Baba and the End of Yoga Revolution


Baba RamdevBy- Abhishek Dey

Yoga Revolution in India is a 21st century phenomena. Yoga was never taken up at such a large scale anywhere. In those days, one could often see people puffing out their lungs and drawing back their stomachs doing the Kapaalbhati early in the morning. They did that with ample boldness, no matter what sounds it produced or the farcical contortions it lent to the face of the person doing it. All was excused – It was Baba Ramdev’s panacea for all ills!

People suffering from hair loss made sure that they incessantly rub their fingernails against their counterparts, on the other palm, in a mechanical motion. They did that with firm belief that the friction will lead to rapid hair growth one day. It soon turned into an annoying habit. There was a time when business schools used to forbid their students from doing that in front of recruiters while they sit for their campus interview.

Assam was no exception to the Revolution. All popular jogger avenues and open spaces in its capital, exhibited in the mornings, an amateur display of what people had learnt the previous day from the Baba Ramdev channel. I remember, he was in Guwahati once, and tens of thousands had gathered to catch a glimpse of him. People who didn’t sleep and queued up in the venue, starting at 12 midnight, only to be a part of a yoga session scheduled at six in the morning.

Things have changed. Recently, the Uttarakhand government filed 81 cases against Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust and its sister concerns on charges of violation of land laws and evasion of duties. The yoga revolutionary termed this a political vendetta by the Congress party. He said all accusations are baseless. He praised the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and prophesied that UPA will be wiped away in six months (which doesn’t seem too inaccurate after what we have seen lately in the election results of four states).

The most noticeable change with regards to these accusations is the change in terms of popular reaction. A decade ago, Ramdev had a fan following giving almost-a-healthy competition to Rajnikanth. In late 2005, when Brinda Karat accused him of using animal parts and human bones for medicinal purposes, it led to a national uproar. Ramdev didn’t have to speak a word, his followers spoke for him and the issue was settled in no time. But the recent accusations have not attracted one-third of the mass support that Karat’s accusations did eight years ago. But why (or rather how) did this happen?

Ramdev lost most of his fame by getting into politics, while constantly denying that he was into it. He should have followed the Japanese proverb: Never test the depth of a river with both feet. Ramdev dived into the pool of politics (or whatever he calls it) but failed to prove himself worthy of the Olympics. He was into everything – taking a stand for Section 377 proclaiming same sex orientation as going against the nature to vilifying the Prime Minister saying history will not forgive him for his Political Sins.

The remaining fame he lost while trying to make a narrow escape from Ramlila Maidan, dressed in a salwar-kameez, with his arms around two women supporters, pretending to be injured. He was caught and the footage was flashed in television for days. That was a moment of ignominy.

There was a time when Baba could prescribe yogas for all seasons. It’s similar to the ragas in Indian Classical music – Megh Malhar for monsoon, Bhairav for autumn, Malkaun for winters and Hindol for spring. While Kapalbhati was like a morning raga, mechanical rubbing of the fingernails to achieve one’s hirsute ambitions could be performed anytime and anywhere.

One more reason for Baba’s loss of popular support was his revolution taking a commercial drift. His medicines are no longer cheap. The rates get revised at a rate faster than Baba’s ambitions. A medicine named Medha Vati (40gm) which had a list price of Rs 35 in 2011, costs Rs 160 today. Medha Vati helps building a strong memory and cures insomnia. Even the US Army, which was inspired by the Yoga Revolution, would think twice before buying Medha Vati today. It costs around $6 in USA (Yes, Baba is International, for those who didn’t know that). The doctors at Patanjali have reached obsolescence. They are too antique to treat 21st century ailments like Vertigo, Anxiety, Dizziness, etc. There are cases where they have failed miserably.

Today, the revolution is long forgotten. The television channel that Baba Ramdev used to appear in has lost its record viewership. Yoga routines no longer top the chart of peer group discussions. Maybe Mr Modi is the only comrade of the revolution today, doing kapalbhati every morning, without fail. Hence, Baba loves him.

Ramdev should have known that one doesn’t choose politics, politics chooses one. Politics deviated him from the ‘Yoga Revolution’. The Revolution needed a leader to survive in the long-run, an indispensable need that Ramdev has failed to meet. And with Ramdev, if I may say so, the revolution has arrived at a lamentable demise.

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