Mahavatar Babaji Maharaj
Mahavatar Babaji Maharaj is both ageless and eternally young. Sometimes he is formless, while at other times, he appears before his disciples in any form he wishes to liberate humanity from its worldly fetters.
Adoringly addressed by various names, such as Mahamuni, Tryambaka Baba, Shiva Baba, and Badua Baba, Babaji Maharaj cannot be described with any historical or scriptural certainty. His works are divine, shrouded in a mystery that eludes precise detail. Time has failed to reveal the facts about his birth, identity, and life. He is primordial, mahakal, and immortal, not remaining captive to the bounds of time and space. He is supreme and unparalleled among all saints and sages. He assumes an all-compassionate, beautiful, luminous form to provide an experience of new life to confused, grieving, fearful, despondent, and doubtful people, showing them the highway to God-realization.
Babaji Maharaj remains engrossed in deep meditation in the dense forests, caves, and snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas, at the same time keeping a watchful gaze on earnest seekers on their paths to the Ultimate. His divine play of miraculous appearance and disappearance, as narrated by his disciples Lahiri Mahashaya, Swami Pranavananda, Swami Shriyukteshwar, Hamsa Swami Kevalananda. Paramahamsa Yogananda, and Paramahamsa Hariharananda, is his unique way of guiding disciples on the path of divinity toward rapid liberation.
There is a scintillating account of his propping up Lahiri Mahashaya from infancy to ascension to godhood, like a bird shelters its offspring under protective wings. He initiated Lahiri Mahashaya into the liberating and sacrosanct techniques of Kriya Yoga. By Mahavatar Babaji's limitless divine power, Lahiri Mahashaya entered the deepest level of God-realization, the state of nirvikalpa samadhi. Crossing the successive stages of Self-knowledge, he remained anchored for seven days in the deathless realm of brahma loka. The compassionate Babaji Maharaj instructed him to go back to the world and perform his worldly duties as an ideal yogi householder, blazing the path of liberation for worldly people and sannyasis alike who earnestly sought God-realization. In this way Babaji taught that liberation was no longer the monopoly of a few select sannyasis, and that worldly people could attain godhood without abandoning their duties. By seeking the soul at every moment during all activities, we can achieve God-realization.
Babaji Maharaj tested the depth of love and determination of an American devotee who was searching for him along the inaccessible crags of the Himalayas. Glimpsing Babaji Maharaj, the devotee's face lit up with joy, and tears streamed down his face. The devotee implored Babaji Maharaj to accept him as his disciple. Babaji Maharaj sternly declined, and the American devotee suddenly jumped from the cliff into a rocky chasm below the ledge. Babaji Maharaj instructed his disciples to collect the corpse. With Babaji's divine touch, the American devotee came back to life and was accorded the rare privilege of being Babaji Maharaj's disciple.
Like a director who remains in the background instructing the actors, Shri Babaji Maharaj oversees the worldly stage, appearing only rarely. At Kumbha Mela, he addressed Priyanath (Swami Shriyukteshwar), the dear and close disciple of Lahiri Mahashaya, as "Swamiji," to Priyanath's utter astonishment. He instructed Priyanath to write a book combining the essence of Indian metaphysics with that of the West, promising to meet him the day it was finished. True to his word, Babaji Maharaj visited him on the day the assigned work was completed, as Priyanath exited his bath in the Ganga at Shri Rampur.
Lahiri Mahashaya, Babaji Maharaj, and his sister, Mataji, appeared from a flash of light at the Dasahwamedha bathing ghat to Ramgopal, who had been told go there by his guru, Lahiri Mahashaya. When Babaji Maharaj desired to shed his body, his sister Mataji said, "As there is no difference between being ensconced in Brahma and the deathless form, pledge before me that you will never relinquish your body form for the liberation of the entire human race." Listening to her prayer, as a hallmark of his great compassion, he promised it would be so.
Babaji Maharaj's divine majesties and the cosmic enactment of his dream are endless. He roams forever in the vast ethereal canvas of divinity, transcending limitations of worldly distinctions such as caste, class, religion, culture, history, and geography. He brought the message of Kriya Yoga to the West through Paramahamsa Yogananda and Paramahamsa Hariharananda, who were brought by his direction into close contact with Swami Shriyukteshwar for spiritual grooming and stewardship. He appeared before Paramahamsa Yogananda before Yoganandaji's voyage to the West.
