Deepak Chopra (Hindi: दीपक चोपड़ा) is an author, and lecturer on Ayurveda, spirituality and mind-body medicine.Chopra began his career as an endocrinologist and later shifted his focus to alternative medicine. Chopra is a former leader of the Transcendental Meditation movement. In the late 1980s, he began publishing self-help books on New Age spirituality and alternative medicine.
Chopra was born in Srinagar, India. His father, Krishan Chopra, was a cardiologist who served as the dean of a local hospital and a lieutenant in the British army and his grandfather was an Ayurvedic physician. Chopra's younger brother, Sanjiv, is a Professor of Medicine and Faculty Dean for Continuing Medical Education at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
As a young man Chopra's desire was to become an actor or journalist but was inspired by a character in Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis and became a doctor. Chopra completed his primary education at St. Columba's School in New Delhi and graduated from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). After immigrating to the US in 1968, Chopra began his clinical internship and residency training at Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield, New Jersey. He had residency terms at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Massachusetts and at the University of Virginia Hospital. He earned his licensed to practice medicine in the state of Massachusetts in 1973 and received a California medical license in 2004. Chopra is board-certified in internal medicine and specialized in endocrinology. He is also a member of the American Medical Association (AMA) a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
Chopra taught at the Tufts University and Boston University Schools of Medicine. He became Chief of Staff at the New England Memorial Hospital in Massachusetts and Chief at Boston Regional Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, before establishing a private practice. After reading about the Transcendental Meditation technique, Chopra and his wife learned the technique in 1981, and two months later they went on to learn the advanced TM-Sidhi program.Sources also describe a 1981 meeting between Chopra and Ayurvedic physician Brihaspati Dev Triguna in Delhi, India in which Triguna advised Chopra to learn the TM technique. In 1985, Chopra met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who invited him to study Ayurveda.In that same year, Chopra left his position at the New England Memorial Hospital and became the founding president of the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine, and was later named medical director of the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center for Stress Management and Behavioral Medicine. The Weekly Standard of London published an article which accused Chopra of “plagiarism and soliciting a prostitute” however Chopra sued and the paper withdraw their statements, published an apology and paid Chopra $1 million for his legal fees in 1991.
In its May 22/29, 1991 issue, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published an article coauthored by Chopra: Letter from New Delhi: Maharishi Ayur-Veda: Modern Insights Into Ancient Medicine.JAMA editors claimed that Chopra and his co-authors had financial interests in "Maharishi Vedic Medicine" products and services. In the August 14, 1991 edition of JAMA, the editors published a financial disclosure correction and followed up in October 2, 1991 with a six-page Medical News and Perspectives exposé. An article discussing this chain of events was authored by Skolnick in the Newsletter of the National Association of Science Writers.A 1992 defamation lawsuit brought against the article's author and the editor of JAMA was dismissed in 1993.Media reports published four years later saying that there had been a monetary settlement of the case were later withdrawn as untrue.
By 1992, Chopra was serving on The National Institutes of Health Ad Hoc Panel on Alternative Medicine. In 1993, Chopra became executive director of the Sharp Institute for Human Potential and Mind–Body Medicine with a $30,000 grant from the Office of Alternative Medicine in the National Institutes to study Ayurvedic medicine. Chopra's institute also maintained affiliation with Sharp Healthcare, in San Diego.That same year Chopra moved with his family to Southern California where he lives his wife and near his two adult children Gotham and Mallika.
According to his own account, Chopra was accused by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of attempting to compete with the Maharishi's position as guru and Chopra left the Transcendental Meditation movement in January 1994.Carroll said Chopra left the TM organization when it “became too stressful” and was a “hindrance to his success”. In 1995, Chopra was the recipient of the Toastmasters "International Top Five Outstanding Speakers" award. In 1996, Chopra parted company with the Sharp Institute. That same year, Chopra and David Simon founded the Chopra Center for Well Being, which incorporated Ayurveda in its regimen, and was located in La Jolla, California. The University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and American Medical Association have granted continuing medical education credits for some programs offered to physicians at the Chopra Center. In June 1999 Time magazine identified Chopra as one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century and credited him as "the poet-prophet of alternative medicine". In 2006, Chopra launched Virgin Comics LLC with his son, Gotham Chopra and entrepreneur Richard Branson. The company's purpose is to "spread peace and awareness through comics and trading cards that display traditional Kabalistic characters and stories". Chopra was awarded the 2006 Ellis Island Medal of Honor by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. In 2010 Chopra received the Cinequest Life of a Maverick Award for his collaborations with filmmakers Shekhar Kapur and his son, Gotham Chopra. The award goes to "inspirational individuals who touch the world of film while their greater lives exemplify the Maverick spirit".
According to a 2008 article in Time (magazine), Chopra is “a magnet for criticism” primarily from the scientific and medical communities. Some critics say that Chopra creates a false sense of hope in sick individuals which may keep them away from traditional medical care.The Skeptics Dictionary, a book by Robert Todd Carroll, says that Chopra is the "foremost advocate of Ayurvedic medicine in American".The book also says that, according to Chopra, perfect health is a matter of choice, physical imbalances can be identified by taking the pulse, allergies are the result of poor digestion and washing one’s eyes with saliva can prevent or reverse cataracts. According to Carroll, Chopra has given up his work in medicine “in favor of working in religion” however, Chopra says that he found it frustrating to give patients antibiotics, tranquilizers and sleeping pills, when he knew the drugs would not get rid of the problem.
Chopra was sued for plagiarism by Robert Sapolsky for copying a stress endocrine chart, after the publication of Chopra’s book, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind. An out of court settlement resulted in Chopra attributing material that was researched by Sapolsky.Chopra acknowledges that his thought has been inspired by Jiddu Krishnamurti and others.
Chopra has been criticized for his frequent references to the relationship of quantum mechanics to healing processes, a connection that has drawn skepticism from physicists who say it can be considered as contributing to the general confusion in the popular press regarding quantum measurement, decoherence and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. In 1998, Chopra was awarded the satirical Ig Nobel Prize in physics for "his unique interpretation of quantum physics as it applies to life, liberty, and the pursuit of economic happiness".According to the book, Skeptics Dictionary, Chopra's "mind-body claims get even murkier as he tries to connect Ayurveda with quantum physics".
In August 2005, Chopra wrote a series of articles on the creation-evolution controversy and Intelligent design which were criticized by science writer Michael Shermer, founder of The Skeptics Society.
In the citation for a Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic, which is awarded by the Scientific Committee of the Pio Manzù International Research Centre, committee chairman and former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev referred to Chopra as "one of the most lucid and inspired philosophers of our time".Chopra is the recipient of the Einstein Award through Albert Einstein College of Medicine in collaboration with the American Journal of Psychotherapy.Esquire Magazine designated him as one of the "top ten motivational speakers in the country".
According to Business Week one of Chopra's main messages is that by ridding oneself of negative emotions and developing intuition by listening to signals from the body health can be improved. Chopra's philosophy also includes slowing down or reversing the aging of the mind through his methods which he says can increase one's lifespan up to the age of 120 years.