Swami Ramdev[a][5] (About this soundpronunciation ; born as Ram Kisan Yadav in 1965),[note 1] also known as Baba Ramdev,[b][5] is an Indian yoga guru known for his work in ayurveda, business, and agriculture.[7] Ramdev has been holding large yoga camps since 2002 and broadcasting his yoga classes for TV audiences.[1][8] He co-founded the Patanjali Ayurved Ltd. with his colleague Balkrishna.

Baba Ramdev
Ram Kisan Yadav[note 1]

1965 (1965)
OccupationYoga guru
Founder ofPatanjali Ayurved
Patanjali Yogpeeth
Bharat Swabhiman Trust
HonorsHonorary Doctorate by Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Bhubaneswar

Early life, family and educationEdit

Ramdev was born in a Hindu family in 1965 to Ramniwas Yadav and Gulabo Devi at Saiyad Pur village of Mahendragarh district, Haryana; Both of his parents were farmers.[9][10] He claims he was paralyzed when he was two and a half years old, and was later cured by practising yoga. At a young age, he was profoundly affected by Satyarth Prakash, a Hindi book written in 1875 by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati. Saraswati, a renowned religious and social reformer, was the founder of the monotheistic Arya Samaj movement. A seed was planted in Ram Kisan (aka Ramkishan, later Ramdev), to fight against the biased caste system he was born into. He rejected being taught in English with curriculums set under Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800–59), fled from home and ardently began to study Indian scripture, Yoga and Sanskrit in various Gurukuls schools. He preferred Gurukul schools because they were traditional educational institutes that taught based on Vedic principles. He found Guru Pradyumna, was accepted into his school, Aarsh Gurukul Khanpur, met his life-long associate Acharya Balkrishna, and became Ramkrishna. Here he and Balkrishna spent three years together, developing their friendship as they studied. Ramkrishna left to become the student of Acharya Baldevji in Gurukul Kalwa, who gave him the name Ramdev. He also learnt yoga from Guru Karamvir, an Arya Samaji.[11] At around 25 years old, he took sanyasi diksha and adopted the name Swami Ramdev from Swami Shankar Dev Ji.[12] He spent the next three years in the Himalayas, near Gangotri, in search of moksha. It was out of this deep introspection that Ramdev became determined to live his life in service to the healing arts. While living in Kalwa Gurukul in Jind district, Haryana, Ramdev offered free yoga training to villagers.[13] Then he moved to Haridwar in Uttarakhand, where he practised self-discipline and meditation, and spent several years studying ancient Indian scriptures at Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya.

Towards the end of the 1990s, farming conditions in his native village worsened, due to the region's depleting water table, which prompted Ramdev's move to Haridwar. Subsequently, he called his family to Haridwar. Ramdev's family members have played different roles in his ayurveda ventures depending on their capabilities. His father oversees activities in Patanjali ayurved, his brother Rambharat controls the company's finances.[11]

Yoga, Ayurveda and social activitiesEdit

Ramdev's main yoga centre is based in Haridwar, a city on banks of the Ganga river near the foothills of the Himalayas, where Ramdev practices and teaches yoga in the mornings and evenings in an auditorium, which is also broadcast on TV channels. [1] Back in 1995, Ramdev founded the "Divya Yog Mandir Trust".[14] In 2003, Aastha TV began featuring him in its morning yoga slot. There he proved to be telegenic and gained a large following. A large number of people, including some celebrities from India and abroad, attended his Yoga camps.[15][16] He also had students in some foreign countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan. He also addressed Muslim clerics at their seminary in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh.[17]

In 2006, Ramdev was invited by Kofi Annan to deliver a lecture on poverty alleviation at a United Nations conference.[18] He is also the judge of a reality show Om Shanti Om.[19] He was one of the nine personalities invited by the prime minister Mr. Modi to participate and promote the message of cleanliness when Swachh Bharat Mission was launched on 2 October 2014.[20][21] In a video available on Bharat Swabhiman Trust's youtube channel, he is seen cleaning the river Ganga along with the his students and followers as an effort to spread the message.

