We know about many saints who possessed siddhis in the past. Are siddhis a criteria for an enlightened person ?
No it is not. Powers are a diversion which keeps one bound to this world. Patanjali in his Yoga Aphorisms, Chapter 3 (commentary by Swami Vivekananda; available here under the heading Raja Yoga, sub-heading Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms, sub-sub heading Powers - http://cwsv.belurmath.org/volume_1/vol_1_frame.htm):
- By making Samyama on the discrimination between the Sattva and the Purusha come omnipotence and omniscience.
When nature has been conquered, and the difference between the Purusha and nature realised — that the Purusha is indestructible, pure and perfect — then come omnipotence and omniscience.
- By giving up even these powers comes the destruction of the very seed of evil, which leads to Kaivalya.
He attains aloneness, independence, and becomes free. When one gives up even the ideas of omnipotence and omniscience, there comes entire rejection of enjoyment, of the temptations from celestial beings. When the Yogi has seen all these wonderful powers, and rejected them, he reaches the goal. What are all these powers? Simply manifestations. They are no better than dreams. Even omnipotence is a dream. It depends on the mind. So long as there is a mind it can be understood, but the goal is beyond even the mind.
- The Yogi should not feel allured or flattered by the overtures of celestial beings for fear of evil again.
There are other dangers too; gods and other beings come to tempt the Yogi. They do not want anyone to be perfectly free. They are jealous, just as we are, and worse than us sometimes. They are very much afraid of losing their places. Those Yogis who do not reach perfection die and become gods; leaving the direct road they go into one of the side streets, and get these powers. Then, again, they have to be born. But he who is strong enough to withstand these temptations and go straight to the goal, becomes free.
And also in Raja Yoga, Chapter entitled Dhyana and Samadhi, Swami Vivekananda says:
When, by the previous preparations, it becomes strong and controlled, and has the power of finer perception, the mind should be employed in meditation. This meditation must begin with gross objects and slowly rise to finer and finer, until it becomes objectless. The mind should first be employed in perceiving the external causes of sensations, then the internal motions, and then its own reaction. When it has succeeded in perceiving the external causes of sensations by themselves, the mind will acquire the power of perceiving all fine material existences, all fine bodies and forms. When it can succeed in perceiving the motions inside by themselves, it will gain the control of all mental waves, in itself or in others, even before they have translated themselves into physical energy; and when he will be able to perceive the mental reaction by itself, the Yogi will acquire the knowledge of everything, as every sensible object, and every thought is the result of this reaction. Then will he have seen the very foundations of his mind, and it will be under his perfect control. Different powers will come to the Yogi, and if he yields to the temptations of any one of these, the road to his further progress will be barred. Such is the evil of running after enjoyments. But if he is strong enough to reject even these miraculous powers, he will attain to the goal of Yoga, the complete suppression of the waves in the ocean of the mind. Then the glory of the soul, undisturbed by the distractions of the mind, or motions of the body, will shine in its full effulgence; and the Yogi will find himself as he is and as he always was, the essence of knowledge, the immortal, the all-pervading.
The criteria that is necessary to attain enlightenment is purity of the heart. The Katha Upanishad (II.iii.15) says:
When all the knots of the heart are destroyed, even while a man is alive, then a mortal becomes immortal. This much alone is the instruction (of all the Upanishads).
And Swami Vivekananda (Complete Works, V4, p 220) says:
The value of ethics to the Yogi lies in that it makes the mind pure. The purer the mind, the easier it is to control it. The mind takes every thought that rises and works it out. The grosser the mind, the more difficult [it is] to control [it].
With a pure mind, love of God arises. Krishna says in the Gita (14.26), Swami Nikhilananda translator:
And he who worships Me with the yoga of undeviating love rises above the gunas and becomes fit to be one with Brahman.
Siddhi is not achieved by running after it. For God nothing is a siddhi or a miraculous event. Once a sadhaka reaches the state of God realization, he actually is immersed in God consciousness, wherein he steps into the virtual shoes of the Lord of the universe and can see/do things His way. So naturally to reach that level, a lot of tapasya and sadhana are required which naturally activates many centers of our body - physical/subtle/causal, which naturally gives the sadhaka access to higher realms and can do things normal for that realm, which are "miraculous" in this realm. In fact if you see, in the Satya, Treta and Dwapara yugas, having siddhis was natural. Its just that you are more attuned to the Purusha and Prakriti.
There is a huge misconception about Siddhis and source of special powers.
I am over simplifying here to focus on the misconception. And highlight Siddhis Vs Shaktis, both special powers but from a different source.
There are 2 paths:
- Path of Patanjali - AstangaYoga: (via Siddhis)
As you seek enlightenment you go through different stages where the end goal is NirvikalpaSamadhi. The seeker get different Siddhis on this path way before he reaches NirvikalpaSamadhi.
These Siddhis are a huge source of distraction as they are a huge source of distraction and it comes from "ego". It possess a danger of building of ego instead of destruction of ego (enlightenment).
But one the seeker gets established in the state of NirvikalpaSamadhi, the Siddhis (powers) are no longer a distraction as they get expressed from the state of "enlightenment". The powers expressed from the state of "enlightenment" are no longer called Siddhis but Shaktis.
- Path of Agamas - ShastangaYoga (via Shaktis)
In this pathway the seeker is initiated by an enlightened Guru via Deeksha where he/she transmits the "state" and establishes the seeker in NirvikalpaSamadhi. And as the seeker keeps up with Spiritual practices the establishment in NirvikalpaSamadhi becomes stable.
These seekers begin to express Shaktis (not Siddhis) as it manifests from the state of NirvikalpaSamadhi. Shaktis are not a source of distraction unlike Siddhis, as they are not expressed from ego. Infact, as they express more and more Shaktis the more they get established in the space of enlightenment.
Expression of Shaktis (good) or Siddhis (not good when not "enlightened") doesn't the person is enlightened.
But enlightened person in both the paths ultimately expresses Shaktis.
the scriptural evidences, of Shaktis and Deeksha, from Agama scriptures such as Sri Netra Tantram, Vijnana Bhairava and their translation http://books.nithyanandatimes.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2016/12/Manifesting-Shaktis-Appendix.pdf
Explanation on Siddhis and Sakti, transmission of JeevanMukti, references to scriptures in Sanskrit etc http://books.nithyanandatimes.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/06/USE_web-NYogis-lowres-web-june21.pdf (page 8 to 20)
"Difference Between the Spiritual Process of Siddhis and Shaktis" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpCmOPhka6g
"Do Powers (Siddhis) distract you from Enlightenment?" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuRhP-S3hK4
"Two Kinds of Divine Power, Siddhis and Shaktis, are NOT Occult, Paranormal or Superstition" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6sAuCIhIzA
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa did not think so.
HRIDAY asked me—I was then under his control- to pray to the Divine Mother for (occult) powers. I went to the temple. In a vision I saw a widow thirty or thirty five years old,covered with filth. It was revealed to me that occult powers are like that filth. I became angry with Hriday because he had asked me to pray for powers.