Your Questions Answered

Chapter Four

Question

Why has Kriya not been published in book form, so that all might learn it?

Answer

Swami Kriyananda responds to this important question in his book, The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, Explained by Paramhansa Yogananda:

A reasonable question, certainly. The masters themselves, however, have said it should not be published precisely because it is a teaching that transcends reason itself. Right understanding of it depends on the unfolding intuition.

“Kriya Yoga, in order to be wholly effective, must be received not only intellectually (in written or spoken form), but vibrationally, in the form of initiation. A magnet is created either by electrical realignment of the molecules, or by close proximity to another magnet. Attunement with a God-awakened guru influences the samskaras (comparable to the material molecules) to flow upward to the brain.

We are dealing here with a reality subtler, and much more difficult to master, than mere metallic molecules. Without an experienced guide, even mountain climbing can be fatal -- though death, in this case, only ends a single incarnation. Spiritual mistakes can be costlier in terms of long-range suffering.

Guidance from the guru is not only helpful: It is essential. This does not mean that Kriya Yoga is dangerous. Far from it. But to take up Kriya Yoga signifies entering seriously onto the path to God. It is not a game, and should certainly be treated as a lifetime commitment…(A)ny yoga initiation, and especially into the ancient science of Kriya Yoga, should be looked upon as a very sacred step in one's life.


Question

Is there more than one kind of Kriya?

Answer

“Kriya” is a deceptively simple term which refers to a wide variety of practices. The Sanskrit word literally means “action.” The same Sanskrit root verb “kri” (to act) is also found in the word “karma.” Whereas karma is generally understood as “actions which stem from egoic desire,” Kriya is understood to mean “actions which purify.”

In the science of Hatha Yoga there are many “kriyas,” practices that have the purpose of purifying the body and nervous system—for example cleansing of the nose, the stomach, the intestines, the nerve channels, etc.

In the science of Raja Yoga, the term Kriya refers to practices which purify the ego (thus preventing future karma), and which also neutralize the “seeds” or traces of past karma. When Babaji revived the ancient techniques for God-realization that had been part of Raja Yoga in the higher ages, he called these practices by the name “Kriya Yoga.” This science includes a significant number of techniques, which his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya developed into a progression of preparatory exercises and initiations, which is known as “the Kriya Yoga of Lahiri Mahasaya of Benares.” Because of this great contribution, Lahiri Mahasaya is known as the father of Kriya Yoga in modern times, and as a Yogavatar.

Lahiri Mahasaya initiated thousands of students into these practices, and to some of them he gave the authority to initiate others. Many of these initiates have in turn initiated others, and various lines of Kriya have developed through succeeding generations. Thus from the tree of the Kriya of Lahiri Mahasaya, many lines have grown, with their various branches. All of the Kriya lines which come from Lahiri Mahasaya teach essentially the same techniques, with minor variations.

The Kriya which has come to the Western world through Paramhansa Yogananda, and which is being taught today throughout the world by his disciple Swami Kriyananda, is one of the branches, which comes through Lahiri Mahasaya’s advanced disciple, Swami Sri Yukteswar.

Being a generic term that refers to many practices of Raja and Hatha Yoga, the word “Kriya” is used today by many teachers to refer to practices which are similar but distinct from those taught by Lahiri Mahasaya. Searching on the internet one will find tens of thousands of references.


Question

Which is the best Kriya?

Answer

When this question was posed to an advanced Kriya yogini in India, she replied, “The one which your guru gives you.”

It is not the technique in itself which automatically leads to liberation, although its proper practice brings beneficial results to those who use it. Its proper practice, however, is possible only through the blessings of the Guru, who uses the technique as an instrument of liberation for his disciples. As Yogananda used to say, “Kriya plus devotion works like mathematics.”

The law of Kriya Yoga is eternal. It is true like mathematics; like the simple rules of addition and subtraction, the law of Kriya can never be destroyed. Burn to ashes all the books on mathematics, the logically-minded will always rediscover such truths; destroy all the sacred books on yoga, its fundamental laws will come out whenever there appears a true yogi who comprises within himself pure devotion and consequently pure knowledge.(Autobiography of a Yogi, Original Edition, 1946)

Because of the necessity of the Guru’s blessings, the Kriya which stems from Babaji is given as an “initiation,” a ceremony during which the power and the blessings of the Guru are transferred to the disciple, enabling him to properly practice the technique.


Question

Which Guru is best?

Answer

The one who is yours; the one to whom you belong.

