Recently there was a YSS monk who visited here and he told some stories about Sri Yukteswar that you probably haven’t heard before. One of the monks had asked him to recount the details of how Sri Yukteswar met Lahiri Mahasaya, as it is not fully explained in Master’s Autobiography.
The YSS monk said that at the time the meeting occurred, Lahiri Mahasaya was living in Benares, and Priyanath (Sri Yukteswar’s name before he became a swami) lived in Calcutta. Priyanath used to travel to Serampore frequently to visit a good friend, a local maharaj (king). Whenever he visited the maharaj, they had wonderful discussions, but he noticed that afterward the maharaj would often excuse himself and retire to his private quarters. What Priyanath didn’t know was that he was a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya and was retiring to seclusion in order to meditate and practice Kriya Yoga. The maharaj was quite secretive about his spiritual practices and wouldn’t tell Priyanath what he was doing.
One day Priyanath asked the king’s attendant about his mysterious disappearances. The attendant explained, “Oh, he meditates and has a guru in Benares.” Priyanath became determined to seek this guru out; eventually he found out his name – Lahiri Mahasaya – and promptly left for Benares to find him. Upon his arrival Lahiri said to Priyanath, “What took you so long?” and then initiated him into Kriya Yoga. Such was his rapid spiritual advancement that some years later Lahiri Mahasaya told the maharaj that he should follow Priyanath and be his disciple.
Priyanath received sannyas from Babaji at the Kumbha Mela, as recounted in Master’s Autobiography. But some time later he was given advice that he should be initiated according to the prescribed edicts as a sannyasi in order to propagate the spiritual work properly. So he went to one of the ashrams of the Giri branch and took sannyas from a “big Babu.”
Now, in reality he had already taken sannyas from Babaji, but if he had not gone to the “big Babu” to receive sannyas, the public wouldn’t have recognized him as an authentic swami with orthodox vows. He couldn’t just proclaim, “Well, Babaji appeared before me and gave me initiation into the swami order,” because people might doubt. He had to fulfill this law in order to be recognized as a bona fide monk of the ancient swami order. So that is our lineage.
excerpt from “The Eternal Blessings of a True Guru,” Brother Jayananda
Paramahansa Yogananda “I have perpetuated in the monastic order of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India the line of sannyas in the Shankara Order, which I entered when I received the holy vows of a swami from my Guru [Swami Sri Yukteswar]. …Every swami belongs to the monastic order that has been honored in India from time immemorial. Reorganized in its present form centuries ago by Shankaracharya, it has since been headed by an unbroken line of venerable teachers (each of whom successively bears the title of Jagadguru Sri Shankaracharya)… To enter it they fulfill a requirement to receive initiation from men who themselves are swamis. All monks of the Swami Order thus trace their spiritual lineage to a common guru, Adi (“ the first”) Shankaracharya. They take vows of poverty (nonattachment to possessions), chastity, and obedience to the head or spiritual authority. In many ways the Catholic Christian monastic orders resemble the more ancient Order of Swamis.
Autobiography of a Yogi, “I Become a Monk of the Swami Order”