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Introduction to the Series

Quite grungy

A psychologist tested a recruit to find out if he was suitable for service in the Army.

"When I say 'beach views', what is the first thing that comes to mind?" he asked.

"Women," said the recruit.

"And when I say 'Sorbonne', what is the first thought you have?"

"Women," said the recruit.

"When I say, 'hills', what then?"

"Women," said the recruit.

The psychologist inquired some more, and the recruit explained:

"I always think of women, sir."

Many young men are accused of that. Maybe it cannot be helped.

Now, with Lahiri Mahasaya it is somewhat different than in the retold joke. Through well over twenty books and scripture commentaries he does not steadily think of women, but kriya yoga. Maybe it reminds of humour, and maybe not.

"His works are mainly in the light of kriya yoga" is not a bad summary. You may compare some of them with real translations and see for yourself.

Shyama Lahiri (/sháma láhri/) with Mahasaya (/mahásha/) added, was born in India in 1828 and cremated in 1895. He was a yogi, and produced rather free-flowing adaptations of many good works, including works on yoga. Swami Satyeswarananda shows that Lahiri took part in the publications, and wrote some of the texts himself, includings his work on Manu Samhita and Panini. [◦Source]

Lahiri says in several places that contentment is a good thing. The real question is what to be content with. Is it a lousy pay, overwork and geese cackling around you? Better be content with fulfilling your basic needs and rise. Similar insights are basically what Abraham Maslow's pyramid of needs can amount to help you toward if his assessments serve you properly.

If you think that being content with these grunge-smacking essays, or going through the many summaries of them as you please, is a good thing, think better. That is to say, rise above thinking by meditation. Since both approaches - learning and meditating - may be combined, there is no need to make so much fuss about it.

And maybe you see deeper and better and refrain from being content until you are in the flow of a fulfilling and rewarding life, for then you might have sound reasons to be content too.

The essays contain somewhat contrasting text passages, and offer room for angst-giving statements, such as Lahiri's "If one does not read with tuning and vowels, one generates sin which destroys him." [Hw 173]

In the following articles the aesthetic is stripped down, and the general appearance rejects the theatric. And the influence continues: these are hallmarks of grunge.

Sea Stars

In some passages Lahiri talks of mysteries of stars in a hidden sea - hidden sea stars. It is figurative. The sea is not "out there", and the enigmatic sea stars are not either. So once again, "The comparison halts" a little or a lot, quite as a proverb has it. A well halting comparison can still be useful, and there is room for many of them.

"Remain contented with whatever you have."

You have a heartburn, ask a marring guru what to do about it, and he cites, "Remain contented with whatever you have." [Hw 77]. That yoga sentiment is repeated by Lahiri too, and elaborated by Satyeswarananda. "Learn how to remain contented with whatever one has and whatever one is. / There should not be any craving to have more desire or even to move anywhere," writes Satyeswarananda (op cit). Manu Samhita 4:12 lies at the back of the statement. It is a widely held yogi teaching.

Just to make it clear, it is better to go for health by fit means than being content with illnesses. And rather than remaining contented with inferior overall conditions that steal fitness and happiness along the way, at least try to find better pastures and better over-all conditions. Let no guru words fool you from finding a fit place to live and keep your health for long.

"Whatever one receives, one should remain contented. Thereby, one can attain Tranquility. This is contentment (Santosh), the secret key to attain the highest Happiness," decrees Lahiri in the wake of Patanjali as well. [Hw 147]. This cherished idea of yogi contentment is of course not good if trusted in blindly and far and wide. If a one-celled animal had been content with going on as that, or fish had not crawled on land, there might have been no animal evolution as we know it. If animals do not move about in search of food, not content with starving, it could very soon be the end of them. If Lahiri had been content with receiving kriya yoga in secret and not divulge it to many, he would have showed content in that yogi way. But he did not. He most certainly did not live as he preached.

Make a check-list to see how the goings are at large - and refrain from being fully content until you have a decent living and thrives too - that could be wise.

