David Frawley

David Frawley (born 1950) is an American Hindu teacher (acharya) and a Hindutva[a] activist.[2]

David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)
David Frawley.jpg
David Frawley in 2007
Born (1950-09-21) September 21, 1950 (age 69)
Wisconsin, United States
OccupationVedacharya, Ayurvedic teacher, Vedic astrologer, writer
Spouse(s)Yogini Shambhavi Chopra

He has written numerous books on topics spanning the Vedas, Hinduism, Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedic astrology. Whilst rejected by academia as fringe sectarian scholarship, 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.

Early life and educationEdit

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]

Views and worksEdit

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 often publishes in pro-Hindutva vernacular newspapers in the UK[8] and is a strong advocate of the Hindu Holocaust hypothesis.

He is a practitioner of Ayurveda,[9] and recommends the practice of ascetic rituals along with moral purification as indispensable parts of the Advaita tradition[10]

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][13] Martha Nussbaum and others consider him to be the most determined opponent in this regard.[14][15] In The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India, Frawley has criticized the 19th-century racial interpretations of Indian prehistory and rejects the theory of a conflict between invading caucasoid Aryans and Dravidians.[16]

In the sphere of market-economics, Frawley opposes socialism, claiming that such policies have reduced citizens to beggars.[17]


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.[18] Thus, despite being rejected by academia, he has been much more successful in the popular market and his works are clearly directed and articulated at such audiences.[19][3][4]

Popular mediaEdit

Frawley has been well-received by the Indian community and has a significant effect upon them and the diaspora population.[5] Rajiv Mehrotra (2003) of the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, India, interviewed Frawley as one of twenty important spiritual teachers in his book The Mind of the Guru.[20][21] Frawley's Swami Vivekananda: The Maker of a New Era in Global Spirituality occurs in a Ramakrishna Mission book anthology, published in honor of the one hundred and fiftieth birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.[22]

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".[23] Guy Beck glowingly praised In Search of the Cradle of Civilization in a review for the Yoga Journal.[24] Frawley has a significant following on Twitter, as well.[3]

Critical receptionEdit

He has been described as a prominent figure of the Hindutva movement[25][26][27][7][28][29] and numerous scholars have also described him as a Hindutva ideologue and apologist.[30][31][32][33][34][35][36][17] He has been widely accused of practicing historical negationism.[37][4]

Meera Nanda asserts that Frawley is a member of the Hindu far right, who decries Islam and Christianity as religion for the lower intellects[38] and whose works feature a Hindu Supremacist spin.[39][40] 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.[41] 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.[42][3] Bryant notes him to be an unambiguously pro-Hindu scholar.[19] 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.[43]

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.[44] 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.[45] Joseph Alter notes that his writings 'play into the politics of nationalism' and remarks of them to be controversial from an academic locus.[46]

Book reviewsEdit

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.[47]

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.[48] 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.[49]

Dhavalikar also reviewed The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India and found it to be unsupported by archaeological evidence.[15] 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.[50]

An essay in Cultural Anthropology noted Frawley's Ayurvedic Healing: A Comprehensive Guide to be a self-help book, that presented Ayurveda in a simple, elegant and well-organised fashion and chose to be respectful of cultural boundaries and relevant intricacies.[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]


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.”[54]

On 26 January 2015, the Indian Government honored Frawley with the Padma Bhushan award.[55]

See alsoEdit


  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]


