At 48, Vicram Sharma assumes the role of director at the renowned family-owned legacy brand, the Baidyanath group, celebrated for its century-long commitment to authentic Ayurvedic products.
The New Delhi-based entrepreneur is a familiar face in the high-society circuit of Delhi, Mumbai, Dubai and London, a single parent to his energetic four-year-old, Shivay, and author of the insightful, Ayurveda Advantage. HELLO! catches up with the expert as he reveals the secret to eternal youth, beauty and wellness.
HELLO!: Vicram, tell us about your spiritual side — where did it come from and how does it keep you energised?
Vicram Sharma: “My spiritual side fuels every other facet of my personality. I try to incorporate the principles of Vedanta in my everyday life. I have always had an inclination towards faith and spirituality, so while it is inherent, I was also influenced by the pujas and practices that were a part of our daily life at our ancestral home. As a child, I woke up to the sound of aarti, temple bells and the fragrance of incense, as the priest would perform the morning rituals at the family shrine. My grandmother would always feed crows, cows and stray dogs, and when I was in boarding school [The Doon School], I carried that practice with me. I would sneak food out of the dining room everyday to feed a civet cat which then grew enormously fat and lazy! (laughs) While it’s usually the reverse, my spiritual journey deepened during a period of immense happiness.
I count my college years in England as being some of the happiest of my life. I loved the country, the campus; I was in a wonderful relationship, I had great friends. Each morning, I would wake up filled with joy and an upswell of gratitude. And soon, that turned into a meditation practice, which has now become a lifelong habit. Before I open my eyes every morning and before I sleep at night, I give thanks to the Universe, the Almighty, my ancestors and my Guru. This isn’t a practice that I consciously cultivated, it’s something that has evolved naturally. I go into a deep meditative state and I don’t know how many minutes it lasts. It energises me and helps me get through the day with calmness. While I may have a reputation as a bit of a party animal, what I truly enjoy the most is engaging in meaningful conversations!”
H!: You are also quite fashion forward. Walk us through your wardrobe and your fabulous jewellery collection!
VS: “My dressing sense comes from my love for jewellery. I have my sherwanis and bandhgalas designed to showcase my gemstones. Raghavendra Rathore, Tarun Tahiliani, Gaurav Gupta and Rohit Bal are my friends who have endlessly indulged in designing bespoke outfits around my jewellery. My mother [Madhu Sharma] has a fabulous jewellery collection, part of which is ancestral, inherited from my maternal and paternal grandparents. She has a good eye and I end up borrowing her beautiful sets made of polki, Basra pearls, emeralds and rubies. The brilliant Prerna Rajpal of Amaris has been our family jeweller for years — my ‘precious’ friend! (laughs).
I tend to be most partial to the Maharaja and Mughal style of jewellery since several of my schoolmates belonged to erstwhile royal families and I would be invited to their family celebrations, where I was amazed to see men wearing heavy ornaments — from sarpech to balas, kanthi, bazubandh, kamarpatta and even dastband or anklets. It made me reconsider what constituted masculine dressing.”
H!: You have chosen to embark on the journey of single parenthood, paving the way for other men who share the desire to raise a child on their own. How has your experience been so far?
VS: “Becoming a father has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I have always had a strong paternal urge and family is extremely important to me. My mother was a huge factor in my decision to have a child; she encouraged me to follow my heart and was a rock of support through the process. She also co-parents Shivay and my brother, Harsh, is a hands-on uncle! They say it takes a village to raise a child and while I don’t have a village, I do have a household that is helping me raise Shivay.”
H!: You have recently published your first book on Ayurveda. What inspired it?
VS: “I imbibed the Ayurvedic approach from the day I was born or perhaps, even before — for my mother was cared for throughout her pregnancy with all the traditional Ayurvedic practices of the Baidyanath household. As a boy, I ran around the barrels of medicaments and cauldrons of simmering potions. My siblings and I have grown up on daily doses of giloy, chyawanprash and balamrit, as have the current crop of Baidyanath kids. Friends would often call me to ask about home remedies for common problems and so, the book began to take shape.
I have seen many of my friends in their 40s, spending vast sums of money on cosmetic products and procedures that held the promise of youth; reminding me of my feisty grandmother and grand-aunts, who had glowing complexions and glossy hair, well into their 80s! Their teeth were intact, bones strong, energy levels high and their mental faculties as sharp as ever. My mother stands as a testament to the remarkable power of Ayurveda in boosting immunity. Despite her vulnerability due to age and being a kidney donor, she emerged unscathed from the challenges posed by the pandemic. These observations spurred my decision to make the treasure of Ayurveda more accessible as a lifestyle choice.”
H!: And what did the writing process look like?
VS: “My mother and I had moved to Anand, Gujarat, awaiting Shivay’s birth. Shortly after, the country went into a total lockdown due to the pandemic. Isolated from the world, we spent hours enjoying each other’s company. I knew she had trained under eminent Vaids, but it was then that I realised the depth of my mother’s knowledge of the science of Ayurveda. And so, I asked her to teach me. What followed were months of intensive learning — I made copious amounts of notes and organised these fascinating interactions, fleshing out the bare bones of the book. I sent for books from the Baidyanath archives and on our return to New Delhi, I consulted our family Vaid, Ashok Kumar Singh, for his invaluable insights.”
H!: What makes your book stand apart from the rest?
VS: “I realised that there were no user-friendly books on Ayurveda. My book is written in a simple style that makes the enigmatic wisdom of Ayurveda accessible for the modern reader; a handbook for understanding its principles and its everyday application. It addresses every aspect of human and planetary wellbeing.”
Photos: Abhishek Khandelwal
This interview is from HELLO! India’s January 2024 issue. Check out the latest issue right here.