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Baba Ramdev
Swami Ramdev in 2002
Ram Kisan Yadav[note 1]

1965 (age 55–56)
OccupationYoga teacher, Businessman
Founder ofPatanjali Ayurved
Patanjali Yogpeeth
Bharat Swabhiman Trust
HonorsHonorary Doctorate by Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Bhubaneswar

Swami Ramdev[a][5] (born Ram Kisan Yadav in 1965),[note 1] also known among followers as Baba Ramdev[b][5] (About this soundpronunciation ), is an Indian yoga guru[7] and businessman,[8][9] primarily known for his popularising Yoga and Ayurveda in India.[10][9] Ramdev has been organizing and conducting large yoga camps since 2002, broadcasting his yoga classes on various TV channels.[1][11] He co-founded the Patanjali Ayurved Ltd. with his colleague Balkrishna. In 2010, he announced to form a political party for 2014 General Election.[12] However, he has more recently become a vocal advocate for the BJP.[13][14]

Early life[edit]

Ramdev was born in a Hindu family in 1965 to Ramniwas Yadav and Gulabo Devi at Saiyad Pur village of Mahendragarh district, Haryana; Both of his parents were farmers.[15][16] Ramdev comes from the tradition of Arya Samaj.[17] Ramdev declared net worth of his personal assets at around "Rs 1,100 crore" in 2013.[18] The left side of his face was partly paralysed since at least a few months after his birth, perhaps owing to a congenital disability or a childhood illness. The condition makes Ramdev's left eye squint and wink involuntarily.[19][9]

At a young age, he was profoundly affected by Satyarth Prakash, a Hindi book written in 1875 by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati. Dayanand Saraswati a renowned religious and social reformer, was the founder of the monotheistic Arya Samaj movement. He rejected being taught in English with curriculums set under Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800–59), fled from home and ardently began to study Indian scripture, Yoga and Sanskrit in various Arsh Gurukuls schools. He preferred Gurukul schools because they were traditional educational institutes that taught based on Vedic principles. He found Guru Pradyumna, was accepted into his school, Arsh Gurukul Khanpur, met his life-long associate Balkrishna, and became Ramkrishna. Here he and Balkrishna spent three years together, developing their friendship as they studied.

Ramkrishna left to become the student of Acharya Baldevji, an Arya Samaj chief,[20][21] in Gurukul Kalwa, who gave him the name Ramdev. He also learnt yoga from Guru Karamvir, also an Arya Samaji.[22] At around 25 years old, he adopted sannyasa, "took the name Baba Ramdev and began to teach Yoga."[23] He spent the next three years in the Himalayas, near Gangotri, in search of moksha. While living in Kalwa Arsh Gurukul in Jind district, Haryana, Ramdev offered free yoga training to villagers.[24] Then he moved to Haridwar in Uttarakhand, where he practised self-discipline and meditation, and spent several years studying ancient Indian scriptures at Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya.

Towards the end of the 1990s, farming conditions in his native village worsened, due to the region's depleting water table, which prompted Ramdev's move to Haridwar. Subsequently, he called his family to Haridwar. Ramdev's family members have played different roles in his ayurveda ventures depending on their capabilities. His father oversees activities in Patanjali ayurved, his brother Rambharat controls the company's finances.[22]

Yoga, Ayurveda and social activities[edit]

Ramdev's main yoga centre, Yog Gram,[25] is based in Haridwar, where Ramdev practices and teaches yoga in the mornings and evenings in an auditorium, which is also broadcast on TV channels. Back in 1995, Ramdev founded the "Divya Yog Mandir Trust".[26] In 2003, Aastha TV began featuring him in its morning yoga slot. There he proved to be telegenic and gained a large following. A large number of people, including some celebrities from India and abroad, attended his Yoga camps.[27][28] He also had students in some foreign countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan. He also addressed Muslim clerics at their seminary in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh.[29]

In 2006, Ramdev was invited by Kofi Annan to deliver a lecture on poverty alleviation at a United Nations conference.[30] He is also the judge of a reality show Om Shanti Om.[31] He was one of the nine personalities invited by the Prime Minister Modi to participate and promote the message of cleanliness when Swachh Bharat Mission was launched on 2 October 2014.[32][33] In a video available on Youtube channel of Bharat Swabhiman Trust, an enterprise of Ramdev, he is seen cleaning the river Ganga along with the his students and followers as an effort to spread the message.[original research?]

