Meru Institute Advisory Board

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian, MA, is the founder and Spiritual Director of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment (CSE), and the founder and president of Meru Institute. She was ordained to teach in 1982 by Roy Eugene Davis, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, who brought Kriya Yoga from India to the West. Yogacharya O’Brian has taught throughout the US and internationally for over three decades. She is the author of several books on spiritual practice including, Living the Eternal Way: Spiritual Meaning and Practice for Daily Life. She is the editor of Enlightenment Journal, a quarterly yoga magazine and host of The Yoga Hour, a weekly radio program. 

Roy Eugene Davis was born in 1931 in Leavittsburg, Ohio, approximately 40 miles south of Cleveland, and grew up in a farming community. In his early teenage years he frequented the public library, reading books on psychology, philosophy, and yoga. When he was 18 years of age, he read Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi and immediately sensed a spiritual connection with Yogananda and the Kriya Yoga tradition. In December 1949, he traveled to Los Angeles, California, to meet his guru (teacher) and was accepted for monastic discipleship training.

Mr. Davis was ordained by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1951 and was appointed as the minister of the Phoenix, Arizona, Self-Realization Fellowship Center in March 1952. In late 1953, aware of a need to learn to live effectively in the secular world, he withdrew from the organization--but not from his relationship with the Kriya Yoga tradition or his commitment to serve. After 2 years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps at Fort Riley, Kansas, he began his mission as an independent teacher. Since then, he has taught in more than 100 cities in North America and in Japan, Brazil, Europe, West Africa, and India.

Some of his books are published in 10 languages and in 11 countries. He is also the publisher of Truth Journal magazine and writes monthly lessons for CSA members around the world. 

Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) D. Litt., Padma Bhushan is a western born teacher or guru in the Vedic tradition. In India, Vamadeva is recognized as a Vedacharya (Vedic teacher), and includes in his scope of studies Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the ancient Vedic teachings going back to the oldest Rigveda.

Vamadeva is a rare recipient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan award, one of the highest civilian awards granted by the government of India, “for distinguished service of a higher order to the nation,” honoring his work and writings as a Vedic teacher, which he received in Jan. 2015.

He has a rare and prestigious D. Litt. (Doctor of Letters), the highest educational title possible in the field of Yoga and Vedic sciences, from SVYASA (Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana), the only deemed Yoga University recognized by the Government of India.

In India, Vamadeva’s translations and interpretations of the ancient Vedic teachings have been acclaimed in both spiritual and scholarly circles. He has worked extensively teaching, writing, lecturing, conducting research and helping establish schools and associations in related Vedic fields over the last more than three decades.

Vamadeva sees his role as a “Vedic educator” helping to revive Vedic knowledge in an interdisciplinary approach for the planetary age. He regards himself as a translator to help empower people to use Vedic systems to enhance their lives and aid in their greater Self-realization.

Vamadeva has worked in several different healing and scholarly fields, with some degree of specialization over certain periods of time. Yet he has endeavored to approach each with a degree of specificity, providing both the background philosophy and practical teachings.

Phillip Goldberg in his popular book American Veda (page 223) recognizes Vamadeva (Dr. David Frawley) as one of the main “acharya”s of Vedanta-Yoga in the West today, as well as noting his influence in India as a Vedacharya. Note various comments about his work below. 

Cynthia Ambika Copple, BA, MA-Ayurveda, Master Ayurveda mentor, speaker, and author, is Director of Lotus Holistic Health Institute (since 1982) and President of Lotus Herbs. She is co-founder and past President of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA), and Co-Founder and past Dean of Mount Madonna Institute College of Ayurveda. She has practiced Ayurveda for over 33 years, and Yoga and Meditation for over 40 years. She is the author of the soon-to-be released book, Know Your Blueprint: The Ayurvedic Secret to Restoring Your Vitality and Becoming Unstoppable. 

Suhas G. Kshirsagar, BAMS, MD (Ayurveda), is a world-renowned Ayurvedic physician and educator from India, born of a traditional Vedic family. He holds an MD in Ayurvedic Medicine, with a Gold Medal, from the prestigious Pune University in India. Dr. Suhas has traveled worldwide popularizing Ayurvedic Medicine, offering courses for both medical professionals and laypersons, and has provided Ayurvedic consultations for thousands of patients. He is an internationally-acclaimed motivational speaker and a faculty member at Ayurvedic schools worldwide, as well as a researcher, herbal remedy formulator, and consultant. He often shares the stage with motivational speakers such as Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, and Wayne Dyer. Dr. Suhas has been a featured presenter on the Dr. Oz Show, NBC and several other TV and radio shows. He is the author of the best-selling book, The Hot Belly Diet,  He is the Director of Ayurvedic Healing, an Integrative Wellness Clinic in Santa Cruz, California.

