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Kriya Yoga Smartness

Sun Look to cats. Be on your gard. If handed-over doctrines conflict with liberal cat living, drop them and maybe you can keep your home your home, and also remedy mistakes:

There are many teachings as to what constitutes fit yoga. Some traditions do not suit everybody. Have the good luck to learn how cats keep independent if they are not caged in totally. On the other hand, dog training is hardly good for people.

Smartness sets in on many levels. "kriya smartness" is being smart when it comes to kriya yoga or similar. If you have to submit to the gruesome for learning it, refrain. There are kriya methods to learn in freedom and not serfdom.

If you should find yourself outwitted and bound for lifetimes through an indecent kriya oath, there could be nothing better to do than to make the best out of it . . . If you are much battered by a guru and his sect and demands, it may be best to keep a decent distance. It does not equal full freedom, moksha, but may still be of some help. Better be smart beforehand. Try to find out of texts and teachers before submitting. To preserve your freedom may be very wise at bottom. If freedom of thought is taken by submission and controls, it goes against your Human Rights. Independence of thought - and submission - are not next-door neighbours.

For someone who has learnt kriya yoga, the art of practising it includes knowing when to stop for safety reasons (cf. ◦108 Pieces of Advice, No. 25; Garland of Letters No 21 and 69 in context]).

Lahiri Mahasaya tells further in the Garland, that correct practice outweighs doing many kriya rounds, so "good quality before quantity," (See Garland No 81, No. 53).

Besides: "Doing Kriya out of fear is NOT doing Kriya" (Garland No. 51). Oh well . . .

There is also an observation by Swami Vivekananda. He comments on the Yoga Sutras 2.1: "Mortification, study, and surrendering fruits of work to God are called Kriya Yoga." His comments includes: "The first step, the preliminary step, is called Kriya Yoga. Literally this means work, working towards Yoga (Vivekananda 1920)." The things to note is that with Patanjali, "kriya yoga" means "mortification" and is preliminary yoga. To favour meditation to a preliminary thing can be wise in a way too. Or may we harmonise both something preliminary and the Main Thing (meditation)? Patanjali's yoga system is founded on that latter approach.

As for translation and books on kriya yoga, some carry spins that may not benefit you as much as the publishers. They rarely undermine themselves through decent deals.

"Rules of the translation game" vary among the lines of transmission. It might be wiser to go for a translation that works for your own, long-range good than not to do so. Another is to steer away from what may be detrimental to health and proper development. "You never know till you try," may at times or in part be countered by "Research tells of results, and they may yield loose odds for progress or success."

In the following comes examples of how Patanjali's Yoga Sutras gets translated by some.

Niyamas discussed

In Patanjali Yoga, in verse 2.32 there is a list of five things to do, five niyamas. Or rather, there are five terms with many meanings. The list is of niyamas, positive observances of yoga. In Trevor Leggett's translation, Adi Shankara tells the five observances are purity, contentment, tapas, self-study, and devotion to the Lord (Leggett 1990, 264-66). In Yajnavalkya Yoga and the two Upanishads that are called Sandilya and Varuha, the observances are ten. (WP, "Niyama")

We are now looking into the set of five niyamas from three books. One by Lahiri Mahasaya, one by Charles Johnston, and one by Swami Vivekananda. One may wonder why the terms in the list are differently translated. The main reason: Sanskrit words often carry several meanings. To study the meanings in the light of a reasonable tradition could be fine, but there is no guarantee it will be.

Lahiri MahasayaCharles JohnstonVivekananda
1. Outer purityPurityCleanliness
2. Contentment (Internal purity)SerenityContentment
3. Following what the guru says (Tapah)Fervent aspirationAusterity
4. Perceiving and tuning in to the sound of [nadis, i.e.] Omkar(a). [the Aum-sound]. (This step is called svadhyaaya)Spiritual readingStudy
5. Pure devotion and remembrance of IshvarPer feet obedience to the MasterSelf-surrender to God

As mentioned above, many Sanskrit words allow for different nuances of interpretation and also different interpretations. Some alternatives to the Sanskrit terms used in verse 2.32 are from Sanskrit Dictionary of Spoken Sanskrit (SDSS)

No. 1, saucha: Cleanness, purification, purity, integrity, honesty, self-purification, evacuation of excrement, purity of mind, clearness.

Suggestion: Integrity could help one to get old.

No. 2, santosh: "Contentment, satisfaction, delight, pleasure, joy."

Suggestion: Prefer delight.

No. 3., tapah: heat, intensity of discipline, austerity - and being tormented.

