Paramahansa Yogananda and the Mahavatar Babaji
Autobiography of Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
Autobiography of a Yogi is one of the most famous and influential books in spirituality. If you ever read this book it will change your whole belief system and concept of reality. You will understand the psychology, mind and life of a great saint and how he became a saint.
It is a great introduction to spirituality, for understanding the process and purpose of spirituality and of life itself. If you are new to spirituality, especially I would suggest to read this book. It gives great insight into the guru, what the purpose of a guru is and the relationship with the guru. The guru's job is to make you enlightened. This book gives you a good idea about what enlightenment means. Paramhamsa describes many amazing accounts and adventures with his divine Guru.
Paramahansa Yogananda introduces you to miracle saints and magical stories and experiences. Most importantly a mysterious and secret technique called, Kriya Yoga is mentioned. A similar type of yoga taught by Jesus, Krishna and Patanjali that results in a breathless state of God-union. Yogananda profoundly describes this amazing Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
Kriya Yoga or specifically, Kriya Pranayama is the control and rotation of the breath with awareness through the spinal chakra system. The body is able to withstand tremendous kundelini shakti vibrations that are awakened by the practice. Yogananda describes how half a minute of one Kriya cycle is equivalent to one year of natural normal human spiritual evolution. 8 1/2 hours of Kriya practice is therefore equivalent to 1000 years of natural human spiritual evolution. In spirituality, short cut evolution methods are used to complete your spiritual process.
Paramahansa gives account of many miracle saints he met on his adventures. A saint that can levitate, a saint who fights tigers, a saint who can make his body appear in several places at once, a saint that can transport any objects to himself that he touches. The list goes on. Yogananda gives account of a saint that for decades lived on light alone without any water and food, a Catholic stigmatist and a saint who raised someone from the dead like Jesus.
If this is not enough, Paramahansa Yogananda's book introduces a miracle mahavatar (a great avatar). The Mahavatar Babaji is said to be an immortal master who has retained his youthful form for over a millennium. His body shows no signs of age. He usually stays out of the public domain and works behind the scenes of humanity, guiding humanity in its spiritual evolution. Babaji is the guru of Lahiri Mayasaya who is the guru of Yogananda's guru, Sri Yukteswar.
There are many stories described in the book about Babaji. Babaji lives in the Himalayas. The book describes how Babaji and his party miraculously move throughout the mountain regions at the lifting of his staff.
One time someone searching for Babaji climbed over a crag of a cliff and saw him with his party of disciples. The man explained how he had been searching for Him for so long and that if Babaji did not accept him as his disciple he would throw himself over the cliff. Babaji said go ahead, because he is not ready to be his disciple. So the man threw himself off the cliff. Babaji had his body brought to him. He placed his hand on the dead man and brought him back to life. He told the man he had passed a very difficult test and that he will now join his immortal flock of disciples. Babaji then spoke his words of departure and the whole group vanished from the mountain.
Another story, Babaji and his disciples were around the fire and Babaji took a poker and scorched a disciples arm. Lahiri Mayasaya commented as to how horrible Babaji was for doing such a cruel thing. Babaji explained that it was this disciples karma to be burned to death in the fire that day, and by doing that he satisfied the persons karma, thus saving him from death by fire. Babaji then touched and healed that person's arm.
When Lahiri Mayasaya was pulled by Babaji to the Himalayas on his first meeting with Babaji, Lahiri became awakened as to who he really was and what his purpose in this life is. He had previously been with Babaji for many lifetimes and Babaji showed him the cave where he meditated. Babaji manifested a huge palace for Lahiri Mayasaya, as this was one if Lahiri's secret desires. By satisfying that desire Lihiri was freed from the karma of that desire, which was the only left over latent desire he had. Babaji initiated him into Kriya Yoga and he entered Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Lahiri Mayasaya's dharma was to be sent back to the material world to bring the lost science and technique of Kriya Yoga to India, i.e the lineage of Paramahansa Yogananda.
Meeting the Mahavatar Babaji
After reading the full content of this amazing book, I started to think of Babaji all the time. Who is Babaji? Does he really exist? If so what does he really look like face to face? Is he a normal person? Can I become immortal also, retaining my youthful form for hundreds or thousands of years?
