The breath-based meditation "Kriya-yoga" is a familiar name after its reintroduction by Mahavatara Babaji to Lahidi Mahasaya and subsquent work of Paramahamsa yogananda in the western world. Through many literature are available but the lack of clear exposition on the philosophy and still felt. The book, Kriya-yoga: the Science of Life-force tries to fulfill this want. This work vividly explains "the Knowledge of Life-force" basis of Kriya-Yoga citing from Vedas, Upanisads, srimad bhagavdgita, Yogasutras of patanjali and many other ancient scriptures, and analyzes how the breath technique quiets the mind, brings equanimity and results in development of discriminating intelligence that answers the questions and purpose of human life. This also gives an understanding on our inner reading, the principles and practices form auspicious resolves, noble faith, self-effort and austerities from righteousness, yama, and observances, niyama, up to the transcendental state, Samadhi, those form the appendages of this treatise, and describes how the breath-based practices and mediatations described herein are necessary for a seeker to remain healthy and attain knowledge. The body principle, sarira tattva, is also anatomized using both biological and spiritual sciences to accelerate spiritual practice and to facilitate the understanding on life and death, gross to causal bodies, five sheaths, five vital breaths, three knots, seven energy centres and their working. The most important aspect for readers and seekers is that for the first time they will find the secret techniques of kriya-yoga, Nabhi Kriya, Khecari mudra, Guru Pranama, Hamsa, prana viksana, Mahamudra, Isvarapranidhana Kriya,Thokar kriya, Jyoti mudra, Sambhavi mudra, and different techniques of meditation, e.g Aum, twelve-lettered Vasudeva mantra, inner matrka and outer-matra meditations, etc are revealed and explained in details citing their illustrations in Upanisads and ancient yogic scriptures and enumerating the rationale and scientific approach behind such practices and bebefits involved.
His holiness Swami Nityananda Giri was born in 1961 in a remote village in Odisha State, India. He completed his post-graduate studies, MSC in Z00logy in 1983 and obtained PhD on the branch Cytogenetics (Genotoxicity) in 1990 to 1996. From 1997 to 2002, he was engaged in social services related to health awareness and health services management. He was initiated to the Kriya-Yoga meditation techniques in January 1994 and belongs to the tradition of Sriyukteswataji. He renounced all social and family obligations in June 2002 to become a monk and a master in the tradition of Kriya-Yoga. On occasions, he teaches and intiates seekers to the Kriya-yoga mediation techniques in India and abroad from September 2005 onwards to disseminate the knowledge received from the masters of the lineage as a mission. He is living the life of a wrandering monk from June2008, monasteries in the Himalayas being his main abode.
In the beginning it is important to mention that in order to understand the philosophical aspects of knowledge we need philosophies, but after gaining an understanding we must resort to practice. Otherwise our understanding will simply become a form of intellectual gymnastics that will result in fighting between the adherents of the different philosophies as has happened in the past. But one who practices finds the Truth therein, puts an end to all differences. Yoga is more a practice than a philosophy and it does not believe in contradicting other philosophies. We need not have deep philosophical knowledge, if we do practice in a proper way, we will know. To find the proper way we need the knowledge from scriptures and/ or a master who is realized or in the process of being realized. Again, to confirm the knowledge of our own spiritual experiences, to ascertain whether they are real or the result of hallucinations or mental manipulation we need the help from the scriptures and/ or from the masters to correct us in our practice. But without practice, if we simply have the bookish knowledge then that can be devastating.
But why do we need a spiritual journey? The simple answer is because we need happiness in our life. With all our physical and material sciences and ideas of the philosophies we tried to obtain it and we failed. The reason is we are in a prison and not free men and what we do is within the boundaries of our prison whereas happiness lies in breaking the boundaries of the prison. Our prison is the world, samsiira, and the boundaries of our prison are the ideas revolving round the senses, the sense-organs and the sense-oriented objects and our preconceived mental occupation in finding pleasure in this outer world. I do not say that the outer world is to be out rightly rejected but it should be accepted as it is with all its limitations. While we need bliss we are lost in search of pleasure that is always associated with pain. And the warden of our prison is our mind and he gets command from his big boss, the ego. We create our own pain and pleasure due to the attachments and aversions we have in our own mind. Like Lord Krsna, we take birth inside the prison and unlike Him we die inside the prison. To make us free from our prison Lord Krsna is waiting to take birth within us.
