The Rebirth of Ancient Wisdom: The Significance of Kriya Yoga in Modern Times

Life Style

New Delhi (India), June 17: In his 33rd year, Lahiri Mahasaya, also known as Yogavatar, realized the purpose of his reincarnation on earth. He encountered his great guru, the immortal Babaji, near Ranikhet in the Himalayas, who initiated him into Kriya Yoga. This momentous event was not only significant for Lahiri Mahasaya but also a blessed moment for all of humanity. The highest art of yoga, long lost, was being revived.

Similar to the Puranic story where the Ganges descended from heaven to quench the thirst of the devotee Bhagirath, the divine river of Kriya Yoga began flowing from the secluded Himalayas into the lives of people in 1861. Paramahansa Yogananda, revered as the father of Yoga in the West, dedicated a chapter in his spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi, to “The Science of Kriya Yoga.”

In God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, Yogananda’s commentaries on chapter IV, verses 1–2, 7–8, and 28–29, and chapter V, verses 27–28, provide an advanced understanding of Kriya Yoga principles.

In the Bhagavad Gita, the Lord tells Arjuna:

“I gave this imperishable Yoga to Vivasvat (the sun god); Vivasvat passed on the knowledge to Manu (the Hindu lawgiver); Manu told it to Ikshvaku (founder of the solar dynasty of the Kshatriyas). Handed down in this way in orderly succession, the Rajarishis (royal rishis) knew it. But, O Scorcher of Foes (Arjuna)! By the long passage of time, this Yoga was lost sight of on earth.” — IV: 1–2

Lahiri Mahasaya’s teachings are particularly suited to the modern age because they do not demand dogmatic belief. Instead, through the practice of Kriya Yoga’s proven techniques, individuals can personally realize the answer to the eternal question, “What is truth?” about themselves and God.

Truth is not a theory or speculative philosophy. It is the exact correspondence with reality. For humans, truth is the unwavering knowledge of one’s real nature, the Self as soul. Kriya Yoga offers a universal path for the soul to ascend to the Spirit, providing a practical technique that enables devotees, with a guru’s guidance, to re-enter the kingdom of God. While theoretical teachings can lead from one to another, Kriya Yoga practitioners find it to be the shortest and quickest path to the kingdom of Spirit.

The life force is the link between matter and Spirit. Flowing outward, it reveals the enticing world of the senses; when reversed inward, it draws consciousness to the eternally satisfying bliss of God.

Consider two men meditating in separate rooms, each with a telephone. One man, determined to concentrate despite the ringing phone, can be likened to a jnana yogi trying to meditate on God while ignoring the distractions of the senses and life force. The second man, recognizing his inability to ignore the phone, disconnects it, similar to how a Kriya Yogi prevents sensory distractions during meditation by withdrawing the life force from the senses and redirecting it inward.

The meditating devotee sits between two worlds, striving to enter the kingdom of God while battling sensory distractions. With the help of a scientific pranayama technique like Kriya Yoga, the yogi successfully reverses the outward-flowing life energy, achieving inner calm and connecting with the soul and Spirit.

“Divine union,” proclaimed the Yogavatar, “is possible through self-effort and is not dependent on theological beliefs or the arbitrary will of a Cosmic Dictator.” Through Kriya Yoga, individuals who struggle to believe in any man’s divinity can ultimately behold the full divinity within themselves.

June 21, 2024, marks the 10th International Day of Yoga.

Author Alok Misra is a Chartered Accountant by profession and founder of Vanprastha Resorts, a Yoga Resort in the Himalayas.

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