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David Frawley

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David Frawley
Frawley in 2007
Born (1950-09-21) September 21, 1950 (age 73)
Wisconsin, United States
Other namesVamadeva Shastri
Occupation(s)Writer, ayurvedic practitioner, Hindu astrologer
SpouseShambhavi Chopra
AwardsPadma Bhushan (2015)
WebsiteAmerican Institute of Vedic Studies

David Frawley (born September 21, 1950), also known as Vamadeva Shastri, is an American Hindu writer, astrologer, acharya (religious teacher), ayurvedic practitioner, and Hindutva activist.

He has written numerous books on topics spanning the Vedas, Hinduism, yoga, ayurveda and Hindu astrology.[1] His works have been popular among the general public. In 2015 he was honored by the government of India with the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award in India.[2]

A prominent ideologue of the Hindutva movement, he has also been accused of practicing historical revisionism.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

David Frawley was born to a Catholic family in Wisconsin and had nine siblings.[5] Frawley is largely an autodidact.[5] He studied ayurveda under B. L. Vashta of Mumbai for a span of about a decade, and obtained a "Doctor of Oriental Medicine" degree via a correspondence course from the International Institute of Chinese Medicine, Santa Fe, New Mexico,[4] a school for acupuncture which closed in 2003 due to "administrative and governance irregularities" and financial problems."[6]

Frawley is the founder and the sole instructor at the American Institute of Vedic Studies at Santa Fe, New Mexico[7][8] and is a former president of the American Council of Vedic Astrology.[9] He also previously taught Chinese herbal medicine and western herbology.[10]

Views and reception[edit]


Frawley rejects the Indo-Aryan migration theory in favor of the Indigenous Aryans theory, accusing his opponents of having a “European missionary bias”.[11][12] 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Kak has rejected the widely supported Indo-Aryan migration, rhetorically calling it the Aryan Invasion Theory, an outdated and inaccurate term, and supported the Indigenous Aryans theory.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.[13]

In the sphere of market-economics, Frawley opposes socialism, stating that such policies have reduced citizens to beggars.[14] He is a practitioner of Ayurveda,[15] and recommends the practice of ascetic rituals along with moral purification as indispensable parts of the Advaita tradition.[16]


Popular reception[edit]

While being rejected by academia, he has been successful in the popular market; according to Bryant, his works are clearly directed and articulated at such audiences.[17][5][4] He's been a prominent voice in the introduction of Ayurvedic medicine and Vedic astrology among a western, nonmedical trained audience.[4][18][19][20] According to Edwin Bryant, he is "well-received" by "the Indian community,"[7] noting that a Westerner rejecting the Aryan Migration Theory has an obvious appeal in India and Frawley (along with Koenraad Elst) fits in it, perfectly.[21] Frawley commands a significant following on Twitter, as well.[5]



He has been described as a prominent figure of the Hindutva movement[22][23][24][9][25][26] and numerous scholars have also described him as a Hindutva ideologue and apologist.[27][28][29][30][31][32][33][14] He has been widely described as practicing historical revisionism.[3][4] Martha Nussbaum and others consider him to be the most determined opponent to the theory of Indo-Aryan migrations.[34][35]

Meera Nanda asserts Frawley to be a member of the Hindu far right, who decries Islam and Christianity as religions for the lower intellects[36] and whose works feature a Hindu Supremacist spin.[37][38] 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.[39] 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.[40][5] Bryant notes him to be an unambiguously pro-Hindu scholar.[17] 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.[41]

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.[42] His proposed equivalence of Ayurveda with vedic healing traditions has been rejected by Indologists and David Hardiman considers Frawley's assertion to be part of a wider Hindu-nationalist quest.[43] Joseph Alter notes that his writings 'play into the politics of nationalism' and remarks of them to be controversial from an academic locus.[44]

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 criticized Frawley's "fanciful" approach to stand 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.[45]

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.[46] 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.[47]

Dhavalikar also reviewed The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India and found it to be unsupported by archaeological evidence.[35] Irfan Habib criticized Frawley's invoking the Sarasvati River in the book as an assault against common sense.[48][clarification needed]

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

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).[51] 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."[52]

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.