Once Lord Krsna is born, the gates of the prison will open automatically and the guards of the prison will fall asleep. No prison can confine the Lord; we simply have to know by our own practice and experience that we are the Krsna. Reading the scriptures cannot do this. For that we have to conceive, brood and give birth to Him; and He is always with us, He is our prdna, the Prdna-krsna, Krsna the Life- force. But without that practice and without attaining that state, inside this prison our life-races from birth to death thinking that we are progressing and evolving. Then we start a fresh race and take birth again to commit the same mistake, "punarapi amanam punarapi maranam janani aihare punarapi sayanam," again a birth, again a death and again sleeping in the womb of a mother (Mohamudgara).
Amid this, we will, at one point, have to ponder over these questions as the Vedic! is did, to ask ourselves who we are and what our life is for, from where we come and where we go. The! is knew and recorded the answers to these questions in scriptures but the knowledge of the scriptures and the philosophies reply to these questions only intellectually and do not solve our problems. We have to walk on our own for our freedom; we have to know that through the experience of the journey of our life. Without answering these questions we are subjected to birth and death again and again. We have to know that our true nature is immortal. Though the philosophical knowledge is necessary it can take us to imagination whilst our practice will lead us to realization. We have to know that our life is a journey to our own divine kingdom. We have to be a Saiijaya and not the blind king Dhrtarastra who refuses to receive the divine vision from Rsi Vyasa. Vyasa is vastness, Vyasa is Lord Visnu, Lord Krsna, Vyasa is Master, Vyasa is Infinity, Vyasa is the knower of Truth and the knower of Truth becomes the Truth itself. Vyasa was a sage who reached that state. He is always sitting and waiting within us, ready to give us the divine vision but our blind mind, the king Dhrtarastra, does not want to receive it. It is Saiijaya, who has control over the senses; sense-organs and- the mind can have it. A person having control over sense-organs and mind receives divine vision. In the process of our evolution to the Divine, we have to do spiritual practices to win over the mind. And that is to train our mind to go beyond likes and dislikes to enable us to live in love and tranquility.
The breath, does that training since the mind is absorbed in the vital force,a and the senses follow the mind. By training our mind we can cultivate friendship with happy and prosperous objects persons, places, situations, events or objects) instead of cravings, cultivate kindness with the suffering ones instead of aversion, cultivate contentment with ones of nobility instead of jealousy, and cultivate indifference to those in the wrong path instead of a feeling of revenge to remain in a mind full of bliss "maitrikaruniimuditopeksimiim ,iim bhauanatas- cittaprasiidanam." Here a mental contemplation is not denied but such a mental contemplation is to be based on vital energy. Breath based practices decrease desires by giving energy to the mind and intellect so that the dis- criminating ability is enhanced. For this first we have to do the breath technique, priir;akarma, the technique of exhalation and inhalation, This leads to a breathless and thoughtless state, and when such a state is achieved then that results in, tatah. zyate prakiiSii'varar;am by that the veil of manifestation is thinned or the veil that covers the knowledge is thinned. Manifestation is prakiiSa, light; knowledge is also prakasa. This veil of manifestation covers the Knowledge. We are deluded by the outer world through our sense-organs and mind. By practicing priir;iiyiima or breathing techniques and attaining the breathless state, which is also a thoughtless state, again and again, we enter into state of sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation and then the transcendental state. This develops discriminating intellect and weakens the karma that covers the Principle of Self due to misapprehension. Finally there is eradication of false knowledge leading to liberation.
Our life is a journey to the Divine, from animal being to rational being and finally to the divine being. It is our own lost kingdom. Nobody has thrown us out of it; it is only our ego, our wrong identity with the body-mind interactions that has derailed us. This is subjected to death again and again. We have to leave this wrong identity till we answer the above questions through our life. We have to know that we are Truth, the Pure Existence. This physical death is nothing but the womb of Mother Nature to give us temporary rest for rebirth till we complete our evolution to the Divine. Similar to sleep this rest is also under the influence of sloth, tamas, rather in deep tamas, and since it lasts much longer its end remembers nothing. As we need sleep after a days work, we need death after the day of our life in order to take rest; otherwise with all our sorrows and miseries, with wrong identity and desires we will simply move in this world as psychic patients. Death and re-birth give us chance again and again for our evolution to the Divine. Do our births follow the theories of evolution that we study in biology classes, be they Lamarckian or Darwinian? The answer is both yes and no, yes in a secondary phase of material evolution from matter to life ending with modern humans. 0, in a primary phase because there is nothing else but Truth, Consciousness and Bliss. It has never deviated from its own form. By its own nature it appears as matter and by its own nature it evolves into human intellect. Though immortality is always with us due to our ego we are dying in each moment. Our process of development lies with the annihilation of our ego, to kill the death called ego and to remove the darkness caused by it. The real happiness will then descend. For that we need to win over the senses and the mind. That is our practice and that is done through our priir;a, the Life-force. In order to know the prana we have to know our breath, pra1J,avayu, which is always with us from birth to death. Simply we have to hold the two feet of prima, inhalation and exhalation, the rest will follow. This Knowledge of the Life-force, pra1J,avidya, is the Kriya-yoga; this is kaivalya-yoga, yoga of the One and Only.
We know that we need sleep every day to give rest to our mind and body but, as can be felt in daily life, that rest is not sufficient. What happens in deep sleep? The body, the sense-organs and the mind take rest and only our Life-force,prana and breath, pra1J,avayu, are awake. That is a rest but still it is done in a state of ignorance. Here the barrier between our causal body and subtle body is so strong due to qualities of darkness, tamas, that knowledge of Consciousness that we receive in deep sleep is not transmitted to our subtle body such as our mind when we are awake. The only thing we know upon waking is that we had a good sleep. We have to do the same thing in meditation that is done in deep sleep but do it with knowledge. In meditation we give rest to the body, the sense-organs and the mind while only vital force,prana,a, is awake; even our breath may be suspended. However, since it is done with inner consciousness it transmits the knowledge to our subtle body, mind and intellect. That also gives abundant energy, which we never get in sleep. That is the reason sleep is said to be like unconscious meditation, and meditation is said to be like conscious sleep. In sleep it is the qualities of darkness, tamoguna, while meditation begins with the qualities of action, rajoguna, and settles with the qualities of calmness, sauuaguna, resulting in knowledge in samiidhi when we go beyond the three qualities, triguruuita. As we need sleep so we need daily meditation.
Kriya-yoga has now become a household name among westerners and urbanelites of India though people still do not have a clear-cut understanding of it. Though we find many books on Kriya-yoga the lack of clear exposition on its philosophy and practice is still felt very much. So many myths and mis- understandings are gaining ground regarding name and techniques. One of the reasons may be that present day masters of the tradition are more interested in teaching this in the west rather than in India. Though humanity is one and seekers from the west have equal rights, then in the same logic the seekers from India must not be neglected. A true master belongs to the cosmos. The second reason is the secrecy involved in the techniques. The secrecy was introduced with a view that a precious gem cannot be sold in the open market thereby bringing the suspicion of genuineness and the danger of having fallen into the hands of undesirable and not-so-serious people. Again secrecy developed interest among the masses to learn and practice it. So the purpose of secrecy was not to hide but rather to give to the public. Another aspect we learn from history is that in the name of secrecy, the teachers of yoga and tantra have only helped in the extinction of the precious techniques for knowledge. This sometimes brings additions and alterations that are not in accordance with the spirit of the scriptures though additions and alterations, which facilitate progress and adhere to the teachings of scriptures, are always welcome. Over the ages it has been seen that due to hiding the techniques distorted variations appeared and, particularly in the name of tantra, many practices diametrically opposed to spirituality were introduced and are still in practice giving a bad name to a system that has nothing to do with those things. But we have to see that we are now in a completely revolutionary age of information and technology, which was not even thought of twenty years back. Now due to the development of technologies and various other factors the techniques are no more hidden and it is not even possible to keep them hidden. Moreover the scriptures have already described these techniques. A reader will find how the scriptures describe these techniques in this book in general and on the fourth chapter of the book in particular. So question arises since the scriptures donot hide the techniques then why should a book written on the subject does not describe the techniques. Hence it is time to discuss rather than hide and a middle way is to be accepted to keep the balance. I know many masters and organizations will not agree with me but I tried to act according to my conscience. Readers are always advised to learn them not from books but from a master and those who do so from a book it is at their personal risk. The book is only to clarify and help.
