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Who is Baba Ramdev? The rise and rise of the yoga guru

Dailybhaskar.com | Last Modified - Jun 03, 2011, 02:31 PM IST

A simple farmer’s son now owns assets worth thousands of crores including a £2 mn island in Scotland.
  • Who is Baba Ramdev? The rise and rise of the yoga guru
    Who is Baba Ramdev? The rise and rise of the yoga guru

    ramdev_256_06New Delhi: A simple farmer’s son who at one time was apparently unable to find money to fix his punctured bicycle now owns assets worth thousands of crores including a £2 mn island in Scotland. He started what his critics call ‘5-star fast’ by landing in Delhi in a chopper. This is the story of the rise and rise of Baba Ramdev.

    How Ram Krishna Yadav became Baba Ramdev

    He was born in 1965 in the Hazaribag Ali Saiyad Pur village of Mahendragarh district in Haryana. His father Ram Nivas Yadav and mother Gulab Devi were farmers.

    Here his persoanl history becomes a little hazy. There isn’t much that is written about his early years but according to several sources he ran away from home at thew age of nine. Hopwever, according to websites of his trust, he attended school till the eighth grade in Shahjadpur. He then joined a gurukul in Khanpur village to study Sanskrit and Yoga. Eventually, he renounced worldly life and entered into Sanyas. He studied self- discipline and yoga in great detail.

    Eventually he came in contact with the man who became his guru - Achary Baldevji. It is then that Ram Krishna Yadav became Swami or Baba Ramdev.

    How Baba Ramdev became famous?

    1995 was a momentous year for Baba Ramdev. He established the Divya Yog Mandir Trust in association with a company owned by Acharya Bal Krishna. In 2003, he was featured on the Aastha TV on the morning yoga slot. As he modernised yoga and made simple breathing exercises like Kapalbati, Pranayam a morning must for most people, he gathered a cult following in India.

    According to the New York Times, Baba Ramdev is "an Indian, who built Yoga Empire, a product and symbol of the New India, a yogic fusion of Richard Simmons, Dr. Oz and Oprah Winfrey, irrepressible and bursting with Vedic wisdom".

    His fame increased several fold in the coming years as did his controversy-courting statements. A direct impact was the surge in the number of people who attended his yoga camps , both in India and abroad.

    How much is Baba Ramdev worth?

    Patanjali Yog Peeth , his flagship projext was inaugurated bu the then Vice President of India in August 2006. The aim of the institute was to build the world’s largest centre for Ayurveda and yoga.

    According to a rough estimate, the Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust (Baba Ramdev) has property worth more than Rs 1,000 crore in Hardwar alone.

    These include a 300-bed multi specialty hospital, a yoga research centre, a university, an ayurvedic pharmacy, a food park and a cosmetics manufacturing unit.

    Baba Ramdev is even reported to have acquired a Scottish isle for about £ 2 million a few years ago to set up a wellness retreat. According to unconfirmed reports, Patanjali Yogpeeth has also acquired major stakes in the Aastha TV channel.

    The channel used to telecast Ramdev's daily yoga classes which helped him become an international figure.

    Courting Controversy

    In 2006, Baba Ramdev’s Divya Pharmacy was accused by Brinda Karat, Senior leader, the CPI(M) of using human and animal bones in their medicines. Samples of the medicines were allegedly tested at government labs and the presence of animal materials in the sample was not proved.

    Ramdev has also made claims, which have yet to be substantiated, that he can cure cancer and other diseases permanently. He also made derogatory comments about the homosexual community, claiming that it is a disease and gays should be treated in hospitals. He added that if hospitals couldn’t cure them, he (Ramdev) could cure them.

    On the national stage: the anti-corruption drive

    Ramdev was in the forefront of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption. However, he also plans to begin his own indefinite fast from June 4. His movement has been mired in controversy as the government is trying very hard to ensure that Ramdev relents and gives up the idea of fast unto death.

    Ramdev’s steps for eradication of balck money have been called unconventional and even impratical which includes the withdrawal of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes - so as to avoid misuse of unaccounted money and quick arrest of the entire locally circulated black money, bribing, and fake note traffic.

    Political ambitions

    Will Baba Ramdev float his own political party? Will he contest elections? The details on this are very sketchy as the yoga guru constantly contradicts his own statements. However, he has said that he make a final decision about entry into the political arena after June.

    However, he added that he would not seek power or any post if at all a "platform" was formed.

    The yoga guru told reporters he wanted to cleanse the system and if a political party was formed, he would field candidates in all the 534 Lok Sabha seats in the next general elections.

    "They could be from different political parties or fields, who would be clean, non-corrupt and work to wipe out corruption," said Ramdev, who is also the chief of 'Bharat Swabhiman', a social and spiritual movement.

    "Once these candidates are elected, the face of India will change totally and it will become a corruption-free nation," he claimed.

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