Kriya Yoga

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Right from the beginning man has been confronted with so many dazzling experiences in his mind. From that time he has been trying to understand the rhythms of life, of the mind and of his inner experiences. He has seen various other creatures, birds and animals and has been comparing himself with their states of mind. How does a man think? And why is there a difference in the states of mind and the experiences? Is mind a link in the great chain of evolution or is it something else?

In other words, has our present state of consciousness, any link with the past or future? Man has been confronted with many amazing events in the mind, like the psychic experiences. He has also experienced various states of mind from idiocy to dynamism, clairvoyance and intuition. What are all these states and why do we experience them?

In his society man always found some individuals with brilliant minds, prophetic minds and others with limitations of mind. So naturally he wanted to know how to achieve a higher mind. Even today, if you hear about a good boxer, a good magician, a good actor or actress, or a beautiful woman you want to know how they became like that. In the same way, when man began to observe the different faculties, expressions and manifestations of a greater mind, naturally it occurred to him how to accomplish that.

Various definitions of the reasons for an evolved state of mind were given by numerous people in different countries. Some said that a divine being had been conceived therefore he obtained a fantastic mind. Another said, “No, a spirit has entered into him and the spirit is talking through him.” Others said, “No, God has descended in him. God has emanated, and is speaking through him.” Various definitions were expounded by the people from time to time but they definitely could not get the acceptance of the intellectuals and thinkers.


From ancient times the people in India contemplated this subject: ‘What is at the basis of man’s evolution of consciousness?’ For this purpose the sages and thinkers kept on exploring different explanations. It is in this tradition of exploration that they came across a certain set of practices known as tantric practices. They used the word tantra not in the context that we understand it today, but in a different context all together.

Many modern people believe that tantra is just a form of practices which involves the use of the five tattwas. These elements are reflections of the people’s personality and culture. Actually, tantra just means two processes: expansion of mind and liberation of consciousness. So, the practice to expand the mind and consciousness is tantra. And the practices which ultimately lead to the release of the energy is also tantra.

Expansion of the mind means the capacity of the mind to experience beyond the limitations of the senses. Eyes can see the objects, ears can hear the sounds, these are called the sensory experiences. It is the mind which sees and hears. It is through the mind that all kinds of sensory perceptions are taking place. The eyes and the ears are the sensory mediums. For the sensorial experience, the mind is limited to experience within the capacity of the eyes and the ears. The mind however can experience what the eyes cannot see. If mind can experience what ears cannot hear, if you can smell something which is not there, if you can think something which is beyond the realm of logic, that is called the expanded experience of the mind.

This is one important aspect of tantra. Now, the expansion of mind clearly means experiencing something which senses are not able to provide. These experiences are in the form of yantras, mandalas and sounds. When you can hear, even without the sound being produced, that is expanded awareness. Now when this inner experience takes place irrespective of the senses, what happens later is that a greater experience begins to take place. This is called release or emancipation of energy, or awakening of kundalini.

Here again, the word emancipation should not be understood in the religious sense. Hindus call it moksha, Buddhists call it nirvana and Christians call it salvation. These are all religious terms. I am referring very clearly here to emancipation of energy in a purely scientific sense not in a religious sense. When you take matter and split it the energy is released. This liberated energy is explained in physics. You take milk and churn it, the butter is released. I am trying to explain the exact meaning of the word emancipation.

To awaken harmony

At the root of matter is energy. Behind and at the base of all matter is energy. In fact matter is a gross manifestation of energy. Ultimately matter at one stage becomes energy at another stage; or energy at one point becomes matter at another point.

Now, a thought is matter, an experience is matter, it is a base and it has a basis. You have to go behind the thought. You have to go behind the experience and you have to go behind every experience of existence. What happens then? Gradually you keep on negating every experience. You say, ‘Not this, not this, not this,’ You keep on negating. And at the end what remains is nothing.

So, tantra means the expansion of mind and liberation of energy. Therefore in the practice of tantra a system known as kriya yoga evolved, and the practices of kriya yoga can be found in various tantric scriptures. The practices which you are learning here, are just a few of the thousands of kriya yoga practices. Even the practices of hatha yoga are supplementary to kriya yoga. Although hatha yoga is used now in east and west for purifying the body, the practices of hatha yoga have an ultimate and different objective.

Nor is therapy the purpose of hatha yoga. Therapy is a by-product of the hatha yoga practices. The main purpose of hatha yoga is to bring about a union of the two forces within the body. If there is no harmony between the prana and the mind, then the awakening of kundalini or of consciousness will not take place. Therefore, by the practice of asanas, mudras and bandhas in the kriya practices we can ultimately awaken a state of harmony within the body and accelerate the pace of evolution.

13 December 1979, Munger Satsang with Italian Kriya Yoga students