More than 150 years have passed since Lahiri Mahasaya gained Babaji’s permission to spread openly the ancient, carefully guarded Kriya science.  For his compassionate understanding of their highest need, Kriya Yogis throughout the world bow mentally at the feet of the incomparable Yogavatar.

Lahiri Mahasaya, also known as Shyama Charan Lahiri, was a prominent Indian yogi and guru,
who was born on 30 September 1828, in the village of Ghurni in the Nadia district of Bengal,
India. He belonged to a devout Hindu family and was known for his piety and spiritual inclination
from a young age.


Encounter with Mahavatar Babaji
Unlike many other yogis who renounced worldly life, Lahiri Mahasaya was a householder. He
balanced his spiritual practices with his duties as a husband, father, and accountant for the
Military Engineering Department of the English government. He lived with His family in
Varanasi.
In fall 1861, Lahiri Mahasaya was transferred to Ranikhet, in the foothills of the Himalayas. One
day, while walking in the hills, He heard a voice calling to Him. After climbing further, He met His
Guru Mahavatar Babaji, who initiated Him into the techniques of Kriya Yoga. which had been
lost to public knowledge for centuries.
Babaji spoke: “The divine wish has been expressed through you. Give Kriya freely to all who
humbly ask for help. Repeat to each of your disciples this majestic promise from the Bhagavad
Gita: Swalgampyasya dharmasya, trayate mahato bhayat.” “Even a little practice of this dharma
(religious rite or righteous action) will save you from great fear (mahato bhayat)” — the
colossal sufferings inherent in the repeated cycles of birth and death.”

“A deep purpose underlay the fact that you did not meet me this time until you were
already a married man, with modest family and business responsibilities. Your life lies
amid the city crowds, serving as an example of the ideal yogi-householder.”

Lahiri Mahasaya returned to Benares; at his home and the great spiritual renaissance began;
He gave Kriya initiation to those of every faith, including Hindus, Moslems, and Christians, at a
time when caste bigotry was very strong.

TEACHINGS

Lahiri Mahasaya emphasized the importance of direct experience and inner realization over
mere theoretical knowledge. He taught that the divine can be experienced directly through
the disciplined practice of Kriya Yoga.

Kriya Yoga and Lineage
Kriya Yoga is a precise and powerful technique of meditation that involves control of the
breath and mind. It is described as a science of spiritual realization and is considered a
direct path to achieving spiritual enlightenment.
Diksha or initiation in Kriya Yoga involves more than instruction in a particular scientific
technique; the disciple receives with the instruction a hidden and eternal blessing from the
SRF-YSS Gurus that is an essential ingredient for spiritual success.

A significant feature of Lahiri Mahasaya’s life was his gift of Kriya initiation to those of every
faith.
Paramahansa Yogananda was the last of the line of four Indian gurus who were divinely
ordained to revive and spread the technique of Kriya in the world in this age.  For the
perpetuation of the liberating science, Yogananda established a monastic Self-Realization
Order, from whose numbers a few qualified disciples are chosen from time to time to initiate
others.
Through the Autobiography of a Yogi thousands of earnestly seeking men and women have
come to know about Kriya Yoga, and to remold their lives through the divine power of this
science and the spiritual benedictions of Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar, and
Paramahansa Yogananda.

Lahiri Mahasaya encouraged His students to adhere to the tenets of their own faith, adding the
Kriya techniques to what they already were practicing. Hindus, Muslims, and Christians were
among his foremost disciples. Monists and dualists, those of all faiths or no established faith,
were impartially received and instructed by the universal guru. One of his highly advanced
devotees was Abdul Gufoor Khan, a Mohammedan. It shows great courage on the part of Lahiri
Mahasaya that, although a high-caste Brahmin, he tried his utmost to dissolve the rigid caste
bigotry of his time. Those from every walk of life found shelter under the master’s omnipresent
wings.
He initiated around 5000 persons in India in Kriya Yoga.  For his compassionate understanding
of their highest need, Kriya Yogis throughout the world bow mentally at the feet of the
incomparable Yogavatar: Lahiri Mahasaya. 
“Make the acquaintance of God now,” the great guru told his disciples. Meditate
unceasingly, that you 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.”
“Solve all your problems through meditation.” No matter what the disciple’s problem,
Lahiri Mahasaya advised Kriya Yoga for its solution. “I am ever with those who practice
Kriya,” he would say consolingly to his devotees who could not remain near him. “I will
guide you to the Cosmic Home through your ever-enlarging spiritual perceptions.”
Gita Assemblies
He organized many study groups and regular discourses on the Bhagavad Gita at His “Gita
Assemblies.” Like all God-inspired prophets, Lahiri Mahasaya gave new hope to the outcastes
and downtrodden of society.
As his enlightened grandson, Sri Ananda Mohan Lahiri wrote:
“The Bhagavad Gita and other parts of the Mahabharata epic possess several knot-points
(vyas-kutas). Keep the knot points unquestioned, and we find only mythical stories of a peculiar
and easily misunderstood type. Leave the knot points unexplained, and we lose a science that
India has preserved with superhuman patience after a quest of thousands of years of
experiment.
‘Lahiri Mahasaya brought to light, clear of allegories, the science of religion that had been
cleverly put out of sight in a riddle of scriptural imagery.”

