Kriya Yoga is an advanced technique for spiritual evolution
that comes down from higher ages of spiritual enlightenment.
Part of the ancient science of Raja Yoga, it is referred
to by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras and by Sri Krishna in
the Bhagavad Gita. Although the actual Kriya technique can
be revealed only to initiates, its purpose and basic nature
have been described by both Yoganandaji and Kriyanandaji
in their respective autobiographies, in chapters dedicated
to this subject.
The Kriya Yogi mentally directs his life energy to
revolve, upward and downward, around the six spinal centers
(medullary, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal
plexuses) which correspond to the twelve astral signs
of the zodiac, the symbolic Cosmic Man. One-half minute
of revolution of energy around the sensitive spinal cord
of man effects subtle progress in his evolution; that
half minute of Kriya equals one year of natural spiritual
—Paramhansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi,1946
Kriya Yoga directs energy lengthwise around the spine,
gradually neutralizing the eddies of chitta. At the same
time it strengthens the nerves in the spine and brain
to receive cosmic currents of energy and consciousness.
Yogananda stated that Kriya is the supreme yoga science.
—Swami Kriyananda, The Path
The knowledge of Kriya became obscured during the dark
age of materialism, known in India as Kali Yuga. It was
revived in 1861 by the immortal Indian master, Babaji, when
he taught it to his disciple Shyama Charan Lahiri of Benares.
This disciple, also honoured by the title of Lahiri Mahasaya,
then developed the Kriya principles into a specific series
of meditation and pranayama practices. He taught this science
to thousands of disciples, mostly family people who, like
himself, maintained their worldly responsibilities while
at the same time practicing Kriya.
In one of the key passages from Autobiography of a Yogi
concerning Kriya in the modern age, Babaji says to Lahiri
A deep purpose underlay the fact that you did not
meet me this time until you were already a married man,
with modest business responsibilities. You must put aside
your thoughts of joining our secret band in the Himalayas;
your life lies in the crowded marts, serving as an example
of the ideal yogi-householder.
The cries of many bewildered worldly men and women
have not fallen unheard on the ears of the Great Ones,
he went on. You have been chosen to bring spiritual solace
through Kriya Yoga to numerous earnest seekers. The millions
who are encumbered by family ties and heavy worldly duties
will take heart from you, a householder like themselves.
You must guide them to see that the highest yogic attainments
are not barred to the family man. Even in the world, the
yogi who faithfully discharges his responsibilities, without
personal motive or attachment, treads the sure path of
enlightenment… A sweet new breath of divine hope
will penetrate the arid hearts of worldly men. From your
balanced life, they will understand that liberation is
dependent on inner, rather than outer, renunciations…
I gazed beseechingly at Babaji. "I pray that you
permit me to communicate Kriya to all seekers, even though
at first they cannot vow themselves to complete inner
renunciation. The tortured men and women of the world,
pursued by the threefold suffering, need special encouragement.
They may never attempt the road to freedom if initiation
be withheld from them."
"Be it so. The divine wish has been expressed through
you." With these simple words, the merciful guru
banished the rigorous safeguards that for ages had hidden
from the world.
—Paramhansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi,
1946 Original Edition
Kriya Yoga in the Western World
Paramhansa Yogananda in Washington, D.C.
The Kriya technique has been transmitted through the same
sacred initiation ceremony that was performed by Babaji
for Lahiri Mahasaya, passed down through the disciples of
Lahiri Mahasaya and onward through their disciples to succeeding
Paramhansa Yogananda is a direct spiritual descendant of
Babaji and Lahiri Mahasaya. His guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar
Giri, was one of Lahiri Mahasaya's most advanced disciples.
In 1920 Yoganandaji was instructed by his guru to go to
the West to share the practices of Kriya and the knowledge
of the eternal, universal truths. From then until his passing
in 1952, he lived in the United States, where he initiated
tens of thousands of sincere seekers in Kriya, inspiring
them to dedicate their lives to the pursuit of God realization.
Whereas in India the guidelines for living a spiritual
"yogic" life are well known, in the West Yoganandaji
had to educate people about such things as proper diet;
right attitudes; balanced living that harmonizes body, mind,
and soul; the development of will power and self-discipline;
and transcendence of physical and emotional attachments.
These "how-to-live" teachings have become an
essential part of the path of Kriya Yoga and are a requisite
to learning the technique of Kriya in the same way that
the yamas and niyamas of Patanjali are necessary steps towards
higher levels of Raja Yoga.
Yoganandaji's teachings thus put the technique of Kriya
Yoga into the wider context of a yogic lifestyle. Educational
centres and communities based on this lifestyle have been
developed in the United States, Europe, and India by his
direct disciple Swami Kriyananda.
See our Web site www.anandaindia.org
for more information.
Kriya Yoga through Ananda Sangha
Spiritual masters usually empower some of their close disciples
to carry on their tradition, even during their own lifetime.
For example, it is mentioned in the Bible, "Jesus
himself baptized not, but his disciples." —John
Paramhansa Yogananda also authorised a number of his close
disciples to give Kriya initiation on his behalf. Some of
these disciples were part of his monastic order; others
were householders in the Kriya tradition of Lahiri Mahasaya.
When Kriyanandaji had been with Yoganandaji for less than
one year, Master placed him in charge of the monks and authorised
him to give Kriya initiation. During the remaining years
of his guru's life, Kriyanandaji often gave the initiation.
Following his guru's passing, Kriyanandaji was sent around
the world to speak about Self-realisation and give initiation
After founding Ananda in 1968, Swami Kriyananda continued
to train devotees in the teachings of Self-realisation,
helping them to prepare for and receive Kriya, each student
according to his own capacities and pace. In recent years
Kriyanandaji has authorised some members of the Ananda Sangha
to give Kriya initiation in Yoganandaji's name.
Ananda Sangha Kriyacharyas
Steps Towards Kriya Initiation
Your Questions on Kriya Yoga
The Kriya Yoga Masters
What Kriyabans Say
Quotes on Kriya from Paramhansa