In 2017, a district court somewhere blocked the sale of an unauthorized biography about him entitled Godman to Tycoon: The Untold Story of Baba Ramdev.[clarification needed][34] In May 2018, Ramdev launched Swadeshi Samriddhi SIM cards in partnership with BSNL.[35] Over a twenty-year career, he became the face of Patanjali Ayurved, a company that he founded with his colleague Balkrishna. Patanjali went on to become one of the highest grossing FMCG's in India.[36] In 2012 Ramdev established the Divya Yog Pharmacy at Kankhal in Haridwar.[37] He

Patanjali Ayurved[edit]

Patanjali Ayurved is a consumer packaged goods company, based in Haridwar, that was started by Ramdev and Balkrishna in 2006.[38] According to a company official, sales as of early March 2016 were 4,500 crore (equivalent to 55 billion or US$730 million in 2020) with monthly sales of more than 500 crore (equivalent to 611 crore or US$81 million in 2020).[39] Balkrishna remains the CEO of Patanjali Ayurved with 94% shareholding and supervising its day-to-day activities, while Ramdev remains the face of the company and makes most of the business decisions.[40][failed verification][41]

The company has also been accused of misleading advertisements about its products and flimsy testing before being launched to market.[42] Some products like amla juice,[43][44] and ayurvedic medicines [45] have been banned from sales due to poor quality by Indian government. Patanjali has also been surrounded in controversies regarding working conditions where Ramdev and Balkrishna are treated at gurus whose feet must be touched each time they enter an area. Workers are paid a salary of just 6000 INR per month while working in 12-hour shifts for 6 days a week.[44] They are also discouraged to ask for a raise as working at factory is considered "seva" (service) to the cause.[46]

In June 2020, Patanjali Ayurved announced a drug named Coronil for COVID-19 treatment. Ramdev, by organizing press conference regarding same matter had claimed that Coronil has cured Covid-19 patients. The Indian government has allowed Patanjali Ayurved to market Coronil as an immunity booster but not a cure; also banning it from selling as Covid-19's cure.[47] The Government of Maharashtra has banned the sale of Coronil in the state. Law suits were filed in Bihar and Rajasthan against Ramdev, Balkrishna, and others, accusing them of cheating and selling fake medicines.[48][49] The Madras High Court has fined the company 10 lakh (US$13,000) for "exploiting fear and panic among the general public by projecting a cure for the coronavirus."[50] Patanjali has withdrawn the claim of Coronil being a cure for Covid-19. The UK drug regulator has threatened action if the unauthorized products were sold in the UK market.[47] Several months later Ramdev, along with Nitin Gadkari as a member on panel had claimed that Patanjali has found the vaccine for Corona, however many state governments refused to use it citing WHO's disapproval for the medicine; Nitin Gadkari however hailed the medicine in the conference without any medical approval.[51] He was earlier the chairman and now member of Governing Council IYA.[52]

Patanjali Yogpeeth[edit]

A view of Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar

Patanjali Yogpeeth is an institute founded for the promotion and practice of Yoga and Ayurveda. It has two Indian campuses, Patanjali Yogpeeth I and Patanjali Yogpeeth II in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. Other locations include UK, US, Nepal, Canada and Mauritius.[53] Ramdev is the Vice-Chancellor of the Patanjali Yogapeeth.[54] Ramdev established the Patanjali Yog Peeth UK Trust in 2006, with the aim of promoting yoga in the UK. To extend Patanjali Yogpeeth, he also acquired the Scottish island of Little Cumbrae.[55][56]

In 2017, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) through its Delhi bench gave tax exempt status to Patanjali Yogpeeth.[57]

