The Modern Yoga Guru – Swami Ramdev
By Nikhil Sawant
Ramkishan Yadav popularly known as Swami Ramdev also known as Baba Ramdev, is particularly well-known for his efforts in popularizing Yoga as it is enunciated in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. He is also one of the founders of the Divya Yog Mandir Trust that aims to popularize Yoga and offer Ayurvedic treatments.
His camps are attended by a large number of people. Over 85 million people follow his yoga camps via TV channels, and video. His yoga teaching sessions are for the masses and free for all. His stated principle in life is to be of help to all.
Baba Ramdev grew up in the Indian state of Haryana. As a child he suffered from paralysis. It was through yoga that he was able to regain the full functionality of his body again. He attended school till the eighth standard. He then joined a gurukul in Khanpur village to study Sanskrit and Yoga. Eventually, he assumed Sannyas (or monastic living), taking his present name. He then moved to Jind district and started offering free Yoga training to villagers across Haryana.
In 1995, Swami Ramdev established the Divya Yog Mandir Trust with Acharya Karamveer and Acharya Balkrishna. Acharya Karmaveer is well-versed in Yoga and Veda while Acharya Balkrishna is a physician with a degree in Ayurveda. (However now Acharya Karamveer has left the Divya Yog Mandir Trust and is practising his mission individually and separately at Mumbai.)
Swami Ramdev’s TV program “Om Yog Sadhana” on zee Jagran with the help of Mr. Mrituenjay Sharma (producer and director) made him popular with the people. His TV programs and Yoga camps have proved to be immensely popular. Attendance at his yoga camps has been quoted as being up to 20,000 people Among the many locations, Swamiji was invited and has conducted a yoga camp at the Rashtrapati Bhavan – the residence of the President of India also.
His TV program is broadcast in several continents including Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe and America. Executives at the TV channel carrying Swami Ramdev’s program have reported immense demand for the show. Viewership is quoted as being 20 million regular viewers. Followers of these programs have claimed relief from a variety of ailments such as blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, spondylitis, hepatitis and obesity.
One of the factors that differentiates Swami Ramdev is his emphasis on teaching and making available the practice of Pranayama for the masses. This is different from other yoga teachers who place more emphasis on asanas (yog postures). Comprehensive video demonstration of Pranayam The practice of ‘praanaayaama’ and ‘pratyaahaara’ (specific diet) for providing health, which Baba Ramdev demonstrates, is well-established in Indian traditions.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a world-renowned spiritual leader is quoted as saying “If an individual can be credited with reviving yoga in this country (India), it is solely Swami Ramdev. Yoga can cure even fatal diseases and Swami Ramdev has definitely proved it time and again. Swami Ramdev has spread yoga to such an extent that sooner or later, one has to embrace it.”
Patanjali Yog Peeth
Swami Ramdev’s flagship project, the Patanjali Yogpeeth (PYP) Trust, was inaugurated on August 6, 2006. Its aim is to build the world’s largest center for Ayurveda and Yoga that includes facilities for treatment, research and a teaching university The trust, most notably, offers free treatment to those who cannot afford. For all other, the treatment is at lesser costs than hospitals elsewhere.
Through PYP, Swami Ramdev continues to work with various institutions and medical organizations in an effort to study and improve yoga’s effectiveness in working against diseases like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, etc.
National Issues Raised
Swami Ramdev has raised a number of national issues through his yoga camps. Most of the issues raised by him demand change in governance policies of India and the life style of common people. Some of the most emphasized issues are :
Malpractices in the agricultural sector
Swami Ramdev says that the overuse of fertilizers and pesticides has led to increased profits for those in trade, but it poses a big threat to the health of the common man since fruits and vegetables are increasingly becoming contaminated with disease causing chemical compounds.
