Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) D. Litt., Padma Bhushan is a western born teacher or guru in the Vedic tradition. In India, Vamadeva is recognized as a Vedacharya (Vedic teacher), and includes in his scope of studies Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the ancient Vedic teachings going back to the oldest Rigveda.
Vamadeva is a rare recipient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan award, one of the highest civilian awards granted by the government of India, “for distinguished service of a higher order to the nation,” honoring his work and writings as a Vedic teacher, which he received in Jan. 2015.
He has a rare and prestigious D. Litt. (Doctor of Letters), the highest educational title possible in the field of Yoga and Vedic sciences, from SVYASA (Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana), the only deemed Yoga university recognized by the Government of India.
In India, Vamadeva’s translations and interpretations of the ancient Vedic teachings have been acclaimed in both spiritual and scholarly circles. 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.
Vamadeva sees his role as a “Vedic educator” helping to revive Vedic knowledge in an interdisciplinary approach for the planetary age. He regards himself as a translator to help empower people to use Vedic systems to enhance their lives and aid in their greater Self-realization.
Vamadeva has worked in several different healing and scholarly fields, with some degree of specialization over certain periods of time. Yet he has endeavored to approach each with a degree of specificity, providing both the background philosophy and practical teachings.
Phillip Goldberg in his popular book American Veda (page 223) recognizes Vamadeva (Dr. David Frawley) as one of the main “acharya”s of Vedanta-Yoga in the West today, as well as noting his influence in India as a Vedacharya. Note various comments about his work below.
“Those who know (vidvaamsah) will confirm that the works of Shri Vamadeva Shastri are distinguished by their authenticity. This is so because they are based on (1) his personal quest and experience (2) deep dwelling into the texts and (3) oral learning received from many authentic teachers who are experts in their areas of knowledge. Shri Vamadeva Shastri (Acharya David Frawley) has done this great service to many that he has offered access into knowledge that was often hitherto inaccessible to an average western seeker.”
Swami Veda Bharati, Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, Rishikesh
“Dr. David Frawley is one of the most important scholars of Ayurveda and Vedic Science today. I have great respect and admiration for his knowledge and the way he has expounded the ancient wisdom of the Vedas.”
Dr. Deepak Chopra
“Frawley is an Indian in an American body. The ease with which he enters into the spiritual of the Indian tradition and renders its deeper concepts in terms of modern thought shows an unusual familiarity with this ancient wisdom.”
M.P. Pandit, Secretary of Sri Aurobindo Ashram
“Certainly America’s most singular practicing Hindu.”
Ashok Malik, India Today Magazine
“David Frawley is a formidable scholar of Vedanta and easily the best known Western Acharya of the Vedic wisdom.”
Ashish Sharma, Indian Express, the Express Magazine
“Pandit Vamadeva Shastri, Vedacharya Dr. David Frawley has studied the timeless ancient wisdom of the Vedas. He brings us Vedic knowledge in a direct and practical way, so that one can apply this wisdom in his or her daily life. With his beautiful knowledge of Sanskrit, he has put this complex knowledge in a modern scientific way that will help Ayurvedic scholars, Vedic scholars and even those who study quantum physics.”
Dr. Vasant Lad, B.A.M.&S., M.A.Sc, Ayurvedic Physician and Director of the Ayurvedic Institute
Pandit, Vedacharya and Professor
Vamadeva received a Pandit award as part of a special Brahmacharya Vishvanathji yearly award in Mumbai in 1994. His role as a pandit and Vedic teacher (Vedacharya) has been honored by many groups in India, where he has frequently lectured and taught. These include Swaminarayan (BAPS), Arsha Vidya Gurukulam (Swami Dayananda), and the Chinmaya Mission (Swami Mitrananda). Such a traditional title as a Pandit and Vedacharya implies having written and taught on the four Vedas and Upanishads, which Vamadeva has done in his many Vedic books that include many original translations from the Sanskrit, particularly from the most ancient Rigveda itself, over the last thirty five years. He follows a broader Raja Yoga tradition that includes the Vedic sciences.
