Kriya Yoga Tantra Society
   The Kriya Yoga Tantra Society is one of the many tantric movements (see TANTRISM) that entered the West from their spiritual homeland in India in the later decades of the 20th century. The society was founded by Andre O. Rathel, more commonly known by his spiritual name, Sunyata Saraswati.
   The American tantric groups have developed through several independent sources. Sunyata was a student of the esoteric sciences, tantra, and the martial arts. During his travels he went to India, where he studied with Satyananda Saraswati, the most significant tantric teacher of the 20th century and the founder of the Bihar School of Yoga (now the International Yoga Fellowship) in Bengal. After completing his course of tantra and MEDITATION he returned to the United States and founded Beyond/Beyond in Los Angeles, Califor-nia, which eventually evolved into the Kriya Yoga Tantra Society.
   Sunyata availed himself of a number of teach-ers and teachings in order to be more fully informed about a variety of esoteric topics. He made an independent evaluation of different tan-tric teachers and studied with several Taoist mas-ters in Hong Kong. From his studies he selected tantra as the most powerful of all paths to libera-tion and enlightenment. His central and primary path is the system called KRIYA YOGA, originally popularized by Paramahansa YOGANANDA (1893–1952), which was thought to be the original tan-tra of the legendary BABAJI, who is believed to live, after many centuries, in the HIMALAYAS.
   Although Yogananda occasionally taught from the perspective of tantra, he did not stress left-hand tantra, the system that Sunyata adopted. According to the teachings of Sunyata, tantra promotes intense sexual energy through touch and yogic practices. The intense energy that is developed unleashes the KUNDALINI energy, a latent energy believed to be resting at the base of the spine. Once released, this power travels the spine, opening each CHAKRA (seven invisible wheels of energy along the spine) to the top of the head, when a person reaches moksha (spiritual libera-tion) or enlightenment.
   Sunyata travels widely offering seminars in his method of tantric enlightenment. Retreats are offered by the society in relatively secluded areas in order to preserve the sacredness of the teach-ings and the privacy of the attendees. Headquar-ters are in San Francisco, California. The society publishes the periodical Jyoti.
   Further reading: Andre O. Rathel and Annette B. White, Tantra Yoga: The Sexual Path of Inner Joy and Cosmic Fulfillment (Hollywood, Calif.: Beyond Beyond, 1981); Sunyata Saraswati, Activating the Five Cosmic Energies (San Francisco: Kriya Jyoti Tantra Society, 1987); Sunyata Saraswati and Bodhi Avinsha, The Jewel in the Lotus: The Art of Tantric Union (San Francisco: Kriya Jyoti Tantric Society, 1987).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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