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Liberated living through the sadhana of yog; enlivened by the grace of my satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath.


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Kriya Yoga~ speedy, scientific and practical? OR esoteric, secretive and mystical?

This article was published in an online magazine on the 7th of January 2021. link provided
https://www.esamskriti.com/e/Yoga/Meditation/KRIYA-YOGA~speedy,-scientific-and-practical-OR-esoteric,-secretive-and-mystical-1.aspx

Before getting down to write, I typed in Kriya Yoga on the search bar and it threw up 1,10,000,00 search results in seconds. That made me wonder what new information I could share that will be different from everything told and retold about this practice. It is my friend Sanjeev who urged me to write about this very special form of Yog Sadhana, one that has been a part of my present life since 1998, when I met my Satguru, first in a vision then initiated into this in person, a practice which I, from day one, took to like a fish takes to water. 

As usual I write from personal experience and inference about spiritual truths as revealed to me by the grace of my Satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath and my personal journey in this sadhana of Kriya Yoga. Read it for what it is, a respectful bow by a sadhak to a practice given by a Satguru. Yogiraj Siddhanath is one of the masters of the present times entrusted with teaching the Kriya Yoga by none other than the Mahavatar Babaji.

But first the beginning of Kriya Yoga in modern times

Shri Shama Charan Lahiri
(Lahiri Mahasaya)

The torch of Kriya Yoga in its present form was brought to humankind by Sri Shama Charan Lahiri, aka Lahiri Mahasaya, pronounced Moshai in Bengali and Mahashay in Hindi; it is a common form of address in India meaning revered or most respected sir. His meeting with Babaji has been detailed by Paramahamsa Yogananda in his book Autobiography of a Yogi. For the accounts of Lahiri Mahasaya’s life in this article, I have referred to the book Purana Purusha, excerpts from the diaries of Lahiri Baba himself and its introduction by Yogacharya Vacaspati Dr. Ashok Kumar Chatterjee. 

From the start what endeared and inspired me most about Lahiri Baba, was his simple life. Despite his spiritual brilliance, of which he seemed unaware until his meeting with the Mahavatar at age 40, he went about life in a most ordinary manner. 

A childhood normal in most ways, with some indications of his spiritual yogic nature, a father who paid great attention to his education, his early marriage to Kashimoni followed in time by birth of two sons and three daughters. At age 23 he was commissioned a sarkari job as a clerk in PWD, Military Engineering Works. To bolster his income he gave lessons in Hindi and Urdu to a few English army officers.

(Mahavatar Babaji)

And then in the year 1868, one day while out on a walk in the hills of Ranikhet, he was authoritatively summoned by an ascetic and taken to meet the divine Mahavatar Babaji. After this momentous experience and realisation, Lahiri Mahasaya went right back to his job and family and in a quiet manner started to carry out the instructions of his Guru to spread the light of Kriya Yoga from his home in Kashi. 

In fact his second and youngest daughter were born after his meeting with the radiant Mahavatar, proof of a continuance of a normal householder’s life. The Master showed by example how a truly spiritual life can be led whilst living in the material world – for me this is one of the greatest teachings by Lahiri Mahasaya. 

That is how simple Kriya Yoga is, a fast track evolutionary technique of pranayam that takes you to the highest stages of yog sadhana while keeping you rooted in the ground of a householders life. 

This lesson is amply set forth in present times by my Satguru who is also a householder yogi and continues to radiate the awareness of Kriya Yoga from his forest ashram in Pune Maharashtra, inspiring disciples to find tranquility in the midst of turmoil. 

A quick note here as today most people know of Kriya Yoga and the lineage of Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar Giri and Yogananada due to the world famous book Autobiography of a Yogi. But it is important to note that Shama Charan Lahiri had many advanced disciples of whom one was Sri Yukteswar who in turn had many advanced disciples one of whom was Yogananda. Now all these disciples have their own lineages and student and teachers base. Most follow the original Kriya Yoga as revived by Lahiri Mahasaya with the grace and blessings of Mahavatar Babaji, and many of them in their own right had personal and deep experiences with Babaji. 