Political activities[edit]

Ramdev at the Yog Mahotsav with Narendra Modi in Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi

Bharat Swabhiman Trust[edit]

In 2010, Ramdev announced plans to form a political party called Bharat Swabhiman India Pride. He said that it would contest every seat in the next national elections.[58] A year later, he stated that, instead of forming a political party, he would influence politics by encouraging a groundswell of popular reaction.[59] In 2014, Ramdev announced that Bharat Swabhiman intended to contest some constituencies in the general election of that year and to form alliances with some other parties. It was at this time that he voiced his support for Narendra Modi to become the next Prime Minister of India.[60] His attempts to run yoga camps during that election campaign, allegedly to gain support for Modi, were stymied by the Election Commission of India (ECI), who determined that they were politically motivated.[61] The ECI had also tried to control his use of camps in the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh state elections of 2013.[62][63]

Ramdev founded an organisation called the Bharat Swabhiman Trust in 2009, in part, to support his political activities.[64] The financial arrangements of this and his two other trusts, the Divya Yog and Patanjali Yogpeeth, came under ECI scrutiny during the 2014 elections because of a complaint that they were being used to fund the campaigns of some political parties.[65]

Campaigns against corruption[edit]

In April 2011, Ramdev called on the government to add punitive powers to the Jan Lokpal Bill, a bill to appoint an independent body that would investigate alleged government corruption.[66] Ramdev announced he would go on an anshan hunger strike at Ramlila Ground in Delhi, on 4 June 2011, to pressure the government into rooting out corruption and repatriating black money.[67] A week before the scheduled fast, the government set up a committee, headed by the chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, to suggest steps to curb black money and its transfer abroad.[68]

When Ramdev arrived at Delhi airport on 1 June, four government ministers met him and tried to persuade him to call off his fast by telling him of the government's initiative on corruption.[69] Talks continued between the two sides and, on 3 June, both sides claimed that a consensus had been reached. However, in the evening, Ramdev announced that he would carry on with his hunger strike.[70]

On the morning of 4 June, 65,000 of his followers gathered at Ramlila Ground.[71] By noon, queues extending up to 3 km (1.9 mi) were chanting Vande Mataram a patriotic call from the Indian independence movement. In the evening, government minister Kapil Sibbal publicized a letter from Ramdev's camp stating that the hunger strike would be called off if the government honoured its commitments. Ramdev took it as a betrayal by the government and hardened his position.[70]

Shortly before midnight, a Delhi police spokesman announced that permission for the gathering had been cancelled because it was for a yoga camp for 5,000, not for 50,000 people for agitation.[72] At midnight, a team of 10,000 Delhi policemen and RAF raided the ground when most of the protesters were sleeping.[73] Tear gas shells and a lathicharge were used, tents were set on fire, and water was thrown over power generators to create complete darkness. Ramdev tried to escape capture by disguising himself as an injured woman but was arrested two hours later.[74][75] He was flown back to his ashram in Haridwar and banned from entering Delhi for 15 days.[76] On reaching Haridwar, Ramdev told reporters that his fast was not over yet and he would continue with his satyagraha civil resistance.[77]

Police reported that 53 citizens and ten police were injured and treated in hospitals.[78][79] There were accusations that women protesters had been badly treated by the police.[80] A senior police officer stated that they were forced to retaliate after Ramdev's supporters started throwing stones and flower pots at them.[81] Police also released CCTV footage to prove that no women were beaten by them.[82] One female protester suffered a spinal injury and later died in hospital from cardiac arrest. In a statement, Ramdev said her sacrifice was an irreparable loss to the whole organization, that her death would not go in vain and that others would continue to fight for a corruption-free India.[83]

Aftermath of the Delhi protest[edit]

Ramdev baba accused the government of cheating him, and alleged that there was a conspiracy to kill him and that he was threatened during a meeting with senior ministers.[84] All political parties, other than the ruling Congress Party, condemned the police action. Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party BJP said that the police action had been a shameful chapter in the democracy of this country.[74] BJP leader LK. Advani called it naked fascism.[85]

