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First Survey of Kriya Problems

Facts before hearsay or a bad faith that dupes and later cramps and makes fools of many fellows.

Yogananda (1893–1952) was sent to the West to sell a particular sort of shoes, but Americans had problems with wearing them. Then he started to make changes to his shoes, and changed the advertising and hype too - from "here is a help to die at will" to "happy feet through remade, imported shoes" and "these shoes are made for great strides, great progress, and that's just what they'll do." He did not add "One of these special shoes will walk right over you. Shoes, start walking!" He found it fit to say they would walk you into getting cosmic, though.

Explanation: Figurative telling aside - Yogananda was sent to the West to promote a particular kind of yoga, but Americans har problems with doing it as told. Then Yogananda started to make changes on kriya yoga - removing a part here, removing a part there, adding foreign methods as he found fit. He also changed his promotional hype about kriya - which is a set of techniques. Many are found in hatha yoga.

As for his grandiose-looking advertising, there is hardly a shred of scientifically acceptable evidence that his grandiose kriya hype is true. Not one. For all that, the US church he founded, Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF, backs up his hype, much by a faith his claims have resulted in. It may be said to promote a hybrid faith of "modified shoes".

Claims without evidence and a resulting faith of it may be likened being shoeless. That is not as bad as walking in unfit shoes, or in shoes with edgy pebbles in them.

One may fall for seemingly great shoesalesman claims a few times, until one learns to retire for there. Feet need solid and large enough shoes, that is, supporting evidence. Falling for unverified claims we risk being had, made sectarians, misled and led astray. A resulting faith-tuned indoctrination that serve thriving in the shoes we "buy" may not be so bad. However, there may be a risk that the shoes that seemed top at first are not solid enough or they start to cramp the feet after a while. In the latter case we could have been made sectarians.

We may learn to deal with the faith others try to impose on you, like shoes for sale somehow. Are the shoes of a faith much too odd or narrow and pinch here and there? Are there other blemishes too? Is there solid evidence to match them just like shoes fit feet? Yes, it generally matters to seek good evidence before getting submitted. So study such evidence before you "buy shoes". Sectarians hardly give good evidence. That is to be suspected. Do do so with skill and aplomb may be part of a sagacious, general approach.

Buyer beware, once again.

There are different teachings about the effects of kriya yoga

Avoid an overstretching fare based on scheming or boasts.

Yogananda changed the kriya yoga teachings he came to America with, after some years there. Did he change them much? Yes. Was it all right? Not to all kriya yogis it was. Many got misgivings, as his biographer shows: They though that after Yogananda dispensed with parts of the handed-over kriya yoga system, it could not work very well.

Yogananda's biographer, Sailendra Dasgupta, informs that Yogananda dispensed with yogic tongue-lifting, also known as khechari mudra, to accommodate to Westerners, regardless that "all of the advanced levels" of kriya are based on yogic tongue-lifting and "one is only fit to practice the higher Kriyas after one accomplishes [t]his absolutely essential technique." (Dasgupta 2006, 109)

Further, giving instructions for higher kriyas without yogic tongue-lifting is not proper "[i]n the perspective of pure Kriya practice." Yogananda "completely mixed the methods that are easier for Americans to practice and understand with the original and pure methods and techniques. And the possibility of practicing wrongly or being misdirected has remained." (Dasgupta 2006, 110).

All do not agree with Dasgupta about tongue-lifting; for example Yogananda's disciple Norman Paulsen. And make no mistake, Yogananda thought highly of the ability to bend the tongue so far back that it got into the nasal cavity, he too, and Norman could do it. But after some time Norman was told from within that the feat was not indispensable - Yes, a Westerner who was able to put his tongue in his nose stood up and said the feat was not needed. [More]

Substantial statistical evidence that confirms many claims about kriya yoga, seems largely missing. But it is wise to go for learning the best method(s) at hand, and practice with skill, tells Buddha in the Bhumija Sutta. The meditation method that is "best in test" in many ways is Transcendental Meditation (TM). It has been much tested as well. More: [◦Useful testing]. Research evidence is summed up: [◦David Lynch Foundation Research Page]

Are there more intricacies and snags involved in SRF, Self-Realization Fellowship, such as giving up one's freedom? Yes, yes. There are lines of yoga that teach kriya for free, without strings, for example Satyananda Yoga, where much more complicated kriya yogas are freely taught in books. One may get to them without risking one's personal life, and thereby avoid a bad submission. [Compare two kriya lines]

Watch out for true good that is good in the long haul too. Why not ponder if 'seemingly good' by boasts and overblown hype and 'truly good' are one and the same? True good and uplifting may be understood as splendid in the beginning, middle, and end. It is attuned to what Buddha says: "I have taught the truth which is excellent [glorious] in the beginning, excellent in the middle, and excellent in the end; it is glorious in its spirit and glorious in its letter. But . . .". [The rest of Paul Carus' rendering].

Buddha's way of life is largely one of self-help. What is good may be tested by practice and also known by experience up to a point. [Kalama Sutta]. Results may be long-range and great.