  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.
  4. ^ a b c 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 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Biswas, Bidisha (January 2004). "Nationalism by Proxy: A Comparison of Social Movements Among Diaspora Sikhs and Hindus". Nationalism and Ethnic Politics. 10 (2): 269–295. doi:10.1080/13537110490467702. ISSN 1353-7113.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Right-wing US historian insists 'Aryans were indigenous to India'". 2014-11-25.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Nussbaum, Martha Craven (2008). The Clash Within : Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future. Harvard University Press. p. 369. ISBN 9780674030596. OCLC 1006798430.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ Mehrotra, Rajiv (2003). The Mind of the Guru: Conversations with Spiritual Masters. New Delhi, India: Penguin Books. pp. 91–104. ISBN 978-0-67-004951-6.
  21. ^ Anand, Shilpa Nair (Feb 28, 2014). "An Enlightened Path". The Hindu.
  22. ^ Ramakrishna Mission (2013). Swami Vivekananda: New Perspectives. Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. pp. 544–551. ISBN 978-93-81325-23-0.
  23. ^ Shrutisiddhananda, Swami (Jan 2014). "Book Reviews" (PDF). Prabuddha Bharata (Awakened India). Ramakrishna Order. 119 (1): 161–162.
  24. ^ Beck, Guy (Sep–Oct 1996). "Origins of Yoga [review of In Search of the Cradle of Civilization: New Light on Ancient India, by Georg Feuerstein, Subhash Kak, & David Frawley]". Yoga Journal. 130 (130): 116–117. ISSN 0191-0965.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ Tripathi, Salil (October 2002). "The End of Secularism". Index on Censorship. 31 (4): 160–166. doi:10.1080/03064220208537150. ISSN 0306-4220.
  28. ^ Chaudhuri, Arun (June 2018). "India, America, and the Nationalist Apocalyptic". CrossCurrents. 68 (2): 216–236. doi:10.1111/cros.12309. ISSN 0011-1953.
  29. ^ 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. NewYork: Routledge. ISBN 9780203957349.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ Koertge. (2005-08-04). Scientific Values and Civic Virtues. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195172256. OCLC 474649157.
  32. ^ Pathak, Pathik (2012). The Future of Multicultural Britain: Confronting the Progressive Dilemma. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780748635467. OCLC 889952434.
  33. ^ Kuruvachira, Jose (2006). Hindu Nationalists of Modern India: A Critical Study of the Intellectual Genealogy of Hindutva. Rawat Publications. ISBN 9788170339953.
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ Chadha, Ashish (February 2011). "Conjuring a river, imagining civilisation". Contributions to Indian Sociology. 45 (1): 55–83. doi:10.1177/006996671004500103. ISSN 0069-9667.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ Shrimali, Krishna Mohan (July 2007). "Writing India's Ancient Past". Indian Historical Review. 34 (2): 171–188. doi:10.1177/037698360703400209. ISSN 0376-9836.
  38. ^ NANDA, MEERA (2011). "Ideological Convergences: Hindutva and the Norway Massacre". Economic and Political Weekly. 46 (53): 61–68. ISSN 0012-9976. JSTOR 23065638.
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  40. ^ Nanda, Meera (2011). The god market : how globalization is making India more Hindu. Monthly Review Press. p. 162. ISBN 9781583672501. OCLC 731901376.
  41. ^ 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.
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  43. ^ 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.
  44. ^ Bruce Lincoln (1999). Theorizing Myth: Narrative, Ideology, and Scholarship. University of Chicago Press. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-226-48201-9.
  45. ^ 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.
  46. ^ Alter, Joseph S. (2011). "Notes". Asian Medicine and Globalization. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 156. ISBN 9780812205251.
  47. ^ 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.
  48. ^ 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.
  49. ^ Kurien, Prema A. (2007). A place at the multicultural table the development of an American Hinduism. Rutgers University Press. p. 242. ISBN 9780813540559. OCLC 703221465.
  50. ^ 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.
  51. ^ Langford, Jean (1995). "Ayurvedic Interiors: Person, Space, and Episteme in Three Medical Practices". Cultural Anthropology. 10 (3): 330–366. doi:10.1525/can.1995.10.3.02a00030. ISSN 0886-7356. JSTOR 656341.
  52. ^ Deepak Chopra, David Simon (2005). Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga. Wiley. p. 200. ISBN 978-0471736271.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  53. ^ David Frawley (2015). Shiva, the Lord of Yoga. Lotus Press. p. 283. ISBN 978-0-9406-7629-9.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  54. ^ "Suresh Prabhu gets SIES award for national eminence". Economic Times. Retrieved 27 Dec 2015.
  55. ^ "Padma Awards 2015". Press Information Bureau. Archived from the original on 28 January 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2015.

External linksEdit