Sriyukteswar and Yogananda
The chain of events and the consequences:
Lahiri Mahasay had no confidence in Sriyukteswar
Analytically speaking a twenty-year old young Swami (Panchanan Bhattacharya, born in 1852, a Bengali brahamana) who was an advanced disciple of Lahiri Mahasay's former life had entered his room at Benares in 1872. Ignoring intentionally the Swami's identity, Lahiri Mahasay uttered, "Oh Bhattacharya has come," recognizing him as a former householder disciple, and so he did not want to see him as a young Swami. He was initiated, and as he was a very advanced disciple in a former life, easily the young Swami completed his realization in ten years in 1882, and got permission to initiate others in 1883.
It so happened in the same year, twenty-eight year old Priyanath Karar, born in 1855, a non-brahmana Bengali was initiated by Lahiri Mahasay.
Lahiri Mahasay, usually surrounded by his disciples at his Benares house sometimes discussed the Bhagavad Gita. His disciples attended regularly who were living in Benares and those who lived far away occasionally attended. After initiation, Priyanath Karar visited Lahiri Mahasay a few times to attend his Gurudev at Benares and listened to his Gita explanation about which he admitted that he had difficulties following him.
After retirement in 1885, Lahiri Mahasay engaged himself in writing interpretations of the scriptures. First, he started with the Bhagavad Gita. He became very busy in the project. So to make himself a bit free for the project, he sent people who approached him for Kriya to the young Swami (by then the realized young Swami throwing away his orange clothes into the Ganges, praying to the Divine Mother, considering to be like his Guru Baba, Lahiri Mahasay, got married and became a householder.) That surprised Lahiri Mahasay, but made him happy to see Bhattacharya like an ancient Risi, like himself, a householder. Lahiri Mahasay had asked Panchanan Bhattacharya to start an institution to publish his books and distribute some herbal medicines. Accordingly Bhattacharya started "Aryya Mission Institution".
Lahiri Mahasay published his Gita interpretations in 1888 through Panchanan Bhattacharya and advised him for distribution; also he advised the other disciples to send their books to Bhattacharya for distribution. Bhattacharya would distribute them only to initiated Kriya disciples considering that if the books fell to the non-initiated in Kriya they might not understand and their intellectual understanding may confuse the Kriyanwits and Kriyanwitas, especially who are that much literate or educated. So for this reason, he would distribute only to the Kriya practitioners.
In the meantime, because of his busy schedule of scriptural interpretation, Lahiri Mahasay sent the people who approached him for Kriya from Bengal and Bihar to Bhattacharya Mahasay as both his places, Calcutta and Deoghar, were closer than Benares. Then as he got busier, he sent the recently initiated persons like Priyanath Karar and Bhupendranath Sannyal. At this arrangement Priyanath was not happy, he rather would visit his Gurudev than a two years older brother disciple who was newly married and had started a new married life. Priyanath could not fathom to think that Bhattacharya could be a completely realized man at that early age.
Priyanath within three or four years of initiation, started an interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita of his own, almost at the same time in 1885, when Lahiri Mahasay engaged himself in writing interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita. Priyanath published only the first nine chapters in 1893 and sent ten copies to Bhattacharya for distribution which nobody wanted to buy. So Bhattacharya wrote to Lahiri Mahasay twice for direction of what to do and requested Lahiri Mahasay to say something so that others might buy. Lahiri Mahasay had no confidence in Priyanath (We will relate a story demonstrating this later). On the second request, Lahiri Mahasay replied mentioning about letting the interpretation by disciple, Prasad Das Goswami of the same town in which Priyanath lived, Serampore, be published first. It was not an approval, rather, it was reluctant and was a reflection of Priyanath's Gita interpretations. Even the other brother disciples found the interpretations were not strictly in the light of Kriya but were influenced by philosophical ideas. Bhattacharya himself saw it but being kind he would not make any judgment.
Priyanath thought in his mind that it was Bhattacharya who was responsible for not getting his Gita distributed among the brother disciples. He could not understand what Bhattacharya had done for him writing twice to his Gurudev for his book.
In the meantime, all the disciples began to treat Panchanan Bhattacharya as the chief disciple of Lahiri Mahasay because of such responsibility given to him by their Gurudev. To minimize the importance of Panchanan Bhattacharya, Priyanath began to tell his disciples publicly, "Gurudev has not written any books ... " just to promote Priyanath's own Gita publication over and above Lahiri Mahasay's Bhagavad Gita which was already published in 1888 by the Aryya Mission Institution and was distributed among the disciples of Lahiri Mahasay by Panchanan Bhattacharya. He did this knowing full well that his Guru, Lahiri Mahasay, had given charge to publish and distribute his books to Panchanan Bhattacharya.
This led among the disciples of Priyanath, like Yogananda, to believe that Lahiri Mahasay did not write any books.
Being frustrated in his Gita distribution, Priyanath took a break and visited Kumbhamela at Allahabad, Prayag in 1893. He mentioned that there he met a vibrant Yogi (whom he thought was Babaji) who addressed him as a Maharaj/Swamiji, and the same Yogi gave him a job to write a book.
So Priyanath created two things: 1. Ground for writing another book. 2. Assumed a title of Swami as if given to him from the address by the Yogi. In fact, returning from Kumbhamela, the thirty-eight year old Priyanath began to write his name as "Priyanath Karar Swami" which was unconventional as he did not enter into the order of Swami formally, rather just added the word "Swami".
Lahiri Mahasay was a Swami disciple of Babaji in his previous incarnation, so was Swami Satyeswarananda; it seems that personally Babaji had no confidence that Kriya can be handled in practicing by the householders; as he mentioned it to Lahiri Mahasay at Dunagiri Hill, when Lahiri Mahasay sought permission from him. Therefore, it was the unique caliber of Lahiri Mahasay to establish the Kriya for the householders like the ancient Risis, which even his Guru, Divine Himalayan Yogi had doubt about. We have to remember in this connection that an entry was found in Lahiri Mahasay's diary that he was born in all four yugas (satya, treta, dwapara and kali) respectively, as Satyakrita, Munindra, Karunamay, Kabir and Shyama Charan in the kali.
In his efford to keep Kriya for the householders Lahiri Mahasay consistently sent two Bengali brahmanas (Asutosh Chatterjee and Manmathanath Mukhopadhyaya) back to Bengal to get married to be householders, and also he denied the two requests of two brahmana disciples (Manamathanath Mukhopadhyaya and Sri Banerjee, Brahmachari Sesavananda) to enter into the order of Swami to maintain the character of the Kriya path for the householders. Thus, Lahiri Mahasay did not permit any of his disciples to enter into the order of Swami.
Therefore, being a non-brahamna Priyanath considered that he had no chance at all, as a result, he did not ask his Gurudev and waited for him to leave his body in 1895; then he entered into the order of Swami by Swami Krisna Dayal Giri at Boddha Gaya in 1895.
Panchanan Bhattacharya, the chief disciple of Lahiri Mahasay, became concerned with all this for valid reason. His concern was that what his Gurudev tried to maintain as the Kriya for the householders would be destroyed by the influence of the Swamis. Bhattacharya himself had reverted from sannyas lifestyle to the householder lifestyle.