The earnest prayer of Brahmachari Rabinarayan (Paramahamsa Hariharananda) to glimpse Mahavatar Babaji's form was benignly answered when Babaji appeared to him in Puri Karar Ashram in 1949. Pleased with Paramahamsa Hariharanandaji's high spiritual attainment, Babaji Maharaj inspired him to visit the West in order to propagate Kriya Yoga.
Shri Lahiri Mahashaya
On September 30, 1828, on the auspicious seventh bright moon day of Dashahara, while the villagers of Ghurani in the holy land of Nadia, in West Bengal, were ecstatically immersed in the worship of Divine Mother Durga, Lord Shiva blessed Gourmohan and Muktakeshi with a divine child. In ancient scripture and Vedic literature, Rajarshi Janaka was legendary for his extraordinary ability to remain spiritually pure while living the majestic life of a king, but Shyamacharan Lahiri went a step further, living as a liberated soul while leading a worldly life in modern society.
Shyamacharan Lahiri was ordained by Babaji Maharaj to liberate both saints and householders through the easy and simple techniques of Kriya Yoga. Under the able guidance of his erudite father, pious mother, and the watchful eye of Babaji Maharaj, he matured into a Self-realized divine being, established in sthitaprajna and wisdom. His interpretation and analysis of Indian and Western scriptures was based on his personal realization of their essence, rather than intellectual analysis.
Lahiri Mahashaya tied the nuptial knot with Kashimoni, the daughter of Mahamahopadhyaya Pundit Devanarayan, a reputed scholar of Kashi. Their marriage was a splendid divine play of the Almighty — the great union of Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga. Lahiri Mahashaya braved all worldly woes with a sense of inner detachment and equanimity. When Kashimoni tried to bring these to his notice, his usual refrain was, "Surely Lord Vishwanath who sustains the universe can maintain a small family." He remained unruffled during an ordeal of acute financial hardship he endured while working in the public works department of military engineering. Detachment from wealth and property was the hallmark of his unostentatious life.
Lahiri Mahashaya's spiritual quest reached its peak when he was transferred to the Himalayas. It was there, in Ranikhet, that he met his deathless guru, Babaji Maharaj. Materializing a magnificent golden palace studded with countless dazzling jewels and gems of all varieties, Babaji Maharaj initiated Lahiri Mahashaya into all the sacred and secret techniques of Kriya Yoga. Lahiri Mahashaya was highly gratified to attain such an inconceivable stage of God-realization. As instructed by Babaji Maharaj, he returned home to perform the worldly duties of an ideal householder. He became a perfectly realized yogi, able to show the path of liberation to householders, brahmacharis, and yogis alike. Word of his spiritual attainment spread, drawing devotees and seekers from all walks of life towards him.
Siddha Yogi Lahiri Mahashaya's divine play of miracles was without end. Though he had a physical body, he was also formless. Materializing in more than one place at the same time, he accomplished his work. Kind-hearted and generous, he miraculously saved the lives of many disciples and drew true seekers to him like a sweet and fragrant flower bewitches bees. His state of wisdom and his perfect balance were displayed when he continued a discourse on the Bhagavad Gita, unperturbed, while his family members mourned his daughter's death.
Lahiri Mahashaya's mahasamadhi took place on September 26, 1895, the day of mahashtami worship of Mother Durga. As he entered into the eternal abode of God, he said: "Those who practice this immortal Kriya Yoga shall never perish and become orphans. Obtaining this great and immortal Kriya Yoga from Babaji Maharaj, I resuscitated it in this world. In the future, it will spread to every house, and man will gradually move ahead on this path to the ultimate liberation. The path of salvation shall always remain open to mankind. The time has come for my departure. Even this gross body is destroyed and the ever-existent guru is always with you." Lahiri Mahashaya's diaries, interpretations, discourses, and exemplary life remain as testimony to his fathomless state of wisdom and spiritual attainment.
Swami Shriyukteshwar Giri
A worthy disciple of Lahiri Mahashaya, Priyanath Karar, constantly absorbed in God consciousness, deep in the shambhavi state, and introverted, was none other than the world renowned Swami Shriyukteshwar Giri.
What ancient sages and saints had practiced and put into scriptures, he translated in his own life by passing through all the four ashramas (stages) of Hindu life: brahmacharya (celibacy), grihastha (householder, family life), vanaprastha (life of seclusion), and sannyasa (renunciation) with achievement of four purusarthas: dharma, artha, kama, and moksha to mark his illustrious life as complete and all perfect.
Swami Shriyukteshwar Giri was born to a disciplined, punctilious, and diligent landowner father, Kshetranath Karar, and a devout, pious, and pure mother, Kadambini Devi, on the tenth of May, 1855 in Serampore on the banks of the holy river Ganga. Originally named Priyanath Karar, he was brilliant, inquisitive, fearless, bold, highly spiritual, reasonable, and logical from his very childhood. His innate, deep-rooted tendency to quest inwardly and his unquenchable thirst for knowledge helped him pass all his school examinations successfully and then attend college and medical school.
After the death of his father, under the guidance of his God-conscious mother, he married according to his mother's wish. Despite his many achievements, his family life, his medical knowledge, his mastery of astronomy and astrology, and his knowledge of many languages, including English, French, Hindi, Bengali, and Sanskrit, he still thirsted for something more. An intense desire for God-realization drove him to visit sages and saints. His quest remained unanswered until he met Shri Shyamacharan Lahiri Mahashaya in Kashi (Benares) and became his disciple. From the auspicious day of his initiation into Kriya Yoga, Priyanath devoted himself sincerely to meditation and Kriya practice in close correspondence and company with Lahiri Mahashaya. He was so dear to Lahiri Mahashaya's heart and mind that Lahiri Mahashaya addressed him as Priya (loved one) to show his special affection for him.
Upon returning to Serampore from the Kumbha Mela, he started the holy project, as directed by Babaji Maharaj, of writing a synthesis between Western philosophy and Eastern mysticism. He soon completed the work titled Kaivalya Darshana (The Holy Science), and Babaji Maharaj, as promised, privileged Priyanath with his darshan when he was coming out from his bath in the river Ganga after meditating the whole night. Babaji Maharaj declined visiting the ashram even with Priyanath's heart moistening entreaties. The elation he had while rushing to the ashram and returning with milk and fruits to offer to Babaji Maharaj soon withered away when he found Babaji no more, and in great wrath he threw them away. This fury of anger did not remain hidden from Babaji Maharaj. On the occasion of his meeting with Babaji Maharaj in Lahiri Mahashaya's house, the great master admonished him not to be angry and show conceit.
On March 22, 1903, the day of Vernal Equinox according to Priyanath's cosmic astrology, not the conventional April 13 or 14, he established a hermitage named Karar Ashram in Puri Nilachaladham and adjacent to the seashore. It was a milestone in the history of Kriya Yoga. Brought from the labyrinthine caverns of the Himalayas to the plains by his master, Yogiraj Shyamacharan Lahiri Mahashaya, Kriya Yoga was spread by his worthy disciple Shriyukteshwarji to mingle with the infinite ocean.
As revealed beforehand to his disciple Narayan, Swami Shriyukteshwar entered into mahasamadhi on the 9th of March, 1936, in Puri Karar Ashram. A worthy disciple can be a worthy master. He produced many worthy God-realized and world-renowned disciples such as Paramahamsa Yogananda and Paramahamsa Hariharananda, who successfully fructified their master's dream by spreading Kriya Yoga to every nook and corner of the world. The stunning account of his resurrection before Yoganandaji in a Mumbai hotel after his mahasamadhi, narrating his sojourn in hiranyaloka, and appearing before Paramahamsa Hariharananda and other disciples many times, fills devotees with spiritual vibrations. His five quintessential nuances — self-control, steadiness in spiritual practice, deep scriptural insight, self-surrender, and strict discipline — remain as priceless treasures for Kriya practitioners wishing to ascend to the Ultimate.
Shrimat Bhupendranath Sanyal Mahashaya
A boy of sixteen, initiated into Kriya Yoga, stood before the great master Lahiri Mahashaya with a handful of flowers, a moistened heart, and tears streaming down his face. The great master entreated him to confirm his dream in the holy abode of his Gurudev. Moved deeply by his profound yearning for godhood, purity, and humility, Lahiri Mahashaya made the boy's dream a reality by initiating him into the holy path of Kriya Yoga.