Yogashree Prof. N.V. Raghuram, is the Director (Spirituality) at VYASA International (International Wing of S-VYASA Yoga University, Bangalore, India).  He is also the founder and Chairman of Yoga Bharati, an international organization dedicated to spreading the traditional wisdom of Yoga and Spirituality through its academic programs and other Yoga-based initiatives. He is involved with several international Yoga research projects such as M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center in Houston, USA, and KWA neurological clinic in Germany. He is the president of DISHA – an NGO promoting Value Initiatives in Educational Institutions in Bengaluru, India; he guides institutions such as Vedika Global, an Ayurvedic school in Berkeley, CA; Youth for Seva, Bengaluru, India, a NGO working on education and health initiatives of the downtrodden in the Southern part of India. He has conducted over 100 Yoga Teacher Training Courses, over 500 Corporate Stress Management Workshops, and Yoga Therapy Workshops in India and across the globe. He has been an invited speaker at many International Conferences on Yoga Research, Health, Education, Spirituality and Indian Culture and Ethos.

Yogini Shambhavi Devi is one of the most important and dynamic women teachers of the deeper aspects of Yoga coming out of India today. Her teachings are rooted in the ancient teachings and traditions of Bhakti Yoga, Shakti Sadhana, Jyotisha (Vedic Astrology), Mantra Yoga and Ayurveda. Shambhavi has been honored with the Jyotisha Visharada by CVA for her insightful contributions and teachings in Vedic Astrology.

Yogini Shambhavi is a mystic Yogini, spiritual guide and educator of ancient Vedic traditions and is noted for her clear, direct, and uncompromising expression, and her ability to inspire seekers from every walk of life. She unfolds the bliss of well-being through Vedic Upaya, ancient rituals, mantra and meditation, drawing one to the deeper ‘Yogic Reality’, awakening the universal Shakti power within us.

Yogini Shambhavi is devoted to bringing the wisdom of the ancient Rishis alive in our contemporary times. Her teachings and guidance inspire one to experience and celebrate the Shakti path through jnana (wisdom), contemplation, sacred rituals, Devi Sadhana and mantra chanting.

John Kepner, MA, MBA, CYTh, is the Executive Director of International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). He is a practicing yoga teacher and therapist with a professional background in economics, finance and non-profit managements. John holds teaching and therapist certifications from the American Viniyoga Institute, and a teaching certification from AG Mohan in Chennai, India. His work and his writings for IAYT often have an economic and public policy perspective. In recent years, much of his work has centered around organizing IAYT's membership and research conferences, developing standards for the training of yoga therapists, and accrediting programs that meet those standards.

John has traveled widely on the yoga path, having practiced in several meditative and âsana-based traditions over four decades. In the mid 90's he made extended visits to Findhorn in Scotland and Auroville in India where he found inspiration in their ecumenical and entrepreneurial efforts to integrate spiritual, environmental, economic, and social values. John has also served on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the Ecumenical Buddhist Society of Little Rock.

One of his evolving interests is the sound integration of yoga with allopathic and complementary and alternatives therapies, while at the same time preserving the classical personal growth, spiritual support, and personal relationship foundations of yoga.

John holds a M.A. in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, His M. B. A is from Millsaps College in Jackson, MS, with a concentration in Finance. John did his undergraduate work in liberal arts and economics at the University of Texas, Austin. 

Acharya Shunya Pratichi Mathur is a tradition-based, classically-trained scholar, healer, and teacher of Ayurveda and Vedic sciences. She is the Founder of Vedika Global, Inc., a California-based non-profit Vedic foundation that supports an award-winning international School of Ayurveda and Vedic Studies, sponsors community welfare initiatives, and delivers charitable wellness through global projects. She is also the current President of the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine (CAAM).

Dr. Manisha Kshirsagar, BAMS, DY&A (Ayurveda), graduated from Pune University, India, with a Bachelor’s degree in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery. She also trained at the Indian College of Naturopathy and is a certified Yoga Instructor from the renowned Kaivalyadham University. Dr. Manisha has been teaching and practicing Ayurveda and Yoga for more than fifteen years. She is a faculty member at Kerala Ayurveda Academy, Maharishi University, Mount Madonna Institute, and several other Ayurvedic institutions. She is the author of the award-winning book, Ayurveda: A Quick Reference Handbook, and is the co-director at Ayurvedic Healing, an Integrative Wellness Clinic in Santa Cruz, California. 

Gail Faris, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice. She has extensive experience teaching and training interns in the fine art of counseling skills for 20 years. She has been a faculty member at San Jose State University, Process Therapy Institute and Meru Institute. As a long standing member of the CSE community, Gail brings her counseling expertise and spiritual perspective to her teaching in Meru Institute at CSE. 

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