David Frawley

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David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)
David Frawley.jpg
David Frawley in 2007
Born (1950-09-21) September 21, 1950 (age 70)
Wisconsin, United States
NationalityAmerican
OccupationVedacharya, Ayurvedic teacher, Vedic astrologer, writer
Spouse(s)Yogini Shambhavi Chopra
AwardsPadma Bhushan
Websitewww.vedanet.com

David Frawley (born 1950) is an American author, astrologer, Vedic acharya and a proponent of Hindutva.[a][2]

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.

A prominent ideologue of the Hindutva movement, he has also been accused of practicing historical revisionism.

Early life and education[edit]

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]

Frawley is the founder and the sole instructor at the American Institute of Vedic Studies at Santa Fe, New Mexico[5][6] and is a former president of the American Council of Vedic Astrology.[7] He also previously taught Chinese herbal medicine and western herbology.[8]

Views and reception[edit]

Views[edit]

Frawley rejects the Indo-Aryan migration theory in favor of the Indigenous Aryans theory, accusing his opponents of having a “European missionary bias”.[9][10] In the book In Search of the Cradle of Civilization (1995), Frawley along with Georg Feuerstein and Subhash Kak has rejected the widely supported Indo-Aryan migration, rhetorically calling it the Aryan Invasion Theory, an outdated and inaccurate term, and supported the fringe Indigenous Aryans theory. Frawley also criticizes the 19th-century racial interpretations of Indian prehistory, and went on to reject the theory of a conflict between invading caucasoid Aryans and Dravidians.[11]

In the sphere of market-economics, Frawley opposes socialism, stating that such policies have reduced citizens to beggars.[12] He is a practitioner of Ayurveda,[13] and recommends the practice of ascetic rituals along with moral purification as indispensable parts of the Advaita tradition.[14]

Reception[edit]

Despite being rejected by academia, he has been more successful in the popular market; his works are clearly directed and articulated at such audiences.[15][3][4] 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.[16] He has also been well-received by both in the western yoga community and the Indian community.[5]

Academia[edit]

He has been described as a prominent figure of the Hindutva movement[17][18][19][7][20][21] and numerous scholars have also described him as a Hindutva ideologue and apologist.[22][23][24][25][26][27][28][12] He has been widely accused of practicing historical revisionism.[29][4] Martha Nussbaum and others consider him to be the most determined opponent to the theory of Indo-Aryan migrations.[30][31]

Meera Nanda asserts Frawley to be a member of the Hindu far right, who decries Islam and Christianity as religions for the lower intellects[32] and whose works feature a Hindu Supremacist spin.[33][34] 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.[35] 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.[36][3] Bryant notes him to be an unambiguously pro-Hindu scholar.[15] 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.[37]

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.[38] 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.[39] Joseph Alter notes that his writings 'play into the politics of nationalism' and remarks of them to be controversial from an academic locus.[40]

Book reviews[edit]

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.[41]

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.[42] 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.[43] Guy Beck glowingly praised the work in a review for the Yoga Journal.[44]

Dhavalikar also reviewed The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India and found it to be unsupported by archaeological evidence.[31] 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.[45]

Yoga Community[edit]

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.[46] Dr. Frawley has been mentioned as “one of the first Americans to bring Ayurvedic Medicine and Vedic Astrology to the West” by Yoga Journal.[47]

Rajiv Mehrotra (2003) had interviewed Frawley as one of twenty important spiritual teachers in his book The Mind of the Guru.[48] 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".[49] Frawley commands a significant following on Twitter, as well.[3]

Honors and influences[edit]

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.”[50] On 26 January 2015, the Indian Government honored Frawley with the Padma Bhushan award.[51]

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).[52] 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."[53]

Selected publications[edit]

Hinduism and Indology[edit]

  1. Hymns from the Golden Age: Selected Hymns from the Rig Veda With Yogic Interpretation. Motilal Banarsidass Publications, 1986. ISBN 8120800729.
  2. Wisdom of the Ancient Seers: Mantras of the Rig Veda. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers (Pvt. Ltd), 1999. ISBN 8120811593.
  3. Arise Arjuna: Hinduism Resurgent in a New Century. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018. ISBN 9388134982.
  4. Awaken Bharata: A Call for India’s Rebirth. Bloomsbury India, 2018. ISBN 9388271009.
  5. What Is Hinduism?. Bloomsbury India, 2018. ISBN 9789388038638.

