SB 11.15: Lord Kṛṣṇa’s Description of Mystic Yoga Perfections
This chapter describes the eight primary and ten minor mystic perfections. They are developed by fixing one’s mind in yoga, but they are ultimately obstructions to achieving the spiritual abode of Lord Viṣṇu.
Being questioned by Uddhava, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa describes the characteristics of the eighteen mystic perfections and the particular kind of meditation by which each is achieved. In conclusion, Kṛṣṇa states that for one who desires to perform pure devotional service to the Personality of Godhead, the achievement of these mystic perfections is a waste of time, because they distract one from proper worship. All these perfections are automatically offered to a pure devotee, but he does not accept them. Unless used in the yoga of devotional service, these perfections are valueless. A devotee simply sees that the Personality of Godhead is always present everywhere, both externally and internally, and depends completely upon Him.
mayi dhārayataś ceta
There are eight primary mystic perfections, such as aṇimā-siddhi, and ten secondary perfections. In this Fifteenth Chapter Lord Kṛṣṇa will explain that such mystic perfections are actually impediments to the development of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and that therefore one should not desire them.
kathaṁ vā siddhir acyuta
kati vā siddhayo brūhi
yogināṁ siddhi-do bhavān
tāsām aṣṭau mat-pradhānā
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura explains the word mat pradhānāḥ as follows. Lord Kṛṣṇa is naturally the shelter of the eight primary mystic potencies and meditations because such perfections emanate from the Lord’s personal potency, and thus they are fully developed only within the Lord Himself and the Lord’s personal associates. When materialistic persons mechanically acquire such potencies, the perfections awarded are of an inferior degree and are considered to be manifestations of māyā, illusion. A pure devotee of the Lord automatically receives from the Lord wonderful potencies to execute his devotional service. If for sense gratification one mechanically endeavors to acquire mystic perfections, then these perfections are certainly considered to be inferior expansions of the Lord’s external potency.
laghimā prāptir indriyaiḥ
yat-kāmas tad avasyati
etā me siddhayaḥ saumya
aṣṭāv autpattikā matāḥ
Through aṇimā-siddhi one can become so small that one can enter a stone or pass through any obstacle. Through mahimā-siddhi one becomes so great that one covers everything, and through laghimā one becomes so light that one can ride on the sun’s rays into the sun planet. Through prāpti-siddhi one can acquire anything from anywhere and can even touch the moon with one’s finger. By this mystic perfection one can also enter into the senses of any other living entity through the predominating deities of the particular senses; and by thus utilizing the senses of others, one can acquire anything. Through prākāmya one can experience any enjoyable object, either in this world or the next, and through īśitā, or the controlling potency, one can manipulate the subpotencies of māyā, which are material. In other words, even by acquiring mystic powers one cannot pass beyond the control of illusion; however, one may manipulate the subpotencies of illusion. Through vaśitā, or the power to control, one can bring others under one’s dominion or keep oneself beyond the control of the three modes of nature. Ultimately, one acquires through kāmāvasāyitā the maximum powers of control, acquisition and enjoyment. The word autpattikāḥ in this verse indicates being original, natural and unexcelled. These eight mystic potencies originally exist in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, in the superlative degree. Lord Kṛṣṇa becomes so small that He enters within the atomic particles, and He becomes so large that as Mahā-Viṣṇu He breathes out millions of universes. The Lord can become so light or subtle that even great mystic yogīs cannot perceive Him, and the Lord’s acquisitive power is perfect, because He keeps the total existence eternally within His body. The Lord certainly can enjoy whatever He likes, control all energies, dominate all other persons and exhibit complete omnipotency. Therefore it is to be understood that these eight mystic perfections are insignificant expansions of the mystic potency of the Lord, who in Bhagavad-gītā is called Yogeśvara, the Supreme Lord of all mystic potencies. These eight perfections are not artificial, but are natural and unexcelled because they originally exist in the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
yayā dhāraṇayā yā syād
yathā vā syān nibodha me
According to the ācāryas these five perfections are considered to be quite inferior to the others already mentioned, since they involve more or less ordinary physical and mental manipulations. According to Śrīla Madhvācārya, in the perfection called agny-arkāmbu-viṣādīnāṁ pratiṣṭambhaḥ, or checking the influence of fire, sun, water, poison, and so on, the term “and so on” refers to one’s remaining invulnerable to all types of weapons as well as attacks by nails, teeth, beating, curses and other such sources.
