If Baba Ramdev had his way, every gay man and woman would be ‘cured’ of their inappropriate ‘addiction’. How exactly does he plan to do it? By Arnesh Ghose
Since the Delhi High Court’s decision to decriminalize Section 377 in 2009, the revered Yoga and Ayurvedic master, Baba Ramdev has been hollering at every public gathering about how he can definitively ‘cure’ homosexuality. Five years down the line, when gay sex is re-criminalised (it is also to be noted that his press secretary SK Tijarawala was one of the people who filed the PIL that demanded re-criminalisation), Baba Ramdev has been welcoming homosexual men and women to come to his ashram and be ‘treated’ of this ‘disease’. We decided to take him up on his invitation and find out how exactly he and his band of merry doctors plans to treat homosexuality.
“I invite them to my ashram. Two people belonging to opposite sex will be kept in one room for a few days and they will be cured of homosexuality,” he said, in a press conference on December 11th, 2013. So, I sent a mail to his Yog Gram, formally called the Yog-Naturopathy-Panchkarma Treatment & Research Centre in Haridwar, enquiring about how a homosexual individual gets ‘admitted’ to the ashram for treatment. The admission form asked for details of ailment. I replied – I am a homosexual man. I would like to know what procedures Baba Ramdev is proposing for its cure. I want to be cured of Homosexuality. Please help.
I received a response within 3 working days.
After seeing your medical details. We regret that you have not been advised treatment at Yoggram.
Kindly contact in Patanjali Yogpeeth for Ayurvedic Treatment.
The grammatical errors were not the only things that surprised me. The organization was proposing an ayurvedic treatment for homosexuality. I immediately called the Patanjali Yogpeeth and mustered the best of my spoken Hindi skills.
A woman, probably a receptionist, took my call.
R – Namaste, Patanjali Yogpeeth. How can I help you?
AG – Namaste. I need to talk to one of the doctors regarding a treatment.
R – Have you been treated here before?
AG – No. This is my first time.
R – What is the problem?
AG – It is slightly personal. Can I talk to the doctor please?
R – If you don’t tell me the problem, I cannot connect you to anyone. Tell me your problem.
AG – (stammering a little, not knowing how to explain this in shuddh Hindi) Well…you know…I heard Baba Ramdev on TV telling everyone that he can cure homosexuality. I am gay and I would like to be cured.
R – What? What is your problem?
AG – You know…I am homosexual…gay…(I even tried a more common derogatory term)…and I would like to be cured. Baba Ramdev says that his ashram can cure people like me.
R – I don’t understand what you are saying. Symptoms kya hai?
AG – Symptoms?!
R – Haan, what are the symptoms?
AG – I told you…I am gay…can you connect me to a doctor please?
R – Aap pehle mujhko problem samjhaiye. What are the symptoms? Sir mein dard, pet mein dard, zukham, bukhaar…you should have some symptoms!
AG – I like men.
R – What?!
AG – That is the symptom. I like men. Mujhe mardon se yon sambandh karne ka ichha hota hai, auraton se nahi. (When she asked for symptoms, I Googled “hindi for sexual intercourse”. My very slow browser finally threw up a link. Yon sambandh it is).
A sharp intake of breath. Long pause. A cough.
R – Aap kal phone kijiye, before 1 PM or after 4 PM but before 5 PM. You can talk to the Vaid ji then. He is not available now.
The next day the call was received by a man. He said the Vaid ji was not available. I called up the day after and asked to be connected to the Vaid ji. The call was transferred.
V – Namaskar.
AG – Namaskar, Vaid ji.
V – Name?
AG – My name is Ravi Sharma (Obviously I get a fake name. This was my very first sting operation, people) and I am calling from Mumbai.
V – What is your problem?
AG – Vaid ji, I am gay. I heard Baba Ramdev on TV saying that he can cure homosexuality and I immediately reached out to you guys. I am very tensed and worked up, Vaid ji. I am not happy at all.
V – Hmm…gay…
AG – Yes…I like men…I want to like women, I want to become straight and normal like everyone else. I am very unhappy, please help. My parents are unhappy with me, they want me to get married and have children…I cannot live anymore like this…(my voice almost fake chokes with an overwhelming rush of emotion)
V – Hmm…
AG – I contacted the Yog Gram, but they said the problem has an ayurvedic treatment and asked me to contact here. What is the treatment? What do I do?
V – What is your age?
AG – 23.
V – Hmm…Ok, I will prescribe a medicine and you will see improvement.
AG – Really?
V – Take 2 capsules of Ashwashila twice a day with milk for a month. You can buy it from any local Patanjali store.
AG – Ashwashila?
V – Yes. And report about improvement after a month.
AG – That will be all?
V – Yes.
AG – I will start liking women?
V – Yes, yes…there will be definite improvement.
AG – (sounding elated) Thank you so much Vaid ji! Thank you so much. I will start the medication right away. I will report in a month’s time. What is your name, by the way?
V – XXXXXXXX Bansal.
AG – Okay Vaid ji. Thank you so much.
For the uninitiated, Ashwashila is an ayurvedic Viagra containing Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) and Shilajit (Asphaltum). The Patanjali Ashwashila capsules cost 300 bucks for a pack of 20. Like swamiramdevmedicines.com says, “It is a sex tonic which not only helps in overcoming body weakness but also increases the stamina to perform like a superman on bed.”
The story was published in Man’s World India, March 2014. Read the edited version here.
Photo courtesy: Google images