Anguttara Nikaya 11.12 and 11.13 contain this guidance, as contracted and rendered:

One who is aroused to practice is mindful, focused and discerning, and on that basis may develop further qualities: He or she gains a sense of the Dharma from withing (or recollects many Buddha teachings), gets joyful, calm, at ease, and focused. She or he gets worthy of respect, dwells in tune, and delights in the generosity of Enlightened One(s). A way of life that adheres to Buddha's guiding principles may be followed and maturation and enlightenment may result.

Yogananda's way of transmitting kriya yoga is in part opposed to Buddha's way of free delivery without secrecy. Buddha says in the "Last Days Discourse":

I have set forth the Dharma without making any distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrine;; there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata [Enlightened One] holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who holds something back." [Digha Nikaya 16: Maha-parinibbana Sutta: Last Days of the Buddha 2.32].

The fellowship that Yogananda founded, binds persons to him and allegedly five others unmet ones by an oath, the Kriya Yoga Pledge, although The core kriya method is public knowledge, and elaborations added to it are public knowledge too. Further, SRF's kriya pledge is in part in the name of Jesus, who says don't swear at all (Matthew 5:34). The guru's fellowship aims to be aligned to Jesus, but makes way in conflict with many gospel sayings. That is no good public pretence.

Yogananda's biographer, Sailendra Dasgupta, explains. "Behind every effort by Yogananda was the root purpose of attracting men and women to kriya yoga, no matter what the means." (Dasgupta 2006, 101, highlighting added). He also quotes Yogananda: "Look, I want to throw the net far and wide, so that at least a couple of big fishes can be caught." (Ibid. 79)

The fish net may not be good for fishes. You may wonder what happens to a fisherman's fish in the meshes - are the hauls really freed from the water they used to live in, to get it better, or all right?

Yogananda's kriya and unverified kriya claims differ a lot from what his guru taught. Satyeswarananda is a kriya yogi who specifies many of the changes that Yogananda made to the techniques and ways of transmission, and disgrees with many.

Dzogchen in passing:

"In practising some of the Tantras, for example, an individual is obliged to do certain things, such as recite a set number of mantras each day. A Dzogchen practitioner, however, is not obliged to do anything." (Lawless and Allan 2003, 42)

This large and broad "dolmen capstone" view rests on at least two erected stones beneath it. Trekchö and tögal are two paths of training of the Dzogchen (Great Perfection) teachings in Tibetan Buddhism. Dzogchen is said to open the innermost nature of mind, and thus be the essence of an individual's spiritual efforts at perfection.

The practice of trekchö may reveal primordial purity and realisation quickly, while tögal brings awareness of a spontaneous and transcendent presence, pristine awareness, and by that experience things as they are, which is said to depend on stability from trekchö.

"When we talk about the Dzogchen teachings, the principal thing being communicated, taught and learnt is "awareness" and the way of bringing this awareness into one's immediate present existence." - Chogyal Nam.khai Norbu (In Lawless and Allan 2003, 6). It is a "dolmen capstone sight".

Great Perfection teachings are found in Nyingma Buddhism, the Kagyu school and Bön.

Among other things, wisdom recognises loose boasting and unverified hype and resists them well.. One has to ask for evidence of things throughout life, to be on the safe side for most part, or better. To be largely duped is different from that again. Duping by fixed words and phrases is something sects engage in. So consider which kriya system is talked of (this time), how the various methods are to be safely done by you, how often, how much, how long - and study who actually benefits and who will pays. There are many ways to pay. Money, autonomy, freedom of thought and other human rights count for something.

Great-looking claims that one comes across in some circles, may not stand inspection.

The page at a glance

The following points are detailed further down, and where to find evidence is presented too:

  1. Two vistas: Twelve times faster . . . Yogananda talks big about what kriya yoga (a set of methods) can do for "anyone" - but all right documentation is lacking so far. He tells it may accelerate human evolution twelve times faster than what his guru Yukteswar tells: Yogananda teaches that one million years without disease are needed for gaining Self-Realization, while Yukteswar teaches it takes twelve million years to gain it in that way. Here is one "SRF infallible guru" against another - and evidence of how it really may be seems to be completely lacking. A bad lore gives a bad faith.

  2. Old bold breathing. Yogananda altered kriya techniques by omitting some parts of the inherited kriya yoga system, parts that his guru's guru, Lahiri Mahasaya, says are essential. SRF teaches such changed kriya.

    What is more, the core of kriya yoga in another line also, is a well-known, publicly known method; it is a variant of the common pranayama (breathing) method called ujjayi, "bold breath". 'Bold' in this context suggests "may nourish one's confidence a lot". It would depend on what variant of ujjayi is practiced, and how well, among other things. Here is a variant of ujjayi explained in detail, with book references added: [Ujjayi variant explained].

    A publicly known core method, with some postures and other "things" of hatha yoga added to it may or may not be called mysterious and only for sworn-in people, depending on what else is added to it. In the SRF case it lies in the swearing-in, wchich binds a fellow hand and foot to Yogananda and his guru line, we are told.