Yoga, Vedanta and Ayurveda[edit]

  1. Ayurvedic Healing. Passage Press, 1989. ISBN 1878423002.
  2. Ayurveda and the Mind: The Healing of Consciousness. Motilal Banarsidass Publications, 2005. ISBN 812082010X.

Co-authored[edit]

  1. The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine. Motilal Banarsidass Publications, 2004. ISBN 8120820347.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  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]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brown, Garrett W.; McLean, Iain; McMillan, Alistair (2018-01-06). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics and International Relations. Oxford University Press. p. 381. ISBN 9780192545848.
  2. ^ Chetan Bhatt (2000). "Hindu Nationalism and Indigenous 'Neo-racism'". In Back, Les; Solomos, John (eds.). Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader. Psychology Press. pp. 590–591. ISBN 9780415156714. Retrieved 22 March 2019. It is important to note the marriage between far-right-wing Hindutva ideology and western New Ageism in the works of writers like David Frawley (1994, 1995a, 1995b) who is both a key apologist for the Hindutva movement and the author of various New Age books on Vedic astrology, oracles and yoga
  3. ^ a b c d e Bamzai, Kaveree (2018-11-17). "David Frawley is the American hippy who became RSS's favourite western intellectual". ThePrint. Retrieved 2019-11-22.
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  16. ^ Bryant, Edwin (2001-09-06). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 292. ISBN 9780195137774.
  17. ^ Gilmartin, David; Lawrence, Bruce B (2002). Beyond Turk and Hindu: rethinking religious identities in Islamicate South Asia. New Delhi: India Research Press. ISBN 9788187943341. OCLC 52254519.
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  29. ^ Shrimali, Krishna Mohan (July 2007). "Writing India's Ancient Past". Indian Historical Review. 34 (2): 171–188. doi:10.1177/037698360703400209. ISSN 0376-9836. S2CID 140268498.
  30. ^ Nussbaum, Martha Craven (2008). The Clash Within : Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future. Harvard University Press. p. 369. ISBN 9780674030596. OCLC 1006798430.
  31. ^ a b Dhavalikar, M. K. (1997). "Review of THE MYTH OF INDIA; ARYAN INVASION OF INDIA: THE MYTH AND THE TRUTH". Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 78 (1/4): 343–344. ISSN 0378-1143. JSTOR 41694966.
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  42. ^ M. K. Dhavalikar (1996). "Untitled [review of In Search of the Cradle of Civilization: New Light on Ancient India, by Georg Feuerstein, Subhash Kak, & David Frawley]". Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 77 (1/4): 326–327. ISSN 0378-1143. JSTOR 41702199.
  43. ^ Kurien, Prema A. (2007). A place at the multicultural table the development of an American Hinduism. Rutgers University Press. pp. 242. ISBN 9780813540559. OCLC 703221465.
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  45. ^ Habib, Irfan (2001). "Imaging River Sarasvati: A Defence of Commonsense". Social Scientist. 29 (1/2): 46–74. doi:10.2307/3518272. ISSN 0970-0293. JSTOR 3518272.
  46. ^ Philip Goldberg (2010). American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. Harmony Books. pp. 222–224. ISBN 978-0-385-52134-5.
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  48. ^ Anand, Shilpa Nair (Feb 28, 2014). "An Enlightened Path". The Hindu.
  49. ^ Shrutisiddhananda, Swami (Jan 2014). "Book Reviews" (PDF). Prabuddha Bharata (Awakened India). Ramakrishna Order. 119 (1): 161–162.
  50. ^ "Suresh Prabhu gets SIES award for national eminence". Economic Times. Retrieved 27 Dec 2015.
  51. ^ "Padma Awards 2015". Press Information Bureau. Archived from the original on 28 January 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  52. ^ Deepak Chopra; David Simon (2005). Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga. Wiley. p. 200. ISBN 978-0471736271.
  53. ^ David Frawley (2015). Shiva, the Lord of Yoga. Lotus Press. p. 283. ISBN 978-0-9406-7629-9.

External links[edit]