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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

TEHELKA'S Godfellas I - A series on gurus and their politics: Baba Ramdev, 54 Yoga guru-turned-activist!

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Revati Laul, New Delhi / From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 8, Issue 22, Dated 04 June 2011.

Ramdev meditates at his 750- acre island off the Scottish coast
Scot free Ramdev meditates at his 750- acre island off the Scottish coast - 
Photo: AFP.

JALGAON, MAHARASHTRA, 5 am. Thirty thousand cross-legged devotees get ready to inhale — both yoga and politics. On TV screens across India, others are gearing up for their morning double dose. They all know, their favourite guru is now also a self-styled messiah against corruption. His presence is electrifying. He meets his audience’s eye directly. He is accessible. He is warm. He is funny. The question is: When lakhs of followers are fed on a diet of political activism along with their morning dose of yoga, are they still listening? And if they are, what does this large captive middle-class audience take back with them?

To answer that, it’s worth looking at the background of Baba Ramdev’s audience. Among Baba’s many supporters, we zoom in on a successful jewellery wholesaler in Jalgaon. As he waits to host the Baba, conversations in the jeweller’s house centre not on yoga but on Baba Ramdev’s anti-corruption crusade. What’s wrong with the country is that all its politicians are corrupt, they say. Bring India’s black money back from abroad, they say.

Baba Ramdev’s political activism draws from the same ideas and opinions that his audience shares — the ‘Great Indian Middle Class’, that Pavan Varma describes as having become insulated from the larger political process of India and confining itself increasingly to “self-obsessed aspiration”. People who cannot articulate what is wrong with their lives except that prices of food have gone up and the government is swindling them. If the middle class sees in Baba Ramdev a leader in the political realm, they need to understand what he’s really offering them. What is his solution to make India corruption-free? What kind of rights does he stand for? It’s common for Indians to see people who cure them as some sort of miracle workers. To Baba Ramdev’s credit, this is a view he does not entertain or encourage. To an old woman who clutched at him asking to be blessed, he insisted — he’s no miracle worker. His only recipe for her was to do pranayam. Yoga.

Well for all I know, 

i) he is one "Satyagrahi" who hid himself among the women to escape police detention like a coward and also tried to re-write the biography of "Mahathmaji" stating that he (Gandhiji) preached raising armies to fight police brutality!

ii) he is one 'Yogi', who couldn't fast for a full Week  !! and

iii) he is one 'Sanyasi' who amassed so much ugly wealth and also displays it shamelessly, much against the tenets of the 'humility' as required for 'Sarvasangh Parithygis" !!!

It is interesting to know that there have been Indian Sathyagrahis who fasted for nearly two months before they are dead: @ and

Full Story at,

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