Kriya Yoga

Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Museum Hall, Copenhagen 1970

When I discuss Yoga I definitely mean Yoga as a system based on scientific values. I do not consider Yoga as part of any religious practice or something to be exploited for any kind of religious experience. For me, the problems concerning the human mind and the human body are more important than so called self realization. It is absolutely meaningless and it is a waste of time to talk about higher realizations until we have rectified our physical and mental bodies.

You are very much aware of the problems that concern the bodies. Bodies and emotions of everybody, including the little children as well as adults. There may be thousands of people, more than thousands, perhaps millions, all over the world who are suffering from problems, difficulties, concerning their emotional imbalance, nervous disorders and psychological disturbances. There are other sciences, no doubt, which come to the rescue of mankind but we have found, by experience, that Yoga is the safest, the most beneficial way by which we can bring about a total resurrection in our personality.

There is a school of Yoga, there is a philosophy and practical branch of Yoga, which concerns itself with the psychological circuits of mind and emphasises one-pointedness, concentration, meditation and the withdrawal of the mind from all external objects. This system or this school of Yoga has become very popular all over the world and everybody knows something or the other about it. It tells you to keep an object in front of you, look at it, close your eyes, withdraw your mind, forget everything, enter into meditation and enter into Samadhi. This is a very popular system of meditation but everybody has failed to practice this successfully to this day.

If these aspirants, if the practitioners of this system of meditation were brought to a scientist and if their brains were investigated, if the condition of their brains at the moment of so called meditation were investigated, it would show a remarkable change. This indicates that although you have withdrawn your mind from the external object, you are not in meditation but you are in a state of sleep.

Whether you agree or not I can tell you one thing, concentration of mind or meditation practiced by effort can never lead you to real meditation. It can only lead to tension and deep sleep. This is the problem of Yoga and this is the problem of everybody who has been trying to practice meditation for a long time and I confront people with these problems every day by the hundreds.

But there is another branch of Yoga about which I am going to talk this evening. It does not at all presuppose one-pointedness, concentration of mind, withdrawal of your consciousness from the external consciousness. This branch of Yoga is known as Kriya Yoga.

This science of Kriya Yoga is one of the most powerful and easily practicable sciences known to us so far. The practices of Kriya demand from you neither one steady pose, nor concentration of mind. Even if you are unable to concentrate the mind on one point, and if your mind is just jumping to and fro, it does not matter, keep on doing it. In fact, Kriya Yoga is a Yoga in which you are not withdrawing your mind to one point but you are trying to make movements, you are creating and introducing information in the realm of your mind. Again in Kriya Yoga you are not concentrating the mind but you are moving the mind from one point to the other, in a particular order which it should not lose sight of.

The word Kriya here means mental activity or the activity belonging to consciousness. In contrast to the branch of Yoga discussed previously, in Kriya Yoga you are not trying to make your mind quiet but you are trying to create activity in the mind. This is very important for the development of the brain, for the activity of the nervous system, and for awakening the energies in the brain.

The practices of Kriya Yoga are to be found in the Sanskrit texts of Tantric Literature which are found in India. A few of these have been translated by Sir John Woodroffe and are available in French, German and English. The Practices of Kriya Yoga, the total number of Kriyas is 76. Out of the 76, 27 are already known to most teachers who know what Kriya Yoga is. We can begin with 5 or 7 Kriyas out of the 27 Kriya techniques or practices in Kriya Yoga. But those who are eager to practice Kriya Yoga will have to make a lot of preparations before they can plan to learn or until they need a teacher of Kriya Yoga.

The preparations for Kriya Yoga are:

  1. Perfection of breath consciousness
  2. Discovery of the psychic passage
  3. Kriya Yoga

In addition to these three preparations it is important that the aspirant to Kriya Yoga has proficiency in a few Mudras and Bandhas.

First, what is breath consciousness? I will explain this in a few words. With your eyes open or with your eyes closed, with your mind concentrated or with your mind oscillating, in posture, while standing or sitting, just become aware of the fact that "I am breathing in and I am breathing out" maintain this consciousness of breath uninterruptedly for 3 minutes at one stretch and then change. It is not at all necessary that you have to sit separately and exclusively for meditation. Even here, while you are listening to my speech and to his translation, you can maintain the awareness of your breath uninterruptedly, simultaneously you can also understand my speech and his translation, for 3½ minutes and then you make a break.

