Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri was a great yogi and one of the greatest spiritual masters of the 19th century. He was a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya and Guru of Swami Satyanand Giri and Paramahansa Yogananda. Yogananda called him Jananavatar or Incarnation of Wisdom.
Sri Yukteswar Giri has given a deep and complete interpretation of Vedanta, Mimamsa, Yoga, Vaiseshik, Gita, and the Bible. He was a great practitioner and intense astrologer, and he was also a scholar of science. Paramahamsa Yogananda has spoken about his Guru Yukteshwar Giri’s narration and specific works in his autobiography.
At the urging of Lahiri Mahasaya’s teacher, Mahavatar Babaji, he wrote a book named The Holy Science (Kaivalya Darsanam), a treatise on the fundamental unity of Christian and Hindu scriptures. He noticed the basis that expresses the unity between the Christian scriptures and the scriptures of India – Sanatan Dharma. Placing the texts of the scriptures on an impeccably clean operating table of his mind, he dissected them with a scalpel of higher intuition. As a result, he was able to isolate from later layers, insertions, and erroneous conclusions of disciples, followers, and scribes those truths originally formulated by the mentioned prophets.
Journey to become Sri Yukteshwar
Sri Yukteshwar was born on May 10, 1855, in Serampore, West Bengal, India, as Priya Nath Kandar, the son of a wealthy local businessman. His father died young, and he found himself having to manage the family’s properties and wealth (mostly land ownership). Being a brilliant student, he successfully passed the difficult entrance exams at Srirampur Christian Missionary College. The college based in Srirampur or Serampore trained future Christian missionaries affiliated with the University of Calcutta, where he began to take an interest in Bible studies. He later attended the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calcutta for two years.
Immediately after leaving University, he married and had a daughter; however, he soon became a widower, so he decided to devote himself to monastic life. He got the name, Sri Yukteshwar Giri. Therefore, Sri is not a distinct honor but part of his name.
Meeting with Lahiri Mahasaya
In 1884 he met Lahiri Mahasaya Sri Shyamacharan in Kashi, Banaras, for the first time, who would soon become his Guru, and was initiated by him into Kriya Yoga. From then on, he remained by his Guru’s side and devoted himself sincerely to meditation and the practice of Kriya in close correspondence and the company of Lahiri Mahasaya. He was so close and lovable to Lahiri Mahasaya’s heart and mind that Lahiri Mahasaya addressed him as Priya (a loved one) to show him his special affection.
Mahavatar Babaji and the Holy Science
Meeting with Mahavatar Babaji, becoming Swami, and creating a book Kaivalya Darsanam of The Holy Science.
In 1894, he attended the Kumbha Mela in Allahabad. While returning, he met the Guru of Lahiri Mahasaya, Mahavatar Babaji, for the first time, who asked Sri Yukteshwar to write a book comparing the Hindu scriptures and the Bible. Mahavatar Babaji also grants Sri Yukteshwar the title of Swami at this meeting.
In the Hindu tradition, the Swami is an ascetic or a yogi who has been initiated into a religious monastic order. Furthermore, Babaji told him that one day he would send him a disciple who would in the future popularize Yoga in the West, clearly referring to Paramhansa Yogananda. Sri Yukteshwar completed the requested book in 1894, naming it Kaivalya Darsanam or The Holy Science, where he described his version of the Yuga theory. Based on the Astrological and scriptural point of view, he proved that the earth has ascended to the Dwapar Yuga (Electrical Era of Energy) in the book.
Mahavatar Babaji, as promised, favored Sri Yukteshwar from his darshan as he emerged from his bath in the Ganga after meditating all night. Babaji refused to come to the ashram, even with the pleas of Sri Yukteshwar. The joy he felt as he rushed to the ashram and returned with milk and fruit to offer Babaji quickly vanished when he could no longer find him, making him very angry and throwing his offerings.