Bhupendranath Sanyal Mahashaya was born on January 20, 1877, in the village of Sadhana Para in the district of Nadia in West Bengal, India. This area is a holy and spiritually fertile land that has given birth to many great personalities, sages, and saints such as Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Paramahamsa Hariharananda, and Shri Sitaram Das Omkaranath.
Early in life, when he was barely two, his mother passed away and abandoned him completely to the care, nourishment, and guidance of his maternal uncle, elder sister, and sister's husband. Sanyal Mahashaya bloomed into a divine person filled with inner joy and beauty in the spiritual environment of this Brahmin family. His regular spiritual practice began in 1890 at the age of thirteen just after his sacred thread ceremony and his initiation into the gayatri mantra. He passed his time reading religious books, scriptures, and meeting spiritual persons, saints, and sages. His spiritual practice and education were impeded by frequent illnesses during his schooling and subsequently in his college days.
Sanyal Mahashaya's frequent illnesses compelled his sister to seek the intervention of his Gurudev. He assuaged her, however, saying Sanyal Mahashaya would live long, and many works urgently awaited his attention to be fully accomplished. Sanyal Mahashaya was so sincere, devoted, and committed to the practice of Kriya Yoga that he quickly ascended to the higher techniques and experiences. This inspired his Gurudev to allow him to initiate others into Kriya Yoga.
Lahiri Mahashaya, sensing his imminent departure from this earth, omnisciently advised his dear disciple Sanyal Mahashaya to learn other higher techniques from Panchanan Bhattacharya, a highly advanced disciple and founder of Arya Mission, and to spread the message of Kriya Yoga. In spite of his avowed determination to accept a monastic life, Sanyal Mahashaya was destined to marry Kalidasi Devi at the age of twenty-one, following the footprints of his ideal and exemplary Gurudev. While discharging his household chores, as a father of two sons and four daughters, there is no evidence that he ever strayed from the Kriya Yoga path. Ascending to a state of Self-realization in 1902, he was widely adored as a well-established and fully accomplished yogi. His talents and skills, his untainted, unalloyed character, as well as his inner spiritual enrichment, created a close friendship with Rabindranath Tagore, with whom he worked as a teacher from 1902 to 1909, founding Shantiniketan Institute. The sacred serenity of Puri attracted him to pilgrimage to Puri many times. He established an ashram there named Gurudham in 1923 and an ashram named Bhagalpur in 1924. Bhagalpur became a center for the spread of Kriya Yoga.
A gifted and prolific writer, Sanyal Mahashaya wrote many spiritual books and commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita in Bengali, demonstrating his understanding of the scriptures in the light of Kriya Yoga.
On the 18th of January, 1962, he entered into the eternal abode known as mahasamadhi, but he remains immortal in the hearts of thousands of devotees and spiritual seekers who got a glimpse of an ancient rishi, a great yogi, and a divine guide and master.
The prophecy of Lahiri Mahashaya came true when Mukunda Lal Ghosh was born to Gyana Prabha and Bhagabati Charan Ghosh on January 5, 1893. Mukunda would later become adored worldwide as Paramahamsa Yogananda, a prophet for people stuck in the mire of delusion. An outpouring of Mukunda's unquenched thirst and unmitigated love for God surged so intensely in him, even in his early childhood, that he posted letters to God in heaven earnestly waiting for His reply. Groomed and bred on the anvil of the saintly care of his pious parents, the spiritual spark in him grew day by day until it became an all-radiant and effulgent light.
His strong and indomitable willpower, dynamic personality, divine love, and high state of spiritual experience enabled him to be a spiritual beacon, blazing the path of Kriya Yoga for millions of people in the West. That he was divinely ordained to do so was evidenced by the prophecy of Swami Vivekananda: "I have laid the foundation of spiritualism, but after me a mahayogi will come who will teach you how to realize God through yoga." Yoganandaji's use of language in both his speeches and writings was so forceful that others could easily perceive the miraculous play of gurus and God within him. He blended Swami Vivekananda's clarity, Shankaracharya's wisdom, and Chaitanya's love.
