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This article is about the Kriya Yoga taught by the various Lahiri Mahasaya lineages. For other Kriya Yoga lineages, see Kriya.
Kriya Yoga
Religious origins: Hinduism
Regional origins: India
Founding Guru: Mahavatar Babaji gave to Lahiri Mahasaya
Mainstream popularity: Paramahansa Yogananda popularised Kriya Yoga in the West
Practice emphases: Kriya Yoga Pranayama
Derivative forms:
Related schools
Other topics

Kriya Yoga is a very specific system of Yoga that was revived in modern times by Lahiri Mahasaya, c 1861. Paramahansa Yogananda brought it into widespread public awareness through his book Autobiography of a Yogi. The system consists of a number of yogic techniques that hasten the practitioner's spiritual development and help to bring about a profound state of tranquility and God-communion.

Yogananda writes that, "The Kriya Yogi mentally directs his life energy to revolve, upward and downward, around the six spinal centers (medullary, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal plexuses) which correspond to the twelve astral signs of the zodiac, the symbolic Cosmic Man. One-half minute of revolution of energy around the sensitive spinal cord of man effects subtle progress in his evolution; that half-minute of Kriya equals one year of natural spiritual unfoldment." [1]


Ancient and medieval history

Yogananda says that Krishna refers to Kriya Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita:

"Offering inhaling breath into the outgoing breath, and offering the outgoing breath into the inhaling breath, the yogi neutralizes both these breaths; he thus releases the life force from the heart and brings it under his control."[2]

Also, that Krishna was referring to Kriya Yoga when "Krishna … relates that it was he, in a former incarnation, who communicated the indestructible yoga to an ancient illuminato, Vivasvat, who gave it to Manu, the great legislator. He, in turn, instructed Ikshwaku, the father of India’s solar warrior dynasty." [3]

Yogananda says that Patanjali was referring to Kriya Yoga when he wrote "Kriya Yoga consists of body discipline, mental control, and meditating on Aum."[4] And again when he says,"Liberation can be accomplished by that pranayama which is attained by disjoining the course of inspiration and expiration."[5]

Yogananda also wrote (see Sri Yukteswar Giri in The Holy Science) that Arjuna, Adi Shankara, Jesus, Paul of Tarsus, John the Evangelist and Kabir had been initiated into Kriya Yoga (or similar techniques).

Recent history

According to Yogananda, Kriya Yoga was well-known in ancient India, but was eventually lost, due to "priestly secrecy and man’s indifference." The story of Lahiri Mahasaya receiving initiation into Kriya Yoga by the immortal yogi Mahavatar Babaji in 1861 is recounted in Autobiography of a Yogi.[6] At that meeting, Yogananda wrote that Mahavatar Babaji told Lahiri Mahasaya, "The Kriya Yoga that I am giving to the world through you in this nineteenth century, is a revival of the same science that Krishna gave milleniums ago to Arjuna; and was later known to Patanjali and Christ."

Through Lahiri Mahasaya, Kriya Yoga soon spread throughout India. Yogananda, a disciple of Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri who was himself a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya, then brought Kriya Yoga to the United States and Europe during the 20th century. Since that time it has spread throughout the world through various Guru lineages, most of which claim descent from Lahiri Mahasaya.

Lahiri Mahasaya's most well-known disciples were Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, Sri Panchanon Bhattacharya, Swami Pranabananda, Swami Kebalananda, Swami Keshabananda, and Bhupendranath Sanyal (Sanyal Mahasaya).

Kriya Yoga lineages

There are numerous organizations and teachers that present themselves as teaching the Kriya Yoga that Lahiri Mahasaya brought to the world. Following are some of them, arranged by the Guru lineage from which they descended.

That trace their source to Lahiri Mahasaya, through various branches

  • Kriya Yoga Institute, founded by Paramahamsa Hariharananda, a direct disciple of Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri.
  • Kriya Yoga Foundation (various practice groups in most European countries, Russia and India), founded by Swami Shankarananda Giri, a direct disciple of Swami Narayana Giri (Prabhujee) who in turn was one of the closest disciples of Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri.
  • The filial lineage of Lahiri Mahasaya continues in the person of Shibendu Lahiri, the great-grandson of Lahiri Mahasaya.
  • Yogacharya Dr.Ashoke Kumar Chatterjee is a disciple of Satya Charan Lahiri Mahasaya, grandson of Lahiri Mahasaya.
  • Sri Shailendra Sharma is a disciple of Shree Satya Charan Lahiri Mahasaya, one of the grandsons of Lahiri Mahasaya.
  • Yogi Prakash Shankar Vyas is a disciple of Satya Charan Lahiri Mahasaya, grandson of Lahiri Mahasaya.
  • Swami Satyeswarananda Giri is a disciple of Swami Satyananda Giri, a direct disciple of Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri.

That trace their source to Lahiri Mahasaya through Paramahansa Yogananda

  • Self-Realization Fellowship, founded by Paramahansa Yogananda.
  • Yogoda Satsanga Society of India founded by Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Ananda, founded by Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda.
  • Center for Spiritual Awareness, founded by Roy Eugene Davis, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda.
  • Self-Revelation Church of Absolute Monism, founded by Swami Premananda, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda.
  • Cross and Lotus organization, founded by Yogacharya Mildred Hamilton, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda.
  • Song of the Morning Retreat Center, Founded by Yogacharya Oliver Black, a direct disciple of Yogananda.
  • Temple of Kriya Yoga, founded by Goswami Kriyananda, Disciple of Shri Shelliji, direct Disciple of Yogananda.
  • Center for Spiritual Enlightenment, founded by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian, a direct disciple of Roy Eugene Davis.


  1. Autobiography of a Yogi, 1946, by Paramhansa Yogananda, chapter 26.
  2. Bhagavad Gita IV:29
  3. Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 26, referring to Bhagavad Gita IV:1-2
  4. Patanjali Aphorisms, II:1. Translation by Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 26
  5. Patanjali Aphorisms, II:49. Translation by Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 26
  6. Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 34, Materializing a Palace in the Himalayas, by Paramhansa Yogananda

External links


  • The Science of Kriya Yoga from the First Edition of Autobiography of a Yogi written by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1946
  • Yoga Niketan a free online library of Bengali Kriya Yoga and Kriya Yoga related manuscripts translated into English. Includes books by Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Pranabananda, and others.

Kriya Yoga Teachers and Organizations

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