05/28/2021, 14.26
INDIA
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Yoga guru says COVID-19 is a Christian plot

by Nirmala Carvalho

To promote their Ayurvedic products, the hugely popular Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna accuse conventional medicine of being used to convert their followers to Christianity. For Father Joseph, it is hard to believe that anyone could express such hate rather than join the fight for a cure.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – In the country most affected by the pandemic today, the top aid of popular yoga guru claimed on twitter that  COVID-19 is “a conspiracy to convert the entire country to Christianity and turn them against yoga and Ayurveda.”

The charge comes from Acharya Balkrishna, chairman of Patanjali, a large company that makes Ayurvedic products, who is also an associate of the hugely popular TV yoga guru Ramdev.

Thanks to the latter’s popularity, Patanjali has become big business. Balkrishna’s net worth is estimated to be around US$ 2.3 billion according to Forbes magazine.

For days, Ramdev's entourage and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have been at loggerheads over the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicines against the coronavirus, which has not yet been established by any tests.

For Ramdev, COVID-19 “allopathy (conventional medicine) killed lakhs (hundreds of thousands)”; for this reason, Indians should refuse conventional therapies and use instead Patanjali's Ayurvedic remedies.

The IMA responded to these claims by filing a complaint against the yoga guru for spreading false information, especially during a pandemic.

Upping the ante, Balkrishna posted the picture of IMA president, Dr J A Jayalal, on social media with a caption saying: “Doctor or pastor?” Dr Jayalal responded by stating that “I have never done or intended to do anything with religion in mind.”

For Father Babu Joseph, former spokesman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), “By any stretch of imagination, one cannot find even a remote connection between what the IMA president said and Christianity.”

That an “associate of Yoga Guru Ramdev chose to make such a ludicrous allegation against a well reputed and professional body like the IMA shows his antipathy towards anything progressive and modern like allopathy,” Fr Joseph told AsiaNews.

The “Allopathic (conventional) system of medicine is a  tried and tested method that has saved  millions of people over the years across the world. To cast aspersions on it, that too by a non medical professional, is nothing short of a travesty of justice,” the clergyman added.

What “Patanjali pushes into the market as remedies for COVID-19 ought to be scientifically tested and accepted by the medical community in India. No one has any right to gamble with the health of the public, particularly during the current pandemic.”

“One can at least expect support from people like Balakrishnan for every effort by the medical community in India to deal with the current situation rather than fan the flame of the all too familiar communal rant.”

The paradox is that many Christians in India also practice yoga. Father Joseph H Pereira, for example, is the founder of the Kripa Foundation, which is dedicated to the care and support of people suffering from drug addiction and AIDS through yoga and modern anti-addiction techniques.

His programme combines the teachings of Mother Teresa and those of guru B.K.S. Iyengar. “I am now the most senior Iyengar yogi in the world. This year’s Yoga Day will reach 130 nations,” he told AsiaNews.

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