Chapter 26 - The Science of Kriya Yoga
The science of Kriya Yoga, mentioned so often in these pages, became widely known in modern India
through the instrumentality of Lahiri Mahasaya, my guru's guru. The Sanskrit root of Kriya is
kri, to do, to act and react; the same root is found in the word karma, the natural principle
of cause and effect. Kriya Yoga is thus "union (yoga) with the Infinite through a certain action or
rite." A yogi who faithfully follows its technique is gradually freed from karma or the universal chain of
Because of certain ancient yogic injunctions, I cannot give a full explanation of Kriya Yoga in the
pages of a book intended for the general public. The actual technique must be learned from a Kriyaban
or Kriya Yogi; here a broad reference must suffice.
Kriya Yoga is a simple, psychophysiological method by which the human blood is
decarbonized and recharged with oxygen. The atoms of this extra oxygen are transmuted into life current to
rejuvenate the brain and spinal centers. 1 By stopping the accumulation
of venous blood, the yogi is able to lessen or prevent the decay of tissues; the advanced yogi transmutes his
cells into pure energy. Elijah, Jesus, Kabir and other prophets were past masters in the use of Kriya
or a similar technique, by which they caused their bodies to dematerialize at will.
Kriya is an ancient science. Lahiri Mahasaya received it from his guru, Babaji, who rediscovered
and clarified the technique after it had been lost in the Dark Ages.
"The Kriya Yoga which I am giving to the world through you in this nineteenth century," Babaji told
Lahiri Mahasaya, "is a revival of the same science which Krishna gave, millenniums ago, to Arjuna, and which
was later known to Patanjali, and to Christ, St. John, St. Paul, and other disciples."
Kriya Yoga is referred to by Krishna, India's greatest prophet, in a stanza of the
Bhagavad Gita: "Offering inhaling breath into the outgoing breath, and offering the outgoing breath
into the inhaling breath, the yogi neutralizes both these breaths; he thus releases the life force from the
heart and brings it under his control." 2 The interpretation is: "The
yogi arrests decay in the body by an addition of life force, and arrests the mutations of growth in the body
by apan (eliminating current). Thus neutralizing decay and growth, by quieting the heart, the yogi
learns life control."
Krishna also relates3 that it was he, in a former
incarnation, who communicated the indestructible yoga to an ancient illuminato, Vivasvat, who gave it to
Manu, the great legislator.4 He, in turn, instructed Ikshwaku, the father
of India's solar warrior dynasty. Passing thus from one to another, the royal yoga was guarded by the rishis
until the coming of the materialistic ages.5 Then, due to priestly
secrecy and man's indifference, the sacred knowledge gradually became inaccessible.
Kriya Yoga is mentioned twice by the ancient sage Patanjali, foremost exponent of
yoga, who wrote: "Kriya Yoga consists of body discipline, mental control, and meditating on
Aum."6 Patanjali speaks of God as the actual Cosmic Sound of
Aum heard in meditation.7 Aum is the Creative Word,8 the sound of the Vibratory Motor. Even the yoga-beginner soon inwardly hears
the wondrous sound of Aum. Receiving this blissful spiritual encouragement, the devotee becomes
assured that he is in actual touch with divine realms.
Patanjali refers a second time to the life-control or Kriya technique thus:
"Liberation can be accomplished by that pranayama which is attained by disjoining the course of
inspiration and expiration."9
St. Paul knew Kriya Yoga, or a technique very similar to it, by which he could switch life currents
to and from the senses. He was therefore able to say: "Verily, I protest by our rejoicing which I have in
Christ, I die daily." 10 By daily withdrawing his bodily life
force, he united it by yoga union with the rejoicing (eternal bliss) of the Christ consciousness. In that
felicitous state, he was consciously aware of being dead to the delusive sensory world of maya.
