“janma auṣadhi mantra tapaḥ samādhijāḥ siddhayaḥ" - Patanjali
Siddhis may be attained by birth, the use of herbs, incantations, austerities or samadhi

Siddhis are what is commonly considered superhuman psychic abilities. Stories and myths of such abilities are prevalent in all civilizations, irrespective of the geographical limits. "Siddha(r)" is an indian term that refers to the mystics, ancient scientists, meditators, alchemists who transcended the bounds of physical realms and are not susceptible to the laws of nature. These siddhas in their journey have crossed the stages of wisdom, enlightenment, attainment of all the 64 siddhis and reach the state of "siddhahood". Amongst all the 64 siddhis, eight of them are classified as the greatest. They are;

Attama (Ashta Maha) Siddhis - Eight greatest psychic abilities bestowed upon the very best, the crown of the crop yogis.
1.) Aṇimā: reducing one's own self to the size of Kalapa (atomic size)
2.) Mahima: expanding one's own self to an infinitely large size as universe
3.) Karima: becoming infinitely heavy
4.) Lehima: becoming almost weightless
5.) Prāpti (Vyapiyam): having unrestricted access to anywhere in the universe
6.) Prākāmya (para-kaya-pravesam): Taking over other bodies and consciousness
7.) Iṣṭva (Eesathuvam): possessing absolute lordship and providing to anyone in need
8.) Vaśtva (Vasiam): the power to subjugate all, controlling other beings

Every single super-natural phenomemon ever heard of, culminates into one of these 8 siddhis. Only those who attained these attma siddhis can be term'd as Siddhas. They are never self-proclaimed, but the already recognized siddha attest them. We can safely say, 99% of the human population have never met and will never meet (in this lifetime) any of these siddhas.

Apart from the aforementioned attama-siddhis, there are Atta-karma Siddhis, which are attained on the journey by the sadhakas (practitioners). They are;

Attakarma (Ashta Karma) Siddhis - Eight Siddhis that can inflict strong karmas upon self when exercised. So these are to be never exercised unless the necessity is dispassionately justified and only upon guru's grant to do so.
1.) thambanam - freeze the target until released
2.) vasiyam - control someone to ones own desire
3.) mohanam - inflicting infatuation on someone towards self or anyone
4.) vithvedanam - inflicting quarrel and separating two people
5.) aakrusanam - taming others. This is often used on animals, the wild ones
6.) paethanam - nullifies one's thoughts and leaves them psychologically ill
7.) uchaadanam - establishing shield around self and anyone
8.) maaranam - induce death to a targeted living being

Again, these siddhi's are only attained by adept yogis. By the time they reach this stage, their morality and intelligence is so refined that the possibility of misuse forfeits naturally. Yet, there have been cases of such misuses, when a sadhaka reaches such state through shortcuts, the important thing to know is, every such action inflicts pasya karma (strong and sticking) which not only takes away their siddhis but also puts them back in the backward journey.

Other Siddhis attained on the path... 
1. Freedom from hunger and thirst.
2. Freedom from the effects of heat and cold.
3. Freedom from Raga-Dvesha (likes and dislikes)
4. Doora Darshan, clairvoyance or Dooradrishti. (Remote viewing)
5. Doora Sravan, clairaudience or Doora Sruti and Doora Pravachana. (Remote sensing)
6. Mano-Jaya, control of mind.
7. Kama Rupa: The Yogi can take any form he likes. (Shape-shifting, Morphing)
8. Parakaya Pravesha: He can enter into another body, can animate a dead body and enter into it by transferring his soul.
9. Iccha-Mrityu: Death at his will.
10. Devanam Saha Kreeda and Darshana: Playing with the gods after seeing them.
11. Yatha Sankalpa: Can get whatever he likes.
12. Trikala-Jnana: Knowledge of past, present and future.
13. Advandva: Beyond the pairs of opposites.
14. Vak-Siddhi: Whatever the Yogi predicts will come to pass by the practice of Satya, Prophecy.
15. The Yogi can turn base metal into gold. (Alchemy)
16. Kaya-Vyuha: Taking as many bodies as the Yogi likes to exhaust all his Karmas in one life.
17. Darduri-Siddhi: The jumping power of a frog.
18. Patala-Siddhi: Yogi becomes Lord of desire, destroys sorrows and diseases.
19. They get knowledge of his past life.
20. They get knowledge of the cluster of stars and planets.
21. They get the power of perceiving the Siddhas.
22. They get mastery of the elements (Bhuta Jaya), mastery of Prana (Prana Jaya).
23. Kamachari: (S)He can move to any place he likes. (Bi-location)
24. They get omnipotence and omniscience.
25. Vayu-Siddhi: The Yogi rises in the air and leaves the ground.
26. They can point out the place where a hidden treasure lies.