After a decade and a half of ceaseless spiritual work in the USA, Yoganandaji retuned to India in 1935 to the unspeakable exhilaration of his beloved Gurudev. During his stay, many great personalities such as Ramana Maharshi, Anandamoyee Ma, Kashimoni Devi, the saintly wife of Shyamacharan, and Mahatma Gandhi came in contact with him. Understanding the significance and universality of Kriya Yoga as the scientific foundation of all religions, Mahatma Gandhi and his disciples in Wardha Ashram took initiation from him in 1935. During his stay in Kolkata, Paramahamsa Hariharananda took initiation into second Kriya from him. His Gurudev Shriyukteshwarji bestowed on him the highest monastic title of paramahamsa during this period.
When Yoganandaji was at the Kumbha Mela, he received several urgent calls from his Gurudev to return immediately to Puri. Unfortunately, Paramahamsa Yogananda planned to combine his return to Puri with the foundation day of Puri Karar Ashram on the 22nd of March, the Vernal Equinox Day. Delaying his journey back to Puri caused him to miss the conscious departure of his beloved Gurudev on March 9. It is very difficult to describe the bereavement of a realized yogi who loses the physical company and guidance of his Gurudev. A mesmerizing and miraculous rendezvous with his beloved Gurudev took place some days later at the Regent Hotel in Mumbai on the eve of Yoganandaji's return to the West. Shriyukteshwarji materialized in blood and flesh before Yoganandaji and gave a thrilling account of his sojourn in hiranyaloka.
Yoganandaji's life was eventful, miraculous, monumental, and epoch-making. On October 6, 1951, he wrote to Paramahamsa Hariharananda, "My life is a whirlwind of activity and struggle with work." A gifted orator and singer, he inundated the hearts of millions with the water of divine love. His published books, such as The Autobiography of a Yogi, Whispers From Eternity, The Divine Romance, and Science of Religion, stand as a glowing testimony to his boundless brilliance, erudition, and experience with the Self. On March 7, 1952, when a banquet was given for his Excellency Mr. Binay R. Sen, former Ambassador from India to the USA, Yoganandaji, in midst of his speech, with a blessed smile, attained mahasamadhi to the amazement and stunning silence of all singing a beautiful song in paeans of India's eternal glory:
"Where Ganges, woods, Himalayan caves, and men dream of God; I am hallowed, my body touched that sod."
The mysterious event of his physical body remaining ensconced in eternal peace without the faintest shred of evidence of decomposition for twenty days leaves us awestruck and inspires us to experience the deathless state.
Swami Satyananda Giri
Manmohan (Swami Satyananda) was born to Mohini Mohan Majumdar and Tarabasini Devi on the 17th of November, 1896, in his maternal uncle's house in Bikrampur (Bangladesh). He was a philosopher, singer, composer, poet, social worker, and above all, a gifted disciple and truly divine master in the lineage of Kriya Yoga. A hint of his impeccable love for humanity, without distinction of class, caste, or religion, was evident at the young age of six or seven when he flouted the entrenched tradition of untouchability on a social occasion in the presence of his relatives and friends. By the age of ten, his quest for liberation was extremely deep-rooted, making strong his burning quest for the independence of India as well as for the ultimate liberation of mankind from the fetters of worldly sufferings, bondage, and body consciousness.
Swami Satyananda's first encounter with his childhood friend and guide, Mukunda (Paramahamsa Yogananda), took place at the entrance to the Dumb and Deaf School in Kolkata when he sought to borrow a pump to inflate a football for his team. The intimacy between them grew intensely as they both sped quickly toward realizing Truth. Promising to maintain celibacy throughout their lives, they spent their time meditating in seclusion in a variety of holy places and temples. Even at night these two young men remained utterly devoted, unlike the others who spent their time in wild revelry and merrymaking.
Manmohan visited holy places, spiritual people, and saints with Mukunda. Hamsa Swami Kevalananda, the great Sanskrit tutor of Mukunda, who taught him the basics of Kriya Yoga, laid the foundation for his spiritual life. The spartan, simple, austere lifestyle and the profound spiritual experience of Kevalanandaji had a great impact on Manmohan's life. His long cherished dream was fulfilled during his college years when he met his guru of destiny, Swami Shriyukteshwar, and was initiated into Kriya Yoga. His guru's deep insight, profound metaphorical interpretation of the scriptures, fathomless divine experience in Kriya Yoga, and knowledge of astronomy and astrology played a major role in making him a dedicated and ardent disciple. Four years after Mukunda became a sannyasi known as Swami Yogananda, Manmohan graduated from the university with a B.A. (Honors) in Philosophy. In 1919, under the direction of his guru, he was initiated into the monastic order and became known as Swami Satyananda Giri.
