on Kriya Yoga Answered
Here are some of the most common questions asked by students
about Kriya Yoga. They are likely to be ones that you yourself
might have as well.
Why hasn't Kriya been published in book form, so that all
might learn it?
Swami Kriyananda responds to this important question:
A reasonable question, certainly. The masters themselves,
however, have said it should not be published precisely
because it is a teaching that transcends reason itself.
Right understanding of it depends on the unfolding intuition.
Kriya Yoga, in order to be wholly effective, must be received
not only intellectually (in written or spoken form), but
vibrationally, in the form of initiation. A magnet is created
either by electrical realignment of the molecules, or by
close proximity to another magnet. Attunement with a God-awakened
guru influences the samskaras (comparable to the material
molecules) to flow upward to the brain.
We are dealing here with a reality subtler, and much more
difficult to master, than mere metallic molecules. Without
an experienced guide, even mountain climbing can be fatal—though
death, in this case, only ends a single incarnation. Spiritual
mistakes can be costlier in terms of long-range suffering.
Guidance from the guru is not only helpful: It is essential.
This does not mean that Kriya Yoga is dangerous. Far from
it. But to take up Kriya Yoga signifies entering seriously
onto the path to God. It is not a game, and should certainly
be treated as a lifetime commitment…Any yoga initiation,
and especially into the ancient science of Kriya Yoga, should
be looked upon as a very sacred step in one's life.
—Swami Kriyananda, The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita,
Explained by Paramhansa Yogananda, As Remembered by His
Disciple Swami Kriyananda
Is there more than one kind of Kriya?
Kriya is a deceptively simple term that refers to a wide
variety of practices. The Sanskrit word literally means
action. The same Sanskrit root verb kri (to act) is also
foun in the word karma. Whereas karma is generally understood
as "actions that stem from egoic desire", Kriya
is understood to mean "actions that purify".
In the science of Hatha Yoga there are many Kriyas that
have the purpose of purifying the body and nervous system—for
example, cleansing of the nose, the stomach, the intestines,
the nerve channels, and so forth.
In the science of Raja Yoga, however, the term Kriya refers
to practices that purify at the higher level of the ego.
Thus they prevent future karma and also neutralize the "seeds"
or traces of past karma from the consciousness.
When Babaji revived the ancient techniques for God-realisation
that had been part of Raja Yoga in the higher ages, he called
these practices by the name Kriya Yoga. This science includes
a significant number of techniques that his disciple Lahiri
Mahasaya focalised into a progression of preparatory exercises
and initiations known as "the Kriya Yoga of Lahiri
Mahasaya of Benares".
Because of this great contribution, Lahiri Mahasaya is known
as the father of Kriya Yoga in modern times, and as a yogavatar.
Lahiri Mahasaya initiated thousands of students into these
practices, and to some of them he gave authority to initiate
others. Many of these initiates have in turn initiated others.
Various lines of Kriya have developed through succeeding
generations. Thus from the tree of the Kriya of Lahiri Mahasaya
many branches have grown. All the Kriya lines that come
from Lahiri Mahasaya essentially teach the same techniques
with some variations.
The Kriya that has come to the Western world through Paramhansa
Yogananda, and that is also being taught today in the East
by his disciple Swami Kriyananda, is one of the branches
that comes through Lahiri Mahasaya's disciple Swami Sri
The word Kriya, being a generic term that refers to many
practices of Raja and Hatha Yoga, is used today by many
teachers to refer to practices similar but distinct from
those taught by Lahiri Mahasaya. Searching the Internet
will bring up thousands of references.
Which is the best Kriya?
When this question was posed to an advanced Kriya yogini
in India, she replied, "The one your guru gives you".
It is not the technique in itself that automatically leads
to liberation, although its proper practice brings beneficial
results to those who use it. Its proper practice, however,
is possible only through the blessings of the guru, who
uses the technique as an instrument of liberation for his
disciples. As Yoganandaji used to say, "Kriya plus
devotion works like mathematics".
