I bow to the Guru, I bow to the Guru’s Guru, I bow to the great Guru, I bow to the supreme Guru, I bow to the Guru of the universe (God), I bow to the Self as the Guru, I bow to the inner Self, I bow to the supreme Self, I seek only the grace of the Guru, I seek only the grace of God, only God is Truth.
When we see someone, we get up from our seat, walk towards that person and receive him or her with a smile. This is known asabhivadana. In the West, people greet each other with a handshake, hug, or kiss. A common Indian practice is to fold the hands and bow.
Folding the hands (putting two hands together) is a symbol. It symbolizes that “you and I are one.” The two hands together also show that every one of us has two aspects, body and soul, and the body and soul are united together just like two hands. The mudra is a symbol of yogic philosophy that we all are united in God. Furthermore, on two hands there are ten fingers, which symbolize al the ten sense organs existing and working together for your service.
The Taittiriya Upanishad declares: atihi devo bhava, “consider the guest as God.” It means that we should have the attitude that all our sense organs, mind, intellect, and everything belongs to God as guests.
In India, the people fold the hands to greet a person, keeping the folded hands near the middle of the chest or near the midpoint of the eyebrows. Keeping the hands in the middle of the chest symbolizes “my heart” – I greet you in my heart, I love you in my heart, I bow to you from my heart, I receive you from my heart. This is the integration of the hert and hands. It is not just an emotional expression, for the hands symbolize action. It is the symbol of love and action together.
In yogic practices, it is a well known fact that the midpoint of the eyebrows is the place of the soul. It is the soul center and the ajna chackra. Holding folded hands near the midpoint of the eyebrows is a complete welcome or greeting. It means that I greet you from my heart, from my soul, from my body, from my life.
The Bhagavad Gita (in short, the Gita) is the handbook of yoga. From the beginning to the end, the Gita explains the science of meditation, right action, divine love, and realization. Each chapter of the Gita is also named as yoga. The concluding verse of each chapter declares that it is the essence of the Upanishad (i.e. the Gita is the essence of the Absolute and the scripture of yoga, the Yoga Shastra). Every verse of the holy Gita explains the secret of spiritual practice, Kriya meditation, and perception of divine qualities like divine illumination, vibration, and holy sound. In the history of explanation of the Bhagavad Gita by different scholars, yogis and realized masters, the yogic explanation of the Gita by Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Pranavananda, Shriyukteshwarji, Pandit Panchanan Bhattacharya, Mother Suradhuni Devi, Shrimat Bhupendranath Sannyal are landmarks. The Gita is the scripture of yoga and above all Kriya Yoga; one can refer to the book Bhagavad Gita in the Light of Kriya Yoga by the author.
In the Gita (18:66) it is written, mamekam saranam vraja: “Come to me alone and surrender thyself,” which is the essence of all religions and scriptures. To perceive God and God alone, constantly, continuously is the essence of the practice of Kriya Yoga.
The Bhagavad Gita teaches how to control and even kill all the negative propensities of body, mind, and intellect, and go to the ultimate reality (the Soul, God) quickly and easily by the scientific technique of Kriya Yoga.
In Indian Spiritual traditions, along with all the scriptures, the Upanishads, the Gita, and the Brahmasutra of Vyasa are given supreme importance. These three basic scriptures are known asprasthana trayi (the triple canon of spirituality that enables one to return to the source from which one has come). The literal meaning of Brahmasutra is not aphorisms on the absolute God, like the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali or the Bhakti Sutra of Narada. As the thread holds all the pearls together to make a beautiful garland, similarly the formless God is hiding in all of creation. As people look at the pearls, not at the thread, similarly, ordinary people look to the world, not to God. Brahman (God) + sutra(thread).
In this holy book of Brahmasutra is a very subtle description of Kriya Yoga and its perception. Guham pravistavatmanau hi tad darsanat: “By entering into the cave of the cranium one is to perceive the union of the individual self and the universal Self” (1:2:11).
Kampanat: “Perception of vibration of prana” (1:3:39).
Jyoto darsanat: “Perception of divine illumination” (1:3:40).
Pranavato sabdat: “Perception of the divine sound” (2:4:15).
All these perceptions are realized even at the time of initiation into Kriya Yoga.
The Ramayana is the life story of Rama, a king of Ayodhya and disciple of the grat sage Vasishtha. The spiritual life of Rama reveals how he meditated and practiced this marvelous technique of Kriya Yoga. Rama learned the techniques of Kriya Yoga from his great Guru Vasishtha. It is described in Adhyatma Ramayana, Kiskindha Kanda (chapter four).
