Lahiri Mahasaya was born on September 30, 1828, in a pious Brahmin family at village Ghurni in Nadia district near Krishnagar, West Bengal. He was the youngest son of Gaur Mohan Lahiri and Muktakashi. His mother passed away when he was a child. Shyama Charan was the given name of Lahiri Mahasaya, he spent his early years in the ancestral home at Nadia.
Childhood: At the age of four, he was often observed sitting under the sands in the posture of a yogi, his body completely buried in sand except for his head. Their ancestral property, home, and the temple of Lord Shiva constructed by Lahiri’s all got destroyed in the winter of 1833 when the nearby River Jalangi got floods. Gaur Mohan Lahiri and his family left Nadia and moved to Benares, his parents were ardent devotees of Lord Shiva so, his father constructed a temple for Lord Shiva.
Shyama Charan went to school which was conducted by Joy Narayan Ghoshal. There he scholar in Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali, Urdu French, and English. In the Government Sanskrit College, he studied Vedas and skilled in them. Shyama Charan is a kind, courageous, and loving personality by others. In 1846, he was married to Srimati Kashi Moni daughter of Sri Debnarayan Sanyal. She is a loving and ideal Indian housewife carrying home chores by serving guests and the poor in a traditional way. They blessed with two sons and two daughters. After the death of his father, Shyama Charan took responsibility for the entire family in Varanasi. In 1951 at the age of 23, Lahiri Mahasaya worked as an accountant in the Military Engineering Department of the British government. In his whole service, he got promotions as well as transfers to many places.
Lahiri Mahasaya’s reunion with Mahaavatar Babaji:
In 1861 at the age of 33, Lahiri Mahasaya got transferred to Ranikhet, one day while walking on the hill Dronagiri (Dunagiri) at Ranikhet he suddenly heard a saintly voice calling his name from the top of the hill. Lahiri Mahasaya astonished and by following with that he saw a tall, divine saint, that was Mahavatar Babaji. This was their first union in this birth. Mahavatar Babaji told Lahiri Mahasaya that he was his guru from the past births, then initiated him into Kriya Yoga. By realizing his past birth, guru, and the deep penance he did in his previous birth at the lotus feet of the great guru, Lahiri Mahasaya doesn’t want to go back but remain with the guru.
Mahavatar Babaji told that he must return to the world, lead the householder’s life, and spread this profound Kriya Yoga to others who are eligible and intended to learn. He taught this technique to all sincere seekers, regardless of their religious background. He continued his duty of accountant and supporter to his family, and a teacher of Kriya Yoga, till his retirement in 1886. More and more visitors came to see him. He rarely left his sitting room, always available to all who wanted his darshan.
Lahiri Mahasaya attain Mahasamadhi on September 26, 1895, before his passing, he said, “I am going home. Consoled, I shall rise again,” to his disciples.
Disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya:
Some of Lahiri Mahasaya’s notable disciples are Sri Panchanon Bhattacharya, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, Swami Pranabananda, Swami Keshabananda, Sri Bhupendranath Sanyal, Swami Bhaskarananda Saraswati of Benares, Balananda Brahmachari of Deogarh, Maharaja Iswari Narayan Sinha Bahadur of Benares and his son. He gave permission to one of his disciples, Sri Panchanan Bhattacharya, to spread the teachings of Kriya Yoga. The Arya Mission Institution published commentaries of Lahiri Mahasaya on the Bhagavad Gita, along with other spiritual books, including a Bengali translation of the Bhagavat Gita.
Lahiri Mahasaya himself never wrote and print any books, that was his disciples who wrote notes on discourses of Lahiri Mahasaya and made available to the public till today by the name of Lahiri Mahasaya. Lahiri Mahasaya taught the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita. His regular Gita assemblies, called Gita Sabha, attracted many disciples. 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. Some day you will suddenly have to leave this world, so make the consciousness of God now. Meditate constantly, that you may quickly see yourself as the Infinite Essence, free from every form of misery, 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 discussion of the scriptures, solve all your problems through meditation. Exchange useless religious assumptions for intimacy with God. Clear your mind of strict theological debris; let in the fresh, healing waters of direct awareness. Accommodate yourself to the active inner guidance, the Divine Voice has the answer to every dilemma of life. There is no end for man’s talent for getting himself into trouble, the Infinite Support is not less capable.
Lahiri Mahasaya always gave the Kriya technique as initiation and taught that the technique was only properly learned as part of the Guru-Disciple relationship. The relationship Lahiri Mahasaya had with his own disciples was very individual. He often spoke of the Guru-Disciple relationship in the context of Kriya Yoga. Often he referred to the realization that comes through practicing Kriya as taught by the Guru and the grace that comes through the ‘transmission’ of the Guru. He also taught that the grace of the Guru comes automatically if his instructions are followed. He suggested contacting the Guru during meditation.
Regarding the necessity of the help of a Guru to deep yoga practice, he said: It is absolutely necessary for all disciples to totally surrender to their Guru. The more one can surrender to the Guru, the more he can learn the subtlest of the subtle techniques of yoga from his Guru. Without surrender, nothing can be obtained from the Guru.