By Swami Ayyappa Giri
Yogacharya, Yogini Ashram, Norwalk Ca.
Article Published on Full Moon, 1 June, 2015
“Course the breath through the Idakala and Pinkala channels while seated comfortably in the proper posture, and direct the breath blissfully within; From the root at the base of the spine, direct the energy upward. Verily may you see the feet of the Lord that is timeless eternity.” (Tirumandhiram- verse 2173)
Just as veins of gold lead to the mother lode, all tributaries of Kriya Yoga eventually find themselves at the feet of the immortal Babaji. He is the fountainhead of all the sacred Kriya waters, whether or not the Yogi is conscious of his pervasive background presence.
Suffice it to say, the great Sathguru, though rarely seen, can be easily identified. In low light, his physical body produces its own luminous iridescence. The great Yogis describe this as the fire of immortality. In sun light, he casts no shadow, for his physical body is literally composed of golden light. (For more about the great Kriya Avatar read ”Mahavatar Babaji and the Golden Body of Light” at this site)
My five decade journey of learning, practicing and teaching this incredible scientific art of Kriya began with a series of direct experiences with this Maha Siddha, Babaji. His wondrous path would lead me to many great souls. This is the abbreviated story of my pilgrimage with the masters and techniques connected to this noble lineage. Kriya Yoga cannot be learned from a book. My intent is to give sincere seekers a glimpse into the marvelous world of Kriya Yoga and some of its masters.
My Mother was a great soul. She was my first Guru. She taught me to meditate before a candle at the age of eight. She taught me about auras, through her own direct experience. She talked about soul travel and multiple realms beyond our earthly one, where highly evolved beings dwell. She encouraged my clairaudient and clairvoyant experiences. I was filled with wonderment to learn about the great masters who have evolved beyond the wheel of rebirth, such as Kuthumi, and the Himalayan masters of wisdom. She taught me about the laws of reincarnation and karma. Most importantly, she taught me about love.
In 1968, Babaji led me through an amazing series of spiritual experiences and life altering transformations. The great Mahavatar graced me with an early, undeserved darshan of his golden body. He bestowed upon me an electro-magnetic bliss-trance which lasted for hours and on a separate occasion, performed an awesome transformation of mystic surgery, when he generated a pranic whirlwind which seemed to rearrange the very cells of my body and perhaps my DNA. I was forever changed. Experiencing a gulf between my own life and the Divine realms which I sought so desperately, I cried with pain. The anguish was only healed by the descent of his Grace and my sorrow was transformed to tears of joy. In 1969, Babaji made it clear that he would send me a guru, although at the time I did not know why. Within a year, he did just that, guiding me to his great pranayam siddha-disciple, Yogiar S.A.A. Ramaiah, with whom I spent two decades. Later, Babaji guided me to his equally great tantric disciple, Swami Rudranath Giri of Tara Peeth. (For more read “Bhairavi (Breath of Ecstasy) Tantric Kriya” at Yoginiashram.com).
The Goal of Kriya Technique
The ancient One speaks from the inmost well-spring of stillness; the healing primordial sound reverberates from the depths. It whispers the mystic wisdom – that knowledge of Self, once established, can never be lost nor stolen. It lies beyond the reach of culture, ideology, race, and religion. It transcends environment, sense impressions, and all mental modifications. It is the only thing that liberates us from the grinding pain of the karma of past actions. It is the bliss filled oasis of light that is the inevitable eternal resting place in the pilgrimage of every soul.
Kriya Yoga leads to striking charisma and increased vital energy. It is certainly a powerfully effective practice in promoting pulmonary health. Not withstanding, Kriya Yogis understand it to be their right royal pathway to inner bliss, samadhi, the birthright of all souls.
My first (adi) Kriya Guru, Yogiar S.A.A. Ramaiah was a pranayam siddha of the highest order. As a powerful instrument of Kriya Babaji, he was given the task by Babaji to initiate and train a small number of advanced souls into Kriya. I had the great fortune to meet Yogiar in 1969. I immediately recognized him as the one whom Babaji had sent, and in the beginning of 1970 was initiated into Kriya Yoga. I spent more than 20 years with this spiritual powerhouse, and under his daily direction, ran various Kriya Yoga centers in India, Sri Lanka and America. When I was not traveling or living with him, we spoke weekly by phone. Through a combination of yogic practice, proximity to his energy, and the incremental descent of grace from the Sathguru, I refined my understanding of the principles and background of Kriya Yoga, the Siddha tradition, and the Siddhantha techniques that induce trance and transformation.
Through the decades, I participated in dozens of specific trainings and initiations. I attended the training of newer initiates as well. Those who sought to learn Kriya were initially taught six phases of the powerful and elegant breathing technique known as Kriya Kundalini Pranayam. It forms the core of Kriya Yoga. An integrated series of meditation techniques was also taught. The meditation series cleanses the subconscious mind and refines the subtle senses. The precise techniques must be learned from a qualified teacher, as the teachings constitute more than an intellectual understanding, and, when both the student and teacher are authorized, one is empowered by a direct transmission of the Satguru through the lineage. A different kundalini Kriya is practiced each day, though on a deeper level they are all connected. One of the main purposes of the meditation techniques is to empower the yogic practitioner to enable direct contact with Babaji.
Today, at Yogini Ashram, I continue to teach these Kriya techniques which are offered to those who make a proper commitment. They are the core practices of our tradition. They are taught over several days or an extended weekend intensive. After a successful period of 64 days of practice, the student is checked for sound practice, and a final technique is given that rounds out the training and enables the individual to practice Kriya Yoga with a level of independence, returning when required for clarification or if the Kriya Yoga Sadhak requests additional advanced courses.
