The Idea of Perfection or Siddhi in Hinduism
In Hinduism success is not achieved by itself, but as a consequence of a transformative spiritual effort that leads to perfection (siddhi) in equanimity and sameness (samasiddhi) towards the dualities of life. In many instances, success and perfection are used synonymously since there is a deep connection between them. Indeed in Sanskrit, the same word, siddhi, denotes both success and perfection. In the state of perfection (siddhi), you are both successful and perfect. The state of perfection is also the state of completeness (sampurnam). Hence, when you are perfect, there is nothing you need to do to achieve anything or complement yourself. The state of absolute perfection is also the state of the Self and God. Both are wholly and absolutely complete and perfect.
The relationship between purity and perfection
Another important idea which you find in Hinduism is that perfection comes from inner purity. You are perfect when you are pure, and vice versa. Your soul is already perfect and pure. It is hidden in the body, just a statue is hidden in stone as a possibility. Therefore, perfection is not something that you create out of nothing, but a state that you unravel by peeling away the imperfections and impurities that are present in you, just as a sculptor chips away unnecessary stone to sculpt an image. It is a reality that is already hidden as a play of Maya in the imperfections of the world. This is another significant idea about perfection which you will find in the sacred spirituality of Hinduism.
When you purify your mind and body, you allow perfection to manifest in you as your very Self. With perfection and purity you develop the ability to manifest your will. With that come the power to master your destiny and a still greater responsibility to live responsibly without misusing your powers (siddhis). If you are pure, the chances are you are already established in the yoga of equanimity, and will not misuse your powers.
Thus, in Hinduism the emphasis is not upon achieving success or avoiding failure as much as upon cultivating virtues, increasing sattva, and achieving perfection, which leads to peace, happiness, stability, and supreme lordship. If you aim for spiritual purity, ignoring gain or loss, success in any endeavor will automatically follow in proportion to the perfection that manifests in you. Since perfection and purity are interrelated, the word siddhi is often associated with the objects that act as purifiers. For example,siddha-ganga, siddha-sindhu, siddhadam (sea salt), siddha-dhathu, etc.
The idea of perfection is found in the word siddhi, a Sanskrit world. It has several meanings. It means gain, accomplishment, fulfillment, completeness, perfection, attainment, success, and prosperity. In a spiritual sense, siddhi means self-realization, the state of yoga, supernatural power, or the state of Brahman. In a material sense, it means any gain, advantage, or profit. In Shaivism, a siddha is the one, who has subdued his mind and senses, and attained perfection or liberation. Siddha also refers to any sage or seer of great spiritual purity who possesses various kinds of supernatural powers and inner perfection. A special group of beings called Siddhas, or the liberated ones, said to live eternally in Kailash in proximity to Shiva and Parvathi.
In worldly life you use the word siddhi to denote your success, gain or loss, but in spiritual life you use it to refer to your perfection and purity, or your success in having them. Your soul is a perfect example of completeness and perfection. So is God. Both are eternally perfect. Hence, there is nothing that can be added or subtracted from them. There is also nothing that they gain or lose by performing or not performing actions. Since they are free from desires they are also untouched by the consequences of their actions. The soul is sacred (pavithram) because it is made of the purest of sattva (shuddha-sattva), whereas the body and the world in which it resides are both impure (apavithram). However, their impurity does not affect the soul since it is immutable.
God's creations may be impure but not imperfect
It is incorrect to think that the worlds, beings, or any of the creations of God are imperfect. Their imperfections, if any, may be intended as an appearance to fill a place or a function in the order of things. They may be impure, ridden with the influence of the Gunas and the modifications of Nature, but they are not imperfect. Perfection is inherent in God's creation. Neither perfection nor imperfection can arise from nothing, since there must be a cause for everything. If the Creator is a perfect Being, and his skills and actions are excellently skillful, his creation must be excellently perfect. It cannot be otherwise because imperfection cannot arise from That which is eternally, completely, and absolutely perfect and complete. Therefore, logically God's creation is both sacred and perfect. However, since he also envelops his creation with Maya (delusion) and subjects it to the modifications of Nature, it may appear to be imperfect, just as the light from the sun appears to be imperfect when the sky is filled with clouds.
Thus, perfection (siddhi) is not a reality or a state that you have to create in order to experience it. It is already there in you as your very essence. You either enter it or let it show itself by removing the obstacles and the impurities that are active in you because of Maya. Thus, attaining perfection is a process of self-discovery, or finding truth, rather than an accomplishment in the worldly sense. You reach it through a self-transformative process by removing the imperfections and the impurities that are present in you as tendencies, qualities, traits, desires, attachments, and impulses.
The importance of sattva and suddhi in siddhi
For perfection, sattva is the key. Just as the sun shines brightly in the clear sky, the light of your soul shines brightly when your inner space is filled with sattva. Whether it is nonviolence, compassion, love, truthfulness, contentment, happiness, sameness, or mental stability, their practice alone does not lead to perfection, unless you establish in you the predominance of sattva. It is the state of purity which makes those virtues manifest in you as your essential nature. Therefore, you must focus upon your inner purification to let your soul, the embodiment of perfection, shine in you. In a self-realized yogi, who is pure, virtue manifests by itself, just as the light radiates naturally from the sun. In that revelation there is neither effort nor pretense. Established in yoga and in sameness (samsiddhi), that person is in harmony with himself.
It is for these reasons that self-purification has great spiritual importance in Hinduism. From suddhi (purity) arises siddhi (perfection), and from suddhi and siddhi manifests sama-siddhi (sameness in siddhi and asiddhi). Both are vital to enter the state of perfection in yoga. According to the Vedas that which is complete (purnam) is always complete. It does not increase or decrease but remains complete whether you add anything to it or subtract anything from it. Therefore if you want to make your life sacred and divine, focus upon your self-purification. Increase the predominance of sattva to manifest the perfection that is already hidden in you. Removing the impurities that veil your soul is not an easy process. As the Bhagavadgita (7.3) declares, among thousands of men a rare person strives for perfection and even among the perfected ones who strive for liberation, only a rare person knows God in truth.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- Siddhas and Siddha Tradition
- The Meaning And Significance Of Swastika In Hinduism
- The Concept of Atman or Eternal Soul in Hinduism
- The Problem of Maya Or Illusion and How To Deal With It
- Belief In Atman, The Eternal Soul Or The Inner Self
- Brahman, The Highest God Of Hinduism
- The Bhagavad Gita Original Translations
- The Bhagavadgita, Philosophy and Concepts
- Bhakti yoga or the Yoga of Devotion
- Hinduism And The Evolution of Life And Consciousness
- Why to Study the Bhagavadgita Parts 1 to 4
- Origin, Definition and Introduction to Hinduism
- Symbolic Significance of Numbers in Hinduism
- The Belief of Reincarnation of Soul in Hinduism
- The True Meaning Of Renunciation According To Hinduism
- The Symbolic Significance of Puja Or Worship In Hinduism
- Introduction to the Upanishads of Hinduism
- Origin, Principles, Practice and Types of Yoga