‘Brotherhood’ Inspiring life story book by Dr. Sanjiv Chopra and Dr. Deepak Chopra
“Deepak and I got very lucky, because we had the most amazing parents, full of love and compassion and wisdom and brilliance. Our father was an amazing physician. He was a cardiologist, he became the physician to the President of India.”
Together with your brother, Dr. Deepak Chopra, you published a book “Brotherhood”. It’s an inspiring story about two brothers who immigrated to the United States from India and took very different turns and roads, but both became world-renowned healers and physicians and teachers. What can you say to some siblings out there, brothers or sisters, may be in the United States, maybe in India, maybe in Russia? How they can achieve their own purpose and happiness in life? And what can they learn from your experience? Well, Deepak and I got very lucky, because we had the most amazing parents, full of love and compassion and wisdom and brilliance. Our father was an amazing physician. He was a cardiologist, he became the physician to the President of India. And I’ll tell you one story, which is why I decided to become a doctor. I was 12 years of age and studying at St. Columbus High School in New Delhi. My brother is two years older, so he’s in the same school. One weekend, very hot sunny weekend, we played a cricket match. And Sunday evening, around 6 o’clock, I’m reading Reader’s Digest and I fall asleep, take a nap. And I wake up, and I can’t see. I’m blind! So I rub my eyes and I open them again, and I can’t see. And I nudge my brother and I said: “Deepak, I can’t see!” And he must have done visual trick and reckoned that I wasn’t faking it. And he started to cry: “So I have one brother and he’s turned blind!” So my uncle, with whom we were staying, my parents were 300 miles away, they wanted us to finish our schooling at this premier school in New Delhi, took me to the military hospital where the doctors examined me, including, I believe, an ophthalmologist. And they had no idea what was going on. And there was even talk about hysterical blindness. I was this happy student, good student, happy kid. Finally he got a hold of my father, he was 300 miles away. This is 1961, he’s in an army jeep on a tour. This is a long-distance phone call, and very calmly he says, “Tell me everything that’s happened to Sanjeev in the last two months.” “He’s been fine. Oh, yes, he had an injury to his left leg about a week ago with a sharp object. We took him to the casualty ward, and he got stitches. So my father said, “Did he get an antibiotic?” And they looked in the records said “Yes”. Then he said, “Did he get a tetanus shot?” And they looked and they said very proudly, “Yes, we gave him a tetanus shot”. And he asked one more question, “What kind? Anti-tetanus serum or anti-tetanus toxoid?” So they looked and they said, “Anti-tetanus serum”. And I have no idea how my father divined this, but he said, “Sanjiv is having a rare idiosyncratic reaction to the anti-tetanus serum. He has a localized form of serum sickness affecting only his two optic nerves. They are blown. It occurs less than one in a million times. Start an intravenous line and give him massive doses of corticosteroids.” And that was done and about eight hours later my vision returned. I’ve told this story to professors of ophthalmology here at Harvard, at Stanford, at Duke and they say, “Oh, my God! How did your father know that? If that hadn’t been done you might have become blind for the rest of your life!” So I decided to become a doctor. My brother Deepak had no interest in going into medicine. He wanted to go into journalism. And then after Senior Cambridge high school, there was a seven month hiatus before you go into college. And he went to the hospital with my father. He went to the operating room, he went to radiology and he was fascinated, and he was schooled at home in biology for a year and then he became a doctor. He became a traditional Western doctor, endocrinologist. But then he learned meditation and that’s opened up his worldview, and he embraced Eastern medicine and philosophy. And he’s become a spiritual guru, it is a good guide. So he and I wrote twelve chapters each. They alternate in the book. He said to me “I’m older and I’ve written a few more books.” “Can I make suggestions for your chapters?” And I said “Absolutely!” We didn’t change a word! We had a great time going on the book tour, I made people laugh, he’s more serious. One of the first shows we did was in New York. We did a tour in New York for two days, Washington for two days, LA for one day. Five days. The following week it made national bestseller. But in New York there was a show called “92nd Street Y”, and that had 1,200 people in the audience. We do book signings, and then the anchor interviews Deepak and me for an hour, and then he opens it up to the audience for one hour. And the first question comes to Deepak. So the moderator says: “Deepak, first question for you, the question is ‘If you were sitting next to an enlightened person and could ask one question, what would it be?” So I put my hand on Deepak’s shoulder and say: “All right, Deepak, go ahead, I’m ready for your question!” 1,200 people cracked up! But I think the thing about siblings is that everyone has a story to tell. And for the siblings to reflect and say, “What was special about our childhood? What’s been special about our lives? How are we connected? How are we similar? How are we different?” You’ve got a remarkable story to tell… I’m sure that’s true for you, right? And so, think about it! And and start taking notes and start writing, start talking about it. And then write a book and you can self-publish. You can get an advance from a great publisher. There’s so many different ways these days… And everybody has profound experiences. – Yes! – But as you suggest, it’s not not only having the experience but living through it, understanding and then making something out of it for your future. – Yes, absolutely!