A master of yoga and disciple of the great Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya lived as an accountant and family man by day, and great guru by night. He never slept, instead spending all night instructing his disciples.
He is best known for reviving Kriya Yoga, an ancient meditation technique previously only known by those of the highest spiritual advancement. Now all sincere spiritual seekers can learn and practice this sacred art.
Lahiri Mahasaya was born September 30, 1828 in the village of Ghurni. The boy Lahiri, whose given name was Shyama Charan, was often observed sitting under the sands in the posture of a yogi, his body completely hidden except for the head.
Lahiri received instruction in Sanskrit, Bengali, French, and English. Applying himself to a close study of the Vedas, the young yogi listened eagerly to scriptural discussions by learned Brahmins. Shyama Charan was a kind, gentle, and courageous youth, beloved by all his companions.
In 1846 Shyama Charan Lahiri was married to Srimati Kashi Moni. Two saintly sons, Tincouri and Ducouri, blessed the union. At the age of 23, in 1851, Lahiri Mahasaya took the post of accountant.
Babaji and Kriya Yoga
It was in his thirty-third year in 1861 that Lahiri Mahasaya saw fulfillment of the purpose for which he had been reincarnated on earth. A divine decree, resting beyond the gaze of human beings, works mysteriously to bring all things into outer manifestation at the proper time. He met his great guru, Babaji, near Ranikhet, and was initiated by him into Kriya Yoga.
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“Angelic guru, as you have already favored mankind by resurrecting the lost Kriya art, will you not increase that benefit by relaxing the strict requirements for discipleship?” I gazed beseechingly at Babaji. “I pray that you permit me to communicate Kriya to all seekers, even though at first they cannot vow themselves to complete inner renunciation.”
“Be it so. The divine wish has been expressed through you.” With these simple words, the merciful guru banished the rigorous safeguards that for ages had hidden Kriya from the world. “Give Kriya freely to all who humbly ask for help.”Autobiography of a Yogi
Stories and Miracles
I was blessed about the age of eight with a wonderful healing through the photograph of Lahiri Mahasaya. This experience gave intensification to my love. While at our family estate in Ichapur, Bengal, I was stricken with Asiatic cholera. My life was despaired of; the doctors could do nothing. At my bedside, Mother frantically motioned me to look at Lahiri Mahasaya’s picture on the wall above my head.
“Bow to him mentally!” She knew I was too feeble even to lift my hands in salutation. “If you really show your devotion and inwardly kneel before him, your life will be spared!”
I gazed at his photograph and saw there a blinding light, enveloping my body and the entire room. My nausea and other uncontrollable symptoms disappeared; I was well. At once I felt strong enough to bend over and touch Mother’s feet in appreciation of her immeasurable faith in her guru. Mother pressed her head repeatedly against the little picture.
“O Omnipresent Master, I thank thee that thy light hath healed my son!” I realized that she too had witnessed the luminous blaze through which I had instantly recovered from a usually fatal disease. —Paramhansa Yogananda
Leaving the Body
During the summer of 1895 Lahiri Mahasaya developed a small boil on his back. He protested against lancing. Finally a few disciples became very insistent; the master replied cryptically: “‘The body has to find a cause to go; I will be agreeable to whatever you want to do.’ A short time later the incomparable guru gave up his body in Benares. Below is an account from Swami Keshabananda of Lahiri Mahasaya’s death.
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A few days before my guru relinquished his body, he materialized himself before me as I sat in my hermitage at Hardwar. “Come at once to Benares.” With these words Lahiri Mahasaya vanished. I entrained immediately for Benares. At my guru’s home I found many disciples assembled. For hours that day the master expounded the Gita; then he addressed us simply. “I am going home.” Sobs of anguish broke out like an irresistible torrent.
“Be comforted; I shall rise again.” After this utterance Lahiri Mahasaya thrice turned his body around in a circle, faced the north in his lotus posture, and gloriously entered the final maha-samadhi. The following day, at ten o’clock in the morning, while I was still in Benares, my room was suffused with a great light. Lo! before me stood the flesh and blood form of Lahiri Mahasaya! It looked exactly like his old body, except that it appeared younger and more radiant. My divine guru spoke to me.
“Keshabananda,” he said, “it is I. From the disintegrated atoms of my cremated body, I have resurrected a remodeled form. My householder work in the world is done; but I do not leave the earth entirely. Henceforth I shall spend some time with Babaji in the Himalayas, and with Babaji in the cosmos.” With a few words of blessing to me, the transcendent master vanished. Autobiography of a Yogi
Lahiri Mahasaya had many great disciples, some of whom went on to have disicples of their own. Here are a few featured in the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda.
A disciple of Sri Yukteswar who went on to teach Kriya Yoga in the West. He is most famous for his book Autobiography of a Yogi, and also wrote many other books.
Swami Sri Yukteswar
One of the most well-known disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya. Known for his sternness, he did not have many disciples, but was the guru of Paramhansa Yogananda.
Paramhansa Yogananda’s Sanskrit tutor, who inspired Yogananda with many stories of Lahiri Mahasaya’s greatness.
Bhagabati Charan Ghosh
Paramhansa Yogananda’s father and disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya. He and his wife became disciples after Lahiri Mahasaya materialized in front of him and one of his employees.
Gyana Prabha Ghosh
Paramhansa Yogananda’s mother and a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya. She was a very devout and sincere disciple, and died in Yogananda’s childhood, which helped Yogananda to find his mother in the Divine Mother.
An exalted disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya. He is most well known for his ability to be in multiple places at once. Lahiri Mahasaya also appeared to him after his physical death.
Read Autobiography of a Yogi
Paramhansa Yogananda was the first yoga master of India whose mission was to live and teach in the West. This is a firsthand account of his youth spent among great yogis and his spiritual campaigns in the West.
Learn to Meditate
A simple yet effective technique for calmness and concentration. Paramhansa Yogananda taught this technique to his disciples, and told one of them that if they practiced the technique two hours a day that they would become free in that lifetime.
What is Kriya Yoga?
Kriya is a technique of energy control, or pranayama. It is also a spiritual path, which includes additional meditation practices, right living, and a link to enlightened Masters. It is learned through initiation after completing the Ananda Course in Self-realization.