Amongst Self-realized masters, there is no competition. Each of them has been given by God certain souls to guide. Thus it is neither the Guru who chooses his disciples, nor the disciple who chooses his Guru. This is the true “marriage made in heaven” — two souls whom God has joined together until death (of the ego of the disciple) parts them, and the disciple merges back into the cosmic ocean of consciousness.

In his final message to his disciples, Jesus said:

I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word…Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.(John, Chapter 17)


Question

How can I know which Guru has been chosen for me?

Answer

The Guru will make himself known to his disciples, at that moment in their lives when they are ready to perceive and receive him. In one way or another they “go calling” on their disciples. The ways are as many and varied as the disciples. It could be by seeing the Master in person, or through reading his written words. About his Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda said that he had infused his vibrations into every word. Or through the spiritual practices which the master teaches. It might be through the magnetism of the fellowship of their disciples, or those of them who carry their vibrations and message to others. It could be through their spiritual work, which attracts those who are in tune with the master. Contact can be made also in dreams, or visions, by hearing his voice, or seeing a photograph of him.

The important thing for an aspiring disciple is to put himself in tune with the vibrations of a master, using all means available to him, and then feel inwardly for a response from his soul. The response can manifest as deep love, or joy, or the simple knowing that you have found your home.


Question

Can I practice Kriya if Jesus is my Guru?

Answer

According to Yoganandaji, Jesus himself taught his close disciples a technique very similar to Kriya, one suitable for that age. And it was Jesus who personally requested Babaji to send someone to the West to bring to his disciples the practices through which they could commune inwardly with his Christ Consciousness. This is why Yogananda has included Jesus Christ as one of the line of Kriya masters.


Question

Do I need to renounce my religion and church in order to receive Kriya initiation?

Answer

Lahiri Mahasaya initiated Hindus, Christians, Muslim and atheists alike into Kriya Yoga, saying that no one need give up his religion in order to follow this path.

A significant feature of Lahiri Mahasaya's life was his gift of Kriya initiation to those of every faith. Not Hindus only, but Moslems and Christians were among his foremost disciples. Monists and dualists, those of all faiths or of no established faith, were impartially received and instructed by the universal guru. (He) encouraged his various students to adhere to the good traditional discipline of their own faith. Stressing the all-inclusive nature of Kriya as a practical technique of liberation, Lahiri Mahasaya then gave his chelas liberty to express their lives in conformance with environment and upbringing.(Autobiography of a Yogi, Original Edition, 1946)


Question

Do I need to become a disciple in order to receive Kriya initiation?

Answer

Kriya is given as an initiation, in a ceremonial setting, to emphasize its significance as a sacrament, or a sacred moment during which the transforming power of the Guru is transferred to the disciple, enabling him to fully understand and deeply practice the liberating technique. Such an advanced technique is not offered to those who wish to follow the teachings in their own way, but to those who are willing and prepared to practice them as the Guru instructs. With these attitudes of willingness, openness and humility on the disciple’s part, the Guru is able to give more than to one who is merely curious about the teachings.


Swami Kriyananda explains:

Spiritual progress without the help of a true, or Sat, guru, cannot but be slow, haphazard, uncertain, and sometimes dangerous. The ancient tradition in India, where spirituality has been studied for thousands of years — not as a religion, but as a practical science ("practical" in the sense of results actually accomplished) — has always insisted that a true guru is the sine qua non for success on the spiritual path. Many spiritually ignorant people, even in India, insist that with literacy as widespread as it is now, and with books so easily available, spiritual teachings are accessible to virtually everyone and a guru is no longer needed. Truly, widespread literacy has had one unfortunate effect: the dissemination, not only of knowledge, but of ignorance!

True understanding comes not by intellectual reasoning, but by intuition. Inner, intuitive attunement with the consciousness of the guru is what most surely and directly brings spiritual awakening.” The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita


Question

I already have a Guru, but he doesn’t teach Kriya. Can I get it through Ananda?

Answer

When we accept a Guru’s presence in our lives, it means that we have the faith that he will give us precisely what we need. Once you have found your Guru, practice faithfully what he has given you. Part of being a “disciple” is accepting the Guru’s “discipline,” and using the instruments he gives with ever-increasing devotion, depth and constancy.


Question

I love Yogananda but feel more attracted to one of the preceding masters. Should I pursue the Kriya path through Ananda?

Answer

Reading the Autobiography of a Yogi, one feels attraction for all of the Kriya masters because of the devotion which Yogananda has for each of them. He did not write about himself, but about them. As their direct spiritual descendant, Yogananda is a channel for their blessings and for the Kriya science which they teach. If you feel love and respect for Yogananda and also for one of his predecessors, and feel inspired by the way in which Kriya is presented by Ananda as a vital practice for daily life, you are welcome and encouraged to pursue your Kriya path here. All of the Kriya masters will bless your practice through their direct channels.