The importance of a living Guru 

Satguru’s have been appearing from time to time to enliven and refresh this evolutionary fast track practice to attain self realisation for disciples. Often the disciples who come and quickly flow into the practice are also souls who have been introduced to this path in lives past and come to continue the journey with the present master. Actually nothing is lost, the practice continues from where it was left off. Yogiraj Siddhanath is one such master. 

Personally for me the present Guru, in my case Yogiraj Siddhanath, is enough to lead one to enlightenment without the unnecessary encumbrance of past masters and the desire for “original” techniques. As the human brain and nervous systems evolve the practices are tweaked by the masters who come to suit present day requirements. 

This is a point of much debate and lots of jostling by various branches of Kriya Yoga schools, but this is my realisation that the present true Guru leads the disciple without fail towards the goal of self realisation (sabikalpa/sarvikalpa) and god realisation (nirbikalpa/nirvikalpa). As a disciple what is required is Vivek buddhi and swadhyaya which will help in discerning a true master from a pretender, that’s the only thing to watch out for and what many seekers fear. 

When I met Yogiraj Siddhanath, the first time it was in a vision where he summoned me to his ashram in Pune. Those were pre-internet days of landline phones in 1998, how I reached the Pune ashram is a story by itself. You can read about this in my book, One Master, one disciple. This guiding to the Guru, bolstered my confidence that the disciples find their way to the Guru without fail when their time comes and this has been proved by recounts of many disciples on how they found the Guru or on how the Guru found them! 

The living Guru, for me, is the concrete connecting bridge who steers the disciple unerringly on the path individually. Also there are no doubts about the messages, instructions and milestones that arrive during practice which can otherwise be coloured by our own ego and or flights of fancy or just misunderstood by the mind. The living guru keeps the disciple steady and on course each according to their own needs. The greatest gift the living guru bestows is as the disciple reaches out to the external Guru, the external Guru guides the disciple to the inner Guru and once this connection is established no separation of the Guru and the disciple is possible. 

The Mystical Mahavatar Babaji

Lahiri Mahasaya said simply, “Budha baba ohi Kisun,” hinting at the stature of a person addressed as Babaji, a generic term used for the elderly in India connecting him to the purnavatar Krishna. There are accounts by many of their meeting with this exalted being, their trysts with the Mahavatar and the lessons learnt from him. The magical mystical meetings have given rise to many books and schools of learning. 

Here I write about the one I know firsthand recounted by my Guru, Yogiraj Siddhanath. Yogiraj had deep and personal experiences of this Being, whom he calls Mahavatar Shiva Goraksha Babaji, in both the human and cosmic form in the Himalayas at the Jhilmili Gufa at the base of the Neelkantheshwar peak in Badrinath and at the confluence of the Alakhnanada and Mandakini rivers at Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand. In his experience of the Mahavatar is the realisation of the Mahavatar as none other than Gorakhnath, the being who burst out of the heart of Adi Nath Shiva. In his book, Babaji: the Light Standing Still he connects the Mahavatar Babaji unerringly with Shiva Gorakhshanath and the Nath lineage with references from historical and spiritual texts.

Among other inferences, Yogiraj has shown the similarity between the Goraksha Kriya from the Goraksha Shatak and the Babaji Kriya of Mahavatar Babaji. Says Yogiraj Siddhanath in his book Babaji, the Lightning Standing Still, “The hundred verses of the Gorksha Shataka given below connect beautifully to the original Kriya Yoga which is given to us by Shiva Goraksha Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteshwar Giri. Some of the instructions of Kriya Yoga have been taken ad verbatim from the Goraksha Shataka. 

This only goes to make clear that Babaji of Autobiography of a Yogi and Goraksha Nath, who wrote the Shataka, are one and the same.” Both have the Omkar Kriya, Hamsa (pronounced Hong Sha in Bengali) sadhana, Kriya Yoga Pranayam, Nabhi Kriya, Mahamudra, Yoni or Jyoti Mudra, Unmani/ Para Avastha, Khechari Mudra, Thokar Kriya and so on.