These Kriyas are part of 144 techniques plus a very special technique, pranayam by the Phases of the Moon. Yogiar taught the advanced techniques to only a small handful and even fewer received the method of Pranayam by the Phases of the Moon. Only one blessed soul, Shivagami, received the crown jewel, the Babaji Kali Chew Mantra, who transmitted the sacred mantra to me prior to her maha samadhi. After many years, I was recently guided to initiate Swami Premajyoti Saraswati into the Kriya mantra of the Divine Mother Kali which came directly from Babaji through Yogiar’s maternal grandfather. Through Babaji’s grace, the seed has fallen on fertile ground and continues to grow exponentially.
What is Kriya (Why bother) ?
The initial purpose of Kriya is to purify the subtle channels in order to still the mind. The Shandilyo Upanishad states that “when the nadis are purified, the prana enters the central column (shushumna) with force and the mind becomes still.”
After many years of daily Kriya Practice and teaching, Babaji led me successively to gurus and teachers of other lineages of Kriya as well. Initiation, training, and practice of the Kriyas of each of them have given me a deeper understanding of the principle of unity in diversity, a core theme of the great Sathguru, Babaji. These lineages included that given by Lahiri Mayasaya, as well as that of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh. I discovered that, without doubt, Babaji is the source of all these Kriya paths.
The core techniques of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga, whether from the lineages of Lahiri Mahasaya, Yogi Ramaiah, or Swami Sivananda, operate somewhat on the same principles. Revolving around the central staff of latent consciousness, the practice envelops the primary channel in an electro-magnetic force and prepares the inner centers and subtle bodies for an expanded Self awakening. This invariably leads to the development of ones subtle senses, the expansion of ones auric field, and massively increased focus on the primary goal of life, the realization of the indwelling Self. The resultant contentment, charisma and singular focus benefit every aspect of ones life, whether familial, social, or professional.
Yoga teaches that every soul contains both masculine and feminine aspects. The Kriya techniques cool off the hot masculine electrical energy and balance the largely magnetic feminine energy bringing both into equilibrium for emotional and psychological stability. The practice purifies and balances the energy between masculine and feminine channels (nadis). The practice of Kriya leads to monumental advances in soul development and an incrementally controlled realization of Soul essence. It opens a universe of intuitive wisdom, a cosmic consciousness of oneness and bliss awareness.
With Babaji’s blessings, Swami Yogananda was the first great soul to introduce Kriya Yoga to the western world. One of the greatest Kriya Yogis, Paramahamsa Yogananda taught Kriya Yoga in the west for three decades until his death in 1952. His Paramaguru was Lahiri Mahasaya, who was initiated by Babaji himself. With a few minor adaptations, Yogananda taught the same practices as others in the Lahiri tradition. He stated in his autobiography that “The Kriya Yogi mentally directs his life energy to revolve upward and downward, around the six spinal centers which (bifurcated by the central nadi) correspond to the 12 signs of the zodiac – the symbolic cosmic man. One-half minute of revolution of energy around the sensitive spinal cord of man affects subtle progress in his evolution; That half minute of Kriya equals one year of natural spiritual growth.” The ultimate result of Kriya practice is Self Realization. This is a core principle of all Kriya yoga.
Yogananda reported that Mahavatar Babaji spoke to Lahiri Mahasaya during his Kriya initiation as follows, “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 millennia ago to Arjuna; and was later known to Patanjali, Christ, St. John, St. Paul, and other disciples”. According to Yogananda, “Kriya Yoga is a simple, psychological method by which human blood is de-carbonated and recharged with oxygen. The atoms of this extra oxygen are transmuted into life current to rejuvenate the brain and spinal centers. By stopping the accumulation of venous blood, the yogi is able to lessen or prevent the decay of tissues. The advanced yogi transmutes his cells into energy.”
The ancient sage Tirumular is rightly understood to be one of the greatest Siddhas the world has ever known. Based upon direct experience, his teachings were elaborated upon in his great work, Tirumandhiram, a text completed in the fifth century. The sacred text unifies Advaita Vedanta with Siddhanta and elucidates the path of harmony between tantra and yoga. Therein, Tirumular discusses the four steps of spiritual progress; Charya, Kriya, Yoga and Jnana. He wrote about the core technique of Kriya as follows.
“Course the breath through the Ida and Pingala channels while seated comfortably in the proper posture, and direct the breath blissfully within; From the root at the base of the spine, direct the energy upward. Verily may you see the feet of the Lord that is timeless eternity.” (verse 2173, Thirumantram)
Tirumular also states in verse 615 of his Tirumandhiram that “he who controls breath in muladhara and alternately courses it through the left and right channels in the prescribed time measure will reach a state of conscious immortality equal to the kings of heaven”
Thus we see that the wisdom of Kriya collectively emerges from the ancient Siddhas who discovered that there is powerful cosmic consciousness within every soul. At the root of the vital body (which they called prana-maya-kosham) the awakening force of that consciousness resides as Kundalini Shakti. She is perceived as the feminine power within and can become active by the scientific art of mastering the breath-energy, in concert with other practices. The siddhas have expounded the method of controlling thought and energy by first influencing breath, as it is under more conscious control than the subtle energies and thought forms of the mind.
