– by Stephen Sturgess
Kriya Yoga is the essence and synthesis of all Yogas and religions, which includes the highest yoga and meditation techniques from Haṭha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Laya Yoga and Mantra Yoga. The Sanskrit word Kriya means to do, action, and Yoga means union. Kriya Yoga therefore means the activating power (prana) of the divine Spirit manifested in creation, or the active process to achieve the science of uniting the soul with God. Kriya is a scientific technique based on the vital life force (prana).
This ancient spiritual art and science of Kriya Yoga awakens the divine memory of the soul, of which it has forgotten its real nature due to identification and attachment to the body, mind and ego-self. We have forgotten that our soul or inner Self and God are one, so we must learn to manifest our Divinity. When we realise this, then we will discover that we are Divine, everything is God, and nothing exists but God.
Kriya Yoga is the quickest means of attaining spiritual success. By practising Kriya Yoga a person transcends human consciousness and attains Divine Consciousness. It is through the divine dispensation, through a great line of Spiritual Masters: Christ, Krishna, Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Swami Sri Yukteswar, that Paramhansa Yogananda was selected and blessed to impart the supreme science of Kriyā Yoga worldwide.
The Kriya Yoga Masters
That imperishable science of Yoga that had been lost down through the ages was revived again by the great householder yogi, Lahiri Mahasaya (1828-1895) a young Bengali accountant of Varanasi, India, who received it from his guru, Mahavatar Babaji in the foothills of the Himalayas near Ranikhet, when he was 33 in the autumn of 1861. Babaji had rediscovered the lost science of Yoga and gave it the name, Kriya Yoga. Babaji initiated Lahiri Mahasaya in to the ancient art and science of Kriya Yoga and instructed him to serve humanity as an ideal guide to follow, by being both a married householder and a yogi:
The millions who are encumbered by family ties and heavy worldly duties will take new heart from you, a householder like themselves. You should guide them to understand that the highest yogic attainments are not barred to the family man.
When Babaji gave Lahiri Mahasaya permission to initiate others into Kriya Yoga he also told him to advise each new initiate in the words of Krishna (Bhagavad Gīta, 2:40): “Even a little of the practice of this dharma will save you from great fear.”
Initiation into Kriya
Because so many people thirst after higher knowledge
and only a few find entry into its realm, to be initiated
is surely obvious evidence of God’s redemptive grace.
Roy Eugene Davis
(A direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda)
The original method of Kriya was given by Sri Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya (1828-1895), the disciple to whom Babaji revealed the almost lost science of Kriya Yoga. But the Kriya techniques have been altered and adapted to some extent by both Swami Sri Yukteswar (direct disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya) and Paramhansa Yogananda (direct disciple of Swami Sri Yukteswar).
So these three main branches of Kriya Yoga, will be found to have some differences in the way the Kriya techniques have been taught.
This can be confusing for those spiritual seekers who are new to the path, especially if they start mixing techniques from the different ways they are taught by Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar, and Yogananda. Think of it like a family tree, each of these three great Kriya Masters had direct disciples, who then passed the Kriya Yoga teachings down to further disciples. The teachings are not necessary diluted but each guru naturally have their own illumined insights, and divine creative inspirations and innovations, and may make additions, modifications, alterations and variations. For instance, Paramhansa Yogananda has added the Energization Exercises to his Kriya Yoga techniques, an innovation of his own making, that was not taught by Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya or Sri Yukteswar, but is certainly welcomed for these exercises give a whole new way of understanding energy and how to experience and direct that energy in one’s own body for meditation and healing.
By practice of Kriya meditation, devotees unfold their full
divinity and realise the perfection of God. Their entire
being is illumined with the light of cosmic consciousness.
Lahiri Mahasaya at times would modify his Kriya techniques to suit the personal needs of each one of his disciples.
Sri Yukteswar also made slight modifications and variations to Kriya Yoga techniques. This is perfectly natural if the modification, variation or addition facilitates progress toward the ultimate spiritual goal, especially so if it is coming from a spiritual master such as these great Kriya Masters.
It should be clearly understood that to take up the study and practice of Kriya Yoga is to make a genuine and sincere commitment, and spiritual effort towards Self- and God-realisation. It is not for the undisciplined casual seeker who like a butterfly flits from one flower to another, nor for those who are superficially interested, constantly restless, and lack definite purpose. For success and spiritual awakening in Kriya Yoga, one needs to be disciplined with unswerving purpose and unfailing effort, and needs to have an inner, intuitive attunement with the consciousness of the guru. The divine qualities of sincerity, loyalty, love, devotion, dedication, and service to others, need to be cultivated.
Devotion plus determined effort in the right direction,
cannot fail to take you to the goal you are seeking.
One must practise meditation regularly everyday. Once you have decided to take up Kriya Yoga, knowing and understanding intuitively in your heart and soul that this is your spiritual path to follow, then resolve to follow it with all your mind, heart, and soul, and to be successful in your spiritual aim, make everything serve that purpose.
About the Author: Stephen Sturgess was born in London. His first experience of practising Yoga and meditation was when he was 19 in 1970. He was first initiated into Kriya Yoga in 1984 by swami Kriyananda (1926-2013), a direct disciple of Paramhasnsa Yogananda. Stephen is a teacher of Yoga and meditation in the Kriya Tradition of Paramhansa Yogananda and has studied and practised Yoga in India, the UK and Europe under well-known Yoga swamis and gurus. Stephen now teaches Kriya Yoga meditation and gives initiation into Kriya in London, UK.
He is the author of The Yoga Book, Yoga Meditation, The Book of Chakras & Subtle Bodies, and The Supreme Art and Science of Raja & Kriya Yoga. www.yogananda-kryayoga.org.uk
The Book of Chakras & Subtle Bodies
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