“I am ever with those who practice Kriya. I will guide you to the Cosmic Home through your enlarging perceptions.” Lahiri Mahasaya’s immortal promise is engraved on a plaque in the entryway to a meditation mandir dedicated to the great master. Lahiri’s words remind all who enter to open themselves in loving self-offering to receive the blessings endlessly showering upon us from the omnipresent yogavatar. On a ledge inside the shrine stands a photograph of Swami Kriyananda kneeling before the large statue of Lahiri seated in lotus posture at the altar. Swamiji is resting his hands on Lahiri’s knees, and his forehead on the master’s folded hands. As I gaze at Swami’s humble obeisance to his, and our, param-paramguru, an image forms in my mind of Sri Yukteswar’s words to the young Mukunda, spoken soon after master and disciple had pledged eternal and unconditional love to each other: “If ever you find me falling from a state of God-realization, please promise to put my head on your lap and help bring me back to the Cosmic Beloved we both worship.”
Swamiji has told us that, at the auspicious times of a master’s entry into and departure from this world, a portal opens between this mundane plane of existence and the unbounded realm inhabited by these great ones. Late each September, devotees come together to celebrate first Lahiri’s Mahasamadhi (Sept 26), then his birthday (Sept 30). The close proximity in calendar time of these two days shakes loose my usual sense of time and suggests the true nature of a master’s journey: whether leaving a mortal form or entering one, he is the same free soul – his transcendent blessings are everlasting, unlimited by time and space.
At these times of transition of the great ones, Swamiji has encouraged us to honor each master by focusing on his gifts to his disciples and to the world. Lahiri’s mission began when he was drawn by Babaji’s divine magnetism to the Himalayas, to the cave of his discipleship to Babaji from another life, there to receive initiation into the sacred science of Kriya Yoga. In loving fulfillment of Lahiri’s latent wish, his initiation took place amidst the splendor of a magnificent palace, materialized by Babaji. The guide who Babaji sent to bring Lahiri, points ahead to the palace and to an assembly of fellow disciples: “All your brothers here join in a paean of welcome, rejoicing at the end of your long exile.”
Lahiri’s story – the words spoken to him – are not only for him but for each one of us who struggle onward toward freedom. Glorious light awaits us – joyful celebration by those who have gone on before us. For us too, the sacred key of Kriya Yoga, Lahiri’s gift to all who would receive, stands ready to show us the inner path to liberation.
Were it not for Lahiri’s intercession with Babaji, Kriya Yoga would have remained available only to the most highly advanced of yogis. How can we possibly express gratitude for such a gift? I think our way to true thankfulness lies first in our own joyful practice – and in emulating Lahiri’s communion with Babaji – having received initiation, Lahiri’s first thought was to share the blessing he had received, to make Kriya available to all sincere seekers.
It is this sharing of blessings received that is at the heart of tithing, of every form of devotional self-offering. When Yogananda’s mother was stricken with Asiatic cholera, Lahiri brought her a water pot, instructed her to fill it with water and let it sit overnight. The next morning the healing properties absorbed by the water effected an instantaneous cure. Lahiri’s pot stayed in the Ghosh family until, with divine generosity, the family gave it to Ananda, where it resides at the Shrine of the Masters. This same pot, filled with blessed water, stood at the altar during our celebration of Lahiri’s birthday. One by one we bowed before the altar, each one dipping a finger into the water to convey to ourselves at the point between the eyebrows the master’s blessing, handed down through generations of disciples. To complete the sacred cycle – receiving and giving – we all together sent out waves of AUM, healing vibrations, a soul call to those ready to be drawn to the path of Kriya Yoga and, in honor of Lahiri’s non-sectarianism, a prayer for an end to religious sectarianism, race hatred, and caste discrimination.
As we honored Lahiri’s Mahasamadhi, we meditated on the boy Mukunda’s own healing from the normally fatal Asiatic cholera. Even when Mukunda’s life was despaired of, his mother held before his eyes the family’s treasured photograph of Lahiri: “Bow to him mentally!…If you really show your devotion, and inwardly kneel before him, your life will spared!” Instantly the room filled with blazing light, apparent equally to mother and son. Mukunda was well, and so lived to bring Lahiri’s message of freedom through Kriya Yoga to all of us. Inwardly we too bowed before Lahiri. In my mind I held the image of Swamiji so reverently bowing before the Lahiri shrine statue. Our prayer went out in invitation to all those in need, all those longing for God, also to bow before Lahiri, to receive his blessings, to grow strong in God, to share His joy with all mankind.
In divine friendship,