Now Priyanath's sannyas created a strange situation in the Kriya world. He became "the pioneer agent" of bringing sannyas in the Kriya which was and still is totally an unnecessary factor. Bhattacharya personally did not believe about the story of meeting Babaji (maybe some Hindusthani Yogi, what the word Hindusthani means to a Bengali is the north Indian people), but not Babaji. He was right, in the context that Priyanath becoming a Swami (Swami Sriyukteswar Giri) not renouncing his parental home, just after entering into the order of Swami, returned to the house and lived there for the rest of his life.
One can raise valid questions. Which kind of renunciation was this for Priyanath? What was the necessity of renunciation of the world if he would continue to live in the same house? Lahiri Mahasay prevented consistently the temptation of his disciples by denying them permission to enter into the order of Swami just to maintain the household lifestyle of the Kriya practitioners like the ancient Risis.
It was Priyanatha's complex independent personality, as an accomplished astrologer, being immature in spirituality, jealous of name and fame, wanting to be the most important among the brother disciples which led him to behave like this.
Here is the important aspect of all this, when Sriyukteswar completed his booklet (Kaibalya Darsan - the Holy Science); he mentioned that Babaji met him at Roy/Rai ghat at Serampore near the Ganges. Sriyukteswar invited him to his house nearby, but the Hindusthani Yogi (Sriyukteswar thought Babaji) declined saying, "We are men under the tree." He meant that a sannyani's place is under the tree and NOT in a house; the house is the place of householders. That was the "clear indication" Babaji was teaching Sriyukteswar which kind of renunciation he was incorrectly following by living in the parental home like a householder. The most important question can be raised: did the real Babaji (or a manufactured or imagined one) address Priyanath 'Maharaj or Swamiji'? From Babaji's comment one can guess whether the yogi Priyanath met at the Allahabad Kumbha was Mahamuni Babaji, the Guru of Lahiri Mahasay, at all.
Priyanath knew that a Swami's image in the Vedic society is highly respected regardless of his spiritual achievements and that was the reason he was so eager to use the word Swami at the age of thirty-eight to get a head start on all brother disciples for establishing his name and fame. Unfortunately, even at the end of his life, at the age of eight-one, he had to fight for the same with his own dear disciple, Yogananda. That's a tragic case of spiritual immaturity of a giant astrologer!
Astrologers in general have a tendency to have public relations to build their reputation and name and fame; and some become professional astrologers and adopt the astrology as a business to make a living. Being able to predict with accuracy a happening in time does not help in spirituality which is eternal Realization beyond time and happenings.
Importance of Guru's verbal permission with blessing and what happens when there is no permission of the Guru
The story which explained Lahiri Mahasay's lack of confidence in Sriyukteswar:
The importance of Guru's blessing is absolutely necessary.
Let us explain with an example. Lahiri Mahasay used to give herbal medicine to his disciples, if they asked. He himself used to prepare them.
Lahiri Mahasay permitted Panchanan Bhattacharya, his chief disciple to make the medicine and give to others. He directed his disciples of Calcutta and Deoghar (Bihar) area to send requests to Panchanan Bhattacharya.
Besides, Panchanan Bhattacharya, he permitted another Bhattacharya (Ramarupa Bhattacharya, the father-in-law of Dukori Lahiri, Lahiri Mahasay's youngest son) in Bengal. Lahiri Mahasay used to visit Bisnupur in the district of Bankura.
Sriyukteswar his disciple happened to see Lahiri Mahasay prepare the medicine. Lahiri Mahasay knew that his astrological bent of mind disciple, Sriyukteswar might be tempted in this matter, and so he prepared the medicine in front of his disciple so that Sriyukteswar would definitely know the step-by-step physical process “without giving him permission to try it himself.” The valid reason was to teach his disciple, Sriyukteswar, the value of "verbal permission". One time, a very good friend of Sriyukteswar was in trouble, he was sick in such a degree that he could die. A close relative of his friend approached Sriyukteswar to save him.
Sriyukteswar started preparing the medicine as he saw how Lahiri Mahasay did it. At the end, suddenly Sriyukteswar found the quantity reduced to such a tiny quantity it was not worthwhile and could not do the job. So he started again preparing thinking he might have made a mistake; but at the end of the second preparation it happened again. Determined to be successful, he started the third time; but the same thing happened again. He realized something was wrong.
Sriyukteswar now was in big trouble, on the one hand, his good friend was in extremely critical condition and on the other hand he could not prepare the medicine.
He decided to seek help from his Guru, Lahiri Baba who was almost seven hundred miles away in Benares. He told the relative of his friend, "Do not worry. I am going get help for him".
When he arrived at Benares and entered the room of Lahiri Mahasay his Guru said, "What happened, you could not make it?"
Sriyukteswar fell on the feet of Lahiri Mahasay and said, "Baba! you have to save the life of my friend."
Sriyukteswar had no permission and blessing from his Guru to prepare the medicine, and that is why it was not working. Lahiri Mahasay still did not bless Sriyukteswar with the permission to prepare medicine because he could not trust Sriyukteswar on this issue who had an astrological bent of mind, and for that reason, Sriyukteswar was unusually tempted on this type of occasion, however Lahiri Mahasay did give him an herbal medicine and advised how to apply it to his friend.
This is the importance of Guru's verbal permission with blessing to be effective. This applies to Kriya also.
Yogananda's being a self-style Guru and initiation without the verbal blessings of the Guru would find the same fate as per the spiritual rules.
Violations of Traditions Founded Organizations and
Modified the Original Kriya Discipline
Yogananda commercialized the Kriya discipline. He made several unauthorized big changes (as seen in the section Yogananda's Deviations and Differences at a Glance) and thus he became the champion and the leader of the modified Kriya.
- Violation of Vedic tradition of Guru-Param-para (Master and disciple personal relationship).
- Founded an organization in violation of Babaji and Lahiri Mahasay's injunction.
- Modifications to the Original Kriya discipline.
1. Violation of Tradition:
Violating the Vedic tradition, Yogananda put Kriya in the marketplace for mass education and began to sell Lessons of correspondence course. He deviated from Guru-param-para (Master and disciple personal relationship) and basic, fundamental features of Guruvaktragamya (learning directly from the living lips of a Guru).
2. Starting Organizations:
- Self Realization Fellowship Church (SRFC) in 1935
- Yogoda Sat Sanga Society of India (YSS) in 1936
Once Yogananda set foot on the slippery slope of mass education, naturally a third step followed. Starting an organization was a violation of Babaji and Lahiri Mahasay's injunctions which he was fully aware of and admitted in his book:
"The great master [Lahiri Mahasay] lived his sublime life in partial seclusion, and steadfastly refused to permit his followers to build any organization around his teachings." Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda, 1979 paperback edition, p. 339
Yogananda admitted his mistake of starting an organization. Here is in his own handwriting:
[In Bengali dictionary (Sangsad Bangla Abhidhan by Sailen Biswas and Dr. Sasi Bhusan Dasgupta, head of the Bengali dept. Calcutta University), on page 200, the definition of the Bengali word Gukhuri (the word is rarely used, as it is uncultured slang) used by Yogananda in the quotation, is given in three ways. The sentence (though erroneous) can be translated into English in three ways]:
- "I have done such a horrible act like eating feces by starting an organization."
- "I have performed an absolutely foolish act by starting an organization."
- "I have committed a great blunder by starting an organization."
Removing the practice of Talabya Kriya or Khecharimudra - which is a precondition for practicing the Thokar, Omkar Kriyas and Brahmayonimudra - completely changed the Kriya practice and reduced it to something else which would be an unproven, new approach with uncertain or crazy fatal results.
These changes increased his followers – a greater number of them certainly would not qualify for Kriya which requires a special kind of body build anatomically speaking and temperament of mind as well.