In the initial states of God-contact (sabikalpa samadhi) the devotee's consciousness merges with
the Cosmic Spirit; his life force is withdrawn from the body, which appears "dead," or motionless and rigid. The yogi is fully aware of his bodily condition of suspended animation. As he
progresses to higher spiritual states (nirbikalpa samadhi), however, he communes with God without
bodily fixation, and in his ordinary waking consciousness, even in the midst of exacting worldly
"Kriya Yoga is an instrument through which human evolution can be quickened," Sri Yukteswar
explained to his students. "The ancient yogis discovered that the secret of cosmic consciousness is
intimately linked with breath mastery. This is India's unique and deathless contribution to the world's
treasury of knowledge. The life force, which is ordinarily absorbed in maintaining the heart-pump, must be
freed for higher activities by a method of calming and stilling the ceaseless demands of the breath."
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 unfoldment.
The astral system of a human being, with six (twelve by polarity) inner constellations revolving around
the sun of the omniscient spiritual eye, is interrelated with the physical sun and the twelve zodiacal signs.
All men are thus affected by an inner and an outer universe. The ancient rishis discovered that man's earthly
and heavenly environment, in twelve-year cycles, push him forward on his natural path. The scriptures aver
that man requires a million years of normal, diseaseless evolution to perfect his human brain sufficiently to
express cosmic consciousness.
One thousand Kriya practiced in eight hours gives the yogi, in one day, the equivalent of one
thousand years of natural evolution: 365,000 years of evolution in one year. In three years, a Kriya
Yogi can thus accomplish by intelligent self-effort the same result which nature brings to pass in a
million years. The Kriya short cut, of course, can be taken only by deeply developed yogis. With the
guidance of a guru, such yogis have carefully prepared their bodies and brains to receive the power created
by intensive practice.
The Kriya beginner employs his yogic exercise only fourteen to twenty-eight times, twice daily. A
number of yogis achieve emancipation in six or twelve or twenty-four or forty-eight years. A yogi who dies
before achieving full realization carries with him the good karma of his past Kriya effort; in his new
life he is harmoniously propelled toward his Infinite Goal.
The body of the average man is like a fifty-watt lamp, which cannot accommodate the billion watts of power
roused by an excessive practice of Kriya. Through gradual and regular increase of the simple and
"foolproof" methods of Kriya, man's body becomes astrally transformed day by day, and is finally
fitted to express the infinite potentials of cosmic energythe first materially active expression of
Kriya Yoga has nothing in common with the unscientific breathing exercises taught by a number of
misguided zealots. Their attempts to forcibly hold breath in the lungs is not only unnatural but decidedly
unpleasant. Kriya, on the other hand, is accompanied from the very beginning by an accession of peace,
and by soothing sensations of regenerative effect in the spine.
The ancient yogic technique converts the breath into mind. By spiritual advancement, one is able to
cognize the breath as an act of minda dream-breath.
Many illustrations could be given of the mathematical relationship between man's respiratory rate and the
variations in his states of consciousness. A person whose attention is wholly engrossed, as in following some
closely knit intellectual argument, or in attempting some delicate or difficult physical feat, automatically
breathes very slowly. Fixity of attention depends on slow breathing; quick or uneven breaths
are an inevitable accompaniment of harmful emotional states: fear, lust, anger. The restless monkey breathes
at the rate of 32 times a minute, in contrast to man's average of 18 times. The elephant, tortoise, snake and
other animals noted for their longevity have a respiratory rate which is less than man's. The tortoise, for
instance, who may attain the age of 300 years,12 breathes only 4 times
The rejuvenating effects of sleep are due to man's temporary unawareness of body and breathing. The
sleeping man becomes a yogi; each night he unconsciously performs the yogic rite of releasing himself from
bodily identification, and of merging the life force with healing currents in the main brain region and the
six sub-dynamos of his spinal centers. The sleeper thus dips unknowingly into the reservoir of cosmic energy
which sustains all life.
The voluntary yogi performs a simple, natural process consciously, not unconsciously like the slow-paced
sleeper. The Kriya Yogi uses his technique to saturate and feed all his physical cells with undecaying
light and keep them in a magnetized state. He scientifically makes breath unnecessary, without producing the
states of subconscious sleep or unconsciousness.
By Kriya, the outgoing life force is not wasted and abused in the senses, but constrained to
reunite with subtler spinal energies. By such reinforcement of life, the yogi's body and brain cells are
electrified with the spiritual elixir.
