David Frawley

David Frawley (born 1950) is an American Hindu teacher (acharya) and a Hindutva[a] activist.[2]

David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)
David Frawley.jpg
David Frawley in 2007
Born (1950-09-21) September 21, 1950 (age 69)
Wisconsin, United States
NationalityAmerican
OccupationVedacharya, Ayurvedic teacher, Vedic astrologer, writer
Spouse(s)Yogini Shambhavi Chopra
Websitewww.vedanet.com

He has written numerous books on topics spanning the Vedas, Hinduism, Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedic astrology. His works have been popular among the common masses. In 2015 he was honored by the Government of India with the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award in India.

He has been described as a prominent figure of the Hindutva movement and numerous scholars have also described him as a Hindutva ideologue and apologist. He has been widely accused of practicing historical negationism.

Early life and educationEdit

David Frawley was born to a Catholic family in Wisconsin and had nine siblings.[3] Though largely an autodidact,[3] Frawley studied under Dr. B. L. Vashta of Mumbai for a span of about a decade and had also obtained a Doctor of Oriental Medicine degree via a correspondence course from the International Institute of Chinese Medicine, Santa Fe, New Mexico.[4]

In 2000, in his book How I Became a Hindu: My Discovery of Vedic Dharma, Frawley details his move from a Catholic upbringing to embracing Hinduism and Vedic knowledge. He discovered the Vedas through the work of Sri Aurobindo around 1970 as part of his examination of Yoga and Vedanta.[5] His first published translations of hymns from the Rigveda occurred in 1980-1984 in various Sri Aurobindo Ashram journals, under the auspices of M.P. Pandit.[6] His article "Vedic Mysticism brought me into Hinduism" occurs in the book How to Become a Hindu from the Himalayan Academy.[7]

In 1991, under the auspices of the Hindu teacher Avadhuta Shastri, he was named Vamadeva Shastri after the Vedic Rishi Vamadeva. In 1996, he was conferred the title of Pandit along with the Brahmachari Vishwanathji Award in Mumbai, India.[8] He carries on the work of Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni, the chief disciple of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.[9] He is aligned with the Indian Shaivite teacher Sadhguru Sivananda Murty.[10]

In 2014 Frawley received a Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) from Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana in Bangalore, India. In 2017 he received a second Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) from Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University in Ayodhya, India.

Works on Hinduism and Vedic StudiesEdit

Frawley is the founder and the sole instructor at the American Institute of Vedic Studies at Santa Fe, New Mexico[11][12] and is a former President of the American Council of Vedic Astrology.[13]

Vamadeva Shastri has studied, written and taught extensively in the field of Ayurveda, starting with his work with Vasant Lad in 1983.[14] He works with multiple Ayurvedic institutions including: The Chopra Center University of Deepak Chopra (where he is a Master Educator);[15] Kerala Ayurveda Academy (where he is a primary advisor and teacher);[16] The Kripalu school of Yoga and Ayurveda;[17] The National Ayurvedic Medical Association, (where he has been one of the four main advisors since its inception in 2000);[18] and the Association of Ayurveda Professionals of North America (AAPNA, where he is an advisor).[19] He also previously taught Chinese herbal medicine and western herbology.[20]

Frawley also contributed to Vedic astrology and was closely connected to the noted Indian astrologer Dr. B.V. Raman (Bangalore Venkata Raman).[21] He was one of the first Americans to receive the title of "Jyotish Kovid" from the Indian Council of Astrological Sciences (ICAS) in 1993, followed by “Jyotish Vachaspati” in 1996. He was a founder and first president of the American Council of Vedic Astrology (ACVA) from 1993-2003.[22]. He uses astrology in his books on ancient history, following Sri Yukteswar (Yukteswar Giri), emphasizing a current “Harmonization with the Galactic Center”, linking human events with cosmic time cycles.[23]

In his Vedic educational work, he is associated with the Swaminarayan movement (BAPS, Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha) and their many temples throughout the world.[24] He is a practitioner of Ayurveda,[25] and recommends the practice of ascetic rituals along with moral purification as indispensable parts of the Advaita tradition[26]

ViewsEdit

In books such as The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India and In Search of the Cradle of Civilization, Frawley criticizes the 19th century racial interpretations of Indian prehistory, such as the theory of a conflict between invading caucasoid Aryans and Dravidians.[27] In the book In Search of the Cradle of Civilization (1995), Frawley along with Georg Feuerstein and Subhash Kak has rejected the Aryan Invasion Theory and supported the Indigenous Aryans theory.

He often publishes in pro-Hindutva vernacular newspapers in the UK[28] and is a strong advocate of the Hindu Holocaust hypothesis.

Frawley rejects the Indo-Aryan migration theory in favor of the Indigenous Aryans theory; accusing his opponents of having a “European missionary bias”.[29][30] Martha Nussbaum and others consider him to be the most determined opponent in this regard.[31][32] In The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India, Frawley has criticized the 19th-century racial interpretations of Indian prehistory and rejects the theory of a conflict between invading caucasoid Aryans and Dravidians.[27]

In the sphere of market-economics, Frawley opposes socialism, stating that such policies have reduced citizens to beggars.[33]

ReceptionEdit

Frawley has been well-received by both in the western yoga community and the Hindutva community.[11] Edwin Bryant notes that a Westerner rejecting the Aryan Migration Theory has an obvious appeal in India and Frawley (along with Koenraad Elst) fits in it, perfectly.[34] Thus, despite being rejected by academia, he has been much more successful in the popular market and his works are clearly directed and articulated at such audiences.[35][3][4]

Yoga and Ayurveda CommunityEdit

Frawley was mentioned among the three important teachers or acharyas of the Vedic tradition in the West today, along with Georg Feuerstein and Andrew Harvey in the famous book American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West.[36] Dr. Frawley has been mentioned as “one of the first Americans to bring Ayurvedic Medicine and Vedic Astrology to the West” by the prominent magazine Yoga Journal[37] and other prominent yoga publications [38][39].