While going through the book it is advised that a reader should start from the beginning of the book to the end in the manner it is written, but one can even start from either any of the first three chapters. After finishing the first three chapters one can proceed to the fourth chapter. Verses, phrases and words in Sanskrit are given in italics and for that one has to follow transliteration. Readers unfamiliar with Sanskrit can skip them and go on reading only in English. I have tried to present in a manner so that the meaning and understanding is not lost even if one skips Sanskrit. However, any suggestions for improvements in subsequent editions will be highly appreciated.
In present daysociety the word yoga is very familiar. But do we actually understand what yoga means? As Pronunciation of the word has been converted from yoga to yoga, our understanding has also changed and undergone a series of involution. People's understanding resembles that of blind men's description of an elephant according to their limited perception. Similarly, some understand yoga as a set of physical exercises to keep the body fit; some understand it as a series of breathing techniques for good health, release of tension and practices for concentration. Some understand it as a set of physical and breathing exercises for management of diseases and use yoga as a therapy, some use it for longevity. For some it is a concentration technique to improve mental power, releases tension and increase work efficiency and for those of high understanding this is used to enhance discriminating intelligence. All these are useful and laudable but these are only parts or by-products of yoga. Yoga is our real life, it is our life to reveal the light we are. In order to understand yoga we have to understand our own life and our own body, both physical and subtle, that which conceals the real "Being within us. Unfortunately we have an unclear understanding of our life.
Yoga: I will try to give you a simple idea although real understanding will come only through long and uninterrupted practice. Yoga means "to join," this is union with our own origin. In fact, we are never separated from our source but we have forgotten our true identity and identity ourselves with our physical body, our mind, our intellect and our ego. Speaking in terms, we can say that we are in our mind, citta, meaning that we are with the actions of our mind. This situation leads to duality/plurality and is the reason why we need to unite with our true Self. Then the state of unity with our true Self id the transcendental state, Samadhi or kaivalya. And that is done when the actions of our mind are halted or when we reach a state beyond thought. Rsi Patanjali calls this cittavrttinirodhah . All that we have understood as yoga is simply a part or a by- product of yoga. Yoga means samadhi, it comes from yuj which means "to join" (yujir yage) and samadhi (yuj samadhau); yoga means our evolution to the Divine and yoga means merging the individual self with the Cosmic Self. If we analyze the word yaga, we find it is composed of the letters y, a, g and a. The letter-y (or ya), yarkara, is the air element. It is said, yankara saruavyapaka pduana (AU, 5), the letter-y is spread everywhere and pious. The letter-a, o-kiira, is the form of all sounds; omonkarakhilaudmmasa nityasuddha (ibid.), the letter-a is the form of all sounds and is always pure. The letter-g (or ga), garkara, means vastness and that which removes all obstacles; gankara sarvaviigbnasamana mahattara (ibid.), the letter-g removes all obstacles and is great. The letter-a, a-kiira; is one that has no form or has absence of form, akara, and this is infinite; omankdra mrtyunjaya sarvavydpaka (ibid.) , the letter-a is the winner of death and infinite. Yoga starts with air or breath. Then it goes to subtle breath. Sound vibrations are inherent in air. Vibrations are actions. So ya is the action of air. This is our breath and the activities of the subtle breath, prima, within our body. Everything first appears in the form of thoughts; those are nothing but sound vibrations. When we go to the subtle breath we feel the life-force, prima, in the form of vibrations. The Om technique, saham repetitions, meditation on single lettered sounds, matrkiirs, ete., are different yogic techniques. A practitioner feels the sound vibrations in the body as subtle prana to merge the mind in infinity thereby establishing oneself in yoga or the "no thought" state. This leads to the eradication of all obstacles and suffering. By the action of breath, i.e., ya, we reach ga or infinite bliss. We move from a state of suffering to a state of bliss. This journey is named Yoga.
