Nitya & Sadhana—Both are Siddha

By Swami Tripurari

In the Gaudiya sampradaya there have been thousands of gurus, and there will be many more as time goes on. Currently there is a tendency among some to promote the idea that most gurus are eternally-perfect souls (nitya-siddhas), descended from Krishna lila to cultivate others’ bhakti such that they might ascend to perfection as well. In actuality, most gurus are sadhana siddhas, their perfection being the culmination of spiritual practice. This should be encouraging to the many sadhakas seeking perfection!

There are very few scriptural references that tell us about any particular guru’s siddha status. Descriptions in the sastra of the qualifications of a guru do not include his or her being a nitya-siddha. On the contrary, the majority of them speak of devotees who have perfected themselves and attained a status that qualifies them for serving in the capacity of guru. Sastra indicates that gurus do indeed more often than not become siddha via sadhana.

All of the descriptions of liberated souls found in Bhagavad-gita refer to jivanmuktas who are sadhana-siddhas, not nitya-siddhas. Caitanya-caritamrta says, kiba vipra kiba nyasi sudra kene naya/ yei krsna tattva vetti sei guru haya. This means that the guru may come from any sector of society, secular or religious. If anything is conspicuous in this verse relative to this discussion it is the fact that it says nothing about the guru descending from the spiritual world.

Should a guru descend from above, this is considered to be a rare occasion. Thus the title “Seventh Goswami” given to Bhaktivinoda linking him with the nitya-siddha Six Goswamis of Vrindavan, who appeared 400 years before him. Bhaktisiddhanta told his followers to consider themselves as belonging to Bhaktivinoda parivara, indicating that Bhaktivinoda Thakura was an eternal nitya-siddha associate of Mahaprabhu Sri Caitanya.

The revolutionary strides of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura caused his followers to consider him a nitya-siddha, who had descended to widely propagate the chanting of the Holy Name of Krishna. The very propaganda that these two are nitya-siddhas, differentiating them from everyone else, serves to illustrate that this status is the exception.

At the same time we must consider that the guru is ultimately Krishna himself. Krishna says, acaryam mam vijaniyat: “I am the acarya.” In light of this we must consider that Krishna is nitya-siddha, and thus all gurus are as well from this angle of vision. It is Krishna descending within the Vaishnava whom we revere as sri guru. Whatever past the particular Vaishnava guru may have is of little consequence to us. Indeed by the very nature of our divine experience in connection with sri guru we will see his past however mundane as spiritual. This is love’s power.

If we consider the conception of the bhagavata-guru-parampara of Bhaktisiddhanta, we may find more nitya-siddhas than sadhana-siddhas included. However, in between those mentioned who may be nitya-siddhas there are hundreds of sadhana-siddhas as well, diksa-gurus usually of high standing.

In considering the various elements of this topic, it is important to remember that in the ultimate issue there is no difference between one type of siddha or another. Both are siddha. Indeed, Sanatana Goswami says in his Brhad- bhagavatamrta tika in relation to Prahlada, that sadhana-siddhas are better because their devotion has been tested!


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22 Responses to Nitya & Sadhana—Both are Siddha

  1. I have been wondering about this since I read two chapters of “Ecounters with Divinity” (compiled from talks of Srila Sridhara Maharaja), called “Guru as Nitya-siddha” and “Gurudeva is Never Sadhana-siddha”.

  2. I do believe Narada Muni is sadhana-siddhi, and he’s been a guru for quite some time now. I guess it’s worth a quick review of Narada and Vyasa’s conversation in Canto 1 Chapter 6 of Srimad-Bhagavatam.

  3. Narada is described as everything from a sadhana-sdiddha to a nitya-siddha to an avatara in the sastra.

    • So, obviously, he is all three. But, what about the concept of kripa-siddha? Isn’t that an important principle?

    • Couldn’t all bona fide gurus be considered as sadhana-siddha, nitya-siddha, and saktyavesha avataras?

