In Hindu dharma, any yogi can achieve one or more of the eight siddhis. They might sound out of proportion for some. But these, in fact, show some of the superpowers that modern fictional superheroes show in some way.
Hindu dharma talks about these superpowers. These are the Ashta siddhis:
Anima is the ability to reduce the body size, so much so that, one can even reduce one’s size to the atom. Krishna in Srimad Bhagavatam describes this trait as “becoming smaller than the smallest”. In Ramayana, Hanuman has been shown to use this trait while he went to search for Sita in Lanka. The modern-day Ant-Man in the Marvel world also possesses the same siddhi power.
Mahima is the ability to assume a gigantic form. Krishna in Srimad Bhagavatam describes the property as becoming larger than the largest. When Hanuman burned Lanka in Ramayana and when Lord Vishnu in his Vamana avatar enlarged himself that it only took him three steps to cover all three worlds are some instances of Mahima.
Many modern fiction characters such as Elastic-Girl possess this power.
Garima is the ability to be heavy in weight by will. In Hindu epics, there is an instance when Hanuman increased the strength of his tail such that even Bhima couldn’t lift it. While Bhima climbed the Gandhamadana mountains to get some flowers for Draupadi, he was stopped by a monkey’s tail on the way. He asks the monkey to remove the tail off the road, but the monkey replies by stating that he is old and Bhima should remove it himself. However, even being the strongest person on earth, Bhima couldn’t lift it.
Laghima is derived from the word laghu, which translates from Sanskrit as small or light. This means the ability to make one’s body light. Flying and levitation are the other powers obtained from Laghima.
Prapti is the ability to obtain, which indicates the ability to get anything anywhere. We’ve seen Gods creating things out of thin air on various shows based on Hindu epics. This shows the prapti siddhi.
It is the ability to realize dreams and get what’s desired.
Isa in Sanskrit means Lord, so isitva means lordship. It is the power over creation.
It is the power to get everything under control, especially in terms of physical manifestations.
Other superpowers in Bhagavata Purana
- Tri-kāla-jñatvam: Knowledge of past present and future
- Advandvam (non-duality): not being subject to dualities of heat/ cold, pain/ pleasure, sweat/ bitter, good/ bad
- Para citta ādi abhijñatā: Knowing of others’ minds
- Agni arka ambu viṣa ādīnām pratiṣṭambhaḥ: having fire, sun, water, poison in control and stopping their effect
- Aparājayah: becoming unconquerable
- Anūrmi-mattvam: Being undisturbed by hunger, thirst, and other body generated cravings
- Dūra-śravaṇa: Hearing things/ events happening very far
- Dūra-darśanam: Seeing things/ events happening very far
- Manaḥ-javah (manojvitva): Moving physical body wherever one wants
- kāma-rūpam: Attaining/ assuming the desired form
- Para-kāya praveśanam (vikranabhav): Entering another person body (spirits are believed to enter a person’s physical body whose astral body is weak, but the power mentioned here is different and superior)
- Sva-chanda mṛtyuh: To die only on one’s wish (like that of Bhishma from Mahabharat, like that of many sages who left their bodies by their own wish)
- Devānām Saha krīḍā anudarśanam: Witnessing the pastimes of demi-gods (or Witnessing the events of 3 worlds as pastimes like God does)
- Yathā sańkalpa saḿsiddhiḥ: Achieving as one determines
- ājñā apratihatā gatiḥ: One’s commands unstopped
How can one attain siddhi?
Patanjali talks about attaining superpower in section IV of Yoga Sutras. The verse provides five ways of attaining the supernatural powers:
- By birth: This is part of the hereditary transfer where the spiritually advanced parents transfer their superpowers to their offspring. It could also be that one can achieve a superpower because of the things they had achieved in their previous lives.
- Medicine: Superpower can be achieved with certain drugs that have miraculous power. In Ramayana, Sanjeevini herb brought Lakshmana back to life
- Mantra: Chanting mantra is said to grant powers to the prayers who chant special mantras in Vedas. It is because of the power of those words and the self-discipline that chanting of the mantras can bring.
- Penance: Penance can clarify the mind that one can simply control the five elements by a wish.
- Samadhi: This is achieved when one achieves unity with the consciousness that extraordinary powers can be obtained.