Yukteswar, Sri
(1855–1936)
   kriya yoga teacher
   Sri Yukteswar was an important link in the lineage that revived KRIYA YOGA, especially through his pupil Paramahansa YOGANANDA.
   Priya Nath Karar was born in 1855 in Seram-pore, a suburb of Calcutta (Kolkata). He received his primary education at a modern English school and was later admitted into Calcutta University but left the university when he found his physics teacher to be incompetent. He continued to study informally by auditing classes in physics, chemistry, biology, physiology, and anatomy at the Calcutta Medical College. Especially talented in mathemat-ics, he also studied astronomy and astrology. He would later become a famous spiritual teacher and astrologer. He married, but his wife died after giv-ing birth to his daughter. As a widower, he cared for his daughter and widowed mother.
   In 1883 he met LAHIRI MAHASAYA, who initiated him into the practice of kriya yoga. Kriya means “work,” in this case a specific set of mental and physical practices for SELF-REALIZATION. He mas-tered the system and soon became a guru of kriya yoga himself.
   Having been raised in Serampore, a center for Christian missionaries, Priya Nath was greatly influenced by the teachings of the Holy Bible and Jesus Christ. He wrote his own interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita and also drew comparisons between the teachings of KRISHNA and the teach-ings of Christ.
   In 1894 Priya Nath went to ALLAHABAD for the KUMBHA MELA, a PILGRIMAGE festival that occurs four times every 12 years, attended by millions of people from all over the world. Here he first met BABAJI, his teacher’s teacher, a semilegendary saint who appeared and reappeared at long inter-vals. Although not yet a SANNYASI (renunciant), he was honored as such by Babaji. In this encounter, Babaji encouraged Priya Nath to write about the similarities in the Hindu and Christian traditions, certain that the West could benefit from learning of these connections. Babaji assured him that they would meet again when the book was finished; indeed, when Kaivalya Darshanam, the Holy Sci-ence, was published, Babaji appeared under a tree near where Priya Nath took his daily bath in the GANGES River.
   By the early 1900s Priya Nath was teaching to wider audiences; in 1902 he established Sat Sanga Sabha, a religious cultural institution that offered educational, social, and spiritual programs, includ-ing courses in kriya yoga and the Yogashastras. At this time, he received the vows of SANNYAS and was given the name Swami Sri Yukteshvar Giri (union with God) by Swami Krishna Dayal Giri. In 1913, he met his student Mukunda Lal, later known as YOGANANDA, and later bestowed on him the title of Paramahansa (great swan). Yukteswar took mahasamadhi (died) in 1936 while meditat-ing in the lotus position. His body is buried in his ASHRAM; his tomb has become a sacred place for initiates of kriya yoga.
   Further reading: Sailendra Bejoy Das Gupta, Kriya Yoga and Swami Sriyukteshvar (Calcutta: Uccharan, 1979); Swami Hariharananda Giri, Kriyayoga: The Scientific Process of Soul-Culture and the Essence of All Religions (Orissa: Karar Ashram, 1977); Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi (Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1971); Sri Yukteswar, The Holy Science (Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1968).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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