The law of Kriya Yoga is eternal. It is true like
mathematics;like the simple rules of addition and subtraction,
the law of Kriya can never be destroyed. Burn to ashes
all the books on mathematics, the logically-minded will
always rediscover such truths; destroy all the sacred
books on yoga, its fundamental laws will come out whenever
there appears a true yogi who comprises within himself
pure devotion and consequently pure knowledge.
——Paramhansa Yogananda, Autobiography of
a Yogi, 1946 Original Edition
Because of the necessity of the Guru's blessings, the Kriya
which stems from Babaji is given as an "initiation",
a ceremony during which the power and the blessings of the
guru are transferred to the disciple to enable him to properly
practice the technique.
Which guru is best?
The one who is yours; the one to whom you belong.
Among Self-realised masters, there is no competition. Each
of them has been given by God certain souls to guide. Thus
it is neither the guru who chooses his disciples, nor the
disciple who chooses his guru. This is the true "marriage
made in heaven"; two souls whom God has joined together
until death (of the ego of the disciple) parts them and
the disciple merges back into the cosmic ocean of consciousness.
How can I know which guru has been chosen for me?
The guru will make himself known to his disciples at that
moment in their lives when they are ready to perceive and
receive him. In one way or another they draw their disciples.
The ways are as many and varied as the disciples:
- By seeing the master in person, or through reading his
written words, such as the Autobiography of a Yogi, into
every word of which Yoganandaji said he had infused his
- Through the spiritual practices that the master teaches.
- Through the magnetism of the fellowship of the master's
disciples, or at least those who carry their vibrations
and message to others.
- Through the master's spiritual work, which attracts
those who are in tune with him.
- In dreams or visions of the master, by hearing his voice,
or by seeing his photograph.
- The important thing for you as an aspiring disciple
is to put yourself in tune with the vibrations of a master,
using all means available to you, then feeling inwardly
for a response in your heart. The response can manifest
as deep love, joy, or the simple awareness that you have
found your home.
Can I practice Kriya if Jesus is my guru?
According to Paramhansa Yogananda, Jesus himself taught
his close disciples a technique very similar to Kriya, one
suitable for that age. And it was Jesus who personally requested
Babaji to send someone to the West to bring to his disciples
the practices through which they could commune inwardly
with his Christ Consciousness. This is why Yoganandaji included
Jesus Christ as one of the line of Kriya masters.
Do I need to renounce my religion to receive Kriya initiation?
No. Lahiri Mahasaya initiated people from all faiths as
well as no faith into Kriya Yoga, saying that no one need
give up his religion in order to follow this path.
A significant feature of Lahiri Mahasaya's life was
his gift of Kriya initiation to those of every faith.
Not Hindus only, but Moslems and Christians were among
his foremost disciples. Monists and dualists, those of
all faiths or of no established faith, were impartially
received and instructed by the universal guru. [He] encouraged
his various students to adhere to the good traditional
discipline of their own faith. Stressing the all-inclusive
nature of Kriya as a practical technique of liberation,
Lahiri Mahasaya then gave his chelas liberty to express
their lives in conformance with environment and upbringing.
—Paramhansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi,
1946 Original Edition
Do I need to become a disciple to receive Kriya initiation?
Yes. Kriya is given as an initiation in a ceremonial setting
to emphasize its significance as a sacrament, or sacred
moment during which the transforming power of the guru is
transferred to the disciple, enabling him to fully understand
and deeply practice the liberating technique.
Such an advanced technique is not offered to those who wish
to follow the teachings in their own way but to those who
are willing and prepared to practice them as the guru instructs.
With these attitudes of willingness, openness, and humility
on the disciple's part, the guru is able to give more than
to one who is merely curious about the teachings.
Swami Kriyananda explains:
Spiritual progress without the help of a true, or
sat, guru, cannot but be slow, haphazard, uncertain, and
sometimes dangerous. The ancient tradition in India, where
spirituality has been studied for thousands of years—not
as a religion, but as a practical science ("practical"
in the sense of results actually accomplished)—has
always insisted that a true guru is the sine qua non for
success on the spiritual path. Many spiritually ignorant
people, even in India, insist that with literacy as widespread
as it is now, and with books so easily available, spiritual
teachings are accessible to virtually everyone and a guru
is no longer needed. Truly, widespread literacy has had
one unfortunate effect: the dissemination, not only of
knowledge, but of ignorance!
True understanding comes not by intellectual reasoning,
but by intuition. Inner, intuitive attunement with the
consciousness of the guru is what most surely and directly
brings spiritual awakening.
—Swami Kriyananda, The Essence of the Bhagavad
Gita, Explained by Paramhansa Yogananda, As Remembered
by His Disciple Swami Kriyananda
I already have a guru, but he doesn't teach Kriya. Can I
get it through Ananda?
In some cases this may be possible. You would need to talk
with one of our Kriyacharyas.
I have received Kriya initiation from another teacher. Can
I come to your initiations and receive support from your
We would be happy to help you with your practice if possible
and would need to speak with you personally to see if Kriya
initiation through Ananda Sangha would be appropriate.
If I take Kriya initiation, what am I committing myself
You are affirming your discipleship to God, Yogananda, and
the line of Kriya masters of our path, and committing yourself
to practicing the Kriya techniques faithfully as they are
taught to you, and regularly—at least twice each day.
You also promise never to reveal the Kriya techniques to
anyone unless given authorisation to do so.
Is there some way of trying out the Kriya path before I
make a discipleship commitment?
Yoganandaji has given preparatory practices that can be
used by everyone in daily life: the Energisation Exercises
and the Hong-Sau technique of concentration. Practicing
them—along with studying the writings of Yoganandaji
and Kriyanandaji and coming whenever possible to an Ananda
teaching centre to participate in courses on the path of
Kriya—will be greatly beneficial.
As you use the principles and do the practices, you will
begin to have your own relationship with the gurus and your
own experience of the benefits that the techniques bring
to your consciousness, your inner state of well-being, and
your daily life.
To help you know if the Kriya path and masters are right
for you, why not try including them in every aspect of your
life and see how it feels?
How long must I wait before I can receive Kriya initiation?
It is not a matter of letting time pass but of engaging
yourself in the daily practice of the basic techniques on
the path of Kriya. You need to dedicate at least forty-five
minutes twice a day to your practice.
After about six months, once you have established a solid
daily routine, you would be eligible for discipleship initiation
and advanced techniques to prepare for Kriya Yoga initiation.
After practicing those for several months more, you would
be eligible to request initiation into Kriya Yoga.
Why is so much preparation necessary? Can't I just learn
the technique now?
For Kriya Yoga initiation, you need time to establish a
regular, consistent meditation routine.
You also need time to gain understanding of and attunement
with the path of Kriya Yoga and the channels through which
Lastly, Yoganandaji also recommended that in order to practice
Kriya Yoga properly, the nervous system must be prepared.
How many levels of Kriya are there and when are they taken?
On the path of Kriya Yoga as taught in the line of Lahiri
Mahasaya, there are four.
When you have been meditating regularly with the basic Kriya
technique for several years and feel ready to increase your
meditation time, you can request permission to receive higher
Kriya preparation and initiation into the advanced Kriyas.
Do I have to come to Ananda Sangha in person to be initiated?
Yes. Kriya initiations are given in person several times
each year at Ananda Sangha in Gurgaon. You are also welcome
to attend one of our Kriya Yoga initiations in Mumbai, Bangalore,
Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and elsewhere. The initiations
are performed by Kriyacharyas who have been authorised by
Once I receive Kriya, can I return for the initiation ceremony
when my friends are receiving it for the first time?
Come, if you can, to all the initiation ceremonies, especially
those in the first year!
The blessings we receive during Kriya ceremonies help us
enormously in our spiritual progress. And at each initiation,
we are able to understand the practices more deeply.
What is Kriya Yoga?
Steps Towards Kriya Initiation
The Kriya Yoga Masters
What Kriyabans Say
Quotes on Kriya from Paramhansa