Self-Possessed, 7


Enlightenment & Classical Culture

pp. 284-316


Yoga Practice



Subtle Body in the Yoga-Vasis.t.ha



S`ankara's Possession of a King



The Body in the Brahma[n] Sutra



In Bodish Buddhatva





Yoga Practice


p. 286 entry of the subtle body of one person into the material body of another

[quoted from Patan~jali : Yoga-sutra 3:38] “from full knowledge of [“the mechanics of psychic”] movement, entrance [a-ves`a] of one's mind [“citta” {'thought'}] into another's body [becomes possible]” … .

The primary commentator on the YS, Vyasa, believes that … It is the evaporation of the natural bondage of the siddha … that allows the citta – thought … – to flow into the body (and mind) of another person … .

Vijn~anabhiks.u, a sixteenth-century [Chr.E.] vedantin who wrote an important commentary on Vyasa, adds that the movement (pracara) of consciousness from one body to another is conducted along a certain nad.i (subtle nerve).

Narayan.a Tirtha, author of a bhakti-oriented commentary on the YS titled Yogasiddhanta[-]candrika, says that the citta enters and exits through the apana[-]nad.i, the nad.i controlling the downward movement of breath. He adds that, after the thread {golden cord?} connecting the citta {“mental body” (“7CM”)} of the yogin to his own {astral?} body is severed, the experience of entering … becomes like that of entering another country.”

7CM” = “Sevenfold Composition of Man

p. 288 sam-yama (“bringing together” “the three highest limbs of the eightfold path (as.t.anga) of yoga, namely dharan.a (concentration), dhyana (meditation {trance}), and samadhi (ecstasy).”

Yoga Sutra

By practicing samyama on __

the yogin acquireth __ .


the “form of the body”

disappearance” [of the body]


different kinds of strength”

strength of an elephant”


the sun”

knowledge of the worlds [“bhuvana”]”


the moon”

knowledge of the arrangement of the stars”


navel cakra

knowledge of the arrangement of the body”

p. 289 entry of the pran.a (vital energy) of one person into the material body of another, according to the Jaina author Hema-candra (1088-1172 Chr.E.)

(according to his Yoga S`astra :) “the aspirant gains the ability to move the breath (vayu) at will from the respiratory system {viz., pran.a-maya = kama-rupa} through the aperture at the crown of the head (brahmarandhra), then guiding it to settle on specific objects, such as fragrant plants, camphor, small birds … (5.264-73), Hemacandra states that one should enter (pravis`et) “bodies from which the breath {viz., astral body?} has gone” by utilizing the … primary subtle channel … id.a.”

[quoted from Hema-candra's autocommentary (on his Yoga S`astra) called Sva-upajn~a-vivaran.a or Sva-upajn~a-vr.tti :] “After exiting through the aperture at the crown of the head, one should enter [pra-vis`ya] [another body] through the other's downward moving breath [apana-vartmana]. Then one should spread oneself from the lotus at the navel … to the lotus at the heart via the sus.umna … . At that point, one should obstruct the movement of the other's pran.a with one's own breath [vayu]. … When that other body has been completely liberated …, the yogin whose actions and senses have come alive in all the activities [“of the other”] should commence movement as if in his own body.” (cf. Meru-tunga : Prabandha-cintaman.i, p. 12; Pars`va-natha Caritra 1:576, 3:119)

p. 312, n. 7:15 “Hemacandra is regarded as a great siddha …, … floating in the air and manifesting the entire Jain pantheon” (Bloomfield 1917, p. 2).



Subtle Body in the Yoga-Vasis.t.ha


pp. 290, 312 Cud.ala & expansion of consciousness, according to the Yoga-Vasis.t.ha

p. 290

King S`ikhi[-]dhvaja of Malva and his devoted wife, Cud.ala, were … dedicated to … self-knowledge (atma[-]jn~ana). It was Cud.ala who attained … expanded consciousness (cit[-]pracetani, … But … her achievements spurred her to seek solitude in the acquisition of siddhis. …

This series of transformations leads the narrator, Vasis.t.ha, into … the manipulation of kun.d.alini … . In the course of this …, … yogins were able to make their [subtle, immaterial] bodies either tiny, the size of atoms (an.utam), or extremely large (sthulatam,

Vas.s.t.ha describes three methods for achieving this.