tan-mātraṁ dhārayen manaḥ
Aṇimā refers to the mystic ability to make oneself smaller than the smallest and thus able to enter within anything. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is within the atoms and atomic particles, and one who perfectly fixes his mind in that subtle atomic form of the Lord acquires the mystic potency called aṇimā, by which one can enter within even the most dense matter such as stone.
yathā-saṁsthaṁ mano dadhat
bhūtānāṁ ca pṛthak pṛthak
There are innumerable verses in Vedic literatures explaining that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is qualitatively not different from His creation and thus a yogī may meditate upon the total material existence as a manifestation of the external potency of the Lord. Once the yogī has established his realization that the material creation is not different from the Lord, he obtains the perfection called mahimā-siddhi. By realizing the Lord’s presence in each individual element the yogī also acquires the greatness of each element. However, the pure devotees are not very interested in such perfections because they are surrendered to the Personality of Godhead, who exhibits such perfections to the infinite degree. Being always protected by the Lord, the pure devotees save their precious time to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. Thus they achieve for themselves and others saṁsiddhi, or the supreme perfection, pure love of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, by which one expands one’s existence beyond the total material creation to the spiritual planets called Vaikuṇṭha.
bhūtānāṁ mayi rañjayan
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam elaborately explains that kāla, or time, is the transcendental form of the Lord that moves the material world. Since the five gross elements are composed of atoms, the atomic particles are the subtle substance or manifestation of the movements of time. More subtle than time is the Personality of Godhead Himself, who expands His potency as the time factor. By understanding all these things clearly the yogī obtains laghimā-siddhi, or the power to make himself lighter than the lightest.
mano vaikārike ’khilam
prāptiṁ prāpnoti man-manāḥ
It is significant that in order to acquire each mystic perfection one must fix one’s mind on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura states that those who pursue such perfections without fixing the mind in the Supreme Lord acquire a gross and inferior reflection of each mystic potency. Those who are not conscious of the Lord cannot actually synchronize their minds perfectly with the universal functions and therefore cannot elevate their mystic opulences to the universal platform.
dhārayen mayi mānasam
prākāmyaṁ pārameṣṭhyaṁ me
Śrīla Vīrarāghava Ācārya explains that the word sūtra, or “thread,” is used to indicate that the mahat-tattva sustains one’s fruitive activities just as a thread sustains a row of jewels. Thus by fixed meditation on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the soul of the mahat-tattva, one can achieve the most excellent perfection called prākāmya. Avyakta-janmanaḥ indicates that the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears from the avyakta, or the spiritual sky, or that His birth is avyakta, beyond the perception of material senses. Unless one accepts the transcendental form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is no possibility of obtaining prākāmya or any other genuine mystic perfection.
sa īśitvam avāpnoti
We should remember that mystic perfection never enables a living entity to challenge the supremacy of the Personality of Godhead. In fact, one cannot obtain such perfections without the mercy of the Supreme Lord; thus one’s controlling power can never disturb the plan of Lord Kṛṣṇa. One is allowed to exhibit mystic control only within the confines of the law of God, and even a great yogī who transgresses the law of God by his so-called mystic opulences will be severely punished, as revealed in the story of Durvāsā Muni cursing Ambarīṣa Mahārāja.
mano mayy ādadhad yogī
mad-dharmā vaśitām iyāt
In Bhagavad-gītā (7.13) Lord Kṛṣṇa states:
tribhir guṇa-mayair bhāvair
ebhiḥ sarvam idaṁ jagat
mām ebhyaḥ param avyayam
“Deluded by the three modes [goodness, passion and ignorance], the whole world does not know Me, who am above the modes and inexhaustible.” Thus the Lord is called turīya, or the fourth factor beyond the three modes of nature. According to Śrīla Vīrarāghava Ācārya, turīya also indicates that the Lord is beyond the three ordinary phases of consciousness, namely wakefulness, dreaming and dreamless sleep. Bhaga-vac-chabda-śabdite indicates that the Lord is known as Bhagavān, or the possessor of unlimited opulences, principally beauty, fame, wealth, knowledge, renunciation and intelligence.
