Vedacharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is the founder and director of Vedanet – The American Institute of Vedic studies, an online educational center that provides vast range of resources and publications on Vedic studies, Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology and Yoga-Vedanta for international audiences.
In India, Vamadeva is recognized as a Vedacharya (A person who is expert in Vedas and teaches Vedas). His scope of studies includes Vedanta and vedic astrology, Ayurveda, Yoga, and ancient Vedic text. His work on Vedic study is highly recognized in all around the world. He has worked extensively teaching, writing, lecturing, conducting research and helping establish schools and associations in related Vedic fields over the last more than three decades. Find details biography of Vedacharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri)
YogaCurious: Namaste! Can you please tell us how you started your journey with Vedic Studies? (yoga, Ayurveda, Astrology etc)
Vamadeva Shastri: It was in my late teens, back in the late nineteen sixties when different Yoga movements began to enter into the American popular culture. I started with teachings like Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, then to Ramana Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo, doing study, writings and practices in the Yoga field. It was in Aurobindo’s teachings, particularly in the Life Divine, that I found the connection with the Vedas. In 1979, I met MP Pandit, the then secretary of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, who began publishing my Vedic work in India, beginning with several books on the Rigveda.
YogaCurious: When did you decide to dedicate yourself to Vedic Studies personally and professionally?
Vamadeva Shastri: Personally at a very young age, about the age of twenty, as just indicated, I made the Vedic teachings my main concern in life. Professionally it was not so easy as Vedic Studies had little financial reward or even public recognition. In my twenties, I began working on the side in Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedic astrology, but that did not become a full time career until around 1983 when Ayurveda started to become known in the West.
YogaCurious: What is Vedic Yoga? And how it is different from yoga taught in various yoga studios?
Vamadeva Shastri: Vedic Yoga is the Yoga of the Vedic Rishis, rooted in the Mantra Yoga of the Rigveda, such as we find in the Gayatri mantra, Mrityunjaya mantra, and many other hymns of the Rigveda. On the foundation of Mantra Yoga, the Vedic Yoga contains Jnana Yoga (knowledge), Bhakti Yoga (devotion), Karma Yoga (ritual and service), and Prana Yoga – all of course in a mantric language, showing how to balance the energies of Agni and Soma, which are ultimately the powers of consciousness (Chidagni) and bliss (Soma as ananda). Unfortunately, few scholars have been able to crack the mantric code of the Rigveda, so its deeper Vedic Yoga is not very well known, though a few groups have spoken about it. Modern Yoga taught in Yoga studios today is basically a fitness movement that seldom reflects the greater scope of Yoga as an unfoldment of higher awareness. Such deeper Yoga practices require individual sadhana.
YogaCurious: How different disciplines of Vedic studies are interconnected? (Yoga, Ayurveda, Astrology etc)
Vamadeva Shastri: All Vedic sciences follow the same basic principles and philosophy of Purusha, Prakriti, the gunas, elements, chakras, karmas, and doshas, which reflect a profound understanding of the cosmic order. They relate to different aspects of the Vedic teachings. Astrology is the Vedic science of Time and karma. Vastu is the Vedic science of space and directional influences. Ayurveda is the Vedic science of healing for body and mind, including life-style practices for right living. Yoga is the Vedic science for developing the higher mind or buddhi for the purpose of Self-realization.
YogaCurious: I read your biography on Vedanet.com, as you are doing lots of activities like, speaking, research, writing books, meeting so many people and consulting various Vedic universities!! How you manage all this? Share your experience with time management!
Vamadeva Shastri: I do different things at different times of the year, taking some time off for travel and other time off for writing. I have also focused on different projects at different stages in my life. Age helps here as I am now 62 and have spent different periods working in different areas.
YogaCurious: What do you love the most about Vedas and Hinduism?
Vamadeva Shastri: What is most important for me is that the Vedic view of Sanatana Dharma reflects the profound knowledge inherent in the Cosmic Mind and is not simply one human system, faith or another. Also important is the broad Vedic understanding of nature, life and consciousness at an experiential level, along with its freedom from over fixation on the human world. But I think I derive the greatest inspiration from the power of the Vedic mantras to comprehend all aspects of life.
YogaCurious: I found that the youngsters always avoid their involvement in Vedic and Spiritual activities. They think, it is for old aged people!! What advice you will give?
Vamadeva Shastri: Young people are not so much interested in religion in the outer sense with its dogmas and petty moralism, rules and prohibitions. But they are definitely interested in experiential spirituality through Yoga and meditation, including ritual and pilgrimage, as relative to Himalaya temples, if presented to them with openness of mind. Look at the new popularity of Shiva in India. I think if people examine religion, spirituality, philosophy and science, they will find that the Vedic teachings have a lot to offer everyone, young and old.
YogaCurious: What in your opinion are the greatest health benefits of doing yoga?
Vamadeva Shastri: What do you mean by yoga? Asana? Certainly asana has the benefits of being an ideal form of exercise that aids in developing relaxation, relief of stress, and gaining greater flexibility. However, I would say the greatest health benefits of Yoga are through Pranayama in improving the circulatory, respiratory and nervous systems, and giving us overall more positive energy to do what we really want to do in life. If we learn how to work with our own Prana, we will not need drugs, stimulants or external forms of entertainment.
YogaCurious: What advice you will give to people who want to start Vedic Studies?
Vamadeva Shastri: Start wherever you can, in whatever Vedic science or discipline that is accessible and interesting to you, and build on it. But develop a sadhana in your life. Let it be a matter of practice. Often Ayurveda is the easiest place to begin as we all need a good foundation in health and wellness that Ayurveda teaches with clarity and detail.
YogaCurious: Say few words for our readers…
Vamadeva Shastri: It is important that we continue to develop and share the Vedic heritage of humanity. Vedic knowledge is relevant to everyone and to all cultures. It is now accessible worldwide. It is undergoing an important renaissance in India. Vedic knowledge also provides the key to a global or planetary culture, as it teaches us how to discover the entire universe within our own deeper awareness.
YogaCurious: Thank you very much for sharing your blessing with us and our readers.
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