Baba Ramdev‘s tragi-comic crusade for the return of black money has ended in a farce, with the idiot-box yogi calling off his fast-unto-death after nine short days. While the issue he raised, important as it is, may yet make a comeback, Ramdev’s PDA (public display of abilities) serious questions about his kapalbhati kriya brand of yoga which has attracted lakhs of gullible TV viewers furiously sucking in their tummies in parks and playgrounds.
Obviously, there are two facets to yoga: the physical and the mental. And obviously, the fast-unto-death was not intended to show the world how good a yogi or how good his form of yoga is (for that he has has TV channels). Still, on both counts, Baba Ramdev has come up woefully short and has plenty of explaining to do.
On the one hand, we have had the curious spectacle of a yogi fighting for cleaner politics flying around in private aircraft owned by shady businesshouses like Subroto Roy‘s Sahara group, and then meeting Union ministers in the five-star Claridges hotel, owned by one of India’s more controversial arms dealers, Suresh Nanda, whose son Sanjeev Nanda was involved in the BMW accident that mowed down pavement dwellers.
And, on the other hand, there is the fast itself. Delhi’s Ram Lila ground was booked for a full month for his fast-unto-death, but it ended in nine days. The fast itself was conveniently observed between 6 am and 9 pm, with the star conveniently slipping away from the stage now and then. Worse, Ramdev had to be shifted to an ICU (curiously not at the hospital run by him for lesser mortals). Was nine days all that a young wellness guru who preaches the good effects of his yoga, could muster, both in his body and in his mind?
As news reports have pointed out, Swami Nigamanand, fasting for the Ganga in relative anonymity, lasted 68 days before he was force-fed and died in the hospital where Ramdev broke his fast, on the 115th day. Potti Sriramulu, fasting for an Andhra State, lasted 82 days; Bhagat Singh, demanding better conditions for prisoners, lasted 63 days; why even Mamata Banerjee, fasting for Singur, lasted 25 days. And the old pro Mahatma Gandhi lasted 21 days.
So what does Baba Ramdev’s fast end to his fast say about his brand of TV yoga? Will it diminish in popularity now that the guru himself has been exposed? Or will this too pass?
Also read: Pardon us, is yoga becoming a bit of a scam?