THE SUPREME SCIENCE OF
KNOWING GOD (1)
Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
Kriya Yoga — the Historical Basis and Esoteric Essence
The exalted Lord said to Arjuna:
I gave this imperishable Yoga to Vivasvat (the sun-god); Vivasvat passed on the knowledge to Manu (the Hindu lawgiver); Manu told it to Ikshvaku (founder of the solar dynasty of the Kshatriyas). Handed down in this way in orderly succession, the Rajarishis (royal rishis) knew it. But, O Scorcher of Foes (Arjuna)! by the long passage of time, this Yoga was lost sight of on earth.
— The Bhagavad Gita IV:1-2
Spirit (Cosmic Consciousness, here symbolized as Krishna) gave the indestructible Raja Yoga science—the technique of uniting soul and Spirit—to the ancient illuminato, Vivasvat, the "Deity of the Sun" (symbolic of God's omnipresent Light or creative Cosmic Energy, which is manifested also in man as the microcosmic sun or light of the spiritual eye, epitome of all life and consciousness in the incarnate being). Vivasvat imparted this sacred Yoga to the great exponent of dharma, Manu (symbolizing manas, the mind, the instrument from which sentient human consciousness derives). Manu bestowed it on the founder of the solar dynasty of Kshatriyas, Ikshvaku (symbolic of the intuitive astral eye of life and consciousness in man). In this orderly succession, this Yoga was then bequeathed to the royal sages (symbolizing the descent of the life and consciousness into the senses, giving man sensory perception of and interaction with the material world). Thereafter, when the cycles of the world entered the Dark Ages, knowledge of this divine science deteriorated and was lost (symbolically, throughout many incarnations the senses are engrossed in and identified with matter, and man thus loses the knowledge and ability of reuniting his soul with Spirit).
These two verses thus proclaim the historical antiquity of Raja ("royal") Yoga, the eternal, immutable science of uniting soul and Spirit. At the same time, understood esoterically, they give a concise description of that science—the steps by which the soul descends from Cosmic Consciousness to the mortal state of identification with the human body, and the route it must take to reascend to its Source, the all-blissful Eternal Spirit.
In the beginning of creation and the advent of man, the Infinite impregnated His intelligent creative Cosmic Energy (Maha-Prakriti or Holy Ghost) with not only the power of repulsion—the individualizing of Cosmic Consciousness into souls and a universe of matter—but also with the power of recalling souls from their prodigal wanderings in matter back to unity with Spirit. All things come from, are made of and sustained by, and ultimately resolve into this intelligent Cosmic Energy, and thence into Spirit. Ascension follows in reverse the exact course of descension. In man, that course is the inner highway to the Infinite, the only route to divine union for followers of all religions in all ages. By whatever bypath of beliefs or practices a being reaches that singular highway, the final ascension from body consciousness to Spirit is the same for everyone: the withdrawal of life and consciousness from the senses upward through the gates of light in the subtle cerebrospinal centers, dissolving the consciousness of matter into life force, life force into mind, mind into soul, and soul into Spirit. The method of ascension is Raja Yoga, the eternal science that has been integral in creation from its inception.
The Revival of Yoga for the Present Age
The literal or historical interpretation of these verses is as follows: Through vision, or intuitional guidance, God first revealed to the illumined sage Vivasvat (now known as the presiding deity of the sun) the royal science of Spirit. Vivasvat taught the sacred yoga to Manu, a divinely inspired rishi and legislator of India's antehistorical period, whose law codes are, to this day, the guiding principles of Hindu society. Manu, in turn, was the preceptor of Ikshvaku, the great solar dynasty Kshatriya king. Handed down from Ikshvaku, the imperishable science of yoga was practiced by a long line of royal rishis and sages, including the renowned King Janaka. With the advent of Kali Yuga (the Dark or Material Age), the science of yoga was almost forgotten.
Even though almost completely buried during the Material Age, the science of yoga can never be annihilated, for it is linked to the Reality within man. Whenever he questions the phenomena of life and awakens spiritually, through God's grace he encounters a true guru who acquaints him with the art of divine union—no matter in what cycle the devotee has been incarnated. While it is true that each Age is distinguished by the predominance of material, atomic, mental, or spiritual development, the Age is never devoted to that aspect alone; it always contains traces of the attributes of other Ages. Thus, spiritual development continues in some degree even in a Kali Yuga or Material Age.