Lahiri Mahasaya himself said: 
‘Remember that you belong to no one and that no one belongs to you. Reflect that
someday you will suddenly have to leave everything in this world and make the
acquaintance of God now. Prepare yourself for the coming astral journey of death by
riding daily in a balloon of divine perception. He only is wise who devotes himself to
realizing, not reading only the ancient revelations. Solve all your problems through
meditation. Exchange unprofitable speculations for actual God-communion.”
Paramahansa Yogananda proclaimed Lahiri Mahasaya to be a Yogavatar, or Incarnation of
Yoga, and said: “Apart from the miracles of his own life, surely the Yogavatar reached the zenith
of all wonders in reducing the ancient complexities of yoga to an effective simplicity within the
ordinary grasp.”

DISCIPLES AND THEIR EXPERIENCES

Lahiri Mahasaya’s teachings had a profound impact on many spiritual seekers and his disciples
included notable figures such as Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri (the guru of Paramahansa
Yogananda), Panchanan Bhattacharya, and others. Through his disciples, his teachings spread
widely, especially after the publication of “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa
Yogananda.
When  Swami Sri Yukteswar, one of Lahiri Mahasaya’s greatest disciples, attended a Kumbha
Mela at Allahabad in 1894, he met Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya’s guru, for the first time.  Babaji told
him:
“Some years hence I shall send you a disciple whom you can train for yoga
dissemination in the West.  The vibrations there of many spiritually seeking souls come
floodlike to me.  I perceive potential saints in America and Europe, waiting to be
awakened.”
Yoganandaji’s parents were devout disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya.  When Yogananda was but a
baby his mother took him to the great master to be baptized.  “Little mother,” Lahiri
Mahasaya said, “thy son will be a yogi.  As a spiritual engine, he will carry many souls to
God’s kingdom.”
Although the Yogavatar entered maha samadhi shortly after this incident, he made numerous
supernal visits to the little boy Yogananda while he meditated at the family shrine.  Lahiri
Mahasaya also healed him of the usually fatal Asiatic cholera.
Sri Sanyal confessed: ‘My Guru is my father, my God. I like to see him as my God. Never have
I met another so great as he. Meeting him once one could never forget him.’
 “I had it in mind at the age of 14 to study the Vedas.  I had never thought of going for instruction
to Lahiri Mahasaya; but when I found him, he asked me to study the Vedas with him.
On the first visit, I had no idea of initiation but only an ordinary visit; but when I saw him, he
began to smile for no reason at all, and kept smiling and smiling.  Intuition came to me that his
smile meant that he was my guru and that I would have to come to him for initiation.  I was
initiated by him at the age of 15, and when I was 16 he asked me to give kriya yoga initiation to
seekers.  I have now given initiation to about 5000 persons.
When I was 15 or 16 I had malaria. My eldest sister wrote to Lahiri Mahasaya in Benares asking
if I would be cured.  He replied that there was no danger, that I would not die young, for I had
much work ahead of me.  He wrote this message in his own hand.
When I was 19, Lahiri Mahasaya died.  For a time I was inconsolable.  I slept but seldom and I
wept all the time.  One night I was weeping and fell asleep while doing so.  Suddenly I woke up
to find Lahiri Mahasaya in front of me, looking just as he had done while he was in the
flesh.  He asked, “Why are you weeping?  You live not only in this world; you are  also
with me.”   Lahiri Mahasaya smiled and added, “Why have you imagined I was not here? I
am always with you. I am here now with you. You need not be afraid.”  I touched his body
and he then disappeared. This miracle happened in Deoghar.
A similar incident took place in Santiniketan when I was there as a superintendent.  I was very ill
and gave up on my loss.  One night when I was sleeping, Lahiri Mahasaya appeared in a dream
and asked me what was the matter.  I said, “Now that I’m going to die, I regret that I have not

