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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Westerners who have embraced & speak up for Hindu Dharma

Continuing our series on voices that speak in support of Hindu Dharma, we present to you Westerners who have embraced Hindu Dharma. Some have converted to Sanatana Dharma, while others are vocal proponents. 

David Frawley

Born into a Catholic family, Frawley studied Ayurveda and Oriental medicine; he is also known as Pandit Vamadeva Shastri. He is the author of numerous books covering various subjects, including the Vedas, Hinduism, Yoga, Ayurveda, and Vedic astrology. His writings have garnered significant popularity among the general audience. Dr. David Frawley established the ‘Vedic Research Center’ in 1980, building upon his research on the Vedas since 1970 and his contributions to Indian publications starting from 1977. 

Koenraad Elst

Koenraad Elst is a Flemish author, born into a Catholic family. After living a hippie lifestyle, he pursued studies at KU Leuven, where he earned MA degrees in Sinology, Indology, and Philosophy. Following a research stint at Benares Hindu University, he conducted original fieldwork for his doctoral thesis on Hindu nationalism, graduating magna cum laude in 1998. As an independent researcher, he garnered both praise and criticism for his investigations into contentious topics such as Islam, multiculturalism, and the secular state, as well as the roots of Indo-European, the Ayodhya temple/mosque dispute, and Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy. Elst is a pure academic when it comes to Hindu Dharma.

Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth, a German national, initially intended to stop in India on her way to Australia after completing her psychology studies at Hamburg University. However, fate had other plans for her. While visiting the Ardha Kumbha Mela in Haridwar in April 1980, she encountered two esteemed saints, Sri Anandamayi Ma and Devaraha Baba, who blessed her journey in India. Their blessings led her to forgo her plans for Australia and settle in India permanently. She immersed herself in the country’s spiritual traditions and began sharing her insights with German audiences through articles and books. Initially, she held the belief that every Indian cherished their rich heritage deeply. 

Dena Merriam

Born in a Jewish family, Dena Merriam was drawn to Hinduism after hearing Baba Ram Das speak in college and reading “Be Here Now” and “Autobiography of a Yogi.” She recognized Yogananda as her guru and began studying Hindu texts, including the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. Rejecting the Abrahamic view of God, she was attracted to Yogananda’s portrayal of a loving divine mother. Connected to devotees of Neem Karoli Baba, she felt a deep love for Shri Ram and Mata Sita. Dena Merriam founded the Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW), focusing on spiritual solutions to global issues. Devoted to Paramahansa Yogananda, she holds a Master’s from Columbia University. Her 2019 book, “The Untold Story of Sita,” offers a reimagined narrative emphasizing Sita’s wisdom, courage, and selflessness as an incarnation of Devi Narayani.

Sarah Gates

Sarah L. Gates, a research scholar based in Australia, specializes in Ecophilosophy, Ecocritical Theory, Yoga, Tantra, Kashmir Shaivism, Decolonial Ecofeminism, Post-Colonial Studies, Hinduphobia, Decolonisation, and Sustainability Theory. Additionally, Gates is the Founder of ‘Hindu Human Rights Australasia- Advocacy Empowerment Research Training.’ Through this organization, she conducts research and advocacy for her spiritual community, supporting various educational initiatives and leading campaigns addressing Hinduphobia, human rights violations, and atrocities against Hindus.

Jeffrey Armstrong 

Jeffrey Armstrong is an award-winning author, linguist, and poet. He has been teaching the Vedas for more than 40 years. He also had a successful 15-year career as an executive in Silicon Valley and a public speaker addressing Fortune 500 companies. Armstrong’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita offers a purer rendition devoid of colonial, western, or Christian influences. Armstrong spent a decade ensuring accuracy, avoiding mistranslations common in previous versions. His version emphasizes timely teachings applicable to modern challenges like the pandemic, climate change, and social justice.

Francois Gautier

François Gautier is a French national raised in the Catholic faith and a proponent of Hindutva. Gautier, known for supporting Hindu causes, lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Ram temple consecration in Ayodhya. At 19 in 1969, François Gautier embarked on a trans-world journey and arrived in India as part of the first wave of Auroville migrants. Accompanied by the son of Pondicherry’s last French governor, he chose to reside at Sri Aurobindo Ashram, deeply influenced by Sri Aurobindo’s writings and his encounters with Mirra Alfassa. 

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1 COMMENT

  1. All doctrines in all sub-castes of Hinduism are not ideal perfect, as has referred David Frawley also.

    The ideal is to be open to Highest Truth and take it from Credible sources .

    Christianity , all Bible versions, &Judaism studies reveal many self-contradictory verses and instructions that are not implementable / not beneficially workable in actual ( abuse of : sentience, women, certain communities etc.). Only those who prefer Injustice, adopt the faiths that have Injustice allowed in them.

    With passing tenure & experience, changes in Ideology, as necessary, is important.

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