|David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)|
David Frawley in 2007
September 21, 1950 |
Wisconsin, United States
|Occupation||Vedacharya, Ayurvedic teacher, Vedic astrologer, writer|
|Spouse(s)||Yogini Shambhavi Chopra|
David Frawley (Sanskrit title: वामदेव शास्त्री, IAST: Vāmadeva Śāstrī), born 1950, is an American Hindu teacher (acharya) and author, who has written more than thirty books on topics such as the Vedas, Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma), Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedic astrology, published both in India and in the United States. He is the founder and director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico which offers educational information on Yoga philosophy, Ayurveda, and Vedic astrology.
His wife Yogini Shambhavi Chopra joins him in his teachings. He is a frequent contributor to the magazine Hinduism Today. He is associated with a number of Vedic and yogic organizations in several countries. He is a Vedic teacher (Sanskrit: Vedacharya), Vaidya (Ayurvedic doctor), and a Jyotishi (Vedic astrologer). Frawley has been repeatedly recognized[by whom?] as a noted spiritual teacher, especially of Yoga.
In 2015, he was honored by the President of India with the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award granted by the Government of India for "distinguished service of a high order to the nation."
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. 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. His article "Vedic Mysticism brought me into Hinduism" occurs in the book How to Become a Hindu from the Himalayan Academy.
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. He carries on the work of Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni, the chief disciple of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. He is aligned with the Indian Shaivite teacher Sadguru Sivananda Murty. Vamadeva Sastri received a Doctorate in Literature from the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana.
In 1980, Frawley founded the Vedic Research Center, reestablished as the American Institute of Vedic Studies in 1988, which represents his work and teachings and which makes available online many resources to the public.
Vamadeva Shastri has studied, written and taught extensively in the field of Ayurveda, starting with his work with Vasant Lad in 1983. He works with multiple Ayurvedic institutions including: The Chopra Center University of Deepak Chopra (where he is a Master Educator); Kerala Ayurveda Academy (where he is a primary advisor and teacher); The California College of Ayurveda (which he advised Marc Halpern during its formation); The Kripalu school of Yoga and Ayurveda; The National Ayurvedic Medical Association, (where he has been one of the four main advisors since its inception in 2000); and the Association of Ayurveda Professionals of North America (AAPNA, where he is an advisor). He also previously taught Chinese herbal medicine and western herbology.
Frawley was closely connected to the noted Indian astrologer Dr. B.V. Raman (Bangalore Venkata Raman). 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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
On 26 January 2015, the Indian Government honored Frawley with the Padma Bhushan award, one of the highest civilian awards, which are rarely given to non-Indians working in Frawley's fields of expertise.
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.” Earlier award recipients include several prime ministers, presidents and spiritual leaders of India. Frawley received the award along with Suresh Prabhu, Union Railway Minister of India.
In his book American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West, in the section "Passions for India," Philip Goldberg (2010) mentions David Frawley or Vamadeva Shastri as among three important teachers or acharyas of the Vedic tradition in the West today, along with Georg Feuerstein and Andrew Harvey. In its “Meet the Innovators” section, the magazine Yoga Journal speaks of David Frawley as “one of the first Americans to bring Ayurvedic Medicine and Vedic Astrology to the West.”
In the foreword to Frawley’s book Vedic Yoga: The Path of the Rishi, Swami Veda Bharati (2014) notes, "Every page of Vamadeva’s book is an example of what the Vedic Rishis have extolled as manisha or mantra-bearing inspirational wisdom.”  Swami Veda Bharati also contributed a chapter to the book agreeing with Frawley's views on the Vedic Yoga.
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). Deepak Chopra (2015) states of Frawley/Vamadeva, relative to 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."
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. Frawley has been highlighted for calling Paramahansa Yogananda, “the father of Yoga in the West.”  The Hindu (2014) notes Frawley as a “Yoga and Vedanta expert.”
Frawley’s Swami Vivekananda: The Maker of a New Era in Global Spirituality occurs in a Ramakrishna Mission book anthology in honor of the one hundred and fiftieth birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Prabuddha Bharata (2014), a publication of the Ramakrishna Order, states relative to Frawley’s book Mantra Yoga and Primal Sound, “The book is a revelation in terms of the astonishing width of literature that Frawley touches upon. Volumes can be written on each individual chapter.”
Bryant (2001) commented that Frawley's historical work is more successful in the popular arena, to which it is directed and where its impact "is by no means insignificant", rather than in academic study and that "(Frawley) is committed to channeling a symbolic spiritual paradigm through a critical empirico rational one".
In 2002, Frawley in an article in The Hindu newspaper drew on the then recent marine archeological discoveries at Gulf of Cambay of existence of submerged city dating from 7500 BC, to further suggest possibility of coastal origin for Vedic civilisation. Frawley further suggested in his article that it concurs with the texts of the Rig Veda includes close connections with ocean based on the repeated occurrence in the texts of the Sanskrit word samudra, meaning ocean. Following this, Michael Witzel wrote a response article in The Hindu rejecting Frawley, based on Witzel arguments that the Sanskrit work samudra means confluence of river and does not mean the traditional meaning of ocean, and hence writers of the Vedic civilization were from a place far from any oceans and not originally from India. Witzel suggests for the meaning of samudra as presented by him, that the roots of samudra as formed from "sam"(together) "+ udra". The "+udra" he refers to have the same origin as English water, Old Norse watn and Green hudoor. The debate between Frawley and Witzel continued with few more articles written by both to state their reasons to speculate that Vedic writers had roots from lands close to the oceans of India or far from ocean not from India, respectively.   
Bruce Lincoln (1999) attributes autochthonous ideas such as Frawley's 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.[full citation needed]
Alternative archaeologist Graham Hancock (2002) quotes Frawley’s historical work extensively for the proposal of highly evolved ancient civilizations prior to our current estimate of history, including in India. In addition, note Kreisburg (2012), for Frawley’s “The Vedic Literature and Its Many Secrets”.
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