In conclusion, one can obtain the mystic opulence vaśitā, or freedom from the modes of nature, by meditating upon the Lord as turīya, the fourth factor beyond those modes. Everything depends upon the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
dhārayan viśadaṁ manaḥ
yatra kāmo ’vasīyate
Paramānanda, or “the greatest happiness,” here indicates the greatest material happiness, since it is clearly stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that a devotee has no personal desire, or kāma. One who has personal desire is certainly within the material world, and on the material platform the greatest happiness is kāmāvasāyitā-siddhi, or the perfection of completely obtaining anything that one desires.
śuddhe dharma-maye mayi
dhārayañ chvetatāṁ yāti
The Lord now begins to explain the processes for obtaining the ten secondary mystic perfections derived from the modes of nature. Within the material world Lord Viṣṇu, addressed here as śvetadvīpa-pati, the Lord of Śvetadvīpa, governs the material mode of goodness and is thus called śuddha and dharma-maya, or the personification of purity and piety. By worshiping Lord Viṣṇu as the personification of material goodness one obtains the material benediction of freedom from bodily disturbance.
manasā ghoṣam udvahan
haṁso vācaḥ śṛṇoty asau
Speech occurs by vibrating air within the sky. One who meditates on the Supreme Lord as the personified sky and air thereby acquires the ability to hear that which is vibrated at great distance. The word prāṇa indicates that the Lord is the personified life air of the individual living entities and for the total aggregate of life forms. Ultimately, the pure devotees meditate on the supreme vibration — Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare — and are thus able to hear the speech originating from liberated living entities far beyond the material universe. Any living entity can hear such discussions by reading Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā and other such literatures. One who has properly understood the opulences of the Supreme Personality of Godhead finds all perfection, mystic and otherwise, in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
tvaṣṭāram api cakṣuṣi
māṁ tatra manasā dhyāyan
viśvaṁ paśyati dūrataḥ
tatrātmā yatra vai manaḥ
Tad-anuvāyunā indicates the particular subtle air that follows the mind. When the yogī merges this air together with the body and mind in Kṛṣṇa by the potency of meditation on the Lord, his gross material body, like the subtle air, can follow the mind anywhere. This perfection is called mano-javaḥ.
yad yad rūpaṁ bubhūṣati
tat tad bhaven mano-rūpaṁ
This perfection is called kāma-rūpa, or the ability to assume any form that one desires, even the form of a demigod. The pure devotees absorb their minds in a particular type of service to Lord Kṛṣṇa and thus gradually assume a spiritual body for an eternal life of bliss and knowledge. Thus anyone who takes to the process of chanting the holy names of Kṛṣṇa and follows the regulative principles of human life can acquire the ultimate perfection of kāma-rūpa, assuming an eternal, spiritual body in the kingdom of God.
ātmānaṁ tatra bhāvayet
piṇḍaṁ hitvā viśet prāṇo
As air is inhaled into the body through the nostrils and mouth, similarly, the life air of the yogī’s subtle body travels through the pathways of external air and easily enters into the body of another person, just as the bee easily flies from flower to flower. One may admire a heroic man or beautiful woman and desire to experience life within their extraordinary material body. Such opportunities are available through the mystic perfection called para-kāya-praveśanam. Pure devotees, being absorbed in meditation upon the spiritual form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are not actually attracted to any material body. Thus the devotees remain transcendental and satisfied on the platform of eternal life.
brahma nītvotsṛjet tanum
This mystic opulence of svacchandu-mṛtyu, or dying at will, was wonderfully exhibited by Bhīṣmadeva at the end of the Battle of Kurukṣetra. According to Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī, the term brahma, as used in this verse, is an example of upalakṣaṇa, or the use of a general term to indicate various concepts. Brahma here indicates the particular destination selected by the yogī, namely the spiritual sky, the impersonal brahmajyoti or any other destination that has attracted the yogī’s mind.
mat-sthaṁ sattvaṁ vibhāvayet
yadā vā mat-paraḥ pumān
mayi satye mano yuñjaṁs
tathā tat samupāśnute
In this verse the word yadā (“whenever”) indicates that by the mystic power called yathā-saṅkalpa-saṁsiddhi one will achieve one’s objective even if one pursues it at an inauspicious time. Lord Kṛṣṇa is called satya-saṅkalpa, or He whose desire, intention, purpose or resolve always comes to pass.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura mentions that one should determine to revive one’s lost relationship with the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa through the infallible means of devotional service, which can be executed at any time or in any place. There are many books giving proper guidance for achieving Lord Kṛṣṇa, and the following are mentioned: Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī’s Saṅkalpa-kalpavṛkṣa, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja’s Śrī Govinda-līlāmṛta, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī’s Śrī Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta and Saṅkalpa-kalpadruma, and Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Śrī Gaurāṅga-smaraṇa-maṅgala. In the modern age, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda has given us over sixty large volumes of transcendental literature, which can fix us firmly on the path back home, back to Godhead. Our saṅkalpa, or determination, should be practical and not useless. We should resolve to make a permanent solution to the problems of life by going back home, back to Godhead.
īśitur vaśituḥ pumān
kutaścin na vihanyeta
tasya cājñā yathā mama
By the command of the Supreme Personality of Godhead the entire creation is moving. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (9.10):
“This material nature is working under My direction, O son of Kuntī, and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings. By its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.” Similarly, Caitanya Mahāprabhu has given His command that people all over the world should take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The sincere devotees of the Lord should go all over the world repeating the Lord’s command. In this way, they can share in His mystic opulence of giving orders that cannot be counteracted.
tasya trai-kālikī buddhir
After having explained the eight primary and ten secondary mystic perfections of yoga, the Lord now explains the five inferior potencies.
muner yoga-mayaṁ vapuḥ
yādasām udakaṁ yathā
The creatures dwelling in the ocean are never injured by water; rather, they enjoy life within the watery medium. Similarly, for one skilled in the techniques of yoga, fending off attacks by weapons, fire, poison, and so on, is a recreational activity. Prahlāda Mahārāja was attacked by his father in all these ways, but because of his perfect Kṛṣṇa consciousness he was not injured. The pure devotees of the Lord depend fully on the mercy of Lord Kṛṣṇa, who possesses mystic opulences to an infinite degree and is therefore known as Yogeśvara, the master of all mystic power. Because devotees are always connected to Lord Kṛṣṇa, they do not feel any need to separately develop powers already possessed unlimitedly by their Lord, master and protector.
If a human being falls into the middle of the ocean he quickly drowns, whereas the fish enjoy happiness sporting in the same waves. Similarly, the conditioned souls have fallen into the ocean of material existence and are drowning in the reactions to their sinful activities, whereas the devotees recognize this world to be the potency of the Lord and enjoy pleasurable pastimes within it by fully engaging in the loving service of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
sa bhaved aparājitaḥ
The imperial paraphernalia of the Lord’s opulent incarnations indicates His omnipotency, and the devotees become unconquerable by meditating on the Lord’s powerful, royally equipped incarnations. As stated by Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura in Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, verse 107:
bhaktis tvayi sthiratarā bhagavan yadi syād
daivena naḥ phalati divya-kiśora-mūrtiḥ
muktiḥ svayaṁ mukulitāñjaliḥ sevate ’smān
“My dear Lord, if we develop unflinching devotional service unto You, then automatically Your transcendental, youthful form is revealed to us. Thus liberation herself waits with folded hands to serve us, and the ultimate goals of religiosity, economic development and sense gratification patiently wait to render service to us.”
The word yoga-dhāraṇayā indicates that each devotee obtains the particular perfection for which he has qualified himself. The Lord thus concludes His discussion of yoga-siddhis.
kā sā siddhiḥ su-durlabhā
Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī comments as follows. “Lord Kṛṣṇa here expresses that there is no need to practice many different processes, for by completely carrying out even one of the above-mentioned procedures one controls one’s senses, becomes absorbed in Him and thus achieves all mystic perfections.”
Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī notes that one must meditate on the transcendental form of the Lord, which is free from any material designation. This is the essence of advancing in the yoga system; thus one acquires all mystic perfections very easily from the personal body of the Personality of Godhead.
yuñjato yogam uttamam
It is common sense that whatever is a useless waste of time should be given up; therefore one should not pray to God for mystic yoga perfections. For a pure devotee, who has no material desire, even impersonal liberation is a useless disturbance in his life, and what to speak of the material perfections of yoga, which cannot even be compared to impersonal liberation. Such mystic perfections may be wonderful for an immature and inexperienced person, but they are not impressive for a learned man who has understood the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Simply by obtaining Lord Kṛṣṇa one dwells within an infinite ocean of mystic opulences; therefore he should not waste precious time pursuing separate mystic perfections.
yāvatīr iha siddhayaḥ
yogenāpnoti tāḥ sarvā
nānyair yoga-gatiṁ vrajet
By taking birth as a demigod one is automatically endowed with many mystic perfections. Simply by birth on Siddhaloka one automatically acquires all of the eight principal perfections of yoga. Similarly, by birth as a fish one becomes invulnerable to water, by birth as a bird one gets the mystic perfection of flying, and by birth as a ghost one gets the mystic perfection of disappearing and entering into the bodies of others. Patañjali Muni states that the mystic perfections of yoga can be achieved by birth, herbs, austerities and mantras. The Lord states, however, that such perfections are ultimately a waste of time and an impediment to achieving the actual perfection of yoga, Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Those who give up the process of bhakti-yoga and shop around for other objects of meditation besides Kṛṣṇa are certainly not very intelligent. Those who claim to be yogīs but pursue the satisfaction of their own senses are certainly kuyogīs, or bhogi-yogīs. Such kuyogīs cannot understand that just as they have tiny senses, the Absolute Truth has absolute senses, nor can they understand that yoga is actually meant to satisfy the absolute senses of the Lord. Therefore, persons who give up the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa in order to pursue so-called happiness in mystic perfection will undoubtedly be frustrated in their attempt. By meditating exclusively on the Supreme Personality of Godhead one can achieve yoga-gati, the ultimate goal of yoga, which means living on Lord Kṛṣṇa’s planet and there enjoying spiritual opulences.
hetuḥ patir ahaṁ prabhuḥ
ahaṁ yogasya sāṅkhyasya
According to Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī, the word yoga here indicates liberation from material life, and sāṅkhya indicates the means of obtaining liberation. Thus Lord Kṛṣṇa is not merely the Lord of material yoga perfections, but of the highest liberated perfections as well. One can obtain sāṅkhya, or knowledge leading to liberation, by performing pious activities, and Lord Kṛṣṇa is also the cause, protector and Lord of such activities as well as of the learned teachers who instruct ordinary people in the means of piety. In many different ways Lord Kṛṣṇa is the real object of meditation and worship for every living entity. Lord Kṛṣṇa through the expansion of His potencies is everything, and this simple understanding, called Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is the supreme perfection of the yoga system.
yathā bhūtāni bhūteṣu
bahir antaḥ svayaṁ tathā
Lord Kṛṣṇa is the entire basis of meditation for all yogīs and philosophers, and here the Lord clarifies His absolute position. Since the Lord is within everything, one might think that the Lord is divided into pieces. However, the word anāvṛta, or “completely uncovered,” indicates that nothing can interrupt, disturb or in any way infringe upon the supreme existence of the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead. There is no actual separation between the internal and external existence of the material elements, which continuously exist everywhere. Similarly, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is all-pervading and is the ultimate perfection of everything.
Thus end the purports of the humble servants of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda to the Eleventh Canto, Fifteenth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “Lord Kṛṣṇa’s Description of Mystic Yoga Perfections.”