There is hopefully a "time and place" and rewarding conditions that speak of contentment, but unless and until there are ample reasons to be satisfied, being fulfilled in the on-going development that good yoga calls for, stupid contentment is not appropriate. Compare Abraham Maslow's pyramid of needs. Beware of too harsh guru teachings, then. They may be misleading, as when giving up the results of your actions is demanded or councelled too. "Man should create lots of good karma," says Buddha. It should be far better to stick with Buddha's Gentle Middle Way design for better living and get liberated, than being robbed of good karma treasures by too blunt "karma yoga" and as a result not having what is needed for getting ahead. Beware, and do not get content with what is not proper resolves. It is not considered a right resolve to remain content with sexual misconduct either.

Speak up against indoctrination. Get a good life and move onward and upward, and then one may perhaps be content - till concern for the welfare of others, including animals and the state of the planet, pops up.

A brahmin by birth organised study groups and launched variant interpretations of many works to study

Shyama Charan Lahiri (1828-1895), or Lahiri Mahasaya, initiated many thousand persons in formerly secret kriya yoga, and made kriya yoga widely known too, by initiating about 5000 disciples. He himself was a disciple of a secretive guru called Babaji ("honoured father") and the guru of Yukteswar (1855–1936).

Lahiri is his family name, and Mahasaya is a reverend title that means "largeminded".

Lahiri was born into a Brahmin family in the Nadia district of Bengal. His mother died when he was a child. As a child, he studied Urdu and Hindi, gradually moving on to Bengali, Sanskrit, Persian, and English at the Government Sanskrit College, along with study of the Vedas. Reciting the Vedas, bathing in the Ganges, and worship were part of his daily routine. He had four children with his wife, Srimati Kashi Moni.

In 1861 he was initiated into the techniques of Kriya Yoga by Babaji, and began initiating others into the path of Kriya Yoga, as a householder in Varanasi (formerly: Banaras), where he worked as an accountant for the Military Engineering Department of the British government.

Yoga pranayama practices are the main elements of Lahiri's Kriya Yoga. His system aims at generating deep tranquillity. His general advice is to practice Kriya Yoga meticulously and attune oneself to the active inner guidance.

Lahiri always gave the Kriya technique as an initiation, and often referred to the grace that comes automatically through the guru if his instructions are carefully followed. He taught the value of earning an honest living and practicing honesty. And for most of his disciples he advised marriage along with Kriya Yoga practice.

He organised many study groups and gave regular discourses on the Bhagavad Gita. In 1886, he retired on a pension.

Among his notable disciples was Panchanon Bhattacharya, who was permitted to start an institution in Kolkata to spread the teachings of Kriya Yoga. This Arya [Noble] Mission Institution published commentaries by Lahiri on the Bhagavad Gita and other spiritual books.

Lahiri interpreted many works and launched a variant interpretation of the battle of Kurukshetra in the Bhagavad Gita: To him, it represented an inner psychological battle, and that specific main characters in the battle were psychological traits. By treating the characters figuratively, their historical value may evaporate somewhat, or totally.

This grasp on the Gita - where characters are said to symbolise different qualities by allotment milleniums after the action took place, according to the Hindu faith at large - was later repeated in Yukteswar's Gita commentary [Bhg], and Yogananda's Gita commentary, God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita [Gt]. Lahiri also taught that the whole Mahabharata epos - of which the Bhagavad Gita is a small part - showed the soul's descent into matter and gross and subtle challenges in getting back to spirit.

Lahiri used to interpret a lot of Hindu classics in the light of kriya yoga. It is somehow like putting "kriya yoga glasses" on one's nose and see through them. What he says or writes, is often out of step with genuine translations.

Although Lahiri himself preferred Kriya to spread naturally, disciples started organizations to spread the Kriya Yoga message, and with his permission. Yukteswar was among them. He had some wrong ideas and spread some of them, also to his disciple Yogananda. Lahiri became known in the west through Param(a)hansa Yogananda, the disciple of Yukteswar. Among Lahiri's disciples were both of Yogananda's parents.

Lahiri passed away in 1895.

