Kriya: Union
Practice Mandala
Page Contents Points of Interest
Who are you?
Why this website?
What is Kriya Yoga?
Who's Lahiri Mahasaya?
Why not just say 'God'?
Why is your site called 'Kriya: Union'?
Are you part of an organization?
So what are you exactly?
Can I ask one more question?
So how is one supposed to proceed?
A Parable and A Parable Retold
Out of Context
The Core Techniques
The Chakras and The Nada
Lahiri Baba's Chakras Drawing
First Kriya Pranayama
The Path of Prana
About the Twelve-Syllable Mantra
Don't Be Afraid
Questions - Maybe Even a Few Answers
Who are you?My name is David Muir. I've been a Kriyaban – a practitioner of
Kriya Yoga – for fifty years. I was fortunate: the first time I went to India, it was early enough so that Satya Charan Lahiri and Banamali Lahiri, the grandson and great-grandson, respectively, of Lahiri Mahasaya, were still alive and receiving visitors. I spent time with both of them, and was able to meditate in the parlor where Lahiri Mahasaya himself meditated and gave darshan. (In 1978, the rug with the floral pattern you see in his photograph was still there.) I was also welcomed by Sananda Lal Ghosh, the Calcutta artist and brother of Paramahansa Yogananda, and meditated in the attic room Yoganandaji describes in his autobiography. I spent time in Puri, site of Swami Sri Yukteswar's seaside ashram. And finally, my traveling companion and I trained and bussed and hiked our way to the Himalayan foothills and the cave considered to be the spot where Lahiri Mahasaya received initiation from his guru. There was no ashram then, no uniformed attendants, no jeep to drop you at the trailhead. But there was an abundance of shakti.
Why this website?This site exists (1) to make available an unaltered copy of Lahiri Baba's photograph; (2) to present a brief introduction to Kriya Yoga; and (3) to share with anyone interested some of the things I've learned over the decades. Click the mandala at the top of the page to see the photograph.
What is Kriya Yoga? Excellent question. Kriya is simply a Sanskrit word meaning 'work' or 'action' or 'practice.' It can be used in numerous contexts. For example, the SYDA folks, under Swamis Muktananda and now Chidvilasananda, use the term to describe various internal/external manifestations of a person's spiritual energy ('I had a kriya during the intensive and started barking like a dog'; or 'Oh, he's not mad at you, he's just having a kriya').

But in the present context, Kriya Yoga refers to the system of meditation developed by Shyama Charan Lahiri – also called Lahiri Mahasaya, 'Lahiri of the Great Mind.' It's an extremely concise and efficient system which makes possible the direct perception of the transcendent.

Who's Lahiri Mahasaya? Shyama Charan Lahiri was born in Ghurni,
West Bengal, British-occupied India, in 1828; he died in Benares (now Varanasi),
Uttar Pradesh, in 1895. He spoke several languages, including English; raised, with his spouse Kashi Moni, five children; and worked as an accountant for the Military Engineering Department of the British Indian government. In other words, he wasn't a monk, or a wealthy enthusiast, but a working stiff like you and me.

In 1861 he was transferred by his employers to Ranikhet, at the base of the Himalayas. What happened to him there has been the inspiration for many a florid tale, but safe to say: he encountered someone – let's just call him 'Father,' since that's what Lahiri called him – who changed his life profoundly. Lahiri returned to Benares and began to develop and practice a regimen of powerful, tiered meditation exercises, recording his progress in a series of diaries. In time, word of his accomplishments spread, and people interested in their own spiritual development started to seek him out. What he taught came to be called Kriya Yoga, because it was a practical system with specific techniques, designed for people of the world as well as monks and renunciates. And Lahiri gave initiation, in a move that was radical for his time, to members of all castes, to Judeo-Christians and Muslims as well as Hindus, and to women as well as men.

Lahiri Baba (baba means 'father'; it's a term of respect) gave permission, over the years, to several of his devotees to initiate others into Kriya; they in turn gave permission to followers of theirs. As a result, there exist today dozens of Kriya schools; nobody has a monopoly on these techniques. Some of these schools are highly structured, well-known organizations; some are loose-knit and secretive. Several of them claim to teach the one, true Kriya Yoga, exactly as Lahiri Mahasaya taught it. That's rubbish. Lahiri Baba himself altered the teachings to suit the individual, the circumstances, and various stages of development. What can be said with some certainty, over a hundred years down the line, is that some schools teach a more complete form of Kriya, and others a more diluted. (And, it must be noted, some so-called Kriya schools teach things that have nothing whatsoever to do with Lahiri and his practices.)

