Today there is a new battle going on over the 'idea of India', with some groups questioning if there ever was any real nation called `India' prior to the British rule. Challenging this notion are those who claim that India has a profound national and cultural heritage since ancient times and was one of the main centres of civilization in the world, with its own characteristic ideals and practices born of dharma and yoga.
The Constitution speaks of India that is Tharata', proclaiming this ancient name for the country. If we look at India as Bharata, the idea of the country and its unique identity and history become clear.
Awaken Bharata is a plea for that eternal India to awaken and reclaim its esteemed place as the guru of nations, expressing once more its vast civilizational ethos. The book encourages a new vision of the country, linking its magnificent past with a more brilliant future. It emphasizes the role of a new 'intellectual kshatriya'-intellectual warriors of dharma-to challenge the inimical forces seeking to deny or displace India's great civilization.
Dr David Frawley D Litt (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri), born in 1950, is an American Hindu and a Vedic teacher and Hindu acharya. He is the author of more than fifty books published in over twenty languages worldwide. His fields of expertise include yoga, Ayurveda, Vedanta, Vedic astrology and ancient Vedic texts. He has also written on historical, social and cultural issues confronting Hinduism and India today.
Honoured with the Padma Bhushan Award (the third highest civilian award of the Government of India) in 2015, Dr Frawley has a D Litt from S-VYASA (Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana), Bengaluru, and another D Litt from Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University, Uttar Pradesh. He is also the recipient of a National Eminence Award from the South Indian Educational Society (SIES), Mumbai.
Vamadeva, as he is popularly known, carries on the teachings of Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni, the chief disciple of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. He is a disciple of Sadguru Sivananda Murty of Andhra Pradesh and has been associated with many Hindu organizations including Swaminarayan BAPS, Chinmaya Mission, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Sri Ramanashram and the magazine Hinduism Today. He is the director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies (www.vedanet.com).
Awaken Bharata, an important book that first appeared twenty years ago, played a significant role in preparing Indians for a new millennial view of their land and culture, helping shape a new consciousness that has contributed to a wider appreciation of the Indian viewpoint. Now, David Frawley is presenting a considerably revised and updated version of the book and I am quite certain it will be equally influential.
The subtitle of the book is A Call for India's Rebirth. One might wonder why this is necessary given that India has been politically independent for over 70 years. There are also many good stories coming out of India at this time. Its economy is growing at one of the fastest rates in the world and there is much building up of the infrastructure of roads, schools, and factories. In PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) units, India's economy is already the third largest in the world, behind China and the US, and in dollar terms, it is in the fifth place. An outsider might say that since things are going well, maintain the status quo, and don't rock the boat.
Yet, serious problems of poverty and inequity of laws remain and there is no generally agreed upon view about the direction India should take in the long term. India has become a battlefield-a Kurukshetra-between two opposing views: first, it should follow Western precepts of governance and development, ignoring the imperatives of its own culture and historical experience; second, it should use its unique strengths to hasten not only industrial productivity but also human growth and cultural revival. While some problems may well be mitigated by further development of the economy, a more fundamental awakening is needed for Indians to be truly free and creative, and for India to find its rightful place amongst the nations of the world, such as it once held centuries ago.
India's problems are after-effects of its long domination by foreign powers. During this period, discriminatory laws were instituted to keep Indians down and play one group against another. Most recently, in the British rule of nearly 150 years, India's share of the world economy collapsed from nearly 25 per cent to a mere 4 per cent, which created widespread social strains and poverty. British economic policies caused a destruction of native banking institutions with the result that factories necessary to take advantage of the new technologies of the Industrial Revolution could not be built, and India became a captive market for British manufacturing. In order to manage this destructive regime, Indians were disarmed so that just a few tens of thousands of armed British could rule over tens of millions of hapless Indians, which prompted Mohandas Gandhi to say: 'Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the Act which deprived a whole nation of arms as the blackest.'
The British also dismantled India's traditional educational institutions and the entire subcontinent was forced into education in a foreign language. This alienation from their own culture paralysed generations to come so that they became incapable of doing anything that was not imitative. The education system remains frozen in this form and it is one of the most serious causes of the difficulties related to the slumbering Indian spirit that Frawley is strongly attempting to address.
Bharata is the traditional name for India given by its own people, reflecting India's older dharmic civilization that formed the main spiritual, if not cultural influence in Asia for centuries. It derives from the name of a great king Bharata, one of the early emperors in Vedic times; his dynasty and its offshoots that eventually came to refer to the country as a whole. It also refers to India as the carrier (Bharata) of humanity's sacred flame of spiritual aspiration.
Awaken Bharata is a plea for that ancient soul of the country, which has been held down by centuries of foreign domination, to arise and lead India and the world into a new era of higher consciousness. It calls for the inhabitants of Bharata, to return to the way of the great sages and seers who realized the divine reality behind the universe, but also to the way of the great kings and warriors, the kshatriyas of Bharata, who were willing to lay down their lives for dharma to maintain a land where the spiritual life could be pursued without oppression. Awaken Bharata is especially a call to Hindus to embrace their deeper Vedic and yogic traditions and become a force of dharma and upliftment in the world.
This Bharatiya awakening requires a new intellectual class in India rooted in its dharmic and Vedic traditions to meet the challenge of the new media and computer age with the burgeoning information revolution. Such new Hindu thinkers require both a critique of anti-Hindu forces, which are numerous and well-funded, and a self-examination among Hindus, correcting the weaknesses within Hindu society and the inadequacies in contemporary Hindu thought. The book contains a call for a new 'intellectual kshatriya', or intellectual warriors for dharma, as it takes the kshatriya-warrior spirit into the intellectual and cultural realm.
On a personal note, I started using this idea of an intellectual Kshatriya in 1996 when I was engaged in a speaking tour of Great Britain for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), visiting various universities and temples throughout the country. Noted Hindu author Sitaram Goel, who I was working with at the time, learned of the term and asked me to write more about it. It became the genesis for this book, which in many ways follows Sitaram's inspiration.
Hindu Dharma and India's dharmic traditions overall have long been under siege by missionary, Islamist, colonial and Marxist forces, with few daring to speak out to defend it. This book, though perhaps one of the first by a westerner to articulate a Hindu critique of anti-Hindu forces and alliances, is part of a great Hindu awakening that is ongoing and increasing, and has already become prominent in social media today.
I took up the Hindu cause after having written extensively about the Vedas, yoga, Ayurveda and related aspects of Hindu Dharma, having discovered comparable distortions in all these areas relative to how they are explained, translated and interpreted. I had to breakthrough many false views before I could understand how much Hindu Dharma as a whole has been misrepresented. I hope readers can similarly take the necessary time and think deeply in order to break through this barrier of perception.
The book is most relevant to a Hindu audience, particularly in India. Yet it can also be helpful for anyone seeking to understand what Hindus think, what their view of truth or dharma is, what their challenges are, what the Hindu renaissance has been, and why Hindus are now raising their voices in the media, academic and political realms where they had long remained silent.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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