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."
About Lahiri Mahasaya's teachings: "His published matter is mainly in the light of kriya yoga" may be an all right summary.
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 works of Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism), including works on yoga. Swami Satyeswarananda shows that Lahiri took part in the publication, and wrote some of the texts himself, includings his work on Manu Samhita and Panini. [◦Source]
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.
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." [Satyeswarananda 1986, 173] That might be bad if it should happen . . . Then, what if you should happen to speak a dialect?
Contentment - good and bad teachings
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? If you have a heartburn and ask a marring guru what to do about it, he might cite a book or two: "Remain contented with whatever you have." [Satyeswarananda 1986, 77]. As 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. "One who seeks happiness should become supremely content and self-controlled, for happiness is rooted in contentment and its opposite is the root of unhappiness." (Olivelle 2005, 124) But there are other books to refer to in the matter. Health is treasured, and silly contentment should not be thought much of.
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 wings of meditation. Since both approaches - learning and meditating - may be combined, there is no need to make so much fuss about it.
Besides, Sanskrit santosh means not only contentment, but also satisfaction, delight, joy, pleasure.
Thus, the Sanskrit could be taken to mean something like "Go for pleasures and be content with nothing less." For by pleasant activities children evolve human potentials more often than not. But getting "satisfied" with too little in life, suggests being inadequately nourished and really dissatisfied - or maybe underhand-fooled. Undernourishment in several fields and on many levels (see Maslow's Pyramid of Needs), have to be remedied.
Get pleased and pleased with what you need to go on and develop well before you get content. Thus, have sound reasons to be content too.
No fool to yourself
You may 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. [Satyeswarananda 1986, 147]. This cherished idea of yogi contentment is of course not good if trusted in . . . 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 would 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 vastly better to stick to Buddha's Gentle Middle Way design for better living and get awakened rather than being robbed of good karma and as a result not have all that may be needed to carry on. It is wise not to get one's mind spotted with dubious resolves if you can avoid them.
◎ Speak up against unsound indoctrination. Get a good life and move onward and upward, and then consider the overall and worsening fare of the warmed-up planet, the dwindling living-conditions, the extinctions of thousands of animal species, and further.
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 Yogananda's Gita commentary, God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita , for example. 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. The point is that the Gita is interpreted like that, in step with the truism: "Many people were born, lived, and died. So others say."
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 Lahiri says or writes, is often out of step with genuine translations.
Although Lahiri himself preferred Kriya to spread naturally, disciples started organisations 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. It is a sad thing.
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).
NOTE. Works marked by YN are currently online at yoganiketan.net, 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
And Lahiri's special commentary from "San Diego", runs like this:
And Yoganiketan.net'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". [yoganiketan.net, sv. "Krishna-Yajurvedia Dhyanabindu Upanishad"]
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 [1980, 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.
And if you sometimes sigh, "People don't understand me," there may be gurus and yogis that are far less understandable . . . 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.
This could mean that Lahiri reads different matters into the Sanskrit verses - again -, and that translators take the fun out of reading much.
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. 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.
As a result of these renderings and abstracts 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, Bengali.
Beliefs lead many astray
I am highly valued, for few understand me. [Tao Te Ching, ch 70]
Beliefs may be wrong, used for baits, or they may be provisional. You are generally cautioned against believing in this and that. It is well-meaning.
It is not that belief is necessarily bad, but we can do better without many of them, for beliefs lead so many astray: But don't believe this; 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.
Many humans have a Human Right to doubt with serenity. If doubt should be called for, doubt in ways that benefit you. 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.
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."
When the Great Reality is not known, the study of the scriptures is fruitless. When the Great Reality is known, the study of the scriptures is also fruitless. [Ad Shankara]
But Shankara also writes much about the Self from the stand of Advaita Vedanta ("monism").
◎ Measure is treasure (Proverb).
Aiyar, K Narayanasvami, tr. Thirty Minor Upanishads. Madras: K. N. Ayar, 1914. ⍽▢⍽ These translated selected texts are about yogic philosophy and practices. A Tejabindu Upanishad translation is among them. There are recent reprint editions of Aiyar's book.
Deussen, Paul, tr. Sixty Upanishads of the Veda. Vols 1-2. Varanasi: Banarsidass, 1980. ⍽▢⍽ Here is an English translation of the Tejabindu Upanishad, and an introduction and notes. The author was a German Indologist and professor of Philosophy at University of Kiel, one of "immense, perceptive, and meticulous" scholarship (Wikipedia).
Olivelle, Patrick, tr. comm. 1998. The Early Upanisads: Annotated Text and Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. ⍽▢⍽ 12 Upanishads are included.
⸻. 2005. Manu's Code of Law; A Critical Edition and Translation of the Manava-Dharmashastra. New York: Oxford University Press.
⸻. 1992. Samnyasa Upanisads: Hindu Scriptures on Asceticism and Renunciation. New York: Oxford University Press. ⍽▢⍽ Includes 18 Upanishads.
Satyeswarananda, Swami, tr. Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay Vol. I: The Gitas: The Vedic Bibles. Guru Gita. Omkar Gita. Abadhuta Gita. Kabir Gita. 2nd rev. ed. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics, 1992.
⸻. Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay Vol. II: The Bhagavad Gita Interpretations of Lahiri Mahasay. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics, 1991.
⸻. Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay Vol. III: The Upanisads: The Vedic Bibles. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics, 1992.⍽▢⍽ A repacked four-volumed edition of the Complete Works exist too (2006). The first edition of the Works is still available from the publisher (2019).
⸻. Hidden Wisdom. With Lahiri Mahasay's Commentaries. 2nd rev. ed. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics, 1986.
⸻. Inner Victory: With Lahiri Mahasay's Commentaries. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics, 1987.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, 2 Vols. 2nd ed. Paperback. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2001.
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