Work of Lahiri Mahasaya
Teachings Kriya Yoga
The central spiritual practice which he taught to his disciples was Kriya Yoga, a series of inner pranayama practices that quickly hasten the spiritual growth of the practitioner. He taught this technique to all sincere seekers, regardless of their religious background. In response to many types of problems that disciples would bring him, his advice would be the same — to practice more Kriya Yoga. Regarding Kriya Yoga, he said:Always remember that you belong to no one, and no one belongs to you. Reflect that some day you will suddenly have to leave everything in this world–so make the acquaintanceship of God now. Prepare yourself for the coming astral journey of death by daily riding in the balloon of God-perception. Through delusion you are perceiving yourself as a bundle of flesh and bones, which at best is a nest of troubles. Meditate unceasingly, that you may 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.
He taught that Kriya practice would give the yogi direct experience of truth, unlike mere theoretical discussion of the scriptures, and to:Solve all your problems through meditation. Exchange unprofitable religious speculations for actual God-contact. Clear your mind of dogmatic theological debris; let in the fresh, healing waters of direct perception. Attune yourself to the active inner Guidance; the Divine Voice has the answer to every dilemma of life. Though man’s ingenuity for getting himself into trouble appears to be endless, the Infinite Succor is no less resourceful.
Lahiri often spoke of the Guru-disciple relationship in the context of Kriya Yoga. He always gave the Kriya technique as an initiation, and taught that the technique was only properly learned as part of the Guru-disciple relationship.Frequently he referred to the realization that comes through practicing Kriya as taught by the Guru, and the grace that comes through the ‘transmission’ of the Guru.He also taught that the grace of the Guru comes automatically if his instructions are followed. He suggested contacting the Guru during meditation, counseling that it wasn’t always necessary to see his physical form.
Regarding the necessity of the help of a Guru to deep yoga practice, he said:
It is absolutely necessary for all devotees to totally surrender to their Guru. The more one can surrender to the Guru, the more he can ascertain the subtlest of the subtle techniques of yoga from his Guru. Without surrender, nothing can be derived from the Guru.
The relationship Lahiri Mahasaya had with his own disciples was very individual. He even varied the way he taught the Kriya Yoga practice to each disciple, depending on their individual spiritual needs.
Lahiri taught that if one is earning an honest living and practicing honesty, then there was no need to alter one’s external life in any significant way in order to become aware of God’s presence. If a student neglected his worldy duties, he would correct him. It was extremely rare for him to advise sannyas, or complete worldly renunciation by becoming a swami. Instead, he advised marriage for most of his disciples along with Kriya Yoga practice.
He generally eschewed organized religion, but he allowed at least one advanced disciple, Panchanan Bhattacharya, to open the “Arya Mission Institution” in Kolkata to spread Kriya teachings.Other disciples of Lahiri also started organizations to spread the Kriya Yoga message, including Yukteswar Giri with his Satsanga Sabha.Generally, he preferred Kriya to spread naturally.
Lahiri frequently taught the Bhagavad Gita. His regular Gita assemblies, called Gita Sabha, attracted many disciples.He asked several of his close disciples to write interpretations of the Gita by tuning in to his own realization. Lahiri taught that the Battle of Kurukshetra was really an inner psychological battle, and that the different characters in the battle were actually psychological traits within the struggling yogi. This understanding would later become the foundation of Paramahansa Yogananda’s commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita.He also taught that the epic story of the Mahabharata showed the soul’s descent into matter, and its challenges in retracing its way back to spirit.
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