Inspired and guided by Paramahamsa Yogananda, Swami Satyananda's spiritual life reached its crescendo when he became a monk. He spent most of his time and energy meditating and organizing the residential ashram school founded by Paramahamsa Yogananda in Ranchi, along with his schoolmate turned sannyasi, Swami Dhirananda. Swami Satyananda's illustrious character, honesty, and purity, his exemplary lifestyle, selfless love, and care for his disciples and students, inspired Mahatma Gandhi to visit Ranchi Ashram, after which he praised the ashram and invited Swami Satyananda to visit his own Sabarmati ashram.
When he visited Mahatma Gandhi's ashram, he was accorded a grand reception and hearty welcome and was requested to stay in the ashram for several days. Swami Satyananda laid the foundation for Mahatma Gandhi and his disciples' initiation into Kriya Yoga by Paramahamsa Yogananda, who returned to India in 1935. His love for mother India and his eagerness to dedicate his life to the liberation of the people of India was manifest when he sadly declined the offer of his bosom friend and guide Paramahamsa Yogananda to come to America to help in his divine mission.
Following the call of his dear Gurudev Swami Shriyukteshwar, he went to Puri Karar Ashram to lead his life under the spiritual guidance of his Gurudev. Later he was installed as the ashram swami. After his Gurudev's mahasamadhi on March 9, 1936, and a few months after Paramahamsa Yogananda's return to America, Swami Satyananda intiated Rabinaryan Brahmachari (Parmahamsa Hariharananda) into higher kriyas. Leaving the work and management of Puri Ashram to Rabinaryan Brahmachari, he accepted the life of a wandering monk, preaching and teaching Kriya Yoga all over India. His encounter in South India with Ramana Maharshi, a luminous saint renowned for his deep spiritual experience, turned into a unique, intense love. Ramana Maharshi was impressed by Satyanandaji's captivating personality, and he pressed Satyananda to settle down permanently in his ashram.
Tragedy truck in 1944 when the terrible famine in Bengal turned Satyanandaji's melting heart toward the starving and famished poor. His motto was, "service with love and meditation for all." As a token of his love for the downtrodden and underserved society, he established the Sevayatan Satsang Mission in Jhadagram, an underdeveloped region in the Mednipur district of West Bengal, where he spent the later part of his life from 1944 to 1971 transforming the lives of millions of people. After Paramahamsa Yogananda's mahasamadhi in 1952 and until the end of his life, he remained the president of Puri Karar Ashram. With a life enriched with spiritual experience, dedicated to the cause of humanity, and espousing the message of Kriya Yoga, he ultimately left his mortal body on the second of August, 1971, in his Sevayatan Satsang Mission.
Paramahamsa Hariharananda, a realized Kriya Yoga master, was born as Rabindranath Bhattacharya in the hamlet of Habibpur of Nadia in Bengal, India, the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, on May 27, 1907. He was born into a wealthy family, to a Brahmin father, Haripada Bhattacharya, and an outstandingly pious, generous, and loving mother, Nabin Kali Devi. The child Rabi would be as luminous and brilliant as the sun, removing the darkness of ignorance from the world, as augured by his father (Rabi means "sun."). Rabi was highly spiritual and cultured, staunch and astute, and well versed in all scriptures. His precocious memory for intricate mantras, hymns, and prayers in Sanskrit, which he learned while listening to his father even at the age of four, exhibited uncommon and marvelous perspicacity. Under the guidance of his father, he quickly mastered Vedic astrology, astronomy, and palmistry. When Rabi was twelve, Shri Bijoy Krishna Chattopadhyay, a renowned Self-realized sadhaka, initiated him into Jnana Yoga and later inspired him to meet Jnanavatar Shriyukteshwar.
1932 was a momentous year. Rabinarayan met Swami Shriyukteshwarji in the Serampore ashram and was initiated into Kriya Yoga. Swami Shriyukteshwarji taught him cosmic astrology and entreated him to move in and take charge of the famous Karar Ashram in Puri, Orissa. In Swami Shriyukteshwarji's gracious company, he crossed the stages of first Kriya. He then received second Kriya from Paramahamsa Yogananda after witnessing Yoganandaji's samadhi during Yoganandaji's return to India in 1935.
