An expert in the field of mind-body healing, Deepak Chopra is a world-renowned speaker and author on the subject of alternative medicine.
The author of numerous books on alternative medicine, Deepak Chopra was born in New Delhi, India, in 1947. After attending the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, he eventually ended up in Boston where he began his career as a doctor. After becoming disenchanted with Western medicine, however, Chopra turned to alternative medicine. In 1995 Chopra, already a prolific book author, founded the Chopra Center for Well Being in La Jolla, California.
Early Life and Career
Born Deepak Chopra in 1947 (he claims to have forgotten his exact birthday) in New Delhi, India. The son of an eminent cardiologist, Krishnan Chopra, Deepak at first spurned his father’s career path, wanting instead to pursue a career as a journalist. Eventually, however, he became enthralled with the subject of medicine and enrolled at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in his native city.
Chopra envisioned a career in Western medicine, and in 1970 moved to the United States, leaving his home country with just $25 in his pocket and the promise of a residency at a hospital in New Jersey. Following the residency, Chopra landed in Boston, where he quickly rose to chief of medicine at New England Memorial Hospital (now called the Boston Regional Medical Center).
Despite his rising career, Chopra became disenchanted with Western medicine and its reliance on prescription drugs. The work began to wear on the promising doctor, who would later claim that he smoked up to a pack of cigarettes a day and drank consistently. “Very unhappy people, physicians,” he has said. “The relatives of patients with whom they deal are demanding, litigious, intimidating. That’s the environment of medicine. Most of my fellow colleagues were very stressed; a lot of them were addicts. I used to experience the most extraordinary frustration and tightness. My great fear was getting into trouble. Malpractice suits are a big deal in the United States.”
It’s during this time that Chopra read a book on transcendental medicine that changed his life, and eventually his career path. As his interest in alternative medicine deepened, so did his view on the limits of Western medicine.
After a meeting with transcendental mediation guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Chopra quit his job at New England Memorial Hospital and started the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Products International, a company that specialized in alternative products, like herbal teas and oils. Co-founded with the Maharishi, the company successfully launched Chopra into the world of alternative medicine. Chopra helped oversee the creation of several affiliated clinics and, among the rich and famous like Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, and fashion designer Donna Karan, Chopra became a household name.
The Celebrity Doctor
By the early 1990s, Chopra had split off from the Maharishi and relocated to California, where he became the executive director of the Sharp Institute for Human Potential and Mind/Body Medicine. But he eventually clashed with his bosses and, in 1995, he started the Chopra Center for Well Being in La Jolla.
By this time, Chopra had become an international success. His first book, Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine, published in 1989, proved to be a decent seller. But it was his 1993 release Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, which shot Chopra into full-fledged celebrity status, selling more than a million hardcover copies alone.
At a time when the self-help industry was coming into its own, Chopra was showing the world how to be one of its leading faces. Chopra’s core message centers around the idea that the decadence of Western life leads to a complicated reliance on a material world to find happiness.
To Chopra, the answers to our health and happiness can be found internally. His message has certainly resonated with the greater public. In total, Chopra has published more than 50 books, which includes 14 bestsellers, many of which have been translated into a number of different languages. Chopra is also a regular columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Washington Post.
Friend of the Stars
In June 1999, Time magazine dubbed Chopra “the poet-prophet of alternative medicine” and called him one of the top 100 heroes of the century. His celebrity status hasn’t diminished his own standing within the celebrity world.
He regularly brought his message to the Oprah Winfrey Show and, before the singer’s death, was a confidante of Michael Jackson.
His career has even seen him delve into the music-making business. He’s collaborated with a range of artists, from Madonna to Dave Stewart of the 1980s band the Eurythmics. Even while Chopra’s message of simplicity is complicated by his own, rather wealthy, lifestyle, his popularity has not waned.
Deepak Chopra is married to his longtime wife, Rita. The Chopras, who have two grown children, reside in California.