Suggestion: To be persecuted severely and yet benefit, might be counted in (Matthew 5:11-12), but do not trust there will be a lovely outcome of it here on earth. A truly delightful discipline must be wiser, all in all. Some learn to meditate like that.

No. 4., svadhyaya: self-study, or "studying the veda, reciting or repeating or rehearsing to one's self, repeating to oneself, repetition or recitation of the veda in a low voice to one's self, veda" - along with isvara: divine ideal, pure awareness, or "able to do, capable of, god, Supreme Being, supreme soul, Durga." (SDSS)

Suggestion: "Study your Self - how? You can meditate well till you rise beyond many thoughts (it is called transcending)."

No. 5, Isvara-pranidhana: "commitment to the Isvara ("Lord"). Pranidhana means such as "assiduousness, attention, respectful conduct, profound religious meditation, entrance. (SDSS)" Surrender, dedication, application, alignment is not all it means, then.

Suggestion: "Meditation means focused attention. A fine meditation entrance [Door] may swing open . . ."

The five niyamas can be translated differently, and the ten niyamas in Yoga Yajnavalkya too. All alternatives are not equally fine.

Comments. Shyama Lahiri published a commentary on the Yoga Sutras. A translation of it is in the fourth volume of the Satyeswarananda-edited Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay (2006). The words he has chosen for verse verse 2:32, are translated into English in the left column above. Vivekananda's translation is from Raja Yoga (1920), chapter 2.

  1. Outer purity is quite relative. Can you breathe with hands, face, and mouth unclean? If so, you can do kriya, and even practice comfortably and well.

  2. True contentment is natural, spontaneous when the flux of inner and out factors suit oneself. It is not something to be forced or strained.

  3. What gurus say, differs. Some teach this, others not so. Some say the world is illusory, others that it is real (enough), and so on.

  4. There is tinnitus and the sounds that yogis train to hear. what is the difference between tinnitus and yoga sounds? None, at least outwardly . . .

    Tinnitus is not itself a disease. The term "tinnitus" usually refers to more severe cases. Heller and Bergman (1953) conducted a study of 80 tinnitus-free university students placed in a chamber without echoes, and found that 93% reported hearing a buzzing, pulsing or whistling sound. [WP]

    We might come to hear tinnitus-resembling inner shrieks and muffled sounds by attuning ourselves - there is a method of listening to sounds of life force swirling about in one's body and the bodies of others. One method in use is to "plug the ears" (using one's fingers) to better focus on the sounds that appear from the activities of the circulating flows. "You never know till you try" might fit here.

  5. Fervent devotion outwards is a main factor in developing cultishness,. Devotion is of id (libidous urges), and can lead to over-stretching outwardly against the drift of good yoga, which is inward-turning, in essence. Self-wards is how Adi Shankara says devotion had better be turned - A word to the wise. Proper development through the four life stages (ashrams) and Eriksonian life stages are fine too.

    The essence of Ishvar (alias God to some) is inner, subtle light that floods you. To remember the light of yesterday is seldom as good as experiencing today full well - yet there could be situations or conditions where much remembrance would be okay as well. Much depends.

    The guru as inner Light is a great Hindu concept. The word 'gurudeva' relates to it, in that Sanskrit deva means 'shining one'.

Being careful as a cat with whiskers in approaching teachings and teachers of yoga can be a good help. Being very careful in choosing a yoga teacher is part of the ancient yogi heritage. A kind guru is benign and someone to thank for.

Satyananda Yoga has its set-up regulations too. But we may study free kriya yoga teachings in it. Kriya yoga is explained in detail in a repository book and a supplement (2001; 1981). The approach suits the supple and not the stiff.

One third of the monastics of Yogananda's kriya-teaching fellowship SRF left it between 2000 and 2005. (Parsons 2012, 170).


Among the meditation methods that have been researched today, ◦TM has proved very beneficial.


Kriya yoga smartness, kriya-yoga for good guys niyama translations, Literature  

Lahiri, Shyama Charan. Garland of Letter. Coll. Ananda Mohan Lahiri. Portland, MN: Yoganiketan, 2004.

Leggett, Trevor, tr. 1990. The Complete Commentary by Sankara on the Yoga Sutras: A Full Translation of the Newly Discovered Text. London: Kegan Paul.

Parsons, Jon R. A Fight For Religious Freedom: A Lawyer's Personal Account of Copyrights, Karma and Dharmic Litigation. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2012.

Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 1981.

Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Kundalini Tantra. 8th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001.

Vivekananda, Swami. 1920. Raja Yoga: Being Lectures by the Swami Vivekananda, wih Patanjali's Aphorisms, Commentaries and a Glossary of Terms. New ed. New York: Brentano's.

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