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Futility of Mystic Powers
July 30, 2010  |  radhanath-swami

Richard saw a yogi in his late thirties beg charity from pilgrims. On being ignored he became angry, and performed miraculous feats to attract attention. He first pulled a live bulb from the socket, and crushed it to powder, and swallowed it by drinking a cup of Ganges water. Then he took a steel rod, and with one end on the wall, he balanced the other end of the metal pole on his eye socket which he had covered with a cloth. Then he slowly walked towards the wall, and the pole bent more and more with each step. Finally he reached the wall, threw aside the u-shaped rod, and removed the cloth to reveal his undamaged eye. As pilgrims lavished money, the yogi revealed the secrets of his power; his guru had taught him the powers but rejected his student on discovering that he was using it for money and prestige. The yogi now confessed that he needs money to get married, and make a living.

Richard was disappointed and realized that mystic powers are not necessarily spiritual.

“…it wasn’t until this moment that I realized mystic powers were not necessarily spiritual at all. Those who were able to counteract the apparent laws of nature had naturally impressed me. So much of what I’d seen seemed miraculous. Now I saw that such feats unconnected to a meaningful search for God were truly insubstantial. I was looking for more.”

India has many mystic yogis. Often people’s evaluation of a guru is based on his ability to manipulate material laws; the more the power to create magical or supernatural feats, more the popularity. Genuine gurus however focus on simple devotion to God, avoiding cheap popularity through magical gimmicks. Radhanath Swami reveals his own guru’s simple devotion to God that attracted young boys and girls of the counterculture, to surrender their lives for a spiritual goal. “He (my guru) was often asked by people if he could perform miracles”, says Radhanath Swami, “and he humbly pointed to his students and said, ‘my miracle is I have transformed hippies into happies!’” Following his guru’s footsteps, Radhanath Swami teaches the simple process of chanting God’s holy names and experiencing the presence of Lord in the heart through sincere heart-felt prayers. He quotes his guru, “Spirituality is simple for the simple, and complicated for the complicated.”

He doesn’t discourage the pursuits of mystic yoga, but warns that it can easily distract a practitioner to seek money and popularity. He compares possessing supernatural powers and yet using them for material gain to a vulture’s business, “A vulture may fly very high in the sky but his eyes are cast on food on earth; on seeing a prey, he comes swooshing down. Similarly we may possess powers and abilities to exploit nature, and appear to be a regal spiritualist, but our consciousness could be stooped low in seeking worldly wealth and fame.” This is especially lamentable because these powers are obtained after decades of rigorous austerities, but by the power of maya, illusory forces, one gets trapped by the same powers, and continues in material consciousness. Radhanath Swami therefore warns all spiritual seekers to be careful of the agents of illusion that tempt a seeker to pursue the ephemeral goals of worldly pomp and glory, a sure deterrent on the path of loving God.

Besides, the mystic powers also give a yogi the feeling of being in control of life, whereas a simple devotee of God feels helpless and calls out to God in love. This call for shelter increases a seeker’s favorable remembrance of God, and brings him or her closer to the Lord. On the other hand, absorption in the self, and seeking to possess greater powers, takes us further away from God.

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147 Comments


  1. Intresting article.

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  2. Intresting Article!

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  3. Radhanath Swami is so deep in his realizations. Out of his loving concern for us, he is guiding us to avoid pitfalls in the path of spiritual life

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  4. “Besides, the mystic powers also give a yogi the feeling of being in control of life, whereas a simple devotee of God feels helpless and calls out to God in love.” If one is fortunate enough to meet Radhanath Swami , he will witness the bottomless well, of love of God, in his heart.

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  5. Very nice article. Radhanath Swami is so deep and realized.

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  6. nice sharing, even while practising spirituality there are different types of subtle power which makes one egoistic and feel great, but for radhanath swami the word mystic itself is not near to his shadow also,

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  7. maharaj was so perfectly guided by the Lord to be cautious of the pitfalls in spiritual life, because he was so sincere and surrendered his life for the purpose of the Lord…this is an imp lesson to be learnt by the example of maharaj..

