Ramdev set to take Indian yoga to Myanmar, Pakistan

By Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS,

Kathmandu : After conquering Nepal with his traditional brand of fitness pill – the Indian yoga, seer Ramdev is all set to take on Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan with his brand of exercises.

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He will also use yoga as a tool to canvas for votes in the 2014 general elections in India, fielding candidates for a “cleaner, greener, healthier and self-sufficient India”.

He had said earlier this month that his Bharat Swabhiman Andolan would contest the elections in an effort to build a corruption-free India. He, however, ruled out joining the fray himself.

Ramdev, the co-founder of the Patanjali Yogpeeth, told IANS in an interview at his yoga camp in the Nepal capital: “I have long cherished the idea of carrying Patanjali yoga and the ancient Indian healing system of Ayurveda to Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. After Nepal, I have Myanmar in mind.”

“I also want to go to Pakistan where people are keen to learn yoga but I cannot afford to risk the lives of the instructors and my disciples with an open air yoga camp in Pakistan given the current political situation,” he added.

The seer is hosting a six-day yoga camp – the second in three years – at the Tundikhel parade ground in Kathmandu.

He said he wanted to “form an Asian holistic health fraternity which would draw sustenance from tradition for better lifestyle options”.

“Islam has no conflict with the word ‘Om’ – the essence of Indian yoga. Om cleanses the system. Islamic organisations say yoga is not anti-Islam, but rather a way of life,” Ramdev said.

“I have several disciples in Pakistan who have benefited from breathing exercises (pranayama) and yoga. I also want to make inroads in Afghanistan and Bangladesh,” he added.

Asked whether traditional Indian yoga would play a decisive role in shaping India’s political destiny in the 2014 elections, Ramdev quipped: “Yoga will be my ballot parade ground.”

“Roj subaah logon ko yoga karwaenge aur phir desh ke liye ladna sikhayenge (Every morning, I will teach yoga to the people and then tell them how to fight for their country),” he said.

“It will be the best platform to preach the message of ‘self-defence, nationalism, self-improvement and national improvement’ – slogans that will be the cornerstone of my campaign,” the yoga guru said.

The seer, who is “proud to trace back my roots to rural Haryana”, espouses vitriolic politics.

“The goal of democratic politics is to garner positive changes. But in India, development has been centred around cities,” he said.

“Villages have fallen off the development map. Uparwale log malai kha gaye, niche ke logon ko kya milega (The creamy layer has eaten everything, what will the poor of India get?),” Ramdev said.

“Today’s politics is a sham,” the seer said, adding he will “field candidates who are responsible, honest and hard working”.

“Several of my Rashtriya Swabhiman Trust candidates will be first-timers,” he said.