Ramdev shocks me. Truly. Utterly. Un-bearably. His saffron shocks me. It makes his words all the more shocking. Saffron is the colour either of self-sacrifice or of inspired bravery. He seems light years away from both. It is blatant cowardice to say one would love to cut off the heads of millions of people but for the small inconvenience that stands in the way. There is, he laments, that irksome thing called the rule of law. He could get into trouble if he ventures to harvest a few million human heads. That, says Ramdev, chokes the heroic expression of his sterling patriotic zeal.
Ramdev’s version of patriotism, please note, is choked by the law. That is to say, it is unlawful. Refraining from scandalously unlawful lusts and longings only due to fear of unpleasant consequences is cowardice. Only Ramdev can enlighten us about the meeting point between cowardice and self-sacrifice: The sort of cowardice that made him scoot from the scene of trouble in Ramlila Maidan in 2011. The adroitness with which our shape-shifting baba escaped on that occasion is of the same stuff as the insured insolence with which he threatens to annihilate fellow citizens for not falling in line.
I am not happy to write these words, which I have to wring out of my reluctant heart. But I must. To keep quiet in the face of such an eruption of insanity is to mock my spiritual calling. I shall have no right to appear in public clad in saffron if I do not speak up. I have to denounce the political adventurism of this friend of mine. But I shall not despise him; for the spirit of the Vedic faith that keeps me going will not let me. This noble spiritual vision puts me under obligation to love every member of the human family — including those who do not agree with me, those who do not shout “Bharat Mata ki Jai” like parrots, and also those who spew the lingo of aggression as the poetry of patriotism.
I denounce the words of Ramdev and urge him to apologise, first, to all Hindus and, then, to all human beings. To the extent that he has started raving and ranting, he has lost the right to take the name of the Vedic faith or pretend to be a spiritual guru. He would do well to take vanvaas for meditation and self-purification.
Ramdev has been in the business of converting spirituality into material profit. He has, as a result, lost the distinction between dhandha and dharma. Religion became, in the process, the means for indulging in covetousness. The mega bucks he earned became his entry into politics. If in the Ayodhya movement, politicians used babas and swamis, Ramdev is shrewd enough to use politicians to his advantage. It is a marriage of convenience for both parties.
I also hold the BJP to account in this most lamentable turn of events. I want to tell them that Hinduism is truly in peril. The cocktail of politics, corporatisation and communalism concocted under the name of Hinduism today threatens its authenticity.
What Ramdev has done is criminal. He is sowing seeds of horrendous violence in the minds of unsuspecting people within an ambience of faith. This is incitement of the most dangerous kind. Knowing the outlook and agenda of the current dispensation, I have no hope that the government either at the Centre or in Haryana will take cognisance of this challenge to the rule of law and insult to the Constitution. I pray, therefore, to the chief justice of India to take suo moto cognisance of this and initiate appropriate action.
Finally, a word about the senselessness that inflates Ramdev’s hollow patriotism. Does he really think that shouting a slogan — or a thousand slogans — proves anyone’s patriotism? Does he really believe that a coerced utterance carries patriotic value? Those who revel in coercing others are not interested in the motherland. They are intoxicated with power. This is not patriotism. This is poison. Every form of coercion is an insult to the spirit and substance of the Constitution.