- International Babaji Kriya Yoga Sangam
- (est. 1951)The International Babaji Kriya Yoga Sangam was founded in Imperial City, California, in 1951 by Yogi S. A. A. Ramaiah, who had inherited a South Indian KRIYA YOGA lineage directly from Kriya Babaji Nagaraj, the group’s official GURU. BABAJI is a semimythical figure reputedly born in 203 C.E. in the seaport town of Porto Novo, Tamil Nadu, India. After a life of adventure and spiritual accomplishment, he emerged as a master of YOGA and KUNDALINI. He then spent years in retreat in the HIMALAYAS and emerged, having overcome the limitations of death. He would become known over the centuries as the immortal Babaji (the same personage introduced to the West by Para-mahansa YOGANANDA in his Autobiography of a Yogi).According to S. A. A. Ramaiah, in 1944 Babaji saw the need for an organization through which he could contact his devotees throughout the world. Thus, in 1951 the International Babaji Krija Yoga Sangam was established with Ramaiah as chief administrator.Ramaiah became a model in the 1960s for those interested in yogic methods; he traveled to the United States and demonstrated in scientific tests that he had control of a variety of bodily functions. For example, he could vary his body temperature by 15 degrees in either direction from the norm of 98.6 degrees. Ramaiah founded a mission in America with monks and disciples from India. They opened their headquarters in Norwalk, California. Kriya centers, sometimes called sadhana centers, were established for the more highly developed forms of yoga that had a rigorous method. These were generally set up in rural locations so as to enhance the experience of contemplation and MEDITATION for attendees.In Imperial City, California, Ramaiah founded a shrine to Ayyappa Swami, a holy figure from the PURANAS, ancient sacred Hindu stories. Since 1970, each December the disciples conduct an annual pilgrimage from the shrine to Mount Shasta in Northern California, a distance of some 500 miles.In India the Sangam operates the KBYS Holis-tic Hospital and Colleges of Yoga Therapy and Physiotherapy, located in Athanor, Tamil Nadu. There are over 50 centers for the Sangam through-out the world.Further reading: Yogi S. A. A. Ramaiah, Shasta Ayy-appa Swami Yoga Pilgrimage (Imperial City, Calif.: Pan American Babaji Yoga sangam, n.d.)
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.