Baba Ramdev | Biography, Teachings & Controversies Of The Billionaire Businessman Yogi

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*Disclaimer* Please note that Baba Ramdev has made some controversial claims and has been complicit in various violations of law and ethical wrongdoings including homophobia, Islamophobia, and claims that yoga can cure AIDS.  

Baba Ramdev, an Indian guru, billionaire businessman, and the face of Patanjali Ayurved, has studied yoga and Ayurvedic medicine since his youth. 

He began teaching yogic practices and sharing ayurvedic treatments across India, eventually transforming this guru-to-student teaching into the highly successful business known as Patanjali Ayurved. 

In India, you are likely to come across Baba Ramdev’s face prominently displayed in chemists, on shop fronts, and on a wide range of products, all bearing the name of the yogic sage Patanjali

However, Baba Ramdev’s legacy as a guru is tarnished by his controversial claims on various social, medical, and political issues. He has also faced ethical and legal allegations, along with his company.

In this article, we will delve into the life and background of Baba Ramdev, exploring his journey and shedding light on the controversies surrounding him, following the below:

  • Early Life And Background
  • Spiritual Journey
  • Founding Patanjali Ayurved
  • Social Activism
  • Controversies
  • Baba Ramdev Net worth
baba ramdev in an interview
Omkar Choudhary and Baba Ramdev‘ interview by Airtechno, licensed by CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia

Early Life And Background

Born Ramkishen Yadav in 1965, Baba Ramdev grew up in Haryana in India. 

His family background was in agriculture, and in childhood he experienced numerous bouts of illness, which caused bodily paralysis in Baba Ramdev. 

He later claimed that through the practice of yoga, and ayurvedic medicine he cured himself of his paralytic and ill states: one of many claims he has made throughout his personal life and professional career. We will cover these claims further below in this article.

Ramkishen Yadav’s journey from his early education to his monastic life as Baba Ramdev was a transformation fueled by a deep passion for yoga.

Born into an agricultural family, Ramdev Baba exhibited a profound fascination with spirituality and the ancient wisdom inherent in Indian culture from an early age. 

Influenced deeply by the Hindu teachings of sages and gurus before him such as Dayanand Saraswati, he nurtured a profound interest in the realms of yoga and meditation. 

After completing his education up to the eighth grade in Shahjadpur, Baba Ramdev joined a gurukul, a traditional Indian educational institution.

the holy vedas

A gurukul is an Indian-style education system in which students reside with a guru in a residential format, wherein students receive holistic schooling.

In the gurukul, he had rigorous Vedic and yogic training, dedicating his time to mastering the principles and practices of yoga, as well as delving into the profound wisdom contained within Sanskrit texts.

Spiritual Journey

As a teenager, he studied under a guru called Acharya Baldev Ji. Baba Ramdev stated that Acharya Baldev Ji was one of the primary influences in his life spiritually. 

During this time, he met Balkrishna, his future billionaire business partner.

After completing his studies, Baba Ramdev would travel through the Indian region learning more about yoga, Sanskrit, asceticism, and Hindu traditions. These learnings culminated in Baba Ramdev taking the vows of a sannyasin, in dedication to the yogic path.

A sannyasin is a person who undertakes asceticism, which is a devotional lifestyle of renunciation, non-violence, and pursuit of spiritual living and harmonization with the higher self. 

a sannyasin in india

In this period of his life, he also held yoga retreats throughout India and also sold Ayurvedic medicine.

Please note that the traditional information tells us that a sannyasin lives a humble life in the pursuit of liberation, in helping others, and in the renunciation of worldly pleasure. 

Some would argue that an individual experimenting with business ventures hardly qualifies as a sannyasin, let alone someone who becomes a billionaire.

This business venture expanded into a trust, namely the Divya Yoga Mandir Trust, in which Baba Ramdev offered yoga retreats and ayurvedic medicine in partnership with Balkrishna. This would be the precursor firm to Patanjali Ayurved.

In founding the Divya Yog Mandir Trust, Baba Ramdev would establish himself in the national discourse as a yogic guru through televised yoga sessions and huge yoga camps.

Ramdev Baba Yogasana

Though Ramdev teaches primarily pranayama techniques, for Ramdev Baba yogasana plays an important role too.

He has been a proponent of students doing regular sun salutations, claiming 24 rounds of surya namaskar practice can burn 400 calories as well as keep you free from lots of diseases.

group of yoga students in class

Founding Patanjali Ayurved

Ramdev Baba and Balkrishna joined forces in 2006 to create Patanjali Ayurved, a company focused on the production and promotion of natural and Ayurvedic products for consumers. 

Their aim was to revive and promote the ancient Indian science of Ayurveda, which emphasizes holistic well-being through the use of natural remedies and herbal formulations.

Baba Ramdev also envisioned the creation of an organization that would provide high-quality, affordable, and natural products to the masses. 

This endeavor represented a pivotal moment in Baba Ramdev’s life and had a major impact on the global demand and popularity of Ayurvedic products in the modern age.

The company derives its name from the revered sage Patanjali, renowned for compiling the Yoga Sutras and holding a prominent place in the realms of yoga and Ayurveda throughout history.

Patanjali Ayurved is one of India’s highest gross fast-moving consumer goods companies, and Baba Ramdev’s persona has become ubiquitous in India. 

ayurveda medicine with pestle and mortar

One of the reasons for Patanjali Ayurved’s huge success was because of Baba Ramdev’s established persona in India through his work on TV and advocacy of yoga.

It is important to note that Patanjali Ayurved has had major scrutiny, allegations, and protests for its quality control of products (and so causing mass harm to consumers), and treatment of employees.

