David Frawley is the founder of the American Institute of Vedic Studies at Santa Fe, New Mexico and is a former President of the American Council of Vedic Astrology. He was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 2015.
India is more than just a country or a modern nation state, it is the world’s oldest and most continuous civilization with the same mantras chanted today as in Vedic times thousands of years ago. India is the mother of world civilization in the deeper sense of yoga, meditation and spiritual practices, as well as a vast culture in art, science and medicine, addressing all aspects of life. India has left an indelible imprint, not just on its own geographical region, but throughout Asia extending to the world as a whole.
India gained its political independence in 1947 after centuries of foreign rule. During this long period of outside domination, India’s culture and spiritual ethos remarkably maintained itself in spite of severe oppression. Starting with Swami Vivekananda in 1893, India’s dharmic civilization and its profound yogic teachings began once more to spread globally.
Yet though India became independent in 1947 it remained unable to truly manifest its inner strength, heritage and value to the world. Only in 2014, when Shri Narendra Modi was elected Prime Minister of India in an unprecedented landslide vote has a new India emerged honoring its civilizational roots.
PM Modi brought a new vision of India from past greatness to future glory, from ancient sages to a new technology, from being contracted in its borders to reaching out to the entire world. Naturally there was much opposition to India’s resurgence. The idea of a strong India was not acceptable to those who had benefitted from India being weak. Modi persisted to raise India at economic, diplomatic and cultural levels with remarkable tenacity, courage and determination. There was much inertia in the bureaucracy and media, as well as political opposition that he had to relentlessly challenge and overcome.
One of Modi’s first actions after his election was to promote International Yoga Day, which he inaugurated in 2015. Modiji is a devotee of Shiva Mahadeva, the great deity of the yogis. He has honored Shiva in many locations from Kedarnath to Kashmir to Kashi, awakening the power of Yoga in its traditional shrines.
Modi has also promoted India’s Kshatriya or warrior spirit that has been dormant, giving new pride to the military, showing India will no longer allow Pakistan to export terrorism into it, or China to try to dominate it.
Most notable are the events of 2019 following his equally unprecedented second election victory. He brought about the reintegration of Kashmir into India and Ladakh was given its own status as a union territory, affording India a stronger defense in its vulnerable northwestern region. In addition, the Supreme Court approved the building of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya that had been unresolved for decades, honoring Sri Ram, the ideal king and dharmic ruler lauded throughout the history of India and Asia.
Certainly, no Prime Minister since independence has made such dramatic improvements, whether in infrastructure from urban to rural and village India, in finances, education, culture, or raising the status of women. India now has a prominent place on the world stage owing to his consistent labors to share India’s voice and conscience.
Today when there are few exceptional leaders, Modi’s international stature is perhaps unique. He has maintained a wide set of friendships with leaders from the United States, UK, Russia, Europe, South America, the Middle East, Israel, Australia and Japan. His support of ecology has been equally notable, affirming the Vedic connection to Bhumi Mata or Mother Earth that is behind the image of Bharat Mata/Mother India.
I first met Modiji in the United States over twenty years ago and kept up with his rise to prominence as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. I followed his campaign for Prime Minister carefully, both in 2014 and in 2019. His has been one of the greatest stories of leadership in modern India and the most significant over the last several decades. As a teacher of Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedanta, I have been most happy to see Modi’s support for these important pinnacles of Indic civilization that Nehruvian socialism sadly neglected.
What character traits are behind Modi’s remarkable achievements? He works continually, traveling inside and outside the country, sleeping little. He practices daily Yoga and meditation following a simple and austere lifestyle. He is not concerned with accumulating wealth or personal power. He is fearless, dedicated and has a well thought out agenda for taking India forward to the benefit of all of its peoples, comprising 1/6 of humanity.
Narendra Modi has not created a New India in his own image but has aroused India’s perennial aspirations for prosperity, knowledge and higher consciousness and made them viable in the information technology era with a global vision. May this vision prevail in bringing India’s wisdom and endurance to the world as a whole in this global time of troubles.