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Introduction to Dr.

David Frawley's Book "Universal Hinduism: Towards a New Vision of Sanatana Dharma" By Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya

Universal Hinduism: Towards a New Vision of Sanatana Dharma David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri) xxiv, 214 pages, 22cm. ISBN: 9788185990897

"Universal Hinduism" is the latest title (fall 2010) of Pandit Vamadeva Shastri (David Frawley) on the Hindu tradition and its global relevance. It follows his several best sellers in the field and his books on Hindu Dharma which have gone through more than twenty reprints in India since 1994. The book explains the relevance of Sanatana Dharma not only for the past but also for the future, not only for India but for all countries. Notably the book explains how Hinduism can be of universal and eternal value and yet have its own special identity among the religions of the world. The book features introductory notes by Sri Sivananda Murty and by Dr. Frank Morales (Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya). Sivananda Murty is one of the most respected Sadgurus in India today with a large following in Andhra Pradesh. He heads the Sivadvaita Shaktivishta tradition of Yoga and is closely connected with Ramana Maharshi's teachings and is well known for his insight into Yoga, astrology and classical Indian music. Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya is one of the most important western teachers of Sanatana Dharma and has written several important books on related subjects.

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Introduction to Dr. David Frawley's Book "Universal Hinduism: Towards a New Vision of Sanatana Dharma" By Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya The spiritual tradition of Hinduism was intended from its very inception in the heart of God to be an inherently universal phenomenon in both the scope of its philosophical concern and in its practical applicability. Hinduism is a religion that is designed by its very nature to be open and welcoming to all of the world's diverse people, regardless of their individual ethnicity, race, caste or language. This global reality of Hinduism is clearly reflected in the original Sanskrit terms found within its own Vedic scriptures that are used to describe the religion. Hinduism is historically referred to in the scriptures as Sanatana Dharma, the "Eternal Natural Way"; Vishva Dharma, the "Universal Way"; and Vaidika Dharma, the "Way of Truth", among many other self-referenced appellations. Hinduism was always in reality so much more than merely the "religion of India". Throughout its history, Hinduism has always been a trans-geographical spiritual-cultural matrix, a universal spiritual culture designed to be practiced by all the people of the Earth. This fact is attested to by the history of Sanatana Dharma. Even as recently as 2500 years ago, the Hindu sphere of direct cultural influence was not limited in any way to only India, but ranged over at least two-thirds of Asia. In the pre-Buddhist era, the entire territory ranging from much of ancient Persia (today's Iran), Central Asia and Afghanistan in the West; extending into the South Asian region that today includes such nations as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh; and including the South-East Asian nations of Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and much of south China and the Philippines were predominantly Hindu states. On a more peripheral scale, centuries of scholarly research have repeatedly demonstrated that Hindu and Dharmic influences extended also to much of ancient Celtic, Germanic, GrecoRoman, Hittite, Mesopotamian and pre-Columbian cultures as well, to name only a few. Indeed, in the ancient world scene of pre-Abrahamic history especially, it could be justifiably argued that the Dharmic way of living and thinking served as the paradigmatic foundation of almost every important culture and civilization on earth.

