A word about the commentaries of Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya –
In his monumental autobiography, the great Paramahansa Yogananda Giri ji has written:
“Lahiri Mahasaya himself wrote no books, but his penetrating interpretations were recorded and arranged by various disciples. Some of these voluntary amanuenses were more discerning than others in correctly conveying the profound insight of the guru; yet, on the whole, their efforts were successful. Through their zeal, the world possesses unparalleled commentaries by Lahiri Mahasaya on twenty-six ancient scriptures.”
This is indeed the truth. The Yogiraj himself did not write books.
Swami Satyananda Giriji Maharaj, eminent disciple of Sriyukteshvar, in his monumental biography of Lahiri Mahasaya has recorded the following in regards to these books and their language and manner:
“About the books that had Lahiri Mahasaya as the author, Swamiji Maharaj [Swami Sriyukteshvar] used to say,
The Lord [Lahiri Mahasaya] wrote to a certain disciple,
We have seen manuscripts, in the possession of a significant devotee, of the early versions of the Gita with the Lord’s spoken commentaries that were taken to Him that had extra ‘notes’*** written on them. Whatever the case may be, the erudition in these books of the experience of the fantastic kingdom beyond the senses will lead the Kriyavan on the path to Supreme Knowledge with the Divine Touch of the Yogavatar in this scriptural material.”
Satyanandaji also says-
“He [Yogiraj Lahiri Mahasaya] would be absorbed in yoga and give spiritual commentaries on the Gita and other books of philosophy. Bhattacharya Mahasaya, Mahendranath Sanyal Mahasaya and other disciples would write them down. Some devotees in some cases would receive His concise and abbreviated commentaries on the scriptures via letter. These were writings that began to be produced as the aforementioned books. The explanations of the deep scriptural mysteries which were handed down by the oral tradition of guru-disciple succession were first brought out in book form to the ordinary people because of the power of the Lord’s compassion. Half a century ago [from the writing of this biography], this Gita with spiritual explanation circulated mostly among the community of sadhakas. This beautiful body of literature became manifest during this transition of ages in the land of Arya – India – for the spiritual revelation of sadhakas, the progenitors of beneficence for all human beings. With Sriguru’s support, His Holiness Swami Sriyukteswar Maharaj ji also began to publish an exquisite Gita, approved by the Lord, chapter by chapter, with his own commentaries based on his own realization.”
They are in fact “recorded talks” put down on paper by various disciples from intimate scriptural talks given by the Yogiraj. Some of these were recorded more accurately than others. Some were recorded close to exact as the Yogiraj spoke them from His Samadhi state hence the sometimes broken and irregular grammar and incomplete sentences. In lofty spiritual Samadhi one often speaks like a drunk man (which the English translators have gone to great pains to intentionally maintain in this exacting English edition). Others (such as Yoga Sutra commentary) are more “liberal” and “polished” and only based on Yogiraj’s general teaching on the matter while the disciple who recorded them admittedly expanded and elaborated and polished the commentary. For example, in Introduction of Yoga Sutras we find the following:
“To be able to completely take in the essence of Patanjal is extremely difficult for anyone other than Guru-initiated persons. Although it is possible that an intelligent reader can come to some understanding of the gross matters upon reading [the work] two or three times with a concentrated mind, but the techniques of sadhana, and certain terms that seem to be easy to understand but whose meanings are deep and hidden - comprehending the meanings of those [techniques and] terms are, in a way, impossible. The commentaries on all of the sutras that are presented here - all of those were received from, and by the Grace of, a Certain Great Saint, and because the language of [those commentaries] was very complex, [those commentaries] are presented here in as simple a language as was possible, and is extended in some places where it was necessary. Thus, it can be hoped that these simplified commentaries can be of use to both initiated and uninitiated people. But if any part of the fundamental essence is destroyed, that is no doubt my fault, done by me. To the best of my abilities, I have taken care to make it understandable for ordinary people.”
So please bear this in mind as you approach these commentaries.
The true teaching as taught by Yogiraj is that by arduous performance of Kriya the truth of these scriptures is known. Hence he never placed undue importance on books. In the Garland of letter we find his cautionary words:
“Practicing Kriya IS the reciting of the Vedas. When, through practicing Kriya over and over, one perceives the state beyond Kriya, THAT is the revelation of Vedanta. That should be perceived by doing Kriya. What can happen by looking at books?”
The REAL “Kriya Books” made by Yogiraj were of course his authorized channels which he established for the continued transmission of Kriya Yoga. It is true that over the course of time some of these channels have died away but yet some still remain continuing the quiet tradition. Although as Sri Gurudev Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta Mahasaya had written:
“Shyama Charan had completely surrendered himself to the Guru [the Mahamuni Babaji Maharaj] and the ecstasies of Kriya Yoga. He made up his mind that he would never go back leaving the divine company of his worshipful Guru. But when he opened his heart to the Guru on the subject he was instructed otherwise. The Guru ordained that Shyama Charan must return and resume his erstwhile life of the householder; he was told that many important tasks were in store for him while in that life. At the beginning Shyama Charan protested and prayed to be allowed to pass the rest of life in company of the Guru. Ultimately, however, he was persuaded to agree. In the process he successfully bargained for two concessions from the affectionate Guru. One was permission to initiate fellow householders also into Kriya Yoga to help them to achieve spiritual solace. The Babaji apparently agreed with reluctance but after imposing certain strict conditions. Thus when Shyama Charan returned to his old surroundings it was a different Shyama Charan; he was an accomplished Yogi and a profound Yoga Guru of the novel system of Kriya Yoga. Enlightened and accomplished disciples and grand disciples who had been duly authorized for the purpose spread the message and teachings of Kriya Yoga all over the country and abroad in later years. It may, however, be mentioned that minor differences are noticed in the system now being taught by different groups although the basic features still remain intact.”
The correct way to practice is always the way that was shown by one’s authorized Guru. One must have complete faith in (authorized) Guru.
It is also noticed these days the curious phenomena of the emergence of a whole stream of “Gurus” claiming to be disciples of the Holy of Holies, the lofty Guru of Lahiri Mahasaya, the Mahamuni Babaji Maharaj. To this we can only comment, as Dasgupta Mahasaya used to remark - “Human gullibility knows no limits!” He remarked on the matter saying “Great enlightened beings such as my Swamiji (Sriyukteshvar Giriji Maharaj), Swami Pranabananda Paramhansa, Sri Panchanon Bhattacharya, Keshavananda Paramhansa and others claimed to have had the good fortune to meet the Babaji a few times in secret. To the Yogiraj and his advanced disciples the Babaji was much more than the God. It pains a worshipful heart when it is perceived in the present days that even much humbler individuals are making a bee line at Ranikhet and some even claim to have received benedictions from this superman. Gullibility of men knows no limit.”
So saying that let us leave the matter.
These English editions are presented as an offering to the holy Kriya performers of all lines and traditions descending from the Divine Yogavatar Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya, to all His spiritual children worldwide.