aṇimā

(‘minuteness’)

Acquisition of and mastery over super-human powers have always fascinated human beings. The Yogasūtras of Patañjali, that matchless basic work on the science of yoga, calls such powers ‘siddhis.’ Apart from other methods of obtaining such siddhis as auṣadhi (drugs) or tapas (austerity), the basic method is to practise the eight steps of yoga leading to samādhi (trance). When the pañca-bhūtas (the five elements like earth, water etc.) are chosen as the objects of meditation and samādhi is obtained on them in the prescribed way (vide Yogasūtras 3.44) it leads to the acquisition of the eight supernatural powers called aṣṭasiddhis (ibid. 3.45). Aṇimā is the first of these siddhis. As the very name suggests, it is the power to become minute like an ‘aṇu’ or atom in size. Hanumān is said to have possessed this power.

See also AṢṬASIDDHIS.