  3. 144 times faster by a different way of reckoning - Yogananda says his simplified kriya (additions included) is twelve times more effective then the kriya system he was sent to the West with by several gurus of his line. He also said the time needed to get Self-realised by natural means is one twelfth of what his own guru says. This means Yogananda claimed kriya brings is glorious results 12 x 12 times faster, 144 times faster than what his guru says about the kriya Yogananda got and brought with him to the USA. Claiming and bluffing is at times easy; proving or disproving grand-looking claims can be toilsome, and it has not been done.

    Now, there is at least one or more errors involved in Yogananda's great claim, since Yogananda tells that Yukteswar of "unerring spiritual insight" [Hos v] was Divine Wisdom Incarnated [Pa 499-501], a master in every way [Ak 99], one whose words obliged the cosmos [Pa, ch. 17 etc.]. But did Yukteswar's words oblige panegyric Yogananda to stick to Yukteswar's time calculations and teachings of the kriya effects? No. And in Yogananda's SRF Church they find Yogananda's wisdom flawless. Remarkably? No, it is one of the key marks of a sect, or cult, really. [The letter] - [Cults] Which tales are true? I for one may say: "Avoid settling on a conclusion as long as there is no good evidence. That is a fair thing to do, also when faced with grand bluffs that dupe innocents."

  4. Two so-called infallible guys teach differently - then what? Yukteswar and Yogananda preach different doctrines. And besides, Yogananda followers are expected to stick to both of these duces (Italian for leaders) who are found to be always right, no matter what it seems - and to four more, no matter what, after swearing an oath with a disagreeable underside called "slavish, sworn-in loyalty", in part in the name of no-swear Jesus, in short.

  5. An uncommon use of "scientifically" is encountered. Nowadays, 'scientific' stands for "relating to, derived from, or used in science; occupied in science; or conforming with the principles or methods used in science". Yogananda also tells kriya "works like mathematics". However, Yogananda and SRF have also drummed up that "the right attitude, grace and what the guru calls devotion" to explain away why followers who did the allegedly scientific kriya yoga a million times yet did not get it any cosmic consciousness. In science, if an explanation does not truly explain a phenomenon, it is refined or discarded. — An older and rarer understanding of 'science' as a body of linked ideas and practices (somewhat like a discipline) could make SRF's goading matter a bit. But it is not wise to be mistaken about SRF's use of 'scientific' for the sake of rigmarole. To ask for fit evidence is a choice that may be yours.

Some count and others won't.

Grand-looking, unverified claims may lead into blind faith. Instead, have the guts to ask for documentation up front. To become a believer in inconsistencies easily works for bad within duped followers. Some sectarians may get neurotic or worse as a result of a wrong, instilled faith in the first place.

Below is some evidence of the "pegs" right above. Many yoga terms are briefly explained in the on-site yoga glossary (The link is in the bottom left part of some pages. [More])

You do what you can and it may not amount to much if others cheat all along.

Kriya Lessons

There is reason to doubt whether Kriya can be given or taught properly by letters and circulars. (Dasgupta 2006, 54)

Adding to this: Yogananda and/or SRF teach their kriya yoga by way of mailed "lessons" which for most part is a hodgepodge of Yogananda words. The problem is that meditation is for going beyond most words. It is called transcending. That is a key. Further, Yogananda and his sect changed basic teachings and removed many elements from the said "total package", that is, a fuller kriya yoga repertoire. These adaptations were alarming to many kriya yogis earlier on, and may still be.

Some removals give rise to misgivings, while others cause relief. Which will it be?

Gurus teach kriya yoga differently

Sri Yukteswar teaches that one kriya round is equal to one month's normal evolution, not a year's evolution, which Yogananda writes in his influential Autobiography, chap. 26.

FACE [A] half-minute of kriya equals one year of natural spiritual unfoldment . . .

One thousand kriya practised in eight hours gives the yogi, in one day, the equivalent of one thousand years of natural evolution . . . The kriya short cut, of course, can be taken only by deeply developed yogis. [Yogananda, Ay Ch 26]

If solid proofs are lacking, such vistas may look good on the surface and only there. They may also be too good to be true if Yogananda's guru, Yukteswar, got it right: He says in his commentary to the Bhagavad Gita that one round of kriya equals one month's evolution, not "one year's":

Mind "Practicing . . . the kriya of pranayam at one sitting, including its dawn and dusk, 12 times, meaning 14 times, accomplishes the work of one solar year. [Bhg 4.8].

So, without evidence Yogananda and SRF maintain that the kriya efficacy is twelve times better that his teacher-guru Yukteswar does. But that is not all, Yogananda concluded thus after simplifying and changing the kriya. "Simpler and yet vastly better" -

Vistas that look good without a shred of evidence are handled as speculation by scientists. Where hard speculative claims get glaringly opposed to each other, beware. None may be fit.

