It’s not a religious matter, but rather, a devotional one.
The Buddha is a symbol of the potential of every human being to find self-realisation through Yoga, meaning “union”; and the Garden is an allegory for the state of super-consciousness, known in Hinduism as samadhi, in Buddhism as nirvana and Christianity as heaven.
I live just around the corner from my spiritual teacher and yoga master, Yogi Prakash Shankar Vyas, better known to his students as “Guruji”. He migrated from Varanasi, India, to Australia on the Distinguished Talent Visa in 2007 with his family.
A Buddha statue is poised on a slightly raised platform at the front of the house where Guruji lives – a gift from one of his disciples. And if you saw Guruji tending to his plants and vegetables in the back garden, one of his favourite pastimes, you could be excused for imagining that he is an ordinary family man.
Because there are no external signs to make you think twice, if you passed Guruji at the local market or on the street, you would never guess that many devotees and disciples around the world recognise in him something rare and wonderful, and go to extraordinary lengths to meet him, ask his advice, hear him speak and just to be close to him.
Guruji is a “Householder Yogi”: a spiritual master who teaches Hatha Yoga for a living and has a family. He does not have an ashram, nor does he run a business or an organisation. He is an authorised master of Kriya Yoga in the direct lineage of the great Yogi Sri Lahiri Mahasaya, whose name became known worldwide through the publication of Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda.
I wrote and published Footsteps to Freedom, Four Spiritual Masters of Kriya Yoga and a Beginner in 2003 for the same reason that I am starting this blog now: Guruji is best understood through his own words, stories and examples, and I love to share his wisdom. I am grateful and also thrilled to have his permission and blessing to do this once more.
Since my book was first published, many people have written to tell me how they could relate to my experiences as a ‘beginner’ on the yoga path: how they felt as if they had been reading their story. It was humbling to know that it was never actually about me at all! Likewise as a ‘yoga practitioner’, in so far as life is a spiritual journey and we are united in many of our joys and struggles, I realise that it is a shared road. All the more reason to walk one step at a time remembering that it’s about the journey, not the destination.
So if you’d like to know what I’ve been up to since Footsteps to Freedom and am doing these days, still wanting to learn all she can from a living “Buddha in the Garden”, then I hope you’ll join me – and of course you are welcome to bring friends and family along too!
NOTE ABOUT SOURCES: When reading the blogs, please bear in mind that Guruji tells many stories in his own words and his own way. In the Indian tradition many stories are passed on through word of mouth, and therefore it is not always possible for me to locate the exact source of the original versions. I usually pass them on in the same vein as he tells them, since Guruji’s purpose in telling these stories is for listeners “to understand the sense and meaning behind them.”
However, if readers can ever help with pinpointing original sources which can and should be acknowledged, please contact me at heidi(at)kriyasource.com.