Baba Ramdev is an Indian spiritual leader and a renowned yoga teacher. He is famous for popularizing yoga among Indians through the medium of television and his mass yoga camps. His yoga camps are attended by thousands of people and he has taught yoga to several celebrities including Amitabh Bachchan and Shilpa Shetty. Born in the state of Haryana, India, as Ramkrishna Yadav, he became interested in yoga early on. He realized that he was not meant for the worldly life when he was a young adult and entered into Sanyas (monastic living) - taking up the name Baba Ramdev. After becoming a ‘Sanyasi’ he spent many years undertaking a study of ancient Indian scriptures and also practiced intense self-discipline and meditation. During this time he started offering free yoga lessons to disciples and realized the need to popularize this ancient art among the Indians. He went on to establish the Divya Yoga Mandir Trust in 1995 and became a popular yoga guru over the years. His fame reached new heights when he started appearing in a television program aimed at promoting yoga and he gained a large following. He is also the founder of Patanjali Yogpeeth, an institution for promoting the practice of yoga and ayurveda
Childhood & Early Life
Baba Ramdev was born as Ramkrishna Yadav in 1965, in Alipur village of Mahendragarh district, Haryana, India, to Ram Nivas Yadav and Gulabo Devi. Ram Nivas Yadav and Gulabo Devi.
He studied up to the eighth grade in a school in Shahjadpur. From a young age he was interested in yoga and went on to join Arya Gurukul, Khanpur, where he studied Sanskrit, Indian scriptures and yoga.
He read a book called ‘Yogik Sadhan’, written by Aurobindo Ghosh and was deeply influenced by it. He decided to renounce the worldly ways of life and adopt Sanyas (monastic living). He was initiated into the ascetic order by Swami Shankerdevji Maharaj and after becoming a sanyasi, Ramkrishna Yadav adopted the name “Baba Ramdev”.
He then went to Jind district and joined the Kalva gurukul from where he received a postgraduate (Ācārya) degree with specialization in Sanskrit Vyākarana, Yoga, Darśana, Vedas and Upanishads.
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He started teaching yoga to the villagers across Haryana while still at the Kalva gurukul. It is believed that later on he went to the Himalayas where he spent several years.
He then moved to Haridwar in Uttarakhand where he studied ancient Indian scriptures at Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya. He also practiced intense self-discipline and meditation.
Baba Ramdev established Divya Yoga Mandir Trust in 1995 in order to promote yoga. In this endeavor he was accompanied by Acharya Karamveer and Acharya Balkrishna. Acharya Karmaveer is an expert in yoga and Veda while Acharya Balkrishna is a physician with a degree in ayurveda. The headquarters of the trust is at the Kripalu Bagh Ashram of Haridwar. Baba Ramdev teaches yoga mainly at this ashram.
Baba Ramdev primarily teaches the Pranayama form of yoga. The program consists of six breathing exercises in a specific sequence. Most of the other yoga teachers place more emphasis on the practice of asanas (yoga postures) while Baba Ramdev focuses more on the breathing exercises.
He became a very well-known yoga teacher and in 2003 he began appearing on Aastha TV in a series promoting yoga. The show proved to be very popular with the audiences and he gained a large following.
His fame spread far and wide, and thousands, including celebrities, flocked to his yoga camps to learn the ancient science. After attaining much popularity in India he also started teaching yoga in other countries like Britain, the USA and Japan.
He founded the Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar, for the promotion and practice of yoga and ayurveda. Ayurvedic medicines are also manufactured there and it offers treatments for all and has residential accommodation. Patanjali Yogpeeth has two campuses in India, Patanjali Yogpeeth-I and Patanjali Yogpeeth-II, and several others in the UK, US, Nepal, Canada, and Mauritius.
Baba Ramdev is also active in political campaigns. He was involved in the Jan Lokpal agitation in 2011 where he campaigned against corruption with activists like Anna Hazare, Ram Jethmalani, Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal and Swami Agnivesh. On 4 June 2011, Baba Ramdev launched the Bhrashtachar Mitao Satyagrah at Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi. He also launched a campaign against black money.
Baba Rambev is also known for kindling controversies with some of his claims and statements. His belief that homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be “cured”, and his claims that the condition of patients suffering with AIDS can be improved through yoga and ayurvedic drugs sold by his Divya Yoga Mandir Trust have earned him several detractors.
Baba Ramdev is best known for promoting yoga among the Indian masses. He founded Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar which is one of the largest yoga institutes in India. The main purpose of the institute is to promote and develop yoga and ayurveda. It is also the home of the University of Patanjali.
Awards & Achievements
Baba Ramdev was awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree in recognition of his efforts at popularizing the Vedic science of Yoga by the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Bhubaneswar, in 2007. The degree was presented to him in a ceremony presided over by the Nobel laureate Richard Ernst.
He was presented with Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati National Eminence Award by Maharashtra Governor K. Shankaranarayanan in 2011