Lahiri Mahasaya

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Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Lahiri Baba, Love Incarnate
Kriya Yoga
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
September 30, 1828
Place of Birth: 
Nadia district, Bengal.
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
September 26, 1895
Ancestor Gurus: 
Other Related Gurus: 
Daya Mata, Swami Hariharananda, Roy Eugene Davis


Early life

Lahiri was born into a Brahmin family in the Nadia district of Bengal. He was the youngest son of Muktakashi, wife of Gaur Mohan Lahiri. His mother died when he was a child — there is very little known about her, except that she was a devotee of Lord Shiva. At the age of three or four, he was often seen sitting in meditation, with his body buried in the sand up to his neck. When Lahiri was five, the family's ancestral home was lost in a flood, so the family moved to Varanasi, where he would spend most of his life.

As a child, he studied Urdu and Hindi, gradually moving on to Bengali, Sanskrit, Persian, and English at the Government Sanskrit College, along with study of the Vedas. Reciting the Vedas, bathing in the Ganges, and worship were part of his daily routine.

In 1846, he was married to Srimati Kashi Moni. They had two sons, Tincouri and Ducouri, and two daughters. His work as an accountant in the Military Engineering Department of the English government took him all over India. After the death of his father, he took on the role of supporting the entire family in Varanasi.

Teacher of Kriya Yoga

In 1861, Lahiri was transferred to Ranikhet, in the foothills of the Himalayas. One day, while walking in the hills, he heard a voice calling to him. After climbing further, he met his Guru Mahavatar Babaji, who initiated him into the techniques of Kriya Yoga. Babaji told Lahiri that the rest of his life was to be given to spreading the Kriya message.

Soon after, Lahiri returned to Varanasi, where he began initiating sincere seekers into the path of Kriya Yoga. Over time, more and more people flocked to receive the teachings of Kriya from Lahiri. He organized many study groups and gave regular discourses on the Bhagavad Gita at his "Gita Assemblies." He freely gave Kriya initiation to those of every faith, including Hindus, Moslems, and Christians, at a time when caste bigotry was very strong. He encouraged his students to adhere to the tenets of their own faith, adding the Kriya techniques to what they already were practicing.

He continued his dual role of accountant and supporter to his family, and a teacher of Kriya Yoga, until 1886, when he was able to retire on a pension. More and more visitors came to see him at this time. He seldom left his sitting room, available to all who sought his darshan. He often exhibited the breathless state of superconscious samadhi.

Over the years he gave initiation to gardeners, postmen, kings, maharajas, sannyasis, householders, people considered to be lower caste, Christians, and Muslims. At that time, it was unusual for a strict Brahmin to associate so closely with people from all castes.

Some of his notable disciples included Sri Panchanon Bhattacharya, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, Swami Pranabananda, Swami Keshabananda, Sri Bhupendranath Sanyal, and the parents of Paramahansa Yogananda. Others who received initiation into Kriya Yoga from Lahiri included Swami Vhaskarananda Saraswati of Benares, Balananda Brahmachari of Deogarh, Maharaja Iswari Narayan Sinha Bahadur of Benares and his son. One biographer even speculates that Lahiri initiated Sai Baba of Shirdi into Kriya Yoga, based on a passage in Lahiri's diary.

He gave permission to one disciple, Panchanon Bhattacharya, to start an institution in Kolkata to spread the teachings of Kriya Yoga. The Arya Mission Institution published commentaries by Lahiri on the Bhagavad Gita, along with other spiritual books, including a Bengali translation of the Gita. Lahiri himself had printed thousands of small books with excerpted passages from the Gita, in Bengali and Hindi, and distributed them for free, an unusual idea at that time.

In 1895 he began gathering his disciples, letting some of them know that he would soon be leaving the body. Moments before his passing, he said simply, "I am going home. Be comforted; I shall rise again." He then turned his body around three times, faced north, and consciously left his body, entering mahasamadhi. Lahiri Mahasaya died on September 26, 1895.



Kriya Yoga

The central spiritual practice which Lahiri Mahasaya taught to his disciples was Kriya Yoga, a series of inner pranayama practices that quickly hasten the spiritual growth of the practitioner.

He taught this technique to all sincere seekers, regardless of their religious background. In response to many types of problems that disciples would bring him, his advice would be the same — to practice more Kriya Yoga.

Regarding Kriya Yoga, he said:

Always remember that you belong to no one, and no one belongs to you. Reflect that some day you will suddenly have to leave everything in this world, so make the acquaintanceship of God now. Prepare yourself for the coming astral journey of death by daily riding in the balloon of God-perception. Through delusion you are perceiving yourself as a bundle of flesh and bones, which at best is a nest of troubles. Meditate unceasingly, that you may quickly behold yourself as the Infinite Essence, free from every form of misery. Cease being a prisoner of the body; using the secret key of Kriya, learn to escape into Spirit.

