Kriya Yoga: The Majestic King Among all Yogas
The various methods and paths that lead to God-realization are termed yogas. Just like each means of transport has its comparative merits and demerits, each path of yoga has
its benefits and limitations. The Bhagavad Gita predominantly
talks of following paths that lead to the union of the soul with
1.karma yoga or the path of action;
2.jnana yoga or the path of wisdom;
3.bhakti yoga or the path of devotion;
4.raja yoga or the path of scientific meditation or kriya yoga
Other paths that to lead to God include:
5.mantra or japa yoga;
It is often difficult to separate the part from the whole; similarly, it is very difficult to draw a decisive line of division among all yogas. The teachings of one path, if wholesome, overlap those of another. Whatever path of yoga a spiritual aspirant follows, if it is God-oriented, there is love for God at its heart.
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If followed with a desire to seek God, karma yoga or the path of action sooner or later takes you there, as God is pleased with whatever is offered to Him lovingly. However, this is a lengthy and time-consuming technique because of its overemphasis on external action. It requires deep silence and mental peace to enjoy the ecstasy of the soul and commune with God. The superficial understanding that the people who follow this path have is that by doing good work they will be able to achieve the great goal of self-realization. The greatest drawback of the path is that it makes us more world-centric than God-centric, more centrifugal than centripetal, more extrovert than introvert if it is unaccompanied by regular meditation and God communion.
Jnana yoga or the path of wisdom is enormously misunderstood. Many spiritual aspirants believe that God can be realized by the study of theology. Sadly, millions are lost in the quagmire of materialism when they walk through the dense, darkened path of scriptural study. They develop doubt and intellectual indigestion by overfeeding their minds with facts and data about various truths in the holy books without assimilating them. Many scriptural truths and teachings seem self-contradictory if the grain of truth is not intuitively winnowed from the husk of confusing words. Jnana yoga informs and then inspires us to know God; it becomes ludicrous when it is confined to reading religious books only. It is like reading books on body-building and good diet without going to the gym or reading about a herb that can cure you of a life-threatening disease, but dying because of your inability to practically use it. Jnana yoga minus meditation leads to bull-headedness and the blind alley of spirituality.
Bhakti yoga or the path of devotion or, to put it more appropriately, love for God draws Him closer to us than anything else. However, in the name of bhakti yoga, many people spend their time singing devotional songs and dancing
Kriya Yoga: The Majestic King Among All Yogas
around. The love evoked by an artificial external environment like loud music and musical instruments soon dies when the external stimulants are missing. It is true that this prepares our mind for regular prayer, but if it is not followed by deep inner silence, it fails to take you to your final goal.
No doubt, great souls like Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had knowledge of God through devotion and love alone. The emotional intensity and love that
led to them to absolute concentration on God is often beyond the emotional scope of common devotees. Many great souls following this path recommend followers to weep and cry for
God or to feel as if you would die if God does not respond to your call. These teachings lose their practical utility when common people fail to create love of this great magnitude in their hearts for a God they have never seen. Moreover, such a great love is rare among people; one in a million can have such an intensity of love for God and realize Him through this method. It can neither be suggested for all nor can it have universal practicality and utility. The exalted souls blessed with love and unflinching faith in God fall into the category
of nitya siddha (eternally established and accomplished in the
path of the spirituality); the other two include sadhan siddha
(reaching perfection through religious means like japa or raja yoga) and kripa siddha (accomplished through divine grace either of guru or god, for example, Swami Vivekananda).
Mantra or japa yoga is an important means of attaining
God-realization and my guru-maa is a good example of acquiring spiritual heights through this path. However, the path requires careful observances of many spiritual dos and don’ts, failing which the path does not render expected results. Secondly, it requires great determination to follow this path as it yields intangible results and that too very slowly. Only devotees gifted with exceptional faith can stay
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on the path till the desired results are achieved. It is difficult to overcome body consciousness and other limitations by mere mental power to continue the journey on this path. It is difficult to walk on a path where mind and emotions, including the body, are constantly clashing and results are not tangible. Even I failed on this path because of my inability to force my mind to engage in something that was hardly pleasing or interesting. Mantra or japa yoga is a lop-sided approach, since a small instrument like the mind is given the responsibility of controlling the huge machinery of the body.
It is like the tail of the dog controlling it. Controlling the mind through the mind is quite a difficult task.
While mantra or japa yoga emphasizes on the mind, neglecting other aspects of the body like life-energy and physical techniques, hatha yoga fails when it caters to the need of the body only. Its focus on physical well-being reduces it to “physical exercise.”
Laya yoga proposes merging the mind in the divine bliss of God or in the holy sound of aum, the cosmic vibratory force of God, that creates and sustains everything in the universe.
Meditation on pranava, the divine sound of aum, is the way to realize Brahma or God.
– The Holy Science
It is a meditation technique that requires the yogi to close the ears and listen to the astral sounds emanating from the spinal centers. When the mind is lost in listening to these astral sounds, it transcends narrow individuality and expands with the sound of aum to the farthest boundary of the universe. However, the audibility of any astral sound is proof that mind and energy channels have been purified, which is next to impossible without practicing yogic techniques like kriya.
Raja yoga or the path of scientific meditation or kriya
yoga meditation is where all yogas merge and acquire the
Kriya Yoga: The Majestic King Among All Yogas
strength and magnitude of an ocean. The beauty of kriya yoga or raja yoga lies in its all-inclusive magnanimity. Kriya yoga takes the best features from all yogas, like the constitution of India which has taken the best features of constitutions around the world. Raja yoga like a raja or a king caters to the needs of all sections of society by establishing a kingdom of peace and harmony among body, mind, emotions and life-energy. When the body, mind and life-energy work in sync, their team work quickly takes devotees to God. It uses all the powers and aspects of human personality for one purpose:
God-realization. The practice of kriya yoga or raja yoga leads to the harmonious development of the body, mind and soul and is the quickest conveyance to God.
Although there is no difference between kriya yoga and raja yoga, “a set of highly advanced techniques” of raja yoga
taught by Lahiri Mahasaya is known as kriya yoga. The practice of kriya yoga helps acquire complete control over life-energy which keeps the body and mind active and alive all the time. This helps the yogi meditate on God uninterruptedly. God descends into the human body when certain steps are
followed. Kriya yoga follows the exact reverse of the steps that led to the descent of God from the human body and thus helps the soul ascend back to God.
Praising the superiority and efficacy of this path of yoga
over others, Lord Krishna strongly recommends Arjuna, his
dearest disciple, to follow the path of kriya yoga.
The yogi is considered better than body-disciplining ascetics, greater than the follower of the path of wisdom or the path of action, therefore, be thou, O
Arjuna, a yogi.
– Bhagavad Gita VI: 46