(Earth Peace Temple at Siddhanath Forest Ashram)

The Earth Peace Temple at the ashram in Pune houses one of the largest consolidated akhanda mercury shivling. Disciples and devotees from across the globe visit to sit in the peaceful radiation of this linga and be propelled to high states in their sadhana. The consolidation of mercury is an alchemical process whose custodians are the Nath yogis. Yogiraj Siddhanath, it should be noted is the first to reveal the commonalities between the Nath Sampradaya of Gorakhnath and the Kriya Yoga lineage of Mahavatar Babaji.


(Yogiraj with Parad Shivling)

Kriya Yoga, the spinal highway to evolution

Much has been written about the practice itself so I will limit myself to a few fundamentals according to my realisations. Yogananda called it the aeroplane path and Yogiraj defines it as the lightning path. Both showing the fast track nature of this pranayam to propel the practitioner towards realisation of the Self. 

The spine has been the measurement of evolution from invertebrate to vertebrate to Homo Erectus, the upright man. Further evolution from human to divine, I understood, also takes place along the subtle sushumna channel within the spine, wherein starts the scope of Kriya Yoga. 

The fundamental goal of any practice from the sanatan repertoire is to free the soul from the cycle of birth and rebirth into suffering…, Kriya Yoga achieves this by a dual movement of evolving the awareness while simultaneously burning past karmas of the practitioner freeing them from this cyclic repetition. 

As the practice takes roots the practitioner is propelled towards the higher stages of yog sadhana- to pratyahar, dharana, dhyan and by the grace of the living Satguru samadhi. 

The Process of Learning

A simple technique to learn, the magic of transformation is in the consistency of practice. There are many schools of Kriya Yoga that have branched out of the fountainhead of Lahiri Mahasaya and his disciples and their disciples and so on and so forth. All have their own systems in place for the sharing of this wisdom. 

In some, the initiation or deeksha is given by authorised teachers and the empowerment or anugraha is imparted in a sacred ceremony by the Satguru. In others both are done by the Satguru who initiates and empowers in one ceremony. Some give all the Kriyas together and others over an extended period of time. As a seeker one must find the one that suits the most. 

Yogiraj Siddhanath has authorised many teachers in India and around the globe to impart this technique but seekers are also welcome to go directly to his events, at the Pune ashram or in various cities of India and abroad, which he visits periodically, to be initiated and empowered by him directly. 

The forest ashram in Pune is built at the base of the Singhad hills and has room for over a hundred people to stay. The ashram is rustic but with all modern amenities, a gym and a swimming pool. Retreats are organised regularly and one activity is meditating in the pool as the water helps in the movement of the meditative breath. The other daily activity is meditating in the presence of the Satguru and the consolidated mercury shivling for enhanced meditation and healing. 

Yogiraj is one of the rare living masters who is still personally available and disciples can spend time in his presence at the ashram and during his travels. The very environs of the ashram brings stillness and peace to the person entering.

For more information on Yogiraj’s events: www.siddhanath.org


(Picture of Chandigarh Centre)

(Author with kids)

At my centre in Chandigarh regular yog classes and initiations into Kriya Yoga are held. Though, these days all classes have moved online. Activities also focus on introducing children to the benefits of yog and meditation, on living in harmony with others and nature. 

When Yogiraj visits it becomes a hub for people from all over who come to be in his presence and partake of the Kriya knowledge and avail of the transmissions of Shaktipat, Pranpat and Shivapat that Yogiraj is constantly radiating. 

In conclusion do I think Kriya Yoga to be speedy, scientific and practical? Or esoteric, secretive and mystical? Yes to both of course, a speedy, scientific and practical technique to learn, the practice of it introduces and opens up the awareness to esoteric secrets of the mystical. Liberating one from the daily trammels of one’s life it leads one unerringly towards the goal of yog sadhana- final liberation.

