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Baba Ramdev's 20mn yoga centre in US

Last updated on: July 31, 2008 01:51 IST
A $20 million yoga and Ayurveda research centre, the first outside India -- modeled after Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Yog Peeth in Haridwar -- was consecrated in Rosenberg, Texas, USA, this month with the yoga guru presiding over the consecration ceremony.

At a cotton field in Rosenberg, about 25 miles from Houston, Baba Ramdev and his associates chanted ancient Vedic hymns as he blessed the 94-acre ground for the proposed centre.

Baba Ramdev said he visualises a 'yoga revolution' in the Western world with the establishment of the centre.

"As many as 30 per cent people in the US cannot afford medical treatment because of the cost. Our aim at this centre would be to treat and cure such people through yoga and traditional Indian medical systems," Baba Ramdev told rediff.com a day after the ceremony.

By his own admission he has cured millions of people in India of diabetes, asthma, hypertension, obesity, arthritis and other stress-related diseases solely through yoga. He hopes to do the same in the United States.

While the centre will have trained yoga teachers, he will visit Texas at least twice a year. "Besides clinical trials, scientific study and genetic research, we will promote evidence-based research of traditional medicine here," he said.

Baba Ramdev plans smaller centres all over America. "In India we are planning small centres in 600,000 villages to provide treatment to people. We will replicate that model in the US although on a much smaller scale," he said. Both in lectures during his current tour of the US and in this interview, the yoga guru promised to create a "disease-free world."

"Unlike other yoga practitioners, I have tried to promote pranayam and meditation-based yoga and not exercise-based yoga, which only leads to flexibility and fitness of the body, but cannot cure diseases. That is where I make a big difference," Ramdev said in a telephone interview after the ceremony in Texas.

The centre is expected to be functional within two years, but Baba Ramdev said it would be wonderful if it is ready to open the same day next year.

Ramesh Bhutada and Shekhar Agrawal, who are among those who initiated the plan for the centre, hoped they could meet that shorter deadline.

Vijay Pallod, an Indian-American community leader, said the initial plan was for a smaller centre costing about $4.5 million. "After Swamiji visited the land, saw the environment, the volunteer base and the financial support from the local community, the plan was changed for a $20 million centre. In five days we raised $5 million, which is a record of sorts," Pallod told rediff.com

Houston-based businessman Ramesh Bhutada and Florida-based businessmen Braham Agarwal and Bhagwan Gambhir donated $500,000 each for the centre. 

On the fund-raising day, Braham Agarwal, Ramesh Bhutada, and Jugal Malani, businessman from Houston, matched million dollars apiece.

A host of other donors, including Brij Mohan Agarwal, Shekhar Agarwal, Hari Agarwal, Vishnu Gupta, Durga Agarwal, Govind Agarwal, Navin Bhargava, Jai Prakash Agarwal and Suresh Agarwal each contributed between $100,000 and $250,000, Pallod said.

Before visiting Houston, Baba Ramdev conducted his first-ever yoga workshop in Los Angeles. Hundreds of people, including many Americans, attended the five-day camp from July 9 at the Anaheim Convention Centre. More than 2,000 people attended the camp on the last day.

During a visit to South Brunswick, New Jersey, as part of his coast-to-coast visit that included Washington, DC as well, Baba Ramdev blessed a 'Mini Forest' project sponsored by the Tathaastu group. The project aims to create areas of green, primarily in industrialised areas or locations where forests and greenery is sparse.

Baba Ramdev said he is not bothered by criticism like the allegation leveled against him by Communist Party of India-Marxist MP Brinda Karat. She alleged that medicines produced at the yoga guru's Haridwar facility were contaminated. "I am doing my work, which is to acquaint people with truth and knowledge and the critics are doing their job -- to criticise," he said. "I have no problem at all with that."

Suman Guha Mozumder in New York