Vamadeva Shastri

David Frawley

David Frawley (or Vāmadeva Śāstrī वामदेव शास्त्री) is an author on Hinduism, Yoga and Ayurveda, and the founder and director of the American Institute for Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which offers courses on Yoga philosophy, Ayurveda, and Hindu astrology. He is also a Professor of Vedic Astrology and Ayurveda at the unaccredited International Vedic Hindu University, besides being a Vaidya (Ayurvedic doctor), and a Jyotishi (Vedic astrologer).


Frawley was born in 1950 into a Catholic family in La Crosse, Wisconsin, United States. He was the second of ten children: the first and he and another were boys, the rest girls. He attended a Catholic school until he was about ten years old. After that he and his family moved to Denver, Colorado.

As an American Hindu, Frawley is one of the few Westerners to be recognized by a major Hindu sect in India as a Vedacharya or teacher of the ancient wisdom.

In 2000, his book How I Became a Hindu, details his own spiritual journey from his earlier Catholic upbringing to finally embracing Hinduism as his religion.

He had first contact with Hindu writings about 1970 and after that got more interested in the Vedas.

He learned Sanskrit from a Sanskrit grammar and a copy of the Vedas: as a result he learned Sanskrit the difficult way (Vedic first).

Frawley founded and is the director of the American Institute for Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Through his institute, he offers courses on Yoga philosophy, Hindu astrology (jyotisha), and Ayurveda. In addition to directing his institute, he conducts major lecture tours in India every year, delivering talks at universities, Hindu conferences, and to the general public.

Awards, titles and credentials

"Dr. Frawley has a background in Chinese medicine, in which he received a Doctor's degree in 1987. He taught Chinese herbal medicine at the International Institute of Chinese Medicine from 1984-1990."

In 1991, under the auspices of the Hindu teacher Avadhuta Shastri, he was named Vamadeva Shastri (वामदेव शास्‍त्री), after the great Vedic rishi Vamadeva.

"Vamadeva was one of the first Americans to receive Jyotish Kovid title from the Indian Council of Astrological Sciences (ICAS, 1993), the largest Vedic astrology association in the world,"

In 1995, he was given the title of Pandit along with the Brahmachari Vishwanathji award in Mumbai for his knowledge of the Vedic teaching.

In 1996 he received the Brahmachari Vishwanathji Award in Mumbai: this recognized him a Pandit and Dharmacharya.

Importance of the Vedas

"Vamadeva [Dr. David Frawley's chosen name] sees his role as helping to revive Vedic knowledge in an interdisciplinary approach for the planetary age. He sees himself as a teacher and translator to help empower people to use Vedic systems to enhance their lives and aid in their own Self-realization. He sees Vedic wisdom as a tool for liberation of the spirit, not as a dogma to bind people or to take power over them. Vedic knowledge is a means of communing with the conscious universe and learning to embody it in our own life and perception."

Argument for Westerners to become Hindu

Frawley says, "[T]rue religion, whether it predominates in the Eastern or Western parts of the world, is not a matter of geography... Why should it be a problem for us if anyone finds spiritual benefit from a teaching that arises outside of their given cultural context?"... Before we think that we are Westerners or Easterners, we should know that we are human beings. "Identity is something that we are going to lose anyway.

Racial Theory of Aryans and Dravidians

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.

"There is no racial evidence", according to Frawley, "of any such Indo-Aryan invasion of India but only of a continuity of the same group of people who traditionally considered themselves to be Aryans.

"''[T]here is no such thing scientifically speaking as Aryan and Dravidian races. The so-called Aryans and Dravidian races of India are members of the same Mediterranean branch of the Caucasian race,... The Caucasian race is not simply white but also contains dark skinned types. Skin color and race is another nineteenth century idea that has been recently discarded.

"The Puranas make the Dravidians descendants of the Vedic family of Turvasha, one of the older Vedic peoples...[T]he Puranas regard the Chinese, Persians and other non-Indic peoples to be descendants of Vedic kings. The Vedas see all human beings as descendants of Manu, their legendary first man."


Edwin Bryant writes that Frawley's 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.

In a series of exchanges published in The Hindu, Michael Witzel rejects Frawley's linking of Vedic literature with the Harappan civilisation and a claimed lost city in the Gulf of Cambay, as misreading Vedic texts, ignoring or misunderstanding other evidence and motivated by antiquity frenzy. Witzel argues that Frawley's proposed "ecological approach" to and "innovative theories" of the history of ancient India amount to propagating currently popular indigenist ideas.

Bruce Lincoln 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.

Koenraad Elst remarked, "David Frawley's contributions are laughed off with reference to his lack of western academic training (he studied the Vedas in a traditional Indian setting, becoming an acknowledged vedacarya). The fact that he published about Ayurveda and Vedic astrology are sufficient to denounce him as a quack".

Partial bibliography

  • Gods, Sages, and Kings, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-910261-37-7
  • From the River of Heaven, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-910261-38-5
  • Hinduism: The Eternal Tradition (Sanatana Dharma), Voice of India, New Delhi ISBN 81-85990-29-8
  • The Myth of the Aryan Invasion Theory online book, update, article
  • In Search of the Cradle of Civilization, with Georg Feuerstein, Subhash Kak. Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1999. ISBN 8120816269.
  • How I Became a Hindu
  • The Rig Veda and the History of India ISBN 81-7742-039-9
  • Hinduism and the Clash of Civilizations.
  • Yoga and Ayurveda, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-81-0
  • Tantric Yoga, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-910261-39-3
  • Wisdom of the Ancient Seers, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-910261-36-9
  • Oracle of Rama, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-910261-35-0
  • Yoga and the Sacred Fire, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-940985-75-6
  • Ayurvedic Healing, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-97-7
  • Ayurveda and Marma Therapy, (with Ranade and Lele), Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-940985-59-4
  • Yoga for Your Type: Ayurvedic Guide to Your Asana Practice, (with Summerfield-Kozak), Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-910261-30-X
  • Ayurveda: Nature's Medicine, (with Ranade), Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-95-0
  • Yoga of Herbs: Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, (with Lad), Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-24-8
  • Ayurveda and the Mind, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-36-5
  • Astrology of the Seers, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-89-6
  • Ayurvedic Astrology, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-940985-88-8



  • Arvidsson, Stefan (2006). Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Nussbaum, Martha (2007). The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

See also

External links

Frawley on Indian history

Video links

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