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

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "David Frawley is the American hippy who became RSS's favourite western intellectual". ThePrint. 17 November 2018.
  2. ^ "The unusual story of David Frawley aka Vamadeva Sastri". Deccan Herald. 28 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b 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.
  4. ^ a b c d e Wujastyk, Dagmar; Smith, Frederick M. (2013-09-09). "Introduction". Modern and Global Ayurveda: Pluralism and Paradigms. SUNY Press. pp. 18–20. ISBN 978-0-7914-7816-5.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Acupuncture Today – October, 2003, Vol. 04, Issue 10, International Institute of Chinese Medicine Closes
  7. ^ a b Bryant, Edwin (2001-09-06). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 347. ISBN 9780195137774.
  8. ^ Wujastyk, Dagmar; Smith, Frederick M. (2013-09-09). "An Overview of the Education and Practice of Global Ayurveda". Modern and Global Ayurveda: Pluralism and Paradigms. SUNY Press. p. 133. ISBN 978-0-7914-7816-5.
  9. ^ a b Searle-Chatterjee, Mary (January 2000). "'World religions' and 'ethnic groups': do these paradigms lend themselves to the cause of Hindu nationalism?". Ethnic and Racial Studies. 23 (3): 497–515. doi:10.1080/014198700328962. ISSN 0141-9870. S2CID 145681756.
  10. ^ Michael Tierra (1988). David Frawley (ed.). Planetary Herbology. Lotus Press. ISBN 978-0941524278.
  11. ^ Ramaswamy, Sumathi (June 2001). "Remains of the race: Archaeology, nationalism, and the yearning for civilisation in the Indus valley". The Indian Economic & Social History Review. 38 (2): 105–145. doi:10.1177/001946460103800201. ISSN 0019-4646. S2CID 145756604.
  12. ^ Benedict M. Ashley, O. P. (2006). "Notes". Way Toward Wisdom, The: An Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Introduction to Metaphysics. University of Notre Dame Press. p. 460. ISBN 9780268074692.
  13. ^ Arvidsson 2006:298 Arvidsson, Stefan (2006), Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science, translated by Sonia Wichmann, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.
  14. ^ a b Pathak, Pathik (2008). "Saffron Semantics: The Struggle to Define Hindu Nationalism". The Future of Multicultural Britain: Confronting the Progressive Dilemma. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 73–74, 80. ISBN 9780748635443. JSTOR 10.3366/j.ctt1r27ks.
  15. ^ Warrier, Maya (March 2011). "Modern Ayurveda in Transnational Context: Modern Ayurveda in Transnational Context". Religion Compass. 5 (3): 80–93. doi:10.1111/j.1749-8171.2011.00264.x.
  16. ^ Lucas, Phillip Charles (2014). "Non-Traditional Modern Advaita Gurus in the West and Their Traditional Modern Advaita Critics". Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 17 (3): 6–37. doi:10.1525/nr.2014.17.3.6. ISSN 1092-6690. JSTOR 10.1525/nr.2014.17.3.6.
  17. ^ a b Bryant, Edwin (2001-09-06). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture : The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press. p. 291. ISBN 9780195169478. OCLC 697790495.
  18. ^ "Yoga Journal". Yoga Journal. 28 August 2007. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  19. ^ Philip Goldberg (2010). American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. Harmony Books. pp. 222–224. ISBN 978-0-385-52134-5.
  20. ^ Anand, Shilpa Nair (Feb 28, 2014). "An Enlightened Path". The Hindu.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Lal, Vinay (1999). "The Politics of History on the Internet: Cyber-Diasporic Hinduism and the North American Hindu Diaspora". Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies. 8 (2): 137–172. doi:10.1353/dsp.1999.0000. ISSN 1911-1568. S2CID 144343833.
  24. ^ Tripathi, Salil (October 2002). "The End of Secularism". Index on Censorship. 31 (4): 160–166. doi:10.1080/03064220208537150. ISSN 0306-4220. S2CID 146826096.
  25. ^ Chaudhuri, Arun (June 2018). "India, America, and the Nationalist Apocalyptic". CrossCurrents. 68 (2): 216–236. doi:10.1111/cros.12309. ISSN 0011-1953. S2CID 171592481.
  26. ^ Lal, Vinay (2003). "North American Hindus, the Sense of History, and the Politics of Internet Diasporism". In Lee, Rachel C.; Wong, Sau-ling Cynthia (eds.). Asian America.Net : Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Cyberspace. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780203957349.
