By Swami Harshananda
Animā literally means ‘minuteness’.
Acquisition of and mastery over superhuman powers has always fascinated human beings. The Yogasutras of Patañjali, 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- bhṅtas (the five elements like earth, water etc.) are chosen as the objects of meditation and samādhi is obtained through them in the prescribed way it leads to the acquisition of the eight supernatural powers called aṣṭasiddhis.
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.
- Yogasutras 3.44
- ibid. 3.45
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore