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Kriya yoga gurus on scriptures
"Quack! Quack! Quack!"

From manipulative plays on 'age-old' to later regret

The mysterious shapeshifter called Babaji tells that the yoga system he gave Shyama Lahiri (also called Lahiri Baba and Lahiri Mahasaya) in 1861 and named kriya yoga, is mentioned in some ancient scriptures. Why should that be inspected? For your own good, perhaps?

1. The word' 'kriya' in old Sanskrit works is not about kriya yoga. 'Kriya' in ancient text means many different things. Translators of ancient Sanskrit texts translate 'kriya' in them into 'work', 'do', and not kriya yoga. What Sanskrit 'kriya' means. The Sanskrit Dictionary of Spoken Sanskrit is online. It tells that in different contexts (settings) the word 'kriyá' means "sacrificial act; literary work; applying a remedy; action; performing; activity; exercise of the limbs; ceremony; doing; study; means; atonement; work; religious action; labour; expedient; undertaking; verb; medical treatment or practice; bodily action; composition; religious rite or ceremony; judicial investigation; worship; noun of action; cure; performance; sacrifice; last ceremony; occupation with; occupation; disquisition; rite; and the sign Aries." "The Sanskrit root of kriya is kri, to do, to act and react; the same root is found in the word karma." (Yogananda 1946, 243). The root of the Sanskrit 'kriya' is there in 'create' and 'creativity' too.

When this is so, running and shouting such as "The mere word 'kriya' in such and such ancient Sanskrit texts shows that Babaji's kriya yoga system is top!" might spell "victim of demagogy" or mirth.

2. Tendentious backdating can be so foolish that it is found out: It is not according to the rules of scholars to backdate the meaning of a term to get seeming scriptural support for what they put into the term thereby. To seek ancient footing for a yoga system by the part 'kriya' in it, seems foolish.

3. Better compare content, not label parts. If there was a yoga system in the olden days that was like Babaji's kriya yoga, it might not have been called 'kriya' back then. It is the description of the exercises in the kriya yoga system that may show such semblances. And yes, some parts of Babaji's kriya yoga system are parts of hatha-yoga. The core method of kriya is called ujjayi in hatha-yoga. It is simple, gentle breathing; easy to learn and practice. Around this centre is a battery of asanas and mudras and bandhas, as they are called. A hatha-yoga classic from the 15th century describes many parts of hatha-yoga. [Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swatmarama]

4. Mysterious secrecy? In yoga traditions, specially effective methods have usually been kept out of reach for the uninitiated, and not put down in writing at all. This suggests that written references to a yoga system like Babaji's kriya system could have been blocked. However, several parts of Babaji's kriya yoga system are parts of general hatha-yoga -

It could be correct to doubt with skills instead of being taken in. That is a teaching of Buddha. The kriya gurus Yukteswar and Yogananda advocate scepticism and good use of reason too - at times, in some places. Get the edge of calm doubt - that is, make neat doubting much profitable.


An erroneous belief, if held to without scrutiny, develops into tenacious dogmatism. A belief that is disproved changes from dogmatism to unbelief. On the other hand, if one believes in a true doctrine and follows it persistently, that belief gradually crystallizes into conviction and faith. So we see that a belief, whether false or true, is provisional. It can only be temporary, for it is subsequently metamorphosed either into dogmatism or unbelief, or into faith . . .

What is needed is investigative belief with sincerity and reverence, followed up with persistence in true beliefs, or at least in those beliefs that constantly manifest convincing results. - Yogananda (2000, 305-06)

Note. By 'Yogananda' is meant 'Yogananda as helped by many' - He had secretaries to help him. [Autobiography of secretaries or their "hireling" Yogananda?]

Yogananda teaches that belief in him and his school had better be provisional - Thus, feel free to check teachings with great care, not just what the name 'Yogananda' fronts. [Editorial means are exposed]. - [A sloppy Rubaiyat Commentary]

You normally do well in not giving up your freedom of thought, such as well studied opinions. The alternative is not wise. Have a mind to follow up Yogananda on this one too: "It is all right to enjoy the good things of this world [2000, 141]." Neither deep nor provisional faith in Buddha's teaching is forbidden by Buddha.

As for the teachings of Yukteswar:

Yogananda Many teachers will tell you to believe; then they put out your eyes of reason and instruct you to follow only their logic. But I want you to keep your eyes of reason open; in addition, I will open in you . . . wisdom." . . . (Yogananda 1982:114).

Largely unverified scriptural claims for kriya yoga, could they be attempts to impress and possibly mislead the credulous in the New World?

Dare to ask: "Does 'kriya' in old Sanskrit works mean Babaji's kriya yoga?"

Answer: "Why should it? The word 'kriya' in ancient Sanskrit words is taken to mean "work" and some dozens of other things. (Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit)."

the shame of it Here is the clowning: If you take the word grey-haired, and add yoga to, you have grey-haired yoga, "formerly secret and yet much venerated Grey-haired Yoga" and so on. When 'grey-haired' appears in books from hundreds of years ago, is that the proof that your later-devised "grey-haired yoga" is told of in them just because the word grey-haired appears in them here and there?

Think twice. Detect the fallacy "It is grey-haired, venerated, and so on just because a Yogananda line takes pains to promote it in such a way." Without decent evidence. To avoid being taken in, go for good evidence and assess it if you can. It means a lot to be saved from gullibility snares."

Much could be at stake if we get entangled in a sect by unverified claims that call for "Golly!" In a subsequent development, swilling beliefs can lead to cult membership and being subjected to heavy-handed conformism of mind and behaviour in the sect. First investigate beliefs well.

Sound study is called for

A central fixture of kriya yoga is the free, simple way of breathing (pranayama method) called ujjayi is publicly known and described in several books and online. It is one of the pranayama ways of hatha yoga. The core Babaji's kriya yoga system is ujjayi, such a way of breathing. Ujjayi is not a mystery.

Kriya Yoga spelled out

Core kriya is the common, very easy and public pranayama method called ujjayi. A variant is described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (2:51-54) from the 15th century. There are several more variants around. Niranjanananda describes many in his book Prana and Pranayama. (2009). James Hewitt describes a good form of ujjayi in a yoga book (1991). The basic way of breathing is described.

Some kriya yoga lines

Kriya yoga is propagated by several gurus and organisations. One line comes through Swami Sivananda (1887–1963). "Swami Sivananda received initiation into kriya yoga from Babaji," is found in Early Teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati (1988, 89). In Satyananda Yoga they teach kriya yoga too, through books and yoga classes. Another line of transmissions is through Lahiri Mahasaya. There are many ramifications. And so on.

Many maintain kriya yoga is secret, although ujjayi and hatha-yoga parts are free and public knowledge. Besides, in Satyananda Yoga maintains it is told it is taught without strings. Books won't rape a wise woman, but still beware . . .

Impossible claims?

As a young swami-monk, the monk Yogananda (1893–1952) was sent to the West in 1920 to spread "Babaji's kriya" he had been taught by some persons, including his father. However, in the USA he ditched many parts of the kriya he had been taught in India. He also added some features that were not part of original kriya. The kriya he came up with, worked twelve times faster or better than "the original" kriya, he also claimed. [Evidence is here]

A study of kriya yoga effects on seven Indian yogis was conducted by the researchers Das and Gastaut in 1957. The Indian yogis that were investigated hardly used Yogananda's changed kriya for Westerners, for in India, yogis in his line had misgivings about the changes he had made, writes Yogananda's biographer Sailendra Dasgupta (2006, 101). [Kriya yoga research]


"Feather by feather the goose is plucked"

Upon investigation one might find that many "Yoganandic claims" on behalf of kriya yoga are not substantiated. To the degree that good proof of a claim is missing, consider a play of claims and faith. Faith can tie you or even bring you down. One had better consider such dark and dim sides to Yogananda's teachings too, sworn in and by that waiving former human rights, degrees of freedom, told not to have sex as a single, or have sex just a little if married; told what to eat, how little you should sleep, and further on. In short, you could get hurt and miss regret buttons. [The oath]

"Die another day"

Yogananda was sent to the West to spread kriya yoga. At first he promoted it as a means to die. Later he changed his tune somewhat.

Lahiri Mahasaya learnt a system of kriya yoga from someone called Babaji. There is a scene in Yogananda's Autobiography where Babaji was said to transfer a long lost science of breath to his fresh disciple Lahiri Mahasaya in 1861:


Kriya is an ancient science. Lahiri Mahasaya received it from his guru, Babaji, who rediscovered and clarified the technique after it had been lost in the Dark Ages.

'The kriya yoga which I am giving to the world through you in this nineteenth century,' Babaji told Lahiri Mahasaya, 'is a revival of the same science which Krishna gave, millenniums ago, to Arjuna, and which was later known to Patanjali, and to Christ, St. John, St. Paul, and other disciples.' Autobiography of a Yogi (1946, 244).

What if the apostle Paul never learnt kriya yoga or something similar? He died anyway and any day," you might say, full of faith in a Bible passage. The often used Bible passage that "proves" he had "learnt kriya or similar", is 1 Corinthians 15:31. However:

Fl. Many older translations of 1 Corinthians 15:31 have "I die daily" there. But otherwise reliable, modern Bibles have "I face death daily." and similar. The NET Bible: "Every day I am in danger of death!"

The New Testament tells of two deaths of Judas - one by hanging (Matthew 27:5) and one by falling and bursting open (Acts 1:18). Do you think Judas Iscariot, one of the "other disciples", could have died in two ways because he had learnt kriya yoga? Maybe it has had little marketing value on behalf of kriya yoga to front that Judas. To die by hanging and then revive oneself and get down to die another way, perhaps in another way, is it very likely?

"Big words won't fatten the cabbage"

There are some who resort to the words 'science' and 'scientific' as a glamour words and try to show off in such ways. It could be much wiser to get suspicious than duped by bold assertions and ask routinely, "Where is the evidence?"

Is kriya yoga a science of death or similar? It depends on which sense of the word is meant. Science today is taken to mean a systematic endeavour to build and organise knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about nature and the world. In an older, related meaning, 'science' refers to a (settled) body of knowledge itself, one that can be wisely explained and reliably applied, and, moreover, is linked to philosophy. If that sort of meaning is well applied, there might be no hoof of demagogy involved in Babaji's use of 'science' in its old sense in the 19th century.

It is often not so bad to keep a sound mental reserve for your own good.

For one thing, one may come to wonder how apostles like John and Paul managed not to spread the kriya method (ujjayi with additions). Could it be because their salvation was to get the Holy Spirit, as the New Testament says? Consider it. Those who claim so much, ask them for shreds of evidence too - and hopefully something better.

After all, kriya yoga was not lost in the "dark ages" either, when there were "similar techniques" around.

Yogananda One of the patron saints of Kashmir, the 14th-century Lalla Yogiswari . . . practiced a technique, closely allied to Kriya Yoga . . .

Undergoing no mortal death, the saint dematerialized herself in fire." (1998, 216n)

Thus, the Autobiography tells of "a technique, closely allied to Kriya Yoga" that was not lost in the dark ages. The note is lacking in the first edition. (Wikipedia, "Ujjayi breath"; "Kriya Yoga")

Consider how the big, bad wolf used special breathing and subterfuges to enter the homes and lives of little pigs.

Yogananda on Kriya in the Gita

Kriya yoga in the light of good study

Old texts may be difficult to understand. Translations may differ depending the interpretations used in such cases. Also, many translations carry a bias, or a spin, somehow. Translations can reflect the stands, cultures, times and understanding of the translators to some degree. Some translations are better, more cultured, and more reliable than others. To select some that are thought well of, here are lax rules of the thumb or game:

Gather works by doctors, professors, published by renowned publishers, such as university presses, and works that get much acclaim otherwise as well. Besides, parts of older works may come in handy too.

Some guru claims call for commentaries

Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) taught and advocated his changed kriya-yoga in the United States for several decades, and according to one of several secretaries at that time, he worked has his secretaries' hireling when he wrote the very much post mortem edited Autobiography of a Yogi. In it, there is talk of kriya yoga and tall tales. Whom to trust in the matter? A former secretary or her guru? After some decades the ex secretary, with the later monastic name Daya Mata,

signed a declaration, under oath, that Autobiography of a Yogi had not been written by Yogananda himself, but by a committee! [and, further, that] he had written Autobiography of a Yogi as a "work for hire."

[A judge to] legal representatives, "Are you saying that your guru was only an employee of yours, and had to do exactly as you, his own disciples, commanded him?" [◦In Yogananda for the World, Chap. 16]

Authorship trials aside, many alleged references to 'kriya' in older Hindu scriptures probably in most cases - if not all cases - do not refer to the kriya yoga system of Babaji and Yogananda if the only sign is the word kriya' in such texts. Good evidence that they do, may be lacking.

The Bhagavad Gita is poetry

Poetry does not have to be silly. The Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Lord) is teaching poetry. The complete Gita is here: [Link 1]. A very interesting Post-Vedic Gita is here: [Link 2 ]

"Ancient science"

In the Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda and secretaries write that "Kriya is an ancient science" (1946, 244), and that Lahiri Mahasaya received it from Babaji, "who rediscovered, clarified, and renamed the technique Kriya Yoga" (Ibid). They could have told that the core kriya is ujjayi, a publicly well-known way of breathing, or what? In Satyananda's line of yoga, kriya yoga is taught for free in books, and it is told that the core breathing method is ujjayi. (Satyananda 1981, 2001).

A "same science" claim

In yoga circles the main view is that meditations serves jnana, (intuitive insights, realisations). The good goal of Yogananda's kriya is atma-jnana, Self-realization, or Self-knowledge. [Cf. Wikipedia, s.v. "Vijnana > Hinduism"; "Jnana > In Vedic philosophy"]

Yogananda and secretaries write that Babaji said in 1861: "The Kriya Yoga that I am giving to the world through you in this nineteenth century, is a revival of the same science that Krishna gave millenniums ago to Arjuna; and that was later known to Patanjali and Christ, and to St. John, St. Paul, and other disciples." (1946, 244, emphasis added).

However, New Testament understanding is that salvation means getting the Holy Spirit that fell on gathered apostles.

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:2-4)

Does getting aligned with God like this harmonise well or at all with Yogananda claims kriya yoga was given to the world by Babaji and Jesus in union as a means to save people? It might help to consider. Yogananda:


Babaji . . . is in constant communion with Christ; together they send out vibrations of redemption, and have planned the spiritual technique of salvation for this age. (Yogananda 1946, 307).

1. Proof that these grand-looking claims hold water, could be thankfully received.

2. Clear, explicit and sound biblical evidence of any "biblical" kriya is absent.

3. Big claims alone have no proof value. Getting the Holy Ghost on board is early Christianity's salvation.

4. Yogananda and secretaries also claim that Kriya Yoga is twice referred to in the Bhagavad-Gita (4:1-2 and 4:29). The Autobiography's interpolation that the Gita refers to Babaji's system of kriya yoga – is not convincingly substantiated.

Further, for the Bible interested, when he was alive and walked about among people, Jesus said his teachings, salvation and healing ministry were for Jews only - but that healthy ones did not need him. Interesting! [Documentation is shown]

The Bible scholar, Dr Geza Vermes rubs it in:

Fl. During his days of preaching, Jesus of Nazareth addressed only Jews (Matthew 10:5; 15:24). His disciples were expressly instructed not to approach gentiles or Samaritans (Matthew 10:5). On the few occasions that Jesus ventured beyond the boundaries of his homeland, he never proclaimed his gospel to pagans, nor did his disciples do so during his lifetime. The mission of the eleven apostles to "all the nations" (Matthew 28:19) is a later-added idea. It is nowhere else found in the Gospels (apart from the spurious longer ending of Mark (16:15), which is missing from all the older manuscripts). Jesus' own perspective was exclusively Jewish; he was concerned only with Jews (Geza Vermes, From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity [2012]).

Jewish Christians are subjected to a very much stricter tradition than gentile Christians. Non-Jewish Christianity was founded by all the apostles and the Holy Spirit ca. 50 CE. The dispensation is made explicit in Acts 15:22-30. (Wikipedia, s.v. "Council of Jerusalem".

To clarify such matters further:

Hm Jesus reserve his teachings and salvation for Jews (Matthew 15:24; 10:5-8; Vermes 2012), but only depraved Jews: those of sound moral and spirit are not called by him, and the healthy do not need him, says Jesus (Mark 2:17; Matthew 9:12-13; 12.11). Jesus further puts his sheep on a path to perdition in that he teaches his sheep what is opposed to sound self-preservation. Thereby eyes, limbs, property, fit living-conditions and life itself soon enough are at risk (Matthew 5: 29-30; 39-42). Finally, marring losses come to those who call him 'Lord, Lord' without doing as he tells. (Luke 6:46)

For Gentile followers, all the disciples and the Holy Spirit dispensed with all but a few laws for Jews. And not a word by Jesus for ill Jews was included in the Apostolic Decree from 50 CE either (Acts 15:19-29; 21:25). The four requirements for all Gentile Christians include no to eating blood sausages (blood food) and wrangled chickens and other poultry (choked animals)

False claims abound. False doctrine makes victims of people.

How to breathe - deals of many translations

How does Dr Lars Martin Fosse (2007:40, 45) translate Bhagavad Gita passages on breathing well?

Sri Krishna

The royal sages knew it as handed down by tradition. But here on earth, this Yoga has been lost, Scorcher of Enemies, through the long lapse of time. [Ibid. 4:1-2]

Others again offer their inhaled breath into their exhaled breath, and their exhaled breath into their inhaled breath, by blocking the passages of the inhaled and exhaled breath with the aim of controlling their breathing. [Ibid. 4:29]

A wider Gita scenario: Various forms of yajna (sacrifice) are described before this passage. Other translations of the Gita offer variations of what you have to do with your breath to get enlightened. Here comes key parts of 4:29 in various translations:

  • Bhaktivedanda (1968): "offering the movement of the outgoing breath into the incoming, and the incoming breath into the outgoing, and thus at last remain in trance, stopping all breathing."
  • Chidbhavananda (2012): "Yet others offer as sacrifice the outgoing breath in the incoming, and the incoming in the outgoing, restraining the flow of the outgoing and incoming breaths." (4:29)
  • Fosse (2007): "blocking the passages of the inhaled and exhaled breath".
  • Ganguli (1981, 6:28): "offer up the upward vital wind (Prana) to the downward vital wind (apana); and others, the downward vital wind to the upward vital wind; some, arresting the course of (both) the upward and the downward vital winds, are devoted to the restraint of the vital winds". (Mahabharata Bhishma Parva (Bhagavat-Gita Parva) Chapter 28:2 - Bhagavad Gita 4:29)
  • Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1972): "pour the inward into the outward breath and the outward into the inward, having restrained the course of inhalation and exhalation".
  • Nikhilananda (1944): "prana into apana, and apana into prana, or stop the passage of both prana and apana." [Explanations follows]
  • Sivananda: "restraining the courses of the outgoing and the incoming breaths." ([His translation]
  • Svarupananda (1907): "stopping the courses of the in-coming and out-going breaths".
  • Yogananda (1999): arresting the cause of inhalation and exhalation (rendering breath unnecessary).

The words that translators use, vary: From the top of the list: stopping, restraining, blocking, arresting, restrained, or strop, restraining, stopping, arresting. One or several of them could be fit. Which one or which ones?


Maharishi Mahesh Yogi renders that there is

a class of seekers of Truth who try to realize through the process of breathing exercises. . . .

Transcendental meditation also fulfils the requirements of this verse, for during its practice the outgoing and ingoing breaths quite spontaneously begin to become more shallow. The flow of the outgoing breath becomes less, and the flow of the ingoing breath becomes less. This phenomenon of the simultaneous diminution of both has been described as the pouring of one into the other. This is how, through the practice of transcendental meditation, in a very easy manner, one pours 'the inward into the outward breath and the outward into the inward'. (Mahesh 1969, 293)

◦Transcendental Meditation has substantial research to back it up today. Findings of quality research matter.

Also, we are supposed to "climb above words too" as our meditations deepen. Hence, that translations differ should not upset us at all. Meditation matters.

There may be no better way to find out which of all these takes are adequate, than to learn the very best, documented meditation methods in good freedom, and progress a lot. How long will it take? "Once the apple has started to fall from its branch, it is headed for the ground, whether it has a short fall or a longer one."

Words by Nikhilananda: Passages in ancient texts rarely and barely specify the best yogic methods and allied teachings. Many "best or most effective methods" may be kept away from the public glare. But some yogis divulge "inner meanings" all the same. Nikhilananda (1944) explains the two verses well:

"Some, again, constantly practising the regulation of prana, offer the oblation of prana into apana, and apana into prana, or stop the passage of both prana and apana. Yet others, restricting their food, offer their pranas in the pranas."

Prana into apana – Refers to a kind of breath-control called puraka (filling in).

Apana into prana – Refers to a kind of breath-control called rechaka (emptying).

Stop the passage etc. – A kind of breath-control known as kumbhaka.

Restricting their food – According to some teachers of yoga the student should fill half his stomach with food, one quarter with water, and leave one quarter free for the movement of air.

Offer their pranas etc. – Refers to a method of breath-control by which the aspirant controls a life-breath and sacrifices into it all the other life-breaths; these latter become, as it were, merged in the former. The different kinds of breath-control here referred to are described in rajayoga and hathayoga. . . .