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  8. The depth in Radhanath Swami Maharaj’s realizations make us aware that taking shelter and remembering the Lord is our only solace.

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  9. Wonderful realizations!

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  10. Every where through out the world there is this misconception that someone who is Spiritual must be able to do some miracle on material level. Radhanath Swami so clearly shows above that this is very incorrect understanding. Mystic powers could binds us to the material world and is not needed on our path back to the Spiritual world

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  11. Very nice article & realisations of Radhanath Swami…….a common is just carried away by small magical tricks, what to speak of display of yogic powers……..Krishna really guided Radhanath Swami by bringing him to Srila Prabhupada who showed him the correct path of devotinal service………

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  12. Sheetal Maheshwari

    The realisation of Radhanath swami that Mystic powers take us away from God whereas a simple devotee’s helplessness make him closer to Lord … is very enlightening

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  13. Shoba Ramachandran

    Radhanath Swami is teaching through his deep realization what happens if we loose focus on God? A deep dark well of maya….awaiting us. Thanks Maharaj.

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  14. Duruvan Kanniah

    We value these mystic powers so much…and Radhanath Swami explains how these mystic powers are just a glittering glass in the sun if not keeping God in the center.

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  15. One can acquire many siddhis by various types of yogic practices and achieve some name fame etc. People get allured by such tricks and it is a relationship of the Cheaters and the Cheated. Which has no connection to spirituality .Radhanath Swami always warns us of such mentality and guides us to the essence of spirituality, I have come across people who after trying out all possible paths and then having tasted the nectar given by Radhanath Swami are living their lives carrying out their responsibilities while always being in service of the lord in process perfecting their spiritual path.

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  16. Yogita Jagannathan

    Radhanath Swami’s teachings are so simple to follow and practical for today’s life. Nowadays who has the time to practise yoga for years and perfect it? He simply teaches to take shelter of the Lord and cry out to him as a baby cries out for its mother.

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  17. Thankyou so much for sharing this

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  18. at least yogi was honest enough to confess

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  19. Pawan Sabharwal

    Radhanath Swami looked for something genuine and waited till his heart was convinced … Never compromised

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  20. Mangesh Kulkarni

    Only a truly elevated and realized person like Radhanath Swami sees the real dangers in the very attractive, and distracting aspects of fits done to achieve something powerful as mysticism. Its true: “power corrupts man…..” So, so helplessly crying out for the most powerful person not only keeps us safe on our path but brings us much more than we can achieve on our own. Wonderful way of conveying the Bhakti message. Thanks

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  21. How nicely Radhanath Swami is describing qualification of Guru and what precautions one should take while practicing Yoga precess.

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  22. shyam bihari das

    Maharaj, with your mercy, let us remain focussed on the lotus feet of Krishna and our devotional service to them.

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  23. M. Pandurangayya Shetty

    Stick to purpose. This is what Radhanath Swami teaches. He teaches the purpose of life to purify ourselves and realize God. He warns not to distract from our right path of devotional service. very good lesson.

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  24. Power drags us away from god…so simple but true.

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  25. A beautiful insight into what should be our core goal in life, loving God and not performing miracles for gratifying ourselves economically or for fuelling ones subtle pride..I loved Rajesh prabhu’s comment that “atleast the yogi was honest to confess”..this reminds me of Maharaj’s lecture where He mentions that one should be like a bumble bee searching for nectar from one flower in a garbage dump rather than a fly looking for stool in a lotus garden. I really appreciate Rajesh Prabhu seeing the good, I have much to learn from you, thank you..