At the time, caught up in this material world of illusions I found it difficult to deal with the fact that I was going to grow older. I missed out on so much of my youth. I have not experienced everything and enjoyed my life how I should. I felt at loss. I have never tasted freedom. I wanted to stay fresh and youthful forever like Babaji. Older people do not seem very happy, and as soon as responsibilities start their freedom is long lost. And with all their responsibilities and toiling in life, their lives become meaningless. When people settle down in their jobs and lives, they became boring and depressive.
My goal was to become free in this lifetime. My naive plan was to learn how to make money and accumulate wealth. That was the only way I could picture myself being free, so that I can be free from being a part of the rat race and struggle of life and society.
Everyday jobs and lives seemed like slavery to me. Although I was not lazy, I had two jobs... I wanted to be different from everybody else in a wonderful way. If I was immortal and had all the years in eternity, I would perhaps spend 10 years in seclusion maybe just reading non stop, non stop to accumulate the highest and supreme knowledge about everything- all spiritual and material knowledge.
I could live on an Island or roam and travel the world, and do my own thing. Or to just practice yoga continuously until enlightenment was achieved - if I had enough money. I could then be a guru and helper to the world, self employed- an author, psychologist, guru or therapist, do a radio show and be independent and do my own thing for fun and happiness and to share with the world some divine fragrance.
When you go into the bookstore there is a self-development section. I had all ALL of the books there, and was on the path to enlightenment, knowledge and success. I had two big shelves constructed in my room to accommodate the books. I read about everything, including meditation and Buddhism.
I practised hatha yoga and studied that in depth, searching for the deepest aspect of the knowledge. I even went to church in Canterbury and became confirmed as Christened in my search for the truth. But then left the church because I could not find any love and truth there. Although I met some beautiful friends there it was corrupt, and it was all about how great we are and how the rest of the world who were not in church were basically going to hell. But my love for my friends and the happy people who were NOT in church made me realise that was not right.
Looking for the deep knowledge and experience of yoga I finally came across three truly spiritual yogic texts, Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, The Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. After reading all yogic books I came across the Autobiography of a Yogi.
I then had the enquiry about Kriya Yoga. Without doing a Google search I just typed www.kriyayoga.com into the address bar and found what I was looking for. I never search any other site.
Looking at this resource that provided a complete initiation into Kriya Yoga with its techniques, I found what I was looking for. I knew this to be the current official Kriya Yoga resource on the planet, and I knew this had every blessing from Babaji. The only trouble was that the initiation file at the time was kept secret among a thousand other files, and you had to read everything in order to find the link. That diksha page was withheld from the search engines.
I had to save all the pages onto disk and bring them home to read. It was so beautiful reading those pages for the first time. The divine light was incredible and would penetrate when reading the files. Not knowing his true identity, I knew this person was equal to Jesus - a Jesus type avatar - the way he travelled, lived and taught. So beautiful. I immediately recognised the truth and divinity of the teachings, which also clarified some major points about God I had.
When practising yoga I would think about Babaji quite often. One of my goals in this lifetime was to one day see Babaji and be in his presence. I would even go to Himalaya if necessary to seek him out.
When coming back from college I was at my parents house and I really had to reach out to God before starting to properly practice Kriya Yoga. I was suffering and earnestly praying, "please show me the way... please help me... I am stuck... I do not know what to do. I do not know what technique to practice. Please show the me the technique."
The first level of Kriya Yoga involved saying AUM quite a lot so it was difficult to find the privacy, the peace and freedom to practice. I was praying under protest- really begging and begging to God for help, guidance and advice. "Please help me, please help me... please help me. I do not know what to do. I am lost. I am really stuck." I did not know what to do, so I kept begging and begging.
Finally I said, if I can not practice Kriya Yoga, I shall make my own technique - my own version of Kriya Yoga. So dangerously I did my own version of Kriya Pranayama. As I laid in bed I put my hands up above chest level and started doing my favourite meditation, "Oh God my heart is open to you, please come sit in my heart".
Knowing the chakra names and locations I did this for each chakra starting with muladhara chakra and up to ajna chakra and down again. Sometimes spending around 5 or more seconds on each chakra. I would suck in energy through my fingertips like straws and direct the energy into my chakras going up and down in a Kriya Pranayam cycle.
