Lahari Mahasaya was a great Guru, disciple, loving and caring father, husband, and son. He acquired the knowledge of Kriya from his great Guru Mahavatar Babaji and passed it to his disciples, such as Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri and Panchanan Bhattacharya.
Yukteshwar Giri became the Guru of Paramahansa Yogananda, who is known to be the father of Yoga in the west. He makes Lahari Mahasaya famous in the west through his best-selling book Autobiography of a Yogi.
An accountant in the department of the British military, and a genius in everyday life, Lahiri Mahasaya never left India. Considered by practitioners of kriya Yoga and his followers as a perfectly accomplished yogi, his disciples reported having witnessed many miracles or unusual facts, such as, for example, episodes of bilocation and healing.
Unlike most other kriya yoga gurus, Lahiri Mahasaya was a family man. He did not leave written works directly, but some of his disciples have collected much of his commentary on many scriptures, including the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads.
Life of Lahiri when he was a child
He was born Shyama Charan Lahiri on Tuesday, September 30, 1828, in the small village of Ghurni in the Nadia district of Bengal Province. He was born to Gaur Mohan Lahiri and his second wife, Muktakashi. Muktakashi was a passionate admirer of the God Shiva.
Lahiri Mahasaya’s mother died when he was still very young, a mere child. When he was three or four years old, he often sat by the river in some yogic position, buried in the sand. His entire body, except for the head, was hidden.
The Lahiri estate was washed away by the waters of the Ganges in 1833 when the nearby Jalanga river changed its course. Together with the house, one of the Shiva temples erected by Gaur Mohan Lahiri went to the depths of the Ganges. Gaur Mohan Lahiri with his family left Guria and settled in Banares.
Little Lahiri attended Hindi and Urdu courses and attended Joy Narayana Goshal’s school, where he studied Sanskrit, Bengali, English, and French. Showing a special interest in the Vedas, the young yogi enjoyed attending lectures by Brahmin scholars, including the famous Mahratta Nag-Bhatta.
Lahiri Mahasaya became a family man
Sri Lahiri Mahasaya performed his sadhana every day and often went swimming in the Ganges, even during floods. He never stopped praying and meditating as he used to from early childhood.
Shri Lahiri Mahasaya got married to Kashimani Devi after finishing his studies in 1846. The true blessings of their marriage were two sons, Tinkuri and Dukuri, and two daughters.
After his studies, Shri Lahiri Mahasaya started working as an office worker. But his meager salary was not enough to support his family. In 1851, when Lahiri Mahasaya was twenty-three years old, he got a job as an accountant in the military engineering department of the British government. Subsequently, he managed to advance quite well on the career ladder.
He was called Pagla Babu, which means crazy officer. After his father’s death, the young man took on the burden of responsibility for all members of his family. He bought a house for them in Garudeshwar Mohalla, a quiet suburb of Banaras.
Master of Yoga – Householder Yogi
Lahiri Mahasaya led the life of an ideal householder yogi and gave hope to all worldly people to achieve liberation through Kriya Yoga without leaving their household duties and responsibilities.
Millions of his disciples, burdened with family ties and heavy worldly responsibilities, received a new heart from him, a householder like them. He followed what Mahavatar Babaji, the deathless guru, taught him;
Even in the world, the yogi who faithfully discharges his responsibilities, without personal motive or attachment, treads the sure path of enlightenment.Lahiri Mahasaya
Babaji Maharaj allowed Lahiri to give Kriya freely to anyone who humbly asked for help. Lahiri was the family name of Shyama Charan Lahiri heritage. Mahasaya is a religious title in Sanskrit, meaning vast-minded yoga master.
His innate glory spread like the fragrance of flowers can, allowing a lot of disciples to seek divine nectar from their leader.
Yogavatar Sri Lahiri Mahasaya
He was not actively looking for a guru. It was the divine Guru who attracted him to the heart of the Himalayas in December 1861. He obtained divine grace from his great Master Shri Mahavatar Babaji.
Mahavatar Babaji was a mysterious Avatar with great powers, materializing and dematerializing at any time and place. The Mahavatar Babaji revealed to him the ancient, almost lost science of Kriya Yoga, giving him the task of giving initiation to sincere seekers.
