Swami Ramdev will now have a comic character based on him according to a news report this week. The Chest, the Hair, the Eyes. What we’re dying to know is will the script play it straight and deify him? Or will he in the true tradition of Indian mythology and modern fantasy, be a Magic Swami, using his staff like a broomstick on which to zip around and whack the baddies into shape?
Will his manga (Japanese comic) persona reform them by making them stand on their heads for a hundred years on a rock in the middle of a Ganga rapid? Or simply dunk them in the scariest ones, like Golf Course or Three Blind Mice (yes, those are the names), to be rescued only when they sign up for seva at his Divya Yog ashram at Rishikesh and roll out a kazillion rotis for the anchorites?
The possibilities are endless for the man who began life 40-plus years ago as Ramkishan at Narnaul in deepest Haryana, joined a local gurukul after Class VIII, plugged into Sanskrit, ayurveda and yoga and, in true yogic pattern, disappeared into a Himalayan cave near Gangotri for a few years.
He claims to have discovered rare medicinal plants there, which gave him the yen to set up shop and dispense healing herbal products. The ashram happened in 1995 with two other swamis and the TV show took off a couple of years ago, making him the hottest 6 am sanyasi anyone could hope to learn from, on how to lick diabetes, hypertension, ticker trouble and sundry other ailments. The cut-through is impressive. You could hit a posh South Delhi park at dawn and find the village ladies from the lal dora next door engaged in performing the same asanas as you. And they will come up and inquire sweetly, “Hope you’ve learnt it from Swami Ramdev’s programme? He’s the one who really works!”
But even Eden had a serpent and so the swami’s share of prarabdha (karma that has to be worked out in this life itself) fell upon him in January 2006.
A group of dismissed workers from his herbal medicine factory in Rishikesh went to CPI-M leader and wife-of-leader Brinda Karat to complain of unfair employment practices and illegal manufacturing processes. The swami had not just fired them for demanding a raise but was conning his devotees by mixing animal and even (aargh) human bones in his potions, pills and powders! Samples sent for testing however proved untenable since they had been sourced by Karat from the sacked workers. And every colour of politician stood by him. Lalu Prasad Yadav even said that so long as the swami’s products healed, he didn’t care if they contained the bones of manav (men) or danav (titans). See how much fun it’s going to be to make and read a Ramdev comic? What will they call it, though? Yogi Bare? Rambo Rishi? Watch this space!