Author Kriyacharya Jyoti lives in Chandigarh.

To read by Yogiraj Siddhanath – Babaji: The Lighting Standing Still

To read about and buy by author – One Master, One Disciple A thrilling spiritual adventure

To read all articles by author on site (eSamskriti)

PART 2 soon to come…




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You are what You Eat?

This post, spearheaded by current discussions on social media by friends, is nevertheless a result inspired by my personal experiences. It is not an argument for or against any particular food habits and does not endorse a lifestyle choice on food, which I believe is very personal and depends upon one’s own understanding of ones body and its needs. Finally, a ‘disclaimer’ – all opinions expressed here are mine alone and anyone is free to disagree. With these views  I may disappoint some people, inspire some or pass by others without a ripple and thats fine.

Early learning.

From childhood I have heard there are three types of people, tamasic, rajasic and sattvic. The day I was lazy, didn’t have a bath, comb my hair or was generally lolling about my grandma would say, “what a tamasic child she is today!” Stale food was a no no at home, even refrigerated food was considered tamasic. Meat?! even garlic and onions were used sparingly, for medicinal purposes only lest they evoke rajasic qualities. Forget the fact that being apparently tamasic i was actually immersed in books reading stories from the Bhagavatam, the Panchatantra or stories of Krishn, Prahlad or Ayyapa, a clearly sattvic activity even if done in ones pyjamas.

Then, at age five I got hurt and the Bengali doctor in his wisdom prescribed two half boiled eggs for me as daily diet. The eggs were boiled outside the house and kitchen in a little stove in a rusty tin can which was washed and dried outside.  But what about me? A brahmin child, fed on ‘sattvic’ food from birth? I waited daily for the eggs like a devotee waits for prasad hands in supplication; I loved it, the flavour, the texture, the fragrance of the runny egg, a new experience for all my senses. And that was a guilty secret I finally confessed to my Amma and Appa who, thankfully for my psychological well being, had a hearty laugh at their child’s predilection. 😀

As i grew up i went through phases of rajasic and tamasic and sattvic habits in food and way of life. Going through the university of life and picking up information and knowledge and gaining wisdom from personal experiences. In 1998 I met my Satguru, Yogiraj Siddhanath and wisdom started to flower into realizations.

Sustained and disciplined yogic practice added its inputs and one major realization that came was motive trumps everything else when it comes to the effect of an action. The energy behind the act decides the resultant fruit of that action.

Today I eat very little, mostly organic vegetarian food cooked at home but without obsessing, eat what’s available…or not.

Outer Sattvicity

Today’s topic is about food, yet I’d like to begin this section with an anecdote I heard as a kid. Kabir the great mystic saint from Kashi was a weaver. While he weaved the cloth he would be immersed in divine love, people of Kashi came in hordes to buy cloth woven at his loom. Apparently when one wore the cloth woven by Kabir one would spontaneously go into a blissful samadhi like state.

Though this anecdote is self explanatory, it reiterates my point that everything we use becomes sattvic or tamasic by the energy and motive that touches it at every stage. The food we eat is effected by the soil that its grown on, the water thats used for irrigation, the mental state of the farmer who is harvesting it, the emotions of the person processing or cooking it. A happy citizenry produces happy benign products, meat, fruits or vegetables, it matters not.

Hence the importance of caring for our environment, our craftsmen and farmers, people who serve and are served, to live with awareness of our surroundings, not to leave large toxic footprints. Without arguments this is the ideal yogic external life too. A true practicing yogi, according to me, is incapable of polluting the environment, is not a glutton, is judicious in consumption, follows a minimalistic approach towards resources.

In India traditionally, there are mantras specifically formulated and chanted, while planting the seeds, before harvest, while cooking, after cooking, and then before taking the first morsel, these mantras by their vibrations are believed to neutralise all toxins, physical and vibrational contained in the food.

