Swami Hariharananda Giri, the leader of India's Kriya Yoga spiritual discipline and head of the Karar Ashram in Puri, India, says that those who practice the Kriya teachings will feel "a devine sensation" of peace, joy and complete calmness.
Hariharananda is considered a link to the line of Indian teachers who taught Kriya Yoga to Mohandas Gandhi the leader of the passive resistance "movement in Indian independence from the British. In his 70 years Hariharananda has been to the West to teach only once before.
He was a disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, who was invited by President Calvin Coolidge to the White House. It is through the work of Yogananda, who lived in this country for several decades, that Kriya Yoga became known here. Yogananda established centers for teaching Kriya Yoga techniques and wrote the "Autobiography of a Yogi," a book published in 12 languages.
Followers of Hariharananda number approximately 2,000 in the West andare concentrated in New York and the District of Columbia, a spokesman for the Ashram Center in Arlington said. Other followrs are located in Germany, Belgium, Holland, England, South America, and the Netherlands, Antilies. They either have studied with Hariharananda in India or learned of Kriya Yoga through his disciples.
The spokesman for the Virginia Ashram described Washington area students as being in their early 30s, with incomes around $25,000-$30,000, and with college educations.
The discipline of Kriya Yoga, according to the spokesman, discourages people from substituting other cultures and religions for the ones into which they were born. It emphasizes that Kriya is not a religion, but rather a philosophy and spiritual practice.
The swami, who arrived in Washington last Monday, will spend about 20 days here meeting with professionals in the spiritual, scientific, political and mental health fields and the humanities, who have expressed particular interest in his teachings.
At the invitations of Father Edward, about of the Holy Cross Abbev in Berryville, Va., Hariharananda will meet with Roman Catholic monks of the Cistercian order. Other meetings and additional discussion groups are being planned in Washington for the exchange of vews and approaches.
Wednesday evening, the swami gave the first of three public lectures in Kriya Yoga at the Washington Ethical Society at 7750 16th St. NW. Other lectures will be on Sept. 7 and 14 at 8 p.m. Disciples, yoga students, followers and interested society members comprised the 80 or so people who came to listen to the swami speak on "The Importance of Kriya Yoga in Human Evolution."
"Kriya Yoga technique is a scientific techique," the Swami said. "It brings balance of mind, love, extreme calmness and eventually the kingdom of God."
Hariharananda said Americans who live in a complex society and who must answer difficult questions of values every day are especially able to benefit from a process that quickens the ability to clarify and resolve conflict.
"We are each man a little universe. What's in the universe is in every human being," he said. "If you cultivate the invisible body, then surely one must feel the peace and joy there. People want oneness with themsevles," he said.
"People fail because they don't have balance of mind. There is disorder in every human being," Hariharananda said.
His chief purpose in visiting the West, he said, is to be able to teach these who are unable to travel to India. He will be leading open meditation at the Kriya Yoga Ashram on 6713 Washington Blvd., Arlington. For information, call 533-7902.