The boundless breadth and expansive depth of Hinduism is found not only externally in its historically global reach and universal influence, but also internally in its multiple and welldeveloped arts and sciences. For unlike any other spiritual world-view in existence, there is no aspect of the human experience - from the aesthetic, literary, scientific, economic, medical and political realms, to those of philosophy, metaphysics, psychology and ultimate mystical transcendence - that Hinduism does not address directly, systematically and conclusively. It is, in fact, especially through its arts and sciences that we now see Hinduism once again beginning to spread its benevolent influence throughout the entire world after a twothousand year period of forced steady decline. Throughout the entire globe, in almost every nation on earth, from Europe and the Americas, to the former Soviet Union, East Asia and even the Middle East, we have witnessed a virtual explosion in the last few decades alone of multiple tens of millions of the Earth's diverse inhabitants enthusiastically embracing such core Hindu practices as Yoga, ayurveda, jyotisha, mantra meditation, vastu, chakra work, vegetarianism and natural healing, as well as deeply appreciating overtly Hindu forms of philosophy, music, foods and art. As Dr. Frawley himself states in this work, "Hinduism is once more emerging in its full scope as Sanatana Dharma, a universal and eternal tradition of truth, knowledge and consciousness that encompasses all life and is relevant to all creatures - which is its original formulation." (pg. 6) Indeed, what is even more revealing about the nature of the current Hindu resurgence is the fact that we now have millions of non-Indians globally who consciously identify Hinduism as their chosen religion; and who, when asked what their religion is, will verbally assert with pride: "I am a Hindu!" Thus, what began in its original inception as a Vishva Dharma - a universal spiritual path - has now come full circle to become a truly world religion once again. As the entire world continues to adopt Hindu practices at lightning speed, it is now safe to say that the vast global influence of Hinduism lay not only in the historical past, but as an ever-increasing future reality. The Vedic world-view can no longer be seen as something that is to be relegated to an archaic past, and of interest only to a hand-full of self-serving academicians, scholars and "Indologists" scrambling to make a name for themselves in their attempt to lay intellectual claim to the corpse of a supposedly dead culture. Rather, Sanatana Dharma is a living and dynamic spiritual phenomenon. Hinduism does not represent the past. It is the future.

The present work by Dr. David Frawley (Sri Vamadeva Shastri) serves in itself as a further important piece of evidence documenting the revived universal scope of the Hindu world-view. Written by a well-respected contemporary Yogi, Vaidya, VedaAcharya and Hindu scholar of specifically Western origin, "Universal Hinduism: Towards a New Vision of Sanatana Dharma" is a crucially relevant and important work that needs to be, not merely read in a cursory manner, but deeply analyzed by all serious Hindu practitioners, activists, gurus and leaders. In this work, Dr. Frawley not only documents the many positive influences that the Hindu world-view continues to have upon the entire world, but more, he explains in brilliant fashion why the re-universalization of Hindu Dharma is both natural to the religion's very essence, and thus an inevitable development. Like many of Dr. Frawley's previously published, highly innovative works, "Universal Hinduism" is a groundbreaking book in many respects. For this work lays out like no other book has been capable of to date both 1) an exposition of the natural universality of Hinduism and its fast growing appeal to millions of non-Hindus throughout the globe, as well as 2) a blueprint for how to ensure that Hinduism continues to make its transition from a religion that experienced a thousand years of persecution to now again becoming a powerful world religion in a manner that will be most conducive for its healthy continued growth. This book is nothing less than a clear manifesto for ensuring the rightful place of Sanatana Dharma as a global force for good in the 21st Century. The number and scope of topics that Dr. Frawley brilliantly addresses in this work are too numerous to address deeply in a brief prefatory exercise as mine. I do, however, wish to highlight a few topics that I think are especially crucial. In outlining the universal nature of Hinduism, Dr. Frawley very expertly avoids the common pitfall perpetrated by all too many Hindu leaders of reducing Hindu universalism to what I have previously termed "Radical Universalism". As the author ably points out, the fact that Hinduism is a religion that is universal in nature and is open to being practiced and to full adoption by all human beings is in no way to be equated with the false notion that all religious and spiritual paths are indistinguishable from one another. Hinduism does not teach that all religions are the same. Dr. Frawley correctly reminds us that Sanatana Dharma is its own unique and systematized spiritual tradition that contains within its inherent being a distinctive sense of spiritual/cultural identity, history and purpose. As Dr. Frawley so well states the problem in the first chapter of this work: "Hindu universalism is not a radical universalism that equates religions as they are and removes any differentiation between religious teachings and doctrines. Hindu universalism reflects an