Teaching of Philosophy of Prosperity - in Violation of Tradition
Here is the proof in his own handwriting for teaching prosperity:
[This place is losing $52 per day - for lack of organization - and since you think God will help us in spite of our unreasonableness - let it be so. Henceforth I will not exert my will to work the laws of prosperity - and you will have to accept conditions as they come].
[Please write to headquarters for prosperity banks like these enclosed (the copies of applications of the prosperity bank)].
Forty-two years before, his organization submitted a list of properties to the authorities. You have to imagine how much they have accumulated by now.
The proof of material success of the organization is the list of properties which the organization acquired and filed in 1971-72 at the Franchise Tax Board, Sacramento, California.
Thereafter, many more have accumulated.
Property with addresses filed in 1971-72 by S. R. F. are as follows:
|2 Bedroom House||4229 Camino Real, Los Angeles, CA 90065|
|5 Bedroom House||3980 San Rafael, Los Angeles, CA 90065|
|1 Story Steel Industrial Bldg.||2816-24 Newell St., Los Angeles, CA|
|Parking Lot||4874 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, CA|
|6 Unit Apartments Bldg.||1433-35 No. Catalina, Hollywood, CA|
|8 Unit Apartments Bldg.||1427-29 No, Catalina St., Hollywood, CA|
|8 Unit Apartments Bldg.||1415-1417 1/2 No. Catalina, Hollywood, CA|
|8 Unit Apartments Bldg.||1414 No. Edgemont, Hollywood, CA|
|3 5 Room Apartments and 1 3 Room Cottage||3040 - 72 First Ave, San Diego, CA 92103|
|3 Bedroom House||1800 W. Monroe St. Phoenix, AZ|
|1 Story Abode Cottage||72223 Juanita Rd., 29 Palms, CA|
|1 Story House on 7 acres of Land||10757 Fabian Lane, Beaumont, CA|
|Land||Andrew Ave at Sheridan, Leucadia, CA|
|House||17300 Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades, CA 90272|
|House||1153 Second St., Encinitas, CA 92024|
|House||4956 Genevieve Ave., Los Angeles, CA|
|House||Avenue 56, Los Angeles, CA|
|4 1/2 Story Apartment Bldg.(3 Stories are Apartments)||424-430 E Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA|
|9 Unit Apartment Bldg.||416 So. Monroe St., San Diego, CA|
|2 Bedroom Residence, Apartments, Parking Shed, and 25 Acres Land||387050 Orchard St., Beaumont, CA|
|40 Acres Land||Valpariso, Ind.|
|Apartment Bldg.||Long Beach, CA|
The List of Lawsuits
The material success of his organizations also brought problems. It seems that Yogananda showed the path of litigations, instead of liberation. Yogananda himself was involved in seven lawsuits.
A list is produced here from the public records of court documents. Some of the case references are as follows:
Conelius Conway vs. Swami Yogananda in 1925
Mr. Cornelius Conway of Berkeley, California, sued Yogananda, claiming that he had an agreement with Yogananda on Nov. 15, 1924 to devote his service to manage Yogananda's works as a general business director for a year. According to the agreement, he claimed approximately $35,000.00. Conway alleged the agreement was that he was to receive $10 out of each lesson plan that was selling for $25 and 10% from free will sources (gifts). He further alleged that Yogananda had received $54,075 for the lecture courses and $133,500.00 from free will sources (gifts). (These figures would translate into 2,163 students paying $25 each, resulting in a claimed payment from lessons owed to Mr. Conway of $21,630 and an additional $13,350 owed to him from gifts for a total of $34,980, rounded up to $35,000).
Conway was supposed to appear in the court by law to give a sworn deposition concerning the facts of his complaint as he had filed it without complying with the procedural requirement of signing it under oath; and he failed to appear.
Yogananda's attorney, Alfred Fuhrman immediately drafted an affidavit charging Conway with contempt of court and a warrant was issued by Judge John D. Murphey against Mr. Conway and placed in the hand of the Sheriff.
Attorney Alfred Fuhrman, who appeared for Yogananda communicated with attorney Charles Seccomb representing Conway and told Judge Murphey that he was informed by Seccomb that the lawyer knew nothing of why Conway failed to appear.
In a statement made out of court Fuhrman declared that when the case comes to trial he will prove that there was no such agreement with Conway and that no such amount has been collected by the Swami.
- Swami Yogananda vs. City of Miami, in the Federal District Court.
- Yogananda appealed in the Circuit Court in Maimi.
Yogananda appealed in the Florida State Supreme Court.
Swami Dhirananda vs. Swami Yogananda, Case No. 387 391, in the Superior Court of the State of California, in and for the County of Los Angeles, filed May 3, 1935.
In the above case No. 387 391, Swami Yogananda sued Swami Dhirananda back by filing a cross complaint through his attorney, Willedd Andrews. Cross-Complaint: Breach of contract, fraud and damages on May 10, 1935.
Again, in the above case No. 387 391, Yogananda filed his First Amended Cross-Complaint on May 31, 1935.
One more time, in the above case, Yogananda filed a Second Amended Cross-Complaint on June 28, 1935.
Nirod Ranjan Choudhuri, also known as Sri Nerode, vs. Swami Yogananda, also known as Mukunda Lal Ghosh: Swami Yogananda doing business as the Self Realization Fellowship Church: Self Realization Fellowship Church, Inc., Case No. 445, 883, in the Superior Court of California, in and for the County of Los Angeles, filed October 23, 1939.
C.W. Eley and Ella Eley vs. Paramhansa Yogananda, also known as Swami Yogananda, Self Realization Fellowship Church, in the Superior Court of the State of California, Case No. 504155 390, in and for the County of Los Angeles, filed July 26, 1945.
This was a case of breach of contract for buying some flowers (worth $80,000.00). SRF reneged on the order after paying for the first batch. The broker Mr. C.W. Eley and his wife, Mrs. Ella Eley, sued the defendants for breach of contract, fraud and damage.
Yogananda and SRF sued the Eley's back by filing a cross-complaint in this case.
Again, after three years, the above mentioned case was dismissed, the settlement signed by the both parties, which meant they mutually agreed on some proposal.
Yogoda Sat Sanga Society of India vs. Swami Hariharananda Giri of Puri, India, 1974-75.
Coastal Commission vs. Self Realization Fellowship in 1981.
Self Realization Fellowship vs. Coastal Commission (counter suit) in 1981.
Self Realization Fellowship Church (SRFC), a California corporation, plaintiff, vs. Church of Self Realization, a California corporation; Fellowship of Inner Communion, a California corporation, and James Donald Walters (also known as Sri Kriyananda), an individual, defendants, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Case No. CIV-S-90-0846 EJG EM, filed on July 2, 1990.
Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters) and Ananda Church of Self Realization, vs. Self Realization Fellowship Church and others in 1992.
In re Estate of Vernon Cary v. Self Realization Fellowship Church, Kern County California, Superior Court, Case No. 43035, Settled in 1994
In re Estate of Paulina B. Rima; Prado, etc. v. Self Realization Fellowship Church, New York County Supreme Court, Case No. 94 Civ. 9057 (MBM), Dismissal on July 13, 1994 pursuant to settlement.
Ms. Anne-Marie Bertolucci, Plaintiff vs. Ananda Church of Self Realization and Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters) and others, defendants, in 1996, in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Mateo, Case No. 390 230, date January 9, 1996.
In the same suit, on September 26, 1997, Ananda filed 13 "motions" in a bid to knock out plaintiff's case which they lost. They also filed a "cross-complaint" for defamation against the plaintiff and Yogananda's organization, Self Realization Fellowship Church, alleging "conspiracy;" but later on, they dropped it.
The Plaintiff sued the defendant for filing a frivolous claim (the cross-complaint), alleging conspiracy and slander when the defendant, Ananda Church of Self Realization and Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters) and others, dropped the "cross-compliant."
Patricia Lyons v. Self Realization Fellowship Church, Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. BC 184382, filed January 16,1998, Complaint for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, (Plaintiff was ex-employee of SRF).
Sunset Palisades, etc. v. Self Realization Fellowship Church, et al. Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. BC212613, filed June 25, 1999
Anne-Marie Bertolucci, an individual, plaintiff, vs. Ananda Church of Self Realization, A California religious corporation, James Donald Walters (also known as J. Donald Walters), an individual, defendants, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Case No. CIV-S-99-1439 LKK JFM, filed on June 27, 1999. Demand for Jury trial.
Anne-Marie Bertolucci, an individual, plaintiff, vs. Ananda Church of Self Realization, A California religious corporation, James Donald Walters (also known as J. Donald Walters), an individual, defendants, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Case No. CIV-S-99-1439 LKK JFM, filed on August 10 1999, Dismissal of Complaint (FRCP 41 (a) (1).
John F. Perry, Executor of the Estate of Richard C. Perry, V. Self Realization Fellowship Church, Estate No. 169476, filed on Aug. 4, file No. 2000-CV-29008, District Court.
Self Realization Fellowship Church, a California Corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant, VS Ananda Church of Self Realization, a California Corporation, Fellowship of Inner Communion, No 97-17407, at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, filed March 23, 2000.
In addition, between 1990 and 2000, Self Realization Fellowship has three personal injury/workers compensation cases and two labor actions.
It seems Yogananda showed the path of litigation instead of liberation.
3. The Kriya Modifications
Circumstances That Led to Modifications
Sriyukteswar, disciple of Lahiri Mahasay, had a rational, progressive, and scientific bent of mind and temperament. As a result, he was a giant astrologer. His teaching was influenced by astrology.
Sriyukteswar emphasized the astrological meanings of yuga in his book Kaibalya Darsan (“The Holy Science”) which may be appropriate in the light of astrology and science, but certainly not in the light of Kriya.
In contrast, Lahiri Mahasay defined yugas in the light of Kriya as follows:
“Satya yuga is to hold onto the Kutastha, or the inner Self.
“Treta yuga is to see the Kutastha.
“Dwapara yuga is to generate Happiness through Kriya practice, and
“Kali yuga is to initiate into Kriya.” The Gitas and Sanghitas, (Manusanghita) 1:86, p. 366-367, Commentaries by Lahiri Mahasay.
The message of Kaibalya Darsan (“The Holy Science”) is the message of Kriya. But also Sriyukteswar included a big introduction about astrology which is “irrelevant to the message”. His preoccupation with astrology caused him to accommodate it regardless of its irrelevancy to the message of the book.
Truth is Eternity beyond space and time. The message of Kriya is the message of Eternity, while Time in manifestation is the concern of astrology, to determine the accuracy of happenings.
Kriya is the science of Avyakta, inexplicable, unmanifested, ultimate or absolute Self; where as astrology is the science of manifestation in Time.
Eternity achieved through Kriya is the destroyer of manifestation and Time.
Sriyukteswar’s scientific mind failed to grasp the commentaries of the Bhagavad Gita by his Guru, Lahiri Mahasay. Sriyukteswar had admitted this to Satyananda who wrote the following in the introduction to Sriyukteswar’s Bhagavad Gita interpretation.INSERT DOCUMENT SCAN
The document says, “Arriving at Benares at the holy feet of my Gurudev [Lahiri Mahasay], I would listen to his interpretations [of the Bhagavad Gita], but his style and precise manner of explanation were difficult for me to follow. Occasionally, I would receive clarification from him through correspondence.
“As far as I was able to understand, I have reinterpreted the Bhagavad Gita in accordance with the scientific and philosophic attitude of our modern times [in other words, in the perspective of astrology].” Satyananda’s introduction to Sriyukteswar’s Bhagavad Gita Interpretation, Pp.1-2.
Sriyukteswar was aware of his limitations. As a result, he tried to preserve the spirit of original Kriya and passed it to Satyananda who had been initiated by Sastri Mahasay (Swami Kebalananda). Satyananda had been closely associated with Sastri Mahasay since his young days. Also they had lived together for a long time while both were teaching in Ranchi School, so they had twenty-seven long years of association.
That is why Sriyukteswar chose disciplinarian and rational Satyananda to be the leader of the East.
Sriyukteswar chose Yogananda as his emissary to the West. He thought liberal and devotional Yogananda could easily modify and adjust according to time and situation. Time is essence in astrology, especially in determining the course of happenings in manifestations.
Sriyukteswar did not receive Navi Kriya from Lahiri Mahasay. This Kriya primarily balances the subtle energy from Prana and Apana to direct to Samana (the tranquil and equilibrium state).
As a result, Yogananda did not know Navi Kriya.
In the original Kriya tradition, initiation is given personally, and Kriyas are also taught personally, that is, the disciple learns from the Guru, or Master, in person. It is called the Guru-param-para way. The scriptures call it the righteous way. The demonstrative classic scriptures on this point are as follows:
- The Yoga Vasistha Ramayana (where Yogi Vasistha, the Master, taught his student, Prince Rama, personally), and
- The Bhagavad Gita (where Lord Krisna, the Master, taught his disciple Prince Arjuna, personally).
It may be mentioned here that Yoga is not a matter of institutionalization; it is traditionally taught through the righteous way, that is, the Guru-param-para way.
In other words, the disciple learns from the living lips of a Guru in person having a personal relationship, and not from an institution or lessons.
The spirit of modification started with the scientific attitude and astrological spirit of Sriyukteswar. He simply passed it on to Yogananda.
Thus, Yogananda happened to be the tool of modifications, and he then became eager to introduce some kind of liberalism into the teachings of Kriya to popularize it for the masses.
Let us see in the words of Yogananda: “According to the law of change and progress, man’s views regarding his institutions undergo constant modifications.” “In a word, the minister should get away from the past and perform his duties with a rational point of view, and he should attempt to make the Church adjust itself to the new advanced thought. So as to be more Spiritual.” Inner Culture, September 1934, Page Twenty-three.
In fact, the case is the reverse. Thought and reason leave us at a certain stage and cannot take us further. It is by dissolving thoughts (regardless of their nature, tamasika, rajasika, and sattvika), and not by adjusting thoughts, that one can be spiritual.
Differences Between the Original Kriya Tradition and the Modified Kriya Mess
Let us again focus on the fundamental characteristics of the teaching of Yoga discipline. For this we will see what is said by Lahiri Mahasay, who is considered to be the “Polestar of the Kriya discipline”, as well as the holy Scripture’s prescription on the point.
“ The seeker receives the true Kriya of that state directly from the mouth of the Guru, or the Master.” Commentaries of Lahiri Mahasay, The Gitas and Sanghitas, (Manusanghita) 2:18, p. 385-386, by the present author.
Once Babaji said, “Those who are getting Kriya from unpermitted and unauthorized persons are not getting true Kriya, but rather they are receiving only information on Kriya.”