Consumption of fast food and soft drinks
At most of his yoga shivirs (yoga camps) Swami Ramdev has raised the issue of increased consumption of fast foods, packed foods and soft drinks by common people. He says that these products are disease causing junk and are far from anything to be eaten. He says that soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi are no better than pesticides or toilet cleaners and this is enough to explain what effect it has on the human body.
Exploitation of farmers
Baba Ramdev blames the corrupt governance practices for the miserable conditions of the farmers and other backward parts of the society. He says that agriculture is the biggest contributor to India’s economy and yet the farmers are the most poverty stricken class of people. He says that for the economic prosperity of the country it is an issue of utmost importance to bring welfare to the farmers.
Poor condition of indigenous industries
Baba Ramdev blames failure of government policies for the state of the Indian industries with the Indian market being flooded with foreign made or foreign brand goods. Baba Ramdev says that indigenous industries must be supported and promoted to reduce the dependency on foreign made goods and for this both the government and the consumers have to be aware.
Indian black money in Swiss banks
Baba Ramdev has publicly raised the issue of Indian money stashed away illegally in Swiss bank which is estimated to be between 1-1.5 trillion USD. He says that the government must take concrete action and bring back the money as it belongs to the people of India and has been taken out of the country illegally.
84 Crore (840 Million) People living on Rs. 20 a day
Official surveys indicate that at least 84 Crore (840 Million) people (nearly 75% of the population) are living with a capacity to spend Rs.20 or less in a day. Baba Ramdev has started the Bharat Swabhiman Andolan the first aim of which is to bring prosperity to these 840 million people.
Bharat Swabhiman Andolan FIVE Goals of Bharat Swabhiman Andolan:
1. 100% voting 2.100% nationalist thought 3.100% boycott of foreign companies, adoption of ‘swadeshi’ 4.100% unification of the people of the nation 5.100% yoga-oriented nation
FIVE Vows of Bharat Swabhiman Andolan:
1. We will only vote for patriotic, honest, valiant, farsighted, and skillful people. We ourselves will vote 100% and also make others vote. 2. We will unite all patriotic, sincere, aware, sensitive, intelligent and honest people together 100% and uniting the powers of the nation will bring about a new freedom, new system and new change. We will make India the biggest superpower in the world. 3. We will 100% boycott foreign goods made with zero technology and adopt indigenous goods. 4. We will adopt nationalist thought 100%, and while in our personal lives we observe Hindu, Islam, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, etc. religious traditions, in our public lives we will live like a true Indian – a true Hindustani. 5. We will make the entire country 100% yoga-oriented and make the citizens inward-focused by making them healthy and arouse the feeling of self-pride in each one by removing the cheating, corruption, hopelessness, disbelief and self-languor arising because of self-confusion, and awaken India’s sleeping self-respect by building national character
Bharat Swabhiman Andolan is a mass movement campaign launched by Baba Ramdev to eradicate corruption from India. The Andolan promotes protest against corruption in every government sector, and claims that the nature of this corruption is that Indian officials illegally broker deals to allow foreign companies to enter every Indian social sector and hamper the indigenous system in every sphere. Government estimations show that nearly 84 crore (840 million) people in India, which is nearly 75% of the total population, are living with a capacity to spend only Rs. 20 (1 dollar ~ Rs. 45) in a day, and the Bharat Swavhiman Andolan claims that fighting government corruption is the first step to changing this state of poverty.
The organization aims to accomplish its goal by reviving forgotten parts of Indian culture among all Indians, and Baba Ramdev says this would be the first step towards making India a superpower. Swadeshi Shiksha (education system based on Indian principles) and Swadeshi Chikitsa (medical system based on Indian principles) are two of the most important aims of this mission. Establishment of Hindi and all regional (Bhartiya-Indian) languages as the primary language in government-sponsored activities like education and the judiciary is part of the agenda of this movement. Baba Ramdev draws attention to the fact that in terms of population Hindi is the second most spoken native language after the Chinese language and yet in its own country it gets secondary status to English. He also sees a problem in the fact that no modernized country in the world uses a foreign language for official purposes except India
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