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This article is about the yoga teacher. For the Hindu folk deity, see Ramdev Pir.
Baba Ramdev
Baba Ramdev
Born Ram Krishna Yadav
1965 (age 51–52)
Said Alipur, Mahendragarh, Haryana
Nationality Indian
  • Ram Niwas Yadav (father)
  • Gulabo Devi (mother)
Titles/honours Honorary Doctorate by Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Bhubaneswar
Founder of Patanjali Yogpeeth, Bharat Swabhiman Trust

Baba Ramdev About this sound pronunciation  (born as Ramkrishna Yadav in Haryana)[1] is a Yoga Guru known for his work in Yoga, Ayurveda, business and agriculture. He is best known for popularising yoga among Indians through his mass yoga camps. He founded the Patanjali Group of Institutions with his companion Balkrishna[2]

Early life[edit]

Ramdev was born to Ram Niwas Yadav and Gulabo Devi.[3] He studied Indian scripture, Yoga and Sanskrit in various gurukuls. He became a sanyasi and adopted the name Swami Ramdev.[4] While living in Kalwa Gurukul in Jind district, Haryana, he offered free yoga training to villagers for some time.[5] He then moved to Haridwar in Uttarakhand, where he practiced intense self-discipline and meditation and spent several years studying ancient Indian scriptures at Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya.[6]


He founded the Divya Yog Mandir Trust in 1996. In 2003, Aastha TV began featuring him in its morning yoga slot. There he proved to be telegenic and gained a large following.[7] A large number of people and many celebrities in India and abroad have attended his yoga camps.[8] He has taught yoga to many actors including Amitabh Bachchan and Shilpa Shetty.[9] He addressed Muslim clerics at their seminary in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh[10] and has taught yoga in countries including Britain, the United States and Japan. In 2006, he was invited by Kofi Annan to deliver a lecture on poverty alleviation in a United Nations conference.[11][12] Yogi Haider considered the face of yoga in Pakistan, says that his ambition is to emulate Ramdev Baba and popularise yoga amongst Pakistanis.[13][14]

Patanjali Yogpeeth[edit]

Main article: Patanjali Yogpeeth
A view of Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar (Uttarakhand) India

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, with locations in the UK, US, Nepal, Canada, and Mauritius.[15]

Ramdev established the Patanjali Yog Peeth (UK) Trust in 2006, with the aim of promoting yoga in UK. He acquired the Scottish island of Little Cumbrae as a base.[16][17][18][19]

Patanjali Ayurved[edit]

Main article: Patanjali Ayurved

Patanjali Ayurved was started by Baba Ramdev[citation needed] and Acharya Balkrishna in 2006 in Haridwar. As of early-March 2016, the company's turnover has already crossed 45 billion (US$670 million) and is cruising at a monthly rate of about 5 billion (US$74 million) to 5.5 billion (US$82 million).[20] According to a recent report by India Infoline, at least 13 listed companies will be hit by Patanjali. "Colgate and Dabur would be affected the most whereas ITC[disambiguation needed] and Godrej Consumer would be least impacted," said Percy Panthaki of IIFL.[21]

The Maharashtra government plans to tie up with yoga guru Baba Ramdev, and sell off the excessive products derived from materials available in forests to Patanjali.[22]

Political campaigns[edit]

Ramdev had announced plans to form Bharat Swabhiman, a political party, in 2010. He said that it would contest every seat in the next national elections.[4] A year later, he said that he had no intention of forming a political party nor of entering politics directly but felt that he should influence politics by encouraging a groundswell of popular reaction.[7][23] He had changed his mind again by 2014, when he 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 also that he voiced his support for Narendra Modi to become the next Prime Minister of India.[24] 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 indeed politically motivated.[25] The ECI had also tried to control his use of camps in the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh state elections of 2013.[26][27]

There is also an organisation called the Bharat Swabhiman Trust, founded by Ramdev and supporting his political campaigns.[28][29] 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.[30]

Anti corruption[edit]

Ramdev was associated with anti corruption and was involved in the Jan Lokpal agitation, which was focused on promoting an independent body that would investigate alleged corruption.[31]

