Acharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri)

Dr. David Frawley D. Litt., (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is a Vedacharya and one of the leading exponents of Vedic knowledge in an interdisciplinary approach worldwide. The American Institute of Vedic Studies serves as a vehicle for his work, offering on-line access to go along with his many published writings.


Biographical Information

Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is a recipient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan award, the third highest civilian award granted by the government of India, “for distinguished service of a higher order to the nation,” honoring his work and writings as a Vedic teacher, which he received in January 2015.

He has a D. Litt. (Doctor of Letters), the highest educational title possible in the field of Yoga and Vedic sciences, from SVYASA (Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana), the only deemed Yoga university recognized by the Government of India. He has a second D. LITT. from Ram Manohar Lohia Ayodhya University, Uttar Pradesh that was given to him by the governor of Uttar Pradesh. He has a National Eminence Award from the South Indian Education Society (SIES), affiliated with the Kanchi Shankaracharya Math, which has only been given to about fifty educators over the last forty years.

In India, Vamadeva’s translations and interpretations of the ancient Vedic teachings have been acclaimed in both spiritual and scholarly circles. He has worked extensively teaching, writing, lecturing, conducting research and helping establish schools and associations in related Vedic fields worldwide over the last three decades.

In addition, he writes regularly for various publications and the social media on educational issues and the importance of Vedic knowledge, extending the India television. He has been one of the main pioneers in introducing Ayurvedic medicine to the western world, as well as Jyotisha (Vedic astrology), the deeper aspects of Yoga and Vedanta, and the yogic interpretation of the Vedas.

Vamadeva second from left in official group picture for the higher Padma Awards,

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamad Anasari, and Home Minister of India, Rajnath Singh in the center, and second to the right of Vamadeva former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani. Awards for Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan. Ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 30, 2015.

Vamadeva receiving the Padma Bhushan Award from President of India Pranab Mukherjee.

Vamadeva sees his role as a “Vedic educator” helping to revive Vedic knowledge in an interdisciplinary approach for the planetary age. He regards himself as a translator to help empower people to use Vedic systems to d aid in their greater Self-realization.

Phillip Goldberg in his popular book American Veda (page 223) recognizes Vamadeva (Dr. David Frawley) as one of the main “acharya”s of Vedanta-Yoga in the West today, as well as noting his influence in India as a Vedacharya. Note comments about his work below.

insert 8“Those who know (vidvaamsah) will confirm that the works of Shri Vamadeva Shastri are distinguished by their authenticity. This is so because they are based on (1) his personal quest and experience (2) deep dwelling into the texts and (3) oral learning received from many authentic teachers who are experts in their areas of knowledge. Shri Vamadeva Shastri (Acharya David Frawley) has done this great service to many that he has offered access into knowledge that was often hitherto inaccessible to an average western seeker.”
Swami Veda Bharati, Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, Rishikesh

“Dr. David Frawley is one of the most important scholars of Ayurveda and Vedic Science today. I have great respect and admiration for his knowledge and the way he has expounded the ancient wisdom of the Vedas.”
Dr. Deepak Chopra

“Frawley is an Indian in an American body. The ease with which he enters into the spiritual of the Indian tradition and renders its deeper concepts in terms of modern thought shows an unusual familiarity with this ancient wisdom.”
M.P. Pandit, Secretary of Sri Aurobindo Ashram

“Certainly America’s most singular practicing Hindu.”
Ashok Malik, India Today Magazine

“David Frawley is a formidable scholar of Vedanta and easily the best known Western Acharya of the Vedic wisdom.”
Ashish Sharma, Indian Express, the Express Magazine

“Pandit Vamadeva Shastri, Vedacharya Dr. David Frawley has studied the timeless ancient wisdom of the Vedas. He brings us Vedic knowledge in a direct and practical way, so that one can apply this wisdom in his or her daily life. With his beautiful knowledge of Sanskrit, he has put this complex knowledge in a modern scientific way that will help Ayurvedic scholars, Vedic scholars and even those who study quantum physics.”
Dr. Vasant Lad, B.A.M.&S., M.A.Sc, Ayurvedic Physician and Director of the Ayurvedic Institute

Message to Dr. Frawley from Sri Lokesh Chandra on reception of Padma Bhushan Award
“Your books open the heart instead of keep up do-nots. Your magnum opus on the Rigveda sheds entirely new light on the earliest period of Indian and Indo-European history. The Padma Bhushan award is a long-awaited recognition of your creative insights into the Sanskrit centuries and contemporary practices. Ever more strength to your pen so that the seeds of great tomorrows are born. Padma Bhushan is India’s Thank You, as you carry Eternity into the Present. With renewed congratulations to you, the Yogeshvara.
Prof. Lokesh Chandra, Director of the Indian Council of Culture Research (ICCR), government of India


Padma Bhushan Award Citation

Below is the full citation for Dr. Frawley’s Padma Bhushan award from the government of India for his work in the fields of Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta, Vedic astrology, Vedic studies, Hindu Dharma and ancient India. The recommendation for this award came to him from the office of the Prime Minister, Sri Narendra Modi.