Two years after the mahasamadhi of Swami Shriyukteshwarji in 1938, Rabinarayan stayed in a rented house near the seashore in Puri. Many people reported having seen the physical body of Swami Shriyukteshwarji after his worldly departure. Before Rabinarayan moved to Puri, he instructed a friend to find a house to rent there. His friend later realized that the old monk who directed him to rent a certain house near the sea, where Rabinarayan lived in for some time, was actually Swami Shriyukteshwarji. Later, Swami Shriyukteshwarji instructed Rabinarayan to henceforth live in the Karar Ashram. From that day onward, he lived in the ashram as Brahmachari Rabinarayan, leading an ascetic life, fulfilling the grand wish of Swami Shriyukteshwarji.
In 1940, he mastered kechari, bhramari, and shambhavi. During this time, an effulgence of supernatural divine light started glowing around his body, producing ineffable awe and spiritual ecstasy in many. In 1940 and 1941, he learned third Kriya from Swami Satyananda Giri. From 1943 to 1945, the last higher Kriya initiations were given by Shrimat Bhupendranath Sanyal, a realized householder disciple of Lahiri Mahashaya. In 1944, he was taught some intricacies of meditation and spiritual life by a mysterious, anonymous yogi. From 1946 to 1948, he attained different states of samadhi, including nirvikalpa samadhi.
After following a strict spiritual practice of sincere meditation and maintaining silence for many years, Mahavatar Babaji Maharaj graced him with two long-cherished visits in 1949 at Karar Ashram, showering him with blessings and prophesizing that his mission would be to spread Kriya Yoga to the East and West. He later traveled to the famous Ranikhet in the Himalayas to visit Babaji Maharaj, but only heard Babaji's voice instruct him to spread Kriya Yoga throughout the world.
In 1950, he was appointed by Paramahamsa Yogananda as the acharya of the Karar Ashram. From that day on, he worked tirelessly for the spiritual advancement of the disciples on the spiritual path. Aware of his spiritual attainment, in 1951 Paramahamsa Yogananda empowered Brahmachari Rabinarayan to initiate sincere seekers into Kriya Yoga. Thus, he started his long missionary work that took him to the length and breadth of his beloved India. He was also blessed with the highest spiritual attainment, the paramahamsa stage.
On September 27, 1958, Mother Goddess Kali, his presiding deity, appeared before him with all effulgence of light and radiant splendor, instructing him to work ceaselessly for the spiritual uplifting of the world, assuring him of her blessings on his work teaching Kriya Yoga.
On his fifty-second birthday on May 27, 1959, he was initiated into sannyasa by the world renowned sannyasi Jagadguru Bharati Krishna, the Shankaracharya of Gobardhana Peetha, Puri. Casting off his previous name Brahmachari Rabinarayan, he became Swami Hariharananda Giri.
He was later crowned sadhu sabhapati (president) of the Karar Ashram amidst the loud applause and approval of many sadhakas, sadhus, and the Shankaracharya. His spiritual life illustrates the synthesis of karma, jnana, and bhakti practices.
To keep the luminous light of Kriya Yoga burning, which had been ignited by Paramahamsa Yogananda, and to spread the message of Kriya Yoga throughout the West, Paramahamsa Hariharananda (who became known affectionately as "Baba" (father) to his spiritual children) traveled to Switzerland for the first time in 1974. Since then he has spread the message of Kriya Yoga throughout the world and has established Kriya Yoga centers in Europe, India, and North and South America. Attaining nirvikalpa samadhi, at will was a rare hallmark of Paramahamsa Hariharananda's sadhana.
Highly educated and well-versed in many languages, Paramahamsa Hariharananda mastered numerous religious scriptures such as the Bible, Torah, Quran, Buddhist texts, Vedas, Upanishads, Tantra, Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Sankar Darshan, Brahma Sutra, and more. He illuminated their meaning by providing divine interpretations in a new metaphorical way. His writings include Kriya Yoga: The Scientific Process of Soul-Culture, The Bhagavad Gita In the Light of Kriya Yoga: A Rare Metaphorical Explanation for God-Realization, and numerous other publications. For integrating so many scriptures into Kriya Yoga, he earned high praise from all over the world as vishwa guru.