Ramdev declared he would go on an anshan (indefinite fast) on 4 June 2011, at Ramlila Ground[32] to pressure the government to root out corruption and repatriate the black money. After this declaration the government was said to have set up a panel to suggest steps to curb black money and its transfer abroad, in an apparent bid to placate Ramdev.[33]

Ramdev was arrested while attempting to disguise himself in women's clothing.[34] He was detained in isolation at Safdargunj Airport for a few hours and then deported to his ashram in Haridwar via helicopter. He was banned from entering Delhi for 15 days.[35][36] On reaching Haridwar, Ramdev declared that his fast would continue.[37]

When Ramdev arrived at Delhi airport on 1 June, four government ministers met and tried to persuade him by telling of the government's initiative on corruption.[38] On the morning of 4 June, 65,000 of his followers gathered at Ramlila Ground.[39] By noon queues extending up to 3 km were seen chanting 'Vande Mataram'. In the evening a press conference organised by Kapil Sibbal made public a letter from Ramdev's camp to call off their agitation. Ramdev took it as a betrayal of the Government and hardened the position by declaring not to take back his Satyagrah until a proper government ordinance is announced in place of forming a committee.[40]

At midnight, a team of 10,000 Delhi policemen and RAF raided the ground when most of the Satyagrahis were sleeping.[41] Tear gas shells and a lathicharge were used to evict the crowd between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. The tent was set on fire at many places. Water was thrown over power generators to create complete darkness to prevent any video recording of the whole attack. However most media persons recorded what was going on.[42]

Police had arranged buses to drop supporters at railway stations and bus stands in advance and there were some ambulances on standby. 53 people were injured and treated in hospitals.[43][44][45] Government stopped media person or anybody to enter the hospital to check the injured. Protesters huddled near the Metro station, bus depots and railway stations. Many walked down to Gurdwara Bangla Sahib and other nearby ashrams.[46] According to New Delhi railway station authorities, supporters continued to leave in batches through the course of the day. While several supporters spent the day in a park near Ramlila Maidan, others took shelter in Arya Samaj at Paharganj.[47]

There were accusations that women present had been badly treated by the police.[48] A senior police officer reported that they were forced to retaliate after Ramdev's supporters started throwing stones and flower pots at them.[49] Police also released CCTV footage to prove that no woman was beaten by them.[50] One female protestor suffered a crippling spinal injury and later died in hospital from a cardiac arrest. The hospital authorities refused to give a death summary and other relevant papers, and even asked to file an RTI application. Ramdev, in a statement, said "Her sacrifice is an irreparable loss to the whole organisation ... and her death will not go in vain. We will continue to fight for a corruption-free India.[51] "

On 10 August 2012, Ramdev launched another indefinite protest at the ground against the government's failure to take action against corruption and to bring back black money.[52] He announced that his future strategy depended upon the governmental response to his protest.[53]

Aftermath of the Delhi protest[edit]

Ramdev 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.[54] All political parties other than the Congress Party condemned the police action, called it undemocratic and naked fascism,[55] deplorable and shortsighted.[56][57] Apart from politicians, he was also supported by civil societies as well. Activist Anna Hazare termed the crackdown of the agitation a strangulation of democracy. He said: "There was no firing otherwise the eviction was similar to Jallianwala Bagh massacre".[58] He boycotted his lokpal panel meeting with the government on 6 June and decided to go on a one-day fast on 8 June. His allies RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal, former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan, and Swami Agnivesh also criticised the police action to evict the hunger strikers forcefully[59] Protests were held in many different parts of the country.[60] Protest were held in Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Surat cities of Western region, Bangalore, Hyderabad of Southern region, Jammu and Lucknow as well as among other several cities of India.[61]

Ramdev ended his fast on the ninth day after being hospitalised two days earlier.[62] His decision to end the protest was praised by various politicians, including from the BJP, Janata Party and Congress.[63]

Ambedkar stadium fast[edit]

Baba Ramdev called off his six-day fast at Delhi's Ambedkar stadium on 14 August 2012 and said he was returning to Haridwar. Seeking the defeat of the Congress in 2014, he said, "Congress hatao, desh bachao (Remove Congress, save the country)", adding that except for the Congress all parties were together on the issue of black money.[64]