      I’ve heard that once one is sadhana-siddha there’s inevitably no distinction between the nitya-siddha and sadhana-siddha devotees, as they are both in Krishna’s lila.

      • Couldn’t all bona fide gurus be considered as sadhana-siddha, nitya-siddha, and saktyavesha avataras?

        How so?

        • Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has been described as a saktyavesha incarnation, and some may see him as sadhana-siddha or nitya-siddha. The same could be said about Srila B.R. Sridhar Maharaja and many other spiritual masters.

          According to Srila Rupa Gosvami, aspiring devotees should approach a mahabhagavat, although in The Nectar of Instruction Verse 5 Purport, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada does point out that kanistha-adhikaris and madhyama-adhikaris can also accept disciples, but such gurus should only accept disciples on the same platform, “and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master.”

          Prabhupada’s concession for kanistha and madhyama-adhikaris acting as gurus certainly throws a wrench into my statement that all bona fide gurus could be considered sadhana-siddha or nitya-siddha devotees, but there are many cases in bhagavat-parampara that a disciple’s most worshipable guru is not their initiating spiritual master, but rather their siksa guru.

          I would appreciate any advice or references you might have to assist my further understanding of this topic.

  4. Very nice article! Too bad I didn`t know these things many years ago when one of my friends became totally discouraged to follow the path of bhakti after reading the book about Vaisnava saints who were all described as nitya siddhas. “Where is then the chance for me?” she asked and I couldn`t help her…

  5. Bhaktisiddhanta told his followers to consider themselves as belonging to Bhaktivinoda parivara, indicating that Bhaktivinoda Thakura was an eternal nitya-siddha associate of Mahaprabhu Sri Caitanya.

    Interestingly, Lalita Prasada Thakur taught otherwise about his father to those who came to him for some advice. He apparently claimed his father was indeed a great man, but a man nevertheless. Not a Superman disguised as a Clark Kent. Perhaps LPT was a bit more balanced and down to earth in these matters? I personally feel all this sadhana siddha and particularly nitya siddha talk to be a matter of a specific socio-cultural view and a serious matter where lack of additional interpretative perspectives showcases. There are other explanations possible, but GV keeps deaf ear to anything different to literalistic views.

    • LP taught that BVT, his father, was a sadhana siddha. He also taught that he himself was a sadhana siddha. There are other explanations no doubt, but I don’t think a “deaf ear” is an inaccurate term to use. It is more a matter of other explanations not making as much sense to members of the tradition. For example. some scholars have explained the “ecstasy” of Mahaprabhu to be epileptic seizures. Gaudiyas, however, do not only not find such explanations palatable, they also do not find them to be reasonable given the information available. And it also contradicts their insight gained through serious spiritual practice.

      • Luke Matthewson

        There are other explanations no doubt, but I don’t think a “deaf ear” is an inaccurate term to use. It is more a matter of other explanations not making as much sense to members of the tradition.

        Let me try to move this discussion back to the matters of nitya siddha and how we approach that problem. This is important.

        Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s claim his father was a nitya siddha may be understood as an encouragement for his followers. At a certain time that might have been an appropriate act and idea, and perhaps BSS wanted to give himself a credit too, by claiming he comes of a truly great father. In a society where he lived 100 years ago that was more important than one’s own qualities. People were judged by lineage they belong, how important their predecessors were and from that their own value was calculated. That habit is still ruling the world of GV (and is, imho, sealed its doom in the West as such).

        LPT’s approach was different, and also, his testimony comes from a different time. Let’s put a time mark here.

        Both approaches are related on how we see us in the perspective of spiritual practice, and how we see overall devotional landscape. They are inseparable.

        If all of our predecessors were superhumans, nitya siddhas with a perfected knowledge on everything, all with impeccable character, who came here in this world to save us fallen, if we are constantly reminded on how pure and exalted they were — and we must believe that without reserve — the result is that such a path of superhumans cannot be traveled by mere humans.