been able to do more in this life.”  Lahiri Mahasaya touched me and said, “You’re not going
to die. You have something more to achieve in this life.”  The doctors who were treating me
were greatly surprised to see me better the next morning and talk with the people around me.
When Dayamata asked Sanya Mahasaya whether Lahiri Mahasaya manifested more
of bhakti or of jnana. The saint replied he was all-sided. He was the most loving person he had
ever met, yet he had expressed himself in terms of sublimest wisdom.’
Srimati Kashi Moni, the life companion of Lahiri Mahasaya revealed in an interview:
“It was years before I came to realize the divine stature of my husband,” she began. “One night,
in this very room, I had a vivid dream. Glorious angels floated in unimaginable grace above me.
So realistic was the sight that I awoke at once; the room was strangely enveloped in dazzling
light.
“My husband, in lotus posture, was levitated in the center of the room, surrounded by angels
who were worshiping him with the supplicating dignity of palm-folded hands. Astonished beyond
measure, I was convinced that I was still dreaming.
“‘Woman,’ Lahiri Mahasaya said, ‘you are not dreaming. Forsake your sleep forever and
forever.’ As he slowly descended to the floor, I prostrated myself at his feet.
“‘Master,’ I cried, ‘again and again I bow before you! Will you pardon me for having considered
you as my husband? I die with shame to realize that I have remained asleep in ignorance by the
side of one who is divinely awakened. From this night, you are no longer my husband, but my
guru. Will you accept my insignificant self as your disciple?”
“The master touched me gently. ‘Sacred soul, arise. You are accepted.’ He motioned toward the
angels. ‘Please bow in turn to each of these holy saints.’
“When I had finished my humble genuflections, the angelic voices sounded together, like a
chorus from an ancient scripture.
“‘Consort of the Divine One, thou art blessed. We salute thee.’ They bowed at my feet and lo!
their refulgent forms vanished. The room darkened.
“My guru asked me to receive initiation into Kriya Yoga.
“‘Of course,’ I responded. ‘I am sorry not to have had its blessing earlier in my life.’
“‘The time was not ripe.’ Lahiri Mahasaya smiled consolingly. ‘Much of your karma I have
silently helped you to work out. Now you are willing and ready.’
“He touched my forehead. Masses of whirling light appeared; the radiance gradually formed
itself into the opal-blue spiritual eye, ringed in gold and centered with a white pentagonal star.
“‘Penetrate your consciousness through the star into the kingdom of the Infinite.’ My guru’s
voice had a new note, soft like distant music.
“Vision after vision broke as oceanic surf on the shores of my soul. The panoramic spheres
finally melted in a sea of bliss. I lost myself in ever-surging blessedness. When I returned hours
later to awareness of this world, the master gave me the technique of Kriya Yoga.
“From that night on, Lahiri Mahasaya never slept in my room again. Nor, thereafter, did he ever
sleep. He remained in the front room downstairs, in the company of his disciples both by day
and by night.”

Death and Continuing Influence
In 1895 he began gathering his disciples, letting some of them know that he would soon be
leaving the body.
Swami Keshawabanda wrote:
  “At my guru’s home, I found many disciples assembled.  For hours that day, the master
expounded the Gita; then he addressed us simply.
“‘I am going home.’
“Sobs of anguish broke out like an irresistible torrent.
“‘Be comforted; I shall rise again.‘  After this utterance, Lahiri Mahasaya three times turned
his body around in a circle, faced the north in his lotus posture, and gloriously entered the final
maha samadhi.

“Lahiri Mahasaya’s beautiful body, so dear to the devotees, was cremated with solemn
householder rites at Manikarnika Ghat by the holy Ganges,” Keshabananda continued.
 “The following day, at ten o’clock in the morning, while I was still in Benares, my room was
suffused with a great light.  Lo! Before I stood the flesh and blood form of Lahiri Mahasaya!  It
looked exactly like his old body, except that it appeared younger and more radiant.  My divine
guru spoke to me.
“‘Keshabananda,’ he said, ‘it is I.  From the disintegrated atoms of my cremated body, I
have resurrected a remodeled form.  My householder work in the world is done, but I do
not leave the earth entirely.  Henceforth I shall spend some time with Babaji in the
Himalayas and with Babaji in the cosmos.’
“With a few words of blessing to me, the transcendent master vanished.  Wondrous inspiration
filled my heart; I was uplifted in Spirit even as were the disciples of Christ and Kabir when they
had gazed on their living gurus after physical death.
“When I returned to my isolated hermitage in Hardwar,” Keshabananda went on, “I carried with
me a portion of the sacred ashes of Lahiri Mahasaya. I knew he had escaped the
spatiotemporal cage; the bird of omnipresence was freed. Yet it comforted my heart to enshrine
his holy ashes.”
Lahiri Mahasaya passed away on September 26, 1895. However, his influence continues
through the teachings of his disciples and their successors. His life and teachings are revered in
the Kriya Yoga tradition and continue to inspire spiritual practitioners around the world.
Lahiri Mahasaya’s approach to spirituality, emphasizing practical and experiential aspects, has
left a lasting legacy in the spiritual traditions of India and beyond.

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