- Culture & Society
Dilli Log #1: Change of Course of a Yoga Guru
17 Oct 2021
Since Monday, the lockdown in Delhi has been lifted. You can almost hear everyone breathing a sigh of relief under their mouth-nose protection. Last week, the first signs of relaxation had already been announced: at Bhogal Market, I was already stuck in the first traffic jam with the rickshaws honking - even though the market was not officially open yet. In any case, the city is awakening from its imposed rigidity. The images of suffocating Corona patients and smoking incineration sites are slowly fading. The morning newspaper no longer resembles a breathless nightmare, business as usual has returned: the discussion about the lack of vaccine continues. The lessons of the second Corona wave are being reflected. And today I even had to laugh in amazement when I read it:
Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev wants to get vaccinated! And also explained that doctors were sent to earth by God. In Germany, too, we are familiar with the saying "gods in white". But that yoga guru Ramdev, of all people, should be carried away by such a statement is more than surprising.
Back story: At the end of May, the popular yoga guru hit the headlines because he called conventional medicine a "stupid" and "penniless" science. He also claimed that more people had died from their allopathic treatment during the pandemic than from Corona itself.
At the beginning of May, Ramdev already mocked Corona patients in a video: "God has filled the universe with oxygen. Then take it, stupid! People are looking for gas cylinders outside, yet God has given them two of them right here inside. Fill these!" With that, he points to his chest and takes an audible deep breath - as prescribed by the yogic breathing technique pranayama. Later, in an interview with the media company Network 18, he said he had wanted to motivate people.
In principle, there is no doubt that yoga and breathing exercises strengthen the human body and the immune system. However, yoga guru Baba Ramdev is more often conspicuous for provocative remarks. For example, he claimed that homosexuality could be cured through yoga. During the first Corona wave, he declared that if you let mustard oil run through your nose, the Corona virus could no longer harm you.
The presumably 56-year-old has become known as a yoga guru for the masses. First, people attended his yoga camps and later they participated in his yoga classes at home in front of their screens. He reached an audience of millions through several TV channels. With his companion Balkrishna, he founded Patanjali, an Ayurvedic consumer goods company, in 2005, earning billions.
In any case, Swami Ramdev's remarks about orthodox medicine drew the ire of the Indian Medical Association (IMA). The IMA announced that it would take legal action against the yoga guru for defamation. The Patanjali Yogapeeth Trust countered that Swami Ramdev had merely read a forwarded WhatsApp message and harboured no ill will against modern medicine. In early June, the Delhi High Court ruled that Baba Ramdev's statements were within the bounds of freedom of expression.
And a few days later, the master of yoga proves that his mental agility is in harmony with his physical flexibility and announces that he will get vaccinated against Covid-19. And also claims that doctors were divine messengers. An amazing 180 degree backbend!
As a viewer, one wonders why Ayurveda and conventional medicine are so often pitted against each other. Instead of acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches and combining the successful treatments of both methods. At best, one could interpret Baba Ramdev's provocations as a suggestion to do so.
If you want to follow the Dilli Log series in German as a podcast, then look here!
11th of June 2021
Written by: Antje Stiebitz
Cover Photo Credit: Rishu Bhosale - Unsplash
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