A source of much of this information is Yogananda's autobiography. It calls for many caveats. [Link]

The core method of kriya yoga is explained in detail here. The founding method is not difficult, and not secret either, but you may benefit from being instructed in person too.

26 Works by Lahiri Mahasaya: Interpretations of gitas (songs) and samhitas (collections)

There are at least 26 works that Lahiri Mahasaya is credited with. Some of them are studied in this collection. The Lahiri works are available as books or parts of books at Sanskrit Classics in San Diego. A newer edition has been published since. Both editions are still on the market (2017).

  1. Abadhuta Gita   YN
  2. Amritabindu Upanisad   YN
  3. Ancient Yogi Panini on Education
  4. Astabakra Sanghita
  5. Bhagavad Gita   YN. Yukteswar's Gita is found there too.
  6. Charak Sanghita
  7. Dhyanabindu Upanisad   YN
  8. Guru Gita   YN
  9. Kabir Gita   YN (in progress, 2009)
  10. Manu Sanghita   YN
  11. Niralamba Upanisad   YN
  12. Omkar Gita   YN
  13. Taitiriya Upanisad
  14. Tejabindu Upanisad   YN
  15. The Chandi
  16. The Japaji (the first book) by Guru Nanak
  17. The Kabir Doha (Couplets)
  18. The Linga Puran
  19. The Nyaya Sutras of Sage Gautama
  20. The Sankhya Sutras of Siddha Kapil
  21. The Substance of Mimangsa of Sage Jaimini
  22. The Tantrasar
  23. The Vaisesika Sutras of Sage Kanada
  24. The Vedanta Darsan of Sage Badarayan - Chapter 1
  25. The Yantrasar
  26. The Yoga Sutras of Yogi Patanjali   YN

NOTE. Works marked by YN are currently online at, which also hosts Lahiri Mahasaya's Garland of Letters (Patravali). An ample handful of Yoganiketan texts are also available in book form now (2017). Texts from the Sanskrit Classics and the Yoganiketan texts may differ among themselves somehow, and also from translations of the basic texts that Lahiri has produced commentaries on. A random example may do for now:

The second verse of the Dhyanabindu Upanishad looks like this in Dr Paul Deussen's translation [with diacritical notes omitted by me]:

Vishnu is called a great Yogin
Great in magic power and penance,
As a lamp on the way of truth
He shines, the highest Purusha. [So 700]

And Lahiri's special commentary from "San Diego", runs like this:

V: "bosoms".

I: "firmly tranquilizing the breath up to the aperture in the head () from the eyebrows."

U: "returning to the coccygeal."

      Spiritually, "Visnu" is the state of eternal Tranquility at the After-effect-poise of Kriya.

Mahamaya (Maha+maya):

Maha: In all beings."

maya: "breathing through the left and right nostril." [Ut 26-27]

And's online version to compare with is:

The Stillness which is after Kriya - the one who always has that -- "Vishnu" = "v[a]= Sound from the bosom; "i" - Stillness upon taking vayo to the head with Shakti, from the center to the end-Brahmarandhra, and again + "u" - coming to the Yoni - meaning the state which is after the performance of kriya, that Stillness. "Mahamaya" = the movement of breath on the left and right side is called "maya," and it is like that in all jivas - therefore: "mahamaya". [, sv. "Krishna-Yajurvedia Dhyanabindu Upanishad"]

What Lahiri Mahasaya seems to have done is not much of a translation, but to read things into an old Sanskrit work. He puts his own spin on some passages. If what he teaches is wise, it may still remain much unverified. It may be well to bear that in mind. And it is not wise to believe much, because of the danger of being taken in. That is a careful teaching by Buddha.

The Dhyanabindu Upanishad ("esoteric doctrine of the point [bindu] to which the meditation relates"), is explained and commented on in Paul Deussen's Sixty Upanisads of the Veda [So 699-702]. The upanishad in question does speak for silence in meditation, through breath practice, even though verse 2 does not seem to give one clue of it.