Once Lakshmana saw Rama meditating deeply and enjoying the bliss of samadhi. After Rama returned to body-sense, Lakshmana approached him and asked politely about this meditation technique, Idanim srotum icchami kriya margena raghava: “O Rama! I want to learn the path of Kriya practice, by which the yogis, the householders, saints, and sages got realization.”
Hearing such questions from his beloved brother Lakshmana, Rama said:
Being asked and requested by his devotee brother, Rama explains technique of Kriya Yoga. The book of Yoga Vasishtha also contains the discussion of yoga practice by Rama and his master Sage Vasishtha.
— Kriya Yoga The Scientific Process of Soul-Culture and the Essence of All Religions; pg 125-138
Again in 1975, Western disciples asked Paramahamsa Hariharananda to come to the West and he accepted their invitation. A disciple from Bogotá, Columbia came to India to accompany Paramahamsaji to South America. They boarded the plane on the 24th of May, 1975, traveling from Delhi to Amsterdam. After staying in Amsterdam for a day, where many of his European disciples came to visit him, he flew to Curacao in South America. After an extremely long flight, he finally arrived at about 11:00 p.m. to find hundreds of people waiting to receive him with flowers and love. There was a public lecture the following day, which coincided with his birthday and anniversary of his sannyasainitiation. The news of the arrival of this great Indian yogi in Curacao was published in the newspapers, and the hall was packed with an enthusiastic audience who had come for a glimpse of him and to listen to his divine discourse. After six days in Curacao, he proceeded to Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, a beautiful place about 8,000 feet above sea level. Every day of his visit the crowd increased, some even waiting outside in the streets to see him. They had to rent the biggest auditorium to accommodate the large gathering of seeking souls.
In one such meeting there were about six hundred people in the audience. Amongst them were several Catholic priests, nuns, and other religious people. Paramahamsaji sat on the dais and in his inimitable way, bowed to the audience.
One priest asked, “Swamiji, we pray aloud together, sing in the church, and read the holy Bible, but what do you do?”
He answered with love, “In Kriya Yoga we hear only the whispering talk of the invisible soul, and calmly perceive the trinity – the voice of God, the invisible living touch of God, and the divine illumination.”
Then another elderly priest asked, “Swamiji, are you a Christian? We are all Christians and if you are not a Christian what can we learn from you?
Paramahamsaji promptly answered, “Is your God a Christian? To what religion does He belong? Does He dress like you? Is God a Hindu or a Muslim Fakir? How many Gods are there? What type of food does He eat? I have realized there is only one God, who is not Hindu, nor Muslim, nor Christian. He is all-pervading, omniscient, and omnipotent. It is written in the holy Bible, ‘God made man and women in His own image and He breathed into their nostrils the breath of life. Then man became the living soul.’ When God is everywhere, he is also in every human being. There is no boundary and separation through religions. As the sun is one and the moon is one, so also God is one.”
Thus he expounded on the deep philosophy of Kriya Yoga and its practical application in daily life. During his stay in Bogotá, he made two public presentations every week, and he was also invited to many churches and universities to deliver talks.
During one talk to interested students, some followers of the Hare Krishna movement announced Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s claim that merely chanting the name of Krishna was enough to reach God, that there was no need of other practices. They were dogmatic in their argument. Paramahamsaji replied, “I am from the land of Nadia, the birth place of Shri Chaitanya. Do you know that only by chanting the name of Krishna once, he could enter into the state of samadhi, and that he did not need to sing and play musical instruments!” Then to demonstrate what the practice of Kriya Yoga could lead to, in a minute he entered into a deep state of meditation, then into samadhi, becoming completely absorbed in the Supreme. There was no visible sign of breath or pulse. The people there were astonished to see this great yogi in such a state, and after a while a tall, strong disciple carried him upstairs so he could rest.
Paramahamsaji’s first public appearance in New York lasted twenty-four days. After a warm welcome at the airport, he went to his host’s house, where a crowd had already assembled. Although he was tired due to the long flight, he talked to them for a short time and promised to stay longer than initially planned so they would have his company and guidance.
In New York City, there were many well-organized programs where he delivered public lectures, radio talks, and interviews, and initiated people into Kriya Yoga. Wherever he went, big posters with beautiful pictures of Paramahamsa Hariharananda graced the walls. Individuals of high status met him and were blessed with his divine company. From New York, he went to Washington, DC, accompanied by long-time disciples. During his stay there, someone proposed the formation of an institution, which was officially incorporated in 1976 under the name Kriya Yoga Ashram. From Washington, DC, he departed for Uhldingen, Germany via Zurich. On the 7th of August, 1975, after traveling throughout three continents, he quietly slipped away back to India without telling anyone there he was coming, as was his usual practice.
