Lahiri Mahasaya’s birth is so significant because without his birth and without his life, we would not be here, meditating today. We would not have the Kriya yoga technique. Not only was he so integral in getting Kriya available to many people, but he was also an example of how Kriya yoga is applied in our daily life.
He was born as we all know, “Shyama Charan” which means at the feet of Divine Mother. I suspect that it was the beginning of Diwali that his mother offered this child of hers at the feet of Divine Mother as Divine Mother’s child and not as her own. It is so interesting that even later in his life as an adult, the great Trailinga Swamy who knew Lahiri Mahasaya very closely said about him, that he was like the Divine kitten going wherever the Cosmic Mother placed him. I think there was really a deep truth to this aspect of Lahiri Mahasaya – he had this incredibly benign soft nature in a certain way, but really, that was just a role that he was playing.
We give a lot of emphasis to the fact that he was a householder and an accountant – really what it was, is that he was every man, he was every person in some ways. I think it was less that he was a householder or an accountant but more that he was not a baba.
When you look at the people who came to him for counselling, they were family people – householders. And if a family person came to a Baba who lived up in the Himalayas and you know that he was never with people and didn’t have life experiences of a householder. If he tells a Baba “I’m having family issues. This is going on in my family life – what should I do? And, if the Baba said, “do more Kriya”, this house holder person will look at the Baba, who says you can do more Kriya, and will tell him, “how is that going to help me raise a family by doing more Kriya?” But, if you go to Lahiri Mahasaya and he would say “do more Kriya”, they can look at that person and say, “yes he knows what I’m going through – as strange as it sounds” – and about his advice to “do more Kriya” – “I know he knows what he’s talking about – he has the experience of raising a family, having a career and a life”.
This whole thing of doing more Kriya is such an interesting thing – I want to touch on it, because sometimes I think we think too often that Kriya is some magical thing – that it’s like you are putting some money in a machine and pulling the lever and the answer comes out if we just mechanically do some Kriyas, but it’s much more than that.
What Kriya does is it puts us into the uplifted state of consciousness. If we do it correctly, that’s where all answers are where solutions are found. That is why Swami Kriyananda talked about the superconscious state as a solution state because it’s the intuitive state and through intuition we find answers.
How does Kriya help us in the mundane worldly life? I had a very strange early experience with Kriya. I was on Swami Kriyananda ji’s personal staff, and they built this beautiful fountain at the Crystal Hermitage, and there was a problem with the plumbing that the plumbers could not fix. One day I was meditating, doing Kriya yoga, and suddenly, I looked at it. I had done everything with my rational mind. During Kriya meditation, the answer to the plumbing problem came to me just out of the blue.
Kriya yoga can fix every problem almost, magically; plumbing problems, business problems. I know the inventor of Swipe, the Android app that is on so many phones. He’s a Kriya yogi friend from Ananda village and he said that when he was writing that program and coming up with answers to problems, he would pray to Divine Mother for answers. He would practice Kriya yoga and Kriya yoga in the uplifted state of consciousness would give answers to all his problems.
Now Lahiri Mahasaya, this aspect of him being a householder – it is kind of humorous because I think we overemphasize. The fact is that when you read in the’ Autobiography of a Yogi’ , it reads that he had a dispute with his wife; she was complaining to him about something about not bringing enough money home or something like that and, he dematerialized, he vanished and his voice came booming out from the Cosmos everywhere and then he reappeared. I like the way that his wife put it. She said that he had risen, and his head was nearly touching the ceiling. We cannot do that, husbands, and wives with Kriya yoga. So he’s not really a good role model.
He really was just playing a role and, in fact, in that story his wife said that when he was speaking to her from up there in the ceiling, his eyes were blazing with fire – and that was really who Lahiri Mahasaya was. We see this very benign photo of his, with this beatific smile, and we know that he was playing a role. He was an avatar who had extraordinary power.
The other aspect of Lahiri Mahasaya that was revolutionary is that he interpreted the Bhagavad-Gita in a completely new way using a psychological, metaphysical, symbolic approach to the different characters. And it related very closely to Kriya yoga. He said that the five Pandavas were the first five chakras and that Draupadi represented kundalini energy which is a feminine energy of devotion, compassion, kindness and love; and that that energy has to be awakened, and as it awakens it marries and merges and touches each of the first five chakras and enlivens and spiritualizes them and awakens them. So this is the power of Kriya yoga. It’s not just a technique.
So often Yoganandaji and Swami Kriyananda talked about the fact that we cannot do kriya by techniques alone. We have to do it with right attitude. We have to do it with devotion. This is why Master said that Kriya plus devotion works like mathematics. Swamiji even said that if you just meditate for yourself for your own even, for a good reason like your own realization, there tends to be some self-involvement. He said without right attitude, meditation like that can be harmful because it strengthens the Ego rather than dissolving the Ego. So right attitude is important.
Yogananda ji explained that Kundalini energy cannot be awakened by technique alone; he said every thought that you have, every kind act that you have, these things also awaken the Kundalini and so it really is that marriage of technique and right attitude.
Another thing that Lahiri Mahasaya brought, because he was living in the world, he had to develop the compassion to raise a family and support his wife as a person, as a disciple, He was a very kindly engaged person because he was the example of Kriya yoga – how it is really practiced and why it was brought back. It was not brought back so that the people in Raniket up in those hills in 1863 could practice. It was brought back so that people in Pune in this year, and Gurgaon and Delhi could practice.
