Kriya Yoga

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Kriya Yoga
Founder Mahavatar Babaji transmitted to Lahiri Mahasaya
Established 1861
Practice emphases
Kriya Yoga Pranayama

Kriya Yoga is described by its practitioners as the ancient Yoga system revived in modern times by Mahavatar Babaji through his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya, c. 1861. To Westerners, it was brought into popular awareness through Paramahansa Yogananda's book Autobiography of a Yogi[1] and through Yogananda's introductions of the practice since 1920. The system consists of a number of levels of Pranayama based on techniques that are intended to rapidly accelerate spiritual development[1] and engender a profound state of tranquility and God-communion.[2]

In the ancient text on yoga called the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Patanjali gives a description of Kriya Yoga in the second chapter.[3] Yogananda wrote that Patanjali refers to the Kriya technique when he wrote in the Yoga Sutras II:49: Liberation can be attained by that pranayama which is accomplished by disjoining the course of inspiration and expiration.[4]

In modern times what has been described as Kriya Yoga was brought into popular awareness through Paramahansa Yogananda's book Autobiography of a Yogi[1] and through Yogananda's introductions of the practice since 1920. The system consists of a number of levels of Pranayama based on techniques that are intended to rapidly accelerate spiritual development[1] and engender a profound state of tranquility and God-communion.[2] This modern description differs from the original description of Patanjali. Yogananda attributes his description of Kriya Yoga to his lineage of gurus, deriving it via Yukteswar Giri and his master Lahiri Mahasaya, from Mahavatar Babaji (fl. 1860s). The latter is reported to have introduced the concept as essentially identical to the Raja Yoga of Patanjali and the concept of Yoga as described in the Bhagavad Gita.[5]

Practice[edit]

Lahiri Mahasaya (1828–1895).
Krishna instructing Arjuna

Kriya Yoga, as taught by Lahiri Mahasaya, is traditionally exclusively learned via the Guru-disciple relationship.[6][7] He recounted that after his initiation into Kriya Yoga, "Babaji instructed me in the ancient rigid rules which govern the transmission of the yogic art from Guru to disciple."[8]

As Yogananda describes Kriya Yoga, "The Kriya Yogi mentally directs his life energy to revolve, upward and downward, around the six spinal centers (medullary, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal plexuses) which correspond to the twelve astral signs of the zodiac, the symbolic Cosmic Man. One half-minute of revolution of energy around the sensitive spinal cord of man effects subtle progress in his evolution; that half-minute of Kriya equals one year of natural spiritual unfoldment."[9]

In Kriya Quotes from Swami Satyananda, it is written, "Kriya sadhana may be thought of as the sadhana of the "practice of being in Atman".[10]

History[edit]

Patañjali statue (traditional form indicating Kundalini or incarnation of Shesha)

Yogananda wrote in God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita that the science of Kriya Yoga was given to Manu, the original Adam, and through him to Janaka and other royal sages.[11] According to Yogananda, Kriya Yoga was well known in ancient India, but was eventually lost, due to "priestly secrecy and man’s indifference".[12] Yogananda says that Krishna refers to Kriya Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita:

Offering inhaling breath into the outgoing breath, and offering the outgoing breath into the inhaling breath, the yogi neutralizes both these breaths; he thus releases the life force from the heart and brings it under his control.[13]

Yogananda also stated that Krishna was referring to Kriya Yoga when "Lord Krishna ... relates that it was 'he', in a former incarnation, who communicated the indestructible yoga to an ancient illuminato, Vivasvat, who gave it to Manu, the great legislator. He, in turn, instructed Ikshwaku, the father of India’s solar warrior dynasty."[14] Yogananda says that Patanjali was referring to Kriya Yoga when he wrote "Kriya Yoga consists of body discipline, mental control, and meditating on Aum."[15] And again when he says,"Liberation can be accomplished by that pranayama which is attained by disjoining the course of inhalation and exhalation."[16] A direct disciple of Yukteswar Giri, Sailendra Dasgupta (d. 1984) has written that, "Kriya entails several acts that have evidently been adapted from the Gita, the Yoga Sutras, Tantra shastras and from conceptions on the Yugas."[17]