Two years later, he traveled to the West again, repeating much of his former itinerary. Devotees there were happy that he was coming because it had been a long time for them to be separated from their much loved master. On the 2nd of June, 1977, he arrived first in Germany where he stayed for nearly two months. Then he visited Belgium, and in August he traveled to Holland (the Netherlands), where he taught Kriya Yoga for the first time. He stayed for twelve days and then proceeded to London, Curacao, and Bogotá. It was his last visit to the later two places, and to this day people there still remember him and follow his teachings sincerely.
He then returned to New York City, where for two days he appeared on television and radio programs about the Gita, the Upanishads, and Kriya Yoga. For a short time he visited disciples in Washington, DC, and was touched by their deep love for him. He returned to New York at the end of October, and after a stay of eight days he went to Stuttgart, Germany. He stayed in Germany for twenty-four days and left on December 2, 1977, reaching Delhi the next day, which completed a six-month stay in the West.
Thus did Kriya Yoga spread from city to city, and country to country. Thousands of people were influenced by Paramahamsa Hariharananda’s visits. Some became interested for the first time in spirituality, meditation, and Kriya Yoga.
Life itself is a rocky and mountainous track. The Path of Love is even more slippery, and one should walk with caution and care. To lead a life full of love is to aim for perfection. But till one achieves that state, one has to pass through many stumbling blocks and obstacles. The difficulties on the Path of Love are not really different from the general obstacles found in spiritual life, in the practice of Yoga and meditation. Once we can identify them, they are easier to recognize and overcome. These obstacles are described in Yogic scriptures in different ways.
Ego is the first obstacle. Ego is a state of mind, which brings arrogance and aggressiveness. Where there is humility there is love, compassion, tolerance, and purity. In the beginning ego has an attractive appearance, but ultimately it is very dangerous. Why do people become egotistical?
In the Bhagavad Gita (XVI: 18), there is description of people with egotistical qualities:
“Give over to egotism, brute force, arrogance, lust, and anger, those malicious people hate Me Who dwells in their own bodies as well as in the bodies of others.”
If you look at a garden, there are many types of flowers. There are small, tiny flowers like forget-me-nots, there are roses and lotus flowers. Flowers come in different colors and sizes, each have a particular fragrance and they bloom in different seasons. But flowers do not have ego.
There is a story about two swans who liked to swim in a particular lake. They met so often there that they became friends with a turtle. One day the swans overheard that the lake was to be drained and they warned the turtle to move elsewhere since it was no longer safe. The turtle was sad because she could not fly away like the swans. So the swans suggested that they could hold a stick on either side and carry the turtle in the middle, if he held tight with his mouth. The plan worked well, but when the turtle realized he was actually flying he became very proud. Some shepherds below were amazed at this arrange scene and started betting with each other, “If the turtle falls down, we can have a nice soup.” The turtle, when he heard this, became so angry that he opened his mouth to scold them, and accidentally fell off. Ego becomes the cause of anger, and then downfall.
We have ego due to our complex nature. We have so many repressed desires and memories, that they modify our personality. Through complexity, ego comes and through simplicity, ego disappears. There are five causes of ego: ego of wealth, ego of gender, ego of health, ego of status and position, ego of intelligence, and ego of religion.
Even though wealth is a loving gift from God, material possessions enhance a feeling of pride and superiority in many people. How rich can one be? What is the value of our money? Is money eternal? However much wealth one accumulates, one has to leave it behind. When we are born we have nothing and we go back empty handed. Money is useful, but do not let it rule your life. Use your wealth intelligently.
God made man and women in His own image. Each one has a particular function. Is man greater than woman or woman greater than man? Man and woman are complements to each other, responsible for this beautiful creation. One is incomplete without the other.
Beauty is an attribute we have inherited through our past karma or action, and from our parents. It is a divine blessing. Bad health, strength, and beauty are not permanent. Every flower is beautiful in its own way. One who is strong today, will surely not be strong tomorrow. Health is even more precarious. When you hang on to uncertain conditions, you slip down much faster. Be thankful to God for what God has given to you, rather than bringing ego into your life.
Some people are so engrossed in themselves that they worship their own image and expect constant praise.
In Hindu myth, there was once a great king who became famous through his generosity. He gave anything to anyone who asked. Slowly, ego developed. Charity should be dome with humility and devotion. Charity done with ego brings downfall. Vishnu wanted to crush the ego of this king, and incarnated as Vamana, a handsome little Brhamin boy, around twelve years old, who went up to the king and asked for alms. The king asked him what he wanted. The boy replied humbly that he only wanted a piece of land which measured three steps taken by his own foot. The king was amused and laughed aloud. “I could have given you my whole kingdom,” he boasted, “You should ask me for more.”
