The country’s top historical research body has invited an American scholar known for promoting yoga, ayurveda, and vedic astrology to deliver a prestigious lecture, triggering a controversy with prominent academics saying the move is part of the government’s efforts to saffronise education.
The Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) has asked Dr David Frawley to speak at its foundation day celebrations on March 27, where he will talk on how Indian history writing needs to be revisited with emphasis on spirituality, culture and religion, sources said.
The invitation to Frawley, not considered a historian in academic circles, and the theme of his lecture, already have left-leaning historians questioning the move of the ICHR council, dominated by right-wing historians after a controversial rejig weeks ago.
“Let me tell you, Dr Frawley is not considered with great seriousness among historians,” BP Sahu, professor of history at Delhi University and a former ICHR council member told HT.
The lecture series of the 40-year-old organisation that directs sanctions and research grants has seen noted historians like Satish Chandra and Madhvan Palat, with publications of international recognition, he added.
Frawley, conferred the Padma Bhushan this year, echoes the Sangh Parivar’s point of view that more research in Vedic studies is required. He could not be contacted for comments.
The education sector, and especially history, has witnessed a pitched battle between scholars backed by the government and left-leaning academics.
Frawley has an Indian name, ‘Pandit Vamdeva Shastri’, and runs the American Institute of Vedic studies, a web-based educational centre. He is married to an Indian — Yogini Shambhavi Devi, author and Vedic educator — and has a D.Litt. in Yoga from Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana in Bengaluru.