NEW DELHI — Swami Ramdev is a yoga instructor in saffron robes; he walks on wooden sandals and has an elastic body, an involuntary wink, flowing black hair and a full beard. He claims to have renounced worldly pleasures, but that excludes flying in private jets.
He is at the helm of a thriving business in traditional treatments, herbal products, media and textiles that is worth at least hundreds of millions of dollars. Nebulous details of his holdings are still trickling in.
Among his many stated views about a nation gone astray are that homosexuality is a sickness that needs curing, film actresses are immoral, the corrupt should be hanged from a rope and high-denomination notes should be banned to discomfort the “black money” economy.
On Saturday, he went on a fast-unto-death in Delhi to demand, among other things, that the Indian government bring back illicit funds that its citizens have stashed in other countries. Thousands gathered on a large ground to watch him, millions more on television.