Prominent author and spiritualist Deepak Chopra mentioned Dr. Frawley as one of the main Yoga teachers of his and David Simon and referred Frawley as an authentic spiritual guru for any serious seeker of higher divine consciousness. [40]

Rajiv Mehrotra (2003) of the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, India, interviewed Frawley as one of twenty important spiritual teachers in his book The Mind of the Guru.[41][42] Frawley's Swami Vivekananda: The Maker of a New Era in Global Spirituality occurs in a Ramakrishna Mission book anthology, published in honor of the one hundred and fiftieth birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.[43]

Prabuddha Bharata (2014), a publication of the Ramakrishna Order, reviewed Mantra Yoga and Primal Sound as "a revelation in terms of the astonishing width of literature".[44] Guy Beck glowingly praised In Search of the Cradle of Civilization in a review for the Yoga Journal.[45] Frawley has a significant following on Twitter, as well.[3]

Critical receptionEdit

He has been described as a prominent figure of the Hindutva movement[46][47][48][13][49][50] and numerous scholars have also described him as a Hindutva ideologue and apologist.[51][52][53][54][55][56][57][33] He has been widely accused of practicing historical negationism.[58][4]

Meera Nanda asserts that Frawley is a member of the Hindu far right, who decries Islam and Christianity as religions for the lower intellects[59] and whose works feature a Hindu Supremacist spin.[60][61] Sudeshna Guha of Cambridge University notes him to be a sectarian non-scholar and as a proponent of a broader scheme for establishing a nationalist history.[62] Irfan Habib rejected considering Frawley as a scholar, and instead, noted him to be a Hindutva pamphleteer, who "telescoped the past to serve the present" and was not minimally suitable of being defined as a scholar, of any kind.[63][3] Bryant notes him to be an unambiguously pro-Hindu scholar.[35] Peter Heehs deems of him to be part of a group of reactionary orientalists, who professed an avid dislike for the Oriental-Marxist school of historiography and hence, chose to rewrite the history of India but without any training in relevant disciplines; he also accused Frawley of misappropriating Aurobindo's nuanced stance on the Indigenous Aryans hypothesis.[64]

Bruce Lincoln attributes Frawley's ideas to "parochial nationalism", terming them "exercises in scholarship (= myth + footnotes)", where archaeological data spanning several millennia is selectively invoked, with no textual sources to control the inquiry, in support of the theorists' desired narrative.[65] His proposed equivalence of Ayurveda with vedic healing traditions has been rejected by other Indologists and David Hardiman considers Frawley's assertion to be part of a wider Hindu-nationalist quest.[66] Joseph Alter notes that his writings 'play into the politics of nationalism' and remarks of them to be controversial from an academic locus.[67]

Book reviewsEdit

In a review of Hymns from the Golden Age: Selected Hymns from the Rig Veda with Yogic Interpretation for the Journal of the American Oriental Society, Richard G. Salomon heavily criticized Frawley's fanciful approach that was in complete contrast to the available linguistic and scholarly evidence and perpetuated Vedic myths in what seemed to be a bid to attract readers for the recreation of the ancient spiritual kingdom of the Aryans.[68]

A review by M. K. Dhavalikar in Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute called In Search of the Cradle of Civilization a "beautifully printed" contribution that made a strong case for their indigenous theory against the supposed migratory hypotheses but chose to remain silent on certain crucial aspects which need to be convincingly explained.[69] Prema Kurien noted that the book sought to distinguish expatriate Hindu Americans from other minority groups by demonstrating their superior racial and cultural ties with the Europeans.[70]

Dhavalikar also reviewed The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India and found it to be unsupported by archaeological evidence.[32] Irfan Habib criticized the premises of his invoking the Sarasvati River in the book, as an assault against common sense and deemed that all claims built upon its greatness ought be treated as castles in the air.[71]

InfluencesEdit

Referring to his book Yoga and Ayurveda, Frawley is mentioned as one of the main yoga teachers of Deepak Chopra and David Simon in their book, the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga (2005).[72] In 2015, Chopra said of Frawley's book, Shiva, the Lord of Yoga, "Vamadeva Shastri has been a spiritual guide and mentor of mine for several decades. For anyone who is serious about the journey to higher divine consciousness, this book is yet another jewel from him."[73]

HonorsEdit

Since the emergence of Hindutva based Bhartiya Janta Party making a government in India, he has been conferred many awards. In 2015, the South Indian Education Society (SIES) in Mumbai, India, an affiliate of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, conferred upon him their special "National Eminence Award" as an “international expert in the fields of Ayurveda, Yoga, and Vedic Astrology.”[74]

On 26 January 2015, the Indian Government honored Frawley with the Padma Bhushan award.[75]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ In India, Hindutva is the predominant form of Hindu nationalism. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics and International Relations, "Hindutva ... refers to the ideology of Hindu nationalists, stressing the common culture of the inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent. ... Modern politicians have attempted to play down the racial and anti-Muslim aspects of Hindutva ... but the term has Fascist undertones."[1]

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit