Sadhaka and Siddha: Two classes of devotees
There are two classes of devotees, the sadhaka and the siddha. Those at the stage of sadhana are called sadhakas, and those at the stages of bhava and beyond are called siddhas.
The stage of bhava is the stage of the awakening of the svarupa. Vishwanath Chakravartipada describes this blessed stage as follows:
buddhir apatantam evArtham avadhArayantI jAgrat-svapna-suSuptiSu tadIya-smRti-vartmany eva pAnthatvam adhyavasyet |
ahantA ca prApsyamAne sevopayogini siddha-dehe pravizantIva sadhaka-zarIraM prAyo jahAtIva virAjeta |
mamatA ca tac-caraNAravinda-makaranda eva madhukarIbhavitum upakrameteti |
sa ca bhaktaH prAptaM mahA-ratnaM kRpaNa iva janebhyo bhAvaM gopayann api kSAnti-vairAgyAdInAm AspadIbhavan lasal-lalATam evAntardhanaM kathayatIti nyAyena tad-vijJa-sAdhu-goSThyAM vidito bhaved anyatra tu vikSipta ity unmatta iti sajjata iti durlakSyatAM gacchet || mk 7.3
“The bhava bhakta’s intelligence then unfailingly has this single purpose. The Lord remains on the path of his memory whether he sleeps, dreams or is awake.
Then his sense of identity (ahantA, “I”) enters a perfected body (siddha-deha) suitable for his desired service to the Lord; it is almost as if he has left the present sadhaka body.
His sense of possessiveness (mamatA, “mine”) becomes like a bee ready to relish the nectar of the Lord’s lotus feet. In this stage the devotee tries to conceal his feeling of love like a miserly person hiding a precious jewel.
There is a saying that a bright face tells of hidden wealth. Because the bhava bhakta has qualities such as patience and renunciation, he is recognized by the realized devotees, but the common people are baffled by his activities and think he just has a disturbed mind.”
For the bhava-bhakta, there is no question of absence from the lila. He is always absorbed and present in his svarupa and the related services in the svarasiki-lila.
Needless to say, such souls are extremely rare in this world, and tend to keep themselves hidden from the public view.
At the stages prior to the awakening of the svarupa where the svarupa is being cultivated and meditated on, the vision of the lila appears whenever the consciousness of the sadhaka enters into the svarupa.
At this stage, the lila is yet to become a "concrete" reality, in contrast to the substantial attainment at the stage of bhava.
While the visions of the lila he receives are certainly real, being the reciprocal revelation of the ista-deva, the sadhaka is yet to attain permanent, active presence in the nitya-lila. The reality of the lila appearing in his meditations is a subjective presence brought forth with the lord's grace with the aim of nourishing his greed for the desired attainment. (Madhava)