Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri answers many important questions on Kriya Yoga
Seeker : What is Kriya Yoga?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Kriya Yoga is the practice part of Yoga. So proper understanding of Yoga is required. Nowadays ordinary people understand Yoga as a set of physical exercises. But the real meaning of Yoga is to halt all activities of mind, to enter into a transcendental state, Samadhi and to attain Knowledge. Since our mind merges with breath, one can achieve this through a breath practice and that is Kriya. This is meditation based on breath with Central Nervous System having some bandhas and mudras (Yogic locks or seals).
Seeker : Why should I practice Kriya Yoga?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : We all want happiness in life, so we should practice Kriya Yoga. The real happiness does not come from sense gratification, ego satisfaction or material gains. We will remain happy if we are able to maintain equanimity in our life.
Seeker : What is the aim of the Kriya practice?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Self-realization or to know the Self is the aim. In other words this is called God-realization or attaining a State of Bliss. A kriyavan (practitioner of Kriya) realizes the Self as a continuous entity. Of course there are many other benefits the practitioner achieves while practicing.
Seeker : What are the benefits of Kriya Yoga other than Self-realization?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Good health, long life, overcoming anxieties and mental tension, stress management, overcoming greed and anger, learning to remain calm in difficult situations, control of psychosomatic diseases, developing concentration, good memory and developing analytical skills, progress in job and business, increased productivity, developing self-restraint, developing self esteem, leadership quality, social harmony etc are the other benefits of Kriya Yoga.
Seeker : Who can practice Kriya Yoga?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Anybody can practice Kriya Yoga irrespective of race, religion, caste, , age or gender.
Seeker : Are other forms of Yoga available are same as Kriya Yoga?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : No, some are physical exercises and some are based on imagination or different types of psychic practices. Some are based on mandala or yantra concentration and some are based on breathing techniques related to good health.. Kriya Yoga is the practice part of Yoga and is based on life-force. For practice of Kriya Yoga we need proper understanding of Yoga.
Seeker : Is Sat-karma taught in Hatha Yoga is Kriya Yoga?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Sat-karmas are body cleansing techniques. They are Dhauti, Vasti, Neti, Nauli, Trataka and Kapalabhati. These cleanse our physical body and increase concentration, and can be used as preparatory techniques in Kriya Yoga. Everyone can practice these for good health. Though some Yoga teachers, who have commercialized Kriya Yoga, do teach these techniques in the name of Kriya due to their popularity, Sat-karmas have never been among the core techniques of Kriya Yoga.
Seeker : Tapah, Svadhyaya and Isvarapranidhana are Kriya Yoga?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Yes, this is what Rishi Patanjali says in 1st sutra of 2nd chapter of his treatise, Yogasutras. Here we need proper understanding of each of the three components and since these are generalized descriptions, one has to go into detailed techniques.
Seeker : Is Kriya Yoga the same as Karma Yoga?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Kriya means action, so it is same as karma. But when we say Karma Yoga we mean doing auspicious things, offering our actions and their results to God, and finally doing actions without any attachment or hankering after results. We achieve this by practice of Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga is the action of all the actions since this is based on our breath. We cannot do any physical or mental action without the breath, and breath is not attached to any of our actions. We can learn real non-attachment if we remain in our breath and not in the manipulations of our mind.
Seeker : Some talk about Kriya Hatha Yoga. What is it?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Here traditional Yogic postures and exercises of Hatha Yoga are taught with breath awareness from the beginning. Also the practitioner becomes aware of subtle vital movements within the body while attaining, remaining or retracting from a posture.
Seeker : Many forms of Kriya Yoga are available in present day, which one should I practice?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Please check if those techniques have a scriptural sanction as Yogic scriptures, Upanishads and Agamas describe these techniques in details. Also check if those techniques are rational or not.
Seeker : From where should I learn Kriya Yoga?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : One should learn it from an Acharya or a Master belonging to a Kriya Yoga Tradition and who has travelled some distance in this path.
Seeker : Some teachers claim that they are direct disciples of Mahavatar Babaji, should I learn Kriya Yoga from one of those teachers?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : You are free to decide from where to learn. In my opinion a teacher claiming to be a direct disciple of Mahavatar Babaji is either a super-evolved soul or simply a charlatan.
Seeker : Some claim theirs’ is the “only” original Kriya Yoga?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Lahidi Baba had many disciples, and he might have taught Kriya to them depending on their individual needs, but the core techniques of Kriya were the same. Later Masters had to teach depending upon suitability of the target audience, which might have resulted in modifying, or deleting some techniques. Hence we find many variations. Any change made in technique, if in accordance with scriptures and for betterment of disciples is welcome but it should not be claimed as the original one. Further, a master might not have received all the Kriya techniques to transmit. Hence we cannot say one has the “only” original Kriya techniques of Babaji or Lahidi Baba.
