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Yogevangelist Swami Ramdev Protests Homosexuality, Claims it a ‘Defect’ ‘Cured’ with Yoga

in Ethics, World News, YD News

With all the fluff of Celebriyogi week it’s taken a moment to locate our serious YD hat. We found it a lot easier after reading about this…

India’s Yoga prince Swami Ramdev has already made the controversial claim that yoga can cure all, so of course the big news came when last week swami_ramdev_gayprideflagthe Delhi High Court  moved to decriminalize “unnatural sex acts”(basically making gay sex legal) upon which Ramdev balked and shot back with a petition citing that

1. Homosexuality is an illness 2. Yoga is the cure! good grief. are you thinking what we’re thinking? here we go…

Says Swamster:

“It can be treated like any other congenital defect. Such tendencies can be treated by yoga, pranayama (breathing exercises) and other meditation techniques,” he said in the challenge filed in the Supreme Court.

Yep, we were trying hard to give this guy a chance, but after this, sir, no yoga dice. Can’t say for sure if he’ll have much sway in overturning the ruling, but he’s not the only one upset about gayness in India; naturally the conservatives and religious folks are up in arms as well (sound familiar?).

While Westerners have paid little to no attention to the grand swell Swami Ramdev has created in India, we at YD have been monitoring his steep catapulting to Yogi Stardom for a good while now. Yes, in India, Ramdev is revered as the great yoga resurrecter, playing out well for the country’s recent mission to preserve the ancient tradition of Yoga and texts in a massive data bank overhaul to save it from pirates. He’s got the 24/7 yoga channel thing (two actually) with over 20 million viewers, an industrial food camp, an ‘in’ with government, oh and a $4.5 mil compound in Texas, here in the US of A, hadn’t you heard? Ah, and a yearly paycheck of about $39 million. You could say he’s kind of a big deal.

Baba Ramdev may encourage silent meditation, but he sure doesn’t refrain from speaking his mind.

-Ramdev on Yoganomics: advice for the Bombay Stock Exchange (March 09) link

“Yoga will teach you that work is religion, work is worship and sitting idle is a sin. When we work towards attaining goals of our life, we would be able to sail through all economic crises. When we understand that working and doing business is a religion in itself and working for the betterment of our country is also our responsibility, all of us would be happy.”

-Valentine’s Day: Should be celebrated as “Marriage Day”

-On the Indonesian Yoga fatwa: Chant ‘Allah’ instead.

-In response to the terrorist attacks on Mumbai: “If Government has no funds for the war against Pakistan, I will collect it.”

Why you should care…

Yoga guru Ramdev threatened to lead mass protests if homosexuality was legalised. “(Gay sex) is against our Vedic culture.” [ThaiIndian.com]

Eek. Extremism and fanaticism: surely not the way to go, but clearly that is where we’re headed. What say the yogi peanuts on this as ‘yoga’ point of view? Sure does get kinda scary when we know the Swamster is a Yoga mogul machine.

Hindu guru claims homosexuality can be ‘cured’ by yoga [The Telegraph UK]

More YD coverage of Baba ‘Swami’ Ramdev

Further reading.. India to Save Yoga From Western Pirates

30 comments… add one

  • Car

    So what you’re saying is… you can’t be religious and speak out about your personal beliefs AND practice yoga. Saying something like “is this a ‘yoga’ point of view” lends me to believe that yoga IS your religion. For you, it is a lifestyle and a worldview rather than just a hobby. In essence, this is a religious disagreement: your worldview and his worldview (religion) are at odds.

  • admin

    Car – sorry this is not a religious debate. It is news about a super popular and influential Yoga figure in India claiming yoga as a cure all, saying homosexuality is a disease and engaging in protest.
    we’re not yoga scholars, but he claims to be. the question put out there to yogis is, how do YOU feel about it?
    hobby or worldview, no one will make you care about world news, or world yoga news for that matter.

  • Angela McWilliams

    All I can say is, “Yikes!” Fundamentalism is bad, no matter what the country or religion in question. Creates divisiveness. (Is that even a word? I think you know what I mean). Yoga means, essentially, “union,” and Swami Ramdev is certainly not representing any of the Vedas I have studied.

  • Good grief! Well, we’ve all seen people in positions of spiritual power/authority abuse the trust of the people (Catholic priests: pedophilia anyone?) and try to sway public beliefs (Pope: condoms are evil).