The system of techniques that bring about that process is called Kriya. Experience has shown that these spiritual actions (Kriyas) bring a metamorphosis into the life of the Yogi. These Kriya keys open the practitioner to an ever expanding experience of bliss and light. With consistent practice, one attains glorious radiance; physically, mentally, and spiritually. The body becomes sweet as sugar cane and the aura charged with pranic energy. This enables more dynamic blissful meditations and the conscious projection of power for the physical, psychic, and spiritual health and well being of both the Yogi and those who seek the knowledge and energy from them.
Through continued practice, the charisma around the yogi increases and this auric field positively affects even those upon whom the advanced Yogi mentally reflects. Through the grace of the Sathguru, the ego is kept under check and therefore does not pollute the transformation and channeling of wisdom. The breathless state of communion with God ensues and divine vibrations expand out to all beings. This amazing Kriya practice is one in which the five elements, in addition to the mind, intellect and ego, are gradually dissolved into a broader consciousness. This state the yogis call samadhi.
Kriya is both a specific set of practices, as well as a broad system. The great Siddha Patanjali, who authored the Raja Yoga Sutras around the second century, advanced the understanding of Kriya Yoga by giving it an outline which it generally retains today. He described a path containing eight limbs. One begins with restraint; from violence, dishonesty, theft, sexual excess and attachment. Beyond that are moral observances including the development of purity, contentment, introspection, and self-surrender. From there, one progresses in the practice of physical postures, control of the breath, withdrawal of the senses, ultimately reaching a capacity for focused attention on a single object. The final steps are contemplation and realization of non-duality. In Chapter three of his famous text, he discusses Kriya Yoga, the yoga of “practical action”.
Kriya is a specific set of practical techniques directly impacting the primordial energy at the base of the spine in the subtle planes and is directly linked to kundalini pranayam. This kundalini pranayam is an extraordinary integration of breathing techniques which awaken the primordial energy. It is about this transformational event that the great saint Yogananda quoted the Bhagavad Gita, wherein Krishna tells Arjuna, “Offering the inhaling breath into the outgoing breath, and offering the outgoing breath into the inhaling breath, the yogi neutralizes both these breaths” (ie, neutralizes ida and pingala channels); he thus releases the life force from the heart (hridaya) and brings it under his control. One is progressively taught the techniques of trance and transformation with an opportunity to practice the kriyas in an environment of support until the yogi is fully familiar and able to internalize the process.
When the breath is irregular, the mind wanders, but when the breath is under control, the mind is also under control. Because of this, the fully realized Yogis typically have excellent health and a long life. These principles are identified in the yogic classic, Hatha Yoga Pradapika. The classical text states that “by forcing the Prana downward and raising the Apana upward, the Yogi becomes young, though he be old in years.”
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is a classic and authoritative text on Kundalini pranayam. “The Kundalini is sleeping at the doorway of the central channel (Sushuma). She sleeps where the three nadis unite. She gives liberation to the Yogi and bondage to fools. He who knows her knows Yoga.”
The great Adi Shankaracharya lived between 788 and 820 A.D. He was a mystic and sage who traveled through much of India and literally reformed and revived Indian yogic philosophy and spirituality. He advocated the use of the famous Sri Yantra, the most well known sacred geometry on the planet today. He reorganized the swami order, and wrote elevated commentaries on various Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. He also commented upon Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. He lived only to the age of 32, but his impact on the spiritual world was massive. There were many reports of miraculous powers (siddhis) which he demonstrated. Yogananda reported that Shankaracharya was initiated into Kriya practices directly by Babaji. This has been confirmed by other Kriya Yoga masters. His treatises on yoga and samadhi have helped many souls to understand its great potential for transformation.
Sir John Woodroffe was a British orientalist and Advocate-General of Bengal. During the decades of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, he translated and provided commentary on many important works on Tantra and is still considered one of the most influential tantric scholars over the last century. Although he served on the Indian High court for nearly two decades, a much higher achievement was the elevated texts that he compiled over his lifetime, which showed that he had direct experience and was not just limited to scholarship. In his Introduction to Tantra Shasta he gives a brief description of the Kriya technique… “Details of the practice can only be learned from a guru” he says. “but generally it may be said that jivatma (individual soul)…is united with the kula kundalini by giving a left-ward revolution (as viewed from above and behind, the recognized seat of the Self) and the fire which is around kundalini is kindled”. Kriya Yogis would immediately understand the meaning of his words which describe the core technique.
Kriya of course has not always exclusively been called “Kriya Yoga.” Babaji renamed it “Kriya Yoga” for this age. Yogananda writes: “Kriya Yoga is described in certain scriptures as Kabali Pranayama” (or Kevali Pranayama, or Kevala Pranayama, according to dialect. “Kevala” means “alone”, referring to the Self). “Kabali Pranayama was considered to be the greatest of all techniques in controlling prana (life force).” Contrary to some explainations of pranayam, Kevala is not premature and excessive holding the breath, but the natural absorption into divine energy, precluding the need to breath. Babaji, speaking through Yogiar, made that perfectly clear. No one ever attained samadhi by holding the breath. One has to grow into the inner beatitude by which breathing is not required. Patient calm persistence is far more effective than frantic unnatural attempts at holding the breath. Kriya, performed as instructed, scientifically leads the devotee to breathlessness. “Breathlessness is deathlessness.” The result is Cosmic Bliss.
“Kriya is an ancient science,” Yogananda writes. Mahavatar Babaji rediscovered and clarified the technique after it had been lost in the Dark Ages.
Sailendranath Mukherjee was a householder Kriya Yogi and disciple of Baba Bhupendra Nath Sanyal, who was himself a disciple and blood relative of Lahiri Mahasaya. In the 1980’s, Sailendranath Baba asked me to come quickly to his home in Calcutta. I did not understand the haste at the time but after he transferred to me a comprehensive training of Kriya as taught in the Lahiri lineage, he passed away. I felt greatly blessed by Lahiri in the contact. Thus, I became connected with the great energy that Lahiri Mahasaya, who continues to shine upon me from the subtle planes.
My first Kriya Guru, Yogiar, had taught me that the cosmic personality of saints can be experienced in stillness. As one develops the subtle senses and psychic abilities, these experiences occur even in the midst of world activity. Interestingly, my diksha guru, Yogi Ramaiah, had established a personal friendship with Bhupendra Nath Baba years before. (see attached photo of the two of them from his book, “Songs of the Siddhas”) These connections between spiritual generations are more evidence that when one steps onto the spiritual path with sincerity, apparent “chance” occurrences reveal their place in the grand plan.
Yet another disciple of the great Bhupendra Nath Sanyal was Chandrashekar Baba. I had the good fortune to receive his shakti pat in Seramapore, also during the 1980’s. His quite powerful aura was awesome. As he was on silence, our meeting, pregnant with shakti, was entirely non-verbal.
Banmali Lahiri (Shri Banamali Lahiri)
During a short period in the late 1980’s, I enjoyed the extensive darshan of one of the greatest secret Kriya Yogis of India, the late Yogiraj Shri Banmali Lahiri. The Maharaj did not generally allow photographs, and he would certainly be angry with me for calling him Maharaj while living, yet he was very much that. Apart from his monumental achievements as a Yogi, he was a professor at Benares Hindu University, and was blessed with a pension that allowed him a freedom to plunge into sadhana in his later years. He was the great-grandson of Lahiri Mahasaya and it was explained to me that he was initiated into the spiritual path of Lahiri by the wife of Lahiri Mayasaya, when Banamali was quite young, as well as Yogi Tinkori Lahiri. The exact dynamics of these two initiations are unknown to to me, but it is at least likely that he received shakti pat from (name of wife) and the full initiation and ongoing instuctions from Yogi Tinkori, who was the eldest son of Lahiri Mayasaya.
I knew from other Kriya Yogis that he was a powerful soul and I was excited to be able to be going to meet him. With anticipation, I worked my way through the narrow lanes of Varanasi and found the doorway to the ancestral home of Lahiri Mahasaya. Hardly breathing, I knocked on the door. In due course, an upstairs window opened, from which emerged a magnificent head with piercing eyes, sage like face, long grey hair, and cascading beard. His head seemed to fill the window. “Why are you here?”, the saint bellowed, as though I had broken some unstated law. “I am here to see your holy self, sir”, I answered. “Come back at five”, he retorted. Although disappointed, I was immediately resigned to return.
Dutifully arriving at five with my companion, Swami Mantra-dikshananda (Shivagami), I knocked and his wife let us into the home. A modest hallway led to a staircase. I could hear the yogi upstairs, bustling about. His wife led us to a shrine room area just to the right of the entrance. She pointed out a platform, nestled in the corner, upon which Lahiri Mahasaya would meet with his students. A small shrine table was positioned at the opposite end of the shrine room. The energy in the room was electric. The presence of the great Yogi, Lahiri Mahasaya, who for years lived in this home and held darshan in this very room, felt palpable to me. I was pulled into meditation by these divine currents. After some time the energy abruptly quickened. I did not have to open my eyes to know that Banamali Baba had just entered the room. I was familiar with that experience after two decades with my guru, Yogiar. As I opened my eyes, he greeted us and then began to chastise me for sending him letters that were tainted with ego. He was right, of course. He knew the secrets of my soul, and in moments, he elicited tears of regret for my lapses, which he and I alone could understand, or so I thought. At one point his wife interrupted him and immediately his tone softened. To my relief, the remainder of his darshan was sweet. Had he really been angry, or like my guru Yogiar, was he just a great actor and a warrior against the subtle ego? I decided that he was indeed a warrior.
During our meeting, much of what he spoke about is too personal for me to share in this forum. Suffice it to say that he was highly clairvoyant. He was an old soul who had spent many years, probably many lifetimes, as a Kriya Yogi. Very few people knew that this grand secret yogi was a Jnana Siddha. He did not seek students, perhaps because he had indirectly influenced the soul development of many who trickled into his famous home. In just two days, he introduced me to previously unknown levels of consciousness just by the energy of his presence. With even more humility and appreciation for him leaving than arriving, I touched his feet, a sign a reverence and appreciation for his divine power, passed through the sacred doorway, and joyfully melted into the bustle of humanity, reflecting on the power of grace.
Like Banamali, his cousin Shibendu, also the great grandson of Lahiri is a Kriya Yogi. I visited Shebindu Lahiri several times in the 1980’s. We did sadhana together and he showed me the sandals worn by Lahiri Mahasaya, which he lovingly treasures and protects. He is a worthy instrument of his great grandfather.
Shebindu and I discussed the scientific art of Kriya Yoga and he showed me his rooftop view of the Ganges, which we enjoyed together. Shibendu continues to teach and share the path given in his dynastic family tradition. Jai Babaji!
Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh
It has been reported to individuals closely connected to the Saraswati lineage that after Swami Sivananda was initiated as a Sannyasin by Swami Viswananda Saraswati in the early 1920’s, Swami Sivananda plunged into a period of intense Yogic tapas which lasted for many years. In due course, Mahasiddha Babaji initiated Swami Sivananda into Kriya Yoga, an event that is thought to be sometime in the mid or late 1920’s. Other saintly disciples of Sivananda, such as Sivananda Radha Saraswati, are reported to have had direct experiences with Babaji as well. The practice in this Sivananda lineage of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga culminates in twenty extraordinary powerful Kriyas, which were passed on to his disciple, Swami Satyananda. One difference between these kriyas and the kriyas taught in the Lahiri tradition and by Yogi Ramaiah is that the mental circumambulation movements occur in the sagittal plane rather than the coronal plane, utilizing the arohan and awarohan nadis. This means that instead of using channels (nadis) which are situated to the right and left of the spinal column, the channels are in the front and behind the spinal cord. In this way, the techniques remind one of the macrocosmic orbit of the Taoist tradition. The end result of all these Kriyas is similar. The central column becomes electro-magnetized and soul advance is rapid. In teaching these Kriyas, Swami Niranjananda, is performing a great service to the souls receiving the knowledge thus honoring this grand lineage of the Saraswati order and his Guru lineage.
Swami Satyananda and Niranjananda
The Bihar School of Yoga reports that Swami Satyananda Saraswati was initiated into Kriya Yoga by Sivananda in 1956. It is my understanding that Swami Satyananda rarely mentioned Babaji in his lectures or books, however, and had stated that the Kriya techniques were taught to him in less than an hour. Decades ago, I was introduced to this Sivananda lineage, which culminates in twenty kriyas of great power. These Kriyas form a climax of the training in Kriya. I practiced the techniques for many months, and can attest that these kriyas are unique and powerful. Later, in 1988, I visited the Bihar School of Yoga and met with Swami Niranjananda, the successor to Swami Satyananda. We discussed Kriya and other aspects of yoga. I found that Swami Niranjananda was knowledgeable, warm and humble. In the Kriya Tantra Yoga training taught by Yogini Ashram, these twenty kriyas, reported to have been given by Babaji to Swami Sivananda, have always been a part of the advanced Yogacharya training.
Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri
I first met Swami Gitananda in Colombo, Sri Lanka, during 1971, where he participated in a Guru Poornima Celebration, which I had the pleasure to organize. I was amazed to see that Swami Gitananda’s expanded aura easily filled the hall. I marveled that his consciousness was highly elevated yet he was always grounded to the earth. He was fearless, beautifully non-controlling, and absolutely concerned with the welfare of all who approached him.
I met his lovely and divine wife in those early days as well and was glad to be able to advise her on temporarily settling in Sri Lanka. Swami could spot a spiritual fraud a mile away. I had darshan with him many times, and each time, I learned something. He was a true master of Ashtanga Yoga.
The son of a Sindhi father and an Irish mother, he went to England at the age of sixteen and spent most of his professional life as a physician in the west. He held several posts with the World Health Organization. Upon returning to India in 1968, he founded the Ananda Ashram in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu. The Swami taught the six Shat Kriyas referred to in classic Hatha Yoga texts. He also taught OM-Kara Kriya, and attained a trademark on that particular spelling of the name. The technique is very similar to the Omkar Kriyas taught in the Lahiri Kriya Yoga lineage. All of these techniques have great power.
Swami Om Giri Maharaj
Swami Om Giri was born in an aristocratic Delhi family. His exceptional environment and education was reflected in his impeccable Hindi. As a young man, he simply renounced all worldly things, receiving initiation in the Juna Akhara Naga Baba tradition in Haridwar. From there he migrated to the source of the Ganges. There he lived for decades in the snows of Gaumukh, without clothes. Each morning he bathed in sacred water from the melted Glacier. This requires much more than will power. It requires siddhi, which he most certainly had in abundance. I spent time with the great Baba when I was in the Gangotri area. Through Babaji’s grace, he taught me kundalini practices that alter the pulse and breathing rate. The connection was genuine and rich. At one point he told me that whatever challenges I was facing would be overcome if, in faith, I would mentally the words, “Om Giri” with focus, thinking of him. Subsequently I have found that just thinking of him gives power. He was an amazing instrument of Sathguru Kriya Babaji.
Getting the Initiation and Training
Reading about Kriya Yoga will not advance the soul one iota. One must learn and practice the techniques to benifit. There are a number of expressions of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga. For those sincere souls who are drawn to us at Yogini Ashram in California for this great transmission and training, a course is held at regular intervals. I encourage you to take that step for your own personal growth. Send me an email at [email protected] and express your interest in Kriya.
All Kriya paths lead to celestial realms of light which are permeated with the bliss consciousness of Babaji. Limited minds see separation; broad minds see unity within diversity. My Guru often said, “Absorb what is good, and leave the rest – that is Jnana (wisdom)”. To the critical mind, it appears that these Kriya traditions are distinctly different. However, we don’t enter into Babaji’s Kriya Tantra Yoga to dwell eternally in the human sphere. We seek something higher. With intense sadhana, in any Kriya lineage, the sincere Yogi will experience increasing moments of clarity. In those moments of clarity, an underlying sense of oneness prevails. Those who follow that sense of oneness will be taken up. Let us appreciate every spiritual being and every spiritual path. Those that attempt to minimize others are themselves captured in the great illusion of separateness, which we call Maya. The unenlightened see difference everywhere. The enlightened see the underlying unity of consciousness at every turn, and live always in that bliss. Choose the path of oneness, for when it is embarked upon with faith and sincerity, a descent of the golden light is near at hand. Jai Babaji
Swami Ayyappa Giri
Interested in Kriya? The Initiation and training in Babaji’s Kriya Kundalini Pranayam course will be offered in Rishikesh, India on 23 April 2018. Join us!
