American Institute of Vedic Studies

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Welcome to American Institute of Vedic Studies's Knowledge Center presenting articles on Yoga, Ayurveda, Mantra, Meditation and Vedanta by Dr David Frawley a.k.a. Acharya Vamadeva Shastri, Yogini Shambhavi and other associated scholars.

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The Yoga of Consciousness: The Supreme Yoga

Traditional Yoga, as defined in key Yoga texts like the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, is first of all a “Yoga of Consciousness”, requiring a deepening and expansion of an inner awareness. It is not a mere Yoga of outer action or bodily movements, but a Yoga of meditative inquiry. Its primary approach is to develop a direct change of consciousness within us, not simply to adjust the body, senses or mind externally.   The ancient Yoga teaches us to use the inner to change the inner, and does not depend upon external factors to change our awareness. Even the external factors it may employ consist of various methods of internalizing and slowing down our senses, prana and mind. From the book – The Yoga of Consciousness: From Waking, Dream and Deep Sleep to Self-Realization by David Frawley   Such a lasting change of consciousness rests upon fundamental changes

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Svastha: Wellbeing in Ayurveda

Ayurveda, the Vedic science of life for all living beings, defines health and wellbeing in terms of Svastha. Svastha means abiding (stha) in one’s own Self (Sva). Yet to understand it, we must recognize that this Vedic abiding in our own nature reflects the Vedic view of the universe, which is very different than the outer worldview most of us follow today. Svastha implies living in harmony with the world of nature (Prakriti), but also in harmony with our own inner nature. This means aligning our body, prana, senses and mind with the Self or Atman within. Such a definition includes physical, psychological and spiritual wellbeing, not just health in the modern medical sense. This Self is the very core of who we are and constitutes the underlying energy and consciousness behind the entire cosmos. As Ayurveda is a branch of the Vedas, an Upaveda, this definition of wellbeing applies

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Calming Emotional Turbulence

Emotions are powerful forces of nature, not just our own personal reactions. For example, anger is much like fire. When you are angry, it is not your anger, but anger is expressing itself through you, as it does through other creatures. Like fire the force of anger has a destructive potential that we can easily affect us if you don’t know how to manage it.   That is why when a strong emotion dominates us, we may do things that otherwise we would find to be irrational and perhaps even harmful to ourselves. Our better judgement gets disrupted by these powerful forces. Just as anger, the same is true of fear, desire, envy, jealousy, greed, or any other disturbed emotion. The turbulent emotion demands satisfaction through immediate action, but one that is based upon compulsion not consciousness. So emotional reactions easily lead us into errors, wrong actions, conflict and sorrow,

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Shakti Sadhana and Divine Grace

Shakti Sadhana by Yogini Shambhavi   All of our lives should be a Shakti Sadhana, a cultivation of the Yoga Shakti on all levels outwardly and inwardly. For this we are always supported by Mother Nature who is the very embodiment of Shakti for us. Shakti sadhana is not about making efforts to fulfill our personal desires. It is about being receptive to the ever-changing flow of Shakti’s transformational grace that surrounds us on every side! The art of truly being present in a sacred space is to be aware of nature around us and embrace it as the very ground of our own being, our own true nature. Most of the time we busy ourselves with the shifting affairs of the outer world, its fleeting enjoyments and achievements, moving from agitation and obsession to eventual anxiety and despair. We lose the vastness of our deeper cosmic Self and get

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Karma, DNA of Our Soul

By Dr David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) Karma, meaning action, is a Vedic term for explaining the reincarnating soul’s evolution from life to life. Karma is portrayed as the effect of our individual actions, extending from past lives to present and future lives. It is often regarded as a force of determination, like fate or destiny. We speak of a person’s karma catching up with them, ‘what goes around comes around’ or ‘as you sow so shall you reap’, indicating this inescapable result of what we have done. Yet if we look deeper, we see that karma reflects the fact that we create our own reality. We fashion ourselves and our environment according to all that we do in life. Karma, therefore, means that we are universal creators, not simply helpless products of external forces. Karma is the underlying process of the ‘self-creating universe’. It indicates that the universe creates

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Ayurveda and the Mind: Keys to Yoga and Ayurveda Psychology