    Then there’s politicians. Then there’s where politics, religion and personal beliefs and preferences intersect. Which seems to be what we have here. But just with a guy in robes – oh wait, the Pope wears robes too, right?

    Car – you should know that this guy’s worldview is not the general world view of yoga practitioners in India or other parts of the world. Its simply his preference, and therefore not really a religious point of view, just a point of view.

  • Yikes! What someone does in the privacy of their own home is their business. It hurts no-one. What hurts is when people like this go on a public speaking bender and discriminate, influencing and igniting ignorance. Great blog Yoga Dork!

  • Every now and then in the blogosphere, I read rants against “Americanized” or “Westernized” yoga, with all of its different styles, etc. as opposed to the “pure” yoga practiced by everybody in magical mystical India. Generally, an Indian guru is cited to the effect that in India there is only one style of yoga, one yogic philosophy, etc. Of course, there are in fact a number of Indian gurus who say the same thing, and each has a very different style and philosophy–such as this apparently very influential one. Contrary to Western romanticism, fundamentalism, corruption, bigotry and stupidity weren’t invented in Europe. They have always existed everywhere, including in the magical mystical lands of the East, even among yogis, ancient and modern. Of course, wisdom, integrity, and compassion have also always existed everywhere.

    So, apparently there’s a rather large school of thought in yoga that’s homophobic. I’m sorry to hear that, but it doesn’t surprise me any more than the homophobic schools of thought to be found anywhere else (including in every major religion). I’m just happy that the yogis I know and admire are all of a very different mindset in this regard, just as my Quaker mother is happy to be part of a branch of Christianity that welcomes gays and lesbians.

  • someone should tell the swami that homosexuality is LEGAL now in India. that just happened last week — seriously, it was illegal to be gay in India. which is surprising considering that in India public displays of affection between men and women are frowned upon (yes, even in the land of the Kama Sutra and shiva lingams and you know what that lingam is all about), while it is very common to see men who aren’t gay walking arm in arm in India or holding hands while walking.

    go figure.

  • DR

    So, what do we do? Is anyone one or any particular organization—Yoga Alliance or IYTA or the Yoga Research and Education Center—taking a stand, starting a petition, or making a statement against the kind of homophobia Ramdev is promoting?

  • I never would have expected someone like him to wig out like that. Frightening indeed!

  • Jac

    The things he claims and have said in the past is infuriating. It seems like he’s more a government politician hiding behind his robe and title ‘swami’ just to get the media’s attention. He doesn’t even believe in ‘peaceful’ resolutions among disputes, feels like he’s a warmonger. It’s sad and dissapointing to see men in robes, to misuse their titles and status, proclaiming false and untrue statements.

  • As a student of yoga and a teacher and practitioner of its sister science, ayurveda, I am hesitant to level criticism at anyone, much less pass judgement on another. In this instance, I must make an exception.

    Swami Ramdev’s actions have nothing to do with yoga or healing nor with the Sanatana Dharma. His attempts to bring the sanctions of the criminal law against the life choices of others categorize him as an enemy of freedom and truth, willing for the sake of egotism to sacrifice the happiness and well being of millions on the altar of the god of self-aggrandizement.

    Some notion of the Swami’s concept of and committment to promoting health might be had from his fraudulent claims of curing AIDS, cancer and – most egregiously – his promotion of a purported ayurvedic “medicine” labelled Putravati, supposed to help women to selectively give birth to sons.

    Swamiji’s efforts to promote the marginalization of homosexuality and the dispossession of gay and lesbian people of their human rights may well win applause in the homophobic, misogynistic backwaters of the subcontinent’s countless villages. His condemnation of the peaceful methods of Mohandas Gandhi and the utility of non-violence in gaining India’s independence bloodlessly may play well to the right-wing rump of Indian reactionary politics, but he has revealed himself to a much wider world to be a charlatan and a poseur.

    This is no man of God, and his reprehensible conduct is a disgrace to the sannyasin’s robe.

