Dubbed "the poet-prophet of alternative medicine" in the pages of Time, Deepak Chopra vaulted to international fame at the vanguard of the self-help publishing explosion, later expanding his multimedia empire to include a series of new age-themed albums recorded in collaboration with musicians including Eurythmics' Dave Stewart. Born in New Delhi in 1947, Chopra was the son of leading Indian cardiologist Krishran Chopra. He inevitably followed his father's footsteps and graduated from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in 1968. Upon relocating to the U.S. two years later, Chopra interned at a New Jersey hospital before continuing his studies at Burlington, MA's Lahey Clinic and the University of Virginia Hospital. A board-certified practitioner of internal medicine and endocrinology, Chopra taught at Tufts University and Boston University Schools of Medicine before he was appointed chief of staff at the New England Memorial Hospital. He also established his own private endocrinology practice, but following a return trip to New Delhi he found himself increasingly at odds with the guiding principles of Western medicine, embracing instead the paradigm that good health represents more than the mere absence of physical disease. In 1985, after meeting transcendental meditation founder and guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Chopra resigned his NEMH position to focus on holistic medicine, casting his lot with Ayurveda, an ancient Indian system of natural healing, and founding the Massachusetts-based American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine.
In 1989, Chopra published his first book, Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine, combining elements of Hinduism and Western science to posit the body as a "network of intelligence" that can fight off disease and aging via meditation and clean living founded the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine. After splitting with the transcendental meditation faction in 1993 amid allegations the Maharishi was attempting to control his writing and speaking engagements, Chopra published his breakthrough effort, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind: The Quantum Alternative to Growing Old, selling more than 100,000 copies the day after his appearance on television's Oprah Winfrey Show. More than a dozen like-minded self-help bestsellers followed, among them The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and The Path to Love: Spiritual Strategies for Healing. In 1995 Chopra founded the California-based Chopra Center for Well Being, essentially abandoning all pretense of clinical practice by declining to even apply for a state medical license. Despite pointed criticisms of his beliefs and practices -- as well as the hypocrisy of admonishing materialism while living in a multi-million-dollar mansion and driving a Jaguar -- Chopra remained an immensely popular figure, and after releasing a series of lucrative audiobooks, in 1998 he issued the album A Gift of Love, recruiting celebrity pals like Madonna and Goldie Hawn to read classical Indian poetry over Middle Eastern-inspired backing tracks. Three years later Chopra teamed with longtime friend Dave Stewart for Grow Younger, Live Longer. ~ Jason Ankeny