Mahavatar Babaji Maharaj: There is a lack of concrete evidence regarding birth and life history of Mahavatar Babaji Maharaj, the fountainhead of Kriya Yoga sadhana. Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri has referred his Holiness as Babaji Maharaj who is also known as Mahamuni Babaji, Trayambak Baba, Babaji Nagraj and Shiva Baba. Maintaining a very high degree of secrecy Babaji Maharaj has been blessing from time to time many fortunate sadhak-sadhikas by giving them his divine darshan. Higher kriyabans during the practice of kriya yoga sadhana have felt the presence and essence of Babaji Maharaj. There is much hearsay about the invincibility and immortality of Babaji Maharaj with some sadhaks even claiming him to be the reincarnation of Lord Shiva. In the Kriya Yoga lineage Babaji Maharaj occupies the highest position being credited with transmitting kriya yoga techniques to revered Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasay for its propagation amongst ordinary householders for the betterment of mankind. The said kriya yoga techniques were originally given to Arjuna by Bhagvan Sri Krishna and remained mainly confined to sannyasis as a means to self-realisation.
Shri Shri Shyamacharan Lahiri: Shri Shri Shyamacharan Lahiri Mahasay popular amongst kriyabans as Lahiri Mahasay, Lahiri Baba and Kashi Baba was born to Shri Gourmohan Lahiri and Smt Muktakeshi Devi on 30.09.1828 in a devout Barindra Brahmin family at a small village Ghurni in the Nadia district of West Bengal. Yogiraj Lahiri Mahasay who attained self realisation while remaining householder throughout is credited with disseminating Kriya Yoga sadhana amongst ordinary householders as a path to self realisation. Though no historical records behind shifting to Kashi is found, it is learnt from reliable sources that due to onslaught of flood that wiped out the entire village of Ghurni the family of Yogiraj Lahiri Mahasay had settled down in Kashi (Varanasi). Since his childhood, young Shayamacharan was highly spiritual and could often be found engrossed in deep meditation. Yogiraj was proficient in Hindi, English, Bengali and Sanskrit languages.
At a young age he was married to Kashimoni Devi, the daughter of Shri Devnarayan Mahasay. For earning his livelihood Yogiraj got employed with Military Engineering Department of then British Govt. During his service life he was transferred to many places within India and in course of such transfers he was once transferred to Ranikhet in Almora District situated in the Himalayan regions of Bharatvarsh. In the Dronagiri Mountainous region near Ranikhet, Param Purush Babaji Maharaj had blessed Yogiraj with his divine darshan and initiated him into kriya yoga for its propagation amongst ordinary householders. Thereafter the yogic feats of Lahiri Mahasay could no longer remain covert and came to the notice of the world. It is said that in the beginning Babaji Maharaj had advised Lahiri Mahasay to transmit the highly secret kriya yoga techniques only to those devout persons who qualified after rigorous examination but on request of Lahiri Mahasay relaxed the conditions and allowed transmitting only first stage of kriya to all deserving persons who showed extreme interest in practising kriya. However the later stages of kriya are transmitted by masters only to those kriyabans who show exemplary advancement on the path and stages already shown.
Yogiraj Lahiri Mahasay imparted kriya initiation to all deserving persons irrespective of caste, creed, religion and sex. Yogiraj was a devout kriya practitioner and emphasised kriya practising (which in actuality is servicing prana through atamakarma) over external worshipping. Many miraculous incidents about Yogiraj have come to light behind which kriya and its sincere practice appears to be the sole reason. Though no book has been written by Yogiraj himself yet many of his commentaries on Gita, Vedantas, Upanishads, Yogadarshan and similar other literature given during satsang in the light of kriya were penned down by his disciples chiefly being Pandit Panchanan Bhattacharya. On 26.09.1895 in Varanasi, Yogiraj left his earthly body for heavenly abode/Mahaprayan. Only sincere and devotional practising of kriya yoga techniques as shown by the Master is sufficient to have divine darshan and blessings of Yogiraj Lahiri Mahasay who though having left his earthly body is very much present in subtle form. Pandit Panchanan Bhattacharya, Bhupendranath Sanyal, Dukori Lahiri, Tinkuri Lahiri, Swami Keshavanada, Swami Pranabanada, Swami Yukteshwar Giri, Asutosh Chatterjee, Sir Gurudas Banerjee, Keshav Chandra Banerjee and Harinaryan Palodhi among others have been the eminent disciples of Lahiri Mahasay. Lahiri Mahasay had even initiated his wife Kashimoni Devi into kriya yoga.
Panchanan Bhattacharyya: Yogacharya Pandit Panchanan Bhattacharyya was born to Shri Thakurdas Bhattachryya and Smt Jagdamba Devi in a Brahmin family in Ahiritola area of Kolkata, West Bengal on 12.11.1853. Pandit Panchanan Bhattacharyya as the chief disciple of Yogiraj devoted his entire life in dissemination of kriya yoga sadhana amongst ordinary householders after attaining self realisation through the practice of kriya yoga in which he was initiated by Yogiraj Lahiri Mahasay. Panchanan Baba lost his father when he was just a child and could not therefore pursue higher studies due to financial hardship. However his high intellect and command over languages evident in all his writings on spirituality indicate how learned and wise he was despite having not received higher education.