In 2017, a district court somewhere blocked the sale of an unauthorized biography about him entitled Godman to Tycoon: The Untold Story of Baba Ramdev.[clarification needed][22] In May 2018, Ramdev launched Swadeshi Samriddhi SIM cards in alliance with BSNL.[23] Over a twenty-year career, he became the face of Patanjali Ayurved, a company that he founded with his colleague Balkrishna. Patanjali went on to become one of the highest grossing FMCG's in India.[24] In 2012 Ramdev established the Divya Yog Pharmacy at Kankhal in Haridwar.[25]

Patanjali AyurvedEdit

Patanjali Ayurved is a consumer packaged goods company, based in Haridwar, that was started by Ramdev and Balkrishna in 2006.[26] According to a company official, sales in early March 2016 were 45 billion (US$630 million) with monthly sales of 5 billion (US$70 million)–5.5 billion (US$77 million).[27] Acharya Balkrishna remains the CEO of Patanjali Ayurved with 95% shareholding and supervising its day-to-day activities, while Ramdev remains the face of the company and makes most of the business decisions.[28]

The company has also been accused of misleading advertisements about its products and flimsy testing before being launched to market.[29] Some products like amla juice,[30][31] and ayurvedic medicines [32] have been banned from sales due to poor quality. Patanjali has also been surrounded in controversies regarding working conditions where Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna are treated at gurus whose feet must be touched each time they enter an area. Workers are paid a salary of just 6000 INR per month while working in 12 hour shifts for 6 days a week.[31] They are also discouraged to ask for a raise as working at factory is considered "seva" (service) to the cause.

In June 2020, Patanjali Ayurved announced a drug named Coronil for COVID-19 treatment, Ramdev claimed in June that Coronil had cured Covid-19 patients. The Indian government has allowed Patanjali Ayurved to market Coronil as an immunity booster but not a cure.[33] The Government of Maharashtra has banned the sale of Coronil in the state. Law suits were filed in Bihar and Rajasthan against Ramdev, Balkrishna, and others, accusing them of cheating and selling fake medicines.[34][35] The Madras High Court has fined the company 1,000,000 (US$14,000) for its false claims on the drug. Patanjali has withdrawn the claim of Coronil being a cure for Covid-19. The UK drug regulator has threatened action if the unauthorized products were sold in the UK market.[33]

Patanjali YogpeethEdit

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 in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. Other locations include UK, US, Nepal, Canada and Mauritius.[36] Ramdev is the Vice-Chancellor of the Patanjali Yogapeeth.[37] Ramdev established the Patanjali Yog Peeth UK Trust in 2006, with the aim of promoting yoga in the UK. To extend Patanjali Yogpeeth, he also acquired the Scottish island of Little Cumbrae.[38][39]

In 2017, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) through its Delhi bench gave tax exempt status to Patanjali Yogpeeth.[40]

Political ActivitiesEdit

Bharat Swabhiman TrustEdit

In 2010, Ramdev announced plans to form a political party called Bharat Swabhiman India Pride. He said that it would contest every seat in the next national elections.[41] A year later, he stated that, instead of forming a political party, he would influence politics by encouraging a groundswell of popular reaction.[42] In 2014, Ramdev 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 that he voiced his support for Narendra Modi to become the next Prime Minister of India.[43] 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 politically motivated.[44] The ECI had also tried to control his use of camps in the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh state elections of 2013.[45][46]

Ramdev founded an organisation called the Bharat Swabhiman Trust in 2009, in part, to support his political activities.[47] 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.[48]

Campaigns against corruptionEdit

In April 2011, Ramdev called on the government to add punitive powers to the Jan Lokpal Bill, a bill to appoint an independent body that would investigate alleged government corruption.[49] Ramdev announced he would go on an anshan hunger strike at Ramlila Ground in Delhi, on 4 June 2011, to pressure the government into rooting out corruption and repatriating black money.[50] A week before the scheduled fast, the government set up a committee, headed by the chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, to suggest steps to curb black money and its transfer abroad.[51]

When Ramdev arrived at Delhi airport on 1 June, four government ministers met him and tried to persuade him to call off his fast by telling him of the government's initiative on corruption.[52] Talks continued between the two sides and, on 3 June, both sides claimed that a consensus had been reached. However, in the evening, Ramdev announced that he would carry on with his hunger strike.[53]

On the morning of 4 June, 65,000 of his followers gathered at Ramlila Ground.[54] By noon, queues extending up to 3 km (1.9 mi) were chanting Vande Mataram a patriotic call from the Indian independence movement. In the evening, government minister Kapil Sibbal publicized a letter from Ramdev's camp stating that the hunger strike would be called off if the government honoured its commitments. Ramdev took it as a betrayal by the government and hardened his position.[53]