Inner Sattvicity

Now about the yogi who has internalised….Yes this blog is for those already part of the way up this path, those who are engaged in purifying the inner.

For moi, internalising the external, the practicing yogi becomes aware of the physical body as a temple that houses the soul and the spirit of the divine, and treats it as such. Every moment understanding the sacredness and sanctity of this body temple theres a reluctance to pollute it intentionally with gross food or thoughts and emotions.

But often the yogi is not supported in this endeavour by the produce that is available. What happens when such a yogi engaged in the purifying of the inner being eats toxic/tamasic, non sattvic food? I know, by experience, that the body of the practicing yogi processes the food, ingesting the nourishing and expelling the toxic naturally and making it sattvic. There’s no voluntary thought process happening here. It’s happened to me there’s a blip in the body, a pause and then course correction, the toxins are eliminated and the body recovers quickly. This happens with emotional and mental toxic vibrations too external and internal….quick jettisoning of all baggage.

The yogi here is not expending any energy on conscious control of the external circumstance, “oh i got a bunch of toxic bacterias in the last bite, um salmonella, oops i think the vegetable/fish/piece of meat i just ate was very sad, was that an aphid that i just swallowed with my raw organically grown salad leaf? I need to go through a detox programme now.” Nope, the body is fine tuned to take care of this while the yogic mind flows in a constant stream towards the divine. It’s all because of the practice, the pranayama, the bandhas, the kumbhaks, the mudras, the intelligence of the pran…the specialised techniques given by the Guru, by the grace of the Satguru.

Fact is we all have all three qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas in varying degrees in all of us and in all the food available. As Yogiraj Siddhanath points out these three represent the three humours of  Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which in a practicing yogi transforms to prana, tejas and ojas and then further to hamsa, kundalini and nectar and finally livingness, light and love. So wherein is one superior to the other? When by internal alchemy all three flow towards the divine ultimately.

I shall probably be back to add more inputs as the realizations come. In the meantime, if you like to please leave a comment in the box below. Points and counterpoints welcome, but toxic comments will be automatically purged 😀


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Kashi- Flowing us back to our source.

It’s amazing isn’t it when a certain truth is revealed to you at an unguarded moment and your awareness has an Aha moment and the brain lights up with a brilliance. Such revealed knowledge occurs as a result of the grace of our Satguru and our personal sadhana and has the potential to transform us but might have little significance for someone else. This happened to me on a recent visit to Kashi.

Yes took off for a long time, but thats the beauty of a blog, no deadlines and no compulsions ha ha. Anyways here I am back from Kashi with what I’m hoping is another small step towards divinity….or not huh.

It was a peaceful time to visit this city.

Being the monsoon season the Ganga flowed majestically full, pregnant with water; her movement evoked in me a nostalgia of many lifetimes spent in her arms on the ghats of Kashi. A familiarity with her ebb and flow which could not have come from this life. The city streets felt the same, intimate knowledge akin to the free pariah dog who has marked territory and knows every secret of the winding gallis. On each visit to Varanasi as this city is now known, I have experienced this homecoming. The last visit was with my beloved Satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath and his wife Gurumata Shivangini.

The Urdhavaret Ganga.

IMG_0172

On the second day of my visit as I sat in a state of heightened happiness in my room overlooking the Ganga, I felt as if I too was in flow as she flowed towards the north, North? and the realisation fell like a lightning bolt that, this is the message of the Ganga from aeons of time- Go back to your source. She who had emanated from Shiva’s locks in the Himalayas was here showing the way back to him! This has been her hidden message to the millions who took a dip in her year after year for thousands of years. . Practice as I did Mahavatar Babaji’s urdhavaret breath of the Kundalini Kriya Yoga as taught by my Satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath, this realisation spurred on a movement of uncontrollable delight in my spine. At the same moment there emanated a sense of awe at this special revelation.

