Too Many Babas

The rapid rise of many Godmen across the country is a dangerous trend. They did have a social presence earlier also but lately their political clout was quite frightening. Many of them had a dark belly also, but by and large that has been overlooked and shadowed by the large divinity surrounding them. Shakaracharya Jayendra Sarswati was accused of the murder of Ashram worker, Shankar Raman. In Satya Sai Baba’s Prashanti Nilayam also there was a murder case. Gurmeet Ram Rahim carried on with his activities, one journalist Chhatrapti Ramchandra was killed for bringing forward his black deeds. Finally with difficulty law caught up with him and currently he is in jail, rather most of the time on parole. Asaram Bapu is another one who succeeded in escaping the clutches of law till a long time and finally, he is behind bars. Currently another one Bageshwar Dham Baba is having a roaring success with devotees. The riches of most of these are enviable.

There are two others who are worth mentioning–Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who rampaged the Yamuna for his gala event. He was also associated with Anna Hazare’s RSS-supported movement. He is in the news generally for subtly supporting Hindu nationalist politics. And then there is Baba Ramdev. He began his career as a Yoga Guru with great success and then made a transition to business with the brand of Patanjali. This firm, producing and marketing Ayurvedic products has brought Baba into the line of front-ranking business tycoons, with huge assets. He and his close associate Acharya Balkishan have built up a massive empire, un-challenged till lately.

Matters came to a head during Covid 19. On one hand, the ruling government made hefty donations for the Pune-based Bharat Biotech for their Covaccine. On the other hand, within a month of the outbreak of the Pandemic, Baba came up with the claim that they had developed a medicine called ‘Coronil’ for treatment and prevention of the disease’. The claim was that it has the approval of WHO. When challenged by the Ayush ministry, they corrected themselves to say that it had been developed on the guidelines of WHO. Ayush ministry distanced itself from the claims of Baba. The Combo pack of Coronil was introduced with great fanfare in the presence of two Cabinet ministers, Dr Harshvardhan and Nitin Gadkari. There is currently a blind praise of ancient systems.

Overawed with his commercial success, he not only accepted the praise from most of the Godi media, he took a step further to call Allopathic a stupid science. Irked by this the Indian Medical Association (IMA) filed a case against him, which was heard recently. First, he apologized to IMA for insulting the modern medicine. Just to recall when he sat on a hunger strike against corruption, he claimed that he had a ‘Yoga body’ and he can withstand the fast for a long time. Within a few days, his condition worsened and was admitted to an allopathic hospital.

Despite Court’s warning, his firm continued misleading advertisements. The court summoned him. He apologized profusely. The court refused to accept his apology and asked him to mend his ways and come back again. The Supreme Court has done well to put a small stop to this ascending ‘Baba’ trend in the field of medicine.

[Contributed by Ram Puniyani]

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Vol 56, No. 45, May 5 - 11, 2024