Suddenly the power was almost unbearable. Energy forced its way through my body and it was like a river was flowing in my body, through my different chakras. Kriya Yoga must be done properly according to the rules otherwise it can burn up your entire nervous system. My body was not ready for such flow of high energy and vibrations.
When I would reach the dorsal side of ajna chakra (third eye) focussing on the back of my head, my consciousness would start to travel away from my body. Suddenly I would be travelling through different realms of universe and space. I would then start to panic to try and come back again to my body.
Then an image came into my third eye visions. At first I could not make it out. The image looked like the Mona Lisa. But then I recognised who it was. The person had a very stern look upon his face. As I recognised who it was I shouted out with joy, "It's Babaji!". Suddenly I was physically standing in front of the immortal Babaji. I was in Babji's cave standing a metre away from him as he sat in front of me.
I was standing in front of what looked to me like a very normal healthy 15 year old kid. I took a step back and felt embarrassed not knowing how to behave in front of this kid. For a moment I just stood gazing at him as we observed each other. Feelings came to light from when I was 15 years old. Although I used to wrestle people, there was a gentle side to me, and some of the other kids used to come up to me smiling and shake my hand.
Babaji found me to be a funny person. I remember when I was a small kid, me and my sister in our childhood purity used to laugh until our stomachs hurt and we could not breath any more. It was like that. He was leaning forward curiously with his mouth open really cracking up. Whatever he saw in me was really funny :)
We exchanged conversation telepathically. He was one with my thoughts. Babaji works and communicates in the silence. I analysed him, and as I looked at him inquisitively he blushed. This was to show me he was real flesh and blood. He had the posture of pure existence and awareness of himself. He looked radiant and his smile and laugh was divine, and even more radiant.
I started to return to my body, but I said,"no, let me stay some more! Let me connect again!". I was once again with Babaji in his cave. Babaji let me sit in his presence while he got on with his work and sat in mediation. I saw how he is plugged into the entire universe. I sat beside him inches away closely facing him on his right hand side as he was in meditation.
He was plugged into the whole universe with his open eyes like a radio station, omnipresent and everything in his vision. As I was sitting right beside him I melted as I looked right into his beautiful eyes, which were the most lustrous. I felt his awareness as he was fully conscious of me beside him, as well as the fact that he had the whole universe in his awareness and vision. What a divine being!
Divine souls are always plugged into the universe. Being connected to Shiva they always hear the weeping of the souls and come to those in need to shower them with Love. It could be Jesus, Babaji or any other divine soul that may come to your aid when you beg God for some love, "please let me feel your love... please love me free!". And it just so happened that when I was making a big fuss weeping to God, Babaji was on duty and heard the cries of a baby and came to help.
I felt so blessed to have seen Babaji and to have been in his physical presence. I felt so happy. After this I was a changed person and incorporated some of his posture and awareness into my being. I had a heightened state of awareness of my own existence, and simultaneously that of others. When someone looked at me when I was in that posture they could perceive Babaji. God is pure awareness, existence and bliss.
P.S- Now I have a more healthy attitude towards immortality and life and death. To be immortal you have to die first. The last thing I want to do is be immortal here on earth in this place of hell. I want to fulfil my duty here on earth and experience the love, but I can not wait to return to my divine home in God beyond death. With fear and the fear of death taken care of in your life, it is like you are in heaven already. You become immersed in that warm soothing, happy divine ocean of Gods love. Learning about death we can learn to prepare for becoming one with God.
P.P.S - After my divine experience with the Mahavatar Babaji and after reading the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, I stumbled upon a wonderful book called, Babaji and the 18 Siddha Kriya Yoga tradition by Marshal Govindan. If you desire to know all about Babaji, including the facts about his whole life such as the location and in depth description of his ashram, his real name, his upbringing, when and where he was born, his mission, where he lives and who with... and if you want to know about his spiritual attainment and enlightenment.... then I suggest you read this book. It is so wonderful.
There are a lot of misunderstandings about Babaji, and there have been lots of saints and pictures of saints pretending that they are the same immortal Babaji for reasons of fame. Those people are NOT the same Babaji. He has remained in his original form for around 1800 years :) He was originaly initiated by the siddhis, Agastya Rishi and Bogantha. Do read Autobiography of a Yogi!