The tuition donation to register for the course is $27.00. After this, you may donate what you may donate further at the time of the course.
By Swami Ayyappa Giri, Acharya, Yogini Ashram, Norwalk Ca.
Article Rewritten and Published on Babaji’s Birthday 30 November 2014
The Emergence of an Avatar
Though known secretly by Kriya Yogis for centuries, details of the life and birth of the deathless Mahavatar Babaji were not made public until the late 1940’s, when the saintly Swami Yogananda Paramahamsa was permitted to release a few details of Babaji’s incredible incarnation. Later, the great saint included a chapter about Babaji in his magnus opus, “Autobiography of a Yogi”.
In 1952, the celebrated and eternally youthful avatar revealed his birth details to two of his very close disciples. One had authored several books on Kriya Yoga, V.T. Neelakantan. The other was my own Gurudev, the Tamil Pranayam Siddha, Yogiar S.A.A. Ramaiah.
Babaji’s Birthplace and the Temple Upon Which it Sits
The great master had not revealed any details of his birth prior to the 1950’s. In the last few decades, Babaji has become a worldwide phenomena, particularly among mystics, yogis and tantrics. He works in all levels and has integrated into the consciousness of awakened souls everywhere. He was born in Swethanathapuram, an ancient seaport near Chidambaram, India on 30 November, 203 A.D. The town is now known as Parangipettai. In the early 1950’s, Babaji led Neelakantan and Yogiar to the sacred site at the very beginning of Yogiar’s decades long spiritual mission.
During 1971, I did intensive sadhana at Babaji’s Birthplace on many occasions. The plot of land was filled with thorns and rocks, but to me, it was a place of great peace, power and bliss. There were no shade trees and the summer sun of south India was scorching hot. Nevertheless, I was determined that the mind not be influenced by the physical discomfort. With the help of the vibrations present and a strong effort to go deep within, I was floating in and out of a timelessness; a place of no thought, One hour, then two hours passed. After some time a wetness, movement, and distinct pressure was felt on the face and body, as I was not wearing a shirt. The sensations gradually pulled me out of that deep state. As I opened my eyes, I was delighted to see that a lovely cow was licking my face and chest. I am sure that he was enjoying the salt from my perspiration but at the time, I could only think of Lord Krishna!
Soon after that, Yogiar asked Kriya Yoga Sadhaks Marshall Govindan and myself to fly to Delhi to meet with the Minister of Aviation and Tourism, Dr. Karan Singh. The purpose was to purchase from the Indian government the small plot of land on which Babaji was born, in order to build a temple open to all. With the full authority of Babaji, Yogiar made that request of us, and it never even occurred to me for a moment that it would not be achieved. I remained in India working on the project and after more than a year of effort and massive grace from Babaji who was pulling strings behind the scenes, the dream was realized.
Yogiar then asked me to supervise the construction of a granite temple dedicated to Babaji on the holy site. The rough granite slabs were quarried near Kanadukathan and moved by bullock cart to the carving location. The carvings and reliefs were performed in the town of Karakudi in the ancient tradition. I remember doing mantras for many hours while the tic, tic, tic of the stapadi carvers worked in the background. When the carved blocks and images were complete, and the temple was ready to assemble, all were transported by trucks to Babaji’s birthplace. For the next two months of construction, monsoon season peaked and it rained constantly as we approached the deadline for dedicating the temple, which had been determined astrologically far in advance. The workers were corragously moving the massive stone blocks with levers as they sloshed through mud and rain chanting the names of God to maintain the rhythm of the work and keep their energy high.
When the construction was complete, even as the rain continued, I was given the massive honor of working with the Brahmin priests as we prepared the astabandha (a special kind of cement) to secure Babaji’s moorthi to his pedestal.
A Blessing from Babaji at the Dedication Ceremony
Miraculously, as we began the Mahakumbh Abeshak (the first ceremonial bath) at the sacred hour, the rains stopped for the very first time in many weeks. The clouds parted and a beam of light descended directly on the temple itself. The light beam remained on the temple until the puja was complete. Dear friends, I am not exaggerating one iota. One single beam of light maintained its position on the temple throughout the puja, while no other light in any direction could be seen.
Yantras and other secret things of which I cannot speak were placed strategically and in a safe hidden place within the granite itself. Then, just at the conclusion of the puja, the rains began again and showered the region for yet another two weeks. It was more rain than the region had received in many years. In yoga, rain is considered a great blessing from the divine, for with it, crops flourish and people are nourished.
The temple is built to last for thousands of years. The quality of granite holds up extremely well over the centuries. Although small, it is very artful and energetically magnificent. The tranquility of the grounds is amazing. Scenes from Babaji’s life are depicted in granite reliefs around the top of the temple. All Kriya Yoga Sadhaks and devotees of Babaji should should go to this power spot at least once in their lifetime.
Babaji in our Current Era
“The breath that arose 12 matras long; if you can control and absorb within, well may you live a thousand years on land and sea; for the body, perishes not.”
