The Original Approach To Kriya
Many people write to us asking our opinion of the various teachers populating the spiritual marketplace these days. Generally we do not comment on these kinds of things, although we get many letters like this every day. The situation is actually terrible these days.
Firstly, let us explain that Yoga Niketan is the collective effort of some Kriyavans whose life mission is to preserve, present and protect these most precious materials under the guidelines given to us by Guru (who is completely retired and private and does NOT give initiation anymore). We work alongside the Board of Directors and the various legal teams to achieve this. We are not a teaching organization and we also like to completely keep ourselves removed from the insanity that is the "Kriya Yoga Marketplace." We don't hold any kinds of classes or seminars, nor do we ever like to comment on what other people do. Each person must decide for themselves what is right and wrong.
But as we are presenting this article we will take this opportunity to give our viewpoint due to the many letters that are received on an almost daily basis.
It is generally safe to say that almost everyone teaching Kriya Yoga today is a fraud. It doesn’t matter what “original institute” they claim to represent or what lineage they claim to come from or what family they belong to. Everything is mixed up these days. Back in the time of Lahiri Baba, none of the disciples were out hunting for “Kriya Yoga” like so many countless people are today. That in itself (hunting for “Kriya” rather than for God) is a complete departure from the spiritual path. It is no different than being out seeking Cadillacs or sports cars or any other thing other than God. In the old days the seekers were looking for God and God alone. They were not out seeking a specific path. Because of that God led them to the feet of a realized Master who taught them a particular way to achieve liberation. They were looking for God Realization. They were not looking for “Kriya Yoga” or in fact, any preconceived method. They were looking for God alone. How can you hit the bullseye if your eye is not on the target? Here is a story from the scriptures:
Of all the various students of Guru Drona, Arjuna was the most skilled in archery and favoured by Guru Drona as his greatest disciple. One day, some of the Kauravas, including Duryodhan and Dushana openly criticized their Guru for the favour shown towards Arjuna telling Acharya Drona that they were no less skilled in archery and the favour shown towards Arjuna was unwarranted. As a reply to their criticism, Acharya Drona arranged for a test to determine the best archer amongst them all.
Accordingly, Acharya Drona lined up the students and pointed to a wooden bird that had been placed on a branch of a distant tree. It was partly hidden by the foliage. A prominent artificial eye was painted on the wooden bird. Acharya Drona called all his disciples and said, “Look my children, a bird is sitting on that far off tree. You have to hit the arrow exactly in its eye. Are you ready?”
Everyone nodded. First Acharya Drona invited the eldest disciple, Yudhisthira to try his skill. Yudhisthira stepped up and took aim with his bow and arrow. Just as he was about to release the arrow, Acharya Drona stopped him and asked him, “O eldest son of Kunti, may I know what is visible to you at this point of time?”
Yudhisthira replied innocently, “Why, O Gurudev, I am seeing you, the tree, people around me, and the bird!” Similar questions were put to Duryodhana, Bhima, Nakul, Sahadeva and others, and Acharya Drona got the similar answers as those given by Yudhisthira. Acharya Drona was dismayed and told them all to step aside as it was obvious that with such poor concentration they were sure to miss the target. The disciples were puzzled and didn’t understand. Lastly, Acharya Drona asked Arjun to step up and take aim. As Arjuna stood there with bow and arrow in hand, ready to shoot, the Guru asked him, “O Arjuna, will you tell me what is being observed by you?”
And Arjuna replied, “Gurudev, at this point of time only the eye of the bird is visible to me.” When asked by the teacher whether he was able to see the bird, the tree, and people around, Arjuna replied in negative maintaining that he saw the eye of the bird only.
One’s attention should be on God alone. Kriya Yoga was totally unheard of back in Lahiri Baba’s time (except possibly to refer to some hatha yoga cleansing methods. But even those were not public material in those days). People were seeking God. Maybe some people were led to Lahiri Baba. Some were led to Sri Ramakrishna or Trailanga Swami, or some other great being. Some were led to secret yogis up the caves of the Himalayas. But those people were ready to die for God. If you look for “Kriya Yoga” then maybe you will be led to someone who claims to teach “Kriya Yoga” but maybe they are a complete fraud?
Nowadays people read and misunderstand the book put out in Paramahansa Yogananda’s tradition, the Autobiography of a Yogi, and because of their misunderstanding they search for Kriya rather than calling out day and night for God only. They get the mistaken idea that realized beings grow on trees and that everyone who claims to be a Guru actually is one, when in fact real Gurus and real realized beings are rarer than the rarest treasure. There may be a few saints out there in the world, perhaps 100 miles into the Himalayas, but maybe they don’t teach Kriya? Why is it that everyone these days is looking so much for the path rather than the goal? For these people the path has become the goal. This attitude has given rise to an insane marketplace of Kriya Yoga “Gurus,” populated entirely by fakes, frauds, and total con-men who prey on gullible people who look for Kriya. It is very sad. We do not know which is more sad; the fraud teachers or the level of people’s gullibility.