Ramdev was supported by civil societies as well. Activist Anna Hazare termed the crackdown a strangulation of democracy.[86] He said, There was no firing otherwise the eviction was similar to Jallianwala Bagh massacre.[87] Protests were held in many different parts of the country including Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Surat, Bangalore, Tamil Nadu, Hyderabad, Jammu and Lucknow.[88][89]

Ramdev ended his fast on the ninth day, after being hospitalised two days earlier.[90] His decision to end the protest was praised by politicians from the BJP, Janata Party and Congress Party.[91]

Ambedkar stadium fast movement[edit]

As a part of the "India against corruption" movement, Ramdev launched another indefinite protest on 10 August 2012 against the government's failure to take action against corruption and to bring back black money. He announced that his future strategy depended upon the governmental response to his protest.[92] Ramdev ended the fast at Delhi's Ambedkar Stadium on 14 August 2012, and said he was returning to Haridwar. Seeking the defeat of the Congress Party in 2014, he said, Congress hatao, desh bachao Remove Congress, save the country, adding that except for the Congress Party, all parties were together on the issue of black money.[93]


Labour law violations and animal contents[edit]

In March 2005, 113 employees of Divya Yoga Mandir Trust began an agitation for minimum wages and employees's rights such as coverage under the Provident Fund and Employees' State Insurance schemes. A meeting resulted in an agreement between the workers, management and the district administration; management agreed to pay minimum wage and not to initiate disciplinary actions against the protesters and, in turn, the workers agreed that they would restore normalcy at the workplace. However, the Trust refused to take back some of the workers, accusing them of committing sabotage. Their case was taken up by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions CITU, affiliated with the Communist Party of India Marxist CPI(M).[94][95]

Brinda Karat, a senior figure in the CPI(M), took up the cause of the fired protesters. They told her that human bones and animal parts were used in some herbal medicines manufactured by Divya Pharmacy owned by Divya Yog Mandir Trust and provided samples. The samples were tested at government laboratories and the presence of animal materials in the sample was confirmed. However, the source of the samples was disputed, since they had been given to Karat by the protesting workers and not procured by government officials. Karat produced what were claimed to be the prescription and cash receipt obtained from the hospital's medicine counter for the samples provided.[94][95][96] Her remarks drew strong condemnation from several politicians in North India, such as Sharad Pawar, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Narayan Dutt Tiwari.[97] Subsequently, she received a legal notice on the behalf of a BJP leader in Faridabad ordering her to apologize publicly or face legal action.[98]

Rajiv Dixit[edit]

Dixit died on 30 November 2010 in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, with cardiac arrest being stated to be the cause of death. The cremation was conducted by Ramdev and Rajiv's brother Pradeep. However, some of Dixit's friends conjectured that Ramdev did not like Dixit's increasing popularity, and that he played a role in his death. However, Ramdev dismissed the claims as conspiracy theories by his political opponents.[99][100]


In 2013, the Supreme Court of India has upheld the constitutionality of Section 377 which in part criminalised homosexuality. Following the verdict, Ramdev has called homosexuality a bad addiction and claimed he can cure it by yoga.[101]


Ramdev sparked several controversies related to COVID-19 pandemic in India. In June 2020, he claimed that one can treat coronavirus by pouring mustard oil through the nose, making the virus flowing into the stomach, resulting in its ultimate death by the acid present in the stomach. He also claimed that if a person holds his breath for a minute, it means s/he is not suffering from any type of coronavirus, symptomatic or asymptomatic. Both these claims were found to be false. In May 2021, he blamed Covid victims for not breathing properly and instead spreading negativity and complaining of oxygen shortage. He later spoke against allopathy and claimed that modern medical science is a stupid science and that lakhs of patients have died due to it. The controversies attracted criticism.