Why not just say 'God'? Another excellent question. Because when you use the term God in front of a dozen people, you evoke a dozen different concepts – thirteen if you count your own. What Kriya shows you, as you refine your practice of it, is the reality behind the words and concepts. Kriya works no matter what your religious background is. It works if you're not religious at all. Yes, it requires a certain commitment, and I suppose that commitment is a kind of faith. But it doesn't have to be all that different from the faith required to follow an exercise program, or learn a musical instrument, or enroll in a college or even a pottery class. You think you're going to get something out of it, so you put in the time. You have to clock some hours before there's any payback.

A young man who had just met Lahiri Baba said to him: 'You're known as a great meditator. Which god do you meditate on – Shiva, Krishna, or Kali?' And Lahiri replied: 'I meditate on that which underlies Shiva and Krishna and Kali – and you, and me, and everything else.'

Why is your site called 'Kriya: Union'? One translation of the word yoga is 'union.' Kriya: Union is really just a name, to distinguish my site from others devoted to Kriya. There are folks who maintain Lahiri Baba never gave what he taught a name at all, that he merely said, 'Do your kriyas' – i.e., 'Do your practices' – and that the term used as a proper noun came later. Maybe so. But you've got to call it something.
Are you part of a school or organization? Not at all. Lahiri Baba wasn't much for organizations, and neither am I. The problem with an organization is, as soon as it's founded it takes on a life of its own, becoming at least as interested in its reputation and survival as it is in its original mission. This is just as true of spiritual institutions as it is of more mundane ones. Sadly, headlines the past number of years have borne this out.

I do correspond and occasionally meet with other meditators. There are some amazingly thoughtful Kriyabans out there – impressive scholars and researchers as well as inspired practitioners – and I've benefitted from their work. But if I'm a member of an organization, it's an organization of one.

So what are you exactly? What I and some others are doing is, I suppose, a new model as far as this whole initiation/meditation thing goes: a model inspired in part by the ready availability of information now. The web, as we all know, is both a blessing and a curse. Do a quick search on Kriya Yoga and you'll find a staggering amount of information. The problem is, most of it is utter crap; the phrase spiritual discrimination takes on a whole new meaning when you have digital access. What I and a few like-minded souls are attempting to do – and this can only be done, I firmly believe, when you're working with a system that has the integrity and power of Kriya Yoga – is to disseminate through various media the most accurate and complete version of Kriya we can, based on our research and personal experience, and then trust the discipline to guide the disciple. If you're given the tools of Kriya, and you use them with care and conviction, you – there's no other way to say it – will become your own acharya, your own master.

As I mentioned earlier, I've been a Kriyaban for five decades. But I hadn't long been involved with the organization I first learned Kriya from before I realized things weren't as simple or straightforward as their literature claimed. I'm not interested in criticizing, in any specific way, any specific group; there's enough pettiness and backbiting in the world of digital yoga as it is. What I will say is, I came to believe – and my first trip to India and conversations with Lahiri's relatives confirmed – that I had received from that organization neither a comprehensive nor a particularly accurate version of what Lahiri Baba taught. Don't get me wrong: I had many wonderful experiences in meditation, and I never for a moment considered giving it up. But after a number of years, I found myself on a plateau I was unable to transcend.

As time passed, however, I began to gather fragments here and there of additional techniques, of more complete versions of Kriya, and I started integrating them into my sadhana. The results, within a relatively short period of time, were remarkable. I felt as if I'd spent years sitting in a beautiful sports car – a Lamborghini, say – enjoying the smell of the upholstery, running my fingers over the dash, playing with the steering wheel. And that someone had finally walked up, handed me the keys, and said, 'You know, this thing's got an engine; why don't you take it for a spin?' Within months my practice had risen to an entirely new level. And things I'd convinced myself were just meditation fairytales had started happening, to me. If I have any authority, it comes from my experience.

What things? Natural kechari mudra, profound stability in kutastha,
breathlessness – to name three. But these are really only signposts.
Kriya Yoga fills the everyday with the radiance of eternity. That's the truth.
Can I ask one more question?
Are there lots of people claiming they teach original Kriya?
It's not just you.
So how is one supposed to proceed?
Let's go over here where we can talk.
And thanks for reading this.
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