There is no history of kriya yoga to tell. Its beginnings and development lie lost in the ancient past. It is a system that has remained so secret that there is not even a myth to explain its origin. Actually we are happy that there is no history of kriya yoga to relate. This prevents the system becoming corrupted and twisted by irrelevant details. By remaining stripped bare of all superficialities, kriya yoga preserves its purity and its power to bring results. Most other systems of yoga are associated with a definite history and/or myth; stories and legends tell of different people who formulated the system or modified it, which can become a distraction. People become excessively concerned with who invented the system, when he lived, who influenced his thoughts, his beliefs, religion and so forth. People become so concerned with history that they forget practice is the purpose and essence of all yogic paths. Therefore, the lack of history of kriya yoga is, for us, one of the wonderful things about it. It allows the techniques of kriya yoga to be, applicable to all ages and all types of people, without being tied down to the beliefs and traditions of a specific era. It allows kriya yoga to remain a timeless system.
Of history, all we will say is that kriya yoga was passed on by Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh. It was transmitted in a matter of fifteen to twenty minutes and was retained. If anyone cares to trace the succession of gurus previous to Swami Sivananda they may find a clue to the history of kriya yoga, but this is certainly an impossible task, for sannyasins of the past had a habit of fading into their environment and escaping the pens of historians. Of course, there are various other groups of people in India who have practised and taught kriya yoga. For example, Swami Yogananda, Yukteshwar Giri, Lahiri Mahasaya, Mahatma Gandhi and so forth practised kriya yoga. In fact, a thriving organization still propagates it throughout the world. They also do not know the origin of kriya yoga, but they say that it was reintroduced by the great yogi Babaji as the ideal practice for sincere seekers of wisdom in the present Kali Yuga (Dark Age).