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Deepak Chopra

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Oprah Winfrey and I in India

Posted: 04/25/2012 10:17 pm

This Sunday, the interview I did with Oprah will premiere on Super Soul Sunday (April 29th at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network) followed by a repeat of my Lifeclass Tour: Spiritual Solutions filmed earlier at Radio City Music Hall.  It was several months ago that I received a text on my blackberry from Oprah with a short message, "Call me!"  I was in a dinner meeting and left briefly to call her.  Oprah picked up the phone and said, "I hear you are going to India and I would like to join you there and do an interview as well."  So began our adventure.

I write a regular column for the Times of India and asked Oprah if she would be willing to answer some questions so I could create her "Soul Profile."  Here is a link to the article, Embracing India, featuring her Soul Profile in the Times of India: Speaking Tree section.

We met in Mumbai at a Bollywood party hosted by one of the prominent socialites in India.  It was a beach party and every Bollywood celebrity came to meet Oprah.  It was surprising to me that she was more popular among Indians than any Hollywood A-list celebrity.  It was also surprising to me that Oprah seemed to know and recognize some of the big Bollywood stars both contemporary and vintage actors that belong to an era when I was growing up as a high school student in India.  At one point I introduced her to Shabana Azmi saying "Shabana is a classical actress who does film and theater as well."   And Oprah responded, "Yes, I know. She is like the Meryl Streep of India."  She had obviously done her homework.

Oprah spent a few days in Mumbai in different settings including a visit to Dharavi slum, which is the locale of the now famous "Slumdog Millionaire."  I next caught up with Oprah at the Jaipur Film Festival, which  over the  period of a week has over 20,000 visitors and some of the greatest writers from the world - Pulitzer Prize winners, political commentators, journalists many intellectuals, but also a sizable number of pseudo-intellectuals and snobs. Oprah was interviewed on stage to a packed audience of  several thousand intellectuals, artists and writers.  The interviewer was a prominent Indian journalist, but it was clear that Oprah was the star.  The discussion was open and relaxed covering a wide range of topics.  She was candid in talking about her personal history and also made it obvious that she had an in-depth understanding of the literary scene and the global political landscape.  Her talk was televised throughout the country and has had several repeat airings.  India cannot get enough of her.

Oprah, along with my wife and I, was also hosted at the Jaipur Palace by the Maharani of Jaipur and the Princess of Jaipur.  We were regally escorted into the palace in chariots with the royal soldiers playing bagpipes, painted elephants, and camels leading the way.  As we passed through the ramparts of the palace walls under beautiful Mogul style architectural arches, dancing girls from rooftops sprinkled rose petals on us.  Upon entering the palace we were greeted and garlanded by the Queen and the Princess.  The Queen was dressed in elegant white but without makeup as she was officially in mourning as her husband the Maharaja had passed away a few months ago.  Princess Dia, on the other hand, was decked with jewels and wore a glamorous sari.  A slightly incongruous part of the scene was that she held a traditional flower garland in one hand and a Blackberry phone in the other.  We had a sit down dinner on a Lalique table with the royalty of Jaipur, but also Kings, Queens, and Princesses from other royal states. The conversation ranged from politics to the history of the British Empire in India and colonial times to social issues including the work done by Indian nonprofits in the area of social justice, elimination of poverty and strengthening India's democracy as it is becoming an emerging global influence.

During her stay in India, Oprah also visited the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Widows Colony in Uttar Pradesh and other social organizations dealing with empowerment of women and working towards the elimination of radical poverty.

My interview with Oprah was filmed in the courtyard of the palace with a 15th century court build by a Mogul emperor with red sandstone in the background.  The interview was spontaneous and she asked me about my early life, my parents, immigration to the US, my training as a medical doctor, and my subsequent journey into the world of consciousness, healing and spirituality.  There was no preparation. Both the questions and answers were spontaneous, but it was one of the most in-depth and enjoyable interviews of my life.  This is the interview you will be seeing on Super Soul Sunday (April 29th at 11am ET/10am CT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network).  I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed doing it.

As I have followed up the India interview with now several filmed interviews in New York and Toronto, I continue to be amazed at the depth of Oprah Winfrey. She has an remarkable grasp of people, their personal struggles and what matters most to them.  She has an amazing ability to connect with them and bring them both solace and self-awareness.  Oprah is extremely well informed about everything that is happening in the world of entertainment, education, the arts, and even some of the cutting edge research happening in the field of neuroscience, physics and cosmology.  It is my hope that as I find myself collaborating with her on spiritual, scientific or philosophical topics, that we will explore together the mystery of our existence, and then share our insights and reflections with the world.

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