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frawley interview

frawley interview

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Published by: Moonlightshadow on May 03, 2008
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08/21/2010

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"I AM A BRIDGE BETWEEN THE EAST AND THEWEST"—DAVID FRAWLEY
BACK TOHOME
 
Internationally known writer,Vedantin,teacher and practitioner of ayurvedaand
 Jyotish
or astrology, David Frawley is one of the western world's most ardent supporters of VedicHinduism. On a recent visit toIndia
 
, hegave an interview to
Suma Varughese
 
David Frawley, otherwise known as VamadevaShastri, is a US citizen by birth and a Hindu byconviction. He sees his life work as forming a bridgebetween these two widely opposing cultures, and he does so with a rarededication and thoroughness. An acknowledged Vedantin, Frawley is an expert inayurveda, Vedic astrology,yoga, andtantra, all of which, he says, have their basis in Vedanta. Indeed it is the interdisciplinary approach to Vedanta that hesees as his particular contribution in demystifying eastern spirituality. Frawley haswritten a number of books on all these disciplines, including
Yoga and Vedanta
,and
 Ayurveda and the Mind 
. His latest books include
Vedantic Meditation
, and
Yoga for your Type
.Frawley speaks out ardently in favor of India finding its own dharmic solutionsrather than borrowing western concepts. He has written many books on thesubject including
Hinduism and the Clash of Civilisation
, and
The Myth of the Aryan Invasion
. He sees modern civilization as doomed and envisages the dawnof a planetary culture linked by consciousness. Eastern values have a key role toplay in fashioning this new culture, he says. Frawley is associated with theNaimisha Research Institute for Vedic Studies in Bangalore, India, and is thefounder-director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Sante Fe, NewMexico, USA.The bearded Frawley met Parveen Chopra and Suma Varughese over lunch at theIndia International Centre in New Delhi. Excerpts from the interview:
 
You mention in your website that there is need in India to generate rightsocial, economic and political action. What do you mean by 'right'?
 India has many traditions, not just a spiritual tradition. There are Vedicapproaches relative to ecology,vaastu, and much else. They can provide dharmicsolutions to modern problems rather than importing answers from the West.Indians are realizing that there is a lot of value in their spiritual traditions. Eventhe solutions to the problems that may come in the next century may lie more inthe eastern traditions than in the western ones. We have reached an age whencommercialism and destruction of the environment have gone too far. Thedharma of society, nature and consciousness is going to be the most importantparadigm in the coming century. So, it's important to keep alive many of thetraditions that were marginalized or lost.
How do you reconcile the western culture you were born in to the Hindudharma you have adopted?
 We have a lot of freedom so I can do what I want. I came in contact withParamahansa Yogananda's teachings at 20; also withSri AurobindoandRamana
 
Maharshi. So developed my Vedantic view of the world. I developed an interest inVedas and in
Jyotish
(astrology). In the '70s, with the natural healing movement,I became interested in ayurveda.
 
How would you define your identity?
 I usually don't define myself. I define what I do. But I see myself as a bridgebetween the East and the West, the ancient and the modern. My approach toVedic knowledge is interdisciplinary because yoga, ayurveda, Vedanta, Jyotish areall aspects of the culture whose foundations are in the Vedas. Also, in India, I'veaddressed some of the contemporary issues. What is the state of society, whereis it going? At IIT Delhi, I spoke about the current situation, globalization, the ITrevolution, high-tech, and how it can be made relevant in the age of greaterconsciousness that is coming forth.
 
How do you reconcile with high-tech?
 I am not against anything. But the high-tech world is still at the level of information, not intelligence. Intelligence helps you grasp the fundamentalprinciples behind anything. With just a lot of data you don't necessarily reach theright conclusion. The current globalization is at the information level, but to havereal globalization you need a connection at the consciousness level. We excludethe role of nature in globalization. Globalization that destroys nature is notplanetary. It becomes human destruction of the planet.
So you do feel that there is a movement towards one culture.
 One culture but in the Vedic sense—pluralistic. Not the triumph of one religion orone language or one race. The American culture is spreading, but it's superficial.Many cultures—particularly traditional, native and indigenous—are beingdestroyed. Just as bio-diversity is necessary for the health of the planet, socultural diversity is necessary for the health of society. Western civilization is toolarge and intensely destructive. It doesn't recognize other cultural paradigms andcivilizational models.
 