In June 2020, Patanjali launched Coronil and Swasari, which they claimed provided an Ayurvedic treatment for the COVID-19.[102][103] Hours later, the central ministry of AYUSH released a statement asking Ramdev to stop advertising the drug as a cure for COVID-19.[104] The day after the launch, a criminal complaint was filed against Ramdev and his aide Balkrishna in a Muzaffarpur court by a social worker for misleading and putting to risk the lives of a large number of people.[105][106] Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh banned the sale of Coronil in the state, saying that the state will not allow the sale of 'spurious medicine'.[107][108] Subsequently, Coronil was allowed to be sold after AYUSH Ministry called it an immunity booster drug which can be used for Covid-19 management.[109]

Ramdev falsely claimed that one can treat coronavirus by pouring mustard oil through the nose, making the virus flowing into the stomach, and would be killed by the acids present in the stomach.[110] He also falsely claimed that one should try holding their breath for a minute or 30 seconds for the elderly and those with underlying conditions, and that if they couldn't, it would indicate they have the coronavirus.[111]

In February 2021, during Coronil's launch event attended by Health Minister Harsha Vardhan and Nitin Gadkari, Patanjali claimed that Coronil was WHO approved. A poster was put behind the stage which stated it holds a Certificate of pharmaceutical product (CPP) and is recognised by the WHO's Good manufacturing practice (GMP) guidelines. Patanjali branded the product as the first evidence-based medicine for Covid.[112] However WHO's official Twitter handle for Southeast Asia confirmed that it has not approved any traditional medicine for COVID-19 treatment.[113]

In late May 2021, the Haryana's Health Minister Anil Vij announced in a tweet that the state government of Haryana would distribute 100,000 kits of Coronil among Covid patients for free of cost. The kit includes Coronil tablets, Swasari Vati and Anu Taila. He also mentioned that half of the cost would be borne by Patanjali and the remaining half by the government from the COVID Relief Fund.[114]

Victim blaming[edit]

In early May 2021, Ramdev blamed Covid victims for not breathing properly and instead spreading negativity and complaining of oxygen shortage.[115] Subsequently, Indian Medical Association (IMA) national vice-president Dr. Navjot Singh Dahiya filed a police complaint against Ramdev for allegedly creating panic regarding the treatment of Covid-19 patients by creating wrong perception and using defamatory and insulting language towards the doctors.[116][117]

Comments against modern medicine[edit]

In late May 2021, Ramdev sparked controversy when he claimed that modern medical science is a stupid science and that lakhs of patients have died due to it. As a result the IMA claimed that he is repeatedly taking advantage of the situation and creating fear and frustration among the public to sell his drugs. They also demanded that Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who himself is a practicing modern medicine allopathic postgraduate, either accept the challenge and accusation and dissolve the modern medical facility or boldly face and prosecute him under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to save millions of people from such unscientific utterances.[118][119] The Delhi Medical Association demanded an FIR against him.[120]

Later, Patanjali clarified that he has no ill-will against modern science and good practitioners of modern medicine and that he was reading a forwarded WhatsApp message.[121] Following a prompt from the Health Minister, he withdrew his comments and issued an apology on Twitter.[122]

Following the withdrawal, he posted 25 questions to IMA in an ‘open letter’ on his Twitter handle. He asked if allopathy and the pharma industry has treatments for diseases like hypertension, diabetes, thyroid, arthritis, colitis, asthma, chicken pox among others. He courted sharp criticism from the medical community when he claimed that "Doctors should not fall ill at all if allopathy is all powerful and ‘sarvagun sampanna’ (having all good qualities)".[123] IMA's Uttarakhand division has sent a 1,000 crore (US$130 million) defamation notice, which says that if Ramdev does not post another video countering his early statement and post a written apology within the next 15 days, the organization would demand the sum.[124] In a new video, he was seen reacting to the demand of his arrest saying "even their father cannot arrest him”.[125]

Balkrishna, co-founder of Patanjali Ayurved, has come to Ramdev's defence and accused in a tweet that IMA's president is conspiring to convert India to Christianity and that Yoga and Ayurveda are being maligned by targeting Ramdev. The post has since attracted criticism from several people including doctors.[126]