Nothing that these people are teaching bears any resemblance to the teachings of Lahiri Baba, in spite of their claims. From the very start everything is wrong. Do you really think that Lahiri Baba went to the Babaji Maharaj and asked him if he was an “acharya of the Original Kriya Yoga”? Or asked him if he was a “Kriya Yoga Guru in the lineage of so and so?” Do you think that is what happened? Nobody went to Lahiri Baba asking Him if He was an “acharya of Kriya Yoga in the lineage of so and so” or any such silly thing. Lahiri Baba and Sri Yukteshvarji and the other realized beings were totally quiet and secret yogis. They were not public figures. Some people, upon meeting them realized who they were and submitted their lives to learn from them. Others didn’t have that perception to recognize their greatness and left.
In the Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda wrote the following about Sri Yukteshvarji:
“There are disciples who seek a guru made in their own image. Such students often complained that they did not understand Sri Yukteswar.
“Neither do you comprehend God!” I retorted on one occasion. “When a saint is clear to you, you will be one.” Among the trillion mysteries, breathing every second the inexplicable air, who may venture to ask that the fathomless nature of a master be instantly grasped? Students came, and generally went.”
In modern times people think they know what they want because they have read a book or two or read a website or consulted an internet message board. So they go out looking for a particular path or a teacher “made in their own image” and spend years here and there wandering between conman and conman. But those who cry out day and night for God... for sure God will lead them to their teacher. It will forever be the case. But until a person is in that state they are not ready.
Look at Yoganandaji; he was surrounded from his birth by disciples of Lahiri Baba, but he searched for years until he found his Guru. And he did not know that Sri Yukteshvarji was a Kriya Yogi until a month after he accepted Him as his Guru! He was looking for God, not Kriya. He was very surprised when he went to Sri Yukteshvarji’s ashram and saw the photo hanging of Lahiri Baba. This incident is described in Chapter 12 of the Autobiography of a Yogi (Years in My Master’s Hermitage):
“You will return in thirty days.”
“Never.” Bowing reverently at his feet, I departed without lightening the controversial tension.”
“You have come.” Sri Yukteswar greeted me from a tiger skin on the floor of a balconied sitting room. His voice was cold, his manner unemotional.
“Yes, dear Master, I am here to follow you.” Kneeling, I touched his feet.
“Come; I will show you the hermitage.” Master rose from his tiger mat. I glanced about me; my gaze fell with astonishment on a wall picture, garlanded with a spray of jasmine.
“Lahiri Mahasaya!”
“Yes, my divine guru.” Sri Yukteswar’s tone was reverently vibrant. “Greater he was, as man and yogi, than any other teacher whose life came within the range of my investigations.”
Silently I bowed before the familiar picture. Soul-homage sped to the peerless master who, blessing my infancy, had guided my steps to this hour.”
Can you see? Yoganandaji was not looking for a “Kriya Yoga Guru.” Nor was he looking for a “Guru in the lineage of Sri Yukteshvar” or the “lineage of so and so” was he? He was looking for God Realization. He was looking for a real Guru. He didn’t care what path his Guru taught.
This is the “original way.” In those days people were searching for God. Not Kriya. The Autobiography of a Yogi which people misunderstand as a book about miracles rather than a love-affair with God, had not been written yet and people had never heard of “Kriya Yoga” so they were looking for God, not Kriya. But these days not only are people asking for a Guru who teaches Kriya Yoga, which is a complete departure from the spiritual path; they are also asking that he be from some particular lineage! But this is modern western influence. Like ordering from the quick menu at a fast food restaurant: “I’ll have a number 3 meal with a chocolate milkshake please.”
This is not correct. It is not the attitude of spiritual surrender.
Real Yoga (or Kriya Yoga) is never learned in a class or seminar, nor are real Gurus found that way. You cannot find or learn real Yoga on internet websites and message boards or in books. The people who run these seminars or websites or who write these books know nothing at all. What they think is Kriya is all wrong. The real path (be it Kriya or anything else) is only learned behind closed doors one on one... whispered under vow of secrecy from Guru to disciple. And there must be tremendous respect. This is very difficult for modern people of the world.
In the old days people would leave their home and wander in tiger infested mountains for months just to get a glimpse of Guru. Nowadays irreverent young people, ignorant of tradition and respect, hover around internet message boards discussing things they know nothing about but think they do. People love to hear themselves talk! And with the easy availability of the internet comes delusion, and in their delusion they have somehow elevated themselves in their own minds into an “expert.” They toss around words like “Khechari” and “Guru” like they are an authority when in fact they have never received correct instruction in these things or been duly authorized. They have only collected the (wrong) ideas on these matters from hearsay. They know nothing. They are pedestrians. They don’t know the slightest thing about these things (if they did they wouldn’t be discussing on any message board. They would be filled with reverence for the tradition and devoting their time to secret, loving practice at the feet of Guru.)
People get initiation from some fraud, and these days generally everyone teaching Kriya is a fraud unaware of even the most basic principles behind Kriya Yoga let alone the subtle layers of the techniques which are transmitted secretly in the most intimate circumstances with the Guru, and then they make a website or self-publish a book about what they think are the components of Kriya Yoga and talk like an authority. People love to be big shots. Innocent seekers come upon these things! The situation seems to be much worse in India even than in the West.
