YOGAVATAR LAHIRI MAHASAYA
One Hundred Years of Kriya Yoga
[Extract–read full article below] The year 1961 marks the centenary of the introduction of Kriya Yoga to the whole world. In the autumn of 1861 the great Yogavatar, LAHIRI MAHASAYA, Param-paramguru of all SRF-YSS Kriya Yogis, received initiation in the sacred technique from his guru, MAHAVATAR BABAJI. …
Lahiri Mahasaya: “I pray that you permit me to communicate Kriya to all sincere seekers, even though at first they may not be able to vow themselves to complete inner renunciation. The tortured men and women of the world, pursued by the threefold suffering,* need special encouragement. They may never attempt the road to freedom if Kriya initiation be withheld from them.”
Babaji: “The divine wish has been expressed through you… Give Kriya freely to all who humbly ask for help… Repeat to each of your disciples this majestic promise from the Bhagavad-Gita: Swalgampyasya dharmasya, trayate mahato bhayat.” [“Even a little practice of this dharma (religious rite or righteous action) will save you from great fear (mahato bhayat)” — the colossal sufferings inherent in the repeated cycles of birth and death.] ….
“A deep purpose underlay the fact that you did not meet me this time until you were already a married man, with modest family and business responsibilities…Your life lies amid the city crowds, serving as an example of the ideal yogi-householder.”
Lahiri Mahasaya returned to Benares; at his home…a great spiritual renaissance began; …in time hundreds came to him, even from distant parts of India, seeking diksha (initiation)…Lahiri Mahasaya initiated 5000 persons in India in Kriya Yoga, including Hindus, Moslems, Christians, and those of other religions. ….
The harmoniously balanced life of the great householder-guru became the inspiration of thousands of men and women. ….
“…Make the acquaintance of God now,” the great guru told his disciples…Meditate unceasingly, that you quickly behold yourself as the Infinite Essence, free from every form of misery. Cease being a prisoner of the body; using the secret key of Kriya, learn to escape into Spirit.” ….
“Solve all your problems through meditation…” No matter what the disciple’s problem, Lahiri Mahasaya advised Kriya Yoga for its solution. “I am ever with those who practice Kriya,” he would say consolingly to chelas who could not remain near him. “I will guide you to the Cosmic Home through your ever-enlarging spiritual perceptions.” ….
Yoganandaji writes: “Although the great master did not adopt the system of preaching through the modern medium of an organization, or through the printing press, he knew that the power of his message would rise like a resistless flood, inundating by its own force the banks of human minds. The changed and purified lives of devotees were the simple guarantees of the deathless vitality of Kriya.”
Yoganandaji’s parents were devout disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya. When Yogananda was but a baby his mother took him to the great master to be baptized. “Little mother,” Lahiri Mahasaya said, “thy son will be a yogi. As a spiritual engine, he will carry many souls to God’s kingdom.”
Although the Yogavatar entered mahasamadhi shortly after this incident, he made numerous supernal visits to the little boy Yogananda while he meditated at the family shrine. Lahiri Mahasaya also healed him of the usually fatal Asiatic cholera.
When Swami Sri Yukteswar, one of Lahiri Mahasaya’s greatest disciples, attended a Kumbha Mela at Allahabad in 1894, he met Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya’s guru, for the first time. Babaji told him:
“Some years hence I shall send you a disciple whom you can train for yoga dissemination in the West. The vibrations there of many spiritually seeking souls come floodlike to me. I perceive potential saints in America and Europe, waiting to be awakened.”
The disciple whom Babaji had chosen was Paramahansa Yogananda. Sri Yukteswar initiated Yoganandaji in Kriya Yoga in 1910. After ten years of spiritual training in the hermitage of Sri Yukteswar, Paramahansa Yogananda sailed for America. During the more than thirty years that he taught Yoga in the West, Paramahansa Yogananda initiated 100,000 students in the Kriya technique.
Diksha or initiation in Kriya Yoga involves more than instruction in a particular scientific technique; the disciple receives with the instruction a hidden and eternal blessing from the SRF-YSS Gurus that is an essential ingredient for spiritual success.
Paramahansa Yogananda was the last of the line of four Indian gurus who were divinely ordained to revive and spread the technique of Kriya in the world in this age. For the perpetuation of the liberating science Yogananda established a monastic Self-Realization Order, from whose numbers a few qualified disciples are chosen from time to time to initiate others. ….
Through Autobiography of a Yogi thousands of earnestly seeking men and women have come to know about Kriya Yoga, and to remold their lives through the divine power of this science and through the spiritual benedictions of Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar, and Paramahansa Yogananda.
“The blessed role of Kriya Yoga in East and West has hardly more than just begun,” Yogananda wrote. “May all men come to know that there exists a definite, scientific technique of Self-realization for the overcoming of all human misery!”
One hundred years have passed [in 1961] since Lahiri Mahasaya gained Babaji’s permission to spread openly the ancient, carefully guarded Kriya science. For his compassionate understanding of their highest need, Kriya Yogis throughout the world bow mentally at the feet of the incomparable Yogavatar: Lahiri Mahasaya.
SELF-REALIZATION MAGAZINE, SEPTEMBER 1961