Awareness of breath is awareness of your mind. Awareness of your breath is awareness of your awareness. Whether you concentrate or not, please remember, whether you concentrate or not it does not matter, but the moment that you become aware of your breath you are aware of your mind, you are aware of your consciousness and you are aware of your awareness. The point should be remembered again and again, you should not forget it.

The next preparation is to find out a psychic passage, the path, the way, the road, through which the breath, through which your psychic consciousness can flow up and down. It should be the path of the spinal cord from the bottom up to the top, to the point where the pineal gland is. This is the psychic path which is being prescribed and which you have to discover and realize. It is in this psychic path that you have to practice the breathing with eyes open. It is in this psychic path that you have to practice the breathing and develop a consciousness of movement. This is most important, there should be awareness of movement, up and down, and this movement is called Kriya in Yoga.

The purpose of the circulation of your mind and consciousness in this path from the bottom to the top and from the top to the bottom, through the spinal cord, is to awaken the vitality, to awaken the high rate current, for the rejuvenation and revitalization of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems which control the whole nervous balance. This is one of the practices. It goes from the bottom to the top 50 times, and those people who have problems of nervous breakdown, nervous imbalance, neurosis, and trembling, can practice this kind of awareness starting from the bottom up to the top. They will find that even this much of movement, even this much of Kriya is very beneficial.

At the bottom there is a very important centre in the body. In Yoga it is known as Mooladhara Chakra, which is situated in the perineum which is between the genital, the urinary and excretory systems. It is a very vital point, a very vital organ in the body.

According to our modern science, the parasympathetic nervous system connects the brain with the rest of the body through two centres in this Mooladhara Chakra about which I am talking. From here the impulses can be conducted through the parasympathetic nervous system right into the brain. At the top of the spinal cord is the centre of the pineal gland which is also very important because that also connects the parasympathetic nervous system with the brain. This is known as Ajna Chakra in Yoga. This Ajna Chakra and Mooladhara Chakra at the bottom are both carriers of, or vehicles of, impulses to the brain. The impulses travel through the parasympathetic nervous system in the whole body.

In addition to these two vital centres, there are other centres, I name them:

  • Swadhisthana - Sacral region
  • Manipura - Solar region
  • Anahata - Cardiac region
  • Vishuddhi - Cervical region

These are the four vital centres situated within the spinal cord and these four centres connect the brain to the rest of the body through the sympathetic nervous system.

The awakening, the influx of the sensations, is carried from these four centres through the sympathetic nervous system and from the two centres, Mooladhara and Ajna, through the parasympathetic nervous system to the brain. They carry the Shakti, they carry the vitality, and this vitality should be created by breathing in and through this psychic path. This is the second practice in Kriya Yoga. This second preparation is very elaborate. I do not know if you remember that I talked about it two years ago. This year I will not repeat everything because I will have a lot to say about Kriya Yoga, but the name of the practice which is preparatory to Kriya Yoga is Ajapa Japa.

The next preparation is the practice of Mudras and Bandhas which is something you will have to know positively. The important Bandhas are Jalandhara Bandha, locking the chin, Uddyan Bandha withdrawing the sacral plexus, and Mooladhara Bandha or Moolabandha, controlling the inflexions of the Mooladhara Chakra or the basic centre.

After these preparations one can take to the practice of Kriya Yoga with a master who knows the science very well and he will teach you what you need out of the 76 or out of the 27 Kriyas or techniques.

Though I am engaged in a lot of research concerning the influence of Yoga on the human body and brain I have additional experiences, some are very encouraging. I sometimes confront cases suffering from suicidal complexes and terrific neuroses. In such a case I do not teach them the whole of Kriya Yoga, because it is not possible for them, only one or two of the Kriyas and I know that they have gained a new lease on life.

Instead of going into greater details of Kriya Yoga I can just give you a very simple presentation. Sit in any Asana, especially the lotus one, or the siddhasana, that of an adept. Place both your hands on the knees, and do nothing but close (or open) your eyes and concentrate on the perineum, the area between the excretory and the urinary systems and slowly contract it, I am deliberately using the word slowly, and release it. Do it about 50 times and then find out what happens to your depression. Find out if you have depressions anymore.