He taught that Kriya practice would give the yogi direct experience of truth, unlike mere theoretical discussions of the scriptures:

Solve all your problems through meditation. Exchange unprofitable religious speculations for actual God-contact. Clear your mind of dogmatic theological debris; let in the fresh, healing waters of direct perception. Attune yourself to the active inner Guidance; the Divine Voice has the answer to every dilemma of life. Though man’s ingenuity for getting himself into trouble appears to be endless, the Infinite Succor is no less resourceful.



Chousattideyi Temple

This is a shrine and a center built by Shibendu Lahiri - the grandson of Lahiri Mahasaya - with dedication to and following of Babaji and him.

For more details about the location, see the guru profile of Shibendu Lahiri (link above in "Descendant Gurus".

Varanasi, , India

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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

The Scriptural Commentaries of Yogiraj Sri Sri Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya: Volume 1

by Yoga Niketan


This book contains the following works of Lahiri Mahasaya translated into English by Yoga Niketan:

1. Manu Samhita or Manu-Rahasya
2. Krishna-Yajurvediya Tejabindu Upanishad
3. Krishna-Yajurvediya Dhyanabindu Upanishad
4. Krishna-Yajurvediya Amritabindu Upanishad
5. Niralamba Upanishad
6. Patanjali Yoga Sutras
7. Garland of Letters (Patravali)

\"In the middle of the eyebrows, at the root of the nasal passage, is the abode of Nectar; if one abides there--the One Who resides there--it is He that is Eternal; He is Omnipresent; thus Supreme.\"
- Yogiraj Lahiri Mahasaya from Commentary on Krishna-Yajurvediya Dhyanabindu Upanishad

\"Throw vayu up into space, abide as no-self in the par avastha of Kriya, remain only in Brahman with breath sealed in Brahman and do \"yunjana.\" Via this, there will be \"rechak\"--meaning: you will be Still.\" - Yogiraj Lahiri Mahasaya from Commentary on Krishna-Yajurvediya Amritabindu Upanishad

\"Remain steadfast in the poise of Kriya and proceed accordingly and all will be good.\" - Yogiraj Lahiri Mahasaya from the Garland of Letters

307 pages

Yoga Niketan is a registered non-profit organization, run by volunteers who receive no compensation of any kind whatsoever. All proceeds from the sale of this book go towards maintaining our work.

Cover image

Srimad Bhagavad Gita: Spiritual Commentaries by Yogiraj Lahiri Mahasay and Swami Sriyukteshvar, English translation

by Yoga Niketan


\"The true spiritual commentary on the Bhagavad Gita is hereby published. Other than Kriyanvitas, no one else will be capable of understanding this, the reason being that from the beginning to end, Kriya and the states of Kriya are described here. If ordinary people read this they can create opposite meanings and, only paying attention to the words and language, will create all kinds of complicated argumentations; thus, not understanding the essense of this, they will go about with nothing but the words. But for aware and devoted Kriyavans, this is a jewel of the heart. As they progress in Kriya - in the same way will they easily be able to discern its [the work\'s] true significance.\"
 -distilled from the Introduction of the original Bengali Edition

English translation by Yoga Niketan
657 pages

Yoga Niketan is a registered non-profit organization, run by volunteers who receive no compensation of any kind whatsoever. All proceeds from the sale of this book go towards maintaining our work.

Cover image

A Collection of Biographies of 4 Kriya Yoga Gurus

by Yoga Niketan


A Collection of Biographies of 4 Kriya Yoga Gurus contains the following four books originally written in Bengali:
1) Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya: A Biography by Swami Satyananda Giri
2) Yogacharya Shastri Mahasaya:
A Short Biographical Sketch of Hansaswami Kebalanandaji Maharaj by Swami Satyananda Giri
3) Swami Sriyukteshvar Giri Maharaj: A Biography by Swami Satyananda Giri
4) Yogananda Sanga: Paramhansa Yoganandaji As I Have Seen and Understood Him by Swami Satyananda Giri

The collection also contains:
\"Kriya Quotes\", excerpts of an interview with Swami Satyananda.

Translated into English by Yoga Niketan. 313 pages.

Yoga Niketan is a registered non-profit organization, run by volunteers who receive no compensation of any kind whatsoever. All proceeds from the sale of this book go towards maintaining our work.

Pro Opinions

grand master

santthosh kumaar's picture

His life is a real inspiration for the yogic practitioners.He was grand master in the field of kriya yoga.

an Ideal for householders interested in Self Realisation

archana.anchal's picture

Shri Lahiri Mahasya, can be the ideal for those householders who are on the path of Self Realisation....

Man of Sthita Prajna


Lahiri Mahashya has been of the lineage of sainthood, who is the true, ideal and followable harmony of all duties of a human being.