Kriya Yoga is meant for ordinary seekers who cannot practise samadhi directly, whose mind is still restless, lacks concentration and who are surrounded by Panchakelesha (five afflictions) like Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (ego), Raag (attachment), Dwesh (aversion), Abhinivesh (fear of death). The five afflictions keep living beings tied to the worldly cycle.
There are three limbs of Kriya Yoga – Tapa (austerity), svadhyaya (introspection and studying scriptures), and ishwara pranidhan (surrendering to God).
Kriya Yoga essentially consists of:
Bearing the conflicts like happiness-sadness, honour-disgrace and profit-loss etc.
Thinking about oneself and studying salvation texts
Dedicating all your work to your Guru without desiring any results.
What is Tapa?
When a yogi practises sadhana (spiritual practices), he is troubled by various kinds of struggles such as cold & heat, hunger & thirst, profit & loss, victory & defeat, happiness & sorrow, honor & insult etc. So, Tapa means to bear all kinds of struggles with ease. That is, not to become overjoyed while experiencing happiness, not to panic after seeing sorrow, not to be proud of receiving lots of respect and not to feel humiliated when insulted. Tapa basically involves keeping oneself calm in both favorable and unfavorable situations.
Some people believe that Tapa means causing pain to the body. For example, standing on one leg for several months. But, this is the lower level of Tapa. In the Gita, this kind of painful Tapa is called Tamasic Taph. In Yoga philosophy, it has been said that one should do penance to please the mind (chitta) and not to make it unhappy. Therefore, the true nature of Tapa is to bear struggles effortlessly without showing.
What is Svadhyaya?
Svadhyaya simply means studying or observing oneself and identifying oneself. By studying oneself, the seeker attains the knowledge of what is right and the knowledge of karma (actions). In other words, we can say that through self-study one can attain wisdom. After attaining wisdom, a practitioner should keep searching for his faults. Svadhyaya involves constant self-searching. Therefore, a person who always studies himself always progresses in life.
What is Ishwarpranidhan?
Ishwar Pranidhana means to dedicate all one’s good and bad deeds to their Guru (dedicating oneself completely to the teacher/ Guru) and not expect any kind of result in return is called. Devotion to our Guru is the end of all our sorrows and filth. Through Ishwar Pranidhan, our existence begins to disappear and the bliss of samadhi begins.
Purpose and importance of Kriya Yoga
Kriya Yoga gives people the accomplishment of Samadhi and weakens the afflictions. Self-knowledge cannot happen without the complete dissolution of afflictions. The mind becomes stable only when the afflictions subside, by Kriya Yoga, these afflictions begin to subside, and Samadhi can be achieved.