This science includes many techniques that Lahiri Mahasaya focused on in a progression of preparatory exercises and initiations known as the Kriya Yoga of Lahiri Mahasaya of Banares. Thanks to his great contribution, Lahiri Mahasaya is popular and known by the name of the father of Kriya Yoga today, and as the Yogavatar.
Spiritual journey without leaving worldly duties
When Shri Lahiri Mahasaya was initiated into the tradition of kriya yoga, he got a taste of the inner journey which was to eventually lead him to merge into eternal infinity. He, therefore, desires to spend the rest of his life immersed in deep meditation and realization through renunciation. But his Guru wanted him to play the role of the perfect head of the family, with wife and children, remaining at the same time highly spiritual.
Mahavatar Babaji wanted him to bring to the world the ideal of leading a spiritual life while working in the material world.
Miracles of Lahiri Mahasaya
Lahiri Mahasaya never wrote any books, but his comments, his teachings to his disciples, and the miracles he performed for the welfare of his disciples all have been recorded. This article about his life journey would be incomplete if we don’t mention the miracles he performed.
1. His colleague British Officer relieved from stress
One day Lahiri Mahasaya saw that one of the British officers in the office was saddened by something.
He asked the officer: Why are you so upset? What is the reason? Can I find out?
The officer replied: My wife is very sick in England, and I haven’t heard from her for a long time. This is why I am upset.
Lahiri Mahasaya told him: Do not be upset, you will receive news.
The officer asked: How can I get the news? The officer knew that Lahiri Mahasaya was a yogi, but he was not interested in Indian yogis. Nevertheless, he was eager to know how Lahiri Mahasaya might have learned something.
Lahiri Mahasaya walked into the next room. Sometime later, he came out and said: She’s fine, but she’s in the hospital. She wrote you a letter. Lahiri Mahasaya presented the contents of the letter to the office. This news reassured the officer, but he still could not shake some of his uneasiness.
A few months later, the English lady recovered and came to her husband in India. One day, while they were walking the streets of Benares, she unexpectedly noticed Lahiri Mahasaya and said to her husband: Look! I saw this man at my bedside in the hospital.
The English officer replied: Yes, you should have seen him because he told me about your condition and recounted the contents of the letter that you wrote to me from the hospital. After this incident, the English couple began to deeply respect Lahiri Mahasaya.
2. When father-in-law became his student
Devanarayan Sanyal, Lahiri Mahasaya’s father-in-law, was known to be a spiritual and religious seeker. He used to worship Lord Shiva and visited the temple of Lord Vishvanatha daily.
Devanarayan did not receive initiation from anyone but performed rituals in accordance with family traditions. He was attached to Lahiri Mahasaya but did not have a deep respect for him like other devotees.
One day one of his friends advised him to take Kriya from his son-in-law. In response to this advice, he laughed as if it were terrible nonsense. Later, when he visited the Visvanatha temple, he saw the face of Lahiri Mahasaya on the Lingam of Shiva. He rubbed his eyes to make sure it wasn’t a hallucination, but he saw the same thing again.
He also went to other temples of Shiva in Benares, but in every temple, on the Lingam of Shiva, he saw the face of Lahiri Mahasaya. That was enough. He went straight to his son-in-law Lahiri Mahasaya.
When he came to Garureshwar, he said to Lahiri Mahasaya: I seek refuge at your feet, please initiate me on the path of Kriya. Lahiri Mahasaya initiated him into Kriya. It was the father-in-law, full of devotion, who first began to call him Yogiraj – The King of Yogis.
3. Feeling of the devastating future
One day Lahiri Mahasaya was teaching the Kriyanvit at his house in Garureshwar. All of a sudden, Lahiri Mahasaya sighed. The Kriya devotee asked: What happened Baba? Why did you sigh? Does your back hurt?
Master replied: It seems to me that I am drowning in the sea near Japan. All the disciples of Kriyanvita were astonished. No one could understand what he wanted to say to them.
Three or four days later, one of the Kriyanvits brought a newspaper and said: Look. It says here that a ship sank in the sea off the coast of Japan. They looked at the date and found that Lahiri Mahasaya felt the pain of the drowning victims as the disaster struck.
Lahiri Mahasaya As Teacher
A significant event in the life of Lahiri Mahasaya was the gift of giving initiation of Kriya Yoga to devout people of all religions, without specifying only the Hindus, since both Muslims and Christians were his outstanding disciples.
The great universal Guru received and taught all individuals equally and without bias, regardless of whether they were monists or dualists, or belonged to unstructured or unrecognized religious groups. Lahiri Mahasaya bravely showed that despite being born into the high caste of Brahmins, he made efforts in his day to dissolve the formality and rigidity of the castes.
All, without exception, despite the paths of life. They found shelter under the protective wings of the great Guru, who, like all prophets inspired by God, always gave new hope to the outcasts, abandoned or helpless in society.
The great Guru advised his students to perform the actual practice of traditional discipline from their own religions. Stressing the comprehensive nature of the practice of the Kriya is a technique of liberation, Lahiri Mahasaya gave freedom to his disciples to live their lives in accordance with the environment, education, and customs they had received.
With wise discernment, the Guru guided his followers on the paths of Bhakti Yoga (devotion), Karma Yoga (action), Jnana Yoga (wisdom), or Raja Yoga (real or complete), according to the natural tendencies of each devotee. The teacher was slow to grant his permission for devotees to enter the formal path of the monastery. He always reminded them that they should reflect on the austerities of monastic life.
Among the many saints who received Kriya education from Lahiri Mahasaya, a special mention should be made of the illustrious Swami Vhaskarananada Saraswati of Banares and Deoghar, the ascetic of great stature, Balananda Brahmachari, Swami Sri Yuteshwar Giri.
Sri Yukteshwar Giri trained and passed the knowledge of Kriya to Paramhansa Yogananda. Lahiri Mahasaya once was a private teacher to the son of Maharaja Ishwari Prasad Narayan Singh of Banares. Both the Maharaja and his son recognized the spiritual commentary of the Guru so they both requested kriya initiation.
End days of Lahiri Mahasaya
In 1886, twenty years after the Ranikhet initiation, Lahiri Mahasaya officially retired from guiding through the complexities of yoga. When his day was free, disciples flocked to him in increasing numbers. Lahiri Mahasaya initiated about five thousand students into Kriya Yoga. This number includes several people – English, Europeans, and American disciples.
The great Guru would spend most of his time sitting quietly in the lotus position, rarely venturing outside of his room, even for a walk or to explore other parts of the house. A constant stream of disciples would come to see him, seeking his spiritual guidance.
Witnesses were astonished to observe Lahiri Mahasaya’s physical state take on extraordinary characteristics, such as experiencing breathlessness, sleeplessness, the cessation of his heartbeat, unblinking eyes for extended periods, and a deeply serene atmosphere. Every visitor who came to see him left feeling spiritually uplifted, as they realized that they had received the silent blessing of a truly holy person.
In the summer of 1895, Sri Lahiri Mahasaya fell ill. An abscess developed on his back, which Lahiri would not allow to open. To the requests of the disciples, who were worried about his condition, he replied: The body must find a reason to leave. He took the Mahasamadhi on September 26, 1895.
Teachings of Lahiri Mahasaya
- Always remember that you do not belong to anyone, and neither does anyone belong to you. Reflect that one day, unexpectedly, you will have to leave everything in this world, thus establishing contact with God from now on.
- Prepare for the astral journey of death to come, rising each day on the globe of divine perception. Due to the illusion, you think that you are a bundle of flesh and blood, or that, in hypothesis, it is nothing more than a nest of difficulties.
- Meditate incessantly so that you can soon contemplate yourself as the Essence of Infinity, free from every form of misery. Don’t be the prisoner of the will of your body, use the secret key of Kriya Yoga to escape to the Spirit. The divine voice has a solution to every dilemma of life.
- A Muslim must perform his namaz five times a day. Four times during the day the Hindu must sit down to meditate. A Christian must kneel four times a day, praying to God and then reading the Bible.
- It is wise who is engaged to perform, not only to read the ancient revelations. Exchange religious speculations, to no avail, for real and true contact with God.
- Cleanse your minds from theological debris and let the healing waters of direct perception sink in. Tune yourselves to the active Inner Guidance. The Divine Voice has an answer to every dilemma in our life.
- Everyone should perform Kriya with a special quality of strength in the mind: I am nobody, not mine, one day everyone should leave everyone and everything. People are content, but when this event suddenly comes, they are swallowed up with grief, regret, sobbing, and remorse. Therefore, let everyone always remember this event without losing vigilance.