Reviving Traditional Ayurveda
Vamadeva is a senior teacher of “traditional Ayurveda,” the older Vedic or Vaidya approach which incorporates Yoga, Vedic astrology, and Vedanta into its teachings. He is working to revive traditional Ayurveda both in the contexts of modern Ayurveda in India and popular Ayurveda in the western world. He is more than an ordinary Ayurvedic doctor or practitioner but a “master educator in the field of Ayurveda and Vedic studies.” Vamadeva has helped start a number of Ayurvedic schools and organizations, and his innovative teachings on Ayurveda have been used extensively by Ayurvedic groups throughout the world, including Ayurvedic schools in India. He is recognized as one of the most important Ayurvedic teachers and acharyas today.
Vamadeva’s main teacher of Ayurveda was Dr. B. L. Vashta of Bombay and Pune (1919-1997), note photo left with Vashta on the right and P.H. Kulkarni on the left. For ten years he remained under the guidance of Dr. Vashta, visiting him regularly in India. Dr. Vashta, a graduate of one of the first Ayurveda programs in India in 1941, wrote many books on Ayurveda and helped formulate Ayurvedic products for Ayurvedic companies. Vashta was also a leading journalist in the state of Maharashtra and became an important guide for Vamadeva. Vashta taught him the value of traditional Ayurveda.
In America, Vamadeva studied Ayurveda with Dr. Vasant Lad, noted Ayurvedic teacher and author. Vamadeva taught with Dr. Lad at the Ayurvedic Institute in 1983-1986 and has remained on the visiting faculty. Along with Dr. Lad, he wrote the Yoga of Herbs (1986), which was probably the first book published integrating western herbs into Ayurveda. Lad remains an important influence on Vamadeva’s work. They share a similar orientation to Ayurveda and the Vedic sciences.
Vamadeva’s main areas of specialization in Ayurveda are herbal medicine, Ayurveda and the mind, and Ayurveda and Yoga. He has written many books on Ayurveda including the Yoga of Herbs, Ayurvedic Healing (foreword by B. L. Vashta, 1989), Ayurveda and the Mind (1996), Yoga and Ayurveda (1999), Ayurveda, Nature’s Medicine (with Subhash Ranade, 2001), and Ayurveda and Marma Therapy (with Ranade and Lele, 2003). Vamadeva’s Soma in Yoga and Ayurveda (2012) is his longest and most detailed book on Ayurveda in recent years, and opens up a wide field of new applications, as well as deeper Yoga practices, including new secrets of Ayurvedic herbs.
Vamadeva has worked with herbal medicine in several traditions, going back many years to a study of western herbalism. He has a good knowledge of local herbs throughout the western United States. He has studied Chinese herbal medicine, including in China (1987), and taught herbal medicine at the International Institute of Chinese Medicine from 1984-1990. Vamadeva has encouraged a dialogue between Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and Tibetan medicine, which contains aspects of both systems. Vamadeva was a board member of the American Herbalist Guild (AHG) in 1993-1994, the largest herbalist association in the United States. He continues to research the herbal aspect of healing, and has studied the herbs and plants of India in detail, particularly in the Himalayas. He brings an herbal perspective into his work, including aromatherapy, encouraging herbs as the medicine of nature. He has specialized in Ayurvedic rejuvenative herbs for body and mind.
Reviving Vedic Knowledge, Starting with the Rigveda
Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharshi, Ganapati Muni
Vamadeva’s teachings are rooted in Vedic mantras going back to the Rigveda. He is regarded as a master teacher of the Vedic mantras, their deities and their applications and can share the ancient Vedic Raja Yoga and its deeper sadhanas.
