From a ‘rockstar’ baba to a ‘dhongi’ swami, Baba Ramdev has seen it all in a short span of time. His campaign against black money and foray into politics has brought him into the national limelight.
Zeenews.com’s Swati Chaturvedi caught up with him on Kahiye Janab for an exclusive chat. Following are the excerpts:
Swati: Millions in the nation were hardcore fans of you…
Ramdev: (Cuts short the question)… They still are…
Swati: (Laughs) One sec... one sec… , don’t you think after the entire fracas that you got involved in, jeopardized your reputation as a yoga guru. Didn’t it dent your image?
Ramdev: Listen my dear sister, leveling allegations on someone who incessantly has been toiling to make the lives of millions full of joy, content and healthy cannot be tarnished just like that. And about all that happened in the recent past, specifically the one that you are pointing at - the Ramlila incident, I would only say that the people were only enlightened about the detrimental ways that this government adopts to curb anything or anyone who raise their voice against ‘them’. As far as the status of my being a yoga teacher is concerned, the beneficiaries would always turn to the one who helps them become healthy, awakened and wise citizens of the nation.
Swati: India’s internationally renowned yoga guru, 93-year-old BKS Iyengar, a veteran, the one who even you consider the ‘Bhism Pitahmah’ of yoga, turned against your ways of mixing yoga with politics.
Ramdev: I have utmost respect for Baba Iyenger. He can say anything he wants; it’s his democratic right. But tell me one thing - just like Baba Iyenger, I have immense faith in Lord Rama and Krishna. So, if divine lords like Krishna Bhagwan can mix policy affairs with the Hindu philosophical and theological traditions, then what’s wrong in my doing it? I only did what I thought was right at the moment.
Swati: Iyengar alleged that a yogi prepares himself for self defense, but Baba Ramdev couldn’t sustain even a 6-day fast?
Ramdev: Again, I would repeat that Baba Iyenger is a revered personality, and he would also not deny that I have helped millions and millions of people cure their ailments. From ailments ranging from cancer to arthritis, TB, eye-sight problem, thyroid, infertility etc, I have cured all. Every time he comes to our Patanjali ashram, he appreciates my work and motivates me to do better. And I have been consistent in my effort to make more and more people disease free by practicing yoga for every 2 to 3 hours daily, 365 days a year. I have been on a meager diet of some ann, fruits and milk for a long time. I am a yogi and I don’t need a certificate for that.
Swati: There were differences between your way of going about corruption and Anna Hazare’s? What went wrong? People really want to know why you had to run from Ramlila Maiden, even after you gave an undertaking to the government.
Ramdev: See, first of all there was no undertaking. When I launched my protest against corruption at Ramlila, these politicians persuaded me to call it off and only when they talked about bring back the black money stashed in foreign banks and declaring it as national asset, I thought of shelving my fast. But the rampant corruption that runs deep in the political system of our nation, they sent police with arms at Ramlila and injured thousands who had gathered in support of the cause.
Swati: But, why did you run from Ramlila?
Ramdev: The intention was never to send me to jail. It looked like the way Osama was executed by Americans, these corrupt politicians wanted me to perish all together. But, eventually that only exposed the atrocity and crookedness of the government of which respected Anna Hazare probably must have got the benefit. I am sure with time all this will be revealed to all.
Swati: So, now people are eager to know as to what they should call Baba Ramdev - a yoga guru or a politician?
Ramdev: Apart from my duty of imparting yoga lessons I think it’s my social responsibility to impart nationalistic lessons. I have always emphasized that my motive is never to join politics. But if there are so many followers of me all over India, it becomes my obligation to jump in to cleanse the system. Political power – that is not my ambition; political purity is my mission.
Swati: But, you sure must have been pained by the incident and humiliation that you have faced.
Ramdev: Deeds of past 60+ years cannot be undone in 60 hours; it takes time to build opinion and force the government to accept those. They will obviously react in this manner only, but I am going to do my duty.
Adapted by: Bikas Bhagat