In the 1980s Sri Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta, direct disciple of Sri Yukteshvar used to say, “These days everyone talking about Kriya Yoga...and I mean everyone...they have no idea what they are talking about nor do they even understand the most basic principles involved.”
That was many years ago. It is much worse today. We know of no authentic teacher teaching publicly. That is a contradiction in itself. All these “Gurus” on world tour with “teaching centers” or running ashram institutions are all frauds. Every one of them.
To find a real Guru you might have to wander the corners of the earth for a lifetime, calling to God. Again, the disciples of Lahiri Baba came to him searching for God. They had never heard of “Kriya Yoga” when they came to His feet. It was unknown. They were so overcome to sit in the God-Presence of Lahiri Baba that they surrendered their very lives to Him and would have done anything He asked. They didn’t care what he taught. They had never heard of Kriya Yoga. They would sit with him and forget everything. They would lose track of time, forget their families and jobs (He would have to remind them!) and everything else. How did they come to Him? Or how did the disciples of Sri Yukteshvar and Pranabananda Swami come to them? Look at this quote from Sri Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta (direct disciple of Sri Yukteshvarji):

“Shyama Charan was required to make daily purchases from the market of articles of daily consumption. His dutiful wife used to give him the marketing bag and requisite cash. She used to spell out what had to be purchased. Many of the items were common every day and hence did not need repetition. He walked towards the market with the bag in hand and the cash. As soon as he came near the market a flower-vendor came rushing to him, took the bag and the money from Shyama Charan and himself went inside the market. He would make all purchases, as he could easily make out what was needed in such a pious family. He would not forget even the tobacco and lime for the good old lady. Coming back to Shyama Charan, who waited by the road side all this time, the vendor handed over the bag full of purchased articles. Shyama Charan carried the bag home with the merchandise. The good lady thought within herself after inspecting the purchases how lucky she was to have such a considerate and frugal husband. The vendor was seized with inexplicable veneration for Shyama Charan from the very day he saw him; and from that very day he acted as above. Shyama Charan became a totally dedicated tool in the hands of his God and remained totally resigned in all situations of day to day life.”

- Sri Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta, Kriya Yoga, Chapter 1, ISBN 978-0595677948

That is how people came to Lahiri Baba. Not from any poster or “Kriya Yoga workshop” and not because they had read a book which is actually about loving God (but their worldly minds had only seen the miracles in the book) and then went out looking for a teacher of the “original Kriya Yoga.” Rather, they came and sat in His God presence and would be so charmed that they would forget everything; like the Gopis did with Krishna. Or like Mother Yashoda with Gopala. They would have done anything He asked. Sometimes they threw themselves down and begged for His Diksha not knowing what that would be, assuming it might be some blessing or mantra. He took them aside and gave his initiation which turned out to be the ways of Kriya. Or sometimes they wouldn’t even ask for Diksha because they would forget even that in his God Intoxicated presence. And then it would be Lahiri Baba himself who might take them aside and say, “Here is something I would like you to do every day in order to remember God.” They would have done anything He said without question. Even if He told them to bounce on their head to Calcutta and back every day, they were just completely surrendered to Him. Those who weren’t left to find other teachers... as it should be. You have to find the teacher you can surrender to.
That is the Kriya Yoga of Lahiri Mahasaya that everyone is asking about. That is the way one has to be. Unless one is that way he is not fit for the God path. But yet look at how the “seekers” are these days. How sad.
Modern seekers have their preconceived idea about what Kriya Yoga is. There are even silly and ridiculous books and websites about “how to tell if you have the real Kriya” as though any of those deluded self-appointed “experts” who write these things have any idea at all. The modern attitude of seeking after a path such as “Kriya Yoga” rather than God Realization has given rise to an insane spiritual marketplace full of fake “Gurus.” None of this is the original Kriya Yoga. Search for God alone like the disciples of Lahiri Baba did. Pray to God for His vision alone.
Real Gurus are the rarest gem on this earth. Hard enough to find... almost impossible. What difference does it make what path they teach? Kriya or something else? Maybe they teach some secret path no one has ever heard of before just as in the 1880s Kriya Yoga was a secret path no one had heard of before. At that time the term “Kriya Yoga” was not even known. When the disciples began to come to Lahiri Baba they had never even heard of “Kriya Yoga.” It was a secret path. There are many secret paths. You will only find God if you put your eye on God alone. With your eye on the target, longing lovingly for God, you will be led like a moth to a flame. And you will be given anything you need, including a REAL Guru. Just as Sri Yukteshvarji was led to His Guru. And the Pranabananda Swami. And Keshabananda Maharaj. You have to have the same attitude as them. Until then you will never find anything but mistaken people, cheats and crooks. None of these people claiming to be acharyas are what they say. None of them. Believe what you wish. We wish we could just separate ourselves from all this madness. It is insane. It is not “Kriya Yoga.” We just like to keep to ourselves. We provide a free web library and see that these writings are in print and preserved. Other than that we keep separate and by ourselves.