Incarnation- 30 September 1828 – Ghurnigram, West Bengal, India
Mahasmadhi – 26 September 1895 – Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Shyama Charan Lahiri
(Bengali: Shêma Chôron Lahiṛi), best known as Lahiri Mahasaya (September 30, 1828 – September 26, 1895), was an Indian yogi and a disciple of Mahavatar Babaji. He revived the yogic science of Kriya Yoga after He had learned it from Mahavatar Babaji in 1861.
He was unusual among Indian holy men in that He was a householder — marrying, raising a family, and working as an accountant for the Military Engineering Department of the English government. Lahiri Mahasaya lived with His family in Varanasi . He achieved a substantial reputation among 19th century Hindu religionists.
He became well known in the west through Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi. Lahiri Mahasaya’s disciples included both of Paramhansa Yogananda’s parents as well as HIS own guru. Lahiri Mahasaya prophesied that the infant Yogananda would become a yogi, and “carry many souls to God’s kingdom“.
Lahiri Mahasaya was born into a Brahmin family in the Nadia district of Bengal. He was the youngest son of Muktokeshi, wife of Gaur Mohan Lahiri. His mother died when He was a child . At the age of three or four, He was often seen sitting in meditation, with His body buried in the sand up to His neck. When He was five, the family’s ancestral home was lost in a flood, so the family moved to Varanasi, where He would spend most of His life.
As a child, He studied Urdu and Hindi, gradually moving on to Bengali, Sanskrit, Persian, and English along with study of the Vedas. Reciting the Vedas, bathing in the Ganges, and worshiping were part of His daily routine.
In 1846, He was married to Srimati Kashi Moni Devi. They had two sons, Tincouri and Ducouri, and three daughters,Harimati,Harikamini and Harimohini. His work as an accountant in the Military Engineering Department of the English government took Him all over India. After the death of His father, He took on the role of supporting the entire family in Varanasi.
Teacher of Kriya Yoga
In 1861, Lahiri Mahasaya was transferred to Ranikhet, in the foothills of the Himalayas. One day, while walking in the hills, He heard a voice calling to Him. After climbing further, He met His Guru Mahavatar Babaji, who initiated Him into the techniques of Kriya Yoga. Babaji told Him that the rest of His life was to be given in spreading the Kriya message.
Soon after, Lahiri Mahasaya returned to Varanasi, where He began initiating sincere seekers into the path of Kriya Yoga. Over time, more and more people flocked to receive the teachings of Kriya from HIM. He organized many study groups and regular discourses on the Bhagavad Gita at His “Gita Assemblies.” He gave Kriya initiation to those of every faith, including Hindus, Moslems, and Christians, at a time when caste bigotry was very strong. He encouraged His students to adhere to the tenets of their own faith, adding the Kriya techniques to what they already were practicing.
He continued His dual role of accountant and supporter to His family, and a teacher of Kriya Yoga, until 1886, when He was able to retire on a pension. More and more visitors came to see Him at this time. He seldom left His sitting room, available to all who sought His darshan. Over the years He gave initiation to gardeners, postmen, kings, maharajas, sannyasis, householders, people considered to be lower caste, Christians, and Muslims.
Some of His notable disciples included Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, Mother and Father of Paramahansa Yogananda, Sri Panchanan Bhattacharya, Sri Harinarayan Paladhi, Sri Ramdayal Majumdar,Swami Kevlananda, Dr. Srish Mukhopadhyay, Sri Ananda Charan Shastri, Sri Harimohan Bandopadhyay, Sadhu Nagendranath Chowdhary, Sri Motilal Thakur, Swami Satyanand Giri, Swami Suddhananda Giri, Swami Jnananananda, Swami Pranabananda, Swami Keshabananda, Sri Bhupendranath Sanyal, Swami Bhaskarananda Saraswati of Benares, Balananda Brahmachari of Deogarh, Maharaja Iswari Narayan Sinha Bahadur of Benares and his son, Sri Maheswara Dutta, Sri Barada Charan Majumdar, Sri Tripura Charan Deb Sharmana, Sri Jnanendra Nath Mukhopadhyay, Sri Adyanath Ray, Brahamachari Anilananda, Swami Parmananda Giri, Swami Bhavananda Giri, Swami Gokulananda Giri, Sri Netai Charan Bandhadhyay.