High in the remote rocky mountains of the Kumoan Himalayas, the eternal Babaji lives today, as he has for millennia, retaining his physical form only for the benefit of humanity. It has long been understood that those who descend from the celestial realm (avatars) often bring with them outward signs of their inward freedom. Thus, there have been other Avatars that cast no shadow or footprint. There are others as well who have breathed life into a corpse or instantly moved through time and space with impunity. There have been others too, who lived without food or drink, who walked upon water, or moved upon air. But few are they whose physical form, manifesting the golden light of immortality, does not decay or age. And few indeed are they who can move through the physical world with mastery of every plane of existence, fully active and yet with breathing and mind perfectly stilled. Babaji reigns supreme as the great avatar of Vedanta, Siddhantha, and Kaula Marg Tantra. He is at the headwaters of all the sacred tributaries of Yoga and Tantra. From him has emerged every stream of Kriya itself and his guiding hand is ever present.
He is seen and recognized only by those whom he chooses. Although he has appeared in many forms over the centuries, he frequently manifests as a timeless youth. His black hair is aflame with copper-golden rays of light-energy and his well toned body reflects that of an athletic youth. His dark eyes, awash with light and love, penetrate the soul. His countenance is surrounded with authority and mystery. He is approachable and seen only by those of purified consciousness. He is known as the great yogi, the ancient youth of sixteen summers, as he attained immortality at a young age. His presence is not frightening at all, as some have thought. His presence is massively calming. In his presence one can think only what he allows. It is impossible to approach him without his inward permission. He is the great guiding father who was the loving guide behind all ones earthly fathers in every lifetime.
Who is this great mysterious yogi who cannot be reduced to a rule? Lahiri saw him as an incarnation of Krishna. Yogi Ramaiah maintained that he and Muruga, the Dravidian Lord of beauty, were one and the same. He has been revealed to us as an avatar of Maha Shiva. Still other Kriya yogis have identified him with Kali or Christ. Like the cosmic Lord, he manifests the form and energy held dear by the devotee, nor can any mortal reduce him to a rule. The stellar star of his attainment is impossible for the mortal mind to comprehend. He is both multicultural and multi-linguistic and demonstrates a freedom from any limit. Every aspect of his remarkable life reflects this freedom. Miraculous stories of his life, including bringing the dead to life, manifest multiple bodies at the same time, and the ability to appear and disappear at will abound. He is so much more than an astral being, limited to a ghost body. He manifests a physical body with toes that have form and substance like an human being, except that they project light, fragrance and bliss when touched.
In 1888 Madam Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society described Babaji in her great treatise, the Secret Doctrine, as follows, “It is He who changes form, yet remains ever the same, and it is He, again, who holds spiritual sway over the initiated adepts throughout the world. He is, as said, the nameless one who has so many names and yet, whose names and very nature are unknown. He is THE INITIATOR, called the GREAT SACRIFICE for sitting at the threshold of Light, He looks into it from within the circle of darkness which He will not cross, nor will He quit His post until the last day of this life-cycle. Why does the solitary watcher remain at His self chosen post? Why does He sit by the fountain of primeval wisdom, of which He drinks no longer, for He has naught to learn which He does not know – aye, neither on this earth nor in its heaven? Because the lonely sore-footed pilgrims, on their journey back to their home, are never sure to the last moment of not losing their way, in this limitless desert of illusion and matter called earth-life. Because He would show the way to that region of freedom and light from which He is a voluntary exile himself, to every prisoner who has succeeded in liberating himself from the bonds of flesh and illusion. Because, in short, He has sacrificed Himself for the sake of mankind, though but few elect may profit by the great sacrifice.”
Babaji as a Tantric
Many people are aware of Babaji’s contribution to Yoga and Kriya. Few, however, are aware of his achievements as a tantric master, along the lines of the Siddha Macchindranath. The Tamil Tantric, Rudranath Giri Maharaj, has revealed that Babaji is the avatar of great sacrifice for the emerging golden age of Kriya and that his glorious Shakti, taking form as Bhairavi, has regenerated the Kaula Marg tantric path as well, for the benefit and spiritual growth of all humanity. For Babaji and Mataji, a hundred years is but a day. Together they performed dynamic tantra sadhana in a small triangular cave near Gangotri. They have always worked quietly behind the scenes. Thousands of world and spiritual leaders are influenced by their “taps” at critical times, although most in an unconscious way. They seek absolutely no acknowledgment as they guide many toward spiritual awakening. They work on all planes and are literally “a bridge for those who seek the farther shore”. A siddha in the ultimate sense is one who has attained perfection in all planes, including the physical. As defined in the upanishads, a siddha is one who has progressed from the exalted state of freed while living (jivan mukta) to supremely free with full power over death (para mukta). This state is referred to in the Siddhantha tradition as soruba mukti or soruba samadhi.
Who is Babaji? Like God himself, he morphs into the forms that the devotee holds dear. He resides in the formless forms as well, such as the great tradition of Monism expounded by Adi Shakaracharya (who he initiated). Speaking in Ecstasy, Babaji once demonstrated his mastery of the Advaita Vedanta path as he literally described his consciousness to his chosen disciples, V.T.N and Yogiar as follows.
“I am existance-knowledge-bliss absolute. I am the absolute and supreme Self, both within and without the finitude. I am truth, eternal and everlasting. I am the only one, all in myself: None exist save I, in and through all that exists. I am ever all-existence itself. I am the changeless one in the midst of all changes. I am the formless in all forms…I am the living ocean of ecstasy that rages wild and surges and storms and levels down the earth and heavens. I beat in every breast, see in every eye, throb in every pulse, smile in every flower, shine in the lightning and roar in the thunder. I flutter in the leaves, I hiss in the winds, and I roll in the surging seas. I am the wisdom of the wise, the strength of the strong, the heroism of the heroic. I am the impersonal personality of the whole universe. I am the infinite, the eternal, and the immortal Self. Truth flows from me just as light radiates from the sun and fragrance emanates from a flower am the immutable and indescribable Atman, the dynamic principle of existence and the infinite ocean of everlasting conciseness.”