Controversies and criticism[edit]

Views on homosexuality[edit]

According to Newsweek magazine, Ramdev "detests gays".[65] In July 2009, when Delhi High Court gave a verdict under decriminalising homosexuality in Delhi, Ramdev said, "This verdict of the court will encourage criminality and sick mentality. This is breaking the family system in India. Homosexuality is not natural and can be treated. If the government brings this law, I will take this matter to the streets of Delhi in protest."[66] In 2011 he petitioned the court to overturn the ruling.[67] He said that "[Gay sex] is against our Vedic culture"[68] and that "I consider homosexuality unnatural and a mental disorder. A bad habit. Many people acquire bad habits and get addicted to them."[7] Ramdev has said that he can "cure" homosexuals within six months using "yoga, pranayam and other meditation techniques".[69][70]

Labour law violations and animal parts in medicines[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 but some of the workers were dismissed by the Trustees after being alleged to be responsible for sabotage. Their case was taken up by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist).[71][72]

Brinda Karat, a senior figure in the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was involved with the protesters. They told her that animal parts were used in the manufacture of some medicines. In January 2006, she accused the Divya Pharmacy, owned by Divya Yog Mandir Trust, of using human and animal bones in their medicines. Samples of the medicines were tested at government laboratories and the presence of animal materials in the sample was confirmed. However, the source of the samples was disputed, as these had been supplied by Karat for testing and not procured by government officials. Karat produced what were claimed to be the prescription and cash receipt obtained from the Trust hospital's medicine counter for the samples provided.[71][72][73] Her remarks drew strong condemnation from several politicians in North India, such as Sharad Pawar, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Narayan Dutt Tiwari.[74] Subsequently, she received a legal notice on the behalf of a BJP leader in Faridabad.[75]

A few months later in 2006, four samples were sent to the government recognised Shriram Institute of Industrial Research in Delhi. Negating the report from this institute the Union Health Ministry said to have found animal DNA in the samples, although most of the newspapers carried reports to the contrary.[76]

Views on AIDS and sex education[edit]

In December 2006, Swami Ramdev claimed to improve the condition of patients suffering with AIDS through yoga and ayurvedic drugs sold by his Divya Yoga Mandir Trust. He also went on to suggest that sex education should be replaced by yoga education, as his way to AIDS awareness and prevention.[77] He told reporters that "Sex education in schools needs to be replaced by yoga education". As a consequence of these public statements, he was sent a cease and desist order by the Indian Union Health Ministry to avoid making such claims in the future, and the civil society threatened legal action.[78] In response, Ramdev modified his statement, saying that the claims were not directly his but those of patients who practiced yoga.[79]

Detention at London Airport[edit]

On 20 September 2013, Baba Ramdev, arriving from India, was detained for eight hours at London's Heathrow Airport by British authorities.[80] The British Home Office declined to comment on reasons but the BBC quoted Ramdev supporters suggesting that he could have been targeted by the Indian authorities for speaking out about corruption back home.[80] After being called for questioning the following day, he was allowed to continue the visit and preach yoga at meetings.

Controversial statement regarding beheading[edit]

Ramdev received significant criticism and media attention after he stated that he would have "beheaded" those who refuse to chant "Bharat Mata ki Jai" were it not for the law of the land.[81][82]

These comments prompted outrage and many prominent personalities called for legal action against him for inciting violence and hate speech.[82]

Awards and recognitions[edit]


  1. Yoga Sādhanā evam Yoga Chikitsā Rahasya (Yog Its Philosophy & Practice ISBN 978-81-89235-15-4)
  2. Prāṇāyāma Rahasya (Pranayama Its Philosophy & Practice ISBN 978-81-89235-01-7)
  3. Aushadh Darshan (Aushadh Darshan ISBN 978-81-89235-24-6)
  4. Jeevaniya & Vayasthapan Paudhe (Vitality Strengthening Astavarga Plants ISBN 978-4-04-980004-3)

The books explain in detail about the basics of a system of yoga and acupressure. The third book describes, among other things, the use of several medicinal herbs in curing some diseases which modern medicine is unable to cure. Ramdev claims to have documented proof of the books' claims.[citation needed]


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External links[edit]