Pandit, Vedacharya and Professor

Vamadeva received a Pandit award as part of a special Brahmacharya Vishvanathji yearly award in Mumbai in 1994. His role as a pandit and Vedic teacher (Vedacharya) has been honored by many groups in India. These include Swaminarayan (BAPS), Arsha Vidya Gurukulam (Swami Dayananda), and the Chinmaya Mission (Swami Mitrananda). Such a traditional title as a Pandit and Vedacharya implies having written and taught on the four Vedas and Upanishads, which Vamadeva has done in his many Vedic books that include original translations from the Sanskrit, starting with the most ancient Rigveda.

Dr. Frawley’s work in India was honored in the book The Mind of the Guru, Conversations with Spiritual Masters (Viking, India, 2003) by Rajiv Mehrotra of the Dalai Lama Foundation, Delhi, India, which featured twenty modern teachers, mainly from India, with a foreword by the Dalai Lama.


Reviving Traditional Ayurveda

Vamadeva is a senior teacher of “traditional Ayurveda,” the older Vedic or Vaidya approach which incorporates Yoga, Vedic astrology, and Vedanta into its teachings. He is working to revive traditional Ayurveda and all its Vedic connections. He is a “master educator in the field of Ayurveda and Vedic studies.” Vamadeva has helped start a number of Ayurvedic schools and organizations, and his innovative teachings on Ayurveda have been used extensively by Ayurvedic groups throughout the world, including Ayurvedic schools in India. He is recognized as one of the most important Ayurvedic teachers and acharyas today.

VashtaVamadeva’s main teacher of Ayurveda was Dr. B. L. Vashta of Bombay and Pune (1919-1997), note photo left with Vashta on the right and P.H. Kulkarni on the left. For ten years he remained under the guidance of Dr. Vashta, visiting him regularly in India.

Dr. Vashta, a graduate of one of the first Ayurveda programs in India in 1941, wrote many books on Ayurveda and helped formulate Ayurvedic products for Ayurvedic companies. Vashta was also a leading journalist in the state of Maharashtra and became an important  guide for Vamadeva. Vashta taught him the value of traditional Ayurveda.

Over the years, he has done many programs with the Ministry of AYUSH in India, and with S-VYASA university, as well doing programs with Indian embassies throughout the world on Yoga and Ayurveda.

Lad2In America, Vamadeva has worked with Dr. Vasant Lad, noted Ayurvedic teacher and author. Vamadeva taught with Dr. Lad at the Ayurvedic Institute in 1983-1986. Along with Dr. Lad, he wrote the Yoga of Herbs (1986), which was the first book published integrating western herbs into Ayurveda.

Vamadeva’s main areas of specialization in Ayurveda are herbal medicine, Ayurveda and the mind, and Ayurveda and Yoga. He has written many books on Ayurveda including the Yoga of Herbs, Ayurvedic Healing (foreword by B. L. Vashta, 1989), Ayurveda and the Mind (1996), Yoga and Ayurveda (1999), Ayurveda, Nature’s Medicine (with Subhash Ranade, 2001), and Ayurveda and Marma Therapy (with Ranade and Lele, 2003). 

Vamadeva’s Soma in Yoga and Ayurveda (2012) is his longest and most detailed book on Ayurveda, and addresses deeper Yoga practices, including  secrets of Ayurvedic herbs. His book the Art and Science of Vedic Counseling shares an integral view of Vedic knowledge synthesizing Yoga, Vedanta, Ayurveda and Vedic astrology with the background Vedic Knowledge.


Reviving Vedic Knowledge, the Rigveda, Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharshi, Ganapati Muni

Vamadeva’s teachings are rooted in Vedic mantras going back to the Rigveda. He is regarded as a master teacher of the Vedic mantras, their deities and their applications and shares the ancient Vedic Raja Yoga and its deeper sadhanas.

Vamadeva began his study of the Vedas in 1971 through the works of Sri Aurobindo. In 1979, M.P. Pandit of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram gave his support to his work and personally was responsible for publishing dozens of Vamadeva’s Vedic articles and translations in Sri Aurobindo publications in India, which occurred regularly from 1980-1984 in World Union, the Advent and Sri Aurobindo’s Action.
Pandit first awakened Vamadeva to his “Vedic mission” and encouraged him up to his passing in 1994. Pandit helped publish Vamadeva’s first book in India, the Creative Vision of the Early Upanishads (1982) and serialized material from two of his other books, Self-realization and the Supermind in the Rig Veda (1979), and the Heart of the Yajur Veda (1982).
Vamadeva has followed a yogic interpretation of Vedic texts, reflecting the work of Sri Aurobindo and Ganapati Muni, showing the yogic meaning of the Vedic mantras, which has remained the inspiration for all that he has attempted. He brought out a volume of his translations from the Rig Veda in India under the title, Hymns from the Golden Age (Motilal Banarsidass, 1986). A revised version of the book came out in the USA  under the title Wisdom of the Ancient Seers: Selected Mantras from the Rig Veda (1993).
His most important work in the Vedic field is his Vedic Yoga: The Path of the Rishi (2014), which has a foreword and special chapter by Swami Veda Bharati. He has spoken on Vedic knowledge and philosophy for organizations like ICPR, Indian Council of Philosophical Research and ICCR, Indian Council of Cultural Relations.

Ramana Maharshi, Ganapati Muni and K. Natesan

photo insert 4Vamadeva has been a disciple and devotee of Ramana Maharshi, the great sage of South India, since 1970, holding to the traditions of Advaita Vedanta. He  carries on the work of Ganapati Muni, one of Maharshi’s chief disciples, whose teachings he received through K. Natesan of the Ramanashram in 1991. Vamadeva was in regular contact with Natesan up to his passing in 2009 at the age of 96, photo to right. Natesan carried both the legacy of Ramana Maharshi and Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni, a great modern Sanskrit writer and a great Raja Yogi.
Ganapati Muni’s work that Vamadeva has taken up includes both Vedas and Tantra, as well as Ayurveda and Jyotish, along with their mantric and meditational disciplines through Raja Yoga. Natesan has brought out the Muni’s Sanskrit work in eleven volumes.
His study of Vedantic meditation methods, particularly the practice of Self-inquiry as taught by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, is the subject of his book, Vedantic Meditation: Lighting the Flame of Awareness (2000).
Vamadeva’s study of Ganapati Muni’s work was the basis of his book Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses (1994), which relates to the deeper aspects of Tantric spiritual and mantric practices. The Muni’s work is also part of his Inner Tantric Yoga: Working with the Universal Shakti (2008).
Vamadeva has spoken before  Ramana Maharshi centers (Ramana Kendras) in India and the United States and has written for the Mountain Path, the ashram’s main publication.

Sadguru Sivananda Murty and Yoga-Vedanta

insert9Since 1994 Vamadeva has been a disciple of the noted South Indian guru, Sivananda Murty (1928-2015) of Andhra Pradesh (Vishakhpatnam), who is of Ramana’s line and a great yogi as well, with connections to Trailinga Swami.

He worked with Sivananda Murty on the Upanishads, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic Astrology. Vamadeva wrote the foreword to Sadguru Sivananda Murty’s Katha Yoga, a deep yogic study of the Katha Upanishad. Sivananda Murty provided an introduction Vamadeva’s book Universal Hinduism.

Vamadeva considers Sadguru Sivananda Murty to be one of the most important spiritual masters in India. He was the head of a Sivadvaita-Shaktivasishta order and Shaiva Mahapeetham, which Vamadeva and Shambhavi have joined by direct initiation with Sivananda Murty. He wrote the introduction to Dr. Frawley’s book Shiva, the Lord of Yoga (2015). Sivananda Murty was a great astrologer known for his world predictions. Yogini Shambhavi shares his connection with Sivananda Murty.


Honoring Vedanta and the works of Adi Shankara, Vamadeva has been associated with Swami Dayananda of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam and has spoken at his centers and worked with him in various conferences and programs.
He has done many programs with the Chinmaya Mission, particularly along with Swami Mitrananda, and recommends the books of Swami Chinmayananda to learn Vedanta.
Note his picture to the left with Swami Avdheshanand, head of the Juna Akadha, the largest monastic order in India and main organizer of the Kumbha Mela.
Vamadeva regards Vedanta as the mind and soul of Yoga and Ayurveda and  aims at promoting Vedanta along with Yoga. He emphasizes Yoga-Vedanta in all his teachings on Yoga. He states that Yoga without Vedanta is Yoga without its true awareness or understanding of Self-realization.

Vamadeva has been connected to the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda the the Kriya Yoga movement since he first took the SRF lessons in 1970, and has closely studied the teachings of Yogananda’s guru, Sri Yukteswar. SRF has published his articles and referred to his books in their publications. His quote on Yogananda has recently appeared in the new edition of Autobiography of a Yogi. He has visited SRF’s India center in Ranchi and participated in India book launches of Autobiography of a Yogi. In America he did a number of programs with Yogananda disciples like Roy Eugene Davis and Swami Kriyananda.


