From Yogi to Bhogi: What Baba Ramdev’s Z security cover really says about him

New Delhi,Sandipan Sharma(FP) : One of the defining moments of Baba Ramdev’s political life is his midnight escape from Delhi’s Ramleela Maidan draped in a sari with a long veil covering his jet-black beard.

From Yogi to Bhogi: What Baba Ramdev’s Z security cover really says about him

The Yogi who is now a Bhogi? PTI

Now that he has Z-security, Baba can gleefully chuck all his Benarasi saris, or whichever variety he prefers, out of his wardrobe. Apart from the fact that Baba’s suitcase will be a little lighter because of his inclusion in the Z-category however, the government’s decision to include him the list makes very little sense.

One, it goes against the tenets of Indian Babadom. In our cultural context, a Baba is essentially a person who has transcended worldly desires, passions and fears. He is an ascetic who, like a peripatetic mendicant or a selfless preacher, moves around freely, spreads his knowledge and interacts freely with both followers and disbelievers.
Since Ramdev wants to walk around in the shadow of commandoes, it is evident that he has not mastered fear yet.

Two, it raises doubts about Ramdev’s claims of being a Yogi.
Though many of us equate yoga with the asanas and postures it teaches, there are deeper meanings attached to it. According to some classical definitions, yoga means the union of the human with the divine.

Patanajali’s Yoga Sutra says the purpose of yoga is to lead to a silence of the mind. Since Ramdev’s mind seems to be wandering and he is a bit jittery about his own security, it can be assumed that he is still not a perfect yogi.
The Indian way of life broadly categorizes people as yogis, jogis (wandering mendicants) and bhogis. (Current lifestyles have contributed the category of rogis but that is a separate debate).

Ramdev, neither a yogi nor a jogi, can now be classified a bhogi—a man who relishes material pleasures and trappings of power.
It is difficult to fathom who could possibly pose a threat to Ramdev. Though some of his preachings like eggs being hen’s poop since they come ‘out of its back side’ or that rubbing finger nails against each other can help regrow hair are ridiculous, they aren’t exactly provocations for murder either.

Also, Ramdev made a career by holding camps in open grounds where he would teach yoga postures to hundreds of men and women. If nobody threw a stone at him then, it is difficult to see why he would be a target now.
Clearly, the Z-security has been bestowed upon him in lieu of his favours to the BJP over the past few years and his consistent loyalty to the Prime Minister.

It is a political largesse, a trapping of power that he has been given to enjoy. Some of the BJP handpicked by Ramdev, like Babul Supriyo, are ministers in the Modi government.
It would have been unfair to Ramdev if his political disciples were allowed to use lal battis and move around with black cats while the guru wandered around like a common man.
But, Ramdev should be careful. He is not the first Baba in the history of Indian politics to benefit from his proximity to power.
There have been many like him in the past.

Jawaharlal Nehru was close to Ma Anandmayi. He used to regularly visit her in Dehradun. His interactions with her kept secret from the public but were later revealed in full detail by people close to him.
His daughter Indira patronized another yoga guru, Dhirendra Brahmchari, and their interaction made many tongues wag. For a long time, Sadhvi Rithambhara was a favourite of many BJP leaders. And, PV Narasimha Rao was so close to Chandraswami that he could walk in and out of the PM residence without being checked.

Brahmchari died in a plane crash near Jammu in 1994 under mysterious circumstances. Rithambhara was forgotten soon after the Ayodhya movement died. And Chandraswami was put behind bars when Rao’s internal security minister Rajesh Pilot launched several probes against the controversial tantric.

History tells us that the equation between politicians and Babas is tenuous. When the tide of fortune turns, after selfish interests are served or when regimes change, Babas are often left out in the cold. They have a quick fall and descend in the netherland reserved for yogis who morphed into bhogis.

Kabir summed it up poignantly: Satt naam kadua lage, meetha laage daam. Duvidha me dono gaye, maaya mili na Ram. (Caught between material and spiritual pursuit, he lost both).