This is not very difficult and this is not actual Kriya Yoga but this is one of the most important items of Kriya Yoga which is meant to awaken the Prana, the vitality or the Pranashakti, which is lying dormant at the bottom point, at the bottom centre of every man. It is known as Kundalini or the power serpentine. I give this suggestion to these people who are suffering from nervous disorders, breakdowns and the resulting tendency to commit suicide and do all sorts of things to escape from life. In addition, I suggest it to those people who have a very bad mind, an absolutely restless mind, and are unable to concentrate even for a fraction of a second. I tell them, "Sit down, contract your perineum, and relax it. Do it 50 times with your eyes open or with eyes closed. After that, if you still find your mind is agitated, then come to me. I have another exercise".

Let me give you another example. I ask them to concentrate on or become aware of the bottom of the abdomen which is knows as the abdominal viscera or at the root of the urinary system and to keep contracting it continuously and slowly. The whole system, bladder, urinary system, kidney everything is withdrawn, and then to relax it. And they should withdraw and relax it 25 times. Those who come to me with terrific disorders, physical, mental and emotional, caused by sex neurosis which is well known to you, and problems with hormones blocks in hormone secretions, should learn this particular Kriya or movement. This is so because this system is directly connected with the pituitary gland, which is known as Sahasrara Chakra in Yoga, the thousand petalled red lotus. The posterior lobe of that lotus, or that gland, is directly connected with the urinary system, the kidneys, the gonads, the ovaries, i.e. the genito-ovarian system. It also produces two kinds of hormones. By concentrating, by practicing this particular Kriya you are not only controlling the particular organs below but you are controlling and regulating the hormone secretion in the brain.

There is nothing secret in Kriya Yoga. I can tell you everything tonight. I can even teach you tonight. But one night is not enough. I need at least 7 days to teach you and I am not going to teach you this time, be sure about it.

But why do people think that there is something secret in Kriya Yoga which the masters are not going to teach, and that everybody is not qualified enough for Kriya Yoga? It is a myth and not a truth. Some people also feel that Kriya Yoga should not be practiced by house holders, by married people, who do not maintain or who are not able to maintain Brahmacharya, the so called celibacy. If this condition were accepted, I think that not only in Denmark but in the whole world, not one man would be qualified to practice Kriya Yoga.

According to me, celibacy has nothing to do with marital or extramarital sexual life, but Brahmacharya means the conservation of the highest vitality, not in the genital region but in the brain. I know very well, since I have been a student of physiology also, that the posterior pituitary produces hormones and those hormones are conducted to the gonads and to the ovaries to produce the whole of what we call the marital and sexual life, what you lose in the sexual act is not so important but what happens in the brain is of great importance. The product of the brain can only be conserved and preserved not by so called philosophy, but it is only possible by concentration, or meditation, or very powerful forms of vitality generated by yourself through Kriya Yoga.

Therefore it should be completely ruled out that Kriya Yoga, or any other Yoga for that matter, is only for those who are unmarried, for the sake of those who are completely unmarried, so that the people who are leading the marital life should not practice any Yoga and even more so the Kriya Yoga. It is not at all a rule. This you must remember and understand.

In the system of Tantra, which has its origin in India, a lot has been written about Kriya Yoga. There it is said: "Those people who are married or not, but who are aspiring to the awakening of the great Shakti in themselves, are qualified for initiation into the practices of Kriya Yoga."

I have conducted classes for years and years on concentration and meditation and even now I continue to do so, I also have conducted classes in Kriya Yoga which I also continue to do. I found that there is a remarkable difference between the two as far as my experiences are concerned. When I teach concentration and meditation, after 5 minutes people start scratching, moving and they simply get tired. But when I teach them Kriya Yoga, I ask them not to close their eyes, I ask them not to concentrate, I tell them they can move their body if they like, and you will be surprised to hear this from me, after 15 minutes they close their eyes and go into meditation and I have to pull them out of meditation. This is the remarkable difference which I have seen between the system of concentration and meditation, and meditation and the systems involving the movement of consciousness, the Kriya Yoga.

In Kriya Yoga there are certain techniques, certain methods of movement of consciousness in which you will be told, "please do not close your eyes, keep them open until you finish. Until you finish the exercises, please do not close the eyes". But I can assure you if I would teach you, then after 15 minutes you would close your eyes and if I should ask you "what are you doing?" you would say "Swamiji, I am in a mood of meditation. I cannot go further. It is impossible". I say "no, please keep your eyes open and do not go into meditation. Remain out, remain out, do not go in". But you will say "Swamiji, please let me go in, I can't remain out". Have you ever known a system of meditation like Kriya Yoga, like this, where in spite of the pull of the Guru, the disciple is just pushing himself inside?

Again, the practices of Kriya Yoga are casual, not very strict, not very systematic, not very serious. You do not sit down and tighten your body, no! They are as casual as if you were talking to your son, or you were talking to your husband or wife, or as if you were reading some book, exactly that way, in that gentle atmosphere you sit down and start moving your consciousness and start making movement of your consciousness.

I am not talking in favour of LSD, please do not misunderstand, but those who have taken LSD for long periods and who have also practiced Kriya Yoga and have lived with me, say that when they practice Kriya Yoga, at the end of it they have a very good trip. But whereas in the LSD trip there is the problem that the trip is not under your control, in Kriya Yoga the whole trip is under your control. As the astronauts were brought back from the moon, you can bring your mind back from the heightened state to your normal work any moment. You transcend the bindings of time and space but not the awareness. You transcend the bindings of time and space but you are not lost into that so called unknown and delusive eternity. You know where your feet are completely and firmly planted. And the moment the practices of Kriya Yoga are over if you have no job to do, you have no responsibility and obligations concerning your family, job and business you can sit for meditation for 10 hours, no problem. But if you have responsibilities to your family, job and children, then you are ready to be in day to day life again. It is here I say that the trip is completely under your control.

When I first encountered this Kriya Yoga it was a very wonderful experience but I did not teach this science to any one because I thought maybe people do not need this science. But after a few years it so happened that a very unfortunate lady came to me. She came from a so called very high family. She told me that she wanted to die, and asked if I had a way in Yoga for committing suicide? Perhaps she thought that Yoga had some way to commit suicide also. I did not teach anything to that lady, but I answered her that if she cared she could come to my place any time. She made it a point to visit me many times at my place. In the mornings when I used to practice, not Kriya Yoga but a few items of Kriya Yoga for my own physical body, she also started practicing with me for 15 to 20 minutes. This happened many, many years ago. That lady has become one of the happiest ladies that I have over seen during my life time and she has become useful to many people, thousands of community people. The money which she was wasting in clubs, etc., she is now investing in most useful projects. I think that the whole reaction of her personality, the whole awakening and revival of her personality has taken place only due to those few very insignificant items which she practised with me during those 2 to 3 months.

So now you know that there are two ways, two schools, two systems of Yoga. One the concentration, meditation and Samadhi obtained by withdrawing your mind from external life. If it is possible for you, please go on with this. But if is not possible, if you find it difficult to work hard with your mind and the mind is like a rebellious child, then it is much better not to have any friction, not to have any difficulty with your mind. First learn Kriya Yoga. Take a few Kriyas, not many about 7, even 5 to 10 Kriyas will do for you. With that you deal directly, scientifically with your own rebellious child. This year, I think it was in the month of May while I was in Paris during my trip, I conducted Kriya Yoga classes for 3 days. Now I found that the people have been greatly benefited by it within 3 months, I think perhaps 3 or 4 months. I am going to Paris again in 2 more days to conduct another Kriya Yoga seminar, another Kriya Yoga group where hundreds of students will learn. I asked them in one of my letters, "What made you decide to call me back to Paris so soon, in only 3 months and to withdraw yourself from your activities and learn this great system of Kriya Yoga?" The reply that came was, "The Kriya Yoga which my uncle, my brother or my husband have been practising has brought about a great change in their life and I am tempted by seeing them so that I also want to learn and be benefited by it". This is the reply of the people from Paris where I conducted the first Kriya Yoga seminar outside India.

Those people who are eager to follow this systematic path should first of all learn Asanas, Pranayama, Hatha Yoga Kriyas, Ajapa Japa, breath consciousness, Mudras and Bandhas for a period of 4 to 5 months regularly and after that they must take up the practices of Kriya Yoga from any qualified master.

No consideration of diet, status of life, caste, creed or religious affiliations, age - young or old, mental condition - normal or abnormal is a barrier. Wherever you are, whoever you are, if you are convinced that Kriya Yoga is for you, you should take it up. Start preparations immediately.

Finally, Kriya Yoga is a part of Tantra about which you need not form any opinion this evening. I am going to tell you about Tantra Shastra tomorrow evening. Then you will know how close you are to a science which was given to mankind more than 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, and you will understand how in this age of tensions, dissentions and all sorts of social and mental problems the Tantra and more than that Kriya Yoga can help us in our physical difficulties, mental difficulties and finally in the unfoldment of our consciousness.