Mrs Rita Chopra, wife of renowned holistic healer Dr Deepak Chopra, has been the strength behind his efforts to popularize Ayurveda in the US. She has been regularly undergoing Ayurvedic treatments for quite some time now. Ayurveda & Health Tourism talked to her about Ayurveda and the acceptance it is gaining in the Western world.
- Dr Deepak Chopra has taken the lead in propagating Ayurveda in America and the Western world. What were the challenges that you faced in popularizing Ayurveda there?
In the 80’s Dr Deepak Chopra took an interest in transcendental meditation and met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He joined the movement and at the Guru’s instance started the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center at Boston. It was a conservative place and at first people there did not understand the concept of Ayurveda. The medical fraternity and the drug industry also tried to block the moves to popularize Ayurveda there.
But Dr Chopra was persistent in his efforts.He was always willing to talk to people and to give interviews on TV to build awareness about Ayurveda. Soon it became a celebrity thing with people like Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and George Harrison taking to it.
Later, in the 90’s we moved to California which was much more open-minded, and set up the Chopra Center. The Chopra Center conducts educational programs and offers products that improve the health and wellbeing of body, mind and spirit. It takes an integrative approach to healing by combining the practice of Yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. Doctors qualified in modern medicine are trained in these techniques and they attend to patients at the center.
- How does an average American view alternative systems of medicines, such as Ayurveda, today?
Today the situation has changed tremendously. There is absolutely no resistance to Ayurveda at present. In fact, the Massachusetts General Hospital is in talks with the Chopra center to set up an institute for wellness and brain research.
- For how long have you been undergoing Ayurvedic treatments? What benefit did you gain from it?
I have been undergoing Ayurvedic treatments from the late 80’s. I find it to be the most magical way of treatment. Iget a lot of benefit, lot of beauty and peace from the Ayurvedic treatment programs.
- Why did you choose and keep coming back to the Ayurveda Center at Gateway Calicut?
Kerala’s is the oldest, ancient and authentic form of Ayurveda. I was introduced to the Ayurveda Centeer at Gateway Calicut through a friend. I first came here in 2003-04 and have been coming here every year since then. I opt for the 21- day program offered by the Center. The Center also offers a pleasant atmosphere, where you get a lot of privacy. It is amazing how the team of doctors here,led by Dr MS Mahadevan, can identify problems just by reading the pulse. That is why I keep coming back here.
- Lack of standardisation in Ayurvedic treatments is often cited as a factor that affects the acceptance of Ayurveda. How do you view it?
Lack of standardisation creates confusion in the minds of people. The problem is present in modern medicine too to some extent. So that should not be a big issue. The key is to find a doctor that suits your requirements.The relationship with your doctor is very important. You should have faith in the doctor and respond well to the demands of the treatment procedure.
- The Kerala government is trying to promote the state as an Ayurveda destination. What steps should the government take to make the program successful?
Kerala is considered the “Home of Ayurveda”. The climate and the beauty of the place make it an ideal destination for Ayurveda.You should not be shy in marketing the State. People should be willing to appear on TV and other media and talk about Ayurveda.Being active on social media could be another option.I have met people from all over the world, who have come for Ayurvedic treatment here. So “word of mouth” publicity could also be a good way to attract people to the State.