Kriya Yoga in The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
Page 5 of 7
Kriya Yoga in The Bhagavad Gita (V:27-28)
A muni—he who holds liberation as the sole object of life and therefore frees himself from longings, fears, and wrath—controls his senses, mind, and intelligence and removes their external contacts by (a technique of) making even (or "neutralizing") the currents of prana and apana that manifest (as inhalation and exhalation) in the nostrils. He fixes his gaze at the middle of the two eyebrows (thus converting the dual current of the physical vision into the single current of the omniscient astral eye). Such a muni wins complete emancipation.
— The Bhagavad Gita V:27-28
In this two stanzas and in IV:29, the Gita leaves behind all abstractions and generalizations, and mentions the specific technique of salvation—Kriya Yoga.
A muni (literally, "united with the One") is a yogi who can withdraw his consciousness at will from external sense objects and from mental attractions toward them. The epithet muni is here applied to an accomplished yogi who by the technique of Kriya Yoga has succeeded in dissolving his mind in the Infinite Bliss. A muni's only goal is to ascend to the Cosmic Spirit from which the soul has descended. By discrimination the muni watches the soul (identified with the human ego by sense slavery) undergoing innumerable physical and mental miseries. His goal is to convert the ego into the pure soul by scientifically disengaging the mind and intellect from the senses.
How Kriya Yoga Imparts Soul-Realization
By the special technique of Kriya Yoga, the ingoing breath of prana and the outgoing breath of apana are converted into cool and warm currents. In the beginning of the practice of Kriya Yoga, the devotee feels the cool prana current going up the spine and the warm apana current going down the spine, in accompaniment with the ingoing and outgoing breath. The advanced Kriya Yogi finds that the inhaling breath of prana and the exhaling breath of apana have been "evened"—neutralized or extinguished; he feels only the cool current of prana going up through the spine and the warm current of apana going down through the spine.
These subtle specialized currents of prana and apana are born of the ubiquitous prana or intelligent life force that creates and sustains the body. (See IV:29-30.) The prana or crystallizing current is connected with the ingoing breath; it is the specific medium by which the oxygen in the ingoing breath is converted into life force. The apana or eliminating current (which removes the impurities of the body) manifests as the outgoing breath that rids the body of poisonous carbon dioxide gas.
Man's body of gross matter consists of tissues, constructed of molecules. Molecules are made of atoms; atoms are formed by electrons and protons. Electrons and protons consist of intelligent life force— prana or "lifetrons." Lifetrons can be further resolved into their source, the "thoughtrons" of God.
"In the beginning was the Word (cosmic vibration, the creative life energy or vibratory thoughts of God), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... All things were made by him (the Word); and without him was not any thing made that was made." (John 1:1,3.)
"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." (Genesis 1:3) That is, God's thought vibrated into the light of cosmic life or cosmic prana; and cosmic prana was further materialized into electrons, protons, atoms, molecules, cells, and matter. Even as in a motion picture the illusions of solid earth, or water, or sunlight, or electricity, or gas, or atomic explosions, or manifestations of life and thought in men are all vibrations of light and shadows, so this earth with its solids, liquids, gases, energy, life, and thoughts in human beings are all vibrations and relativities of God's thoughts and His cosmic light and the shadows of His delusive maya.
The cosmic thought of God thus first materialized as the cosmic prana or life force of light, and finally as all matter of the macrocosm. The body of man is a microcosm of the Lord's creation. The microcosmic human body is a composite of the individual soul and life force.
cosmic consciousness, cosmic life, and cosmic matter
are nothing but three different vibrations of
Converting Breath into Life Force
When the Kriya Yogi learns to dissolve the ingoing and outgoing breath into a perception of the cool and warm currents going up and down the spine, he then feels his body as sustained by these inner currents of life force and not by their by-product of breath. He also realizes that the currents are sustained by the Word, the divine vibratory cosmic light of prana, that enters the body through the medulla. This life force becomes concentrated in and operative through the cerebral, medullary, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal centers that energize the body to its minutest cells.
Jesus testified that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4.) This memorable passage signifies that man's body does not depend only on external sources of life force—distillations from; breath, oxygen, sunshine, solids, and liquids—but also on a direct inner source of cosmic life that enters the body through the medulla, flowing then to the subtle centers in the brain and spine. In man, the medulla is spoken of as "the mouth of God" because it is the chief opening for the divine influx of cosmic vibratory life force, the "word" that then flows "out of the mouth of God" (the medulla) to the reservoir of life energy in the brain and the distributing centers in the spine.
In successful meditation, the Kriya Yogi converts the two distinct impulses of inhalation and exhalation into two life currents, the cool prana and the warm apana, felt in the spine. He then realizes the truth of Jesus' saying—that man is not required to depend on external breath (or on "bread" or any other outward sustenance) as a condition of bodily existence. The yogi perceives the cool and warm currents in the spine to be constantly and magnetically pulling an extra voltage of current from the omnipresent cosmic life force ever flowing through the medulla. He gradually finds that these two spinal currents become converted into one life force, magnetically drawing reinforcements of prana from all the bodily cells and nerves. This strengthened life current flows upward to the point between the eyebrows and is seen as the tricolored spherical astral eye: a luminous sun, in the center of which is a blue sphere encircling a bright scintillating star. Jesus referred to this "single" eye in the center of the forehead, and to the truth that the body is essentially formed of light, in the following words: "If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." (Matthew 6:22.)
When the yogi is able to penetrate his mind into the spiritual eye, he perceives his body as made not of flesh but of minute light-cells of protons and electrons and lifetrons. The physical body is formed from two layers of currents: atomic currents appearing as flesh, and a more subtle layer of electrons and protons. The electroprotonic body in turn emanates from the pranic light-currents of the superfine astral body. The whole astral body of man consists of various densities of light, even as a physical body is built up of the different tissues of the skin, flesh, bones, and internal organs. Through his spherical eye the Kriya Yogi sees his astral body as made of lifetrons—the pranic astral cells. He perceives that the Cosmic Sunlight of Life reflects Its rays through the astral spiritual eye into the astral brain and astral plexuses and astral nerve-tubes (nadis) to sustain the astral body cells. He sees also that his physical body is nothing but a coarser light of electrons, protons, and atoms emanating from his finer astral body. By further advancement the yogi perceives both his physical and astral bodies to be emanating from his causal or ideational body, which is composed of the coordinated thoughtrons of God. (pg.569-573)