  • Shyam

    This explanation is for the person Linda who has commented on Shiva Linga philosophy without even knowing the significance and associating it with phallic worship. Shiva form represents formless form of worshipping God and not phallic worship. The concept of associating Shiva as linga originated with the invasion of Muslims and continued by the European Christian missionaries to spread wrong things about sanathana Dharma. The formless form of God is to say that God can take any form although he is formless. The base represents the bhrahmam, the center portion represents the protector or the Vishnu that is all pervading and the the head or the formless form represents the destruction of evil and that is why Shiva is having the hooded snaked on His head about that formless form to show that control of Kundlini shakthi can bring forth the real power in a human and elevate him/her spiritually.
    If you dont know something, please dont comment..
    Thank you
    Shyam

  • admin

    thanks for everyone’s reactions and comments on this…definitely something to think about and keep tabs on in today’s world.
    ps. for the record, it’s safe to say everyone is free to comment

  • Hey Shyam,
    Actually, both you and Linda are right, not one or the other!
    There’s strong multi-layered symbology associated with much of Hindu, yogic and Tantric philosophy (sometimes they’re the same thing, sometimes they differ a lot).
    Your explanation of the linga as the formless representation of god is correct.
    But there’s also another way of looking at the Shiva linga, which is about sexual union (the upright part of the linga is the phallus, the base is the yoni) being an expression of divinity as the creative spark.
    So while Linda may not have fully explained what she was talking about, she wasn’t wrong in referring to the linga in that way.
    Like most things to do with the tradition of yoga, there are many expressions and none of them are actually ‘wrong’ as such…

  • Shyam

    While this is not a religious debate or religious symbolism debate, this is just a reply to svasti. The concept of associating formless form of Shiva and Shakthi with Phallus and yoni is never mentioned in that way in Bhagvatam and the explanation what I gave was given by Adi Shankara whose work was explained by Rajaji. The phallic symbolism was originated by Muslims invasion, continued by Christian fanatics and also by vaishnavite fanatics. the word linga by itself was associated later only to put down the symbolism of man and woman union when Vaishnavism developed as opposed to Saivism. However, either way, this symbolism is again clearly says that marriage is between man and woman and hence against homosexual marriages which cannot procreate. I am neither against or supportive of gay marriage, but I do feel strongly that India should keep the anti gay law active against foreigners who comes to India primarily abuse youngsters and children for sex and shut the mouth of their own parents or them with money.
    It is not the question of culture or tradition, but it is essential to keep the country safe. While it is not common among lesbian partners to have multiple partners, one among every two gay men are in open relationship and they have multiple partners and they are the one who spread diseases. I strongly support that India should keep the anti gay law active to prevent abuse, but can decriminalize between consensual partners who are in relationship only.

  • Shyam

    By the way, whatever yoga, the westerners are lobbying and practicing and even among most of the Indians, this yoga is nothing but stretching exercises to relieve the body muscles and to keep it flexible. The real yoga is something to do with spiritual elevation of the soul and that actually supresses not only sexual desires, but also our materialistic desires and elevate the person to higher plane of consciousness. So it is true that yoga can cure but not just homosexuality but also heterosexuality and lusty desires in general. But how far and how many such yogic teachers are existing to teach such yogas is actually a question.
    One who has elevated himself to such a higher plane again will not bash someone based on their sexuality or interest just because the other person is not elevated spiritually. Such elevated souls will see everyone with an equal eye and treat everyone with respect regardless of what they are.
    In no connection with all this yoga practice and anything, Indian Government should still keep the anti gay law active primarily to prevent abuse and to help someone who get abused because in heterosexual abuses, you can call it as a rape and report to police and actions can be taken to the court, but in homosexual abuses, its hard for someone to come forward boldly and report the matter and there has to be some form of law to prevent this and protect the public when they are abused or used up sexually by another person of same gender.
    Anyways, the decriminalization is active only in New Delhi and not anywhere in India.
    Instead of calling gay consensual sex as criminal, the law can be revisited and revised to prevent abuse and one who abuse anyone sexually regardless of sexuality is still a criminal. This is my opinion.
    Shyam

  • Hi Shyam,
    So, given the earliest Muslim interaction is known to be from around the 7th century, are you claiming there were no sexual practices to do with spiritual evolvement before this time? If so, please cite your references instead of making vaugue claims that are in fact, untrue.

    And the linga/yoni symbolism is not anti-gay at all – more its the illustration of the creative principal of procreation. And does not have anything to say about homosexuality.