The first involves … a visualization on kun.d.alini,

the second … the distinction between the body and the self, while

the third involves … freeing the jiva or living being {life-soul} to enter other bodies.”

p. 312, n. 7:16

[quoted from the Yoga-Vasis.t.ha 6:1:81:56] “When the pran.a is led … at a distance of twelve finger-breadths from the mouth, one can enter [pravis`ati] into the body of another person.”

{These 12 finger-breadths from the mouth may related to the divine 12-storeyed tower to be viewed within one's throat in Taoist internal alchemy.}

pp. 290-2 alterations in size of the subtle body (quoted from the Yoga-Vasis.t.ha 6:1:82:1-34)

p. 290

A spark [“kan.a”] …, like golden butterfly, … ignites above the sheath that holds the lotus cakra in the heart. It quickly expands due to the force of consciousness [“samvitti”] … . Now impelled by its form as consciousness [“samvid”], it moves like the rising sun. It has … expanded, shining

p. 291

like … the rising sun on morning clouds;

it makes the entire body melt, along with the limbs, as fire does with gold. …

{This could imply one's becoming a golden-bodied Tirthankara. The mental body produceth a golden glinting; though the hiran.ya-garbha may be involved.}

What remains is the subtle body in the form of the mind.

{“mental body” manas-maya}

Then, after shaking off this double body, it dissolves whatever it is as a result of the agitation of pran.a.

In this way it is like mist dissolving in the wind.

{According to Neo-Platonic metaphysics, the psuche of each person, upon dying, becometh (after arrival thereat) a mist in the atmosphaire of the moon.}

the kun.d.alini energy [“s`akti {'power'}”], freed through the channel [nad.i] rising from the energy center at the perineum [“muladhara”], merges into the cosmic void [“vyoman”]. This citizen [“nagari {/naga-rin/ 'dragon-producer'} ..., viz. the kun.d.alini”] … is a spectacle vibrating internally, enveloped by the ego sense [“ahamkara”], which comprises the living being [jiva {'life'}] constituted of the embrace of mind [“manas”{-maya kos`a}] and intellect [“buddhi” {= ananda-maya kos`a}]. She is capable of moving about at will, entering into [niryati] a lotus stalk, a mountain, grass, a wall, a rock, the sky, or the surface of the earth. {There may be a myth which exemplifieth each such entry.} She [“kun.d.alini”] alone becomes conscious, establishing itself step by step {ascending through the cakra-s}, filled from beginning to end with this fluid essence [“rasa”]. Immersed in this essence, it becomes … filled with such essence, this quickly assumes any desired shape … . Due to the influence of this resolute intention [“dr.d.habhava”] …, … the energy of a living being [“jiva[-]s`akti” {life-power'}] can constitute itself into anything, from Mt. Meru to a patch of grass. …

When illumination truly arises …, then …

p. 292

the jiva will no longer see this [material] body. … But due to the meditative experience [“bhavana”] of the singularity of reality, the disembodied (jiva) becomes gloriously happy. … The jiva is lifted from the sheath [“gr.ham; lit. “house””] of the kun.d.alini though the yogic practice … . It is then joined [“within another body”],

as the fragrance of a flower carried by the wind.

{as the fragrance which is subsisted upon by the souls-soon-to-be-incarnated (the gandharva-s)}

The [material] body (of the yogin), its vibrations stopped [“virata[-]spandah.”], becomes

{While the person in the mental body is absent from the material body, the latter's vibrational responsivity to local (in the vicinity of the material body) praeternatural vibrations is curtailed (by being supplanted by a mental-causal response-system?).}

{cataleptic} like wood or stone.