Therefore, according to Babaji, Lahiri Mahasay and the holy Scripture, until a person is initiated personally by the permitted master and has received Kriya from the mouth of his Guru, he has not in reality received initiation and Kriya.
Without initiation in a righteous way, nothing becomes operative.
The Guru-param-para, that is, learning through personal relationship, provides the vital points, such as Guru-sparsa, “touch of the Guru,” which provides the life (Prana) of the disciple during the initiation. Gurusakti, “the energy of the Guru,” gives birth to the disciple. In reality, the life of the disciple begins that day; it is the birthday of the disciple.
“The first birth is Kriya initiation. The second birth is to pass the air at the waist. The third birth is to receive Pranayam, or Omkar Kriyas. All these take place in the body.” Commentaries of Lahiri Mahasay, The Gitas and Sanghitas, (Manusanghita) 2:169, p. 419-420, by the present author.
That is why to receive Kriya from the mouth of the Guru and the personal relationship with the Guru is the life of the Kriya teachings.
Thus, the modified Kriya mess lacks the very life of Kriya, and it reduces the teachings of Kriya to as if in some academic institution.
Yogananda modified, rather deviated, from the tradition on this point and introduced correspondence lesson courses for mass education.
Yogananda introduced thirty seven (37) energizing techniques and made them part of Kriya discipline, rather part of the modified Kriya discipline. These are NOT at all a part of original Kriya tradition.
He found these techniques useful to inspire and motivate his Western devotees who love exercises.
In the original Kriya tradition, the Mahamudra is practiced in the beginning and serves as an energizing Kriya to shake the body. Mahamudra is based on the composition of Paschimuthasana of Hatha Yoga.
He changed the composition of Mahamudra from the original Kriya tradition.
He advised that Kriya be practiced while sitting on an armless chair, legs hanging and set on the ground.
This is a fundamental modification and deviation from the original pure Kriya tradition.
Yoga in general, and Kriya, in particular, require a sitting posture with legs folded. The prescribed posture is called Padmasana (lotus). All the ancient Yogis prescribed this Asana for practicing Raja or Kriya Yoga.
“In his method 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.” p. 168, Kriya Yoga written and published by Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta, Calcutta, 1979. (Dasgupta was Sriyukteswar’s disciple and Yogananda’s private secretary during 1935-1936).
In the higher stage, the body levitates. At that time the lotus posture serves to lock the body in position. What will happen to the legs which are in hanging position?
The original Kriya discipline being the Science of all sciences demands practice very strictly adhering to the rules lest everything be in vain.
Lahiri Mahasay wrote in his letter to his disciple as follows:INSERT DOCUMENT SCAN HERE
The document says, “Please practice according to the instructions; otherwise all will be a farce. [That is, the Kriyanwit will not get results].” Lahiri Mahasay’s Personal Letters to Kriya Disciples, p.66, by the author.
Yogananda introduced Hang Sa technique and OM technique which he preferred to call Baby Kriya, and these are not at all original Kriya. These are his introduction to modified Kriyas.
In the First Kriya (which he would prefer to call Kriya Proper) he brought three modifications:
He changed the numbers for the beginners.
He changed the instructions of the original Kriya and introduced the counting at the end of inhaling. In Original Kriya there are specific instructions at the end of both inhaling and exhaling.
He advised the practitioner to bring attention from behind to the front underneath the head which is not possible for definite physiological reasons according to Swami Pranabananda, disciple of Lahiri Mahasay. The Scripture supports the original Kriya tradition and in that respect the comment of Pranabananda.
Sriyukteswar did not teach Khecharimudra to Yogananda because he observed that Yogananda had already learned it from Sastri Mahasay (Kebalananda).
Although, in fact, Yogananda was initiated by Sastri Mahasay whom he used to address as Guru Maharaj-ji prior to coming to the U.S.A., for some reason afterwards, Yogananda preferred to be identified as the disciple of Sriyukteswar whom he used to call Jnana Guru Maharaj.
At that time, Sastri Mahasay was a householder disciple of Lahiri Mahasay, and Yogananda had been made Swami by Sriyukteswar. Perhaps, being a Swami, he preferred to mention Swami Sriyukteswar as his Jnana Gurudev over Sastri Mahasay. It may be pointed out here that in spite of his friends’ criticisms in India for his apparent changing of Gurus, Yogananda never showed disrespect to Sastri Mahasay. Rather he treated him with respect.
Since Yogananda did not learn Khecharimudra from Sriyukteswar, he did not teach Khecharimudra to his disciples.
Talabya Kriya, or Khecharimudra, Its Far Reaching Implications and Yogananda
It will be appropriate to recapitulate once again what we have mentioned before about Talabya Kriya and its implications in this chapter, “The Kriya Science Modifications.”
In the Original Kriya, successful Talabya Kriya or Khecharimudra qualifies a Kriyanwit to receive higher Kriyas, that is the Kriyas of the Tranquil Breath (the Omkar Kriyas). Talabya Kriya helps to achieve the state of Tranquil breath while practiced in conjunction with Pranayam. That is why it becomes a milestone or essential precondition before a Kriyanwit is introduced to the Omkar Kriyas which require a special procedure to adopt and only successful Talabya Kriya or Khecharimudra can easily provide it.
In the words of Lahiri Mahasay, “Putting the tongue into the head or to the area between the eyebrows” provides one to be able to connect the individual self of the seeker to the cosmic Consciousness or inner Consciousness of the inner Self, the Kutastha.
In the original Kriya tradition, Khecharimudra is very essential. One must be initiated into it directly from the permitted teacher. It is so important that in the original Kriya tradition, nobody is initiated without it into the second Kriya and all the remaining higher Omkar Kriyas.
Khecharimudra provides a special capacity (resulting in the second birth into the Kriya path), which is required to function in the special procedure which is adopted in the higher Kriyas, and without this capacity, or second birth, Om-kar Kriyas simply do not become operative, no matter how perfect one is practicing them.
The life of the practice of higher Kriyas is gone if the blessings of Khe-charimudra are missing. It should be mentioned here that it is fatal to practice those Omkar Kriyas without Khecharimudra.
Successful Khecharimudra, or Talabya Kriya, as Lahiri Mahasay men-tioned, provided a capacity to connect the seeker to the Kutastha, the inner Self, the eternal Master. At this stage the seeker becomes Dwija, “the twice born.”
When a Kriyanwit seeker in original Kriya tradition succeeds in Talabya Kriya, he is initiated into higher Omkar Kriyas. This is the Kriyanwit seeker’s third birth.
Practicing higher Kriyas, that is, Omkar Kriyas, without Talabya Kriya, brings a qualitative change in the approach of Kriya Science. With this significant modification, whether the approach or practice remain a Kriya approach is very much questionable.
Yogananda, Sriyukteswar’s emissary to the West, who did not learn Talabya Kriya from him, reduced the importance of Talabya Kriya from “must” to “may.” At least, that is what the author was told by Yogananda’s dear and close Western disciple, president of SRF and YSS, in their second meeting, one to one, at Calcutta in November, 1972.
Liberal Yogananda was trying to respect the original Kriya tradition by indicating that he was the last Guru, or Master, of his line of teachings since he dropped the teaching of Talabya Kriya, or Khecharimudra.
As mentioned before, in the original Kriya tradition, nobody is initiated in the second Omkar Kriya, or higher Kriyas, without Talabya Kriya. Yogananda modified the teaching and taught Omkar Kriyas without introducing Talabya Kriya at all.
“Another startling innovation introduced [by Yogananda] that Second or the Third Kriya was allowed to be practised without having to do Khechari Mudra. All these innovations or rather deviations from the regular methods [Original Kriya Tradition] could not find favour with devotees and lovers of Kriya Yoga. It is pertinent to note that an American intellectual, Dr. Wendel Thomas, an American professor, - in his book Hinduism Invades America (New York, 1930) while eulogising the broadness of outlook of Swami Yogananda and comparing him as the best among all the Hindu Missionaries that ever came to America, pinpointing adoption of American methods by him remarked, ‘He has plunged headlong into American life ... who knows if the message itself is not changed in the long run.’ ” Kriya Yoga, p.168, written and published by Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta, Calcutta, 1979.
Observing the average American’s physical construction, in his time, Yogananda, instructed his students to sit on a chair instead of on the floor with folded legs or lotus posture for their Kriya practice. Perhaps, for the same reason he dropped advising Khecharimudra to his students. He may have thought that the practice of Khecharimudra might horrify them.
The author feels embarrassed to point this out, but remembering Babaji’s instruction, and considering that someone has to tell the hard Truth, he must mention that this is a very significant change, or modification. The implications are so far-reaching that the entire practice would lose the credibility of being called the Kriya approach.
In his teaching of Omkar Kriyas, Yogananda made three changes:
He modified the nature of the head movement.
He changed the place for Viksha (begging).
Also, his teaching instructs that the last three aksaras of the Mantra be put in places which are different than in original Kriya tradition.
If the Mantra is chanted in the wrong places, bad results are produced. Lahiri Mahasay clearly wrote in two of his Letters to the Disciples that one should practice strictly according to the instructions.
“Many put attention in each center and do not make Japa in each center. In this case, the practice becomes negative. Therefore, during the practice of Pranayam, or Kriya, Japa should be made properly at the six centers in the Spine.” Lahiri Mahasay’s Personal Letters to Kriya Disciples, p. 58, by the author.
"Making oneself interiorized during inhaling and exhaling, Japa should be proper at each center. If such Japa is not practiced strictly according to the instructions, then the Kriya practice becomes negative.” Lahiri Mahasay’s Personal Letters to Kriya Disciples, p. 58, by the author.
In his teaching, Yogananda made no mention of the Fifth Omkar Kriya and all the remaining higher Kriyas simply because he was not taught by Sriyukteswar who himself did not receive these from Lahiri Mahasay.
It would be appropriate to mention some references here on this point. The references of Sixth and Seventh Kriyas are found in the letters of Lahiri Mahasay’s disciples.
“I practice in the evening as follows: Pranayam 108, the second Pranayam 28, the third Pranayam with thokar 175, the fourth 200, the fifth 200 and the sixth 175, Mahamudra 9.” p. 44, Lahiri Mahasay’s Personal Letters to Kriya Disciples by the author. I practice according to the instructions of Dukori Dada [Dada means elder brother, while word Vai is an affectionate Bengali term for younger brother], 144 the first, 144 the second, 144 the third, 288 the work of meditation, staying inside, 336 the fifth [Kriya], with Mantras, and in tranquility 12 X 14 the sixth [Kriya] with Mantras, and later the seventh [Kriya].” p, 68, Lahiri Mahasay’s Personal Letters to Kriya Disciples by the author.
The reference of the fifth Kriya is found in the Lahiri Mahasay’s reply.
“When some Kriyanwits receive higher [Uccha] Kriya, then they think they shall not have to practice Pranayam. For this reason sometimes among the advanced Kriyanwits there is confusion. You should practice six hundred Pranayam, fifty/sixty Mahamudra, Navi Kriya and the fourth and fifth Kriya.” Lahiri Mahasay’s Personal Letters to Kriya Disciples, Pp.38 and 40, by the author.
In fact, there are 108 steps of Kriyas in the original Kriya discipline.
Yogananda during his young days, learned meditation from the Radha Swami group. They emphasized meditation on Jyoti (Light) and Nada (Sound). He was benefited by the Light in his life on many occasions. He was so influenced by the Light that he even named a mudra for it, called Jyotimudra. There is no reference in the Vedic Scripture of Jyotimudra.
In fact, there is Yonimudra in the original Kriya. As a matter of fact, Yogananda took some part of Yonimudra, especially the Light aspect of it, and called it Jyotimudra, since the word Jyoti in Sanskrit means “Light.”
(Note – Yoni literally means, sex organ, birth place. In Kriya, it means the place of creation of the individual self, that is, Kutastha, in between the eyebrows.)
In teaching his Jyotimudra, Yogananda changed the positions of the index fingers from the original Kriya tradition, so that the practitioner could easily have a glimpse of the flash of light between the eyebrows due to the pressure on points of meridian lines.
Thus, one assumes the flash of light generated in this way to be inner Light. In fact, inner Light, as well as inner Sound, are produced and generated from the “tranquil Breath”.
The flash of light produced from the pressures on the nerves is not inner Light, not to speak of tranquil inner Light; since it is not produced from the tranquil Breath generated through the practice of Pranayam.
In reality, Talabya Kriya, or Khecharimudra, helps transcend three sensations (smelling, tasting and touching). Yonimudra helps transcend two sensations (seeing and hearing - that is, light and sound).
In the original Kriya tradition, one is advised to practice both the mudras integratedly and simultaneously to dissolve the operation of the five sensations.
The question arises: Since Kriya is a positive science, if the integrative aspect of the approach to Kriyas is disturbed, how could the practice dissolve five sensations simultaneously, when major parts which deal with four sensations are dropped from the practice? The obvious answer is that it is doubtful.
To put it in plain English, can anyone fill up a pot with water, pouring from the top, when there are four big holes at the bottom? You know the answer.
A devotee commented the other day, that perhaps, observing his Western followers’ difficulties, Yogananda, being kind, simplified the Kriya approach for them.
Towards the end of dissolution of the individual self, according to the original Kriya tradition, integration of Talabya Kriya, Yonimudra and Omkar Kriyas is very much necessary.
On the contrary, in the modified Kriya trend Talabya Kriya is dropped, Yonimudra is partly practiced in the form of Jyotimudra, and Omkar Kriyas are practiced with several modifications without first doing anything with Talabya Kriya.
So the question remains to be answered as to whether the modified Kriya trend would work for the practitioner? Is it possible to conduct an experiment in the laboratory of physics (physical body of the seeker) when all the equipment is assembled on the table and the electricity, that is, the power line (in this case, the Talabya Kriya, or Khecharimudra) is not connected?
During the author’s stay at Ranchi in October, 1972, he wanted to test the spirit of the joint secretary YSS (American) whether the joint secretary could digest the author’s outspoken character.
The author asked him, “Perhaps, you have heard by now, that there is a controversy in India about Yogananda’s teachings of Kriya in a liberal way; what are your comments about the modifications of the integrated aspect of Kriya by Yogananda?”
He said, “Guruji [he meant Yogananda; the author is not aware if he has met Yogananda at all.] experimented, then taught.”
Then the author asked him, “What can you tell me about your president? She came first time to India known as sister. Now the printed papers here say Mata (means mother). She was then president, the head of your organization, so who made her Mata? ”
The joint secretary did not reply to the question. He prepared to leave abruptly. Then the author asked him, “If nobody made her such, then was it self-styled?” He then left speedily and entered the office leaving the author in the verandah of Ranchi asram. His actions were understood. The author then left to go to the garden on the campus.