    The rest of what you have to say about keeping anti-gay laws because it keeps people safe is a load of hogwash. Honestly, such laws don’t stop people from doing anything.

    Believe it or not, there are westerners out there who do understand what yoga is beyond mere stretching exercises. We watch that trend too, and for those who wish to understand more, the option is there. So its not a good idea to lump all westerners in the same basket.

    By the way, saying yoga can ‘cure’ things like homosexuality or lustiness, suggests there’s something wrong with those things in the first place. And there’s not – that’s just an subjective viewpoint/judgement applied by human beings and is therefore meaningless.

  • Shyam

    This is certainly not a spiritual discussion forum to talk about yoga that elevates a soul to the higher plane, but this is mere a discussion by a bunch of people who are supporting a form of sexuality. If you are interested to know about the kind of yoga I am talking about, then you should read Bhagwat-Gita especially the chapters from 7 to 12 or read completely and not just once, but more than once and then you will understand. It cannot be explained in this forum, neither it is appropriate here. Spiritual elevation does not come through sex regardless of whatever type it may be whether homo or hetero… The whole concept of Shiva with the hooded cobra represents the control of that shakthi and that cannot come by sexual practice. Sexual urge is to satisfy physically, emotionally but a proper heterosexual family life has been advocated by many to gradually go to the higher plane. Humans can love anyone regardless of gender and their own gender and it is possible and that love is beyond sexual attraction or sexual pleasure by itself. So I am not against any gay people or heterosexual people. Nobody is criminal as long as they practice within same species (and not going to animals), but a person becomes a criminal when there is a force involved in it or supression of the other person for sex regardless of the sexual practice and the law in India needs to be framed accordingly to protect abuse.
    Then coming to your comment on yoni and phallus, does not that word by itself specify heterosexuality? it is not yoni and yoni or phallus and phallus… The later explanation came primarily to advocate the equality of man and women in family life and how one can still proceed to higher plane of spiritual development by being in a regulated family life between a man and a woman.
    Shyam

  • Shyam

    A little correction to the above..
    ….and the law in India needs to be framed accordingly to prevent abuse and protect the one that is abused…
    Shyam

  • Shyam

    This reply is for Svasti for the following sentence..
    “are you claiming there were no sexual practices to do with spiritual evolvement before this time?”"

    India has seen real spiritual leaders and people who claimed as saints and spiritual (actually perverts). Real spiritual leaders include Adhi Shankara, Ramanuja, Madvacharya, Swami Narayana, Buddha, Sri Guru Raghavendra and etc etc and people who claimed that sex leads to spiritual evolution are the perverts and one such is Osho…
    If you want to really understand spiritual evolution and yoga that leads to it, it is not sex, and the evidence is too much for this in our literature and you need to read Baghavata PUrana, Gita and these two are certainly good source.
    One example from the story of Baghavatha is the Mohini avathar of Vishnu who deceitfully destroy the lusty minded Asuras (Rakshas) and give the amrith to the devas. The symbolism behind this whole story is that those who dont control their lusty desires of sex, get destroyed and loose the battle of spiritual evolution.
    These stories are not for fun reading, but every thing has a symbolic meaning and representation.
    Unfortunately, in India the false gurus contort lot of stories of Krishna leela too with sex and hence towards spiritual evolution of the soul which is totally wrong and one needs to read Bhagavatha purana carefully to understand the symbolic meaning behind all these.
    One more good example would be to just read Baja Govindam by Jagadguru Sankara.
    No where these Gurus have spoken that sex can lead to spirituality.
    Probably sex may and can, especially perverted sex regarless of homo or hetero can lead to diseases and emotional distress and these situations can force one to take refuge in God ultimately and thus they become spiritual…
    Most gay men remain in open relationship and spread diseases and it happens in one in two couples and they dont care because their ulterior motive is to have ‘fun’ and enjoy their physical pleasure. How this life leads to spiritual evolution? Unless they get into disease and distress.
    How often we come across heterosexual couples exchanging their partners or remain in open relationship? may be one or two in 10,000 and these hardly ever happen in India among straight couples and thats why India has strong family value based tradition.
    Honestly but this does not exist among gay couples and thats why I dont support gay marriage or gay union. I dont call anyone as criminal out of their sexual preference, but these gay men’s are much worse pigs than hetero men and it is accepted in gay world…
    So where is the law to prevent sexual abuse by these men in India?.
    Many foriegners come to India to abuse young children because its easy to shut the mouth with money and when gay law is not there, these men take much more upper hand. Whether someone is a kid or adult, regardless, if a person is abused sexually, there needs to be law to protect that person. Or else these men take lot of advantage of even friendships.