The deeper meaning seems to be that all activities should be performed as a sacrifice, that is to say, in an unselfish spirit, surrendering the results to God . . . but action performed in an egotistic spirit deprives one even of earthly happiness, not to speak of spiritual bliss. (1944, 130-40)

Words by an advocate of kriya yoga:

Yogananda Other devotees offer as sacrifice the incoming breath of prana in the outgoing breath of apana, and the outgoing breath of apana in the incoming breath of prana, thus arresting the cause of inhalation and exhalation (rendering breath unnecessary) by intent practice of pranayama (the life-control technique of Kriya Yoga). (1999, 4:29; 1998, 244; see also WP, "Medulla oblongata")

Yogananda further: "The Bhagavad Gita clearly mentions in this stanza the theory of Kriya Yoga, the technique of God-communion that Lahiri Mahasaya gave to the world in the nineteenth century," writes Yogananda (Ibid. 496).

Comment: It may seem clear to him, and not to all others. After all, core kriya yoga, ujjayi, is one of several pranayama methods in hatha-yoga. Moreover, we have got indications that some more yoga methods could fit the Gita passage. It should be any either-or thing.

In his commentary to the verse, Yogananda also brings in verses 5:27-28:

Yogananda That meditation expert (muni) becomes eternally free who, seeking the Supreme Goal, is able to withdraw from external phenomena by fixing his gaze within the midspot of the eyebrows and by neutralizing the even currents of prana and apana [that flow] within the nostrils and lungs . . . (Yogananda 1999, 501]

A word of warning. Swami Chidbhavananda (2012) comments on these verses:

When sound and other sense-objects are excluded from the mind, they are said to have been shut out. The eyes remain half closed in meditation; their gaze simply seems to be fixed between the eyebrows while actually they are at rest." (Chidbhavananda 2012, 353-54)

There are different ways to position your gaze when meditation. One may look up, ahead, down, sideways and straight ahead. Which suits the meditator best? Steady yogi gazing, tratak, has variants. And in Zen there is wall-gazing - gazing ahead - One may study the long-run effects of meditation ways that uses different ways of gazing and avoid being taken in.

Reading a kriya yoga system into the Gita verses 5:27-28 disregards that the verses cover several meditation methods.

Further cited claims

Sri Krishna The exalted Lord said to Arjuna:

In orderly succession, the Rajarishis (royal rishis) knew it [this Yoga]. But, O Scorcher of Foes (Arjuna)! by the long passage of time, this Yoga was lost sight of on earth. (Yogananda 1999, 4:1-2)

1. The Yoga Sutras (3:16) tell one may develop hindsight and foresight, that is, see into past and future. Hence, through a long passage of time no body might have thought about that or to vivify what the royal rishis knew. If so, unused yoga powers may be likened to unused clothes that everybody fails to put on for a long, long time. Is it too late to look back today?

2. Was the Royal Yoga really lost sight of on earth if past-present-future has been availabe to good yogis all that time, before it and afterwards? What the Gita verses tell of, may not be easily verified, but does not the Autobiography of Yogananda and secretaries kind of disprove the two verses a little bit? Methods similar to kriya yoga survived, the Autobiography tells:

Yogananda One of the patron saints of Kashmir, the 14th-century Lalla Yogiswari . . . practiced a technique, closely allied to Kriya Yoga." (1998, 216n)

Kriya - not propagated

There may be no ancient, scriptural evidence that refers specifically to the kriya yoga system of Babaji, for kriya yoga was handed over to Lahiri Mahasaya under that name only in 1861, Yogananda tells. Ancient scriptures predate the year 1861. Further:

"The kriya yoga which I am giving to the world through you in this nineteenth century," Babaji told Lahiri Mahasaya, "is a revival of the same science which Krishna gave, millenniums ago, to Arjuna, and which was later known to Patanjali, and to Christ, St. John, St. Paul, and other disciples. - (Yogananda 1946, 244).

If all of these guys knew it, they hid it well or did not propagate it well, although the higher, better states they supposedly reached, are said to be bright, intelligent and plumbing. So dare to ask, "If they were so smart, why didn't any of them come up with an adequate long-run solution in the matter?" It's strange, isn't it? However, the passages suggest prana-abating side to well done kriya yoga – that too.

Solid textual proof differs from meanings read into an ancient writing and tough claims along with that.


Patanjali and Kriya

To say that the word 'kriya' in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras refer to Babaji's kriya yoga through a backdated word in it, looks loose. Also, where Patanjali speaks of pranayama, it might be wise to keep it at that level, and not jump to kriya conclusions.

Questions and Answers

Q. Does Patanjali talk of kriya yoga, or does he use the Sanskrit word kriya in a general meaning?

A. The Sanskrit word "kriya(h)" appears in tre places in Patanjali Yoga Sutras, namely verses 1, 18, and 36 of chapter 2. Kriya has many meanings, as "to do". A list of 36 meanings is near the top of the page.

Q. How do different translators deal with the term?

A. They translate it differently.

Q. On what grounds is it claimed that Babaji's kriya yoga is referred to in the Yoga Sutras?

A. It is in part based on reading the kriya-yoga og Babaji into three verses where the word kriya(h) appears in the Yoga Sutras. Here they are, with a translation. The Sanskrit verses (with diacritical marks left out here) are from Chip Hartranft's Sanskrit transliteration and English translation (2003):

tapah-svadhyayesvara-pranidhanani kriya-yogah -- Yogic action has three components - discipline, self-study, and orientation toward the ideal of pure awareness. (2.1)

prakasa-kriya-sthiti-silam bhutendriyatmakam bhogapavargartham drsyam -- What awareness regards, namely the phenomenal world, embodies the qualities of luminosity, activity, and inertia; it includes oneself, composed of both elements and the senses; and, it is the ground for both sensual experience and liberation. (2.18)

satya-pratisthayam kriya-phalasrayatvam -- For those grounded in truthfulness, every action and its consequences are imbued with truth. (2.36)

Hartranft does not translate the old work so that Babaji's kriya yoga system (as known from 1861) gets any place in it through the word 'kriya' in any passage. Thus, kriya bias has not set in . . .