The joint secretary’s comment brings another question. A realized person’s experimental techniques have every chance of being influenced by his own realized state, but whether or not this would be workable and beneficial to the ignorant and ordinary seeker is questionable.
Yogananda, the popular leader of the modified and bhakti (devotion) blend Kriya, is widely known throughout the world. To get a complete picture, in the following pages are six dots that are connected. These are things he wrote about himself in his autobiography and personal letters and by his close dear ones, such as his “Indian private secretary,” Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta, a student of Swami Satyananda at Ranchi, disciple of Sriyukteswar, and by his American dear disciple (known as Durga Ma), and also what was published in the magazine of his organization and in the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper.
- Yogananda cannot sleep alone in a room
- Yogananda’s cajoling or gossiping with his followers
- Yogananda’s Spiritual Interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita
- Yogananda on the Loyalty Issue
- About the I-ness of Yogananda
I. Yogananda cannot sleep alone in a room
"In 1935, when he [Yogananda] and Richard Wright were at that palace at Westminster, Yoganandaji said to Wright, 'You walk behind me. Immediately after I enter the palace, I will tell you which room is where before we ever get there; you'll see, everything will match up.' Wright said later that Swamiji was right every time about the location of the different rooms. Swamiji himself was there at the telling of this event, and Wright was bearing witness to Swamiji's description of the incident. There was no sense of any kind of 'but' [hesitation] in Swamiji's behavior at all!
"[A yogi who has a bit of yogic power can easily predict these kinds of things; although a real Yogi would not use yogic power an, be involved in such insignificant event.]
"Apparently, in yet another life, he was a vicious and murderous desert marauder. While describing this, Swamiji shivered with horror from time to time, although he maintained a slight smile on the outside.
"Swami Satyanandaji had said that before Yoganandaji went to America and was living at the Ranchi Brahmacharya Vidyalaya, one night, he screamed out from his room. He said that a cot [bed] penetrated through his closed door and a horrible being was seated upon that cot. From that time on, a student would sleep in a separate cot in his room. Yoganandaji said that if he slept alone, he saw many different beings, and some of the times he woke up in fear." Paramhansa Swami Yogananda - Life-portrait and Reminiscences by Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta, private secretary of Yogananda in 1935-36], Chapter 7 Epilogue, page 128- 129.
From these stories several things can be observed:
- Common sense tells us that perhaps those souls whom Yogananda murdered in another previous life were out to get him in his subsequent life and that is why disembodied souls appeared to him as horrible beings and perhaps they would continue to haunt him in revenge. What a predicament and nightmare!
- In this connection, it should be remembered that a realized person does not dream or does not see such things.
- A realized person is always fearless day and night, even during his sleep; he is always in tune with the state of sahaja samadhi, spontaneous state of the supreme Self.
- The above-mentioned information also explains why at Yogananda’s main center at Mount Washington the young Mormon (a Christian group who used to practice polygamy) girl devotees were going in and out of his suite all night every night – according to the following report.
It was reported in Los Angeles Examiner, Wednesday, October 25, 1939 as follows:
"Swami Sought in Damage Suit. Determined that he shall not become a vanishing Hindu, process servers were conducting a far-flung search yesterday for Swami Yogananda, Indian cultist accused, in a sensational $500,000 damage suit, of amazing goings on with feminine followers...
"TEACHES HE IS GOD...
"Picturing highly irregular practices in the cult quarters on Mount Washington, the plaintiff declared that the swami 'has young girls in the immediate vicinity of his room going in and out at all hours of the night.'
"The young girls are kept segregated from older women, Chowdhury charges adding: 'Young girls [most of them were Mormon] have free access to the rooms of said Swami Yogananda and that said Swami Yogananda forbids men and forbids them to go out at all except with him.'
"[Not being able to sleep alone, probably Yogananda made such arrangements for his own safety from the horrible beings’ chase. However, from the point of view of Vedic culture, it is prohibited, also it looked odd.]"
II. Yogananda’s cajoling or gossiping with his followers
A quotation is found in the Self
Realization Magazine, of Yogananda’s organization.
“... one of the monks asked Paramhansaji a direct question: “Sir, are you an avatar? ”
“The Master’s answer was: “Yes. A teaching of this importance could not have been brought by a lesser one.” Self Realization Magazine, Spring 1985, Page 24.
“Master Tells Me Of His Arjuna Incarnation
“January 6, 1951, after Master’s birthday, because Rajasi [spelling should be Rajarsi] was not well, Master came to the hermitage to see him. … … “Rajasi led Master to the chair he was sitting on and made Master sit in it, they talked for a long time holding hands. Rajasi had to leave the room for a little while. In that precious time Master asked me, ‘Who do you think I was in the distant past, who could have better written the Gita in this life?’ Several years before I had asked Master if he was Arjuna, but he did not answer for he was not ready to divulge his secret yet. By the way Master asked the question, I answered, ‘Vyasa the writer of the Gita.’ Master said, ‘No, but I remember you had asked me years ago if I was Arjuna,’ then I joyfully exclaimed, ‘You were Arjuna,’ he smiled his, ‘Yes.’ I then asked him if Rajasi was with him at that time. He answered, Yes, he was one of the twins, the positive one, Nakula. He was my favorite brother and I loved him more than anyone else. I was also his Guru then too. Krishna was my guru and Babaji, being Krishna, is still my guru, Sri Yukteswarji was my guru by proxy for Babaji,’ I then asked him if I was also with him at that time, he looked at me and said, ‘Sure, you were.’ I asked him if I was a man or a woman, he answered, ‘You were a woman, you have been a woman for a long time and you will continue to be, a long time to come.’ I then asked who I was, he answered, ‘I don’t have to tell everything.’ I just said, ‘I suppose I was one of the mothers who went around looking for her loved one who had fallen on the battlefield.’ Master smiled and then Rajasi came back into the room. Master left very shortly after that for Twenty-nine Palms.”
A Paramhansa Yogananda Trilogy of Divine Love, Chapter – My Life and Service to My Guru. Page 50 by Durga Ma, an important lady disciple of Yogananda.
It would be appropriate to narrate
the relevancy to Yogananda’s Gita interpretations. One has to bear in
mind that admittedly Yogananda was weak in Sanskrit in which language the
Bhagavad Gita is written. His handwritten letters in English and
Bengali (his mother language) published in the title: The Original Kriya,
ISBN 1-877854-42-5, revealed he was weak in both these languages.
III. Yogananda’s Spiritual Interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita
Sriyukteswar had published only
nine chapters out of eighteen of his Gita interpretations in the
first edition. In the early 30’s when Satyananda approached Sriyukteswar
to permit him to reproduce his Gita interpretations, he gladly gave
his permission to Satyananda. Sriyukteswar told Satyananda, “Somehow,
in those days in my interpreting the Bhagavad Gita some ambiguities
remained; those needed to be straightened before reprint.” In this regard,
a little work had been started but was stopped. Then, Satyananda found the
drafts of the remaining nine chapters, and published them in the second edition
in 1948. Once Satyananda told the author, “Yogananda wanted to have
the copyright of Sriyukteswar’s Gita. I wanted to give it to
him, but the people around me stopped me from doing so.” When Yogananda
could not get the copyright of Sriyukteswar’s Gita in 1949
(from where he was copying), he made a special effort to complete his own
Gita interpretations which were published by his organization gradually
in their Self Realization Magazine. The fall issue completed it in 1975.
