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Ahead of the first International Yoga Day celebrations on June 21, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev has appealed all and sundry to observe it while stressing that Yoga should not be politicised.

In a candid interview with Zee Business Editor Amish Devgan, Baba Ramdev shared his views on the importance of Yoga, the controversy surrounding it and also on bringing a healthy option of instant noodles.

Excerpts…

Q. Do you think that the government is taking revenge from Rahul Gandhi on food park issue?

If the UPA government wanted, they could have made 2 or 3 food parks. However, if Rahul Gandhi seeks my help to open food park, I will surely help. He should start doing yoga for his ‘acche din’.

Q. From where did you get the idea of making an Indian Maggi?

I will bring out a healthy option of Maggi. I will use pure oil to make domestic noodles and I may come up with a herbal one soon.

Q. You said if Rahul Gandhi does Yoga then good days will come for Congress. What do you mean by this?

Sonia Gandhi gave boost to Congress because of Yoga. Infact, she is alive today because of Yoga. The entire Nehru family’s reputation is because of Yoga.

Q. Are you giving all the credit to Yoga?

Congress was about to vanish from the scene but Rahul Gandhi did Yoga for a few days. Everybody says that Modi is taking all the credit for Yoga. But I want to ask why are you letting Modi take all the credit? Yoga is not owned by a single person. If Congress and Sonia Gandhi respect Mahatma Gandhi, then they should take part on June 21st. They should come out on June 21st at Rajpath.

Q. When will Rahul Gandhi and Congress’ good days come?

There are so many issues that it will take time. Good days will start the day one takes up Yoga.

Q.The world has acknowledged what we have said on Yoga. As India’s biggest yoga guru what is your take on this?

The whole world today is saluting Yoga, thanks to Modiji, who got support from 197 countries including 47 Muslim countries (over this). I have a suggestion for those who are creating controversy related to Yoga. Firstly, in your personal life you do yoga whereas publicly you condemn it. Nehruji, Indira ji used to do Yoga. Sonia ji despite being so unwell, is strongly present in politics only because of Yoga. So don’t be against Yoga. You can protest against other political issues, but don’t protest against Yoga because it is our combined heritage.

Q. Followed by Budhha’s spiritualism and Mahatma Gandhi’s non violence, India has now given the concept of yoga to the world. What is your take on it?

Yoga is our combined heritage so there should be no politics on it. West gave science to the  world while our ancestors gave the knowledge of Yoga which has two types of knowledge.  One is physical exercise that includes asanas and kriyas. Around 2500 asanas and 250 Yoga kriyas have been prescribed in our shastras. Then there is pranayam, meditation etc. This is the practical aspect of Yoga. Second, there is the philosophical meaning which is based on the principles of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, ‘vishwa ekatva’ and ‘bandhutva’.

Q. ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ is also Zee’s tagline implying ‘world is our family’. Do you feel Yoga has made the world our family and has created a strong place for India in the world?

First of all, India’s dignity and pride has increased at world level. Secondly,the whole world can be tied in one thread with the help of Yoga. When we don’t do Yoga, we see ourselves separately but when we do Yoga we go to our roots. The entire universe is expansion of powers of one Brahma. Some people say moon belongs to Muslims and sun to Hindus. But the truth is that political boundaries, languages, religions are man-made while God made everyone equal.

Q. There has been a huge controversy over ‘Surya Namaskar’.

Truth, non violence, honesty and justice is Yoga.

Q. Why are we witnessing this protest then?

In the last 20 years, there has never been any religious or political comment on Yoga. But now, when Yoga has gained prominence in the entire world some people are protesting. Those who have problems with Modiji and BJP government and RSS are taking Yoga as an excuse to protest.

Q. What is your take on ‘Surya Namaskar’ controversy?

‘Surya-namaskar’ is a Sanskrit word. There are approximately 1000 granths on Yoga, based on which we are going to make ‘Yoga Vishwa Kosh’. Possibly we will realease it on the 20th. I have read 1000 books on Yoga but there is no word like ‘Surya Namaskar’. Then what is it? ‘Surya Namaskar’ is an exercise and it has no relation to any religion. Some people have problem with the word ‘namah‘ in it so they think that it is being done to worship the sun. If you don’t want to worship the sun, don’t do it. I also don’t do it. I don’t say any mantra during ‘Surya Namaskar’.  ‘Surya Namaskar’ is not at all related to any mantra or religion. The meaning of namah can be understood as – one, pooja or upasana; second, ‘vadra’ and third is ‘poshan’.

Q. So you mean to say that the protest is political and over principles?

Yes! And it’s not even logical. The thing is that people have no objection with a Yogi or Yoga. However, some might have problem because Modiji is talking about it. Lot of Hindus, who are not hardcore, are feeling a connect with Modiji. Moreover all the health conscious people, irrespective of their religion are connecting with India. This will also increase India’s tourism while that of medicine and alcohol will decrease and a new business of Yoga will get established.

Q. So you mean business of Yoga will increase with it?

Approximately Rs 5 to 10 lakh crore of medicine and alcohol business will come down and people will save money which can be used on good food, clothes and education. You will soon see a new new market with Yoga dress, Yoga food, Yoga shoes, Yoga drink and Yoga cap. Through Zee Business I want to say that that there will be a new business in Yoga. When a thing is promoted, it finds a new market. So it is a big business opportunity.

Q. You have been instrumental in creating awareness on Yoga. But who should get the real credit –Narendra Modi or Baba Ramdev?

I always talk about collective credit. I cannot give myself full credit socially or spiritually . Many great people have worked on Yoga and I salute all of them. Narendra Modiji took the initiative politically. Had he not taken this initiative, I wouldn’t have been able to keep this proposal in front of the UN. So on political front the credit goes to Narendra Modiji. And on social and spiritual front all the swamis, mahatmas and saints including me should get the credit.