{“blank as an uncarved block of wood” (Tao Te C^in)}

He then submerges his jiva in the body, jiva, and mind of the other person, carefully,

like sprinkling water on plants. …

{Droplets of water sprinkled on the leaves of an orchid (in order water it, for it can absorb water through its leaves though not through its roots) appear similar to the luminous monochromatic bin.d.u-s (dots) which cover a dark divine “mental body” (as I have witnessed to be the guise of certain deities).}

If it is still existent, the yogin may then reenter his own body, or he can enjoy that of another; either way, the body becomes resplendent.

{A praeternatural luminosity is acquired by one's subtle (causal?) body from the “internal alchemy” deities which are activated by one's subtle (causal?) body's walk-in entry into the material body of another person.}

In this way, through an act of pervasion, a yogin, through any of these bodies, can fill all other reflected forms [“bimban”],

{“the garment like a mirror reflected me, and I saw myself apart as two entities in one form.” (“Song of the Pearl”from the Acts of Thomas, in GB, p. 393)}

or he can establish himself completely by filling up the entire universe with consciousness [samvit].”

GB = Willis Barnstone & Marvin Meyer : The Gnostic Bible. Shambhala Publ, Boston, 2003.

p. 293 Trimurti deities, who entre each other (Linga Puran.a 1:17-20, cited by Eck 1993, pp. 71-2)

the great deities Brahma and Vis.n.u enter each other (pravis.tah., 1.20.20), taking turns, for several thouand years each time, viewing the universe from the other's perspective.”

Eck 1993 = Diana L. Eck : Encountering God : a spiritual journey from Bozeman to Benares. Boston : Beacon Pr.



S`ankara's Possession of a King


pp. 294-6 is incited by heroine Ubhaya-bharati/Sara-savan.i; his memory is jogged by disciples (according to Madhava-Vidya-aran.ya ['Honeyed-Lore-Forest'] : S`ankara-dig-vijaya (S`DV); and according to An-anta-Ananda-Giri ['Unending-Bliss-Mountain'] : S`ri-S`ankara-vijaya (S`V))

p. 294

After … Man.d.ana Mis`ra, the noted exponent of vedic orthodoxy … (… S`ankara initiated him into samnyasa), S`ankara was challenged by Man.d.ana's learned wife, Ubhaya[-]bharati, as she is known in the S`DV, or Sara[-]savan.i, as she's called in the S`V. Her challenge was to prove … his erudition in kama[-]s`astra {'desire-teaching'}. …

p. 295

In the end, S`ankara … went to the edge of town and left his body, devoid of consciousness (“citigatah.” {'mind gone'}), in the hollow of a boulder inside a cave. He … then used his yogic power to enter the body of the … king through the brahmarandhra ..., with his subtle body (S`V : linga[-]s`arira; S`DV : ati[-]vahika[-]s`arira) and ego (S`V : abhimani). The S`V provides a name for this special knowledge : parakaya[-]praves`a[-]vidya (the art of possessing another's body). … The ministers guessed, correctly, that the … king had been possessed … .

p. 296

S`ankara's disciples … arranged to travel incognito to the court as musicians and play for him,

{“I heard the sound of its Music” (HRG, stanza XVIII, line 90).}

thus coaxing his memory … . … Nevertheless, S`ankara …, after hearing them warble a tune that was … a poetic rendering of basic upanis.adic theology …, he came to his senses … and immediately left the king's body …,

{This (the jogging of the memory, in order to induce to depart from one's mistaken self-identity) is a fundamental theme in Gnostic literature, such as the Bardesanian “Hymn of the Pearl” : “his parents convene the nobles and chieftains of Parthia and send a letter, which travels in the shape of an eagle, to awaken him and remind him of his identity and his mission; once he accomplishes it, he is to return … .The prince rises and remembers and goes forth” (EI“HP”).

before the guests assembled at the performance. … This became known to Ubhayabharati … . Nevertheless, it was sufficient proof to her that S`ankara had mastered the kamas`astra.”

HRG = G. R. S. Mead : The Hymn of the Robe of Glory. 1908. ECHOES FROM THE GNOSIS, Vol. X.

EI“HP” = Encyclopaedia Iranica, s.v. “Hymn of the Pearl”


Frederick M. Smith : The Self-Possessed : Deity and Spirit Possession in South Asian Literature and Civilization. Columbia U Pr, NY, 2006.