Spiritual Journey of Sri Yukteshwar Giri
Later Sri Yukteshwar converted his large family home into an Ashram. On March 22, 1903, he founded a second Ashram in Puri, in the state of Odisha, eastern India naming it Karar Ashram. The formation of the ashram was a milestone in the history of Kriya Yoga.
Taken from the labyrinthine caves of the Himalayas to the plains by his master, Yogiraj Shyamacharan Lahiri Mahasaya, Kriya Yoga was propagated by his deserving disciple Sri Yukteshwar ji to mingle with the infinite ocean. The master divided himself between the two Ashrams to instruct his students and founded an organization called Sadhu Sabha.
Sri Yukteshwar was very interested in education, so much so that he insisted his disciple, Yogananda, graduate. This led Sri Yukteshwar to devise a school curriculum that included the following subjects: physics, physiology, geography, astronomy, and astrology. He also wrote a book called First Book for Bengalis, so they could learn basic English and Hindi and wrote a basic book on astrology. Later he became interested in women’s education, which was rare in Bengal at that time.
A child is born on that day and at that hour when the celestial rays are in mathematical harmony with his individual karma. His horoscope is a challenging portrait, revealing his unalterable past and its probable future results. But the natal chart can be rightly interpreted only by men of intuitive wisdom: these are few.
Superstitious awe of astrology makes one an automaton, slavishly dependent on mechanical guidance. The wise man defeats his planets—which is to say, his past—by transferring his allegiance from the creation to the Creator. The more he realizes his unity with Spirit, the less he can be dominated by matter. The soul is ever-free; it is deathless because birthless. It cannot be regimented by stars.
Sri Yukteshwar always had few disciples, and in 1910 the young Mukunda Lal Ghosh became the master’s most famous student and was the one who spread the practice of Kriya Yoga in the West, where he became known as Paramhansa Yogananda.
Yogananda later explained that his teacher had few disciples due to his great severity. Sri Yukteshwar and Yogananda’s goal was to disseminate Eastern knowledge to the West so that the Western mind could fully appreciate and understand.
He translated what ancient sages and saints had practiced and written in the Scriptures into his own life through the four stages of Hindu life. Brahmacharya (celibacy), grihastha (father of a family), vanaprastha (life of solitude), and sannyasa (renunciation) with the realization of four purusarthas: dharma, artha, kama, and moksha to mark his illustrious life as complete and perfect.
He initiated many sincere disciples recognized worldwide, such as Paramahamsa Yogananda and Paramahamsa Hariharananda. They succeeded in making their Master’s dream come true by spreading Kriya Yoga to all corners of the world.
Mahasamadhi of Sri Yukteshwar Giri
As indicated in advance to his disciple Narayan, Swami Sri Yukteshwar entered Mahasamadhi on March 9, 1936, at Puri Karar Ashram. Swami Sri Yukteshwar Giri was sitting in Shambhavi posture on Padmasana as usual. He ordered his disciple Narayan to support his chest and waist with both hands. The disciple did the same.
Swami Sriyukteshwar Giri went into a state of deepest samadhi; his body was absolutely calm and stable. Then consciously freed himself from his body. His disciple Narayan felt a slight pulsation from the chest of his Guru’s body to the Brahmarandhra and also heard a very slow sound that resembled the sound OM. Shocked, his disciple Narayan kept massaging his calm body for a long time.
The astonishing account of his resurrection before Yogananda ji in a Mumbai hotel after his mahasamadhi, recounting his stay in Hiranyaloka and repeatedly appearing before Paramahamsa Hariharananda and other disciples, fills the devotees with spiritual vibrations.
His five nuances elevated to excellence – self-control, stability in spiritual practice, deep scriptural understanding, self-surrender, and strict discipline – remain invaluable treasures for Kriya practitioners who wish to ascend towards the Ultimate. Sri Yukteshwar is considered to be the embodiment of wisdom.
Teachings of Sri Yukteshwar Giri
- Man’s desire for material things is eternal; man is never fully satisfied and is following one goal after another. A man wants to achieve something that is God, and only he can provide lasting joy. External cravings take us away from our inner happiness and our inner heaven; they only give us false happiness. The lost inner heaven can be quickly returned by divine meditation.
- Sri Yukteshwar Giri has taught the important lesson regarding the importance of Guru/Teacher in our life. He said to Paramahansa Yogananda,- I will be your friend internally now then whether your mental state is very good or not. If you make a mistake, I will still be your friend. At that point, you will need my friendship the most. Gurus are always with us (not physically but mentally and spiritually). The Gurus always extend a helping hand to us. He gives his disciples opportunities to progress by letting them ask questions.
- Just as hunger has a real purpose, but not gluttony, in the same way, nature has created the tendency of sensual passion only for the promotion of species, not to awaken lust. Destroy your wrong desires right now; otherwise, they will stick with you in your soul and subtle form even after leaving this physical body. It may not be easy to control the desires of your body, but your mind should regularly keep on opposing.
- If temptation invades you, then use your will, make it unbeatable, and analyze the temptation with your will. Be like a vast ocean in which all the rivers of your senses will quietly disappear. The lusts will awaken with new power each day and drown your inner peace with it. These lusts are like the holes in the reservoir that drain your life and soul into a desert of sensuality. The powerful impulse of these lusts is the greatest enemy of your happiness. Develop inner peace through your strong will and self-control.
- In 1894 Sri Yukteshwar anticipated that the 20th century would be the period of great discoveries for humanity, during which we would understand that everything rests on one thing: energy. This was stated about 11 years before Einstein presented the famous formula E= mc2to the world. Sri Yukteshwar believed that such discoveries would result from the influence of the energies of the Dwapara Yuga, knowing that at the beginning of each new Yuga, the human mentality changes radically.
Quotes by Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri
- Wisdom is the greatest cleanser.
- Forget you were born a Hindu, and don’t be an American. Take the best of them both. Be your true self, a child of God. Seek and incorporate into your being the best qualities of all your brothers, scattered over the earth in various races.⠀
- The deeper the realization of a man, the more he influences the whole universe by his subtle spiritual vibrations, and the less he himself is affected by the phenomenal flux.
- Outward longings drive us from the Eden within; they offer false pleasures which only impersonate soul happiness. The lost paradise is quickly regained through divine meditation. As God is unanticipatory Ever-Newness, we never tire of Him. Can we be surfeited with bliss, delightfully varied throughout eternity?
- The body is a treacherous friend. Give it its due; no more. Pain and pleasure are transitory; endure all dualities with calmness, while trying at the same time to remove their hold. Imagination is the door through which disease, as well as healing, enters. Disbelieve in the reality of sickness even when you are ill; an unrecognized visitor will flee!
- Do not confuse understanding with a larger vocabulary, sacred writings are beneficial in stimulating the desire for inward realization if one stanza at a time is slowly assimilated. Continual intellectual study results in vanity and the false satisfaction of undigested knowledge.
- Good manners without sincerity are like a beautiful dead lady. Straightforwardness without civility is like a surgeon’s knife, effective but unpleasant. Candor with courtesy is helpful and admirable.
- The deeper the self-realization of a man, the more he influences the whole universe by his subtle spiritual vibrations, and the less he himself is affected by the phenomenal flux. There is a deeper astrology, not dependent on the testimony of calendars and clocks.
- Each man is a part of the Creator or Cosmic Man; he has a heavenly body as well as one of earth. The human eye sees the physical form, but the inward eye penetrates more profoundly, even to the universal pattern of which each man is an integral and individual part.
- The Lord responds to all and works for all. Just as he sent rain at my plea, so he fulfills any sincere desire of the devotee. Seldom do men realize how often god heeds their prayers. He is not partial to a few, but listens to everyone who approaches him trustingly. His children should ever have implicit faith in the loving-kindness of their omnipresent father.
- A worthy leader has the desire to serve, not to dominate.
- The root of pain is egoistic actions, which (being based on delusions) lead to misery.