Meat on those bones

Both Yogananda and SRF changed and reduced the repertoire of kriya techniques. Sailendra B. Dasgupta describes it in a book on Yukteswar and kriya yoga:

In his methods of initiation into Kriya also Swami Yogananda added innovations. Perceiving that the average American found it difficult to sit in lotus posture, he taught that he could sit erect on a straight-back armless chair, legs hanging, and practise Kriya; initiation was also a mass affair. Instead of direct contact between the teacher and the taught – the Guru and the novice – the whole affair was reduced to something like an indoor class. Another startling innovation was that [the] Second or the Third Kriya was allowed to be practised without having to do Kechari Mudra ["tongue-lifting"]. All these innovations or rather deviation from the regular methods could not find favour with devotees and lovers of Kriya Yoga . . .

In his spiritual teachings Yogananda advocated performance of Yoni Mudra, which he preferred to call Jyoti Mudra, by which a devotee could experience Jyoti [Bright Light] and hear Omkar sound [Aum, also called the prime Vibration in Iv 51] after continued and prolonged efforts. Considering the hurdles involved in performing different Kriyas properly this method was found by him to be more suitable. [Ky Ch 5, section "Kriya Yoga Goes to America and the West."]

"It is best to be on the safe side," says a Danish proverb. Which side is safe?

Unsound ballyhoo and swindle should come to an end

So Yogananda removed some of the handed-over kriya techniques he was sent to the United States to make known, and altered others. He taught that the kriya yoga he designed for Westerners, was twelve times more effective than what he had been taught himself (and probably taught in the States until 1934), and even shortened the time it would take to gain enlightenment to one million diseaseless years naturally: "The scriptures aver that man requires a million years of normal, diseaseless evolution to perfect his human brain sufficiently to express cosmic consciousness." [Ay ch 26]. He does not say which scriptures. Demagogy has its ways.

Now, his teacher, Yukteswar, said twelve million years, (a thousand percent longer) without proof all along: "Now, I will explain . . . how to realize the Kaivalya, or Consciousness-alone, state which in the usual course of time takes 12,000,000 years." [Bhg 4.8]. An interesting scenario, considering the comparatively brief time humans are thought to have been on the planet.

Yukteswar gives you twelve times worse odds of "diseaseless success" than Yogananda, and a more elaborate kriya yoga system too. Further, it appears that Yogananda added no replacements of much of value to the basic kriya methods, according to his biographer Sailendra Dasgupta (2006)

"Big words don't fatten the cabbage (Proverb)".


There is documentation that one unreferenced form of kriya yoga has been measured to have very interesting effects on at least one yogi in India. [Kriya research]

It is maintained in kriya yoga circles that its main methods work on some currents deep inside. Ther word nadi is Sanskrit for 'tube, pipe' and refers to vessels or channels that energies flow through. Kriya is said to engage what may enter and flow through such channels, tubes, vessels. Within this philosophical framework, some nadis are also described as connecting at special points (WP, "Nadi (yoga)")

Here comes an added problem of different explanations - need we be surprised?

1. Along the spine. (Shyama Lahiri) Yogananda's "grandguru", Shyama Lahiri, "sends the inside current" straight up and down along the spine, from its bottom to the nape of the head, roughly. He calls it "the stick" - that is, "the stick of energy of Brahma" and goes on to say, "The Spinal Cord punishes and protects all. It remains awake during sleep." "The Stick is . . . Kriya." "All have won through Danda [the Stick]." [Hw 100]

2. Going up and down, but how far up? (Yukteswar) Yukteswar says the prana current is to traverse the sushumna, so Shyama Lahiri and Yukteswar may not teach differently in this, but they do if the brain is not part of what Lahiri calls 'stick'. Is the head on top of the spine or part of it? The answer to that could make a difference. We note in passing that 'traverse' covers more than one meaning. It can mean 'travel across or through (and similar), but can also mean 'move back and forth or sideways.' Which will it be? "Up from the scrotum area to the top of the head and down again" is one round with Yukteswar:

Mind Within this sushumna, travelling the six lotuses from the two-petalled to the Muladhar, the furthest point from the Sun – the jiva-Conscousness revealed in the Sahasrara – and again travelling through the six lotuses from the Muladhar to the two-petalled lotus – the nearest point to the Sun revealed as Consciousess – one month's work [evolution] is accomplished . . . In this way, shooting the prana united with mind to the Muladhar and again drawing it from there is called one "kriya of pranayam" in yogic scriptures . . .

Practicing . . . the kriya of pranayam at one sitting, including its dawn and dusk, 12 times, meaning 14 times, accomplishes the work of one solar year . . .

With its dawn and dusk, doing this Kriya 37 times, meaning 39 times [at one sitting] accomplishes the work of three solar years . . . [Bhg 4.8, emphasis added]

Also see: [Practising] Guru-instructed Kriya . . . she experiences through the flow of Consciousness in the spine the revelation of the six lotus-chakras located there." [Bhg, Commentary on ch 1, v 1]

Yukteswar also writes: "The sushumna is the path of the orbit of the jiva-consciousness sun and the lotuses are the points of the zodiac [Bhg 4.8]."