Ayurveda is inherently a psychological as much as a physical system of medicine. Its scope of practice includes both physical (sharirika) and mental (manasika) diseases. Therefore, we cannot really understand Ayurveda without looking at its view of the mind and consciousness. As Ayurveda holds that diseases arise more from our own wrong judgements, attitudes, and wrong use of the senses, such psychological factors are at the root of most diseases.   Traditional Ayurveda recognizes three main causes of disease: 1. Doshic imbalances, either by constitution or by external factors. 2. Excess of rajas and tamas in the mind, lack of sattva. 3. Karmic factors or results of previous actions, including in past lives.   These three factors are  related, though one may be dominant. Doshic imbalances usually rest upon an excess of the gunas of rajas or tamas, which in turn reflect deeper karmic disharmonies. Ayurvedic treatment is threefold in

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The Upanishadic Connection to Neuroscience

Upanishadic sages thousands of years ago understood the secrets of neuroscience, but going beyond the physical body to higher levels of consciousness, ultimately transcending the manifest universe. Vedic Deities (Devatas) can be defined relative to mind, sensory, pranic, and motor functions that can easily be correlated to the workings of the brain and the nervous system. For example, Agni or fire is speech, Vayu or air is Prana, Surya or the Sun is perception, space or the directions is hearing, and the Moon (Soma) is the mind in its contemplative nature. These are also the priests and powers of the Vedic sacrifice or Yajna, of which the inner sacrifice is the practice of Yoga. Through working with these Vedic Devatas we can develop methods and practices to activate the different aspects of the brain, the outer senses and pranas, and the inner senses and pranas, for individual well being. By

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Transcending Our Two Dimensional Media World

  We spend our time looking at small flat screens, which are not only limited in size but in the process of viewing them we lose the depth vision of the third dimension. We are gradually conditioning our minds to the limited perception of a two dimensional world to define the real world in which we live. We must counter this restrictive vision with the practices of Yoga and Meditation or our world view will be caught in superficial dichotomies and lack any nuanced view.   We live more in a two dimensional media world than in the actual three dimensional world of our senses. We seldom use the subtleties of our senses to perceive the beauty of nature. Similarly, we seldom cultivate our minds to appreciate a variety of points of view. As our minds reflect where we most commonly hold our attention, our minds are getting reduced to

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Psychological Immunity and How to Measure it

American Institute of Vedic Studies
American Institute of Vedic Studies
Psychological Immunity and How to Measure it
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We all know the importance of physical immunity. This is our ability to resist disease, ward off pathogens, endure the dualities of heat and cold and seasonal changes, have physical strength and stamina, slow down the aging process and heal our bodies from within relative to injuries or chronic diseases. It is indicated by positive health and wellness. But what is psychological immunity? It is similarly the ability of the mind to resist disease, ward off emotional toxins, endure the dualities of gain and loss, joy and sorrow, attraction and repulsion. It means to have enduring mental strength and stamina, slowing down the aging process for the mind and memory, steady concentration and balanced emotions, without agitation and sorrow. It is indicated by a positive attitude in life, fearlessness, contentment, Self-awareness and creativity.   Just as physical pathogens like bacteria and viruses abound in the external world, so mental pathogens,

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Shravana: The Vedic Yoga of Listening

There is an inner state of listening, called Shravana in Vedanta, where the mind is silent, receptive and non-reactive, allowing it to access a higher level of communication and learning. This meditative of listening called Shravana holds an inner space in which the real meaning of anything said can be revealed. It is an attentive and discerning listening with a mind free of opinions, prejudices and attachments, removing the dense veil of our programmed responses. Shravana is the basis of true learning and communication on all levels, in which the truth of any statement is revealed, not just outer words. It is the basis of higher education, which is not merely learning words, ideas or numbers but contacting the essence of the cosmic reality within and around us. Yet few people know how to enter into this profound state of listening, or even know of its existence or value. It

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The Meaning of Durga

No country in the world demonstrates such enduring reverence for the Great Mother Goddess, as does India. The Goddess is celebrated in every form, aspect and quality, through music, art, ritual, mantra and meditation. She is honored in women, the Earth, nature and the transcendent beyond all expression. Her worship is full of splendor, delight, mystery and wonder. The Goddess is Shakti, meaning power, the resort of all transformative energy and cataclysmic force that mere human logic cannot comprehend. She possesses martial and regal forms that all must bow down before in awe. During the Navaratri – India’s famous festival of the Goddess celebrated not only in the autumn but also in the spring– she is worshipped as Durga, the supreme Shakti, holding all majesty, wisdom and grace. Durga is the Mother of the universe from who comes forth the creation, sustenance and dissolution of all beings and all worlds.

