THE DOCTOR FROM INDIA (Jeremy Frindel, 2018)
34 West 13th St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Special screening June 2 at 4:00 at Symphony Space
After seeing Jeremy Frindel’s The Doctor from India, you’re going to want to know even more about its remarkable subject, Ayurvedic master Dr. Vasant Lad. And you can get that chance this weekend when the doctor, who is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Pune, India, makes several appearances in New York City, participating in Q&As following the 6:45 shows at the Quad on June 1 and 2 and at Symphony Space on June 2 after the 4:00 Thalia Docs screening. The documentary provides an intimate, inside look at the seventy-five-year-old founder of the Ayurvedic Institute, who nearly single-handedly brought the ancient discipline to America and the rest of the world. “When I went first during 1979, no one even knows [the] word Ayurveda,” Dr. Lad says about his initial visit to the United States. “Now Ayurveda is flourishing, flowering, and it is my mission of my guru [Hammer Baba] to spread and propagate Ayurveda in the Western world.” Frindel shows the doctor — who is not licensed in America, where the medical establishment and insurance companies do not recognize Ayurveda as legitimate medical treatment — tending to patients in Pune, both at his main office during the day with students and in a clinic where people line up every night to be diagnosed for free. “The specialty of Ayurveda is the science of the pulse. Disease can be diagnosed by examining the pulse. I will look into your constitution, your prakruti, your vikruti, and let them know of any abnormalities,” he tells a patient. A kind, gentle, spiritual soul who does yoga and meditates, Dr. Lad describes Ayurveda as “the art of living in harmony with nature, in harmony with the surroundings, and that is a beautiful thing.” Frindel also speaks with Vedic scholar Dr. David Frawley, Doctor of Oriental Medicine Claudia Welch, first American Ayurvedic physician Dr. Robert Svoboda, and layman Len Blank, who sponsored Dr. Lad’s first visit to the West. “Dr. Lad is the most significant person in a sense galvanizing the movement of Ayurveda in the entire world but starting in the United States,” says Dr. Deepak Chopra, who has a fascinating connection to Dr. Lad involving the Maharaja Mahesh Yogi.
Author of the million-selling book Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing, Dr. Lad believes that looking, listening, and communicating, along with the knowledge of one’s own sacredness and essence, are essential to the health of the mind and body. “This is unbelievable. People will think this is hodgepodge. This is not hodgepodge. This is a science,” he says after diagnosing a man’s mother by feeling her pulse through the son, the mother not even in the room. “The real cause of almost all disease is prana pada, which means a violation against the natural wisdom of your organism,” Dr. Svoboda adds. A private person, Dr. Lad gives director and editor Frindel (One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das) remarkable access to his life, revealing him to be a sweet, caring man who works tirelessly to spread Ayurvedic practice and treat his patients. He also speaks open and honestly about his family, including a very telling story about his courtship of his wife. He’s almost too humble despite his success. “I’m not doing [it]. It is being done through me. I am just an instrument in the hand of God,” he insists. The film borders on the worshipful and Rachel Grimes’s score can get overly treacly, but it’s hard not to fall in love with Dr. Lad and his unique approach to life, something you can learn even more about during his three appearances in New York City this weekend.