Thus he removes himself from studied observance of natural laws, which
can only take him by circuitous means as given by proper food, sunlight, and harmonious thoughts to a
million-year Goal. It needs twelve years of normal healthful living to effect even slight perceptible change
in brain structure, and a million solar returns are exacted to sufficiently refine the cerebral tenement for
manifestation of cosmic consciousness.
Untying the cord of breath which binds the soul to the body, Kriya serves to prolong life and
enlarge the consciousness to infinity. The yoga method overcomes the tug of war between the mind and the
matter-bound senses, and frees the devotee to reinherit his eternal kingdom. He knows his real nature is
bound neither by physical encasement nor by breath, symbol of the mortal enslavement to air, to nature's
Introspection, or "sitting in the silence," is an unscientific way of trying to force apart the mind and
senses, tied together by the life force. The contemplative mind, attempting its return to divinity, is
constantly dragged back toward the senses by the life currents. Kriya, controlling the mind
directly through the life force, is the easiest, most effective, and most scientific avenue of
approach to the Infinite. In contrast to the slow, uncertain "bullock cart" theological path to God,
Kriya may justly be called the "airplane" route.
The yogic science is based on an empirical consideration of all forms of concentration and meditation
exercises. Yoga enables the devotee to switch off or on, at will, life current from the five sense telephones
of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Attaining this power of sense-disconnection, the yogi finds it
simple to unite his mind at will with divine realms or with the world of matter. No longer is he unwillingly
brought back by the life force to the mundane sphere of rowdy sensations and restless thoughts. Master of his
body and mind, the Kriya Yogi ultimately achieves victory over the "last enemy,"
So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men:
And Death once dead, there's no more dying then.13
The life of an advanced Kriya Yogi is influenced, not by effects of past actions, but solely by
directions from the soul. The devotee thus avoids the slow, evolutionary monitors of egoistic actions, good
and bad, of common life, cumbrous and snail-like to the eagle hearts.
The superior method of soul living frees the yogi who, shorn of his ego-prison, tastes the deep air of
omnipresence. The thralldom of natural living is, in contrast, set in a pace humiliating. Conforming his life
to the evolutionary order, a man can command no concessionary haste from nature but, living without error
against the laws of his physical and mental endowment, still requires about a million years of incarnating
masquerades to know final emancipation.
The telescopic methods of yogis, disengaging themselves from physical and mental identifications in favor
of soul-individuality, thus commend themselves to those who eye with revolt a thousand thousand years. This
numerical periphery is enlarged for the ordinary man, who lives in harmony not even with nature, let alone
his soul, but pursues instead unnatural complexities, thus offending in his body and thoughts the sweet
sanities of nature. For him, two times a million years can scarce suffice for liberation.
Gross man seldom or never realizes that his body is a kingdom, governed by Emperor Soul on the throne of
the cranium, with subsidiary regents in the six spinal centers or spheres of consciousness. This theocracy
extends over a throng of obedient subjects: twenty-seven thousand billion cellsendowed with a sure if
automatic intelligence by which they perform all duties of bodily growths, transformations, and
dissolutionsand fifty million substratal thoughts, emotions, and variations of alternating phases in man's
consciousness in an average life of sixty years.
Any apparent insurrection of bodily or cerebral cells toward
Emperor Soul, manifesting as disease or depression, is due to no disloyalty among the humble citizens, but to
past or present misuse by man of his individuality or free will, given to him simultaneous with a soul, and
Identifying himself with a shallow ego, man takes for granted that it is he who thinks, wills, feels,
digests meals, and keeps himself alive, never admitting through reflection (only a little would suffice!)
that in his ordinary life he is naught but a puppet of past actions (karma) and of nature or environment.
Each man's intellectual reactions, feelings, moods, and habits are circumscribed by effects of past causes,
whether of this or a prior life. Lofty above such influences, however, is his regal soul. Spurning the
transitory truths and freedoms, the Kriya Yogi passes beyond all disillusionment into his unfettered
Being. All scriptures declare man to be not a corruptible body, but a living soul; by Kriya he is
given a method to prove the scriptural truth.