  • archikins

    Poorly written blog with no material except the dorky yogspeak.

    Give the man credit for his efforts to encourage a healthy lifestyle and bringing forth the ancient techniques and treatments that were proven effective.

    If you disagree with his viewpoint on the high court ruling, focus on that rather than trying to throw slime at his work in general.

  • Shyam

    The following link explains a lot from the scriptures. Most of the Indian ancient scriptures are misinterpreted as supportive of homosexuality for the convenience of the people of selective class who wants to live the life in the way they wish.

    http://jayasreesaranathan.blogspot.com/2009/07/any-role-for-manmatha-in-homosexuality.html

  • Raj

    Hi,
    This is ridiculous article.

    You would not gain by falsely twisting the facts against yog guru Ramdev.
    You should rather support his efforts of a healthy lifestyle to all the people.

    Please remove this article else I might think of sue-ing you.

  • sangos

    Would like to add what the Yogacharya said why he says so….”sex is for procreation NOT entertainment” ( yikes it disappoints me as well trust me! but again I guess its true)…so he can’t get the whole idea of two same sex people doing the act…hhmmmm! – can’t disagree.

  • soum tj

    Cure for homosexuality ? Who is asking for it ? You can’t just start and go on “healing” (in his own terms) people just because “you” think they are diseased.
    And secondly, you should actually google and see that it’s not only humans that have homosexuality growing in. It is there in a lot of species. And that is NATURE that is NATURAL.
    Thank you.

  • anupreet kaur

    To those who think that gay union and marriage should not be legal because gay men are promiscuous, imagine a scenario where heterosexual union and marriage were a crime … Do you not think most men and women would be more promiscuous then, when there would be no reminder or ritualized relationship that keeps a couple from falling apart and giving in to temptations ? While marriage is certainly not a certificate of love, it does solidify the commitment of people who ARE in love. And while some married people still sleep around, it makes sure at least ALL don’t. That would apply to anyone, irrespective of sexual orientation (were gay marriage legal). You see, gay people aren’t just having “fun”, they too have dreams and hopes like straight people, and in India, unfortunately, fears and pressures UNlike straight people.

    You talk about gay people who sleep around, in other words, are unfaithful. What about those gay people in India, who are forced to marry people of the opposite sex (Oooh, what will the relatives and neighbours say ??), or in other words, forced to be unfaithful – to their lovers, to themselves, to their sanity ! When a bookish law practically destroys someone’s life, you can’t blame them for rubbing it off on the people they’re now married to.

  • sourav mukherjee

    I am against gay marriage!! It should be banned.
    I fully support Baba Ramdev Ji…

  • RAJESH

    Mr Sourav who the hell cares what you think? You write without using your grey matter. Just imagine what would happen if a gay man/woman married a member of the opposite sex.The result would be both parties would be unhappy. We have to think from a logical point of view in todays world. No point in looking at what our scriptures said a thousand years ago… Again, the Vedic scriptures have never condemned homosexuality.

  • kishan bhalotia

    According to our yogguru Swami Ramdev yoga can treat not only physical disease but also mental disease like lust,greed,deppression,mean mindedness,negative thoughts,memory loss,jeoluusy,etc.I hope this is hundred percent true in case of pranayam.If more and more person will do pranayam i think our motherland INDIA will become gradually the most develloped and heavenly country.JAI HIND JAI BHARAT

  • planais

    Ramdev is a hugely successful Indian version of a televangelist, and all that that entail. Such gurus amass enormous amounts of cash and power in India, and peddle all sorts of off-the-wall ideas in the name of yoga.

    The cure-all claims are also common, and he has made money hand over fist from all the gullible people who watch his show. He has a huge pharmaceutical company that has been implicated in the past for labor abuses and politicians keep giving him and other guru entrepreneurs public land for their lucrative ashrams.

    Modern India seems like it is falling back into superstition, just like the US. Very scary when politicians themselves swear by astrological charts for their basic decisions and begin acting like cult members in their worship of these gurus.

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