The Gurus of our Kriya Yoga tradition
Mahavatar Babaji: Great divine incarnation (Baba = Father, ji, a suffix indicating deep respect). In Indian mythology the Avatar is a perfect, divine incarnation in human form. Very little is known about Babaji. No one knows when he first incarnated. Yogananda wrote about Babaji in his autobiography, as an immortal yogi living somewhere in the Himalayas, accompanied by extremely advanced disciples. Through the Indian lineages of kriya Yoga, the drawing of Babaji’s image is generally not displayed on the altar, because it is thought that Babaji’s spiritual stature is incomprehensible to human beings, and an image of Babaji would be an injustice.
Shyamacharan Lahiri (Mahasaya) (1828 – 1895): This spiritual master lived and taught only in India. He was initiated by Babaji in 1861 and was authorized by him to teach kriya yoga to common people. Lahiri Mahasaya was married and had children, a few of whom became kriya yoga Gurus. “Mahasaya” was a title attributed to him by his disciples, meaning “great devotee of God.” He never advertised his Guru status. He often told disciples not to reveal the fact that he was their Guru. He is one of the most important models of the kriya yoga path, because his life exemplified the possibility of being God-realized, while leading a normal family life, tending the responsibilities of an ordinary job.
Priya Nath Karar – Sri Yukteswar (1855 – 1936): Sri Yukteswar also lived and taught only in India. He was initiated by Lahiri Mahasaya and thereby authorized to represent the kriya yoga tradition as a Guru. He was an enlightened vedic astrologer. In his book "Autobiography of a Yogi" Paramahansa Yogananda affirmed that his Guru would have been the most followed spiritual master of India, had his temperament been more accommodating to human frailties! He commented on the first nine chapters of the Bhagavad Gita and, under Babaji’s request, he wrote a small book titled “Kaivalya Darshanam”, which was published later in the west, titled “The Holy Science”. In his book, amongst other issues, Sri Yukteswar shared his reflections on the essential commonalities of Indian and Christian scriptures. Sri (shiny) Yukteswar (one with Ishwara), was the name he assumed at his ordination as a swami. Priya Nath Karar, during a period of his life, used to organize group meetings on Saturday afternoons, to comment on the Bhagavad Gita. He belonged to the Kshatriya (warrior) caste. When he became a widower, he decided to accept the vows of the swami order somewhat motivated by the Brahmin’s (the superior caste) preference for social involvements, over his Saturday offerings.
short video of Sri Yukteswar
Mukunda Lal Gosh – Paramahansa Yogananda (1893 -1952): This great spiritual master lived and taught in India and the United States. He was ordained as a Swami by his Guru, Sri Yukteswar. During their last meeting, in 1936, Sri Yukteswar bestowed on him the title, “Paramahansa” (Supreme Swan). It is a spiritual name given only to those who are extremely advanced spiritually. Yogananda reached the United States in 1920 to participate in a religious congress and thereafter decided to remain. He founded the Self-Realization Fellowship, a spiritual organization that continues to thrive. He presented yoga and Christian teachings compatibly, which his organization continues to emphasize. During the first years of his ministry, Yogananda used to travel from town to town giving lectures and seminars, and afterwards settled in Los Angeles at what became the global headquarters of his spiritual organization. He commented on the Gospels, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras. It is reported that during his life he initiated more than one hundred thousand people into kriya yoga. After his passing, most disciple monks and sisters remained faithful to their practices and continued to serve from within the organization, while a few left and felt called to begin independent ministries.
short video of Paramahansa Yogananda
Roy Eugene Davis (1931 - ): My Guru-teacher met Paramahansa Yogananda in late 1949 and spent two years with him until Yogananda’s passing in 1952. After being a minister of Yogananda’s organization at the branch center in Phoenix, Arizona, Mr. Davis left the organization in 1953. After spending a couple of years in the medical corps of the US Army, he began his ministry as an independent teacher. At the end of the 1960’s he met the founders of a spiritual organization named “The Christian Spiritual Alliance,” located in Lakemont, Georgia. He became the spiritual director and, shortly thereafter, he initiated the teaching branch of the organization which he named “Center for Spiritual Awareness” to indicate his teaching emphasis. Mr. Davis’ teachings are rooted in the kriya yoga tradition and are compatible with New Thought teachings. Mr. Davis’ ministry service has extended to other countries. During his extensive ministry he has lectured and presented programs in several countries including, Japan, Canada, India, England, Germany, Ghana and Italy. He has authored many books, some of which have been translated into other languages.