The 150th Anniversary of the Revival of Kriya Yoga:

The 150th Anniversary of the Revival of Kriya Yoga:

the Science of God-realization

Autobiography of a YogiThis year marks the 150th anniversary of the resurrection of Kriya Yoga, the royal system of Yoga, for the modern world. In the autumn of 1861, in a remote cave in the Himalayas, the great yogi householder Lahiri Mahasaya experienced his first encounter with his guru, Mahavatar Babaji, and received Kriya Yoga from him.  It was at this seminal meeting – immortalized in the pages of Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi – that Babaji instructed Lahiri Mahasaya to teach Kriya openly – for the first time – to all earnest seekers, and later requested that Yogananda be trained to give this soul-revealing technique to the West.  Following are excerpts describing the beginnings of Kriya Yoga’s spread to the West from Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi (copyright © Self-Realization Fellowship. All rights reserved). For more information on Kriya Yoga and the Self-Realization Fellowship teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda visit www.yogananda-srf.org.

“I Go To America”

“America! Surely these people are Americans!” This was my thought as a panorama of Western faces passed before my inward view….A definite epoch in my life had now closed, I knew; henceforth I would dwell in far lands. I entrained for Calcutta a few hours after my vision. The following day I received an invitation to serve as the delegate from India to an International Congress of Religious Liberals in America. It was to convene that year in Boston, under the auspices of the American Unitarian Association.

My head in a whirl, I sought out Sri Yukteswar in Serampore.

“Guruji, I have just been invited to address a religious congress in America. Shall I go?”

“All doors are open for you,” Master replied simply. “It is now or never.”

“But sir,” I said in dismay, “what do I know about public speaking? Seldom have I given a lecture, and never in English.”

“English or no English, your words on yoga shall be heard in the West.”

I laughed. “Well, dear Guruji, I hardly think the Americans will learn Bengali! Please bless me with a push over the hurdles of the English language.”

When I broke the news of my plans to Father, he was utterly taken aback. To him America seemed incredibly remote; he feared he might never see me again.

“How can you go?” he asked sternly. “Who will finance you?” As he had affectionately borne the expenses of my education and whole life, he doubtless hoped that his question would bring my project to an embarrassing halt.

“The Lord will surely finance me.” As I made this reply, I thought of the similar one I had given long ago to my brother Ananta in Agra. Without very much guile, I added, “Father, perhaps God will put it into your mind to help me.”

“No, never!” He glanced at me piteously.

I was astounded, therefore, when Father handed me, the following day, a check made out for a large amount.

“I give you this money,” he said, “not in my role as a father but as a faithful disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya. Go then to that far Western land; spread there the creedless teachings of Kriya Yoga.

I was immensely touched at the selfless spirit in which Father had been able quickly to put aside his personal desires. The just realization had come to him during the preceding night that no ordinary desire for foreign travel was motivating my plans….One early morning I began to pray, with an adamant determination to continue, even to die praying, until I heard the voice of God. I wanted His blessing and assurance that I would not lose myself in the fogs of modern utilitarianism. My heart was set to go to America, but even more strongly was it resolved to hear the solace of divine permission.

I prayed and prayed, muffling my sobs. No answer came. At noon I reached a zenith; my head was reeling under the pressure of my agonies. I felt that if I cried once more, increasing the depth of my inner passion, my brain would split.

At that moment there came a knock on the door of my Garpar Road home. Answering the summons, I beheld a young man in the scanty garb of a renunciant. He entered the house.

“He must be Babaji!” I thought, dazed, because the man before me had the features of a young Lahiri Mahasaya. He answered my thought. “Yes, I am Babaji.” He spoke melodiously in Hindi. “Our Heavenly Father has heard your prayer. He commands me to tell you: Follow the behests of your guru and go to America. Fear not; you shall be protected.”

After a vibrant pause, Babaji addressed me again. “You are the one I have chosen to spread the message of Kriya Yoga in the West. Long ago I met your guru Yukteswar at a Kumbha Mela; I told him then I would send you to him for training.”

I was speechless, choked with devotional awe at his presence, and deeply touched to hear from his own lips that he had guided me to Sri Yukteswar. I lay prostrate before the deathless guru. He graciously lifted me up. After telling me many things about my life, he gave me some personal instruction and uttered a few secret prophecies.

Kriya Yoga, the scientific technique of God-realization,” he finally said with solemnity, “will ultimately spread in all lands, and aid in harmonizing the nations through man’s personal, transcendental perception of the Infinite Father.”

* * *

The eve of my departure for the United States found me in Sri Yukteswar’s holy presence. “Forget you were born among Hindus, and don’t adopt all the ways of the Americans. Take the best of both peoples,” he said in his calm way of wisdom. “Be your true self, a child of God. Seek and incorporate into your being the best qualities of all your brothers, scattered over the earth in various races.”

Then he blessed me: “All those who come to you with faith, seeking God, will be helped. As you look at them, the spiritual current emanating from your eyes will enter their brains and change their material habits, making them more God-conscious.” Smilingly, he added, “Your lot to attract sincere souls is very good. Everywhere you go, even in a wilderness, you will find friends.”

Both of Sri Yukteswar’s blessings have been amply demonstrated. I came alone to America, in which I had not a single friend; but there I found thousands ready to receive the timeless soul teachings.

* * *

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