Yogavatar Shyama Lahiri Mahasaya’s Ladder of Self-Realization, for Salvation for All

by Paramhansa Yogananda
Inner Culture, March 1937

Good or bad children of God are potentially the perfect Image of God. They are equal in His eyes. God loves His good or bad children in the same way because they are made in His image.

Good children of God don’t resist Him, whereas the wicked ones do not let Him work through them. Good children are those who have overcome the impulse of cosmic delusion, have forsaken their wandering in the land of entangling little desires and have come back to the home of wisdom.

Wicked children are those who are running farther and farther away from God. But when the wicked children try to retrace their steps back to the mansion of God’s liberty, then they can be classified according to their distance from the divine goal.

What Is a Divine “Incarnation”?

Incarnations of God are not souls who are dropped as perfect beings from heaven, imported into the world by God, but are those beings who by effort and meditation have removed all ignorance, knowing themselves in the earthly incarnation as perfect external manifestations of the potentially perfect images of God. One who truly knows God becomes God Himself.

The sunlight equally shines on the charcoal and the diamond lying side by side under the open sky during a clear day. In spite of the impartiality of the sun, the diamond, by its own transparency, reflects the light of the sun more than the charcoal. Thus, in spite of God’s impartiality, wise men reflect His light more than the ignorant.

Prophets use their heaven-given independence to tune their free will with God’s wisdom-guided will. Ignorant people use their free will to allow themselves to be controlled and misguided by their whims, moods, prenatal habits, and instincts.

Therefore, different home-returning God’s devotees are judged according to the qualitative and quantitative good they do to themselves and the world.

Qualitative and Quantitative Good

Qualitative good consists in creating Christlike qualities in self and others.

Quantitative good lies in converting the thoughts of self and others to think only of moral principles minus God or with imaginary ideas about Him. Great reformers may be well-read moralists, swaying thousands by the personality of their beliefs, but without any knowledge of God. These I call performers of simple quantitative good actions.

Only men of realization who have constant, God-contact within themselves and who have actually helped others to possess Christ-perception are spoken of as having performed highest qualitative good actions for self and others.

What could be qualitatively greater than to find God and show others the way to find Him? Christ, Chrishna, [and] my Supreme Masters, Babaji and Lahiri Mahasaya, have done qualitative good for themselves and others. They had Christ-contact, and they made many actual Christs. Jesus made eleven Christs, whose teachings, descending through other disciples, gradually lost their practical force and remained only as an influence to guide the masses to follow simple quantitative theological goodness.

Christlike Souls

Yogavatar Lahiri Mahasaya created the following Christlike souls, some of them really possessing the highest Christ-consciousness:

1. My Master, Swami Sri Yukeswarji, the greatest disciple, with Christlike miraculous powers.

2. Bindya Bhakat of Benares, a Christlike soul.

3. Swami Pranabananda, who could materialize or dematerialize his body, a feat actually witnessed by myself.

4. Ram Gopal Babu of Ranbajpur, a great yogi, who meditated forty years in a cave for eighteen hours a day.

5. Bhupen Sanyal, a great teacher, who is reviving the unique spiritual interpretation of the scriptures as first taught by Lahiri Mahasaya.

6. Swami Kebalananda Shastri Mahasaya, a Yogi of rare quality.

7. Swami Keshabananda, a man of great renunciation.

8. Sri Bhagavati Charan, my earthly father, very high in morality and Self-Realization.

9. Abinash Babu, a great devotee.


Meaning of “Yogavatar”

Lahiri is the family title of Brahmins to which Yogavatar Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya belonged. Mahasaya signifies “high soul.” Yogavatar means “the awakened incarnation of God,” (Avatar) one who came to earth to demonstrate the technique which would enable students to accomplish the scientific union (yoga) of soul and Spirit by their own effort. In a later article I shall explain the meaning of Avatar more elaborately.

I give Lahiri the title of Yogavatar because in him and through him the highest form of Yoga, or step-by-step scientific union with God, has been handed down to the world. God can be known through inner wisdom, not book-learning, and through royal Yogic union of soul and Spirit by different methods of consciously-pursued meditation, not blind meditation. It is by God-manifesting karma (action) and not by following any moral (but God-obliterating) action that Spirit is revealed. By inner soul-touching devotion and not by holy-rolling, muscle-contorting, insincere devotion, or blind devotion, one can know God.

Lahiri thus deserves the title Yogavatar, one of the greatest incarnations of God which descended in flesh. From flesh he ascended to complete realization of Spirit by step-by-step methods of realization. All human beings are His children, in whom God is potentially present in His fullness. That is why Lahiri Mahasaya pointed the actual way by which each deluded man could bring out his potential Godhood into distinct consciousness, and reclaim his hidden Godhood, becoming one with Him.

God-Known Souls

When you go to a big, well-packed church, try to find out if one or two of the souls know God. I prefer a single God-known soul to a crowd of God-unknown souls in a church. It is good to love God-known crowds of souls.

To create a big church in a town and fill it with creed-led and dogma-fed men and women does some good, no doubt, but such good cannot be compared with the good exercised by a single developed soul sitting under a tree with Christhood beaming through his countenance.

Why should the orthodox religious leaders take the money of people to build big churches without being able often to fill those churches or to give the members God-contact?