You've had some association with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
A little bit. I've had association with many organizations, the BJP, RSS, AryaSamaj, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the Sringeri and Kanchi Shankaracharyas, RamanaAshram, Pramukh Swami and the Swaminarayan order.
Have you formally converted to Hinduism?
 Yes, but it's not a question of conversion, but of finding your dharma. I don'tbelieve anybody is saved by conversion. It's your own karma, your own acts thatsave you. I don't believe that names and forms matter. If somebody is a goodperson, the background doesn't matter. We should judge a person's actions andstate of mind.
But you would call yourself a Hindu.
 Yes, because I follow those ideas. I believe that Vedantic philosophy makes themost sense, and I've been following gurus of this tradition like Ramana Maharshi.
 
Is the Hindu nationalistic awakening good and positive?
 I would most agree with V.S. Naipaul. Overall, every awakening has its fringegroups; for instance, when the blacks in America awakened on civil rights issues,there were extremist groups. For Hindus the awakening is necessary today. TheChristians have done it, the Muslims have done it, even the Buddhists have doneit. Hindus need to say that we have a place in the world, we have a point of view,you don't need to step on us.
 
 Coming to astrology, believers often surrender their free will. Everything in Vedicknowledge is karma. Karma is not destiny. Karma means we create who we areover time. So ayurveda or Jyotish are just methods to change our karma.Improve it for the future. Jyotish is like the weather report. If it tells you that it'sraining tomorrow, you can dress differently. You are not at the mercy of theweather. Astrology is there to guide us; unfortunately people take it fatalistically.But that's a misunderstanding of Jyotish and of karma.
 
How far do you think you've evolved spiritually?
 That's not something for me to answer. But when I look back on my life in someareas, I've accomplished things I never thought I could. Yet, I wouldn't say that Ihave fulfilled all fantasies of what I thought I would be able to do. But I'm alwayslooking at the future. There's a certain movement. Consciousness is like the flowof a river. You follow the stream. You don't think, 'How far have I gone'?
 
Which of your books would you recommend?
 My work has many sides.
Yoga and Ayurveda
covers many of the principles Ihave been working on. It covers the spiritual, the psychological, the healthaspect, the inter-relationship between these two systems according to Vedicprinciples.
 
Is ayurveda a complete answer to allopathy?
 One need not exclude the other. Ayurveda is good for health maintenance and forbroader principles, allopathy is good for acute conditions, pain management andsurgery.
Did you read the Vedic scriptures in Sanskrit?
 Yes, I know the language relatively well.
 
Was technology developed in the Vedic ages?
 There was not a mass development of technology but there was knowledge of various subtle forces of nature. They had knowledge of mantras and so on. So it'spossible they used that knowledge to develop certain tools, but I don't think theyhad an air force. But they did have a
vimana
(flying machine). They had an occultknowledge that we don't have today. Material techn ology cannot last long. Thematerial technology that we have will destroy the planet within a hundred years,unless it changes. So if a previous civilization had had it, they would have movedon to something more nature-friendly.
Is spiritual technology possible, which will enable man to control forcesthrough the use of his own inner powers?
 A yogi has some powers, to control different things like the temperature of hisbody, his thought process; yes, that's possible.
 
You have studied the Rig Veda in the original. What have been themisunderstandings created by both Christian missionaries and Indianscholars?
 Pretty much the whole thing. They had no conception of the yogic nature of theVedas. Rig Veda starts off with Agni. But who is Agni? They say it's the fire towhich you offer sacrifice. But no, I think it stands for the principle of fire,perception, light at a universal level. Western scholars and missionaries tookthings literally and superficially. They did not see the mystical, poetic, symbolicvalue. At the adhyatmic or spiritual level, Agni stands for the principle of consciousness. So the ancient people understood the universe and the forces of 

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