The Danger of Siddhis (Yogic Powers)


Did Paramhansa Yoganandaji make any comment on occult powers siddhis etc.? If so what were those comments? In his Autobiography it is mentioned in one chapter that he himself had some occult power ie the power to see immediate future. If am not mistaken in his childhood days he knew that he would get a boil on his hand the next day.

—Niraj Sharma, India


Dear Niraj,

This is an important topic. Siddhis (yogic powers) exist. They are part of the spiritual path, but can become a major instrument of maya (illusion), resulting in the downfall of yogis who desire them.

Traditionally there are eight main yogic siddhis. You can get details in Sri Yukteswar‘s book, The Holy Science.

Yes, Yogananda had siddhis. Close disciples witnessed them at times.

Peggy Deitz witnessed him levitate; Swami Kriyananda writes how Yogananda knew his every thought, and everything he had done at a distance; Tulsi Bose saw him resurrect a dead person; he healed many seriously sick persons; Brother Bhakananda witnessed how the Master materialized carrot juice, filling many glasses miraculously from an almost empty pitcher; and so on.

Yes, he knew the future, and could also see the distant past: persons’ previous incarnations.

His siddhis were also revealed at his death: Yogananda’s body remained in a state of complete incorruption for three weeks after his passing (described even in TIME magazine), up to the moment his body was laid in the crypt.

This event is documented by a notarized letter of the mortuary. It was a true phenomenon. Nobody knows if today his body is still incorrupt.

And yes, there is the story in Autobiography of a Yogi in which Yogananda used the power of the spoken word to get a boil on his forearm the next day. Patanjali speaks about that yogic power in his famous Yoga Sutras.

However Yogananda did not advocate displaying such powers in public. He said:

Many come expecting miracles, but those who have realized God never show their powers, unless God directs them to. People don’t see that in that complete humility lies the greatest miracle! If I were to perform miracles in public, I could attract crowds of followers. But that isn’t the way God wants it.

—From Conversations with Yogananda

In his Autobiography of a Yogi he describes a saint who materialized perfumes and other things. Yogananda’s comment:

Performances of miracles such as shown by the “Perfume Saint” are spectacular but spiritually useless. Having little purpose beyond entertainment, they are digressions from a serious search for God.

Another point: “Spiritual advancement is not measured by one’s outward powers, but only by the depth of his bliss in meditation.”

Yogananda, in other words, makes it clear that performances of spectacular miracles are not necessarily a sign of spiritual advancement. If you are interested, you may read this chapter in Autobiography of a Yogi, which is specifically dedicated to this point.

Yogananda taught not to concentrate on siddhis. “The spiritual path is not a circus.”

Even if such powers should come to you, he taught, don’t use them, except you hear the voice of God telling you to do so.

In divine friendship,