“Three steps is all I want.” Replied the boy. The king agreed. Then, to his amazement, the boy’s first footstep covered the whole earth. The king offered the sky, and the boy’s second footstep covered the entire sky. Nothing remained for the last footstep, so the king offered his head as a resting place for the boy’s foot. Lord Vishnu, pleased with the king’s submissiveness, told him he would grant him any request, so the king, humbled, asked to be his doorkeeper. With the foot of Vishnu on his head, the ego of the king was crushed.
Swami Vivekananda once declared, in great openness of spirit, “Let there be as many religions as is the number of humans on this earth. Let everyone stand strong with love and devotion. Religion is the state of union with the Divine. Religion is the realization of perfection already in man.”
Unfortunately, due to a sense of disunity, ignorance and misguided arrogance, religious intolerance has existed for centuries. Jews, Christians, Hindus and Moslems do not accept each other’s faith and beliefs. This superiority complex has become the underlying cause of many wars and bloodshed. Religious ego has destroyed many innocent lives, in the name of God.
Ego is the greater obstacle in spirituality and on the Path of Love. How to get rid of ego? Either increase your ego to infinity, or decrease your ego down to nothing. But do not stay in between. When you fully realize your oneness with God, this is the way to increase your ego to infinity.
In the Vedic scriptures it is said:
In the Bible it is said: ‘I and my Father are one.’
This is supreme ego. You can also erase your ego, through love and humility, and bring it down to nothing. In reality, increasing ego to infinity or decreasing it to nothingness, are one and the same.
Path of Love; pg 90 - 93
O mighty armed (Arjuna)! Learn from me these five factors, for the accomplishment of all actions as declared in the principles of Samkhya and Vedanta.
“O Mahabahu! Mighty armed! You are not an ordinary human; you are God in human being. You have marvelous powers. You have the deepest desire for soul culture and God-realization.” Mahabahu has many connotations. It literally means “mighty-armed.” Arms and hands are the symbols of activity. He whose activity is always God-oriented is mahabahu.
“O Arjuna! I told you about Samkhya and Vedanta. What is Samkhya and what is Vedanta?” Samkhya is the knowledge that gives a person the power to carefully observe the truth in everything. Vedanta consists of two words: veda (knowledge) and anta (end); it is the end of all knowledge.
Only through meditation and the practice of Kriya Yoga can one easily understand the play of this world and know that ego is the cause of all pain and suffering. But when one practices Kriya sincerely and goes to the state of paravastha (the state of extreme tranquility) – this is Vedanta.
Shri Lahiri Mahasaya said, “Kriya is the study of the Vedas; attaining the state of paravastha is the realization of the Vedas.”
“O Arjuna! For soul culture and even for any material activity, an intelligent aspirant must know the five causes – the five instruments.” These five instruments are explained in the next verse.
All religions, holy books, and realized masters speak of love. But what is love? How does one cultivate love?
Love is often a topic of reading and discussion. But is love merely a word? Can love be possessive or selfish? Is love nothing more than sacrifice? Love is the essence of life. Love is fulfillment. Love is the manifestation of purity, divinity, and liberty in every moment of life. Love is our experience of our divine nature. Love is the supreme purifier. Love transforms life. The Bible has a beautiful definition:
The ancient scriptures say:
Love is the necessary qualification for God-realization, and conversely, love is the result of God-realization. Love is the cause and love is the effect. Love is the means and the end. Love begins within; individual love grows into universal love. Perfect love is the state of being one with the universe, being in love with creation.
Love is the realization of the soul and the perception of God’s presence in everything. Love in the world is full of expectation and emotion. Spiritual love is a limitless perception of unity without differentiation or division. In the ordinary sense, people fall in love, but in spirituality, people rise in love.
Mediation creates an awareness of universal love. Meditation helps us love ourselves and love other, because we can perceive the presence of the soul everywhere.
The Bhagavad Gita contains an entire chapter dedicated to divine love:
“The True Lover of God is he who has no ill-will towards any being, who is friendly and compassionate, free from egoism and self-sense, even-minded in pain and pleasure, and patient.” (Bhagavad Gita 12:13)
“He who sees Me (God) in all can really perceive Love, unshakeable Love.” (Bhagavad Gita 6:30)
Sage Narada summarized divine love in the following words:
“Love is Absolute; in essence it is the nectar of immorality.” (Bhakti Sutra of Narada 2 -3)
In the Bible, love is often portrayed as a bond, which becomes unbreakable with proper understanding:
But the man who loves God is known by God.
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith;
be men of courage; be strong.
Do everything in love.
And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Unshakable love for God is portrayed as the greatest virtue:
The goal of this command is love,
which comes from a pure heart
and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Without love, life is dry. Without love, life is incomplete. Love brings fulfillment. Love is realization.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Those who love the world and forget God face danger and difficulty: