind happy, fearless and enthusiastic.

6. In a nutshell, pranayama purifies the mind, body, and virtues. It cures all the ailments and the mind becomes capable of contemplation.

7. Repeat this pranayama 250 to 500 times, the energy present in the Muladhara chakra moves upwards and helps in the arousal of kundalini.
Note: See the cautions and methods of arousal of kundalini for further information in this regard.



5.Brahmari Pranayama

Inhale completely, press the base of the nostrils with the little fingers, close the ears with your thumbs, keep the index fingers on the forehead, close the eyes and place the ring and middle fingers on the closed eyes. Chant Aum with the mouth closed (only the humming sound) and exhale. The sound resembles the sound of a honeybee, hence the name brahmari pranayama. Repeat it at least three times and maximum up to 21 times.

Resolution at the Time of Doing Brahmari Pranayama:

Imagine the synchronization of celestial power with divine strength. The practitioner should think that God is showering his empathy, love, and happiness on him. He or she should visualize a divine light in the agya chakra and removing all the ignorance present in the mind. The practitioner should feel that he or she is getting eternal wisdom. Pranayama done with such pure thoughts helps in reaching contemplation.

Benefits of Practicing Brahmari Pranayama:

It overcomes playfulness of the mind and is very beneficial for meditation. It is beneficial in cases of mental stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.



6.Aumkara (Udgeet Pranayama)

All the above-mentioned pranayamas should be followed by udgeet pranayama. Our eyebrows resemble the shape of Aum. The body and the entire universe are full of Aum. It is not an individual or a shape; it is a divine strength, which is circulating in the whole universe. As a knower, the practitioner should inhale and exhale so slowly that he or she should not feel the sound of respiration. The breathing should be so gentle that even a piece of cotton kept in front of the nose should not move. Try to feel the respiration from within. In the beginning, you will feel it only at the tip of the nose but gradually you will experience it deep within. In this way chanting Aum for some time helps in contemplation of mind. The practitioner will be able to concentrate the mind and get engrossed in Aumkar. Gayatri mantra should also be chanted after understanding its meaning along with Aumkar. This will help the person in getting engrossed in the true form of God, which gives happiness. This should be practiced at bedtime also in order to enjoy sound sleep. It overcomes bad dreams and gives sound sleep.



7. Nadi Shodhana pranayama

In the beginning, close the right nostril and inhale through left nostril just like Anulom-Vilom pranayama. Stop the breath inside and do moola bandha and jalandhara bandha. Remove jalandhar bandha after some time and exhale very slowly through the right nostril. Then inhale from right nostril and do Kumbhaka, stop the breath inside and exhale very slowly from the left nostril. This is one complete cycle or nadi Shodhana pranayama.

It is very beneficial if done with full concentration without pressing the nostrils. It helps in concentrating the mind and gives a lot of stability. There should not be any sound at the time of inhaling and exhaling. It should be done from one to three times or more. In the beginning, the ratio of poorak, antah kumbhaka and rechaka should be 1:2:2. for example, poorak, antah kumbhaka and rechaka should be done for 10, 20 and 20 seconds respectively. Gradually, the ratio can be increased to 1:4:2. Bahya kumbhaka can be added later and then the ratio can be 1:4:2:2. This pranayama should be done at a very slow pace. Focus on pace of respiration and its intensity instead of number of repetitions. This is more beneficial, and inhaling, controlling and exhaling the breath is the actual result of this pranayama. There is no need to take rest in between. Chanting Aum or gayatri mantra mentally is favourable while doing this.

Benefits of Practicing Nadi Shodana Pranayama:

The advantages are similar to Anulom-Vilom pranayama.





Useful Yoga Bandhas in Pranayama

Bandhas stop the flow of energy in some parts of the body and flow it in other parts. This massages the internal organs and removes the accumulation of the blood. Bandha regulate the nerves of the particular organ, which prevents sickness. The Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra glands produced with the flow of prana (life) in Sushmana nerve arose with the bandha, which develops spiritual energy.

There are three types of Bandha:




1.Jalandhara Bandha

Sit in Sidhasana or Padmasana and rest the knees on the ground. Keep the neck, spine, and head absolutely straight.

Now keep the palms on the knees and close the eyes and let the whole body relax. Slowly take a deep breath and stop it inside. Remain in the same position and keep the elbows straight and put pressure on the knees and simultaneously bend the shoulders forward and raise them slightly. Bend the head in such a manner that the chin touches the lower part of the neck, Remain in this position till you can stop the breath inside but do not stop the breath forcefully,

Keep the head straight before doing rechak and keep the shoulders in the normal position, Bend the elbows and relax. Now, exhale slowly. Repeat the asana when the respiration becomes normal.


Thyroid, Parathyroid glands become healthy. It relieves the person from worries, anger, tension etc.

Who should not do Jalandhara Bandha?

Patients of cervical, Spondylitis, pressure in the skull, giddiness, high blood pressure and heart disease should not do this bandha.

2.Uddiyana Bandha:

Sit in Padmasana or Sidhasana. Rest the knees on the floor, Close the eyes and relax the whole body. Perform dirghrechak (inhale deeply). Stop the breath outside and perform Bahirkumbhak. Keep the elbows straight and put pressure on the knees and bend the shoulders slightly towards the front and raise them upwards. After this perform Jalandhar Bandha, Then contract the stomach muscles inside and upwards, so that the stomach takes the shape of a bow, Now remain in Bahirkumbhak and bandha position. After this slowly leave Uddiyan Bandha and after some time leave Jalandhar Bandha.

Now bring back the elbows and hands in normal position and inhale. Rest for a while and repeat the asana.

