Introduction to Ayurveda
At age 10, Vasant Lad accompanied his father to hear a guru speak. Enraptured by the guru’s teaching, he requested an initiation: The guru whispered a mantra in his ear and said, “You will be a great Ayurvedic student and teacher, and you will go abroad--you will write books and you will teach people about Ayurveda.”
Career in India
A native of India, Vasant Lad served for three years as Medical Director of the Ayurveda Hospital in Pune, India, and he was Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Pune University College of Ayurvedic Medicine for 15 years.
Journey to America - 1970s
In the 1970s, a gentleman named Lenny Blank came to the Ayurveda Hospital in Pune. After meeting Vasant Lad, Lenny fell in love with his teachings and urged him to bring his knowledge to the United States. Lenny said: “This is beautiful--this knowledge is very important. If you come to America, people there will love it.”
“Lenny was right. He sent me my plane ticket and I went to New York and stayed with him in a tiny apartment on East 11th Street. I would teach seminars there. Then we started traveling. From New York, we went to Chicago and Houston and then to New Mexico. We were driving in his car; a small Volkswagen that was like a little, white bug. I saw all the seasons from the back seat of that car.” - Vasant Lad
College of Natural Medicine
In Santa Fe, Vasant Lad visited the Santa Fe College of Natural Medicine and became close friends with Dr. Scott and Vivian, who were running the school. Lad was planning on returning to India, but Dr. Scott and Vivian offered to sponsor him, so he stayed and began to teach regularly at the College of Natural Medicine.
Institute of Traditional Medicine
“Then I began teaching at the Institute of Traditional Medicine. In the evenings, people in the neighborhood would come to me for a consultation. I would treat them with simple herbs, such as cinnamon, cardamom, and turmeric and I became somewhat famous in Santa Fe. I even had clients coming from Albuquerque.” - Vasant Lad
About Vasant Lad, BAM&S, MASC
He holds a Bachelor’s of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAM&S) degree from the University of Pune and a Master’s of Ayurvedic Science (MASc) degree from Tilak Ayurved Mahavidyalaya. Vasant Lad’s academic and practical training include the study of Allopathy (Western medicine) and surgery as well as traditional Ayurveda. Beginning in 1979, he has traveled throughout the United States sharing his knowledge of Ayurveda. In 1984 he came to Albuquerque as Director, principal instructor and founder of The Ayurvedic Institute.
Introduction to The Ayurvedic Institute Facility
The Ayurvedic Institute was founded in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1984 by Vasant Lad, BAM&S, MASc. Since 1986, we have been based in the high desert country of Albuquerque, New Mexico at the foot of the Sandia Mountains. He began teaching in a single suite at our current location in 1986. Over the years, The Ayurvedic Institute has expanded to our current facility that includes three buildings totaling more than 12,500 square feet. The primary building at 11311 Menaul Blvd NE is a passive solar structure, housing the administrative offices, the bookstore, the herb department, the downstairs library, lounge and student kitchen and the main classroom of approximately 1,200 square feet, accommodating up to 60 students, as well as the Panchakarma Department.
The Panchakarma Department located adjacent to the main office provides the traditional cleansing therapies of Ayurveda for up to 8 clients per week. Our second building at 11401 Menaul Blvd NE houses our student clinic, education department, and publishing department. The third building is our newest addition located at 11405 Menaul Blvd NE that houses our Ayuryoga studio and new classroom where we also give seminars and intensives.
In the interview below, Vasant Lad tells us a story from
his childhood and then of his early years in the U.S.
The pathway of divinity: set upon his path
Every day he would sit for his meditation and there was a very beautiful atmosphere. So one day I asked my Dad, “What are you doing?” He said, “I am doing dhyana.” Dhyana means meditation. Then I asked, “Anybody can do it?” He said, “Yes!” I said, “Can I learn from you?” and he said, “No, I am not authorized to teach you, but my guru comes here the first day of each month for three days. During those three days, whoever comes to him, he initiates them and gives each a mantra and meditation. Immediately, I said, “Can I get that mantra and meditation?” He said, “You will have to wait until next month.” I was maybe 9 or 10 years old, so I eagerly waited for his next visit. I continued my school, going and learning, but in the corner of my mind there was this constant waiting for the guru. On that day, the first of the next month, when he came to our town, I asked, “Dad, your guru has come?” He said, “Yes, and he is going to discourse on the Baghavad Gita. Would you like to come?” I went with my father and that’s a very interesting story.
I sat right in the first row. It was a very small room, something like 10 x 20 feet, and there were maybe 60 people there. That room was completely packed! A man in his mid-70’s came. I was certain that the guru would have a long beard, matted hair, and some dhuti and rudraksha; that was my picture. I couldn’t see anybody that looked like that. There was just a simple, ordinary old man sitting on the platform. I whispered in my Dad’s ear, “Where is your guru?” He said, “That person is my guru!” “Oh, he looks like an ordinary man, anybody’s grandpa.” He said, “Wait. Listen to him.” And then the guru started giving a talk about the Bhagavad Gita. He was talking about yoga, and the types of yoga: Karma, jnana and bhakti. As he spoke, he was looking directly at me and I was looking directly at him; there was eye-to-eye contact as if he was talking only to me. He spoke for about one and a half hours. He totally blew my mind. I lost my sleep. For the whole night he was in my dreams, talking and talking.
Vasant Lad's Journey To The USA
Doctor from India - Documentary
In this meditative, immersive portrait, with interviewees including Dr. Deepak Chopra, Frindel documents the life and work of Vasant Lad who, fulfilling his destiny as foretold by his family guru, became a holistic health pioneer. Although Ayurveda was almost unknown when he first arrived from India, Vasant Lad helped to bring Ayurveda to the west, where it is becoming one of the most prominent alternative health systems in the world.