3. Revolving, up and down, around the forehead centre (Yogananda). Yogananda's kriya-current route mimics rotation around the sun, but his sun is the ajna chakra, not the crown chakra (sahasrara) that Yukteswar speaks of. Yogananda writes in his autobiography:

YOGANANDA The kriya yogi mentally directs his life energy to revolve, upward and downward, around the six spinal centres (medullary, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal plexuses) which correspond to the twelve astral signs of the zodiac, the symbolic cosmic man. One-half minute of revolution of energy around the sensitive spinal cord of man effects subtle progress in his evolution; that half-minute of kriya equals one year of natural spiritual unfoldment.

The astral system of a human being, with six (twelve by polarity) inner constellations revolving around the sun of the omniscient spiritual eye, is interrelated with the physical sun and the twelve zodiacal signs. All men are thus affected by an inner and an outer universe . . . [Oh well, a deeper look shows there are in fact thirteen constellations to fit into such scheming. Ophiochus, the "serpent-bearer" is not included. (WP, "Ophiocus")]

In three years, a kriya yogi can thus accomplish by intelligent self-effort the same result which nature brings to pass in a million years. [Ay Ch 26, emphasis added]

Yogananda has changed the "sahasrara sun" of Yukteswar to the spiritual eye, also called the third eye or ajna chakra in the forehead between the eyebrows - the eyebrow–medulla axis. This means Yogananda in his exposition (exegesis) has replaced the crown chakra (sahasrara) with the ajna chakra and disregarded the words of his guru.

"Stop and smell the roses," says a Danish proverb. A very close inspection could be risky -

So: They do not teach the same things in such core matters, and Yogananda's kriya is said to be simplified and considered abortive by his biographer. Yogananda's guru and "grandguru" say the current goes up and down in the central "backbones", the sushumna nadi, not around anything there.

Zodiac Statements into It

"The entire universe is in the body [Bi 31]," says Shyama Lahiri. He also says that "the whole universe is the ultimate Self [Bi 136]." He speaks of yoga that learns to puncture a secret star: "When that star bursts, a door reveals . . . the door of the heart [Ut 57]." From there it should be Self-like and much easier [cf Gv 32].

By the term "the spiritual eye" which Yogananda and his followers use, they refer to ajna chakra between the eyebrows as a reflection of the medulla oblongata by polarity: in his Gita Commentary Yukteswar tells there is a nadi [subtle energy vessel] between the forehead vortex and medulla oblongata, and that nadi ["lane"] explains perhaps why the spiritual eye is told of as "medullic" and also in area between the eyebrows - for both explanations are circulated. Yukteswar writes:

Mind "There is a nadi (medulla) located between the eyebrows formed like the shape of the back of a tortoise. When one has total absorption - samyama - in that tortoise-nadi, then immediately . . . Light prevails . . . the Ajna Chakra. Through this, the mind enters the sushumna. [Yukteswar, Bhg 1:15-18]

Follow your heart during your lifetime. Apply your heart . . . so that you can live well. (Ptah-Hotep). The heart of the wise man, its reward is the eye of the god . . . (Papyrus Insinger).

The twelve inner constellations mentioned by Yogananda above leave out the thirteenth constellation, the Serpent-holder, Ophiuchus. It lies between Scorpio and Sagittarius, and the sun takes 19 days to pass through it between Nov 29 and Dec 18, roughly. Yogananda and Yukteswar's statements bypass the constellation Ophiochus, and therefore their "inner constellations" correspondence may not be all fit - and also because:

the 12 astrological signs of the zodiac are each of 30 degrees, and these signs no longer correspond to the astronomical constellations in which the sun actually appears. The constellations are irregular in size and shape. The sun yearly passes through the constellation Ophiuchus too. (EB, "zodiac") [More details]

The Serpent-holder, Ophiochus, is one of the thirteen constellations in the zodiac, but with no talked-of, corresponding chakra in the teachings of the SRF gurus, even though they teach that chakras correspond to constellations. Hm and hm again.

The monster

At the back of the Britannica information given above another problem comes to the fore: The signs are slowly changing as the stars are drifting away from one another in space. But the human form has remained the same for at least some hundreds of thousands of years, a time-span when the constellation forms have changed very much. This makes the Lahiri teaching that the body contains the universe, and is a sign of the universe, much more entertaining. How is the rather once-and-for-all set organism's drift of correspondence these days? The universe has gone on expanding for a long time. How does a human body and mind reflect drifting and slowly changing star images of irregular shapes, and without even considering the Serpent-holder constellation?

An older faith of correspondences or signs (tokens, marks, displays, etc) is found in Lahiri Mahasaya's commentaries. He says, "The physical body is the sign (Linga) of the world [Hw 145]." He also teaches that when the prana arrives at the chakra of the brain (sahasrara, the thousand-petalled lotus) "it thereafter takes the shape of Mithun (Gemini) to be attuned in Oneness." Then he lists up various astrological tokens. "When one practices Kriya, one is Aswina [Libra] . . . When one eats like a monster, one is Kartika [Scorpio]." and "Increasing kriya practice . . . If thereafter, one eats like a monster, this is . . . Magha [Aquarius]."

