Kriya, controlling the mind directly through the life force, is the easiest, most effective, and most scientific avenue of approach to the Infinite.
One who knows the prana, practices the prana, becomes prana, , the self. So hold your pranavayu, the breath for that purpose.
Kriya-yoga, A Brief Note
By Swami Nityananda Giri
Kriya-yoga is an ancient technique of meditation found in India since time immemorial. This is a very simple and scientific technique based on your prana, vital force and mind. This is meditation based on your breath. This does not require any equipments, external means or spiritual aids. With you, you have your body, mind and breath. You need nothing more for this practice. You do not need to change your dress for a particular sect, grow beard, and put particular type of paste, sandalwood paste or colors on your forehead. You need not leave family for this practice. To live a family life or to procreate children and even earning money is not a crime but one should do it with self-restrain, in an honorable way as per the sanctions of scriptures without encroaching into others rights. Kriya-yoga does not interfere with the religious practices of your community or the laws of your country. It does not contradict your philosophical believes, you yourself will know the truth from your practice, by your own experience. And the result of this practice can be felt quickly. People belonging to all castes, communities, religions, languages, countries and sexes can practice this. This technique is according to scriptures and scientifically designed according to our body composition. Many practitioners has availed its benefits in the past and many are availing at present and many will be benefited in future.
We always suffer mentally. We can tolerate physical pains but mental sufferings are not tolerable. And whatever physical and mental activities we are doing to counter these or the reactions we react, these only make our situation bad to worse. At the beginning the water is dirty, not suitable for drinking, instead of cleaning it we make it more polluted. But to live we have to drink water, we drink the unsafe water and fall sick. We do not know how to filter and purify the water. We have to learn that otherwise we will remain sick forever. This is our main problem, the mental problem, perhaps the greatest problem of the present time. We are not able to sleep without sleeping pills, again problems of the heart, we visit a heart specialist, take medicines but hypertension is there as it is and again the hyperglycemia troubles us. The cause of all these are our uncontrolled mind resulting in various psychosomatic diseases. We know but are unable to take remedial measures. Kriya-yoga helps us to control our mind.
This yogic practice is an eternal tradition beginning with the human history. In Upanishads this is described as pranavidya , knowledge of the Life Force; pranopasana , worship of the Life Force. Lord Krishna has referred in Shrimad Bhagavad-Gita in general and in chapters IV, V and VI in details. In chapter IV, He said that He had taught this technique to Sun god who in turn taught this to his son Monu (to whom the origin of human race is referred in scriptures) and Monu taught this to his son Iksvaku. In Mahabharata (12-349-65) and in Yajnavalka Smrti Lord Hiranyagarbha, Brahma the Creator is mentioned as the first profounder of Yoga, ‘hiranyagarbho yogasya vakta nanyah puratanah’. However, presenting Yoga in a capsular form was credited to Rishi Patanjali due to his famous work, the Yogasutras.
Though Kriya-yoga was there in India since ancient ages but in modern day India the present form was reintroduced by a Himalayan yogi called Mahavatar Babaji Maharaj in nineteenth century to Yogiraj Shri Shyamacharan Lahidi Mahasaya who taught this technique to many disciples and one of them is Swami Shriyukteswar Giri Maharaj. Paramahansa Yogananda who is a disciple of Sriyukteswarjee introduced this to western world in 1920 and this technique became very popular among the seekers of the west. His book, ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ became a familiar name all over the world.
The Yogasutras is the most authentic and widely accepted text on yoga and its practice. In this text Rishi Patanjali has described yoga on four chapters viz. Samadhi Pada, Sadhana Pada, Bibhuti Pada and Kaivalya Pada. The second chapter i.e. Sadhana Pada, practice part, deals on sadhana or practices on yoga. This says, ‘tapahsvadhyayesvarapranidhanani kriyayogah’ (Yogasutras: 2-1), tapah, austerities; svadhyaya, reading of scriptures; and iswara pranidhana, knowing Isvara or God, are kriya-yoga. Tapah or austerities mean control of sense organs, action organs and mind; this is self-restrain. One should not understand it to physically torture the body by sleeping on thorns or putting fire around our body. Tapah means heat, the inner heat generated by spiritual practices which, burns the impurities within; this is heat generated by breath technique, the first-kriya breathing technique is the best example along with guru-pranam and mahamudra techniques. Svadhyaya is reading of scriptures also reading of our inner self. The hamsa sadhana technique of kriya-yoga helps you in reading your own self. Isvara pranidhana is devotion to God, for success and knowledge you first need faith and devotion, ‘sradhavanllabhate jnanan’ (Sh. Bg.: 4-39). Isvara is the Lord; the ruler and pranidhana means to know in totality, to know with clarity when nothing is left to know. Isvara pranidhana is practicing, pranidhana, the Isvara composed of three syllabi viz. ee, sva and ra; ee is energy, shakti, and whose energy it is, it is the energy of sva, the Self which manifests into ra or light, prakasha. Light is the world, light is manifestation when we are in ignorance and light is knowledge when we are realized. In our body ee is inhalation and ra is exhalation, sva is in between our true self. The first- kriya technique is called i svara pranidhan kriya. We know Him within ourselves by practicing breath technique when the actions of mind are halted and the Self is reflected. All these techniques are given to the practitioners, sadhakas, in the first-kriya. All these three viz. tapah, svadhyaya and isvara pranidhana is further elaborated by Rishi Patanjali into eight fold limbs of yoga known as yama (rules), niyama (regulations), asana (posture), pranayama (breath technique), pratyahara (withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi.