Shortly before midnight, a Delhi police spokesman announced that permission for the gathering had been cancelled because it was for a yoga camp for 5,000, not for 50,000 people for agitation.[55] At midnight, a team of 10,000 Delhi policemen and RAF raided the ground when most of the protesters were sleeping.[56] Tear gas shells and a lathicharge were used, tents were set on fire, and water was thrown over power generators to create complete darkness. Ramdev tried to escape capture by disguising himself as an injured woman but was arrested two hours later.[57][58] He was flown back to his ashram in Haridwar and banned from entering Delhi for 15 days.[59] On reaching Haridwar, Ramdev told reporters that his fast was not over yet and he would continue with his satyagraha civil resistance.[60]

Police reported that 53 citizens and ten police were injured and treated in hospitals.[61][62] There were accusations that women protesters had been badly treated by the police.[63] A senior police officer stated that they were forced to retaliate after Ramdev's supporters started throwing stones and flower pots at them.[64] Police also released CCTV footage to prove that no women were beaten by them.[65] One female protester suffered a spinal injury and later died in hospital from cardiac arrest. In a statement, Ramdev said her sacrifice was an irreparable loss to the whole organization, that her death would not go in vain and that others would continue to fight for a corruption-free India.[66]

Aftermath of the Delhi protestEdit

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.[67] All political parties, other than the ruling Congress Party, condemned the police action. Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party BJP said that the police action had been a shameful chapter in the democracy of this country.[57] BJP leader LK. Advani called it naked fascism.[68]

Ramdev was supported by civil societies as well. Activist Anna Hazare termed the crackdown a strangulation of democracy.[69] He said, There was no firing otherwise the eviction was similar to Jallianwala Bagh massacre.[70] Protests were held in many different parts of the country including Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Surat, Bangalore, Tamil Nadu, Hyderabad, Jammu and Lucknow[71][72]

Ramdev ended his fast on the ninth day, after being hospitalised two days earlier.[73] His decision to end the protest was praised by politicians from the BJP, Janata Party and Congress Party.[74]

Ambedkar stadium fast and Anti corruption movementEdit

As a part of the "India against corruption" movement, Ramdev launched another indefinite protest on 10 August 2012 against the government's failure to take action against corruption and to bring back black money. He announced that his future strategy depended upon the governmental response to his protest.[75] Ramdev ended the fast at Delhi's Ambedkar Stadium on 14 August 2012, and said he was returning to Haridwar. Seeking the defeat of the Congress Party in 2014, he said, Congress hatao, desh bachao Remove Congress, save the country, adding that except for the Congress Party, all parties were together on the issue of black money.[76]

Awards and recognitionsEdit

  • January 2007 – Honorary Doctorate, by Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Bhubaneswar, in recognition of his efforts to popularise the Vedic system/science of Yoga.[77]
  • June 2007 – Nassau County honored and celebrated 30 June 2007 as Swami Ramdev Day.[citation needed]
  • July 2007 – Legislature of the US state of New Jersey honored Ramdev for his remarkable history of steadfast commitment to improving health in mind, body and spirit and to enhancing the well being of people from all social backgrounds, races and religions.[78]
  • July 2007 – Some members of the British House Of Commons hosted a reception for him.[79][80]
  • September 2007 – Felicitated by KL. Chugh, Chairman of ASSOCHAM at the 5th Global Knowledge Millennium Summit.[81]
  • January 2009 – Conferred with the title Mahamahopadhyaya by Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh.[82]
  • January 2011 – Honoured with Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati National Eminence Award by Maharashtra Governor K. Shankaranarayanan.[83]
  • July 2012 – Honoured with Tarun Kranti Award at Ahmedabad in National Icon category by Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minister of India. The award is constituted by eminent Digambara Jain monk Tarunsagar.[84]
  • January 2015 – Considered for Padma Vibushan, second highest civilian award but day before 66th Republic day, refrained from taking noting he is an ascetic.[85][86][87][88]
  • April 2015 – Government of Haryana appointed Ramdev as brand ambassador of Yoga and Ayurveda. He was given the status of Cabinet minister for Haryana but had declined it saying that he wanted to continue serving as a Baba.
  • May 2016 American business magazine Fast Company ranked Ramdev 27th in its Most Creative Business People of 2016 list.[89]
  • April 2017 – Magazine India Today Ranked #5th in India's 50 Most powerful people of 2017 list.[90]