We may wonder what a monster is in this teaching.

"A Monster is one who makes his attention outward [through senses] although he is not supposed to do so [Gv 55]." An awful lack of sleep creates a monster, then - at least it brings "monster-like" insanity within reach, just as sleep research has documented very well. Nightly sleep is valuable. [A monstrous sleep-teaching]

Shyama Lahiri teaches that "The body is the Omkar Form and the ultimate Self is spread over the six centers." [Hw 137] His commentator Satyseswarananda considers that "The physical body is the condensed form of the entire universe." [Hw 40]. That statement leaves room for reflections. Much apparently boils down to: The same universe seems to take on different roles in different species and in different persons.

Yogananda's claimed constellation correspondences are not without complications and implications without any good grasp on Ophiuchus and any "Ophiuchus chakra" (by polarity it would also be two phantom chakras according to Yogananda).

One may take that into account too, but why?

How Many Years it Could Take to Get Cosmic by Kriya

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. - Albert Einstein

Teachings about time spans. Three kriya gurus tell of different time spans, but why?

1. Yogananda divides the time it might take to attain cosmic consciousness by [his aborted?] kriya into year groups of 3, 6, 12, 24, and 48 years.

2. Yukteswar, who trained Yogananda, writes, "Even progressing in Kriya slowly can bring the attainment of Kaivalya or Brahman in 36 years, or 39 years if some occasions or events of householder life hinder progress [Bhg 4.8]" For all that, he also decrees: "A Sudra [member of the fourth caste of Hindus] does not the have the ability to utter the Pranava [say OM], and if the Divine Sound is not uttered, it is forbidden to recite the Vedas . . . How benevolent it was to prohibit the restless-minded, Pranava-less Sudras from touching the Vedas." [Bhg Introduction]

3. Shyama Charan Lahiri, the "grandguru" in this line, uses other figures where he says "Brahmanas,

Khatriyas and Vaisyas will attain divine Knowledge in eight, eleven and twelve years, respectively." [Hw 42]. By these words he refers to the three upper castes. But he also says somewhere else that the caste is something imagined, in his commentary to the Niralamba Upanishad, v. 8 [Ut 73].

So: "Some are wise and others are otherwise" comes to mind along with "People play Games". It seems awfully hard to see how the "3 multiplied by 2" scale is more to the point than for example the 2-scale.

By contrast, lend ear to something Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who brought TM to the West, once said: When an apple falls from the branch, it eventually reaches the ground. May I add, "- unless it stands on the brink of a river"? Then the fruit could fall into water . . . An apple that falls down from high up in the tree will need more time to fall down, and so on.

So far we have been into "Different spans for different fans." Compare "Different strokes for different folks." SRF gurus take to the Bhagavad Gita to be deemed truthful. Yet their span-thoughts may not work all the way, for:

Sri Krishna Out of many thousands among men, one may strive for perfection, and of those who have won perfection, hardly one knows me in truth [or in essence]. [Bhagavad Gita 7:3].

Opposed to it, Zen master Dogen said, "Out of ten of you, all ten should gain enlightenment. (Masunaga 1975, 16)." To that: "should", "would," but what happened? His form of Zen, Soto Zen, went into decline for centuries. However, that meditation results depend in part on the methods used, and how skilfully they are used, is Buddhist doctrine:

Buddhic If somebody meditates with a wholesome attitude, with right attention and mindfulness, then whether he has expectations or not he will gain insight. (Contracted from the Bhumija Sutta in the Majjhima Nikaya - by Anne Bancroft 2010:58-59. Emphasis added.)

To rely on a simple meditation method without strain - that could be a splendid gain.

In the Bhagavad Gita, less than one out of a million who meditate, gets lucky. With Ramakrishna the odds are at least ten times better: "One or two in a hundred thousand get liberation [Rap 614]."

You can improve your odds by proficiency. Shyama Charan Lahiri says, "Instead of doing 5 hours of pranayam [kriya], if you could do just 2 correctly, try to do that [Gle, ltr 81]." It means that how you do your kriyas counts too. Ascertain again and again that you do them with ease and without strain. "What comes easily and without strain, that you should do . . . Do only as much as you can without strain," writes Shyama Lahiri to a disciple. Good quality is something to go for [Gle, ltr 20, 27, passim; cf ltrs 64, 69, 100]."

There are only bad clues in the Bhagavad Gita for holding that the kriya yoga of Babaji, Shyama Lahiri, Yukteswar, and Yogananda is talked of by Krishna there [Scriptures surveyed]. The Sanskrit word 'kriya' appears there, but all translators outside the kriya flock translate it as 'work' and similar, that is, in a general sense.

Shyama Lahiri interpreted Gita stanzas in the light of kriya, and Yukteswar did likewise, with Shyama Lahiri's approval. Yogananda too followed up, and copied much of his material from the Gita commentaries of Shyama Lahiri and Yukteswar, it seems fair to say. He was in their line of yoga.