The year A.D. 1951 has already left the Material Age behind (by over 250 years). (The Material Age last began in the Descending Arc of the equinoctial cycle about 700 B.C. and ended in the Ascending Arc about A.D. 1700. "The Hindu scriptures place the present world-age as occurring within the Kali Yuga of a much longer universal cycle than the simple 24,000-year equinoctial cycle with which Sri Yukteswar was concerned... .The start of the materialistic ages, according to Hindu scriptural reckoning, was 3102 B.C. That year was the beginning of the last Descending Dwapara Yuga of the equinoctial cycle, and also the start of the Kali Yuga of the Universal Cycle. Most anthropologists, believing that 10,000 years ago humanity was living in a barbarous Stone Age, summarily dismiss as "myths' the widespread traditions of very ancient civilizations in Lemuria, Atlantis, India, China, Japan, Egypt, Mexico, and many other lands" (Autobiography of a Yogi). See also VIII: 17-19, page 732.) In this once-more-ascending Atomic Age, the indestructible science of Raja Yoga is being revived as Kriya Yoga through the grace of Mahavatar Babaji, Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswar, and their disciples. (Eminent among the great Kriya Yogis initiated by Lahiri Mahasaya were Swami Pranabananda, Swami Kebalananda, Swami Keshabananda, Panchanon Bhattacharya, Ram Gopal Mazumdar, and Bhupendra Nath Sanyal, about whom I have written in Autobiography of a Yogi.) Foremost among Lahiri Mahasaya's Kriya Yoga disciples was my guru, Sri Yukteswarji, for he was chosen by Babaji to continue the lineage through which the sacred science would be disseminated in all lands.
As a matter of special divine dispensation, through Christ, Krishna, Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Swami Sri Yukteswar I was selected to spread the Kriya Yoga science worldwide through the united original yoga of Krishna and original Christianity of Christ as represented in the teachings of Self-Realization Fellowship.
[It is through the instance and blessings of Mahavatar Babaji (whom I ever perceive as one with Krishna in Spirit) and of Christ and my Guru and Paramguru that I was sent to the West and undertook the task of founding Self-Realization Fellowship to serve as the instrumentality for the preservation and dissemination worldwide of the Kriya Yoga science. In bestowing his blessings on me before I came to America in 1920, Mahavatar Babaji told me that I had been chosen for this sacred mission: "You are the one I have chosen to spread the message of Kriya Yoga in the West. Long ago I met your guru Yukteswar at a Kumbha Mela; I told him then I would send you to him for training." Babaji then predicted: "Kriya Yoga, the scientific technique of God-realization, will ultimately spread in all lands, and aid in harmonizing the nations through man's personal, transcendental perception of the Infinite Father."
The salvation of souls through Kriya Yoga is my singular aim. I take no credit; it belongs to God and to the Great Ones who sent me. But my soul rejoices, for the channel is blessed by what flows through it.]
Krishna is the divine exemplar of yoga in the East; Christ was chosen by God as the exemplar of God-union for the West. That Jesus knew and taught to his disciples the Raja Yoga technique of uniting soul with Spirit is evidenced in the deeply symbolic Biblical chapter "The Revelation of Jesus Christ to Saint John."
[John speaks of the "mystery of the seven stars" and the "seven churches" (Revelation 1:20); these symbols refer to the seven astral centers of light in the spine. The recondite imagery throughout this nonunderstood chapter of the Bible is an allegorical representation of the revelations that come with the opening of these centers of life and consciousness, the "book sealed with seven seals" (Revelation 5:1).]
In Autobiography of a Yogi I have written: "Babaji is ever in communion with Christ; together they send out vibrations of redemption I and have planned the spiritual technique of salvation for this age. ...Babaji is well aware of the trend of modern times, especially of the (I influence and complexities of Western civilization, and realizes the necessity of spreading the self-liberations of yoga equally in the West and in the East." (pg.423-427)