Saturday, October 5, 2013

Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny and the American Dream

by Deepak and Sanjiv Chopra

Book Review by Sharon Powers.

   Two brothers. Two doctors. Two immigrants. Two countries. Two husbands and fathers. Two newly-minted Americans. Two shared stories about their lives.

     In the "To the Reader" forward part of the book the authors explain that the goal in writing the book was not to look at the work the other brother wrote; hence, no arguments about being right or wrong could occur. So, as the author's state, it was with "separate voices" that they each spoke.

General map of India with
surrounding countries.
    This book is ambitious--ambitious because it covers so much ground. It is a memoir about two people, not one, it covers multiple themes: Brotherhood, and how it impacts and is impacted by "Dharma, Destiny, and the American Dream." Although ambitious, the two intelligent men have cleverly woven a compelling story about growing up in India, the struggle to become doctors, their emigration to America, and how their familial and cultural values shaped them on their path of duty and during their struggle for moral transformation. And...the two brothers show us how they came to love America.

    So, a lot is going on here in this book. But with all their success, why a memoir? Why now? Why write a book so complex and intimate that it obviously requires courage to pen?

Auyervedic Medicine; quote by Deepak Chopra.
    ...Because in this book, Sanjiv and Deepak Chopra do courageously reveal aspects of their inner lives. It is because, as Deepak puts it, "...[T]elling my story can benefit the reader only if we share something so deep that we cherish it equally. Not love of family, dedication to work, a lifelong vision, or even walking the spiritual path. What you and I deeply cherish is the project of building a self." (p. 15 of 358)

Sanjiv explained that he and his brother learned that since they had been given much, it was their "dharma" to be responsible and respect others, and most of all to give to others, "at every conceivable opportunity." (p. 77 of 358) This book is obviously an opportunity seized.

Harvard Medical School where Sanjiv Chopra teaches.
    The brothers share the bad along with the good, failures with successes, and losses with the gains. They share being children of two worlds (India and America); they speak about the Indian diaspora, and about being "neither fully Indian nor fully American." (loc. 59 of 4911) And, finally, they speak about how though each of them became doctors, how Deepak's path was one of bringing the Indian medical tradition of Ayurveda to America and of his role in helping to bring Indian spirituality here, while Sanjiv continued on the more traditional path of medicine and became a professor at Harvard Medical School.

    It seems that though the brothers took markedly different paths, they each remained true to their "dharma" and the great desire to serve others. Likewise, meditation and family remain important to the brothers, as does their love of America.

What do I think about this book?
    I normally don't care for biographies or memoirs because I find them pedantic and a bit boring. That having been said, I find that I am in the position of currently reading the autobiography of Nelson Mandela and have just finished the memoir of Deepak and Sanjiv (Chopra). So much for preconceived notions, I guess. Because....I found that I very much enjoyed Sanjiv and Deepak Chopra's collaborative book (I'll save Nelson Mandela for later.).

    Right off the bat, I found that their courage to reveal much about their inner lives, well, amazing. I found the book to be refreshing in its approach to the memoir style. I also enjoyed getting an intimate view of India and seeing why that country is so loved; I also enjoyed seeing from the eyes of a person new to this country, all of the amazing things that bring such joy and eventual love of this beautiful country, America, as well.

    Most of all, I appreciated how the authors shared their own building of "the self" with the reader. That by getting a glimpse into the building of the self, the reader, too, may gain valuable insight into their own constructed self. I found myself reassessing my own place in the world. If a book can do that, then I have no qualms about recommending it to others. This little book review cannot convey all the beauty of the stories the brothers tell, nor their depth of love for India, America, medical practice, family, personal growth, dharma, people, and the brother's zest for life. My recommendation is that you find out for the book.

My rating for this book:

My rating for this book: 4.5 stars out of 5.

4.3 Stars--Amazon (163 Reviewers)
3.71 Stars--Goodreads (29 Reviewers)
4.5 Stars--Barnes & Noble (2 Reviewers)
0.0 (0 Reviewers)

About this book:

Pages: 385
ISBN: 0544032101
Publisher: Amazon Publishing (05-21-13)

Available Formats:
Hardcover; Audiobook CD, Audiobook, CD, Unabridged, Audible (Unabridged) and from Amazon on Kindle (e-book). I was absolutely tickled to get my Kindle edition of the book from Amazon as one of their Kindle Daily Deals for $1.99 instead of for full price. If you have a Kindle, be sure to sign up for emails to get the daily deals (Prices range from $.99 to sometimes $2.99, but always for much less than list price.). In many places the print list price for the Chopra book is $28.00 and the digital list price is $12.99; Kindle is now (as of the time of this posting) selling the Kindle Edition for $7.99.

This book is also available at the Chopra Center Marketplace (follow this link):

Deepak and Sanjiv have done promotions for the new book, some of which have appeared on YouTube. I found a very short one (3:42 min.) that I think you might like. Here, in this video, the two brothers discuss aspects of the book. If you are interested in hearing more, other YouTube videos exist that also talk about the book (simply go to YouTube and do a search for others).

  I hope you have enjoyed my review of Sanjiv and Deepak Chopra's new book, Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny, and the American Dream. I usually sign off by saying, "Until next time...many happy pages of reading." and place the text next to a white rose. Today, to honor Sanjiv and Deepak Chopra, I sign off the way Deepak Chopra often does, by simply saying to you, "Namaste."


 - Kindle Ed. from Amazon; - Chopra Center Marketplace; - Map of India; - Auyervedic Medicine; Deepak Chopra quote; - Harvard Medical School; - 4.5 Stars; - Amazon Reviews; - Goodreads Reviews; - Barnes & Noble Reviews; - Available formats; - Kindle Daily Deals; - Kindle Edition on Amazon;