Now Yukteswar states in the preface of his Gita Commentary: "Gita is capable of endless, infinite and different meanings and interpretations (even different interpretations in the light of Kriya Yoga!) . . . To the lover of the Tantra Shastra, the Kriya was presented as a vast science of nadis and chakras and such. [Bhg, Preface]."

Take care. "I tell everyone to be careful . . . cow's urine and cow dung . . . should be used . . . Kriya must be done according to the rules [Gle, ltr 47, 87]." But which rules? Yogananda's and SRF's rules deviate from other, handed-over rules, as we can see. Further, you may wonder how to use cow's dung and urine. "The ground must be scrubbed, cleaned and smeared with cowdung. It must be decorated with metallic materials attended with all festivities. The whole arrangement must be divinely exquisite and pleasing to diverse tastes. (Siva Purana 1:6.13)" As for urine: "The ceremonial ablution of the phallic emblem with [a compound of cow's urine, dung, milk, curd and ghee] on Sundays is specially recommended. (Siva Purana, 1:16.111-12).

Maybe all rules from bygone days do not apply, or apply full well today. It could also do good to consider as conditions change, instructions or rules may change to cope with them, as in Shyama Lahiri's "When cold weather come, increase kriya continuously [Gle, ltr 64]."

Those who make efforts at doing Yogananda's kriya without chanting syllables mentally into usually hidden chakras of the subtle spine during their practice, cannot have OK long-range results, based on what the Grandguru repeatedly tells. Yet Yogananda and SRF have dispensed with the Shyama Lahiri-taught chakra-chanting. [Gle, ltr 79, 77, 96].

Do the pupils know better than the gurus they hail with their lips? Or are they outwitted?

Not everything that is called scientific is so

A claim: "Kriya is purely scientific". In an Inner Culture article from 1937 Yogananda writes in his magazine:

YOGANANDA The Guru-preceptor of Sri Yukteswarji . . . showed others how, by following [his] methods of meditation, they could bring about a sure, scientific union (Yoga) with God . . .

Sh[y]ama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya, by his exemplary life . . . gave the step-by-step methods of Self-Realization (the Ladder of Self-Realization) which enable all to climb to the high abode of complete freedom. [Highlighting added]

Not everything that is called scientific actually is so. As for Yogananda, "Sure, scientific, and for all" stand out without doubt in his early writings. But when persons by and by came to him and said they had done kriya a million times and still had no cosmic consciousness, he backed out by saying such as, "But your attitude was not right". Or "Devotion is necessary too, and grace from God and guru," and so on. He has thus confirmed that for the sake of great-sounding marketing some yogis do a lot that gives rise to alarming suspicions.

Now, what SRF teaches after Yogananda's demise contains changes. Who can tell all are for the worse?

Scientific procedures and presentations are presumably not well dealt with by charlatans.


Suspicions Abound

The first kriya is the publicly known ujjayi pranayama in hatha yoga, and in the kriya yoga of Satyananda's line. To mentally chant a sound (syllable) "to" or "in" the spinal chakras as the currents or attention ascend or descend is the way Lahiri teaches kriya [Hw 48]. And: "During pranayam, one must keep attention on the six chakras in the spine and practice japa [mantra chanting] in each of them [Gle, ltr 79]."

In SRF, such kriya chanting is dropped, despite that Yogananda's "grandguru" tells in the places referred to above that one cannot get realised without certain of the SRF-omitted parts. Hm.

To dispense with methods and parts of methods while claims get more stupefying, could eventually evoke suspicions -

The Tongue Put in the Head

In a book, Yukteswar describes sounds one may come to hear during pranayama meditation. The sounds are public knowledge from other sources too. Shyama Lahiri also tells of inner, subtle sounds and chakras. [See e.g. Hw 155; 115] Focused Om-chanting and Om-listening during kriya-panting was abandoned in SRF, even if Shyama Lahiri said that it is essential. Well, it can be a strain to do it for beginners, and kechari (lifting of the tongue in the ancient, regulated ways) appears to be downplayed in SRF for the same reason: convenience. that the tongue is to be lifted and held up toward the anterior roof of the mouth (palate or uvula) before it is "put into the head" further back, form stages of kechari mudra, which is part of the original basic kriya of Lahiri. Shyama Charan Lahiri taught more kriyas than the four kriyas SRF have at their disposal. He also found that "Not even one of a thousand [in the "scripture business"] can be civilized [Hw 114]."

Many ancient regulations about how kriya yoga is to be done and spread, were "melted down" by the guru of SRF. Swami Satyeswarananda shows the details on one of his pages. [◦Sanskrit Classis on Yogananda changes]

Disciples are housholders, housewives, monks and nuns and more

Kriya yoga takes time. Shyama Lahiri writes in one of his letters:

Many who receive higher Kriya think that they no longer have to do much Pranayam [the first kriya technique in SRF is pranayama]. This causes most of the problems for the higher Kriyavans. You should do six hundred Pranayam and fifty/sixty Mahamudra; do Navikriya and the Fourth and the Fifth. [Gle ltr 53]

This could take six hours or so. But in SRF, kriya doers are seldom permitted to do more than 108 kriyas at a time twice daily, which may consume less of our valuable time. Good meditation is supposed to follow.