Question

I have received Kriya initiation from another teacher. Can I come to your initiations and receive support from your teachers?

Answer

Each of the Kriya lines has their own particular way of structuring the various practices. You should refer to the line in which you have been initiated and ask the person who initiated you, or their followers, for the advice you seek.

If, on the other hand, you feel that you were not actually aware of the commitments of receiving an initiation, and that you would like to prepare yourself and receive Kriya through Ananda, you are invited to speak personally with one of our Kriya teachers.


Question

If I take Kriya initiation, what precisely am I committing myself to?

Answer

You are affirming your discipleship to God and the line of Kriya avatars, and committing yourself to practicing the Kriya techniques faithfully as they are taught to you and regularly, at least twice each day. You also promise to never reveal the Kriya techniques to anyone unless given the authorization to do so.


Question

Is there some way of trying out the Kriya path before I make a discipleship commitment?

Answer

Yogananda has given preparatory practices which can be used by everyone in their daily lives: the Energization Exercises and the Hong-Sau Technique of Concentration. Practicing these techniques and at the same time studying the writings of Yogananda and Kriyananda, and coming whenever possible to one of the Ananda teaching centers to participate in courses on the path of Kriya, will be greatly beneficial. As you use the principles and do the practices, you will begin to have your own relationship with the Gurus and your own experience of the benefits which the techniques bring to your consciousness, to your inner state of well-being, and to your daily life.

To help you to know whether the Kriya path and masters are right for you, you can “pretend” that they are and follow them as a disciple would: by including them in all aspects of your life. You can become “engaged” to Yogananda by inviting him into your heart, your home, your family, your place of work, involving him intimately in all of your activities, plans and decisions. After a period of engagement, you will know whether this path is for you. At that point, you can make a more formal commitment through discipleship initiation.


Question

How long must I wait before I can receive Kriya Initiation?

Answer

It is not a matter of letting time pass, but rather of engaging yourself in the daily practice of the basic techniques on the path of Kriya. Once you have established a solid daily routine, you can take the Kriya Preparation courses, during which you learn additional practices. The average minimum time that is usually required, from the point where you are practicing daily, is approximately six months. Since most people require about six months to reach the point of becoming a disciple and establishing a regular routine, it is possible to receive initiation within about one year’s time. It is necessary to dedicate at least forty-five minutes twice a day to your practices in order to qualify for initiation.


Question

Why is so much preparation necessary? Can’t I just learn the technique now?

Answer

Kriya is an advanced meditation technique, which requires a high degree of concentration and a strong central nervous system which is able to carry the increased amount of energy flow which the practice awakens. People who have not developed these capabilities will either not be able to feel the movement of energy of Kriya, or, in some cases, be unable to control the increased flow of energy. Yogananda himself established this guideline:

Kriya Yoga is not given until the devotee has practiced other highly advanced techniques first, preparing his mind for the greater blessing of that highest technique. Experience has shown me the necessity of this general rule.


Question

Do I have to come to Ananda Assisi in order to be initiated?

Answer

Kriya initiations are given at Ananda Assisi four times each year by Kriyacharyas (teachers of Kriya) who have been authorized by Swami Kriyananda. These teachers give initiations in other locations as well, on a regular basis.


Question

Once I receive Kriya, can I return for the initiation ceremony when my friends are receiving it for the first time?

Answer

If you can, come to every initiation ceremony, especially those during the first year. The blessings received during Kriya ceremonies help us enormously in our spiritual progress. And at each initiation we are able to understand the practices more deeply. During Yogananda’s lifetime, his disciples attended all of the initiations.


Question

I have heard people talk about advanced levels of Kriya practice. How many levels are there?

Answer

On our path of Kriya Yoga there are four levels of initiation. When you have been meditating regularly with the basic kriya technique for at least two years, and feel ready to increase your meditation time, you can request permission to receive initiation into the second Kriya practice. After at least one year of daily practice of both the first and second techniques, and a commitment to longer meditation periods, you may request permission to receive initiation into the third and fourth practices, which are given as one initiation. Ananda offers preparation classes for each of these levels.

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CHOOSE YOUR CURRICULUM
  • The spiritual hatha yoga based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda
  • "The secret of meditation is… relinquishing outward attachments and affirming divine freedom within." – The Secrets of Meditation, by Swami Kriyananda
  • Kriya Yoga is an advanced technique for spiritual evolution that comes down from higher ages of spiritual enlightenment.