Innate Strengths Of The Vedic Agamic Tradition
The barbarian invasions of the Indian subcontinent and the long night of the colonial occupation have ended, but the attacks against the Vedic Agamic tradition of Hinduism continue. This has taken the shape of Inculturation, that process by which a native culture is surreptitiously infiltrated by a foreign one and eventually overcome. This process has not yet defeated the Vedic Agamic tradition because of the innate strengths of this tradition and because as the majority of Hindus believe, the land is protected and guarded by the Devas and Devatas of the Rig Vedic seers.
No doubt, the brainwashed deracinated Hindu still exists both in India and abroad and needs to be woken from his/her slumber. Hence, the rainbow like thoughts of a Vedic scholar such as Dr David Frawley (aka Vamadeva Shastri) are relevant up to a point. The present writer assumes that he is, in addition to his training in Indian and Chinese medicine, also a Vedic scholar in Sanskrit as the title Shastri would indicate. His credentials in that area seem credible and he is also the Director of the American Vedic Institute. However, the somewhat exaggerated claims from some quarters that he single handedly demolished the Aryan Invasion Theory is one that Dr Frawley himself would no doubt reject outright.
Given his credentials and that he has been recently active in such activities as Interfaith Dialogue and Problems with missionary conversion activities in India (in the north-east especially) it is important that readers should give at least a first read of his recent article ‘The Need for a New Indic School of Thought’ (http:www.dharmacivilisation.com, May 31, 2012). In conjunction with his endorsement of the projected Center for Dharma and Civilisation initiated by Dr. Frank Morales (aka Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya) the article gains added significance.
Dr Frawley writes well and with sincere conviction. His thinking on the topic of the need for a new Indic school of thought reads like a cosmic vision for the future, especially for those Hindus who have been brainwashed by colonial and Western approaches to Indian culture, religion and civilisation. His suggestions, however, have only a limited value and lack a strong foundation. This cosmic vision of Frawley’s, although it also speaks about the historical realities of colonial misrepresentations of Indian history, especially its reading of Hinduism, is in turn, itself a somewhat incomplete, if not defective account of Hinduism. And this does not stem merely from the fact that any initial proposal for a project tends to be abstract, until fleshed out by a concrete programme. The defect lies in the cognitive underpinnings of the project.
Whereas, the writings of the Kanchi Sankaracharya on the Vedas, demonstrate how a monist (such as Adi Sankara) could respect and set up a system of worship of six deities, Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, Ganapati, Skanda and Surya for Hindus. The Sankaracharya’s deep and profound observation about the central role of the Vedic ritual cannot be quoted too often: “A yagna is making an oblation to a deity in the fire with the chanting of mantras. In a sense, the mantras themselves constitute the form of the deities invoked. In another sense, the mantras, like materials placed in the fire, are the sustenance of the celestial invoked…” (Hindu Dharma: Chapter on the Vedas).
This deeply spiritual and remarkable observation by a Hindu Acharya should surely be the starting point of any valid Indic studies, and any omission of this dimension which should be the starting point of other aspects of Indic studies is indeed a serious omission.
By Dr Vijaya Rajiva