If you sometimes sigh, "People don't understand me," there may be gurus and yogis that are far less understandable . . . It is widely acknowledged that Lahiri's output is not easy to find out of, not even among followers in his line of yoga. At least some of his commentaries were written by himself, and few disciples recorded - and published more. Some of the commentaries could seem more accurate than others. And Lahiri often spoke like a drunk as a result of his spiritual attainments, they inform at Yoga Niketan. [sv. "Important information about These Commentaries" there.

What Has Been Done on These Pages

Worked-on Lahiri translations from Sanskrit Classics in San Diego have been singled out and arrayed on these pages. Gist is presented and modified with a focus on Self-lore, aiming at better understanding if it may be had in such a way. Abstracts or renderings are used for clarity and to avoid infringing on copyrights of others. Abstracts and renderings may work as well as verbatim quotations, or better. It would depend on the originals. If they are all "secrets and lies", abstracts may not help a bit. Thus, it may be good to know which passages to single out too . . .

As a result you may understand yoga lore better; that part will be up to you at any rate.

Detailed references to sources are given, so can go to the sources and see how they are in one or more translations if you do not master the original language.

Beliefs lead many astray

Beliefs may be wrong, used for baits, or they may be provisional and fit for rational enquiry, and beliefs may be changed and even counteracted. You are generally cautioned against believing in this and that on this site, for the sake of your own rational coping and development. Along with Gautama Buddha's teachings, come general reservations. They should work for you if you look into the matter and then apply the most fit parts for yourself.

It is not that belief is necessarily bad, but we can often do better without many of them. Believe me: beliefs lead so many astray into lots of bad things. Or don't believe this, but take a sweeping look at the state of faiths on the planet: So many divergent faiths spell many wrong faiths, or many faulty beliefs, if you like it put that way.

It could help to minimise sectarian thinking: many beliefs are plainly wrong when they are at loggerheads against one another and only one or a few of them can be right. You have a right to doubt. If doubt should be called for, doubt in ways that benefit you and make progress in that old skill. That is part of the art of doubting.

At any rate, many seemingly fine words are not always good for folks, says Tao Te Ching, ch 70, 81 etc.

Further, the gleanings are put into a form that works well for basic research. And maybe you can learn something above the statements (meta-ideas) from it. Special gists are for that. It is generally advised to take a look at a chapter's gist before reading the chapter, for appropriation may be helped by it. [Link]

I am highly valued, for few understand me. [Tao Te Ching, ch 70]

Teachings on the Self are hopefully useful up to a point. But words about the Self or Nirvana are not experiencing the Self and Nirvana. Compare the words of Guru Dev, "Spiritual teachings . . . cannot throw light on the inner Self, for the Self is Light."

Shankara writes many words about the Self from the stand of Advaita Vedanta ("monism"). Ramana Maharsi does too. So there are teachings of other famous gurus and of Buddhism to compare this gist with.


Lahiri Mahasaya rendered, Literature  

Bhg: Yukteswar, Swami. Srimad Bhagavad Gita: Spiritual Commentary. Portland, Mn: Yoganiketan, 2002. On-line.

Bi: Satyeswarananda, Swami, tr. Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay Vol. II: The Bhagavad Gita Interpretations of Lahiri Mahasay. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics, 1991.

Gt: Yogananda, Paramahansa. God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, 2 Vols. 2nd ed. Paperback. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2001.

Hw: Satyeswarananda, swami, tr. The Commentaries' Series Vol. III: Hidden Wisdom. With Lahiri Mahasay's Commentaries. 2nd rev. ed. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics, 1986.

So: Deussen, Paul, tr. Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Vols 1-2. Varanasi: Banarsidass, 1980.

Ut: Satyeswarananda, Swami, tr. Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay Vol. III: The Upanisads: The Vedic Bibles. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics, 1992.

Harvesting the hay

On many pages are simple markers, brackets and some symbols. What they stand for and how they are used for academic harvesting is shown on the page that the 'Gain-Ways link below will open.

Lahiri Mahasaya rendered, To top Section Set Next

Lahiri Mahasaya rendered. USER'S GUIDE: [Link]  ᴥ  Gain-Ways: [Link]
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