The church is a symbol of God-contact. Any minister who wants to make Churchianity-Christians, not Christlike-Christians, of himself or others is deluded.

In contradistinction to most prophets, Lahiri Mahasaya did not try to inspire people with improved doctrines. He showed them the step-by-step methods of Self-Realization by which truth-thirsty people could redeem themselves by properly living them in life and bring out the ignorance-shrouded image of God into distinct human consciousness.

Hastening Evolution

Sunlight and food change the human body, brain, and mind every seven years (there is a twelve-year cycle also), provided there is no physical sickness. It takes one million solar years to evolve the healthy human body, brain, and mind so that they are able to manifest Cosmic Consciousness.

Since the human body cannot last so long, Lahiri Mahasaya devised the Kriya technique, which so changes the brain-cells, spine, and body that they can express Cosmic Consciousness in three, six, or twelve years (in determined, advanced students) and in twenty-four to forty-eight years (in ordinary students).

Christ gave techniques of salvation to St. John and the disciples, promising to send to them the Comforter, about which people understand little.

Lahiri Mahasaya’s teaching is the Second Coming of Christ, not through a mere claim, but in actuality. His Kriya technique of meditation expands the cup of concentration so that it can be large enough to hold the ocean of Christ-consciousness, (consciousness that was present in the life of Jesus). Lahiri Mahasaya’s technique can reveal to each soul that God belongs to him by divine birthright and has not to be evolutionarily attained. But actual step-by-step meditation is necessary in order to destroy self-created delusion. The prodigal son walked away from God. Each of his retracing footsteps back to God consists of a mental technique which actually enables him to return.

Praying Unceasingly

Jesus Christ spoke of praying unceasingly or with ever-increasing concentration until God was realized. Do most of the modern Christians try to meditate as Jesus commanded? Most of them pray for a little while, with an automobile ride or a chicken dinner remaining in the background of their minds.

Christ spoke of the Holy Ghost, or the Great Sacred Ghostlike Invisible Intelligent Cosmic Vibration which is responsible for the creation of all solid, liquid, gaseous, and energy substances.

In the beginning of the creation of finite things like solids, liquids, gases, and energy substances was the Word (the combination of Cosmic Vibration and Cosmic Intelligence) and God is the Word, or Intelligent Cosmic Vibration. Science agrees with this fact, that Intelligent Cosmic Vibration differentiates itself into an ordered creation of solids, liquids, gases, etc.

This Cosmic Vibration manifests as Cosmic Light, Cosmic Sound, and Cosmic Ever-New Joy of which St. John speaks: “I was in theSpirit (God-contact) and heard (realized through intuition) behind me the voice as of a great trumpet (Cosmic Sound).”

“The Comforter”

Lahiri Mahasaya’s Kriya technique is the fulfillment of Jesus Christ’s promise to send the Comforter. Through Kriya, the devotee can expand his consciousness from the body to infinity, without losing consciousness, by tuning in with the actual Cosmic Sound or the Holy Ghost sound emanating from the vibration of all atoms and electrons. When the devotee tunes himself with this sound, he finds the greatest all-sorrow-quenching Comfort and perceives his Spirit present not only in his little body but in all vibrating space.

Patanjali speaks of listening to this Cosmic Om. Science knows that there is a Cosmic Hum emanating from all atoms. St. John says, “I heard behind me… a great trumpet.” Lahiri Mahasaya speaks of tuning and expanding the soul into Cosmic Vibration. All Christians and truth-seekers need not believe forever what Lahiri Mahasaya taught, but need to believe only for the purpose of demonstrating the truth of the teachings in their own Self-Realization.

After the passing of a prophet, his inspiration usually is changed into a dogmatic creed by his blind adherents, but the followers of Lahiri Mahasaya are given step-by-step wonderful methods of meditation which work, and which yield results of ever-increasing divine joy from the beginning if practiced intensely. Therefore, Self-Realization of Divine Bliss-contact of God and not beliefs holds the followers of Self-Realization Fellowship together.

Hence, Christians and all truth-seekers who have suffered long from theological indigestion, ought to try Lahiri Mahasaya’s world-emancipating technique with scientific steadiness, just as they might join a university, and find for themselves that God can be contacted in this life, now.

Meditation Temples

Lahiri Mahasaya’s teaching is to more or less discard the morning service system used in churches just to entertain the church members with new ideas every Sunday when they seldom practice what they heard the previous Sunday. We desire that our Self-Realization teachers should first of all realize God in themselves and then lecture only to explain how God can be contacted. Instead of a one-day Sunday morning service, we propose to have daily meditation in temples of Self-Realization to be started all over the world.

Now we have three most beautiful hermitages of meditation in the world(l) the headquarters on Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California; (2) Yogoda Dream Hermitage, Encinitas, California; and (3) the Eastern Headquarters at Ranchi, India. We also have the Second Temple of Meditation in Los Angeles. The World-City of Self-Realization, shortly to be started in India, will combine industry with Self-Realization, plain living, with high thinking. We also have the Self-Realization Students’ Home in Calcutta, the Self-Realization Ashram at Puri, and the Self-Realization Centers in Bombay, Bangalore, also in various parts of Bengal, in Europe, and in many principal cities of America. We are planning to start Meditation Temples all over the world.



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