Yoga and Vedanta expert David Frawley believes in incorporating them into daily life
David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) first encountered Indian philosophy in the “late 60s, early 70s when I read books on Buddhism, Taoism and Sufism. Vedanta appealed the most to me.” He did not let that interest wane; he travelled to India, and learnt Sanskrit in order to read the Vedas and the Upanishads and went on to translate them. He counts among his teachers disciples of Sri Aurobindo, Yogananda and Ramana Maharishi. He realised that meeting and working with modern Indian teachers was transformative.
David is no stranger to India, having come here several times since the 70s and having lived here. With his wife Shambhavi Chopra he runs the Santa Fe-based American Institute of Vedic Studies, a web-based educational centre that teaches these philosophies. He is also the founder of the Vedic Research Centre and has written several books on yoga, Ayurveda, Vedic astrology, Vedanta and Tantra, among others. David is also involved in the Sanchi University’s Buddhist and Vedic studies.
His involvement with Vedic philosophy started with M.P. Pandit of the Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry. David refutes the perception that the interest in yoga and Ayurveda among Americans is faddish. “Americans are interested in these forms, when there is a quest for inner peace they think of meditation, and well…India. They want to reconnect with nature and with themselves.”
He, however, agrees that the exercise aspect of yoga, ‘asana yoga’ is more popular in the US. Shambhavi was born in India and curiosity about the Vedas and saadhana led to a chance meeting with David and subsequent marriage.
Having once encountered asana yoga there is an interest, among his disciples, in a deeper study of yoga. He advocates incorporating yoga, ayurveda and even vedic astrology into everyday life. “Ayurveda combined with yoga lays the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Jyothish shastra helps one understand one’s karma. It is a comprehensive system of living.”
Evidence of the interest in this system is the number of yoga retreats that he and his wife conduct, not just in the US and South America but also in countries such as Russia, Italy and Bulgaria. The couple will be conducting a yoga retreat at Ranikhet next month. They were in Kerala in connection with the launch of Ayursante, a range of Ayurveda products that will be available online.