Reviving Yoga in India – Swami Ramdev

Swami Ramdev

Swami Ramdev Maharajji, as devotees call him, has fast become a household name in India. The Yoga guru has simplified yogasanas, mainly pranayama (yogic breathing exercises) and is drawing flocks of followers in countrywide yoga camps. He is not only famous in India but in its ‘western neighbour’ Pakistan as well! In a recent media poll in Pakistan he was surprisingly found to be the “most famous Indian in Pakistan’ leaving even bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan behind him at No. 2 in popularity. Swami Ramdev is planning a visit to Pakistan and also to the communist China shortly to teach Yoga there!

Swami Ramdev began his yoga programmes on Indian television in 2002. He claims that through Pranayama all ‘incurable diseases’ can be cured. He claims to have cured patients of diabetes, heart problems and even Cancer. Today, he is one of the biggest draws on Indian television. He can be seen not only on religious channels like Aastha, but also news and features channels like India TV and Sahara One. Millions around the country follow his programmes religiously and use ayurvedic medicines prescribed by him.

Born as Ram Kishen, to a poor farmer in a village in Haryana (India), Swami Ramdev went to the gurukul of Swami Baldev when he was four years old. Swami Ramdev, according to his web site, is learned in the holy scriptures of Hinduism and has spent a considerable amount of time in the caves of Gangotri (India) from where the River Ganga (Ganges River) emerges.

Last month, he founded Patanjali Yogapeeth, said to be the world’s biggest Yoga and Ayurvedic Centre in Haridwar, Uttaranchal, India. In 1995, he had set up the ‘Divya Yoga Mandir Trust’ in Haridwar as well, which sees a regular stream of devotees and is a multi-million rupee (Indian currency) venture now.

The outspoken, Swami Ramdev is strongly anti-West, and advises people to use cola drinks as toilet-cleaning fluid! He strives for a ‘medicine-free world’ and firmly believes yoga is the cure for all illnesses. He says he has been on a diet of milk and fruits for the last two years. This media savvy Yoga Guru has indeed not only revived Yoga in its homeland India but also revolutionised it. A large chunk of Indian population believe Yoga is good but is a complicated time-consuming exercise. Swami Ramdev’s easy-to-do pranayam exercises are fast catching up among these folks. His popularity is growing among the Indian elite and the masses alike.