Interview: 7 questions to David Frawley

David Frawley is a celebrate scholar of Yoga and Ayurveda. If we bring Ayurveda into our health care systems, he says, we could help many people improve their health without the use of so much of drugs and surgery. talked with him about Yoga, Ayurveda and how find out our „Dharma“.

ys: How do you define Yoga?
I follow traditional definitions of Yoga as in the Yoga Sutras as calming the disturbances of the mind for the realization of the Self (Atman or Purusha). There are other texts like the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads and many Shaivite Yoga books that have similar definitions. Nowhere in Sanskrit literature is Yoga defined primarily as asana, which has become its meaning today. It is more commonly defined as meditation or Samadhi.

ys: And how do you define Ayurveda?
Similarly I follow traditional definitions of Ayurveda as the science of life, longevity and well-being for body, mind and spirit, treating both diseases and imbalances, as well as promoting a harmonious way of life for all aspects of our nature.

ys: Yoga and Ayurveda are closely aligned with each other. A lot of people practice Yoga without studiing Ayurveda though. How does that work?
Many people who study Yoga today study mainly modern asana styles and not the greater tradition of Yoga that includes Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the Indian system of natural healing that was the basis of all older medical and healing approaches, including those mentioned in yogic texts. Ayurveda is the key to traditional Yogic medicine, Yoga therapy and Yogic healing and is still practiced and relevant today.

ys: On the Berlin Yoga Festival you once said, Hatha-yoga would not be practiced nowadays as it is described in the ancient Hatha-Yoga Pradipika. How would you describe the difference to Yoga today?
Mainly by Hatha Yoga today people are referring to asana practice. Traditional Hatha Yoga as in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika gave more importance to pranayama, mantra and meditation and was not so asana centered. Traditional Hatha Yoga was also part of an ascetic tradition and followed strict disciplines of diet and behavior that few people today would be willing to do.

ys: Real Ayurveda will play an important role for the balance of our planet and its beings, you are quoted on the website of the Vedic Center. What is the difference between „real“ and „unreal“ Ayurveda, and how can it have an influence on our planet?
I meant the real application of Ayurveda. There is no unreal Ayurveda, though there are people who may apply Ayurveda in a limited way or without complete knowledge. If we brought Ayurveda into our health care systems in the West, we could help many people improve their health without the use of so much of drugs and surgery. We could also create a much more sustainable way of life for people, emphasizing living in harmony with nature and understanding our environment.

ys: You are working with the healing power of mantras. Some Indien Masters emphasize that it is necessary to chant Mantras in a very specific way to benefit from them (it´s an traditional and high art that needs to be studied intensively). In the western Yoga and Kirtan world the chanting of Mantras doesnt have this backround. Do Mantras have nevertheless for westerners a healing power?
Mantra has several levels of application from health and well-being, astrology and Ayurveda, to Yoga sadhana or spiritual practices. Mantra is an important art and science, like pranayama or meditation that does require profound study, care and guidance. Kirtan can have value if it is done with true devotion, though it does work better if pronounced correctly. Merely as entertainment, Kirtan cannot reveal its real power. Kirtan means praise in Sanskrit and is used mainly for the devotion worship of the Divine in various names and forms. It is an important part of Bhakti Yoga or the Yoga of devotion.

ys: The „Dharma“ is an important issue in the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita. When did you realize what´s your Dharma and how can people „find“ their Dharma?
Two weeks ago, I was one of the patrons for an international conference on Dharma and Dhamma (Buddhist term for Dharma) that was part of the founding of the Sanchi University in Madhya Pradesh, India which occurred along with the support of the governments of Sri Lanka and Bhutan, the Mahabodhi society and several other organizations, including the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan school at Sarnath. In this conference Dharma was the main theme. Dharma is a central concept to Hindu, Buddhist and Jain traditions, referring to the natural laws and laws of consciousness through which the universe operates. At a personal level, dharma refers to the right mode of action and livelihood for our level of spiritual development in life. Traditionally Vedic astrology was used to help understand one’s dharma. The guidance of a guru can help one find one’s dharma or any system or means of genuine self-understanding can help, including yoga and meditation. People have different temperaments and roles in life. For example, one may have the dharma to be an artist, another person may not. Finding one’s dharma is about true self-knowledge.

ys: Thank you!

mho, tis

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