On the south-eastern sea-coast of India, in the state of Orissa, lies the holy land of Puri -— the abode of the Lord of Universe -— Jagannath. One among the 4 ‘Dhams’ or holy centers of pilgrimage of Hindus, Puri has attracted numerous saints, seers and savants from time immemorial. Inestimable is the number of souls that have trod upon its holy sands and have been blessed and felt uplifted in its spiritual ambience. The waves of the majestic Bay of Bengal washing its shores, the numerous monasteries and other holy places located amidst its thousands of by-lanes, the multitude of the divinely intoxicated devotees dancing in spiritual ecstasy in the world famous Car Festival — the ‘Rath Yatra’, and above all, the glorious and lofty abode of the Lord himself standing tall over all humanity — all these add unimaginable spirituality to Puri.
To such sacred land was attracted Priyanath Karar -– the famous Karar Swami of Serampore of Bengal and the foremost monastic disciple of Shyamacharan LahiriMahasaya, the father of Kriya Yoga. Karar Swami first came to Puri via the sea route in the last part of the 19th Century with the intent of meeting the famous Oriya astronomer, Samanta Chandrasekhar and to discuss certain astronomical points with him but could not meet him. Destiny ruled otherwise as by the time Karar Swami returned to Puri again in 1903, the famous astronomer had already shed his mortal coil.
There was however a higher purpose behind Karar Swami’s visit to Orissa. As he sat in a contemplative mood on a sandy mound facing the sea one day, he was soon lost in deep meditation almost naturally. The highly realized soul that he was, Karar Swami could immediately experience the extremely potent spiritual vibrations emanating from the place. It was indeed a place charged with spirituality. He decided then and there to build an ashram at the very spot. With the help of a few locals, he built a hut over the sandy plot of land and thus was born the now famous KARAR ASHRAM.
Karar Swami chose the day of the Vernal Equinox -— March the 22nd 1903 as the foundation day of the Ashram. In 1906, he obtained permanent lease of the land from the Puri Municipality. Subsequently, Karar Swami having entered the monastic order, was christened,Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri. Ever since, Karar Ashram has been one of the most important centers for dissemination of the original Kriya Yoga techniques of Mahavatar Babaji andShyamacharan Lahiri.
Till today, the Sadhusabhapati is the only acharaya or Teacher to impart initiation into the techniques of Kriya Yoga. As per the Rules, the Sadhusabhapati is appointed by the Sadhusabha. Till now, the Sadhusabhapatis have been nominated to the post by their predecessors and ratified by the Sadhusabha. Thus, the Master Disciple Lineage has been continued.
Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri had formed a religious association known as the Sadhumandal — a trust headed by him and comprising eminent persons as trustees. The management of the Ashram was vested in the executive committee known as the Sadhusabha. Besides the President or Sadhusabhapati, the other members of the Executive Committee (Sadhusabha) were as follows:
- Vice President or Sadhu Sahakari Sabhapati
- Secretary or Sadhu Sampadaka
- Editor or Sadhu Sambad Sampadaka
- Treasurer or Sadhu Koshadhakshya
In 1921, by virtue of a deed of indenture, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri assigned and conferred the Ashram along with its properties to the Trustees or the members of the Sadhumandal in perpetuity for continued management and achievement of the aims and objectives of the Ashram.
- Imparting practical instructions / training regarding God realization through Kriya Yoga
- Imparting instructions in philosophy and scriptures
- Imparting instructions in Astrology / Astronomy