Meditation and Kriya Yoga has been very popular as a concept and practice in recent time, as the problems facing the man in the society has become increasingly complex by the incessant propagation of materialistic view of the world. Originated in Hinduism in ancient India, the Sanyasis cultivate the practice of Kriya Yoga and meditation to experience the divine consciousness. In recent times, it has become an essential tool for healing the problems of human sufferings caused by the materialistic lifestyle. From a farmer to a scientist, the buzz is around taking a solid lesson in meditation and Oriya yoga. The traces of Kriya yoga and meditation finds in Bhagavad Gita, the Holy Scripture of Hindus, the Lord Krishna’s teachings of the lessons in Kriya yoga to Arjuna during Dwapara Yuga (The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter IV Verse 29).
As the verse reads:
Offering the inhaling breath into exhaling breath and offering the exhaling breath into inhaling breath, the yogi neutralizes both breaths; thus he releases prana from the heart and brings life force under his control.
The meaning, thereby, is that the Kriya yogi generates extra life force (prana) by resting the heart and lungs from the work and reducing the decay in the body through the successful practice of prana (offering the inhaling breath into exhaling breath). The Kriya yogi also successfully control the mutations of growth in the body through the practice of apana (offering the exhaling breath into inhaling breath). The practice of prana and the apana ensures steady cessation of both breaths, thereby energizing the merger of vital forces into one.
Continuing its glorious tradition in Guru-Shishya system of learning and education and the Sruti as a mode of transfer of knowledge from Gurus to the disciples (Yogananda, 1997), formal records are untraceable until Patanjali founded the yoga sutras by unfolding of Astanga Yoga (Yogananda, Paramahansa, 1946). The modern day’s practice of Kriya Yoga revived by Mahavatar Babaji and His disciple Swami Lahiri Mahasaya Ji, followed by Swami Yukteswar Ji and Swami Paramahansa Yogananda Ji. Swami Paramahansa Yogananda Ji provided the much-needed ethos and values to the practice of Kriya Yoga by establishing Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) in India and Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) in USA as two centers of excellence in teaching and learning Kriya Yoga (Timothy,1995).
The term ‘Kriya’ has Sanskrit root meaning regulation of thought, actions, and deeds. It creates the fusion of mind, body and soul (or thought, action, and deeds) by embedding them in Pranayama, essentially receiving the cosmic power from the universal source (Muladhara). The artful and scientific regulation of the breath fuses the mind, body and soul. As described by Swamy Paramahansa Yoganandaji, the Kriya practice enables the practitioner to flush out carbon dioxide from, and refuel with oxygen into, blood . The extra oxygen accumulated in the body neutralizes the toxin in the blood and rejuvenates the brain cells and spinal centers, eventually preventing the decay of tissues. The higher form of Kriya practice enabling the yogi transmute the cells into energy eventually receiving the power to appear and disappear at wish (Yogananda, 1946).
The Science and logic in Kriya
Meditation is highly effective when practiced first in the morning after waking up from the bed, after the end of day’s work in the evening, and just before sleeping at night. The prescribed timings are not primarily rituals or convenience, there is profound logic and science behind it. According to neurology science, the three different time periods present different levels of brain waves. Starting with the day’s work, one carry forward the beta level of brain waves into the evening. After evening meditation, one does a bit of household chores or study or preparation for the next day’s work. If one meditates before sleeping, one moves directly from alpha level of consciousness to the theta level. One might move directly from the beta level to the theta level of consciousness, if one does not do meditation before sleeping. Medical science research suggests that beta brainwaves and high frequency beta brainwaves causes psychological ailments, such as restlessness, anxiety disorder and depression and indirectly causes physical ailments, such as blood pressure, diabetics, and other life-threatening diseases (Wise, 1995).
The Vedic science underlines the normative discourse of practicing meditation during the morning, evening, and the night before sleeping. According to Vedic science, especially the morning and evening mark the changes in the planetary positions. As some planets move out of pure consciousness to creative manifestation of material world, while some other planets go back from creation to the origin. The adversarial planetary positions affects the experience in the worldly life. According to Swami Yogananda, Kriya Yoga helps in activating the consciousness to the astral consciousness and then reflecting the astral consciousness in six different chakras of human consciousness in the material world. By exposing and activating the Kriya chakras to the super-consciousness, the human soul merged in the divine (Yogananda, 1997).
Neurological Science and Meditation
According to neurological science, brainwaves find expressions in different levels of human consciousness.There are five different kinds of brain waves found in human consciousness, namely, delta, beta, gamma, theta, alpha, and delta (Wise, 1995). According to Wise (1995), Delta brain waves are characterized by unconscious mind. Delta experience is something like dreamless deep sleep. Beta waves are found in normal waking states and may vary from normal to abnormal restlessness and emotional disorder. Gamma waves are found in intense level of concentration and performance, inaccessible to the waking mind. Theta waves reflected in the subconscious mind, dream sleep and meditation. Experiences of theta waves are also inaccessible to the waking consciousness, if it remains purely in theta level. Alpha wave is defined by the relaxed state of imagining and visualizing. The Alpha waves are capable of connecting the beta with the theta level of experiences. As we need alpha to retrieve the experiences of our dream sleep, similarly, we need alpha consciousness to retrieve the meditation experiences (theta) by remaining aware of the subconscious mind in meditation (Wise, 1995).
Kriya Yoga meditation and Benefits
The concept and practice of meditation categorizes as ordinary meditation and transcendental meditation. Ordinary level of meditation is awareness of the subconscious mind in the waking state. Meditation as a healing technique uses experience the subconscious mind in the waking state and bringing back that level of experience to the pure waking state by changing the course of beta waves. The constant practice of this form of meditation helps in making the alpha level of experience as permanent feature of your waking state. In other words, you tend to stay in the alpha level while doing your day-to-day work instead of beta. In my opinion, ordinary level of meditation deals with consciousness of the alpha waves while engaging in your day-to-day work in material world which generates beta brain waves. With constant practice, you tend to enjoy your work and life. You tend to stay calm, relaxed and less prone to stress, anxiety and depression. Medical science research suggests that meditation experience associate with reduction in diabetics, blood pressure and life-threatening diseases. Therefore, it is not incorrect to view that meditation, eventually, will positively affect our emotions, feelings, attitudes, and behavior (Wise, 1995).
The transcendental meditation is also called metaphysical meditation. The technique and process of meditation is somewhat similar and performed at a higher level of consciousness. The transcendental meditation or the higher level of Kriya yoga practice helps in attaining super-consciousness, merging the self in the divine (self-realization or God-realization) by awakening the Kundalini to the super-consciousness and then bringing back the super-consciousness to the chakras and then awakening the chakras to super-consciousness to merge in the divine (Yogananda, 1997). The classical doctrine of Advaita Vedanta states that knowing Brahman is becoming Brahman. Here, the knowledge is not ordinary one where the subject of knowledge distinguishes from the object. In this sense, the knowledge of super-consciousness is inseparable from that of the experience. Therefore, the knowledge of super-consciousness is same as experiencing super-consciousness.
Saidatt Senapaty, PhD
Indian Ethos & Values, Jan 18 , 2016, pp.1-6
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Timothy, M. (1995). America’s Alternative Religions. SUNY Press. p. 178/183. ISBN 091423972.
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Yogananda, P. (1997). Autobiography of a yogi. Chapter-26, The science of kriya yoga. Self-Realization Fellowship. ISBN 0876120869
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