"Outward ritual cannot destroy ignorance, because they are not mutually contradictory," wrote Shankara in
his famous Century of Verses. "Realized knowledge alone destroys ignorance. . . . Knowledge cannot
spring up by any other means than inquiry. 'Who am I? How was this universe born? Who is its maker? What is
its material cause?' This is the kind of inquiry referred to." The intellect has no answer for these
questions; hence the rishis evolved yoga as the technique of spiritual inquiry.
Kriya Yoga is the real "fire rite" often extolled in the Bhagavad Gita. The purifying fires
of yoga bring eternal illumination, and thus differ much from outward and little-effective religious fire
ceremonies, where perception of truth is oft burnt, to solemn chanted accompaniment, along with the
The advanced yogi, withholding all his mind, will, and feeling from false identification with bodily
desires, uniting his mind with superconscious forces in the spinal shrines, thus lives in this world as God
hath planned, not impelled by impulses from the past nor by new witlessnesses of fresh human motivations.
Such a yogi receives fulfillment of his Supreme Desire, safe in the final haven of inexhaustibly blissful
The yogi offers his labyrinthine human longings to a monotheistic bonfire dedicated to the unparalleled
God. This is indeed the true yogic fire ceremony, in which all past and present desires are fuel consumed by
love divine. The Ultimate Flame receives the sacrifice of all human madness, and man is pure of dross. His
bones stripped of all desirous flesh, his karmic skeleton bleached in the antiseptic suns of wisdom, he is
clean at last, inoffensive before man and Maker.
Referring to yoga's sure and methodical efficacy, Lord Krishna praises the technological
yogi in the following words: "The yogi is greater than body-disciplining ascetics, greater even than the
followers of the path of wisdom (Jnana Yoga), or of the path of action (Karma Yoga); be thou, O
disciple Arjuna, a yogi!"14
Chapter1 - My Parents and Early Life
Chapter2 - My Mother's Death and the Mystic Amulet
Chapter3 - The Saint With Two Bodies
Chapter4 - My Interrupted Flight Toward the Himalayas
Chapter5 - A "Perfume Saint" Displays His Wonders
Chapter6 - The Tiger Swami
Chapter7 - The Levitating Saint
Chapter8 - India's Great Scientist, J.C. Bose
Chapter9 - The Blissful Devotee and His Cosmic Romance
Chapter10 - I Meet My Master, Sri Yukteswar
Chapter11 - Two Penniless Boys in Brindaban
Chapter12 - Years in My Master's Hermitage
Chapter13 - The Sleepless Saint
Chapter14 - An Experience in Cosmic Consciousness
Chapter15 - The Cauliflower Robbery
Chapter16 - Outwitting the Stars
Chapter17 - Sasi and the Three Sapphires
Chapter18 - A Mohammedan Wonder-Worker
Chapter19 - My Master, in Calcutta, Appears in Serampore
Chapter20 - We Do Not Visit Kashmir
Chapter21 - We Visit Kashmir
Chapter22 - The Heart of a Stone Image
Chapter23 - I Receive My University Degree
Chapter24 - I Become a Monk of the Swami Order
Chapter25 - Brother Ananta and Sister Nalini
Chapter26 - The Science of Kriya Yoga
Chapter27 - Founding a Yoga School in Ranchi
Chapter28 - Kashi, Reborn and Rediscovered
Chapter29 - Rabindranath Tagore and I Compare Schools
Chapter30 - The Law of Miracles
Chapter31 - An Interview with the Sacred Mother
Chapter32 - Rama is Raised From the Dead
Chapter33 - Babaji, the Yogi-Christ of Modern India
Chapter34 - Materializing a Palace in the Himalaya
Chapter35 - The Christlike Life of Lahiri Mahasaya
Chapter36 - Babaji's Interest in the West
Chapter37 - I Go to America
Chapter38 - Luther Burbank -- A Saint Amidst the Roses
Chapter39 - Therese Neumann, the Catholic Stigmatist
Chapter40 - I Return to India
Chapter41 - An Idyll in South India
Chapter42 - Last Days With My Guru
Chapter43 - The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar
Chapter44 - With Mahatma Gandhi in Wardha
Chapter45 - The Bengali "Joy-Permeated" Mother
Chapter46 - The Woman Yogi Who Never Eats
Chapter47 - I Return to the West
Chapter48 - At Encinitas in California
Chapter49 - The Years - 1940 - 1951