Kriya-yoga is the practice part of yoga. Kriya-yoga is an ancient technique of meditation found in India since time immemorial. This is a very simple and scientific technique based on our vital force, priya, our body and our mind. It is a meditation based on our breath. The word kriya is composed of the letters k, r, i, y, and a. The letter-k (or ka), ka-kara, represents the Lord, Isuara. The Transcendental Lord, Parama Siua, when He manifests Himself in the subtle world and makesHimself ready for creation He becomes lSvara. The letter-r (or ra), ra-kara, represents fire, light and manifestation. Creation is not seen by us with the ether and air elements since these are subtle elements. We are able to see manifestation from the fire element onwards. The letter-i, i-kiira; represents energy or sakti. So kri is the activating power of the Lord manifested in creation. This activating power is called priina or vital force. The letter-y (or ya), yarkara, represents the air element and the letter-a, ii-kdra, represents form. For the manifestations to take a form, akara, the Lord acts with the air element. With the ether element there is no form. The air element or gaseous state is the first created form although we only see the forms from the fire element onwards. Through the action of air the whole universe is manifested. This is the action of the Life-force, pranakarma, of the Lord. The word kriya normally means action, but this is the action of God. We are made with the same principle God is. Our identification with the physical body makes us separate from God and this is the state of ignorance. We have to eradicate this ignorance by the action of God, i.e., the action of the breath, pranakarma. Our mind is the result of ignorance and is responsible for this wrong identification. Breath-practice, priirJakarma, absorbs the mind into vital force. This action of God reverses the process and leads us from body to God. This is why it is so necessary to perform that action. That is our spiritual practice. Then that action, kriyii, becomes yoga.
Simple and for All: These Kriya-yoga techniques do not require any equipment, external means or spiritual aids. We are already equipped with our body, mind and breath and need nothing more for this practice. We do not need to change our clothes to those of a particular sect and we do not need to grow a beard or to put a particular type of paste (normally sandalwood paste, ete.) or colors on
our forehead. One need not leave their family for this practice. To live a family life, to have children and even to earn money are not crimes but one should carry out these activities with self-restraint, in an honorable way as per the sanctions of the scriptures and without "stepping onto" others' rights. A person can lead a blissful life in the world with a family if they have inner knowledge and know that the world is a manifestation of God. As a human being gives birth to a human being, God gives birth to God, it is due to our ignorance that we see the world in place of God. Being tired with the world without having inner knowledge is to simply dwell on limited things. A belief then arises in the seeker to reject them. Such a seeker renounces worldly activities because of their illusory nature, which give momentary pain and pleasure. However, real renunciation is an act in one's own mind. Though there are exceptions ,this is the general trend. We cannot be free from pain and pleasure without a proper spiritual practice, i.e., kriya or without an action to clean our mind in order to enable the Knowledge to arise. Kriya-yoga teaches this both to householders and monks. Kriya-yoga does not interfere with the religious practices of one's community or the laws of one's country. It does not contradict the philosophical or religious beliefs one possesses; rather it shows us the common factor within the different views. We will know the truth from our practice, by our own experience. The result of this practice can be felt quickly. People belonging to all castes, communities, religions, languages, countries, ages and sexes can practice this. This technique is in accordance with the scriptures and is scientifically designed according to our bodily composition.
Many practitioners have benefited from it in the past, many are benefiting from it at present and many will be benefited in future.
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