Vamadeva corresponded with Sri Sri Anandamayi Ma from 1976-1982, and remains a devotee of hers. She directed him to the study of Advaita Vedanta and the Vedas, telling him to “have full faith in his Vedic mission.” This gave him the confidence to go forward with his research and commentaries.

Acharya Frawley’s book Yoga, the Greater Tradition (2008) shows a broad view of Yoga and the need to develop its many traditional connections with all aspects of Vedic knowledge. His book on mantra, Mantra Yoga and Primal Sound (2010) has been regarded as a prime resource on mantra and meditation practice.


Spreading the Light of Vedic Astrology

Vamadeva began studying Vedic astrology (Jyotish) as part of his Vedic research in the early seventies and brought out a course in the subject in 1985. He continues to use Vedic astrology, particularly in the context of Yoga and Ayurveda, for a deeper understanding of Vedic wisdom. Vamadeva wrote Astrology of the Seers (1990), one of the first books on Vedic astrology published in the West. This was followed by Ayurvedic Astrology (2005), which pioneers the field of ‘Ayurvedic Astrology’.

In 1992 Vamadeva helped convene the first major American Conference on Vedic Astrology, which led to the founding of the American Council of Vedic Astrology (ACVA) the following year 1993. He became the first president of the organization for ten years (1993-2003).

Yogini Shambhavi joined his work on Jyotish in 2000, providing additional teachings and consultations on this Vedic science of light, reflecting her connection with the Yoga Shakti. She now handles the Jyotish work at the Institute.

Dr. Raman
Vamadeva’s main Vedic astrology teacher was Dr. B.V. Raman (1916-1998), regarded by many as the greatest Vedic astrologer of modern India and founder of the Astrological Magazine. He has also been associated with Gayatri Vasudev, Niranjan Babu, K.S. Charak, K.N. Rao and Bepin Behari.
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, followed by the title Jyotish Vachaspati in 1996, and Jyotish Medha Prajna in 2012. He has researched medical astrology and psychology and astrology, as well as the historical origins of Vedic astrology, bringing out special ancient Vedic material on the Nakshatras previously not available. In Oct. of 2010, he was one of the main speakers for the World Council on Mundane Astrology convened by Sri Sadguru Sivananda Murty in India.


Ancient History, Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma

Pramukh SwamiAfter seeing how the spiritual meaning of the Vedas had been misinterpreted by modern scholars, Vamadeva could easily see how the historical side of the Vedas had similarly been distorted. His work revising the history of ancient India has brought him into contact with major archeologists and historians, like Prof. B.B. Lal of India. He has many published books on the Vedas and Ancient India.
Note his picture with Pramukh Swami, head of the Swaminarayan order. His Hidden Horizons: Unearthing Ten Thousand Years of Indian Culture (2007) is a special publication of the Swaminarayan Order (BAPS). He has been associate with the organization for many years.
In 2015 he gave the keynote Foundation Day Lecture for the Indian Council of Historical Sciences (ICHR) on Textual Evidence in the Vedas, under the auspices of ICHR director, Prof. YS Rao.
His book on ancient India, Gods, Sages and Kings (1991) was one of the first to propose a new model of history for ancient India. A shorter version of this material Myth of the Aryan Invasion has been a popular book on the subject.
Along with Georg Feuerstein and Subhash Kak, he wrote In Search of the Cradle of Civilization (1995) and along with N.S. Rajaram, Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization (1994). His Rig Veda and the History of India (2001) takes this work further, setting forth a reconstruction of the history of ancient India in a Vedic light.

Reviving Hindu Dharma

Acharya Frawley’s was closely connected to Ram Swarup of Delhi (1921-1998), whom Hinduism Today called the most important modern writer on Hinduism, with whom he was associated with from 1992. Vamadeva wrote the forewords for Ram Swarup’s collected works, including, On Hinduism; Meditations, Gods, Yogas; and the Word as Revelation: Names of Gods, and other volumes of his collected works.
Vamadeva has written  several books on contemporary issues in India, and the challenges to dharmic and yogic culture posed by modern civilization. He views Hinduism in the light of its origins as ‘Sanatana Dharma’, the Universal or Eternal Tradition relevant to all human beings. His books on Sanatana Dharma began with From the River of Heaven: Hindu and Vedic Knowledge for the Modern Age (1991). Additional titles addressing contemporary issues How I Became a Hindu: My Discovery of Vedic Dharma (2000). His Universal Hinduism: Towards a New Vision of Sanatana Dharma (2010) shows its global relevance.
His books What is Hinduism: A Guide for the Global Mind, Arise Arjuna, and Awaken Bharata came out in Bloomsbury Editions in 2018.
Vamadeva has long been associated with the Hinduism Today magazine, for which he has published many articles. He was closely associated with their guru, Sivaya Subramuniya Swami and regularly visits their ashram in Hawaii. 
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