        No one can can live up to expectations set on such a path, and the resulting process becomes fruitless, hopeless for majority of us. Additionally, no one must doubt anything, for all what’s said and written is sealed in stone by a superhuman league of nitya siddhas.

        But sudden new circumstances and new environment clash with such a view. GV has entered the post-relativistic West and every single stanza from scripture and viewpoint are challenged. People are confused to say the least. In what they should believe? Or simply start a war against everything Western, scientific, modern and call all that nonsense and devil’s workshop?

        For that reason I see LPT’s approach to me more balanced, more humanized. He at least allows predecessors to be understood as human beings too, who travelled the path with all their virtues and faults. It is a much more relaxed perspective that actually makes us love our ancestor more, more spontaneously, and not out of cold fear. When we understand they gave their best views under circumstances (that were different from today’s) it encourages us not to blindly follow the letter of their words, but rather find spirit of those words and progress farther today.

        Thus I find your claims in many articles that BSS fully represent the spirit of BVT to be biased, not confirmed in real life today. GV has entered a blind alley very much because of the reasons mentioned above. We need quite a bit of LPT’s understandings of his father, and of some devotional subjects too. That would also mean travelling a non-sectarian path, which, as you’ve said it too, is much needed today.

        • I think that there is something missing in your comments. LP taught that the Goswamis and others were nitya siddhas and all Gaudiya lineages make such claims. So the idea that he presented his father as a saddhna sidha (BTW, what is the prof that he did so) still finds him pointing to other nitya siddhas, and thus he does not really represent a progressive departure from a tradition/reality that is in consideration of new times and in pursuit of adapting the sampradaya to deal with such. Indeed, LP was not a preacher at all and had no real outreach or vision to present GV to the then modern world. He was unto himself and in a good way. If anyone thought about such outreach as BVT did it was BSST, and to a large extent he was successful in creating a dynamic outreach in his time, much moe so than LP who was really not even trying to do so. I believe the spirit of the approach you suggest is found more in BSST than in LP and that he would be very open to reexamining his own approach in light of its shortcomings that have arisen in new times where it has been applied dogmatically, and I might add, with less realization that he had at his command.

          It this also possible that BSST actually thought that BVT was a nitya siddha (rather than presenting him as such as a strategy as you suggest), and it is also possible that BVT actually was. I am open to that possibility. Furthermore Your description of all that a nitya siddha means does not conform with how their behavior is depicted in the literature in the case, for example, of many of the so called nitya siddhas of centuries past.

          Having said that, and being a follower of BSST in that my spiritual life has come from his lineage and I that have the highest regard for his spirituality and insight into the need for dynamic ongoing outreach and reevaluation based on results, I have no problem thinking of BVT as a sadhana siddha. And in some ways I find it more appealing and compelling. But I do not think much weighs in the balance of thinking about it either way. The real necessity is understanding the nature of spiritual perfection, be it nitya siddha or sadhana siddha, and the relativity and cultural filter that it expresses itself through so that one (like many today do) does not mistake the relative for the absolute and depict, as you point out, a perfection that is really unattainable and no more than a figment of the imagination on the part of one who is unwilling or unable to truly think spiritually.

          • Luke Matthewson

            I agree with you about the unique contributions of BSST. I’ve added a note that he might as well been misunderstood within his environment (he surely was) and thus naturally might have reached to claim heritage of his father by trying to make BVT look even more remarkable. Considering the environment, I don’t blame him.

            However, his notion of BVT being a nitya siddha had some unique consequences.

            You say that by following a dynamic spirit of BSST we may as well see BVT as a sadhana siddha and that picture may be even more charming.

            I welcome you there but also sadly note that dynamics of such a spirit we terribly lack today. Many alleged followers of BSST have become quite the opposite of that spirit. The situation is, in fact, shocking. Very much of BVT’s ideas don’t take place there.

            In his blog, Jagadananda das babaji (a disciple of both AC Bhaktivedanta Swami and later of Lalita Prasada Thakura too) has gone through numerous studies of this and related subjects, and notes following in his reflections on book “Hindu Encounter with Modernity”:

            http://jagadanandadas.blogspot.com/2007/08/hindu-encounter-with-modernity-more.html

            “For those who are not familiar by now with Shukavak’s analysis of BVT, I will just mention a couple of the more salient points. Most of this I have been talking about previously, although I may not have used the same terms that Bhaktivinoda did … which are all very significant, as they go completely against the kind of fundamentalist tenacity to scriptural literalism that characterizes smuch of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, including those branches that claim allegiance to Bhaktivinoda Thakur.

            1. His acceptance of personal intuition or personal revelation, which he called sahaja-samadhi.
            2. Bhaktivinoda’s interpretation of the three kinds of adhikara for devotion.
            3. His acceptance of the evolutionary or progressive (theological) model.
            4. His acceptance of symbolic interpretation of the scriptures and his theory of symbolism.”

            Can we point at any single bigger or smaller branch of GV today that follows this part of BVT’s thought openly, even encouraging them? These points above are very much unique to BVT and separate him from all of other GV contributors.

            This sheds some light on the complexity of BVT’s life and the message BSST tried to relay. Did BSST (accidentally) contribute to so much problems we witness today?

            For example, why would nitya siddha such as BVT plunge into fabricating of three scriptures, attributing them to different personalities from the past, to create ‘the evidence’ that both directly and indirectly support his own claims and ideas about the birth place of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu?

            Jagadananda das babaji has (again) written quite an extensive study of this:
            http://jagadanandadas.blogspot.com/2007/09/analysis-of-three-suspicious-texts.html

            If I’m not mistaken, BR Sridhara Swami also (indirectly?) confirmed that may well be the truth, that BVT has indeed fabricated some scripture. Why would nitya siddha do that? Although I can live with that, probably same as you do, this remains an uncomfortable fact for many.

            Or let’s ask following: why nitya siddhas before him omitted such an important detail? Why everyone didn’t already know where ‘true’ birthplace of Caitanya was? Why was that such a mystery? This puts the entire nitya-siddha issue under magnifying glass — is that traditional term really plausible, really applicable?

            Not to speak about how this particular problem of Caitanya’s birthplace caused so much grievance between different parties in the world of GV since, one side claiming BVT ‘had it right’ because ‘he is a nitya siddha.’

            This is a very complex subject and I think important for the future.

            However, this is not a matter whether one is a nitya siddha or not. This is a matter how we approach strong evidence that clouds us with doubts on accepted conclusions, how we value different opinions on same issues, and lastly, where we stand at and how we encourage or discourage discussions on problems like this in the future? How we prevent problems that may arise?

            This will reveal real dynamics of our own spirit.

          • You say that by following a dynamic spirit of BSST we may as well see BVT as a sadhana siddha and that picture may be even more charming.
            I welcome you there but also sadly note that dynamics of such a spirit we terribly lack today. Many alleged followers of BSST have become quite the opposite of that spirit. The situation is, in fact, shocking. Very much of BVT’s ideas don’t take place there.

            I agree, but I do not attribute this problem to BSST. A strategy must be primarily evaluated in terms of how it worked during the time of its originator. How well it works after he or she leaves is another thing. Times change and there is always room for misrepresentation. Indeed this statement epitomizes why BSST saw the need for reform. And his reform was very successful, with 64 monasteries in India joined by many lettered men and outreach to the West. To sorry state of many his present day representatives would no doubt cause him concern.

            1. His acceptance of personal intuition or personal revelation, which he called sahaja-samadhi.
            2. Bhaktivinoda’s interpretation of the three kinds of adhikara for devotion.
            3. His acceptance of the evolutionary or progressive (theological) model.
            4. His acceptance of symbolic interpretation of the scriptures and his theory of symbolism.”

            Can we point at any single bigger or smaller branch of GV today that follows this part of BVT’s thought openly, even encouraging them? These points above are very much unique to BVT and separate him from all of other GV contributors.