  27. ^ Mukta, Parita (2000-01-01). "The public face of Hindu nationalism". Ethnic and Racial Studies. 23 (3): 442–466. doi:10.1080/014198700328944. ISSN 0141-9870. S2CID 144284403.
  28. ^ Koertge. (2005-08-04). Scientific Values and Civic Virtues. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195172256. OCLC 474649157.
  29. ^ Pathak, Pathik (2012). The Future of Multicultural Britain: Confronting the Progressive Dilemma. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780748635467. OCLC 889952434.
  30. ^ Kuruvachira, Jose (2006). Hindu Nationalists of Modern India: A Critical Study of the Intellectual Genealogy of Hindutva. Rawat Publications. ISBN 9788170339953.
  31. ^ Bhatt, Chetan (2000-01-01). "Dharmo rakshati rakshitah : Hindutva movements in the UK". Ethnic and Racial Studies. 23 (3): 559–593. doi:10.1080/014198700328999. ISSN 0141-9870. S2CID 144085595.
  32. ^ Chadha, Ashish (February 2011). "Conjuring a river, imagining civilisation". Contributions to Indian Sociology. 45 (1): 55–83. doi:10.1177/006996671004500103. ISSN 0069-9667. S2CID 144701033.
  33. ^ Back, Les; Solomos, John; Solomos, Professor of Sociology in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science John (2000). Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader. Psychology Press. ISBN 9780415156714.
  34. ^ Nussbaum, Martha Craven (2008). The Clash Within : Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future. Harvard University Press. p. 369. ISBN 9780674030596. OCLC 1006798430.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ NANDA, MEERA (2011). "Ideological Convergences: Hindutva and the Norway Massacre". Economic and Political Weekly. 46 (53): 61–68. ISSN 0012-9976. JSTOR 23065638.
  37. ^ Nanda, Meera (2009). "Hindu Triumphalism and the Clash of Civilisations". Economic and Political Weekly. 44 (28): 106–114. ISSN 0012-9976. JSTOR 40279263.
  38. ^ Nanda, Meera (2011). The god market : how globalization is making India more Hindu. Monthly Review Press. p. 162. ISBN 9781583672501. OCLC 731901376.
  39. ^ Guha, Sudeshna (2005). "Negotiating Evidence: History, Archaeology and the Indus Civilisation". Modern Asian Studies. 39 (2): 399–426. doi:10.1017/S0026749X04001611. ISSN 0026-749X. JSTOR 3876625. S2CID 145463239.
  40. ^ "Why Hindutva's foreign-born cheerleaders are so popular - Times of India". The Times of India. 11 April 2017. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  41. ^ Heehs, Peter (May 2003). "Shades of Orientalism: Paradoxes and Problems in Indian Historiography". History and Theory. 42 (2): 169–195. doi:10.1111/1468-2303.00238. ISSN 0018-2656.
  42. ^ Bruce Lincoln (1999). Theorizing Myth: Narrative, Ideology, and Scholarship. University of Chicago Press. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-226-48201-9.
  43. ^ Hardiman, David (2009). "Indian Medical Indigeneity: From Nationalist Assertion to the Global Market" (PDF). Social History. 34 (3): 263–283. doi:10.1080/03071020902975131. ISSN 0307-1022. JSTOR 25594366. S2CID 144288544.
  44. ^ Alter, Joseph S. (2011). "Notes". Asian Medicine and Globalization. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 156. ISBN 9780812205251.
  45. ^ Salomon, Richard (1989). "Review of Hymns from the Golden Age: Selected Hymns from the Rig Veda with Yogic Interpretation; Pinnacles of India's Past: Selections from the Rgveda". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 109 (3): 456–457. doi:10.2307/604160. ISSN 0003-0279. JSTOR 604160.
  46. ^ 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. 77 (1/4). Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute: 326–327. ISSN 0378-1143. JSTOR 41702199.
  47. ^ 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.
  48. ^ 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.
  49. ^ "Suresh Prabhu gets SIES award for national eminence". Economic Times. Retrieved 27 Dec 2015.
  50. ^ "Padma Awards 2015". Press Information Bureau. Archived from the original on 28 January 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  51. ^ Deepak Chopra; David Simon (2005). Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga. Wiley. p. 200. ISBN 978-0471736271.
  52. ^ David Frawley (2015). Shiva, the Lord of Yoga. Lotus Press. p. 283. ISBN 978-0-9406-7629-9.

External links[edit]