Is Baba Ramdev a Yogi?

Arup Isaacs

Baba Ramdev who contorts his body into difficult positions is looked upon as a Yogi by the media and public. A person who simply has the capacity to twist his body into difficult asanas or postures cannot be called a Yogi when the root meaning of the word signifies an  enlightened individual who has united his awakened consciousness with the archetypal consciousnesses of the various manifested cosmic and supracosmic planes and ultimately with their origin the absolute consciousness itself.

Obviously, Ramdev is not a Yogi in this profound spiritual or mystical sense but is a mere body contortionist who has learned these physical poses from the ancient texts related to Hatha Yoga and has some working knowledge of Ayurveda  for which he charges exorbitant fees and is besides accused of killing his guru  and a close associate, usurping his missing guru’s property, hobnobbing with the  high and mighty who pour wealth into his coffers, flying on corporate jets,  traveling in a convoy of cars, evading taxes and is said to overwork and  underpay those who work in his sprawling medicine factories.

While corruption is a major issue in India with nearly every public figure having his share of the national loot, the way out cannot be a substitution of one folly with another flawed model of development whose days are long since over. Though the non-thinking and emotionally charged masses take pride in India’s glorious past or in the teachings of their respective religious books that may  be of Indian or of Semitic origin, yet the bitter truth of the failure of the prophets and their teachings or practices to lift the world out of wars, sufferings, diseases, poverty, death and deceit still persists and has to be squarely dealt with and acknowledged while newer and more potent solutions as seen in harmonizing useful bits of past knowledge with the present deep insights based on scientific research, global unification trends, sustainable development, eco-sensitivity, population control, respect for life, secularism, democracy and universal education need to be undertaken if the world is to become a better place and reflect the universal principle of unity in diversity.

In this regard, Europe, through its various grand unification moves, cutting-edge technology, stupendous socio-economic progress, scientific temper, dignity of labor and illumined institutions, remains in the vanguard and has shown the way, while the rest of the world especially India still remains rooted in shallow religio-cultural divisions, petty regional squabbles, obscurantist rituals, mind-numbing superstitions, mass illiteracy, grinding poverty, crass imitation, pervasive bigotry, pompous boast, nauseating dirt, loud noise, shocking civic indiscipline, rampant corruption and class and gender biases.

Where Ramdeva concerned, it’s apparent that the man’s a rank egoist and has retrograde and perverted ideas about how the nation should be run. His ideas on death penalty for proven swindlers and fake godmen, labelling homosexuality a disease, unverified claims of curing serious conditions like AIDS and cancer, doing away with 500 and 1000 denomination currency notes to curb corruption, dilution of the growing status of English as a medium of scientific teaching and research and other suggestions are pathetic and misleading from the logical, experiential and mystical perspectives to say the least.

The mistake most people make when things go wrong is to turn to atavistic models  or to hark back to antediluvian legends or myths and seek to infuse the present  with those ill-suited and obsolete models while conveniently ignoring the harsh  fact that the march of evolution cannot be arrested or modified by introducing old and ill-suited features into the present system that is very different in composition and function when compared to the past.

The present trend is heavily inclined towards global unification as seen in the broad attempts at globalization in all constructive spheres of life and aiding this move is modern technology and a better understanding of the natural laws based on sound reasonings and empirical proofs while religious dogmas, rituals, bigotry and superstitions are having a hard time surviving the sledge hammer blows of reason and scientific advance.

A way out would be to integrate certain meaningful aspects of the past (that need to be identified after serious study and trial) with the constructive evolutionary trends of the present culled from different parts of the globe in an attempt to engineer a magnificent synthesis of knowledge, technology, economy, ecology, wellness, thought, culture and lifestyles.

The bottom line is that neither religious scriptures nor our unscrupulous politicians nor conmen like Ramdev can lift India out of its present unregenerate state as the mess is too divisive and complex for simplistic and ill-conceived solutions put forth by half-baked scriptures and deviant individuals to make a marked difference.