Fit for Marriage, and Wanting to Learn Kriya

Shyama Lahiri was a householder and decreed it was all right to be married, and also had children. He cautioned against the hardships of monks, and was reluctant to give his permission when a disciple wanted to become one.

A biographer tells he "would normally ask his disciples to marry at the proper age and adopt the household life, as, for most people, a virtuous married life leads gradually to non-attachment." [Ysl, ch 4]

Even though he was ready to make exceptions for those with an overwhelming desire for a renunciate life, he wrote,

"I do not see anything wrong with marrying; on the contrary, I feel that it is a good thing. If one desires, marrying is the proper thing to do. Not doing so can bring about aberrant behavior." [Ysl, ch 4; Gle, ltr 7, abstract. Emphasis added]

Yogananda among Americans:

  • "You don't know what fate may await you in marriage." [Yogananda, Ak 460]
  • ". . . the compulsion of sex." [Yogananda, Ak 159; cf; 315] An extensive series of Yoganananda quotations on sex reveals he was much against having sex by and large.

Yogananda in a different vein:

ICON "We don't really know what is right or real ... we are often incorrect in our judgements." - Paramahansa Yogananda (1982:414).

He says "we", not "you": he also praised Mussolini. A dictator may not be wise, kind and considerate - may not be good. Consider Yogananda's praise bravely. The average Joe, his wife and possibly children know that dictators are up to taking away from them some measures of freedom, and "offer" submission to harsh and brutal tyranny instead.

Also consider the broader perspective: Of the dictators that Yogananda once wrote well of in his own magazine, (1) Hitler killed himself by gunshot. The remains were then taken up the stairs doused in petrol, and set alight in the garden outside the bunker. (2) Mussolini was shot, kicked, and spat upon, the body was hung upside down on meat hooks from the roof of an Esso gas station and then stoned by civilians from below. (Wikipedia, "Death of Adolf Hitler"; "Benito Mussolini")

Many other dictators are hailed while alive and not very much heeded when they are gone. With the leaders of democracies it may be quite different, although it depends.

Self-Realization Fellowship is a US Church. It spreads a hybridised religion adapted to the "cult country" USA. (Williamson, 20xxx). An estimate by Margaret Singer is that there are 5000 cults in the USA. (xxxxx).


Yogananda changed Kriya Yoga,  kriya-yoga, Literature  

Bancroft, Anne, ed. 2010. The Buddha Speaks: A Book of Guidance from the Buddhist Scriptures. Reprint ed. Boston: Shambala.

Lawless, Julia, and Judith Allan. 2003. Beyond Words: Dzogchen Made Simple. London: Element Books.

Ak: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1975.

Ap: Mieder, Wolfgang (main editor), Stewart A. Kingsbury, and Kelsie E. Harder: A Dictionary of American Proverbs. (Paperback) New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Philosophical Library, 1946.

Bhg: Sriyukteshvar, Swami. Srimad Bhagavad Gita: Spiritual Commentary. Tr. Yoga Niketan. Lincoln, Ne: iUniverse, 2006.

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

Bpe: Allport, Gordon. Becoming: Basic Considerations for a Psychology of Personality. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955. Repr, 1966.

EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online or as the yearly Ultimate Reference Suite DVD. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Gle: Lahiri, Shyama Charan. Garland of Letter. Coll Ananda Mohan Lahiri. Portland, Mn: Yoganiketan, 2004. On-line at

Gv: 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.

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.

Iv: Satyeswarananda, Swami, tr. Inner Victory: With Lahiri Mahasay's Commentaries. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics, 1987.

Ky: Dasgupta, Sailendra B. Kriya Yoga. Tr. Yoga Niketan. Lincoln, Ne: iUniverse, 2006.

Lsy: Hewitt, James. Lær selv yoga. Copenhagen: Hassing, 1966. (Teach Yourself Yoga. London: The English Universities Press, 1960).

Pa: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 11th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1971.

Psy: Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006. - Also: Google Books, partial view.

Say: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Yogananda. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1958.

Si: Shastri, J. ed. Siva Purana, Vols 1-4. Delhi: Banarsidass, 1969.

Soc: Giles, Lionel, ed. The Sayings of Confucius: A Translation of the Confucian Analects. Twickenham: Tiger Books, 1998.

Sue: Luce, Gay, og Julius Segal. Søvn. (Sleep) Oslo: Gyldendal, 1968.

Tp: Walters, James Donald. The Path: Autobiography of a Western Yogi. Nevada City: Crystal Clarity, 1977.

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

Ys: Satyanananda, Swami. "Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya. A Biography." In Yoga Niketan: A Collection of Biographies of 4 Kriya Yoga Gurus by Swami Satyananda Giri. Lincoln, Ne: iUniverse, 2006.

Ysl: Chatterjee, Jogesh Chandra. Yogiraj Shri Shri Lahiri Mahashaya. Dallas, Tx: Amrita Foundation, Inc., 1997.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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