Introvert since childhood, Panchanan Baba in his early phase of spiritual journey, decided to remain brahmachari and therefore abandoned his house and set out wandering the entire country. In the course of wandering he once went to Kashi and reached the residence of Lahiri Mahasay to meet him. On showing interest for being initiated into kriya yoga Lahiri Mahasay directed him to give up the garb of brahmachari and become a householder that he readily obliged and received initiation into kriya yoga thereafter. With utmost devotion and surrender at the lotus feet of his holy master, Panchanan Baba practised deep kriya sadhana and attained self realisation and later on became the first disciple of Yogiraj to initiate others into Kriya Yoga. The first wife of Panchanan Baba Smt Yuktewsari Devi was a devout spiritual lady and his second wife Smt Surdhuni Devi was a highly accomplished kriya sadhika.
On the directions of Lahiri Mahasay,Panchanan Baba established the Aryya Mission Institution at Kolkata for publishing books related to kriya yoga and is also credited with compiling holy words of Lahiri Mahasay on Gita, Vedantas, Yoga Darshan and alike in the light of kriya besides authoring several other fundamental books on spirituality. In addition to these he also composed many devotional songs. Later Panchanan Baba made Bamanbigha in Deoghar, Bihar (now in Jharkhand) as his permanent place of residence wherein the Shivlinga in front of which Pancahana Baba used to initiate new disciples can still be found. In his residence at Deogharh, Yogacharya Pancahana Baba left his earthly body and entered into mahasamadhi on 24.08.1919. However the presence and essence of Panchanan Baba in his subtle form is easily felt by sincere kriyabans during deep meditation. Amongst his disciples eminent have been Bamdev Banerjee, Netai Charan Banerjee, Shrischandra Mukherjee, Harimohan Banerjee, Bardacharan Majumder, Kumarnath Mukherjee, Jeevanlal Choudhury, Nagnedranath Choudhury and Shrilal Yadav.
Shri Netai Charan Bandyopadhyay: Yogiwar Shri Netai Charan Bandyopadhyay was born on 18.06.1894 in a pious brahmin family to Shri Bamdev Banerjee, an ardent disciple of Pandit Panchanan Bhattacharya. Netai Baba unlike other boys of his age was calm, quiet, simple and reticent with a charming personality since childhood. He did his graduation from Wellesley Mission College (present day Christian College at Bankura) and thereafter sought employment with Bengal Nagpur Railway in the finance department. On the advice of Panchanan Baba Netai Baba was initiated into Kriya Yoga by his father Bamdev Banerjee and it is said that at the time of initiation Netai Baba had visualized in his father Panchanan Baba and therefore had accepted Panchanan Baba as his guru.
Panchanan Baba used to be very pleased with the sincerity and devotion of Netai Baba in the practice of kriya yoga and therefore used to cite him as an example amongst other disciples. Later on Netai Baba got the permission from his father to initiate others into kriya yoga. Having practised kriya sadhana and reaching kriya ki parawastha, Netai Baba could no longer do his job sincerely and therefore resigned from Nagpur Railways only to settle down in Shibpur, Howrah his then residence engaging himself in the practice of homeopathy, a profession, which he adopted as livelihood cum service to the society. Thereafter he used to remain in yogic trance at his residence at Bipradas Chatterjee Road, Shipbur, Howrah where his disciples and visitors used to pay visit for his darshan. With an intention of purifying the environment in and around the houses of his disciples through satsang and kriya, Netai Baba used to visit their houses as per need due his encompassing love for them. Netai Baba entered into Mahasamadhi on 09.02.1979. His eminent disciples include Maheswari Prasad Dubey, Nirdanand Brahmachari, Rangnath Tewari, Kumudranjan Banerjee, Shrikant Bagri, Parimal Das, Amal Bikash Choudhury and others. Netai Baba had also initiated his wife Molina Devi into kriya yoga.
Shri Maheswari Prasad Dubey: Paramguru Maheswari Prasad Dubeyji was born in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh in a devout Brahmin family to Shri Pawhari Sharan Dubey and Smt Sukhdeyi Devi on 04.01.1936. Simple, wise and charming Shri Maheswari Prasad Dubey received initiation into kriya yoga from Netai Baba which he practised sincerely to attain self realisation while discharging all his duties as a householder and thereafter qualified for initiating others into kriya yoga. Dubey Baba was an expert on Gita and Vedas and his book Kriya Yoga Rahasay based on kriya yoga sadhana is one of the most authentic books available on kriya yoga. For livelihood Dubey Baba sought employment with the Shipping Corporation of India at Kolkata that he voluntarily resigned after attaining kriya ki parawastha only to settle down permanently in his hometown where he used to remain engrossed in yogic trance. Like his Guru, Dubey Baba used to visit the houses of his disciples as per need with an intention of boosting their sadhana and wiping out negative energy from their houses. Dubey Baba gave up his earthly body on 17.07.2004 but his presence is even felt today by sincere kriyabans during the practice of sadhana. His eminent disciples include Dr Sudhin Ray, Arun Mukherjee, Rudra Bhattacharyya, Haradhan Bhattacharyya, Jyotirmoy Chowdhury, Bhaskar Bose, Ashok Kr Singh and others.