Recent history[edit]

The story of Lahiri Mahasaya receiving initiation into Kriya Yoga by the yogi Mahavatar Babaji in 1861 is recounted in Autobiography of a Yogi.[18] Yogananda wrote that at that meeting, Mahavatar Babaji told Lahiri Mahasaya, "The Kriya Yoga that I am giving to the world through you in this nineteenth century, is a revival of the same science that Krishna gave millenniums ago to Arjuna; and was later known to Patanjali, and to Christ, St. John, St. Paul, and other disciples." Yogananda also wrote that Babaji and Christ were in continual communion and together, "have planned the spiritual technique of salvation for this age."[1][19]

Through Lahiri Mahasaya, Kriya Yoga soon spread throughout India. Yogananda, a disciple of Yukteswar Giri who was himself a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya, then brought Kriya Yoga to the United States and Europe during the 20th century.[20]

Lahiri Mahasaya's disciples included his sons, Dukouri Lahiri and Tincori Lahiri, Yukteswar Giri, Panchanan Bhattacharya, Pranabananda, Kebalananda, Keshabananda, and Bhupendranath Sanyal (Sanyal Mahasaya).[21]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Miller, Timothy (1995). America's Alternative Religions. SUNY Press. p. 178. ISBN 0791423972. 
  2. ^ a b "Kriya Yoga is an instrument through which human evolution can be quickened...the secret of cosmic consciousness is intimately linked with breath mastery." Autobiography of a Yogi, 1946, by Paramahansa Yogananda, chapter 26.
  3. ^ Patanjali, Translator, Chip Hartranft(2003). “The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali: A New Translation with Commentary (Shambhala Classics)” ISBN 1-59030-023-8
  4. ^ Yogananda, Paramahansa (1997). Autobiography of a Yogi. Self-Realization Fellowship. p. 275, The Science of Kriya Yoga. ISBN 0876120869. 
  5. ^ Paramahansa Yogananda (1997). Autobiography of a Yogi (Chapter 26), 1997 Anniversary Edition. Self-Realization Fellowship (Founded by Yogananda). ISBN 0-87612-086-9.
  6. ^ "Initiation of a Kriya Yogi consists of a secret ceremony; it is an affair between the Guru and the initiate." Kriya Yoga, it's dissemination and the Mahamuni Babaji Maharaj, chapter 5, page 8
  7. ^ Miller, p. 183.
  8. ^ Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 33, page 322
  9. ^ Autobiography of a Yogi, 1946, by Paramahansa Yogananda, chapter 26.
  10. ^ Kriya Quotes from Swami Satyananda, page 2.
  11. ^ Paramahansa Yogananda (1995). God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter V), First Edition. Self-Realization Fellowship (Founded by Yogananda). ISBN 0-87612-030-3.
  12. ^ Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 26
  13. ^ Bhagavad Gita IV:29
  14. ^ Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 26, referring to Bhagavad Gita IV:1-2
  15. ^ Patanjali Aphorisms, II:1. Translation by Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 26
  16. ^ Patanjali Aphorisms, II:49. Translation by Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 26
  17. ^ Kriya Yoga, it's dissemination and the Mahamuni Babaji Maharaj, chapter 5, page 8
  18. ^ Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 34, Materializing a Palace in the Himalayas, by Paramahansa Yogananda
  19. ^ Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 33, pg.307, by Paramahansa Yogananda
  20. ^ Autobiography of a Yogi, ch. 26.
  21. ^ Autobiography of a Yogi, p. 381, ch. 3, ch. 33, ch. 36, ch. 32.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Kriya Yoga at Wikimedia Commonsraichur