Lahiri Mahasaya said that Babaji brought back the technique of Kriya. Babaji brought it back because he understood the complexities and influences of Western civilization and that this influence is all around us. It is no longer in the West, it’s everywhere. Babaji knew that influence was going to spread all over the world and make people’s lives complex, confusing, intensely busy, – that there would be lots of energy, lots of noise, lots of temptations; that’s why Babaji brought Kriya yoga back.
Therefore, he gave it to Lahiri Mahasaya. And that’s why he played that role of someone engaged in the world as an accountant. Imagine that an accountant at that time would be someone who would be like an IT professional at this time, working with numbers and technical things. I have also heard that Lahiri Mahasaya was a good accountant. I bet he focused with Kriya yoga and did that job well and then he graduated from that role and went into a role more inward, a role that he went into, later in his life.
Lahiri Mahasaya showed how to use Kriya yoga to solve plumbing problems, to solve writing computer code, to raising a family, to doing all the things that every person in this room I think does every day and, really take this advice to heart when Lahiri Mahasaya said solve all your problems through Kriya yoga. Really understand that if we have a strong daily Kriya yoga practice then we will start to get into that uplifted state where all problems are solved.
It seems so impractical but it also points out that Kriya yoga is not a vague fuzzy mystical technique that takes us into a blank space without kind of consciousness. Really kriya, when practiced right, done with energy, with pranayama – control of the life force, awakening of the Kundalini, much more awareness, intelligence, more perception, more ability to think, to solve problems but also more compassion, more kindness, all the qualities you can think about – when merged together make the perfect human being.
One who can live in this world, function, live with account books, with computer code, be compassionate, be kind, be selfless and serve others and have a deep spiritual life where the Cosmic Mother put us Divine kittens because the fact that she did place us where we are right now, where each one of us is.
If we start thinking, “Oh I’ll be happy doing kriya” or “I’ll be able to meditate more” or something else but really Lahiri showed us that wherever we are – right here, right now, we can practice Kriya yoga and we can find God. We can find divine union – so to me – this is a great inspiration, an example and model of the great life of Lahiri Mahasaya.
Finally, there’s one more little thing that we have to really bow down and touch his feet for, which is – Babaji initiated Lahiri into Kriya and told him essentially “give this technique to those who are ready to renounce the world and really go for God” and Lahiri nearly said, “Wait a minute – that leaves out almost the entire human race”. I’m putting a lot of words into his mouth but he said, “Wait a minute Babaji, please lower the bar, lower the restrictions so that those who are sincere and ready, even living in the world, can receive the Kriya technique.”
Of course, this was all a play between Babaji and Lahiri Mahasaya. I think they wrote the script before they came down into this earth, but thankfully, we are here because of that, because Lahiri requested that special dispensation from Babaji. So we have a lot to be grateful for with this great avatar Lahiri Mahasaya.
Another thing Lahiri Mahasaya would say is, “you belong to no one, and no one belongs to you”. A very stark statement to make for a householder a person who very much cared for his wife.
I thought of it as a statement of non-attachment. Non-attachment is an attitude but if we understand Kriya yoga itself, non-attachment is one of the Niyamas. Master said it was one of the highest ones – when, he says, finally you are not even attached to that identity that you are the one who is meditating. He also said, when you are detached to your present incarnation, one by one or, whichever way he says, the past will be revealed to you, may be to deal within meditation, maybe to offer up to God? Who knows – but such is the power of non-attachment.
So, he was not saying do not take care of the family, or job, or write poems on the accounting ledger. He was saying, “Do what you’re doing carefully but do not make mistakes” because what happens with attachment? We all have gone through experiences in life where we are attached to somebody; family, friends, siblings, and I realized a few years ago what the problem with attachment was.
The problem was the Ego – it can simply never give what God can deliver, so there is an inherent natural limitation in it; nobody has to be blamed for it that, “oh you are not able to”, “why are you always like this”, that’s what people say. Well, people are always like this and the world will always be like this, because they are in Ego – we are in Ego and Ego has a limitation. When that Ego is offered by our self – when we offer it, we find God.
God comes to us to that degree. When Lahiri Mahashaya was warning, “You belong to no one and no one belongs to you,” he meant – do not be caught in that trap. Bet he certainly knew that these difficult times will be coming. Busy times will be coming, and we should adopt that attitude.
Yesterday we had a beautiful 20 minutes of practice towards midnight, of self-offering, when we offered one by one, different things to him. And in that period, many people later said, they were feeling that with every offering it was as if a wave of blessing was coming from him. Because he understands what a difficult situation this is. So the point is, let’s see the example of his life in the realm of time, also because he was all for it. Give yourself time – and I see that very beautifully happening as my own life is extending on this path. Divine Mother knows what she is trying to accomplish.
When he met Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya wanted to avoid him after seeing him. He said, “I have to go back to my office’ and Babaji says, “wait a minute, let me touch you, let me thump you on the chest”. Why has Divine Mother placed us here – let us not conflict with that; let’s be open to it and let us go one step at a time with whatever we are seeing in the moment and through daily meditation, service and devotion, as Swami Kriyananda writes in the discipleship vow.
Let us move one step at a time, as a family, together.
Joy to you.
This is an excerpt from a talk given by Nayaswami Devarshi, on the occasion of Lahiri Mahashaya’s birth anniversary, in Ananda Sangha Pune center, in the year 2016.