            You quote Jagadnanada dasa above (he would no doubt object to the title babaji you have given him). I know Jagat well. Before he renetered the Gaudiya landscape more than a decade ago (with encouragement from me) he asked me which name I thought he should use, Hiranyagarbha or Jagadananda, since he had received the former from Prabhupada and the latter from Lalita Prasada. I suggested Jagadananda, since Lalita Prasada told him when he gave him that name that he would bring joy (ananda) to the world (jagad) through publishing seva. At that time he was doing some Sanskrit editing on my edition of Tattva-sandarbha. So I know him well. Just thought I would add that to the discussion.

            As for the quote from Jagat above, I think the four insights he lists are represented in some sects stemming from BVT and BSST in part and perhaps one of them includes all of these. However, in representing a great acarya one may deliberately eliminate some things he or she emphasized in consideration of time and circumstance and more so in consideration of one’s own insight, sahaja samadhi if you will. No harm there, and such elimination does not constitute mis or only partial representation. It represents essential representation, for elimination is almost always necessary in progressive, essential spiritual life. That said, in the name of doing do there is most certainly misrepresentation as well.

            You question the idea of BVT being a nitya-siddha on the grounds that he may have authored some books that he attributed to earlier authors. I do not see how it would make any difference if he were a nitya siddha or sadhana siddha in terms of Jagat’s analysis. Jagat has employed a rather academic approach based upon modern sensibilities to the issue. While that may have merit, I think it misses the mark to an extent when we view the issue through a traditional lens. After all, no one faults Sanatana Goswami for writing Brihat-bhagavatamrita while attributing the work to Jaimini Risi. Some say that Mahaprabhu wrote the fifth chapter of Brahma-samhita and it is quite possible that if the same approach were applied to this text, in the least the Gaudiya calims as to its authorship would come into question. And then what is sahaj samadhi? To advocate the notion of internal insight that supersedes previous revelation (sahaja samadhi) and at the same time criticize BVT for attributing books he himself may have written in such a state to previous authors seems shortsighted.

            As for the true birth site of Sri Caitanya, the insight of BVT was honored by Jagannatha dasa babaji. Furthermore this is a rather large issue and I believe that if you study it in depth you will find that BVT’s insight in this matter was correct. Why was it a mystery previous to BVT? There could be many reasons, not the least of which are the shifting of the Ganges and the state of affairs in the Gaudiya tradition at large that found many formal members making a living off of the holy dhama in a less than spiritual manner. Again, its a big subject. But overall BVT did more for the modern world to reveal the glory of Navadivpa than any other individual or group of devotees in a similar manner that the Goswamis did this for Vrindavana.

            However, this is not a matter whether one is a nitya siddha or not. This is a matter how we approach strong evidence that clouds us with doubts on accepted conclusions, how we value different opinions on same issues, and lastly, where we stand at and how we encourage or discourage discussions on problems like this in the future? How we prevent problems that may arise?

            This will reveal real dynamics of our own spirit.

            Yes, I agree.

          • As for the true birth site of Sri Caitanya, the insight of BVT was honored by Jagannatha dasa babaji. Furthermore this is a rather large issue and I believe that if you study it in depth you will find that BVT’s insight in this matter was correct.

            Was he right after all?

            There are many who believe today true place of birth of Chaitanya may never be found. In addition to insufficient amount of authentic evidence and references. river Ganges changed and shifted its flow through centuries, wiping out little villages and everything along with them.

            Under the circumstances, who wouldn’t believe if BVT showed evidence (and especially well fabricated evidence) that at a certain spot might be a birthplace of Caitanya? Why would Jaganath das Babaji object if ‘everything’ points to that conclusion, including BVT’s words and ‘newly found’ evidence? Even BVT’s initiating guru was enthusiastic about it in the beginning. BVT was a scholar, well versed into tradition and knew what he need to fabricate in order to support his idea fully.

