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“Swami Ramdev”: An encounter with Yoga Guru, his disciples inside the Patanjali Empire

The Swami who started his journey from Haridwar on a cycle has now chosen the vehicle of choice to galore his aspirations

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Baba Ramdev and PM Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

August 17, 2016: It was in 2006 when I first met Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev. He was in the D-block of Patanjali Phase-1 ashram in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. The ashram was commissioned in the same year and Swami Ramdev was in a hurry. His Yoga exposure was touching the sky and his fellow Acharya Balkrishna was fully engaged with Ayurveda with a back support of their third trusted ‘classmate’ Swami Muktanand. This trio has a distinct combination. One is from Haryana, another is born in Haridwar and the third one belongs to West Bengal. Swami Muktanand is one of a hidden gem, who never talks to outsiders.

Today for Ramdev, the prefix of Swami/ Baba has gone behind when the saint sat in Ramlila Maidan and showed his political interest in full glow. Ramdev’s presence in media has given him enough perception power to garner or fetch desirable results. The Swami who started his journey from Haridwar on a cycle has now chosen the vehicle of choice to galore his aspirations. Ramdev was a skilful seller, in the start he convinced a Delhi-based businessman to give him a rational amount to make some medicines for Northeast states. This was the first deal.

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Swami Ramdev never hides his muscles. He can walk fast in his khadua (wooden sandals) and he still sleeps in his 10×10 room without AC. He uses strictly Indian brands of mobile phone, cars, SUV and only drinks Indian mineral water, especially when he is outside. He was literally without water for hours in Vietnam, I offered him a foreign brand mineral water and he told me it’s a foreign brand. He may forget the taste of rice and pulses because he eats fruits and milk only. His life has many dimensions, he wakes up at 4am and does yoga for two to three hours, in the starting he himself sat for hours to edit his TV shows; he is like a curious child to learn any new things and he never shy of his ignorance. Once he recites a sloka to me, which is 15 minutes long. His memory is sharp and never forgets names. He never shies to talk to ‘anyone’ in front of you.

Patanjali Yogpeeth. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Patanjali Yogpeeth. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The acumen and vision of Swami Ramdev that has started with the aspiration to control powers in every stream is phenomenal. When the whole world has seen his transition from Sanskar & Aastha to many News Channels, he strategically bought both channels to control the religious landscape. This was a sharp move, though the lesser-known fact is that he also bought a Jain religious channel Arihant in the bouquet. He rechristened the group as Vedic Broadcasting. This move has given him a big edge. It’s a known fact that the revenue of these religious channels comes from the saints and their Katha organisers. Now Swami Ramdev is a power player, who is also cajoling with the business community, who is somehow functional to many religious events. His name becomes synonymous with Yoga and subconsciously for religion and spirituality.

Swami Ramdev knows politics. It always boosts his goals. When Vrinda Karat raises the issue of human bone in his medicines and later a medicine named, Putrajeevak, raised eyebrows, he beautifully narrates his point and garners a proper interest in the medium class. His fights with celebrities always make him more big and boastful. His art to navigate political boats, take him too many and finally make him a loyal supporter of the current government.  Swami Ramdev openly told many times in past that he has inclinations towards politics. Even he planned to launch a political party, but later he understands the fire and its bruises.

It’s an open fact that Swami Ramdev was not very loved in the religious city of Haridwar, his ashram is also on the outskirts.  The way he has become a phenomenon was always seen as a gimmick. Even the biggest name of Yoga, BKS Iyengar was never fond of his practices. He has serious differences on Kapalbhati. He lamented that “his selling of Kapalbhati is corrupting Patanjali’s Yoga”.  But today Patanjali is synonymous with the brand Baba has created.

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When one meets Acharya Balkrishna, he offers a lot of things to eat. All are prepared in his factories and are ayurvedic. Balkrishna is fond of physical exercise and has a keen eye for details.  He loves to travel and he spends a lot of time in the Himalayas. His passion of Ayurveda can amaze you, but he loves control. His special bonding with Swami Ramdev grows because of the mutual trust and understanding of the goals, they both designed long back.

Swami Ramdev was the right person at the right time. His mission has synced with the nationalistic feelings of the dispensation. His vision is to become a dominant brand with the national presence of pride. His nationalistic aspirations today make him a new avatar of bharat putra. In few years he may dance on his music, but his real test was when he beat the odds and become a non-politically effective brand.

– by Bhavya Srivastava, a freelance contributor. He is a member of International Association of Religion Journalists and can be contacted at Twitter: @MeBhavya

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Yoga Can Help You Cope with Mental Illness, Say Experts

Parental disharmony, peer pressure and examination stress can trigger off depression in children

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Mental illness in city dwellers which has emerged as a major problem can be treated to an extent through yoga, say experts.

Though mental illness, as such, cannot be directly treated through yoga, stress, which one of the major causes, said mental health expert Prakriti Poddar in a telephonic interview.

“Stress is one of the major factors that leads to depression and you can deal with stress through yoga. You can learn to calm your responses by extending your reaction time, thereby giving you better control on your emotional reactivity,” she said.

She said that Yoga asanas like Surya Namaskar, Warrior Pose, Tad Asana, Trikonasana and Pranayam could help a person cope with depression and stress.

“Depression is one of the major diseases of the developed world and it is triggered off by one’s inability to cope with stress – emotional and physical. Yoga helps you to calm your nerves, increase your mental strength and help you deal with situations,” she explained.

Poddar said that migration of work force from rural to urban areas also triggered depression. She said that there are studies on stress due to different kind of struggles one has to face due to the migration. This includes financial, emotional and physical stress.

“Often situational stress assists it, as people move from a robust support system to a limited one. Loneliness steps in as the sense of belonging depletes,” she stated.

girl practicing yoga
Girl practicing yoga. Pixabay

She further said that most companies are now incorporating a well-being programme to provide a holistic approach towards the well being of employees.

“Yoga has become a part of corporate wellness programs and has huge benefits for the employees as it lowers stress levels, relaxes the mind, makes the body flexible and invites an overall feeling of well-being. This improves the performance of the employee and promotes a sense of friendship,” she said.

Children can also be taught yoga form a young age to help them cope with pressures, personal and professional, when they attain adulthood.

Also Read- Experts Suggest How You can Keep Your Children Safe from Sun in Summer

According to various studies, around 14 per cent of the global burden of disease is attributed to neuropsychiatric disorders.

Mental health literacy among adolescents is very low and only 29 per cent could identify depression while others remained unaware of the problem.

Parental disharmony, peer pressure and examination stress can trigger off depression in children. (IANS)