Yoga has many branches. The path of Karma Yoga seeks union with the Infinite or God through work or action. Jnana Yoga seeks union with the Absolute through practice of spiritual wisdom. Bhakti Yoga achieves the same goal through devotion. Mantra or Japa Yoga enables one to perceive the Divine through persistent utterance of sacred words. Raja Yoga comprises the eightfold path, as outlined by Patanjali, (e.g. yama, niyama, asana, pranayama etc.), and leads one to the same Divine goal.
Kriya Yoga belongs to the school of Raja Yoga but it encompasses significant parts of other Yoga schools so deftly that its practitioner achieves rapid spiritual progress. Pranayama, or control of subtle life currents, constitutes the basis of Kriya Yoga. The spiritual aspirant maneuvers the breathing process to calm the mind to a point where an awareness of the Divine gradually manifests within himself.
The secret techniques of Kriya Yoga, which must be learned from an enlightened Kriya Yoga master, dissolve the personal ego and body awareness into the realization of eternity and ultimately union with Cosmic Consciousness. Physical, mental and intellectual upliftment happen spontaneously.
Apart from a healthy and lustrous body, a sublime feeling that the Supreme Self is dwelling within us in the form of divine light makes one free from the woes and anxieties of life and one can attain a serene and sublime calmness. Some aspirants feel divine vibrations in the entire body. Some become aware of the holy sounds, not perceived by ordinary human beings. As an aspirant advances, he or she gets completely lost in the luminous spiritual third eye. Negative qualities gradually disappear. In this sublime stillness, one experiences the palpable presence of the Absolute, and one can understand why, in the Psalms (46:10) it is said, “Be still and know that I am God”.
Sadhananandaji’s Guru, Swami Bhabanandaji used to say very often: “Breathing is not the property of anyone or of any country, community or religion.” He meant that anyone can attain the Supreme Reality through the breathing and energy techniques of Kriya Yoga. And that is why we can say that there is no communal or sectarian narrowness or discrimination in the Kriya Yoga tradition. Any individual can pursue this sublime path and can reach the summit of human attainment. There remains only one condition for success: sincere practice.
Does one need a Guru for Kriya?
The word Sadguru (also spelled Satguru) means a true master. But the scriptures hint at something more: a Sadguru is not only a realized master but also an embodiment of the Absolute in a mortal frame. The Sansrkrit root word “Sat,” ususally translated as true or truth, also signifies the Ultimate Reality, especially when used as one of the names of the divine Trinity known as Aum, Tat, Sat. As stated in the Brahmabid Brahmaiba Bhabati, “He who knows the Infinite, becomes the Infinite.” A Kriya practitioner realizes the truth of this statement as he advances in his sadhana (spiritual practice).
Without the blessings of a Sadguru or an authorized Kriya master, none can enter this sacred path. Through diksha or initiation (a ritual somewhat like baptism), the Guru transmits His power and energy to the disciple. This is called shaktipaat, and in the course of Kriya Yoga practice, the disciple finds his inner identity merging with the Divine. A sense of pantheism envelops him and he perceives the Supreme Self everywhere.
Can a Guru-disciple relationship be established without meeting one’s Guru?
In strict yogic tradition, one has to meet one’s Guru and request initiation. If the Guru accepts the spiritual seeker as a disciple, then the Guru-disciple relationship is established. Lord Krishna explains in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 4 Verse 34) that the three essential tenets of discipleship are: reverence, inquiry, and personal service to one’s Guru.
Paramhansa Yogananda writes in his Gita commentary (God Talks to Arjuna, Page 515-516): “There are three ways of tuning with the Guru: by self-surrender, by intelligent questions and by service.” Yogananda further mentions that an advanced disciple goes on receiving the Guru’s blessings and guidance even after the Guru leaves his “mortal flesh for invisible Omnipresence.” A disciple starts his / her spiritual journey through initiation from the mortal physical frame of a Guru. After the Guru leaves his mortal frame, the journey continues in the astral world. Both Paramhansa Yogananda and Swami Sadhanananda began the Guru-disciple relationship after meeting their own Guru in person. Both these saints give a wonderful exposition of the Guru-disciple relationship in their literary works, which postulate the fact that this relationship is not a matter of cerebral exercise.
In the ancient mythical age, we find Lord Rama and Lord Krishna, although themselves being already identified with the Divine, felt it necessary to honor this age old tradition of meeting the Guru physically.
Will Swamiji give me Kriya Yoga initiation?
Whether someone will receive diksha (sacred spiritual initiation) from Swamiji is completely predetermined by his prarabdha karma (past actions). Some are refused initiation: Swamiji may say “I am not your Guru. You may wish to take initiation from some other organization. Your bhava (spiritual mood and sentiments) match better with theirs.” In some cases, he himself has initiated some devotees by inviting the person himself. But in most cases, one needs to request initiation, and then meet him in person.
Swami Sadhanananda’s Book on Kriya Yoga
Sadhananandaji has written Kriya Yoga: Its Mystery And Performing Art, designed especially for current Kriya Yoga practitioners and other sincere seekers. You may order it from Amazon.com.