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Who is Goddess Durga and why we celebrate Navratras

The following article is by Yogini Shambhavi Devi Ma Durga is the protective form of Shakti, burning up all ignorance, as her fiery nature energises our highest motivation. The Devi-Mahatmya (Greatness of the Goddess) glorifies the Mother Goddess as the embodiment of the Earth, in which she sustains, nurtures and cares for all living beings. In her transcendent state, she is the blissful Queen of the Universe who rules over all existence with majesty and grace. “Durga” in Sanskrit means difficulty, a fort, a place that is hard to conquer, yet also indicates the means of overcoming all difficulties and gaining all difficult attainments. Durga is Durgatinashini, “the one who eliminates all difficulties and suffering.” She steers the ship of our minds through the troubled waters of samsara, the illusory world of maya, helping us cross the ocean of ignorance. Durga as the sublime Mother Goddess shields her devotees from

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The Great Goddess and World Mother (Mahadevi) in Vedic Astrology

By Yogini Shambhavi Mahadevi, the Great Goddess, has many names and forms in Jyotish, the Vedic astrological science of light. These range from her overall cosmic influence to specific associations with planets, signs, Nakshatras and phases of the Moon. In Hindu thought, the Goddess is the Mother of the Universe from whom the origin, sustenance and dissolution of everything arises. She governs over the whole of time, as past, present and future, and all of space. As the Supreme Mother, the Goddess cannot be limited to a single planet, sign or astrological indication. Her influences occurs on many levels and in many dimensions, coloring all the forces of the universe, which are manifestations of her Supreme Shakti. She possesses all the forms of the feminine nature, as well as all the forces and creativity of life and light. She is also formless, extending to the original matrix of time and

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How Narendra Modi is invoking old civilisational spirit to build new, aspirational India

New India can be a new light for humanity, not just at political or economic levels, but also at a civilisational level extending to a universal vision says Dr David Frawley in his latest article at FirstPost India India is not only a great nation today as the world’s largest democracy encompassing one-sixth of humanity, it is also a diverse and vibrant culture and a profound civilisation that has endured since the dawn of history spreading the deepest wisdom to the world. Yet India/Bharat was never stagnant even under foreign rule and has brought great spiritual teachings, gurus, yogis and rishis to every generation. Today a New India is arising to renew and share that vast civilisational legacy, not just as an imitation of the other countries or cultures of the world. India’s Independence in 1947 held the opportunity for India as a nation and its dharmic civilisation to once

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Resetting Your Mind for Creativity and Higher Awareness

Many of us strive to periodically reset our bodies and their organic functioning to allow for proper rest and renewal. This provides new energy and a new enthusiasm to start new actions and take us beyond the limitations of old patterns and inertia. The same process is necessary for mental health and psychological wellbeing, extending to the development of higher consciousness. We should learn to reset our minds daily to free ourselves from bad habits, negative emotions, and mental inertia that keeps us down or limits our mental acuity and emotional happiness. We should periodically empty our minds of their residues of conditioned thinking and memory blockages, including any obsessions and compulsions, in order to stimulate new creativity, original thinking, and a deeper Self-awareness.   Challenges To Mental Wellbeing Today   Our minds today are overstimulated, overworked and easily disturbed in our media era of constant digital or electronic engagement,

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Healing Shaktis of Ayurveda

Shakti and Healing   Shakti is an important Sanskrit term that has several levels of meaning that are essential for understanding how the forces of the universe work from a biological to a cosmic level,  relative to the totality of life and existence.   Shakti in essence means power, energy or potency. Most specifically, Shakti refers to ruling or executive power, the power of guidance and decision making. Shakti is most commonly known in the West for its connection to feminine energy as the creative and transformative powers of Mother Nature and Mother Earth overall. We can say that Shakti is the basis of the special powers inherent in nature, but including the powers of the Self-nature, Atma-Shakti, not just the world nature or Prakriti Shakti.   There are many healing powers or Shakis in nature relative the qualities and properties and energies that make up the various forces, objects