This is a simple technique and at the center stage is breath. This is designed for a common man, for householders who can practice this easily for their self-development. This is done after a traditional ‘guru diksha’ or initiation. We teach the technique according to the tradition of Sriyukteswarjee. On the first kriya the techniques like om technique, khechari mudra, guru pranam, hamsa sadhana, mahamudra, kriya proper, paravastha, jyotimudra and sambhavi mudra are taught and is given in a capsular form to practice.
This kriya-yoga technique will help the practitioner, sadhaka, in knowing his life. It is your breath, which is controlling your life. One can say the meaning of breath is life and the meaning of life is breath. How can it be so? Because what you are is due to your breath. Once your breath departs your body then you are no more here to complete your evolution to a divine being, you are in the grasp of death which is a temporary pause and the span of this pause depends on your life that you passed. Then you are again waiting for a human birth to complete your journey to the Self. All living beings are breathing. After you are born from your mother’s womb it is breath. Your life is hiding behind your breath. So do you think your life is like that of animals who are also breathing? No. Then why we say our life our breath; because our mind, intellect and ego all are controlled by breath. You can find that for all moods of your mind, be it anger, frustration, sorrow, happiness, desires etc the mode of your breath changes. So for a mind in equanimity we need to breathe properly. That is the first lesson in yoga. One learns that through kriya-yoga.
About the book
Title: Kriya-yoga- The Science of Life-force
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi.
Size: 19cms x 25cms, hard bound with jacket
Total pages: 422 with more than 50 illustrations.
The breath based meditation “Kriyā-yoga” is a familiar name after its reintroduction by Mahāvatāra Bābājī to Lāhiḍi Mahāsaya and subsequent work of Paramahaṁsa Yogānanda in the western world. Though many literatures are available but the lack clear exposition on the philosophy and practices of this ancient spiritual science is still felt. The book, “Kriyā-yoga- The Science of Life-force” tries to fulfill this want. This work vividly explains “the Knowledge of Life-force” known as Prāṇavidyā, which forms the basis of Kriyā-yoga citing from Vedas, Upaniṣads, Ṡrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, Yogasūtras of Patañjali and many other ancient scriptures, and analyzes how the breath technique quiets the mind, brings equanimity and results in development of discriminating intelligence that answers the questions and purpose of human life. This also gives an understanding on our inner reading, the principles and practices from auspicious resolves, noble faith, self effort and austerities from righteousness, yama, and observances, niyama, up to the transcendental state, samādhi, those form the appendages of this treatise, and describes how the breath based practices and meditations described herein are necessary for a seeker to remain healthy and attain the Knowledge. The body principle, śarīra tattva, is also anatomized using both biological and spiritual sciences to accelerate spiritual practice and to facilitate the understanding on life and death, gross to causal bodies, five sheaths, five vital breaths, three knots, seven energy centers and their working. The most important aspect for readers and seekers that for the first time they will find the secret techniques of Kriyā-yoga viz. Nābhi Kriyā, Khecarī Mudrā, Guru Praṇām, Haṁsa, Prāṇa Vīkshaṇā, Mahāmudrā, Īśvarapraṇidhāna Kriyā, Ṭhokar Kriyā, Jyoti Mudrā, Sāmbhavī Mudrā, different techniques of meditation e.g. Aum, twelve lettered Vāsudeva mantra, inner- mātṛkā and outer-mātṛkā meditations etc are revealed, and explained in details citing their illustrations in Upaniṣads and ancient yogic scriptures and enumerating the rationale and scientific approach behind such practices and benefits involved.