Ramana Maharshi, Ganapati Muni and K. Natesan
Sadguru Sivananda Murty and Other Great Yogis
Since 1994 Vamadeva has been in contact with the noted South Indian guru, Sivananda Murty of Andhra Pradesh (Vishakhpatnam), who is also of Ramana’s line and a great yogi as well, with connections to Trailinga Swami. He has worked with Sivananda Murty on the study of the Upanishads, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic Astrology. Vamadeva wrote the foreword to Sadguru Sivananda Murty’s Katha Yoga, a deep yogic tudy of the Katha Upanishad. Sivananda Murty provided an introduction Vamadeva’s book Universal Hinduism. Vamadeva considers Sadguru Sivananda Murty to be one of the most important living spiritual masters in India today. Sadguru is the head of a Sivadvaita-Shaktivasishta order and Shaiva Mahapeetham, which Vamadeva and Shambhavi have joined by direct initiation with Sivananda Murty.
Vamadeva has been connected to the work of Paramahansa Yogananda the the Kriya Yoga movement, since he first took the SRF lessons in 1970, and has closely studied the teachings of Yogananda’s guru, Sri Yukteswar. SRF has published his articles and referred to his books in a number of their publications. His quote on Yogananda has recently appeared in the new edition of Autobiography of a Yogi. He also corresponded with Anandamayi Ma for several years and remains a devotee of hers as well.
Spreading the Light of Vedic Astrology
Vamadeva began studying Vedic astrology (Jyotish) as part of his Vedic research in the early seventies and brought out a course in the subject in 1985. He continues to use Vedic astrology, particularly in the context of Yoga and Ayurveda, for a deeper understanding of Vedic wisdom.
Vamadeva wrote Astrology of the Seers (1990), one of the first books on Vedic astrology published in the West. This was followed by Ayurvedic Astrology (2005), which pioneers the field of ‘Ayurvedic Astrology’. In 1997, he brought out the book the Oracle of Rama (1997), an important Hindu oracle, which in 2005 has been made into a beautiful set of cards through Mandala Press.
In 1992 Vamadeva helped convene the first major American Conference on Vedic Astrology, which led to the founding of the American Council of Vedic Astrology (ACVA) the following year 1993. He became the first president of the organization for ten years (1993-2003), working with Dennis Harness as the executive vice-president. He later became a board member of the American College of Vedic Astrology from 2003-2011, and after 2011, of the Council of Vedic Astrology (CVA). He was a patron/founder of the British Association of Vedic Astrology (BAVA) along with Dr. B. V. Raman.
Vamadeva’s main Vedic astrology teacher was Dr. B.V. Raman (1916-1998), regarded by many as the greatest Vedic astrologer of modern India and founder of the Astrological Magazine. He has also been associated with Gayatri Vasudev, K.S. Charak, R. Santhanam, K.N. Rao and Bepin Behari.
Vamadeva was one of the first Americans to receive Jyotish Kovid title from the Indian Council of Astrological Sciences (ICAS, 1993), the largest Vedic astrology association in the world, followed by the title Jyotish Vachaspati in 1996, and Jyotish Medha Prajna in 2012. He has researched medical astrology and psychology and astrology, as well as the historical origins of Vedic astrology, bringing out ancient Vedic material on the Nakshatras. In Oct. of 2010, he was one of the main guests for the World Council on Mundane Astrology convened by Sri Sadguru Sivananda Murty in Vishakhapatnam, India.
Vamadeva also works closely with noted Vedic astrologer Chakrapani Ullal, who is regarded as the father of Vedic astrology in the West. He considers Chakrapani to be his main teacher after Dr. Raman. He consults Chakrapani regularly on various astrological topics, including relating to world issues and mundane astrology.
Vamadeva has trained Yogini Shambhavi Devi to handle astrological consultations, which he no longer does himself.
Reviving Ancient History, Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma
Over the past thirty years, Vamadeva has had a close connection with such Hindu organizations including RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha), VHP (Vishva Hindu Parishad), HSS (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangha), HAF (the Hindu American Foundation) and various Hindu students organizations worldwide.
Touring and Speaking