Labour law violations and alleged animal content in medicinesEdit

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; management agreed to pay minimum wage and not to initiate disciplinary actions against the protesters and, in turn, the workers agreed that they would restore normalcy at the workplace. However, the Trust refused to take back some of the workers, accusing them of committing sabotage. Their case was taken up by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions CITU, affiliated with the Communist Party of India Marxist CPI(M).[91][92]

Brinda Karat, a senior figure in the CPI(M), took up the cause of the fired protesters. They told her that human bones and animal parts were used in some herbal medicines manufactured by Divya Pharmacy owned by Divya Yog Mandir Trust and provided samples. The samples were tested at government laboratories and the presence of animal materials in the sample was confirmed. However, the source of the samples was disputed, since they had been given to Karat by the protesting workers and not procured by government officials. Karat produced what were claimed to be the prescription and cash receipt obtained from the hospital's medicine counter for the samples provided.[91][92][93] Her remarks drew strong condemnation from several politicians in North India, such as Sharad Pawar, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Narayan Dutt Tiwari.[94] Subsequently, she received a legal notice on the behalf of a BJP leader in Faridabad ordering her to apologize publicly or face legal action.[95]

Loan default by Ruchi Soya IndustriesEdit

In April 2020, Ruchi Soya Industries, which was acquired by Patanjali Ayurved in 2019, was revealed to be among the top 50 wilful loan defaulters of India, with a loan of Rs. 2,212 crore written off by the RBI.[96][97][98]

Claimed cure for COVID-19Edit

In June 2020, Patanjali launched Coronil and Swasari, which they claimed provided an Ayurvedic treatment for the COVID-19.[99] Hours later, the central ministry of AYUSH released a statement asking Ramdev to stop advertising the drug as a cure for COVID-19.[100] The day after the launch, a criminal complaint was filed against Ramdev and his aide Balkrishna in a Muzaffarpur court by social worker Tamanna Hashmi for misleading and putting to risk the lives of a large number of people.[101] Maharashtra minister Anil Deshmukh banned the sale of Coronil in Maharashtra, saying that the state will not allow the sale of 'spurious medicine'.[102][103] Subsequently, Coronil was allowed to be sold after AYUSH Ministry called it an immunity booster drug which can be used for Covid-19 management [104] Later, he claimed that Coronil was WHO approved, however WHO's official Twitter handle for Southeast Asia confirmed that it has not approved any traditional medicine for COVID-19 treatment.[105]

Books written by and about RamdevEdit

  1. Narain, Priyanka Pathak (2017). From Godman to Business Tycoon: The Untold Story of Baba Ramdev. Juggernaut Publications. ISBN 978-9386228383.
  2. Verma, Sunanda (2018). Namaste, Baba Ramdev! He made billions think & act on health. The Indologist pte. ltd. ISBN 978-9814782203.
  3. Deo, Sandeep (2017). Yoga Guru to Swadeshi Warrior: The True Story of Baba Ramdev. Bloomsbury India. ISBN 9789386643261.
  4. Deka, Kaushik (2017). The Baba Ramdev Phenomenon: From Moksha to Market. Rupa publications. ISBN 9788129145970.
  5. Raj, Ashok (2010). The Life and Times of Baba Ramdev. Hay House India. ISBN 9789381398098.
  6. Ramdev, Swami (2009). Prāṇāyāma Rahasya: Secrets of Prāṇāyāma, with Scientific Factual Evidence. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. ISBN 978-81-89235-01-7.
  7. Ramdev, Swami (1 March 2006). Yog Its Philosophy & Practice. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. ISBN 978-81-89235-15-4.
  8. Ramdev, Swami (2005). Aushadh Darshan. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. ISBN 978-81-89235-24-6.
  9. Ramdev, Swami (2004). Vitality Strengthening Astavarga Plants (Jeevaniya & Vayasthapan Paudhe). Divya Yog Mandir Trust. ISBN 978-81-89235-03-1.

In popular cultureEdit

Ramdev is being played by Kranti Prakash Jha in Swami Ramdev - Ek Sangharsh earlier aired on Discovery Jeet.[106]


  1. ^ a b The first name has been spelled Ram Kisan,[1] Ramkishen,[2] or Ramkrishna[3] by various outlets.
  1. ^ Swami is a title used in India for a Hindu religious teacher.[4]
  2. ^ Baba, lit. 'father', is a respectful form of address for an older or holy man in India.[6]


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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit