Conquest of the Astha Siddhis

It has been cooking for a while in the mind and I am taking my time to connect the dots. Spiritualism is great fun when it comes with puzzles that make the grey cells work harder. I have had the general idea that the offering of aarti, dhoop and naivedya are connected to the conquest of the great Siddhis, a thought that once popped up in my mind may be after reading about it somewhere but the truth of it is that it refuses to go. 

A small puzzle fell into my path when I chanced upon a book that was a biography of the Mahaperivar of Sringeri, who sows the seeds of this quest in his composition of the Pancopacara Puja. In his prayer, he offers fire, water, sandal wood, flowers, and incense to the supreme in the form of the five great elements. This sounds like regular puja, but for some reason I didnt feel like stopping at it. 

Each offering is initiated by a sacred syllable followed by the object of offering towards the supreme power as it manifests in nature. At the same time each syllable in isolation didn’t make any sense until it struck me that the puja essentially starts with Lam - which is the bija mantra of Muladhara Chakra. And there started the next quest. Each syllable personifies the chakras within our being through which the Kundalini rises. 

It soon became clear that the passage to conquer the elements of nature was through the process of offering with the recitation of the divine syllables with bhakti. I cannot explain this but for some reason it made sense that the conquest of the elements was linked to the conquest of the siddhis as a result of the rise of the Kundalini within oneself. And why is that? Let’s take each siddhis and study it. 

Anima: The power to reduce to the size of an atom
Mahima: The power to expand to an infinitely large size
Garima: The power to be infinitely heavy
Laghima: The power to be almost weightless
Prapti: The power to have unrestricted access to any place
Prakamya: The power to realize what one desires
Istva: The power to conquer
Vastva: The power to subjugate all.

If we look at each of these attributes, the 5 great elements of water, space, earth, fire, and air have exactly these qualities - one or more if not all. Could this be the sacred spell that the great Shankaracharyas tried to tell the masses towards spiritual growth? 

Further to this is the other form of worship which is the Panchayatana puja, popularized by the Shankaras where an aspirant could worship all the 5 sacred Gods within a framework, they being Ganesha - representing the water element, Vishnu - representing the space element, Siva - representing the earth element, Devi - representing the fire element and Surya - representing the air element. 

The great Shankaracharyas tried to convey to the lesser mortals a far greater truth that can only be realized by the experience of puja - panchayatana or pancopacara puja, with devotion and love. How amazing is this truth that with the help of a sacred act of ritual worship we can offer certain offerings of divine acceptance to access certain chakras within ourselves and render us capable of realizing the great elements that at some point we will be able to move/live/experience them when we have attained the capability of the great siddhis that allow us to move from one element to the other with ease, in short conquering them. 

Does the performance of the sacred ritual of puja with deep devotion enable us to conquer these elements and therefore enable us to move up the spiritual ladder... it’s a good thought to think about. The discovery of this thought is baffling and will keep me excited for a good time to come but I wonder about the "how". Will I ever get the success of seeing it work on myself in this lifetime... no idea. 


Raju said...

nice article....vast subject in a nutshell...

Pusshkaran Thirumudhukundram Venkatesan said...

Nice perspective! The idea of "conquer " is a prelude or the driving force which will disappear when the existence become extinct. -Namasivaya.