            However, was that a true sahaja samadhi, or a personal revelation? Is that a right way of conducting oneself? Fabrication of evidence is a serious crime. Imagine if that happens today, somewhere near you, someone is accused and sacrificed for no good reason? Or if a scientist or a doctor has a ‘good hunch’ about some medicine that may cure people, but needs to fabricate some research results that will enable him to continue his/her work?

            Why didn’t he simply spend more time exploring, examining, scrutinizing, sharing idea without such a radical move? Why didn’t he wrote a thesis, or a book, and signed it with his own name, leaving it to future generations to examine carefully, find new evidence and continue their work on it? If the revelation was obvious and self confirming, why did he needed extra evidence to fabricate? Then it obviously it wasn’t good enough.

            I said before, I can somehow live with what he’s done in that case, but do I approve of it? Absolutely not. It’s upon my generation and generations to come to fix up the mess caused by it and somehow I still believe good people in good faith can resolve wrongdoings of our fathers. I believe more in our patience and vision than in our fathers’, so to speak. Therefore I must look at the bright side of things.

            However, what they’ve done is a moral failing and we can see that it has caused a shift, misunderstanding and lots of grievance inside the world of GV. Is that a price to pay for a personal ‘revelation’ that needs fabricated evidence in order to be confirmed?

            Even if there’s more than a 50% chance he was correct in his idea, the end doesn’t justify the means and we all witness the mess and the bad side-effects of that ‘truth pursuit’ today.

            Where is the line that we draw and say “up to there you may mess around and if you cross this, then it becomes serious”? Who is the judge, the authority, to draw such a line and where?

            PS.
            I didn’t want to go into further details about other examples where scripture and ‘evidence’ have been fabricated to support certain idea, for this was a more recent case that had some unique consequences.

          • You have jumped to a conclusion that lacks evidence: BVT fabricated evidence to support his vision of Sri Caitanya’s actual birth site. Perhaps this article by an independent scholar with appreciations from various Gaudiya sects will be useful to you. You may not be fully informed on this particular issue (and I admit that I have never looked into the history in great detail myself).

            http://bvml.org/contemporary/Yogapitha/PKNM_asfscb.html

            Furthermore you have ignored my point regarding the authorship of Brihat-bhagavatamrta. Are you not equally appalled by this so called lack of integrity on the part of Sanatana Goswami? But again, the judgement you identify with carries with it cultural sensibilities of our times that you impose upon those of other times and other sensibilities. In India’s scriptural history there are many examples of authors writing books and attributing them to significant persons from past. But you ignore my points and simply cite another significant Gaudiya history connected with BVT that you believe demonstrates that he was morally questionable. I do not agree that he was, but I concede that he may have been, or better that there is a way of examining evidence that may give support to such a conclusion. I believe you make more out of your conclusion than there is to be made and that yours is a moral judgement based upon moral sensibilities that are current today. After all morality is a moving goal post.

            Anyway you have my opinion and you have Jagat’s opinion. Personally I feel I would get further debating with him over the details he brings up to support his over reaching point. The real substance to his argument transcends the issues you dwell on here (although you seem to understand that at times). Both Jagat and I agree on the substance of his arguments, and I have made similar arguments myself, arguments concerning how one is to view saints—the relative and absolute aspects of sri guru. I will end here, and let me do so in praise of Thakura Bhaktivinode, without whom such discussions would not be taking place in cyber space. May he bless the readers of the Harmonist, as he is entirely capable of doing so.

          • The problem with the acceptance personal intuition or personal revelation, which he called sahaja-samadhi is that then we can also consider the stand of SP’s on fall of the jiva also to be personal revelation. And it is very difficult to sort out who is qualified for revelation.
            It brings me back to the topic that even written sastra has been revealed in the past to sages like Vishwamitra(Gayatri etc). So there is no way to check everything and that is why it is hard to sort out the confusion when already you have too many scriptures with different interpretations of reality.

          • Still such insight exists and it conforms with the spirit of the text. Regarding the fall issue, you have contradictory statements by SP. So that is another issue. Thus we pick the one that conforms with the text and reason as to why the other was sometimes stated.

