Which is the more powerful form of yoga to enhance and accelerate self-realization: kundalini or Kriya Yoga? I wish to learn that which is most appropriate and effective. Can you explain the differences, if that is the correct question? Many thanks!
The most effective meditation technique is that which brings you to a state of inner stillness; to deep peace; overwhelming love; and bursting joy (just to name a few aspects of “Infinite consciousness!”)
Seriously, however, (and the above is of course also serious), you might as well ask “Which is the best woman to marry? Sally? or Sue?” It doesn’t really work that way, you see!
That which is in alignment with our spiritual unfoldment will come to us if we purify our consciousness and attune ourselves with energy, humility, devotion and innate intelligence. “When the disciple is ready, the guru appears.”
Thus it is that great effort is required but it is effort that is open and receptive, heartfelt, and humble.
Coming now more specifically to your question, and I appreciate your intention and focus in asking it. Let me also start broadly and say that all true yoga is “kundalini yoga.” Raising the kundalini soul force is more or less the same as dissolving ego consciousness (or expanding it) into divine consciousness. Indeed, the spiritual path itself can be described as “kundalini yoga” for it is the only path there is: uniting the little self into the great Self of God.
To narrow further the focus of my response towards your question, the specific techniques employed by each of the lineages self-described as “kundalini” and “kriya” attempt to become aware of, and then to control the life force, breath, prana (all words for the same thing) in the astral spine in order to raise (or lift) that energy upwards towards the (astral/physical) brain: to the seat of enlightenment at the point between the eyebrows (doorway to the sahasahra, the crown chakra).
But the “real” answer lies in the “secret sauce” of divine grace and how it is channeled to lift one’s self-effort from the “bullock cart” of the body and ego to the “airplane” that can soar in the skies of Infinity. The how is the form, grace, power, and blessing of the guru.
It is no coincidence that the technique of liberation is given as diksha, initiation. The technique(s) is like receiving the guru’s cell phone number. The giving of and use of the technique operates to establish a link, a channel of spiritual shakti pad, power, that brings to life the shell or husk of an otherwise mechanical pranayam, bandha, or mudra.
Nor is it necessary that the guru still be in a human body. Paramhansa Yogananda had others initiate disciples on his behalf even while he was still in the body. Untold numbers of disciples of Christ or Krishna (Buddha, Rama, etc.) have achieved samadhi hundreds, even thousands of years after the human life of their guru. But it would be hubris on the part of all but the most advanced disciples to assume diksha can be achieved only on a subtle, intentional level. Guru’s grace is channeled through the unbroken chain of living disciples. Prana, the vehicle for grace, ordinarily requires a vehicle, the human body. To refuse association with living disciples on the basis of “going direct” is itself a sign of pride. We must practice discipleship in this life so that in perhaps a future life we will have the great blessing of our guru in human form.
Set aside, then, the concept that one technique is better than another. This is a fallacy born of our technological, right-brain, tool-oriented culture. The right technique, teaching and teacher is that which is “right” for your next steps of spiritual unfoldment. Just as the woman you marry cannot be found by statistical analysis but by the attractive power of your karma and magnetism, it is the same with the guru and your spiritual path. It is a matter of the heart, not the head.
Orthodox religions are “right” for most people who are not ready for the inner path of awakening. Those within orthodoxy who have reached the doorway of the inner path (the chakras), can pursue that within the outer shell of orthodoxy though they would be greatly helped if they had the blessing of yoga instruction to do so. (Thus Lahiri Mahasaya gave kriya to all who were sincere, regardless of outward religious affiliation.)
I hope I haven’t said too much but go by what seems right to you in your heart of hearts!
May the grace of the yoga masters shine their light upon your path,
Seattle WA USA