Now, Sanskrit terms have many meanings to choose among, in part depending on context (setting), in part on the handed-over tradition, in part on personal preferences, and so on. Patanjali translations allows for simplifications too, for the original is terse and aphoristic.

Translators from kriya yoga lines read 'kriya yoga' into old Sanskrit texts that have the word 'kriya' (act, do) in them, though. One such translator is Swami Satyananda (1976). And then there are lines through Lahiri Mahasaya. He himself published a Yoga Sutras commentary in the light of kriya yoga (see Satyeswarananda 2006). Although Yogananda of a Lahiri line writes that Lahiri did not write books, Swami Satyeswarananda documents that Lahiri published many commentaries, including one on the Yoga Sutras (Ibid). The first publisher writes: "Due to some unintelligible language [of Lahiri Mahasay], an attempt was made to simplify it." (in Satyeswarananda 2006, 273)

Yogananda learnt stories of Babaji through his Sanskrit tutor and other disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya. In the Autobiography he writes that when Babaji initiated Shyama Lahiri in kriya yoga in 1861, Babaji said, "The kriya yoga which I am giving to the world through you in this nineteenth century, is a revival of the same science which Krishna gave, millenniums ago, to Arjuna, and which was later known to Patanjali . . ." (Yogananda 1946, 244)

It could be that in the Babaji's line of Yogananda they regard his [and/or Yogananda's] words as gospel truth. But Patanjali's pranayama teachings refer to pranayama techniques. [Cloven lore]

Patanjali's pranayama teachings differ because of translation differences

There are many pranayama methods in hatha-yoga. [Examples] What Yogananda writes on behalf of Babaji's kriya yoga (made public in 1861) by backdating of the kriya yoga system by the word 'kriya' in ancient Sanskrit works, is not elegant -

Yogananda says passages in Patanjali Yoga Sutras refer to kriya yoga or something similar. He assesses that Kriya Yoga is mentioned in verse 2:1 of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (see above).

In the Autobiography, verse 2:1 is translated into: "Kriya Yoga consists of body discipline, mental control, and meditating on Om." In a note, this is added: "In using the words Kriya Yoga, Patanjali was referring either to the technique later taught by Babaji or to one very similar. That Patanjali was mentioning a definite technique of life-force control is proved by his aphorism in Yoga Sutras 2:49." (Yogananda 1998, 265n)

Yogananda further: "Patanjali refers a second time to the life-control or kriya technique thus: "Liberation can be accomplished by that pranayama which is attained by disjoining the course of inspiration and expiration."" (Yoga Sutras 2.49) (Yogananda 1946, 245, 245n]

Also: "The ancient sage Patanjali, foremost exponent of yoga, also extols Kriya Yoga pranayama: "Liberation can be attained by that pranayama which is accomplished by disjoining the course of inspiration and expiration"" (Yoga Sutras 2:49). (Yogananda 1999, 502]

Yogananda's "Meditating on Om" (verse 2:1) is missing in nearly all the translations that follow, but the same exegesis is found in Lahiri Mahasaya's commentaries. Yogananda is of that guru line.

Adi Shankara: "Tapas, self-study, devotion to the Lord, are the yoga of action." (2:1; as translated by Trevor Legget 1990, 174)

Vivekananda: "Mortification, study, and the surrender of the fruits of work to God are called kriya-yoga." (In Nikhilananda 1953, 2:1)

Vivekananda explains that kriya-yoga in this place literally means practising yoga through work. What is meant by "mortification"? It means keeping the body and the organs under proper control, he says. What is meant by "study"? Study of those works which teach the liberation of the soul. . . . Books are many and time is short; therefore take what is essential and try to live up to it. The yogi wants to go beyond the senses. [Ibid. Extract]

The translators and commentators Pranabhananda and Isherwood write:

Having devoted the first chapter of his aphorisms to the aims of yoga, Patanjali now begins a chapter on its practice. These preliminary steps toward yoga are known collectively as kriya-yoga, which means literally "work toward yoga." [Pranabhananda and Isherwood 1969, 67]

Again, the Sanskrit word 'kriya' is for most part taken to mean such as practice, actions, and work.

B. Yogananda's shot at Patanjali 2:49

Regardless of promotional talk for Babaji's kriya yoga, there is more than one method that could suit Patanjali's sutra 2:49: Tapah-svadhyayeshvara-pranidhanani kriya-yogah.

Vivekananda comments on Yoga Sutras 2.49: "Controlling the breath [is] the easiest way of getting control of the prana." [in Nikhilananda 1953]

Pranabhananda and Isherwood (1969): "After mastering posture, one must practice control of the prana (pranayama) by stopping the motions of inhalation and exhalation (2:49)."

