Mastery Over Natural Elements

Sutra 1.40 parma-anu parama-mahattava antha asya vashikarah

Atoms and Electrons

When the mind develops the power to remain focussed on both, objects large (parama-mahattava), or of sub-atomic size (parma-anu) equally well in absolute stillness, then we can truly say that mastery (vashikarah) over nature has been attained through the transcendence (antah) of one's (asya) mind.

These so called objects, are all things seen and unseen, including the mind and its components; including the Ego. They could also be projects or concepts such as a large project of great importance, or it could be something as simple as washing your hands before eating. When you perform both, large and small responsibilities with the same sense of importance without expectation of rewards or benefits, then it can be said that you are making a humble progress in going beyond attachments and aversions leading to mastery over mind and body; including Prakriti (Nature).
In this Sutra, Patanjali tells us there are numerous levels of super-natural powers that is bestowed upon the adept as he evolves in his practice. In fact, he says that there is no limit to the powers of the Yogi.

Omnipotence

At the moment the mind is transcended, the Yogi attains mastery over nature and all its constituents. There are no limits to the powers of a fully realized Yogi. From walking on water and passing through walls, to bringing the dead back to life. From being in several places at once, to having knowledge about all things in the universe are some of the super-natural abilities a self-realized Yogi is endowed with.

To the modern man, the claim for a Yogi to harness omnipotence — which is what this Sutra distinctly claims — may appear as an absurd exaggeration. But to many votaries of Yoga, this statement will appear quite rational and intelligible provided their knowledge and experience evolved over numerous lives and has found a firm footing in this one also.

Please keep in mind that Patanjali has devoted almost the whole of Book III to the subject of Siddhis, or the attainment of spiritual powers acquired through Yoga. Therefore, this sutra is expected to be read in the light of all that which is to come later. Taken thus, this sutra will not appear too absurd of a statement.

Desire for Spiritual Attainment

The desire to reach perfection or absolute absorption is carried over from past lives. There are only a small percentage of people who strive for self-realization out of 7.7 billion people on this planet.

Looking back on my own family, I find that the older women - including my Grandmother, and all my Aunt's - from my Dad's side of the family were deeply devout. My Grandmother had her own temple and I remember one of my Aunt spent all her waking hours reading from the scriptures. On the day she passed over, she called out the name of Lord Ram three times and left the physical shell behind.

It is extremely difficult to be concentrated on the Divine in the hour of death unless you have a fervent spiritual bent. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna states that whoever thinks of him in their moment of death, shall merge with the Absolute.

But for them, whom I am the supreme goal, who do all work renouncing the Ego for me, and meditate on me with single hearted devotion, these I will swiftly rescue from the fragment cycle of birth and death, for their consciousness has entered into me.

The Bhagavad Gita
  • Sutra 1.40 parma-anu parama-mahattava antha asya vashikarah
  • parma-anu- from the minutest (parma - most; anu - minutest, smallest)

  • parama - ultimate, maximum; mahattva - infinity, largeness magnitude

  • antah - end, extending to

  • asya - of this, of his or hers

  • vashikarah - mastery, power