In her journey from the Himalayas in the north towards the Bay of Bengal to the south and east, the Ganga in Kashi turns back and flows North. Of course there must be a geophysical ‘reason’ for this but that is not of the essence here. What happened was a sudden inflow of divine insight for me. I had not read or heard about this phenomenon in any scriptures or ancient text, I don’t remember anyone ever mentioning the river in this spiritual context.  Yes, it was as if Ma Ganga revealed to me a secret which was forever visible through the ages but not realised. I wonder if I am the first person to chronicle this understanding of the urdhavaret message of this ancient river.

After this realisation the daily morning dip took on a new meaning. “Do not depend on externals for your happiness,” says Yogiraj urging his disciples to tap into their inner well of joy independent of material possessions or external supports. The Ganga was reiterating this as she flowed accepting the garbage and the flowers of love, the ashes and the sweet offerings, the greedy and the sincere devotees.

Sitting in the river I could feel all my energy reversing, a fountain of love, aided by the flow of the loving Ganga. We are truly liberated when we are able to unhook ourselves from the externals, she was indicating to me. A profound sense of peace and contentment filled me and continues to fulfil me.

Visit to my Satguru and his Param Guru Sthan

There was a special reason for my trip at this time, a visit to Lahiri Mahasaya’s home which was open to public only on GuruPurnima day. On my earlier visits I have visited this house, almost difficult to find, and sat and stared at the door of an all too familiar house.

   IMG_0094 Circumstances had made it impossible to realise this heartfelt desire earlier but this year being free from many responsibilities I undertook this pilgrimage.

On Gurupurnima day, early in the morning accompanied by two others I set off on a journey which for me was a completion of a karma from the past.

But first we visited the Nandi Ghat or Gaai Ghat, hallowed as it was by its association to our Satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath who spent his childhood days in this ghat owned by his family. Disciples rooted in the Guru/Shishya tradition always pay first respect to their living guru. There is a well known couplet by Kabir who says, ” गुरु गोबिन्द दोउ खडे काके लागूँ पाँय, बलिहारी गुरु आपने गोबिन्द दियो बताय,” meaning- when the Guru and God are both present whose feet should I touch first, beloved is the Guru who has shown me the way to God. But for me my Guru is Gobind and I look no further. 😀

Nandi Ghat/Gaai Ghat and Yogiraj’s family Temple.

Nandi Ghat/ Gaai Ghat, Yogiraj SiddhanathIMG_0118IMG_0110IMG_0111

After a special aarati and sadhana at this very personal shiva temple we headed towards Lahiri Mahasaya’s home near Purana Durgaji in Chowsatti Ghat. Since the boats were banned due to the fast flowing river we made our way through the narrow familiar streets of the old city. No photographs were allowed inside so I managed to take some from the narrow street outside.

Lahiri Mahasaya’s Home as seen from the street.

Lahiri Mahasaya home, Kashi IMG_0093  As I bowed in front of the seat of Lahiri Baba I had a meltdown moment as past life associations came flooding out. At the same time there was a sense of a completion and I knew I did not have to come back here again. We received the prasad from the family members and left.

Street Food, Bovine Majestica etc.

Daily breakfast was at the corner kachori shop which would open at 8:30 and shut at 10 am. The father and son duo seemingly happy with what they make in that time. The whole day was peppered with stops at The Blue Lassi shop with wifi for a mango lassi, the Kashi Chat Bhandar on Dasashwamedha Ghat for an amazing tamatar (tomato) chat or tikki and kulfi!! Of course our progress was often marred by majestic cows and bulls on the street who had to be cajoled out of the way. 😀

 

Street food and cows IMG_0100 IMG_0102 IMG_0125IMG_0164IMG_0165IMG_0162 IMG_0163

On the last evening we made it for the Ganga Aarati at Dasashwamedha Ghat.

IMG_0147Ganga AArati

It is right that I end this with the Manikarnika Ghat or the burning ghat. From the balcony of my room I could see the constant burning pyres, a testimony to the fleeting moment of human life. This too evoked a nostalgia and yearning for I know not what.

IMG_0129