His Early Years
Babaji has revealed that he was kidnapped at an early age from his home town and taken to north India to be sold into slavery. In present day Kolkata, he was purchased and soon released where he migrated to Varanasi. In due course, he mastered the principles of both Vedanta and Siddhanta, and pierced the barriers to understanding the Siddhas. Having reached the limitations of academic knowledge, he began an extensive pilgrimage and course of sadhana. From the coast of Bengal, he undertook a pilgrimage by boat to the site of the Kali temple in Chittagong and also the powerful Chittagong Hill in Bangladesh. There, following intense sadhana, he had daily exchanges with Maa Kali and became intimate with her majesty, power and grace, mastering the path of Kaula Marg Tantra. He experienced Kali very tangibly in all her 64 emanations (64 Yoginis). Later, Babaji influenced other Siddhas like Vashistha and Macchendranath (Macchamuni) who elevated Kaula Marg Tantra to a grand tradition. This led to the construction of 64 Yogini Temples, mostly in north India. That hill, where Babaji performed tapas, later became a Bhavani Shakti temple, and in later centuries, identified as one of the celebrated 52 Shakti Peeths, or vortex shrines of Devi. It seems that he returned to that hill temple in later centuries. Imagine my surprise when, after more than 20 years of yogic practice, I received the Maha Kali Chew Mantra, the connection between Kali and Babaji was explained to me, and I observed the name of this very Shakti Peeth of Chittagong embedded within the mantra. This is the same powerful mantra that had been given by Babaji himself directly to Yogiar’s maternal grandfather, and then passed on to Yogiar’s mother (Sm. Solachi). It was then passed to Yogiar, then to Shivagami (Swami Mantradikshananda).
Returning to Kolkata, Babaji sailed to Katirgama, Sri Lanka, where he ultimately experienced Nirvakalpa Samadhi, the breathless state of God and Truth union. In doing so, he reestablished an ancient and powerful link with the 18 Siddhas, particularly the scientific Siddha, Bogar.
Babaji then journeyed to Coutrallam in Tamil Nadu, where we was initiated into Kriya by another of the 18 Siddhas, Sage Agasthiya. He then migrated to a cave in the high Himalayas and performed tapas for five years. In the process, the very atoms of his physical body were permeated with and transformed by divine light-vibration. From that point on, he had no shadow and he had no footprint.
His dynamic second cousin, Mataji, soon joined him and following his lead, attained a similar state, the golden deathless body of Soruba Samadhi. Yogananda introduced Mataji as Babaji’s sister or cousin-sister, a common term of endearment in Indian culture. Yogi Ramaiah, who also spent time with Babaji in the physical body, explained a different reality than that. Let there be no ambiguity about the relationship of Babaji and Mataji. Yogiar many times confirmed that Babaji and Mataji were in a Shiva-Shakti union. Every disciple of Yogiar would be aware of this. My Kaula Marg Tantra Guru, Swami Rudranath Giri Maharaj, has revealed that together, Babaji and Mataji worked through the 64 Tantric Kriyas without a fall. Thus, having mastered the paths of Vedanta, Siddhantha, and Kaula Marg Tantra together, Mataji ascended into her predestined avatarship.
After centuries, they continue to reside in the Himalayas, but are also present in all things at all times, guiding many saints and yogis, either directly or behind the scenes. Yogiar spent decades with his students, clearing out the trash of ego and low vibration hiding in the subconscious mind and lower vital plane as he assisted them in their spiritual progress. In the 1960’s, I too had a vision of Babaji. In due course, he led me to my two Gurus, both great disciples of the immortal Babaji. Following decades in training with Yogi S.A.A. Ramaiah and Sri Rudranath Giri Maharaj, Babaji took over directly.
I will continue to share what Babaji has given me, particularly Kriya Kundalini Pranayam, Bhairavi Kriya and the other advanced techniques. Advanced Yoga Teacher training is available as well as advanced classical Tantra training in the Kriya tradition. The training utilizes an ancient and powerful breathing practice revealed by Mataji as Bhairavi Kriya or Breath of Ecstasy. Additionally, a teachers training program offers incremental training in the 64 tantric kriyas of Kaula Marg, the path of energy, transmutation of sexual essence and mastery of the nadis relating to procreation and sexuality. A major key is understanding the relationship and energies between the 64 tantric kriyas and the 64 Yoginis, all forms of MahaKali.
Babaji, you are our light and guide. Awaken us from the slumber of the ages, Please guide every thought, every action, every desire toward purity and light. Humble us, that we may be receptive to your Grace. Above all, shepherd us through the transition at the end of each life with a firm but kind hand that we may reside eternally at your lotus feet and serve the light forever. May Atman alone dominate the consciousness! May the power and majesty of your light and love manifest in every plane and every cell. Let the akashic record reflect that we lived nobly in each moment.
How to Learn More About Babaji’s Kriya Tantra Yoga
Babaji’s Kriya Tantra Yoga is not for the casually curious. Those who have a strong and sincere yearning for the Divine are welcome to contact [email protected] Take one step toward Babaji- He takes 10 toward you.
Swami Ayyappa Giri
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This post may be reproduced wholly or in part with the provision that the source is cited as [email protected]