It is interesting to note that Sriyukteswar referred to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali when he was interpreting the Bhagavad Gita, especially in those verses of the first chapter where the historical names of the generals of the war are mentioned. Yogananda then copied the main points of Sriyukteswar’s presentation including Sriyukteswar’s references to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. What was added was the aspect of devotion. Unfortunately, Yogananda somehow forgot to mention Sriyukteswar’s name even though much of his writing is but a verbatim translation of Sriyukteswar’s original. Strictly speaking, it could be said that Yogananda had just plagiarized Sriyukteswar’s work. This is the inside story or background of Yogananda’s Gita interpretations.
(The author has translated Sriyukteswar’s Gita interpretation from Bengali and Sanskrit into English in its entirety and published The Bhagavad Gita – Sriyukteswar’s Interpretations, ISBN 1-877854-12-3).
IV. Yogananda on the Loyalty Issue
“Not sensing Sri Yukteswar’s reluctance to have me leave him, I went on, “Once you beheld the blessed sight of Babaji at an Allahavad Kumbha. Perhaps this time I shall be fortunate enough to see him.”
“I [Sriyukteswar] do not think you will meet him [Mahamuni Babaji] there.” Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda, page 461, Eleventh edition, paperback
Sriyukteswar tried his best to prevent Yogananda from going, but wanting to see Mahamuni Babaji at least once in his lifetime was so intense in Yogananda’s mind that Sriyukteswar’s attempts to stop him failed. In spite of Sriyukteswar's unequivocal, explicit advice not to go to Kumbhamela, Yogananda attended it. He could not afford to lose the unique opportunity of a life time to have Babaji's darsan. Babaji did not come to Kumbhamela that year for the same reason and so he informed Brahmachari Kesavananda (Disciple of Lahiri Mahasay) ahead of time to inform it to Yogananda which Sriyukteswar had informed him before. Yogananda learned the hard way. Yogananda did not know that Babaji did not give darsan or interfere in the chain of command of Guru-param-para. To Babaji, Yogananda was the responsibility of Sriyukteswar as once Babaji pointed out to Lahiri Mahasay to initiate some other disciples of Lahiri Mahasay’s previous life at Dunagiri Hill. Himalayas. They approached him for initiation. Babaji said to Lahiri Mahasay, "I have no business [relation as Guru and disciple] with them. You have business with them [meaning they were Lahiri Mahasay’s previous life's disciples]." This is the position of Babaji and how he maintains the strict decorum of the chain of command of Guru-param-para. We do not have factual evidence that Yogananda met Babaji in his life time.
V. About the I-ness of Yogananda
Let us see Yogananda’s I-ness status in his own handwriting:
October 22, 1937
Dear Mrs. Nerode,
… I will give up my Iness to create an organization. As I realize that’s the way I will find reasonableness and the way to imperishable peace.
My deep blessings to you, Sri Nerode [Nirad Ranjan Choudhuri] and Anil.
Ever yours, Very sincerely,
In the light of Yogananda’s
above handwritten letter, it looks like his understanding was that his “imperishable
peace” would come through his next contemplated ‘would be organization’
which he could not achieve through two organizations already founded: Self
Realization Fellowship in 1935 and Yogoda Sat Sanga Society of India in 1936.
It seemed his understanding that “imperishable peace” would come
through organizations and so Yogananda was obsessed with starting organization
after organization (which Mahamuni Babaji and Lahiri Mahasay explicitly prohibited
for good reasons). A valid question arises: Since he did not start his considered
next organization, did Yogananda attain his “imperishable peace”?
Another example of Yogananda's loyalty and I-ness (egoism or individuality):
“The days were
passing by. Gurudev Sriyukteshvarji began to feel that it was time to take
care of the matters which he could not carry out until Yoganandaji returned
to India. Gurudev wanted to tie up the issues of the transference of his familial
property rights, which included the Karar ashram in Puri, and the distribution
of almost 150,000 rupees worth of liquid finances [savings, or cash]. Once
these things were legally settled, he could prepare for his final journey.
[It should be remembered here that in the Vedic tradition, in the ceremony of entering into the order of Swami, a sanyasi renounces his family and all rights including the family properties and departs from home, never to enter there within twelve years. In that light, Sriyukteswar did not have any right to his family properties.]
Among the assets were the beautiful and immense two storey [sic] mansion with surrounding property in Serampore and quite a good amount of abadi [functional] land in a village [near Dankuni area] in the Hoogly district. The Puri ashram and the previously mentioned finances were already designated for the Sadhu Sabha [Sriyukteswar’s organization]. Sriyukteshvarji wished for the Puri ashram to be used for the research and practice of astronomy and astrology, and the finances were to be used to fund that endeavor. He had already begun to set up a kind of observatory on the ashram premises modeled somewhat after the ‘yantar mantar’ types of structures in Jaipur, Delhi and Benares. A nephew of his named Manu lived with Maharaj ji at his Serampore house. This man had no means of income, nor did he do any kind of job. It has been heard that Gurudev wished to leave all of the village land to Manu, and the rest, including Priyadham – his Serampore home, the Puri ashram and aforementioned savings, to the institution directed by Yoganandaji.
[As mentioned above, the new sanyasi leaves his home, but in Sriyukteswar's case, being a sanyasi, he did not follow the traditional rules. He stayed in his home and virtually converted it into an ashram.]
“Guru [Sriyukteswar] and his dear disciple [Yogananda] discussed all of this and decided to form a legal deed which would connect all of the organizational branches of India and America under one institution. The responsibility of preparing the paperwork was given to an established attorney by the name of Roy Choudhury from the High Court area. The central organization was to be named ‘Yogoda Satsanga Society of India and America,’ with Sriyukteshvar Giri as its founder and Swami Yogananda as its president.
[Under the circumstances, with due respect to the old Swami, it would be fair to say that he had no business to propose to transfer the rights of the family, which he already relinguished as per the spirit of sanyas in the Vedic tradition.]
On the day the deed was to be witnessed and signed, everyone went to the attorney’s office. Guru Maharaj Sriyukteshvarji was driven there by Sananda Lal [Yogananda’s younger brother]. Satyanandaji and several others were also present. The agreement started that Sadhu Sabha [Sriyukteswar’s organization] and all of the branches of Yogoda Satsanga, including all of the property and funds of both organizations, would be merged as one under a new name. At the time of signing, this came out of Yoganandaji’s mouth: ‘I was really the one who did everything …’ – meaning the title of founder, particularly because of America, where the entire institution was founded by him. Sriyukteshvarji Maharaj was shocked; he looked at Yoganandaji’s face for a second, took his walking stick and marched out of the attorney’s office directly to Sananda Lal’s car, and went back. Everyone was absolutely dumbstruck by this and completely unexpected and unimaginable event.
“Thus Sriyukteshvarji’s heart’s desire – leaving all that belonged to him to his worthy disciple -- was never carried out. Sriyukteshvarji was so wounded by Yoganandaji’s behavior at that time that, on that very day, Gurudev gave up all hope of a future for his institution [which was not supposed to be started in the first place as per Babaji and Lahiri Mahasay’s injunction.]
“When the writer [S. B. Dasgupta] met Sananda Lal for the last time in 1978 [42 years later], this event was brought up. Sananda Lal said at that time, ‘Swamiji Maharaj [Sriyukteshvarji] was so angry while we were riding in the car that he said: ‘That is not self-will; that is unlawful conduct.’ ’ ” Paramhansa Swami Yogananda – Life-portrait and Reminiscences by Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta, private Secretary of Yogananda and Sriyukteswar’s disciple, p. 96-97