Yogi Prakash Shankar Vyas (better known by his students as “Guruji”) is an internationally recognised Kriya Yogi and spiritual master from Varanasi, India, who was initiated and authorised to pass on the science of Kriya Yoga by Yogiraj Sri Satya Charan Lahiri (the grandson of Mahayogi Lahiri Mahasaya) in 1986.
In 2007 Guruji moved from Varanasi, India, to Gisborne, Australia, with his family – his wife Vandana, and his son, Puneet – who has since married Sakshi.
Guruji lives and teaches in a rural suburb of Melbourne, at “Kashi Kriya Yoga Centre” in Gisborne; a family home with a Buddha statue in the front garden. It is a place where you can learn yoga in a small studio where ten people (max.) can squeeze comfortably in per session, although there have been weeks when there’s a spill-out of yoga mats into the kitchen and even the living room. We are pretty certain that the neighbours (bar one couple) have no idea that they live close to a spiritual master.
There is no secretary, no ashram and no organisation. Guruji’s wife and a few disciples volunteer to help with the organisation of yoga classes and new people who apply for Kriya in the spirit of Guru Seva (lit. service to Guru). There have been no marketing or promotion campaigns since Guruji arrived. Guruji says that in time people will come to know by word of mouth, and that this is the best way anyway.
Early on after the move to Australia, we made some flyers about the yoga centre. We used Guruji’s own words:
“Regular practice of yoga increases self-awareness and concentration. It promotes peace of mind, good health, and love and respect for nature. The Kashi Kriya Yoga Centre provides an environment for physical and spiritual development.”
They also explain that Guruji’s Hatha Yoga classes are typically comprised of three parts:
Guruji has been teaching three to four yoga classes a week for the past decade and he has been giving initiation in Kriya Yoga once or twice a year (that is, until 2020 when the strict COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions in Victoria meant that classes and initiations were all put on hold until further notice.).
As a spiritual master living as a “householder”, Guruji has the same physical needs as everyone else. From what I gather, it is not always easy, and although you might imagine that a spiritual master would not have any struggles in life, that would be a superficial preconception of the conditioned mind. He is the most extraordinary example and I can observe how physical circumstances never throw Guruji off balance. He hides all that he does as a spiritual master, and it really makes you wonder what he’s really doing when he’s out there gardening – because every now and again we hear amazing stories of what happened to this person or that. And he never asks for anything in return.
He knows that people have to understand everything in their own time, and by themselves.
Sometimes new people after a yoga lesson ask, “That was so amazing. Can he read your mind or something? When he spoke after the class, he answered all my questions…!” I respond with a wry smile and do my best to keep my mouth shut. How can you explain on the doorstep that Guruji is not an ordinary yoga teacher, and this ability is something far higher than mind-reading?