And when it comes to healings, the testimonies are legion.
Eight years ago, Shakhdav M Devashryee lost all hope when he lost his sight. In January 2004, he learned yog by listening to Swami Ramdev on TV. He says, "That was my turning point. My confidence level shot up and I was determined to follow the path of my yog teacher and change the lives of many others the way he changed mine. I also wanted to establish victory over my own handicap. Till date, I have taught yog in 11 jails and formed many clubs."
Jayshree Desai, 47, yog teacher based in Mumbai, also narrates her life-changing experience: "I was diagnosed with Hepatitis B, and deemed incurable. My friend introduced me to Swami Ramdev's yog on TV. When I practised it, my acute condition stabilised, and soon to the amazement of doctors, the disease vanished! I resolved to become a yog teacher and have conducted many camps in India as well as in Mexico, Norway and San Diego."
Manik Juneja, a technopreneur from Delhi, says, "My father is suffering from end stage renal failure. His creatinine level was 11, whereas normal creatinine level is around 1. The nephrologist was considering putting him on haemodialysis, when my father started doing pranayaam twice daily, after watching Baba Ramdev's yog camp on TV. Within two months, his creatinine level came down to 5.8. His blood pressure and blood sugar levels are also under control now."
An all-round panacea, yog came to the help of Raghav Dutta, a 23-year old national-level swimmer from Delhi, who says, "After every swimming session, I used to get obdurate cramps in my legs. On my coach's insistence, I attended a week-long yog camp with Swami Ramdev and the cramps just dissolved. I never collected my X-ray reports from the pathology lab."
Swami Ramdev prescribes a blend of home remedies, ayurvedic medicine and yog to combat all diseases. He says, "A day will come when yog and ayurveda will become mainstream therapy."
Firm in his belief that these two disciplines can alone heal mankind of most if not all ailments, he has enlisted millions of practitioners into his bandwagon, including allopathic medical practitioners.
Ashok Chandra, an MBBS-turned-yog guru attached to Swami Ramdev's outfit, says, "I suffered from chronic spondylitis that allopathy could not cure. A couple of years ago I started Swami Ramdev's yog. Bingo, the pain dissolved. Persistence was and is the main key. Eventually, I gave up my medical practice to learn yog." He chortles and adds, "I was proud to be an MBBS, now I am even prouder to be a yog guru."
Yog has always been a non-sectarian discipline, emphasising the universalities of breath, focus and flexibility. Little wonder then that Swami Ramdev's appeal cuts across all sectarian divide.
Doctor Anwar Ali Rana, a yog teacher trained by Swami Ramdev, says, "When I went for Haj, I wanted people residing in the sacred land to realise the magic of Swamiji's yog, so I conducted four camps at Mecca and Madina and also trained three men to teach the practice." He adds, "Honey will always taste sweet to all; the masses at Mecca and Madina embraced yog without a seed of doubt."
Thanks to Aastha's international channel, Swami Ramdev's popularity is spreading over the whole of the Asian continent, as well as Australia, Europe, Africa and even America. Jonas D, an Australian social worker, ardently follows Swami Ramdev's telecasts. He says, "Bloggers from all around the globe were singing praises of the Indian yog guru. I had to try it out, and I must say it was a matter of few days when I felt a boost of energy in my entire system."
Teleguru Par Excellence
Swami Ramdev first shot into the limelight in December 2003 on Aastha channel. Almost instantly, he made an impact, which spiralled with every passing day. In time, he began to parlay his popularity through giant camps of a magnitude never before attempted. More than 20,000 people register for attendance, even though admission is not cheap by any means.
People pay close to Rs 5,000 for the privilege of sitting near the podium, while even the furthest seat commands Rs 500. It is said that he charges Rs 5 lakh for a one-on-one session. Today, all his camps are being telecast live for those who cannot afford to attend them personally.
His first foray abroad with four camps at UK beginning on July 15, may well trigger the beginning of a worldwide yog yatra. Already, he has earned the title of the most likeable Indian in a poll in Pakistan.
His meteoric rise in less than three years can be attributed in part to the power of television. Aastha's spokesperson once said, Swami Ramdev has been to it what Amitabh Bachchan was to Star Plus, a one-man army that has sent TRPs soaring. Arvind Joshi, Distribution Head of Aastha channel, says, "There has been a manifold increase in our TRPs."
Today, Swami Ramdev is a fixture there, appearing twice daily, once in the morning at 5 and again at 8.20 pm. The channel also gives copious publicity to his camps.