Benefits of Uddiyana Bandha:

It cures the diseases of the stomach and abdomen, destroys the worms in the stomach, cures indigestion, gas. It regulates the stomach and improves its functioning. It massages the spleen, liver, kidney and makes them healthy. This asana has a special influence on the prana (life) energy.

Who should not do Uddiyana Bandha?

People suffering from wounds in the stomach or intestines, high blood pressure, hernia, colitis should not do this Bandha.

3.Moola Bandha:

Sit in Padmasana, Take a deep breath and stop the breath. Keep the hands straight and put pressure on the knees with the elbows, Now try and contract the ganglion muscles as much as you can but do not put excessive pressure. These muscles are situated between the rectum and genitals in men and in women, it is located at the back of the vagina, where vagina and uterus meet.

Now relax the bandha and keep the hands and elbows in normal position- Then do rechak, this can be done at the time of Bahirkumbhak as well.


This Bandha gives physical, mental and spiritual benefits, It creates cooperation between the urinary, reproduction and excretory systems. It generates sex desire and cures several sexual diseases.





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Pratyahara: The Most Important Limb of Yoga

Yoga is a vast system of spiritual practices for inner growth. To this end, the classical yoga system incorporates eight limbs, each with its own place and function. Of these, pratyahara is probably the least known.

How many people, even yoga teachers, can define pratyahara? Have you ever taken a class in Pratyahara? Have you ever seen a book on Pratyahara? Can you think of several important pratyahara techniques? Do you perform Pratyahara as part of your yogic practices? Yet unless we understand pratyahara, we are missing an integral aspect of yoga without which the system cannot work.

As the fifth of the eight limbs, Pratyahara occupies a central place. Some yogis include it among the outer aspects of yoga, others with the inner aspects. Both classifications are correct, for Pratyahara is the key between the outer and inner aspects of yoga; it shows us how to move from one to the other.

It is not possible to move directly from asana to meditation. This requires jumping from the body to the mind, forgetting what lies between. To make this transition, the breath and senses, which link the body and mind, must be brought under control and developed properly. This is where pranayama and pratyahara come in. With pranayama, we control our vital energies and impulses and with pratyahara, we gain mastery over the unruly senses — both prerequisites to successful meditation.


What is Pratyahara?

The term Pratyahara is composed of two Sanskrit words, prati and ahara. Ahara means “food,” or “anything we take into ourselves from the outside.” Prati is a preposition meaning “against” or “away.” Pratyahara means literally “control of ahara,” or “gaining mastery over external influences.” It is compared to a turtle withdrawing its limbs into its shell — the turtle’s shell is the mind and the senses are the limbs. The term is usually translated as “withdrawal from the senses,” but much more is implied.

In yogic though, there are three levels of ahara, or food. The first is physical food that brings in the five elements necessary to nourish the body. The second is impressions, which bring in the subtle substances necessary to nourish the mind — the sensations of sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell. The third level of ahara is our associations, the people we hold at heart level who serve to nourish the soul and affect us with the gunas of sattva, rajas, and tamas.

Pratyahara is twofold. It involves withdrawal from wrong food, wrong impressions, and wrong associations, while simultaneously opening up to right food, right impressions and right associations. We cannot control our mental impressions without right diet and right relationship, but pratyahara’s primary importance lies in control of sensory impressions which frees the mind to move within.

By withdrawing our awareness from negative impressions, Pratyahara strengthens the mind’s powers of immunity. Just as a healthy body can resist toxins and pathogens, a healthy mind can ward off the negative sensory influences around it. If you are easily disturbed by the noise and turmoil of the environment around you, practice pratyahara. Without it, you will not be able to meditate.

There are four main forms of Pratyahara: indriya-pratyahara — control of the senses; prana- pratyahara — control of prana; karma-pratyahara — control of action; and mano-pratyahara — withdrawal of the mind from the senses. Each has its special methods.

Control of the Senses (Indriya-pratyahara)

Indriya-pratyahara, or control of the senses, is the most important form of Pratyahara, although this is not something that we like to hear about in our mass media-oriented culture. Most of us suffer from sensory overload, the result of constant bombardment from television, radio, computers, newspapers, magazines, books — you name it. Our commercial society functions by stimulating our interest through the senses. We are constantly confronted with bright colors, loud noises, and dramatic sensations. We have been raised on every sort of sensory indulgence; it is the main form of entertainment in our society.

sam_mukha_mudra _krishnamacharya

The problem is that the senses, like untrained children, have their own will, which is largely instinctual in nature. They tell the mind what to do. If we don’t discipline them, they dominate us with their endless demands. We are so accustomed to ongoing sensory activity that we don’t know how to keep our minds quiet; we have become hostages of the world of the senses and its allurements.

We run after what is appealing to the senses and forget the higher goals of life. For this reason, pratyahara is probably the most important limb of yoga for people today.

The old saying “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” applies to those of us who have not learned how to properly control our senses. Indriya-pratyahara gives us the tools to strengthen the spirit and reduce its dependency on the body. Such control is not suppression (which causes eventual revolt), but proper coordination and motivation.

The Three Worlds are also called the Three Waters, or Three Oceans. Each form of Vayu is associated with a particular form of the Waters or the ocean. The Earthy or sacrificial form of Agni is associated with ground Water and with caves and springs and with the water and ghee (clarified butter) that is offered to the Fire. The Atmospheric wind (thunder) is associated with the ocean and the rains which are created by Water evaporating from the sea.

The Heavenly (solar) wind is associated with the cosmic ocean and heavenly Waters which are also the Milky Way. Space is the Waters of Heaven through which the Sun moves like a boat.


Author Dr. David Frawley (