Social Activism

Baba Ramdev has engaged with a variety of social and political causes. 

For example in 2011, he publicly called on the Indian government at the time to execute an independent inquiry in relation to alleged corruption around black money

He went as far as to plan a hunger strike, which led to further struggle and negotiation to find a solution with the government.

Ramdev Baba also strongly advocates the use of indigenous products within India, condemning the consumption of products from multinational companies.

map with india on


Baba Ramdev has made some controversial claims and has been complicit in various violations of law and ethical wrongdoings. 

Here we include some of these problems surrounding Baba Ramdev and the claims he’s made:

#1: Disputes Over Paying Employees Minimum Wages

In 2005, 115 employees of the Trust protested for minimum wages and basic employee rights. 

Baba Ramdev’s management agreed on paper, but were resistant and hostile in the reintegration of these employees, accusing some of them of sabotage. 

#2: Covert Political Funding Allegations

In 2014, multiple trusts owned by Baba Ramdev were under investigation for allegedly funding party expenses leading up to elections.

#3: Animal Contents In Patanjali Ayurved Products

The presence of animal materials in samples of Baba Ramdev’s products was found in samples in the aftermath of the 2005 disputes over employee wages. 

The source of the samples was disputed, however, as they were procured by individuals with vested interests, rather than third-party government officials.

Bapuji ramdevbaba‘ by राजू जांगिड़, licensed by CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia

#4: Homophobia

In 2013, Baba Ramdev called homosexuality a “bad addiction” and that it can be cured by yoga.

#5: Yoga Can Cure AIDS

In December 2006, media outlets reported that Baba Ramdev had made assertions about yoga as a means to cure AIDS. 

Following these press reports, the Indian Union Health Ministry issued a cease and desist order to him and warned of potential legal consequences if he persisted in making these unfounded claims.

#6: Pranayama Can Cure Cancer

Baba Ramdev has made claims regarding his ability to treat various types of cancer, such as liver, breast, prostate, uterus, and even brain cancer, including brain tumors, through the practice of specific breathing exercises. 

#7: Yoga Cured His Paralysis

Baba Ramdev claimed that through yoga, he was cured of paralysis in his body, for which allopathic methods had no effect.

#8: Marketed A “Cure” For COVID-19

In 2020, Patanjali Ayurved marketed a drug called Coronil as a cure for COVID-19. A criminal complaint and inquiry were launched for misleading people and putting people’s livelihoods at risk for profit. 

The Indian government forced Patanjali Ayurved to market Coronil in the end as an immunity booster, and not a cure of COVID-19.

#9: Anti-Allopathy

Baba Ramdev claimed that modern science for medicine is a “stupid science” and that patients die due to its short-sightedness. 

The Indian Medical Association stated that Baba Ramdev was creating fear and anxiety amongst the Indian public, in order to opportunistically profit.

#10: Anti-Allopathy In Relation To COVID-19

Baba Ramdev claimed that by holding your breath, you can diagnose that you have COVID-19. He went on to claim that mustard oil could treat the symptoms

Furthermore, he publicly questioned why patients would need oxygen to help them, and after facing backlash from the medical community, offered a back-handed apology by open letter.

ayurvedic medicine

#11: Advocation Of Violence

In 2017, Baba Ramdev said that he would have beheaded those who refused to sing the Victory For Mother India chant if there was no legal penalty.

#12: Islamophobia

This year in February, Baba Ramdev said that Muslims believe that by offering prayers, they can rationalize and legitimize terrorism, and the kidnapping of Hindu girls.

Baba ramdev net worth

As of June 2023, Baba Ramdev is estimated to have a net worth of around IR 29, 680 crore, which is about $3.61 billion, with the company reporting $630 million in revenue in 2015.


Baba Ramdev’s entrepreneurial success with Patanjali made him one of India’s most wealthy individuals (and ironically one of India’s most wealthy sannyasins). 

Undoubtedly, he transformed ayurvedic medicine, making it accessible and nudging it into the spotlight.

Further Information

If you’ve enjoyed reading about Baba Ramdev, why not check out our other biographical articles:

Photo of author
Born and raised in London, Luke is a passionate writer with a focus on travel, yoga, philosophy, and meditation. As a certified yoga teacher having studied under a swami in Rishikesh, Luke now lives in India pretty much just practising yoga, meditating and writing articles! Luke's life arc has gone from somewhat turbulent to peaceful, and he considers yoga and meditation direct methods to sustain introspective insight to manifest peace and happiness, despite life's challenges. Luke's passion for meditation has led him to complete multiple meditation retreats, where he spent almost 40 days in silence in the last two years. He practices various meditation techniques such as Vipassana, Anapana, and Metta Bhavana, each adding to his knowledge and experience of the true self. Most recently he meditated in Jaipur, India, and before that lived for a short spell in a monastery with forest monks in Northern Thailand. To Luke, yoga is more than just a physical exercise; it's a way of life that helps him cultivate a stronger mind-body connection. As a young man with arthritis, Luke understands the importance of observing and controlling his body, and yoga has been a vital tool in his journey to better health and well-being. The practice of yoga has not only helped him manage his symptoms but has also given him a new perspective on life. Luke's love for yoga and meditation is not limited to a single tradition or practice. He's fascinated by the spiritual teachings of all types of religious philosophy, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity for their essence and wisdom. His passion for spirituality is what drives him to continue learning and growing, and share his knowledge with other people. Luke in his spare time is an avid chess player, cyclist and record collector. He also has experience with addiction, and so sponsors multiple people from different walks of life in their recovery programmes.

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