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Discussions on the doctrines of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Please place practical questions under the Miscellaneous forum and set this aside for the more theoretical side of it.

Achievement of siddha-deha - The 'Inherent vs. Acquired' debate

Gaurasundara - Tue, 09 Sep 2003 00:05:39 +0530
Born out of chance comments on another thread, there appears to be a dual view of the achievement of siddha-deha in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. Perhaps we can explore exactly how far this dual view goes with scriptural, anecdotal and academic (?) support.

Here is the quote that will start it off:

"The manner in which Bhaktivinoda regards the conferment of the siddha-deha is according to the emotional and psychological makeup of the sadhaka.* In contrast, David Haberman mentions two theories that illustrate how the siddha-deha is traditionally received. He calls on the 'inherent theory' and the other the 'assigned theory.'+  According to the 'inherent theory' every jiva already has an existing eternal siddha-deha. During initiation, the guru 'sees' the initiate's eternal identity in lila by meditation and reveals this true identity to the sadhaka, who then begins the practice of raganuga-bhakti and eventually discovers for himself the reality of his eternal identity.
"According to the 'assigned theory' the guru assigns the appropriate siddha-deha to the initiate. The siddha-dehas are like 'shiny new cars,' as Haberman quotes one modern commentator, that are assigned to the appropriate candidate according to the design of God through the mystic pereption of the guru. In both theories, numerous inspiring stories abound to prove and illustrate how the sadhaka receives his actual inner form. I, like David Haberman, heard many of these amazing and mystical anecdotes."

- Hindu Encounter with Modernity, Shukavak N. Das, p228-229.

* In fact the paddhatis do not describe how siddha-pranali is given. The only indications that Dhyanacandra makes in this regard occur when he uses the terms "guru-prasada-janani" (vs. 87, p.28) "born from the mercy of Guru" and "guru-dattam" (vs. 108, p.32) "given by the guru." It seems that the paddhatis only describe how the sadhaka meditates, not how he gets siddha-pranali.

+ David L. Haberman, Acting as a Way of Salvation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 119-121
Gaurasundara - Tue, 09 Sep 2003 00:10:41 +0530
Let's remember that Shukavak is speaking in the context of what he perceives as Bhaktivinoda Thakur's teachings. Shukavak's understanding (at least what he has written) of ekadasa-bhava is based on Bhaktivinoda Thakura's diksa-patra, which is included in the book.

Actually, it's good to read the whole chapter to see what Shukavak says about raganuga-bhakti, siddha-pranali, etc. as a whole, but to stick to the subject at hand, there appears to be two theories about the achievement of siddha-deha.

[I may decide to type out the whole chapter some other time.]

This is why I commented in the other thread that it was unfortunate that Shukavak (and neither does Haberman, it appears) relate any of the anecdotal "evidence" for the two theories that they speak of. Perhaps if anyone knows Shukavak can invite him to join this discussion?
Madhava - Tue, 09 Sep 2003 01:32:41 +0530
There's an old thread you may want to review. I think this has been discussed pretty much through and through there.