Seeker : Is Kriya Yoga a meditation technique?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Yes, this is meditation based on your pranavayu (breath) and prana, (life-force). The points of concentration are along the spinal column and at the brain. Some bandhas and mudras (Yogic locks or seals) are also included in this technique to help in meditation.
Seeker : In Kriya Yoga does one has to meditate at chakras or energy centers?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Yes, one has to meditate at entire spinal column, and in chakras at spinal column and brain.
Seeker : Can Kriya-meditation cure depression?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Yes, if practiced properly along with medical care, one can come out of depression. Since this is based on breath, and mind merges with breath if this is practiced under proper guidance this is very much helpful. Beginners should try to remain in breath and not with mental broodings.
Seeker : Can meditation cause depression?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Meditation done without a proper technique can cause depression. In improper practice a practitioner in long hours of silence remains in thoughts that can lead to depression.
Seeker : Do I have to practice preparatory techniques before receiving core Kriya Yoga techniques?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Some Kriya groups make it mandatory to practice the preparatory techniques like yogic postures, Kriya Hatha Yoga, body cleansing techniques, energization exercises, Nabhi Kriya and others for a certain period of time before commencing the practice of Kriya Yoga. These techniques are part of the Path of Kriya Yoga. The Kriya techniques are more effective with these preparations. Kriya Yoga requires a daily commitment to meditation. It can take up to a year to be established in that practice. But one can also directly go to the core Kriya Yoga techniques depending upon his state. In India traditionally people do some of the preparatory techniques from their childhood, so they can directly come to the core Kriya Yoga techniques.
Seeker : What is the best time of the day for meditation?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : All the times are God’s times. However, ancient Rishis have fixed brahma-muhurta, time before the dawn as the best time for meditation since Nature is mostly calm and there are no bad vibes during that time. Other good times are evening, noon and midnight, Nature is also calm during these times. But due to present day busy society one can choose any time according to the suitability but should maintain a fixed time in a day so that one’s biological clock gets adjusted to the timing.
Seeker : How much time one has to give for meditation?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : In the beginning one should devote at least one hour for Kriya-meditation in one sitting a day. If possible have two sessions of meditation in a day. As you progress in your meditation your meditation time will be increased.
Seeker : Can one sit for meditation just after food?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : No, you require energy for digestion. During meditation energy is directed to spinal column and brain. So it is necessary to leave at least three hours gap after full meal and one hour gap after light food.
Seeker : In which posture one should sit for meditation?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Most important is to keep one’s spine straight during meditation, and head should not tilt. The best postures are padmasana (lotus posture) and siddhasana (posture of a siddha) in which e body is fixed to fix the mind. If one has not practiced these then one can sit in sukhasana (ordinary cross legged posture) or in ardha-padmasana (half-lotus posture). If one has to sit on a chair then care should be taken to keep the spine straight.
Seeker : Is it necessary to be a vegetarian for the practice of Kriya Yoga?
Rajahamsa Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : It is good if one can become a vegetarian. Animal flesh as food brings secondary metabolites to our body and also brings unnecessary impressions of sex, violence, fear etc of the animal killed to our body system. But no need to be a vegetarian forcibly, just meditate and due to impact of meditation one will lose appetite for non-vegetarian foods.
Seeker : Should one be a celibate to practice Kriya Yoga?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Both celibates and house holders can practice Kriya Yoga. One should not indulge in sex excessively since this makes mind outward, and extra marital sex is strictly prohibited since this can bring devastation in someone’s life.
Seeker : At what age one is eligible to practice Kriya?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Normally at the age of twelve one is eligible to receive Kriya, but this is not a fixed rule. If a mother is meditating then the child starts it from the womb passively. Children of meditating parents also start it from their early age.
Seeker : We find some practitioners practicing Kriya Yoga techniques, though develop competency in some fields, do not evolve spiritually, why?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : Mechanically practicing the techniques does not help much spiritually, the fundamentals should be strong. One needs to have noble faith, to be diligent, to control senses and sense organs, should practice Yama (non-violence etc.) and Niyama (cleanliness etc.) and maintain regularity in practice. Developing competency in some field is due to enhanced concentration and brain power.
Seeker : I want to be a Kriya Master, what should I do?
Rajahamsa Swami Nityananda Giri : First be a good disciple, practice sincerely and regularly for a long term. Bring purity in your life by observing self-restraint; sense enjoyment and spiritual pursuit do not go together. Develop love towards all and have full respect to the lineage of your Kriya masters, and feel their inner guidance and support.. Even if you find your Master not up to the mark and disagree with him do not show disrespect. Your discipleship will make you a master.