P1070186Just a few minutes by rickshaw from Santosh Puri in Haridwar, is the the samadhi temple of Lahiri Mahasaya – the great 19th century father of Kriya Yoga, and guru of Sri Yukteswar (guru of Paramahansa Yogananda). “In 1895 he began gathering his disciples, letting some of them know that he would soon be leaving the body. Moments before his passing, he said simply, ‘I am going home. Be comforted; I shall rise again.’ He then turned his body around three times, faced north, and consciously left his body, entering mahasamadhi. Lahiri Mahasaya died on September 26, 1895.

~ Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi

“As a householder-yogi, Lahiri Mahasaya brought a practical message suited to the needs of today’s world. The excellent economic and religious conditions of ancient India no longer obtain. The great master therefore did not encourage the old ideal of a yogi as a wandering ascetic with a begging bowl. He stressed, rather, the advantages to a yogi of earning his own living, of not being dependent on a hard-pressed society for support, and of practicing yoga in the privacy of his home. To his counsel Lahiri Mahasaya added the heartening force of his own example. He was a modern, “streamlined” model of a yogi.

~ Autobiography of a Yogi

When I completed my yoga TTC back in 2008 at the Ananda Yoga ashram in Grass Valley, California, there were always photos of the great masters hung in all the rooms at the retreat center. The miraculous stories of the gurus were told, and their presence was strongly felt throughout the course, as they watched over us behind their glass frames. Down the the path from the main yoga hall, was a small meditation temple, with a white life-like statue of Lahiri Mahasaya. Sometimes at night I would meditate in front of the master. His presence was so strong that it seemed like the statue would blink at any moment, if I so much as blinked myself.

Now here in India, the land of Bharat, I come again into the presence of this wonderful lineage of spiritual wisdom. Underneath the samadhi shrine, was a small room for meditation, where Charlotte and I took shelter from the rains. We took our asana on the floor, and dipped our minds into the current of Kriya Yoga. When we re-emerged the rains had cleared, the sun was shining brightly on our faces.

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Like many great prophets and saints, Lahiri Mahasaya himself did not write any books or literature, but instructed several disciples in scribing his teachings. Sri Ananda Mohan Lahiri, a late grandson of the master, wrote the following:

“The life of Lahiri Mahasaya set an example which changed the erroneous notion that yoga is a mysterious practice. Every man may find a way through Kriya to understand his proper relation with Nature and to feel spiritual reverence for all phenomena, whether mystical or of everyday occurrence, in spite of the matter-of-factness of physical science. We should bear in mind that what was mystical a thousand years ago is no longer so, and what is mysterious now may become lawfully intelligible a hundred years hence.

“The law of Kriya Yoga is eternal. It is true like mathematics; like the simple rules of addition and subtraction, the lat of Kriya can never be destroyed. Burn to ashes all books on mathematics; the logically minded will always rediscover such truths. Destroy all books on yoga; its fundamentals will be re-revealed whenever there appears a yogi with pure devote and consequently pure knowledge.”

~ Autobiography of a Yogi