B. K. S. Iyengar (2002): "Pranayama is the regulation of the incoming and outgoing flow of breath with retention. It is to be practiced only after perfection in asana is attained. [2:49)

Venkatesananda (1998, 206) is of a Sivananda kriya line. He writes:

Simultaneously, the interruption find reversal (and therefore the balancing) of the flow of inhalation and exhalation, of the positive (life-promoting) energy and the negative (decay-promoting) energy, constitutes the regulation of the life-force which is then experienced as the totality of all its functional aspects previously and ignorantly viewed as the building up and the breaking down opposed to each other. [2:49]

Patanjali's 2:49 leaves room for various interpretations, where one or more of these words are used, or still others: "Regulation of breath" – "Control of the breath, cutting off of the motion of in-breath and out-breath" – "Stopping breathing in and out" – "Restraining the breathing in and out" – "Regulation of breath (Pranayama) is the stoppage of the inspiratory and expiratory movements (of breath) which follows, when that has been secured" – B. K. S. Iyengar (2002) writes "Pranayama is the regulation of the incoming and outgoing flow of breath with retention."

"The breath may be stopped . . . so that the stoppage is either protracted or brief," Pranabhananda and Isherwood (1969) comment on verse 2.49, and also that "prana means the vital energy by which we live".

Pranabhananda and Isherwood also add about prana that "this [vital] energy is renewed by breathing, prana may sometimes be translated as "breath"; but the word has a much broader reference". "All the powers of the body . . . and the mind are regarded as expressions of the force of prana." Prana is many old texts is understood as a "primal energy". [Pranabhananda and Isherwood 1969, 2:50, comments. p 112]

The sutras 49, 50 and 51 all allude to regulation of the breath. Sutra 51 alludes to an interconnection between mind and breathing: Interiorising the mind deeply may affect the breathing. Sleep modifies the breathing too. Control of the prana through exercises, or after reached a certain stage of spiritual development, the breathing may cease of its own accord for many seconds while he is deeply absorbed. This is natural. (Pranabhananda and Isherwood 1969, 112-17, passim)

It is told that some get enlightened in a life-time. The Bhagavad Gita has:

Sri Krishna Among thousands of men there is hardly one who strives for perfection; even of those who have striven succefully scarely one knows me in reality [or in essence] (7.3, in W. J. Johnson's translation (1994).

However, Buddha and others teach that results depend on the quality of the methods used, and one's proficiency. The better the methods and the meditations, the faster results should come. Apart from "safety first," readiness is also to be counted in, as Ramakrishna's quick awakening indicates:

A man told him to withdraw his mind from all objects of the relative world. Ramakrishna said to him: "It is hopeless."

The other grew excited and sharply said: "What? You have to . . . Concentrate the mind!" he thundered.

Then Ramakrishna got oblivious of the outer world for three days. "Is it really true?" the man cried out in astonishment. "Is it possible that he has attained in a single day what it took me forty years of strenuous practice to achieve?" (Abstracted from Nikhilananda, The Gospel of Ramakrishna (1944, 41-42), retold)

In Zen Buddhism, Eihei Dogen Eihei Dogen (120053) told followers to "practice with utmost diligence. Ten out of ten of you will attain the Way. My late master Tendo encouraged us in this way." (Masunaga 1971, 16). It makes sense to find the very best methods, apply them well, and see what happens, without disregarding the moral teachings of yoga, but live well, and so on.

The main aim of serious pranayama is to rouse a coil of energy that normally lies dormant at the bottom of the spine, and thereby use the vital energy toward development and yoga. Breathing exercises are means to the end. Pranayama is centred in arresting the breath in ways that matter in yoga. There are more terms involved: If the breath is paused a little after an exhalation, when the lungs have been quite emptied of air, that stop of breath is said to be "external."

Pranayama comes with warnings: "No one should practice the advanced exercises of pranayama without the constant supervision of an experienced teacher. And no one should practice them under any circumstances . . .", tell Pranabhananda and Isherwood in what stands out as our humorous abortion of a longer period that continues like this: "unless he is leading an absolutely chaste life devoted entirely to the search for God. Otherwise they may easily lead to mental disturbances of the most dangerous kind. Those who encourage others to adopt such practices out of curiosity or vanity can only be described as criminals." – They do not scare others away from gentle breathing ways, though:

There is a reputedly harmless breathing exercise, they inform, and below it is made even simpler than they show:

Breathe in deeply, measuredly, with great ease, and keep relaxed
Then breathe out in about the same way – with ease, and stay relaxed.

This exercise can be continued – and enlarged on too. Yoga breathing consists of various modulations of natural and preferably easy breathing. Do not overdo anything or go too far: Do not get tense and/or dizzy, but keep to "No strain and no pressure is wise."

Soundness-preserving help is needed for many stressed ones, and "every little helps". ◦Transcendental Meditation has helped many. There is research on it.

Sound breathing practice may improve with skill. It had better not involve holding the breath excessively or over-stimulating the body with too much oxygen. Nor should it serve to trigger latent neuroses and insanity in anybody. [In part from Pranabhananda and Isherwood 1969, 112-17. Passim]


Jesus and Kriya Yoga

"The Kriya Yoga that I am giving to the world through you in this nineteenth century, is a revival of the same science that Krishna gave millenniums ago to Arjuna; and that was later known to Patanjali and Christ, and to St. John, St. Paul, and other disciples," Babaji is quoted to say in the Autobiography of a Yogi (1946, 244).

In his Bhagavad Gita commentary, Yogananda tells "That Jesus knew and taught to his disciples the Raja Yoga technique of uniting soul with Spirit is evidenced in the deeply symbolic Biblical chapter "The Revelation of Jesus Christ to Saint John." (Yogananda 1999, 427).

What someone "sees" in obscure passages, may reflect the interpreter by what he or she reads into it.

If Jesus knew kriya-yoga, he did not tell or hid it well. The dispensation he heralded, was different; it was the Holy Spirit falling on persons, and no methods taught. That is the central happening of Acts in the New Testament and the sine qua non [what is absolutely necessary] for Christianity.

To end up confused, put faith in everything you are told, or something too wrong. [Compare]

Paul and Kriya

"St. Paul knew Kriya Yoga, or a similar technique, by which he could switch life currents to and from the senses. He was therefore able to say: "I protest by our rejoicing which I have in Christ, I die daily." By daily withdrawing his bodily life force, he united it by yoga union with the rejoicing (eternal bliss) of the Christ consciousness. In that felicitous state, he was consciously aware of being dead to the delusive sensory world of maya. [cf. 1 Corinthians 15:31]" (Yogananda 1946 chap. 26]

In many Bible translations the apostle Paul "dies daily", but modern Bibles have "I face death daily," "in danger of dying," and similar. Jesus said in one place he had taught nothing in secret (but also said on another occasion that his apostles had learnt secrets." To quote:

"I said nothing in secret," said Jesus [John 18:20] – "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. [Matthew 13:11; Luke 8:10]

Accordingly, they knew the secrets of Heaven, although he had not shown them to them . . .

Paul seems to have lived daily too. Few or no Christian scholars interpret his sayings literally. Yogananda and secretaries, however . . . found a phrase to hitch kriya yoga to. Somehow they "forgot" to tell that Jesus of Nazareth addressed only Jews (Matthew 10:5; 15:24), and his disciples were not to approach gentiles or Samaritans (Matthew 10:5). What is more, the mission of the 11 apostles to "all the nations" (Matthew 28:19) is "post-Resurrection" talk. There is good evidence it is a forgery both there and in the longer ending of Mark [Mark 16:15], and is missing in all the older manuscripts. Jesus' own perspective was exclusively Jewish; he was concerned only with Jews,, writes Vermes (2012)

the shame of it Why was Yogananda concerned with a Jewish healer who wrongly taught the end of the world was near, and thus showed himself to be a false prophet he too - and for Jews only? (see Bart D. Ehrman in Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. (2001). A false prophet -

Failed world prophesies by Yogananda are not the sign of a healthy guy either.

Yogananda started to "modify and adapt his teachings to the West . . . to overcome the natural resistance of Christians who were suspicious," writes Marshall Govindam. Yogananda counted in Jesus among the gurus of his fellowship, perhaps ignoring that healthy persons of sound spirit and mind do not need Jesus according to Jesus himself in several gospel passages. [More]

Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. . . . I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." [Matthew 9:12-13]

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. - Shakespeare


Kriya yoga and kriya in Sanskrit works, fraud, Yogananda, SRF, Literature  

Bhaktivedanta, Swami. 1968. The Bhagavad Gita As It Is. London: Collier. ⍽▢⍽ Online version:

Dasgupta, Sailendra. 2006. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.

Ehrman, Bart D. 2001. Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. Paperback ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fosse, Lars Martin. The Bhagavad Gita: The Original Sanskrit and an English Translation. Woodstock, NY:, 2007.

Ganguli, K., tr. The Mahabharata, Vols 1-12. 4th ed. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1981, book 6, section 28.

Hartranft, Chip. 2003. Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Boston, MA: Shambhala. Iyengar, B. K. S. Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. New ed. London: Thorsons, 2002.

Johnson, W. H. 2008. The Bhagavad-Gita. Oxford World's Classics. Reissue ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press ⍽▢⍽ Up-to-date, clear and accurate.

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

Mahesh, Maharishi. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation and Commentary with Sanskrit Text. Chapters 1 to 6. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1972.

Masunaga, Reiho, tr. 1975. A Primer of Soto Zen. A Translation of Dogen's Shobogenzo Zuimonki. Honolulu: University Press.

Nikhilananda, Swami, tr. Vivekananda. The Yogas and Other Works. Rev. ed. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1953.

Niranjanananda, Swami. Prana and Pranayama. Munger, Bihar: Yoga Publications Trust, 2009.

Pranabhananda, Swami, and Christopher Isherwood, trs. How To Know God. New York: Mentor, 1969.

Satyananda, Swami. Early Teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati: Lectures and Satsangs Given by Swamiji during the First International 9-Month Yoga Teachers' Training Course Conducted at Bihar School of Yoga in 1967. Munger, Bihar, IN: Bihar School of Yoga, 1988.

⸻. 1976. Four Chapters on Freedom. Munger, Bihar, IN: Yoga Publications Trust.

⸻. Kundalini Tantra. 8th ed. Munger, Bihar, IN: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001.

⸻. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger, Bihar, IN: Yoga Publications Trust, 1981.

Satyeswarananda, Swami. 2006. Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay, Volume 4: The Spiritual Disciplines of the Ancient Sages of India. The Six Systems Sara Darsan. Rev. 2nd ed. San Diego, CA: Sanskrit Classics.

Swarupananda, Swami, tr. comm. Srimad-Bhagavad-Gita. Mayavati, Almora: Advaita Ashrama, 1909.

Venkatesananda, Swami, tr. 1998. Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Himalayas, IN: The Divine Life Society.

Vermes, Geza. From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity. Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec 2012.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Theosophical, 1946.

⸻. Autobiography of a Yogi. 13th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1998.

⸻. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1982.

⸻. God's Talk with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, 2 Vols. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1999.

⸻. Journey to Self-realization: Discovering the Gift of the Soul. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2000.

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