Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (part 5)
Previously we reviewed the six classical schools of Indian philosophy. This article focuses on one of them, “Vedanta.” More specifically, we consider what Dr. David Frawley (aka, Pandit Vāmadeva) writes about the nature of Yoga and its relationship to Vedanta.
Yoga-Vedanta: A Complete Science
In his book, “Vedantic Meditation: Lighting the Flame of Awareness,” Frawley writes:
“The first teachers who brought Yoga to the West came with the profound teachings of Vedanta as their greatest treasure to share with the world. They presented Vedanta as the philosophy of self-realization and Yoga as the methodology by which to achieve it. Such great masters began with Swami Vivekananda at the end of the nineteenth century and continued with Swami Rama Tirtha, Paramahansa Yogananda, and the many disciples of Swami Shivananda of Rishikesh. They called their teaching Yoga-Vedanta, which they viewed as a complete science of spiritual growth.
“However, in the course of time asana or Yoga postures gained more popularity in the physically-minded West, and the Vedantic aspect of the teachings fell to the sidelines, particularly over the last twenty years. The result is that today few American Yoga teachers know what Vedanta is or can explain it to others. If they have an interest in meditation they generally look to Zen or Vipassana, not knowing that meditation is the very foundation of classical Yoga and its related traditions.
“Even students of related disciplines like Ayurveda or Vedic astrology may know little about Vedanta, the path of self-knowledge that is the spiritual support and goal of these systems. Meanwhile, those who study the great Vedantic gurus of modern India, such as Ramana Maharshi or Nisargadatta Maharaj, generally look at the particular teacher as the source of the teachings, and they may fail to understand the tradition that they are part of. In this way the heart teachings of India’s great sages have become progressively lost even to those who claim to follow their teachings in the West.”
Frawley has authored over 30 books in several Vedic and Yogic fields published worldwide over the past 30 years. He is the founder and director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in New Mexico. The institute offers online courses and publications on Ayurvedic medicine, Yoga, mantra and meditation, and Vedic astrology.
Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma
Frawley is involved in important research into ancient Vedic texts and is a well-known modern exponent of Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma. He has a rare D.Litt in Yoga and is a recipient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan award, one of India’s highest civilian awards for “distinguished service of a higher order.”
His work is highly respected in traditional circles in India, as well as influential in the West where he is involved in many Vedic and Yogic schools, ashrams, and associations. He has been a student of Ramana Maharashi’s teachings since 1970 and has written for their magazine The Mountain Path since 1978. He is a visiting professor at the Sringeri Shankaracharya Math (aka Sringeri Sharada Peetham, Sringeri Pitham, or Sringeri Matha), the oldest Vedantic center in India.
Frawley has also received the personal blessings of the Shankaracharya. He teaches at Vedantic centers throughout America. He is one of the few Westerns recognized as an authentic Vedantic teacher by the Vishva Hindu Parishad, the largest Hindu religious organization in the world.
The series continues with “Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 6).”