For a man engrossed all his life in the difficult task of uniting the body with the mind, Baba Ramdev appears to have a surprisingly flexible mind. Those who always thought he was your run-of-the-mill dour yoga guru dishing out a lot of disposable gyan must take a deep breath and start revising themselves.
Unlike other Babas, Ramdev has a sense of humour. Only, it does not come out well. Blame it on the television cameras or that perception of heaviness that comes with Babadom. But if you thought the entire call for fast over black money was a reflection of his sense of humour, exhale it.
As the developments over the last few days suggest, Ramdev is not just another bearded yogi from the hills. He is too many persons rolled into one — a social reformer, an economist, a doctor, a healer, a spiritual teacher, a saviour and a champion of farmers. It was evident from his quotes on Friday.
His role as a social reformer, ayurvedic medicine practitioner and spiritual leader is well-known. But his abilities as an economist are a revelation.
“If black money is brought back in this country, no one will go hungry, no one will be without a livelihood. Our currency will be stronger than the dollar or pound. I want to see that day soon. The currency should stand at Re 1 + $ 50,’’ he said. He should know.
He runs a business empire worth over Rs 1,100 crore. He has discovered the magic mix of yoga and ayurveda and turned it into a money-spinning proposition. He is rich enough to buy Little Cumbrae Island, off the Scottish coast, for around two million pounds. So nobody should have doubts about his understanding of economic matters.
At a rally over black money on Friday, he took over the role as protector of farmers. He sought the establishment of a national farmers’ commission and stressed on organic farming and bio-fertilisers. What’s the connection? What has black money got to do with organic farming? One might ask. Silly question. In the world of high spirituality everything is connected.
Ramdev launched himself as an educational reformer with aplomb too. All engineering and medical entrances should be held in regional languages, he said while announcing his determination to go ahead with the fast. “India taught the world about science, mathematics, geography and the universe,” he had said earlier. One presumes that was done in regional languages.
In a rebuff to actor Shahrukh Khan, he said, “I am not crossing the limits of yoga. Not lying and stealing is also part of yoga and I am trying to bring those who have crossed that limit back within the limit.” Shahrukh, on Thursday, had called his fast politically motivated and said people should stay confined to what they do best.
The efforts of the Baba are laudable. However, the yoga guru’s obsession with the death sentence is a bit confounding. “Those involved in corruption cases and accused of stashing black money should be tried in fast-track courts and should get the death sentence if found guilty,” he said. His anger is justified but coming from a man who is into the union of the body and mind the efforts to separate the two, it’s a bit drastic.