These are several other categories of spiritually elated individuals. These people are often misunderstood as siddhas.

Sadhus (சாது) are individuals embarked on the spiritual journey. Basically, they acknowledge that the whole world doesn't revolve around them, but they play a minor role in the play of the cosmos.

Yogis (யோகி) are those working with a goal to merge their individual consciousness (soul/jivatma) to the univeral cosmic consciousness (paramatma). They can be doing kriya yoga (asanas, pranayamas, mudras, bandhas), karma yoga (doing their work without attachment), gnyana marga (gathering and reflecting on the knowledge of total consciousness) or the raja yoga (turning inwards, meditating, dhyana and samadhi) or bakthi (complete surrender, accepting everything that comes their way and having fixed their thoughts and feelings on their deity or guru with an unshaken firm attitude). They are all collectively known as yogis, as long as their goal is to merge (yog) their jivatma with paramatma.

Tapasvis (தவசி) are people committed to onerous kriyas, leveraging all the ausadhis (herbs and minerals), constantly purifying their elements (earth, water, fire and air) and performing several rituals. These are people on the fast track toward attainment (the yog - successfully guided the soul to join the cosmos). They need an attained guru's guidance to even practice such things.

Gnyanis (ஞானி) are people attained enlightenment through Gnyana Yoga. Meaning they have experienced samadhi following the path of knowledge. When these gnyanis prefer to take disciples and guide them towards enlightenment, they are called Rishis. Most of the religious preachers and spiritual leaders of the world, claim to be in this categories. Are they true to what they claim, is upto every individual to decide for themselves. I neither acknowledge nor deny their claims.

Munis (முனி) are attained yogis, who choose to be alone and contribute quietly to the universe. They don't take disciples.

All these above mentioned can be living in solitude or living amongst the society. These is no qualms about these people leading a married life, parenting children, their eating habits, health conditions, et al.

Thuravi (துறவி) - Those who leave the organized society and migrate to solitude, often himalayas or other such hills or any sacred place, when their living conditions are overwhelmingly hindering their spiritual journey. Buddha and Mahavira left the society and became Thuravi. They attained their enlightenment and Buddha we all know is the definition of the term Gnyani and Mahavira ended up as Muni. If they ever attained siddhahood is never known.

What differentiates these spiritual people from common man is that they are constantly,

1.) resolving the karmas (கன்மம்). Basically, settling down more karmas than they accumulate everyday.  samskaras (karmic blocks/veils) are released at faster phase.
2.) as a result of the above, their veils of illusion (மாயை) are being constantly torn down.
3.) and their ego (ஆணவம்) is getting dissolved day-by-day.


What differentiates these spiritual people from siddhas are;
1.) Siddhas don't stop at attaining enlightenment.
2.) Siddhas are not distracted with attaining siddhis (superhuman abilities).
3.) Siddhas attain kaya-karpam (காயகற்பம்) - Their body doesn't undergo the usual cell decay.
4.) Siddhas have absolute control over all the physical elements.
5.) Siddhas join the quorum of siddhas and work towards betterment of the universal consciousness.
6.) They would not intervene in the cosmic play, but take up the responsibilities of cosmic flow.

Anyone with the right destiny (prāptam) and on the right path would be surely blessed with a siddha encounter. Till then take this information with salt-n-pepper and keep this page between fiction and superstition in your library.