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Articles on Ayurveda

Karma, DNA of Our Soul

By Dr David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) Karma, meaning action, is a Vedic term for explaining the reincarnating soul’s evolution from life to life. Karma is portrayed as the effect of our individual actions, extending from past lives to present and future lives. It is often regarded as a force of determination, like fate or

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Vedic Counseling and Karmic Counseling

Karmic Responsibility: Taking Control of Your Life The first thing Vedic counseling teaches us is that our lives are a product of our own actions or karma. Who we are and what we experience, both individually and collectively, is the result of forces that we have set in motion and are ultimately responsible for.  We

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Ayurvedic Astrology

All great ancient civilizations centered their cultures on profound systems of astronomy and astrology, connecting conditions and events on the Earth to cosmic influences deriving from the stars. Whether it is India or China, Egypt or Babylonia, or the Mayas and Incas of America, we find in each case an astrological foundation for their spiritual

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Why the practice of Yoga should begin with Ayurveda

Following Ayurveda along with Yoga  helps us gain complete harmony and balance in body and mind so that we can discover our true Self that is one with all. Most people today practice Yoga, particularly asana and pranayama, for health benefits as the primary factor, extending at times to mantra, mindfulness and meditation to improve

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Ayurvedic Implications of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

We will explore the extensive relationship and vast interconnections between Yoga and Ayurveda, focusing on the Yoga Sutras. This examination extends to important issues of Yoga sadhana, Yoga therapy and Ayurvedic healing. Yoga, Ayurveda and related Vedic disciplines have more connections than usually acknowledged, particularly in the West. We cannot understand one of these systems

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Ayurvedic Astrology: Hinduism Today

Ayurvedic Astrology: Hinduism Today   With the Covid-19 era focusing humanity on wellness more than ever before, we present the special Vedic branch of medical astrology and the astrology of healing. By Vamadeva Shastri, first published in Hinduism Today Magazine   Seeking knowledge: OUR HUMAN LIVES ARE GOVERNED BY the same cosmic forces that rule

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Articles on Yoga

The Yoga of Consciousness: The Supreme Yoga

Traditional Yoga, as defined in key Yoga texts like the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, is first of all a “Yoga of Consciousness”, requiring a deepening and expansion of an inner awareness. It is not a mere Yoga of outer action or bodily movements, but a Yoga of meditative inquiry. Its primary approach is

Read the full article »

The Upanishadic Connection to Neuroscience

Upanishadic sages thousands of years ago understood the secrets of neuroscience, but going beyond the physical body to higher levels of consciousness, ultimately transcending the manifest universe. Vedic Deities (Devatas) can be defined relative to mind, sensory, pranic, and motor functions that can easily be correlated to the workings of the brain and the nervous

Read the full article »

The Meaning of Durga

No country in the world demonstrates such enduring reverence for the Great Mother Goddess, as does India. The Goddess is celebrated in every form, aspect and quality, through music, art, ritual, mantra and meditation. She is honored in women, the Earth, nature and the transcendent beyond all expression. Her worship is full of splendor, delight,

Read the full article »

Vedic Light and Tantric Energy Yogas

  By Acharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) Tantra and Veda: One Tradition   A number of writers and teachers, particularly in Western academia, have tried to divide the two great traditions of India of Veda and Tantra as different or even contrary. Some Yoga teachers have uncritically taken up this view as well. Vedic

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Ananda: What is its True Meaning?