People from all walks of life, from farmers to educators, scientists, ministers, statesmen, civil servants, doctors, engineers, professors, lawyers, judges, musicians, singers, and artists have been privileged to become his disciples and follow his noble path.
Paramahamsa Hariharananda remained extensively in the West after 1990 and his work continues from headquarters on three continents: Vienna, Austria; Miami, USA; and Jagatpur, Orissa, India.
He spent his long life studying, teaching, and fulfilling his mission to share the philosophy and technique of Kriya Yoga with the people of the world until leaving his mortal body in Miami, Florida, USA, on December 3, 2002, at 6.48 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, at the age of 95. Then on the 10th of December, his physical body left the Florida ashram, homeward bound for the distant shores of Mother India to be laid to rest with his forefathers. The Government of Orissa had decided to accord state honors to Paramahamsa Hariharananda upon the arrival of his remains. With a solemn state honor that Orissa had never before bestowed on a monk, Paramahamsa Hariharananda was given bhu-samadhi in Hariharananda Gurukulum in Balighai in the presence of thousands of monks and devotees.
Paramahamsa Hariharananda's life and teachings have been an example for his students and his worthy successor, Paramahamsa Prajnanananda, who continues to spread his loving message all over the world. The legacy of this great teacher lives on through the love and lives of his students.
Paramahamsa Prajnanananda was born as Triloki Dash in the village of Pattamundai in Orissa, India. Raised in a pious and spiritual atmosphere, he began searching for a spiritual mentor in early childhood. In 1980, while still a student in college, he met his Gurudev, Paramahamsa Hariharananda, who initiated him into Kriya Yoga. Unlike his peers, Triloki Dash spent much of his time in prayer, puja, and meditation. He frequently retreated to the solitude of remote Himalayan caves to be in the company of sages and saints seeking ultimate Truth. He kept up a rigorous spiritual practice under the tutelage of his beloved Gurudev while working as a professor of Economics at Ravenshaw College in Cuttack.
In 1995, Brahmachari Triloki Dash was initiated as a sannyasi, monk, by Paramahamsa Hariharananda. Receiving the name Swami Prajnanananda Giri, he was directed by his Gurudev the next day to travel to Europe, the USA, and other countries in order to propagate Kriya Yoga through public lectures, seminars, retreats, and meditation. Long before Triloki Dash became a monk, Paramahamsa Hariharananda predicted, "Whatever is started by me has to be completed by him."
Three years later, Paramahamsa Prajnanananda was given the title of Paramahamsa, the highest title given to monks and saints who attain the apogee of God-realization, by his Gurudev on August 10, 1998, on his birthday.
Aglow with radiant wisdom, ever joyful, and reveling in the selfless sacrifice of a silent and secluded monk's life, Prajnananada has ceaselessly traveled around the world to promote the message of Kriya Yoga to all who seek liberation. He has written and translated numerous books on spiritual topics, skillfully interpreting ageless philosophies in the light of modern science and technology. Using a simple, succinct, candid style, he demonstrates a broad scriptural knowledge, profound wisdom, and a delightful way with words. Able to focus on multiple tasks at one time with perfect precision and mastery, Prajnananandaji projects a buoyant, energetic God-intoxication.
In 1999, Prajnananandaji became the third Indian monk, following Swami Vivekananda and Shri Ravi Shankar, to address the Parliament of World Religions. While serving as the president of Prajnana Mission, he had undertaken projects that promote spiritual education, social and health services, and philanthropic works around the world. He established Hariharananda Balashram, a residential school for poor and orphan children in Arua near his own birthplace, Pattamundai. Following his master's vision, Prajnananandaji created a beautiful ashram with international repute at Balighai, in Orissa, called Hariharananda Gurukulum, and its latest addition, a majestic samadhi temple commemorating his Gurudev.
This world-revered master of Kriya Yoga is the epitome of boundless love, wisdom, and action, representing a combination of Swami Vivekananda, Shri Shankara, and Shri Chaitanya. What Swami Vivekananda was to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Arjuna to Shri Krishna, Prajnananandaji is to his Gurudev, Paramahamsa Hariharananda. Paramahamsa Prajnanananda stands distinguished and unique among saints and sages of India.