On 27 May 2021, IMA filed a police complaint against Ramdev over his dishonest and wrongful representations on allopathy. In the complaint, it said Ramdev has "wilfully and deliberately spread false, baseless and malicious information" about treatment of Covid patients by established and approved methods and drugs.[127]

During a yoga camp at Yog Gram in Haridwar, Ramdev said several allopathy practitioners with MBBS and MD degrees were facing the side-effects of allopathy and are now turning towards yoga and ayurveda and were attending his camp. He said his target would be to convert 1000 doctors to ayurveda within one year. He said that he is not aiming at religious conversions like the IMA's president does, but looking for a transformation of their beliefs.[25]

He questioned the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines and claimed that fatalities caused by Covid showed that allopathy was not 100% effective. He stated that he opted out of vaccination as he had been practicing yoga and ayurveda for decades and thus he didn't feel the need to be vaccinated. He said that ayurveda would be globally accepted in time.[128]

On 3 June 2021, Delhi High Court refused to pass any interim injunctions on Ramdev for his comments stating that everyone is entitled to voice an opinion and his comments fall under the right to freedom of speech and expression.[129]

Awards and recognitions[edit]


  1. Narain, Priyanka Pathak (2017). From Godman to Business Tycoon: The Untold Story of Baba Ramdev. Juggernaut Publications. ISBN 978-9386228383.
  2. Verma, Sunanda (2018). Namaste, Baba Ramdev! He made billions think & act on health. The Indologist pte. ltd. ISBN 978-9814782203.
  3. Deo, Sandeep (2017). Yoga Guru to Swadeshi Warrior: The True Story of Baba Ramdev. Bloomsbury India. ISBN 9789386643261.
  4. Deka, Kaushik (2017). The Baba Ramdev Phenomenon: From Moksha to Market. Rupa publications. ISBN 9788129145970.
  5. Raj, Ashok (2010). The Life and Times of Baba Ramdev. Hay House India. ISBN 9789381398098.
  6. Ramdev, Swami (2009). Prāṇāyāma Rahasya: Secrets of Prāṇāyāma, with Scientific Factual Evidence. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. ISBN 978-81-89235-01-7.
  7. Ramdev, Swami (1 March 2006). Yog Its Philosophy & Practice. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. ISBN 978-81-89235-15-4.
  8. Ramdev, Swami (2005). Aushadh Darshan. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. ISBN 978-81-89235-24-6.
  9. Ramdev, Swami (2004). Vitality Strengthening Astavarga Plants (Jeevaniya & Vayasthapan Paudhe). Divya Yog Mandir Trust. ISBN 978-81-89235-03-1.

In popular culture[edit]

Ramdev is being played by Kranti Prakash Jha in Swami Ramdev - Ek Sangharsh earlier aired on Discovery Jeet.[145]

Patanajali Ayurveda Limited remains one of the top ten advertisers in India, and Ramdev’s face has become ubiquitous.[146]


  1. ^ Swami is a title used in India for a Hindu religious teacher.[4] But here the word Swami is also a part of the subject's legal name.[5]
  2. ^ Baba, lit.'father', is a respectful form of address for an older or holy man in India.[6]
  1. ^ a b The first name has been spelled Ram Kisan,[1] Ramkishen,[2] or Ramkrishna[3] by various outlets.


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  17. ^ Routledge handbook of yoga and meditation studies. Suzanne Newcombe, Karen O'Brien-Kop. Abingdon, Oxon: Taylor and Francis Group. 2020. ISBN 978-1-351-05075-3. OCLC 1192307672.CS1 maint: others (link)
  18. ^ Prashant, Shishir (20 January 2013). "Net worth of Ramdev's assets Rs 1,100 cr". Business Standard India. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  19. ^ Varghese K George; Charu Sudan Kasturi (12 June 2011). "Making of brand Baba". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  20. ^ Staff Reporter (21 June 2013). "Arya Samaj Temples to Curb Inter-Caste and Love Marriages". International Business Times. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
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  32. ^ "PM Modi launches Clean India campaign, says country can do it". India Today. 2 October 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
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