Ananda is one of the key terms of Yoga and Vedanta, and like many of these often misunderstood. Ananda is translated as bliss, though it has no real equivalent in the English language. Bliss is a helpful approximation but can be misleading.   Ananda is composed of the prefix ‘aa’ indicating a superlative level, and

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Exploring the Inner Cosmology of Consciousness

  The inner cosmos has its own structure as does the outer cosmos. Each reflects the other. In fact, one could say that the inner cosmos creates the outer cosmos.   The cosmos is not something that exists outside of us extending into vast regions of space beyond our comprehension. The cosmos also dwells within

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Yogic Pratyahara and Psychological Immunity

Pratyahara Yoga   What is the main Yoga practice we can do for developing our psychological immunity, emotional calm, and inner equipoise in these difficult times? First, we must note that the principles and practices of Yoga overall are about mastery over the mind, so they all aid in psychological immunity, resilience, and the ability

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Shiva and Shakti Yogas

Yoga means unification, which is first the unity of all the dualities and contraries that constitute the energies of life. Yoga philosophy teaches us to understand and transcend duality, but this rests upon harmonizing the dualities within us in a transformative state of balance. Shiva and Shakti as the dual cosmic principles are an intrinsic

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Yoga & Ayurveda in an Age of Social and Economic Uncertainty

In these times of economic and social uncertainty, Yoga and Ayurveda practitioners and schools have faced numerous unpredictable challenges, and often a significant decline in their revenues. After the global shutdown following the initial Covid outbreak, many Yoga Studios had to close, and many were not able to reopen again when the lockdowns were relaxed.

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The Ancient Yoga of the Sun

What if the most powerful force for energizing all Yoga practices were as obvious and visible as the Sun? The fact is that it is. The Sun, properly understood not merely as an outer but as an inner energy source, reflects the supreme light of Yoga both in our own hearts and in the world

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Articles on Meditation & the Mind

Meditation in Yoga and Ayurveda

Meditation is the key practice of traditional Yoga and the prime factor behind an authentic Ayurvedic lifestyle. Mantra is its foundation. Meditation goes to the root of our consciousness and prana, connecting us to our higher Self and aligning us with the healing forces of the Self-aware universe. If we don’t meditate daily we lose

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Mantra, Concentration and Meditation

  Concentration and Meditation   To reach the meditative state, concentration is required first. A scattered, distracted, and inattentive mind cannot truly meditate, even if one sits silently for long periods of time. As the Yoga Sutras teach us, one must first develop the one-pointed mind (ekagra chitta) in order to reach state in which

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Transforming Emotions through Pranayama and Meditation

Which aspects of our nature are emotions rooted in and how can we best understand them? Emotions are most connected to Prana in yogic thought and have their roots in pranamaya kosha, the Pranic sheath that mediates between body and mind.   Emotions are based in instincts, notably hunger, thirst, survival and reproduction, which are

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Yoga and Ayurveda View of the Mind: Audio

American Institute of Vedic Studies
American Institute of Vedic Studies
Yoga and Ayurveda View of the Mind: Audio
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Yoga and Ayurveda View of the Mind Audio In modern medicine brain, mind and consciousness are equated, with the mind regarded as only a function of the brain, and consciousness merely a function of the mind.  Mind and consciousness are reduced to brain chemistry, as if there were no real intelligence or real person there.

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Articles on Jyotish (Vedic Astrology)

Ayurvedic Astrology

All great ancient civilizations centered their cultures on profound systems of astronomy and astrology, connecting conditions and events on the Earth to cosmic influences deriving from the stars. Whether it is India or China, Egypt or Babylonia, or the Mayas and Incas of America, we find in each case an astrological foundation for their spiritual

Read the complete article »

Lord Vishnu and Vedic Astrology

Vishnu is the primary Devata for the Sun in Vedic thought, notably in the form of Surya-Narayana.  Narayana is the cosmic form of Vishnu who rules over the entire universe. The mantra – OM Namo Narayanaya! – is a mantra of sadhus and connects us with the supreme Consciousness. It can be used to draw

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Lord Shiva in Vedic Astrology

Lord Shiva has a central yet complex role in Vedic astrology, associated with a number of planetary energies, though he has specific planetary associations. We will explore these from my years of research in Vedic texts and Shaivite Yoga.   Shiva and the Sun and Moon   Shiva’s connections to the Sun are powerful and

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The Milky Way and the Cosmic Soma

An indepth study of the Vedic Understanding of the Milky Way and the Zodiac Soma and the Orientation of the Zodiac The key to the meaning of the signs of the zodiac should be evident from the orientation of the zodiac itself. The most dramatic factor in stellar observation for any person is the Milky

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