“Anyone who becomes exhilarated by hearing of the pastimes of Lord Krishna when He was present on this earth with His associates is to be understood as nitya-siddha, eternally perfect.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 25)
Friend1: Alright, I think I have one of those chicken or the egg type questions again.
Friend2: Nice. Those are always fun.
Friend1: It’s related to the time factor. Yes, I know it runs infinitely in both directions.
Friend2: The past and the future. Go back to the beginning. Trace out the root. Then know that something existed before. Otherwise, time would lack meaning. You would break the definition of time.
Friend1: Same applies to moving forward. Reach an endpoint in the distant future and know that something exists after that.
Friend2: Which certainly makes the words “never” and “beginning” difficult to understand.
Friend1: Those words are found in the Bhagavad-gita, too, spoken by the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna.
Friend2: Right. Such as:
“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.12)
Friend1: And this:
“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)
Friend2: Don’t forget this important one. It’s about never coming back to the realm of birth and death:
“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.16)
Friend1: We can cover those verses another time. The topic for today is the distinction between nitya-siddha and nitya-baddha.
Friend2: Ah, yes. Those are difficult concepts to understand if you delve too deep.
Friend1: What does that mean? We should have only a surface understanding?
Friend2: Well, there is a simple explanation for the two terms. I don’t want to reveal until you tell me what is confusing you.
Friend1: I get it that nitya-baddha means “always bound.” Such persons are always forgetful of God. It’s not difficult to find. Just think of an individual soul transmigrating, from body to body, in life after life. They are not perfectly Krishna conscious, and so they continue to spin on the wheel of reincarnation.
Friend2: Yes. And nitya-siddha is always liberated.
Friend1: Someone like Arjuna.
Friend2: The explanation is that Krishna is not alone. His associates are always with Him. As Krishna is eternal, so are the people that stay with Him. When Krishna descends as Himself or an avatara, these associates come with Him.
Friend1: Lakshmana, Bharata, Shatrughna.
Friend2: Well, those are actually expansions of Vishnu, but more or less you are right. The goddess of fortune, Lakshmi Devi, accompanies Krishna. Different residents of the spiritual world. That is why it is said that no one falls from Vaikuntha, the realm above the material universe.
Friend1: Oh boy, yeah that’s another difficult topic to understand. Instead of diverging, here is the original question. I found a statement that says a person who feels tremendous positive emotions when hearing about Krishna’s pastimes is an eternally liberated soul.
Friend2: They belong to the nitya-siddha category.
Friend2: Is that difficult to understand?
Friend1: Well, isn’t that the position every person is striving to reach?
Friend2: Even the materialists.
Friend1: I’m talking specifically within the realm of people practicing bhakti. You have a nitya-baddha, someone who is conditioned, and they are trying to change the situation. They want to become liberated. In fact, you can only become liberated if previously you weren’t. You get what I am saying? If I was a man yesterday, I can’t become a man today. I already was one.
Friend1: If a person trying to become liberated takes great pleasure at hearing about the merciful nature of the Supreme Lord and how Krishna is always trying to please the devotees, then apparently they are not only liberated, but always so. They are a nitya-siddha. I don’t get it.
Friend2: It’s a mystery for sure. The issue is similar to the “never falling from Vaikuntha.” We don’t know someone’s history. We don’t know where they were originally. Just by a person’s behavior today we can’t tell whether they are a nitya-siddha or a nitya-baddha. You get what I am saying?
Friend1: I do not.
Friend2: Take the example of Krishna’s associates in Dvaraka. Not all of them behaved properly all the time. It seemed like they were forgetting Him, even while living in the same city. That forgetfulness, which is an external indication of being bound to the material world, did not invalidate their status as nitya-siddha. They would eventually correct themselves, for even through momentary lapses they were still devotees.
Friend1: So if I take great pleasure at hearing about Krishna, it might mean that I am a nitya-siddha who just doesn’t know it?
Friend2: Of course. We don’t know for sure. We only know that through being Krishna conscious we will find happiness right now, in the future, and especially after death. Goswami Tulsidas says that chanting the holy name is beneficial from beginning to end:
“Chanting Shri Rama’s holy name with love, faith and according to regulative principles will be beneficial for you from beginning to end, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 23)
Let the baddha-siddha stuff sort itself out. What you and I were in the past doesn’t really matter. Look to the future.
No need for higher state ascending,
Liberated souls with Krishna descending.
As nitya-siddhas devotees great,
Always in liberated state.
But what about those striving right now,
Taking pleasure in hearing categorized how?
True mystery no one ever to know,
More important how forward to go.