          • Thank you for your clarification on this important point.

  6. I have to wonder though if the ‘propaganda’ regarding Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta being nitya siddhas doesn’t lead to the type of idea being promoted by some that most gurus are nitya siddhas. The other thing it seems to have done is to create a huge difference in some people’s minds regarding the spritual potency of gurus. If there really is no differnce between a nitya siddha and a sadhana siddha, then why would Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura have to be promoted as nitya siddha in order to make the statement that his followers should consider that they are in the Bhaktivinoda Parivara legitimate? If he was a siddha, then he is an eternal associate of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu – so why the need for the distinction?

    We may point to the fact that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta were instrumental in spreading Lord Chaitanya’s movement worldwide but we also accept that others were siddha and did little in terms of worldwide preaching – for instance, Srila Gaura Kishor Dasa Babaji. Since it is a fact that once Krsna’s svarupa shakti enters the heart of the sadhaka and that sadhaka becomes a siddha, Krsna will make that devotee dance according to his pleasure.

    I guess my question regarding these labels is, If there is no distinction because both a nitya siddha and a sadhana siddha are perfect – why the need to make the distinction the way it has been done and create the idea that a nitya siddha has more potency?

    • The idea of the various parivaras is that each one originates with an eternal associate of Krsna, not a sadhana siddha. But exceptions or adjustments are there in the now famous Syamananda parivara and there Narottama parivara. Neither of these two siddhas descended with Mahaprabhu nor had his personal association, and their parivaras are named after themselves rather than their predecessors. We don’t have a Lokanatha parivara (in the case of Narottama), even when Lokanatha Goswami was an eternal associate of Mahaprabhu and had his personal association and personal instruction and was the initiating guru of Narottama. In the case of the Syamananda parivara we have a departure from the Nityananda parivara that his guru Hridaya Caitanya was initiated in. HC was a disciple of Gauridasa Pandita who is Subala sakha in Krsna lila. One could argue that Syamananda was a sadhana siddha and still has a parivara named after himself, and one could make the same argument in relation to Narottama Thakura. In the case of BVT, he was initiated in the Nityananda parivara stemming from Jahnava devi. Owing to his novel contribution to the sampradaya and its measure that includes all of our participation and is in many ways in analogous to the contribution of the Goswamis (he was dubbed the 7th Goswami by the editor of a popular newspaper) BSST saw him in a special light and taught his followers to consider themselves members of the BV parivara. He also saw him as a nitya siddha and he very well may be one. But I think you are correct in thinking that he could have been and sadhana siddha and still be worthy of the distinction we honor him with.

  7. The life history of many such devotees is almost the same because there is always symmetry between the early lives of all great devotees of the Lord. According to Jéva Gosvämé, Mahäräja Parékñit must have heard about the childhood pastimes of Lord Kåñëa at Våndävana, for he used to imitate the pastimes with his young playmates. According to Çrédhara Svämé, Mahäräja Parékñit used to imitate the worship of the family Deity by elderly members. Çréla Viçvanätha Cakravarté also confirms the viewpoint of Jéva Gosvämé. So accepting either of them, Mahäräja Parékñit was naturally inclined to Lord Kåñëa from his very childhood. He might have imitated either of the above-mentioned activities, and all of them establish his great devotion from his very childhood, a symptom of a mahä-bhägavata. Such mahä-bhägavatas are called nitya-siddhas, or souls liberated from birth. But there are also others, who may not be liberated from birth but who develop a tendency for devotional service by association, and they are called sädhana-siddhas. There is no difference between the two in the ultimate issue, and so the conclusion is that everyone can become a sädhana-siddha, a devotee of the Lord, simply by association with the pure devotees. The concrete example is our great spiritual master Çré Närada Muni. In his previous life he was simply a boy of a maidservant, but through association with great devotees he became a devotee of the Lord of his own standard, unique in the history of devotional service.

    From Vedabase. Hope this helps someone.

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