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  26. Venkata Buddhiraju

    Srila Prabhupada, the spiritual master of Radhanath Swami says that one can manipulate the laws of material nature and perform some magical feats, but the real problems of life – birth, old age, death and disease remain. Krishna consciousness as prescribed by Srila Prabhupada is the real magic that can solve the above mentioned problems

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  27. Radhanath Swami is very nicely teaching all Aspiring Spiritualists how we should be careful in our lives if we get name,fame & prestige ! We should not deviate from our main goal i.e; Service to GOD !

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  28. People worship those who have mystic powers as gods.Through the realisations of Radhanath Swami we know the truth.

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  29. Maharaj’s teachings always focus on the essence of acheiving love of God without any deviation.

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  30. So nicely depicted uselessness of mystic yoga on path of true spirituality. It can actually be an obstacle rather than an aid to come closer to the Supreme Lord. This is also confirmed in BG 6.47 by Lord Krsna Himself that loving devotional service- Bhaktoyoga- is the super most..

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  31. The amazing thing about Radhanath Swami is that how he was able to make choices in his life to align with his goal to know and love God. He was able to eliminate paths (although respecting them) based on the goal which he had.

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  32. This shows how much he was sincere from the beginig and didn’t attract to this so called yoga,but he continued to pursuit his final destination.Jai Gurudev!!!

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  33. HH Radhanath Swami only can make things so simple. Based on his guru’s preachings Radhanath Swami guides every body to the true mystic, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.

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  34. H H Radhanath Swami has realised essence and spreads the same all over the world : Surrender to God.

    Mystic powers can be big distractions. “The Journey Home” guides spiritualists not to get distracted by mystic powers through personal experiences of H H Radhanath Swami.

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  35. This article gives us a true perspective of what one should actually be looking for. Magical feats performed by yogis are so mcuh attractive but , it is the intention that really matters.

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  36. Indeed only true Sadhu can think that what is the use of mystic powers if it does not bring about love of GOD

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  37. “Spirituality is simple for the simple, and complicated for the complicated.” A great teacher like Radhanath Swami can make things so simple,hallmark of a good teacher.

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  38. through this sharing we are exposed with the other side of the same coin, following radhanath swami is no doubt worth accepting,

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  39. Thank you Radhanath Swami for sharing this important instruction! It is so very easy especially in India that we get lost in the myriad of spiritual, religious gurus providing so many varieties of philosophies and understandings. It becomes very difficult to identify genuine bonafide philospohies.But associating with saintly personalities coming from a bonafide discipline chain such as the Gaudiya Vaishnavas we are very fortunate to receive this most sublime philosophy

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  40. True!Radhanth Swami has pointed out an important fact. We should not be enamoured by mytic yoga powers. As they will not help in connnecting us in our most important goal of “Connecting with God” . As rightly mentioned by Radhanath Swami …”such feats unconnected to a meaningful search for God were truly insubstantial.”Real substantial achievement is what Srila Prabhupada (Radhanath Swami’s spiritual master) has achieved and also Radhanath Swami i.e. converting all hopeless cases like us into happies(hippies to happies)

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  41. one has to be very deep to not be attracted by mystic powers. Radhanath Swami Maharaj ki jai.

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  42. Amazing article .. people usually get fascinated by such feats and some blindfollowers start bringing more crowd and worship the magician as God due to these feats. Its so important for one to be philosophically strong else one could easily get in to such traps…Radhanath Swami is showing everyone the real path of devotion.

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  43. eye opener,normally we get impressed seeing miracles

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  44. In this stroy maharaj is more concern about others than himself,because others may be attracted by such type of mystic shows.And now he is exactly saving people to going such onslaught shows.Jai Gurudev!!!

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  45. Nice Article, Thanks for sharing this.

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  46. Beware of the dangers of mystic powers, they can take us away from our goal of getting closer to God.

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  47. Many gets attracted to these kind of feats because it brings attention and fame to the person who performs them. But ultimately it does not help him grow spiritually. The real glory of a person is when he surrenders to Lord in full love and devotions. Thank you very much Maharaj for teaching us with such a nice meditation. Thanks for sharing this mediation.

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