Gotham Chopra has inherited the spiritual mantle of his father, best-selling self-help guru Deepak Chopra--though he adds a distinctive hip approach to the sacred. Gotham is the coauthor of "Bulletproof Monk," a 1999 comic book that describes the adventures of an American boy of Tibetan heritage entrusted to guard a magical object, with the help of a mysterious monk with fantastic powers.

This week, the movie version, starring Chow Yun Fat and Seann William Scott, was released. Next month, Gotham will open K, a New York City lounge that will have, in his words, "a very Kama Sutra vibe." Paul Raushenbush recently phoned the multitalented scion at his father's new spiritual resort in La Costa, California.

Did you read comic books growing up?
When I was young, my cousins and I spent summers back in India. My grandfather would take us to buy comic books that chronicled the lives and myths of the Hindu gods and goddesses--Krishna, Shiva, Ganesha, Kali, Durgha--and other ones about the great warrior kings and queens. After the afternoon rains, he took us out to the ruins around old Delhi and let us hang out at the places we had just read about. It really made all these myths come alive. That was the inspiration for "Bulletproof Monk."

Why did you choose a monk to be the hero?
I was intrigued by a story about Hitler's men searching for an Aryan gene in Tibet during World War II.

So my partner and I created this new brand of superhero--an enlightened monk who would rise up to save his brothers. I liked the idea that being enlightened doesn't mean you have to retreat into a cave and meditate all the time.

How do you like the movie?
We first envisioned the film as very dark. The lesson you quickly learn is to be detached. The harder you hold on to what you think is right, the more the tension grows.

What do you think is the movie's most valuable spiritual message?
We live in a time when we need to redefine warrior. Warriors need to understand that sometimes triumph comes to us via surrender, that even the toughest armor or most elaborate weapons don't necessarily keep you safe. A deeper awareness of the nature of the self and other people's needs are the keys to being bulletproof.

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