understanding of universal law that cannot be made subordinate to religious dogmas, beliefs, faiths or institutions. Hindu universalism leads us to a rigorous science of consciousness, not simply to an attempt to make all religious doctrines the same." (pg. 48) As Sanatana Dharma currently finds itself in its on-going attempt to interface its concerns with eternality vis-à-vis the present fact of modernity, it must both re-embrace its universal relevance for all of the Earth's diverse human beings, while simultaneously retaining its own unique identity. Hinduism is not Christianity, nor is it Islam, Buddhism or Taoism. Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma: The Eternal Natural Way. It is only in rejecting the extreme notion of Radical Universalism, and asserting instead the universal applicability of Dharma in everyday life, that the future of Hinduism will remain secure, strong and relevant to the entire world. Up until the appearance of this present work by Dr. Frawley, very few Hindu writers had written about the overtly political implications of Dharma as instantiated in contemporary political and governance issues. Two of the few exceptions to this rule were the brilliant Hindu scholars and writers Sri Ram Swarup and Sri Sitaram Goel. While many knowledgeable Hindus had always recognized that Dharma is not merely a spiritual path, but is also an ideological world-view that has direct insights to offer in the realms of politics, economics and social sciences, not many had been able to envision precisely what an ideology of Dharma politics would entail or even look like. In recognizing that Sanatana Dharma now finds itself once again in a position to assert itself as a growing global force for future spiritual, political, economic and cultural change, Dr. Frawley outlines throughout this book precisely what a healthy politically-engaged Hinduism will look like, as well as what it must emphasize and seek to accomplish, in overt political terms. Part three of Dr. Frawley's work is especially innovative and crucially relevant in this regard. Up till now, the political expression of Hinduism has been relegated to no more than a confused and not wholly successful sense of Indian nationalism, or "Hindu Nationalism", as its polemically-driven critics in academia and the media have repeatedly termed it. In keeping with the universal nature and relevance of Sanatana Dharma, however, Dr. Frawley correctly asserts that confining Hinduism to a mere parochial sense of Indian or Hindu nationalism is ultimately both politically shortsighted and not in keeping with the eternal mandate that Hinduism has to potentially inform and reform all political discourse universally. Dharma politics, like the eternal path of Sanatana Dharma that forms its very basis, cannot be relegated only to the current political scene in contemporary India, but must offer a vision of a better world for all human beings who inhabit our increasingly shrinking planet. Dharma is not a genetically circumscribed race or a nationality, but is universal Truth. Similarly, Dharma politics is necessarily open to all and has practical answers to offer all people, regardless of race, nationality or even religious affiliation. In Dr. Frawley's vision of what such a universal, Dharma-based political ideology seeks, he

states: "To create a society in harmony with nature and with peace among all people, there must first be a dharmic foundation in order to uphold it...we need a view of human civilization in harmony with all life...". (pg. 173) The author then clearly states what some of the important issues are that Dharma directly addresses. Thus, Dr. Frawley asserts, Hinduism can and must provide the philosophical foundation of not merely a narrowly envisioned Indian nationalism, but a universally applicable Dharma Nationalism that all human beings can employ in their respective nation-states, communities and villages to make our world a more peaceful, compassionate and civilized place. While "Universal Hinduism" is designed to be neither an exclusive exposition on Dharma political science per se, nor purely a political manifesto, it does cover previously unchartered ground in this regard, and I look forward to seeing Dr. Frawley write in an even more concentrated way on this precise topic in the future. The fact that Dr. Frawley's "Universal Hinduism: Towards a New Vision of Sanatana Dharma" is destined to become an instant classic in modern Hindu literature is both a given and a highly appropriate fact in my mind. It is a brilliant work. In it, Dr. Frawley provides the tools necessary to reformulate the eternal message of Hinduism, to communicate that message in until now untapped avenues of outreach, and to thus potentially reposition Hinduism on the world stage as the noble and keenly relevant global religion that it always has been. Dr. David Frawley - Sri Veda-Acharya Vamadeva Shastri - may have chosen to be physically born in a White American, formerly Christian, body in this lifetime. But I assure the reader that his inner self is nothing less than one of Dharma's most cherished children, born in our day to elucidate the way of Hindu Dharma for all the world to better understand and appreciate. Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya (Dr. Frank Morales, Ph.D.) International Sanatana Dharma Society The Center for Dharma Studies Omaha, Nebraska, USA March 31, 2010

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