Baba Ramdev, the multi-millionaire Yoga Master is in the news both for the right as well as the wrong reasons. To be on fast to end corruption… that sounds quite noble and some even say that it is quite new. Even Gandhi fasted only to end British Rule and not to end corruption. I tell you ladies, the idea is at least a thousand years old. While seeing the holy Baba in his now famous yogic posture I can’t help thinking about another fast by another holy man, no the holiest man in the spiritual history of India, Saint Ramanujacharya. I have already written about that in my blog Rasam, Salt, Rumi and Ramanuja http://www.indusladies.com/forums/blogs/varalotti/rasam-salt-rumi-and-ramanuja-2553/ I can’t help comparing Ramdev and Ramanuja. There is no need to talk about Ramdev and his fast. If you just type his name in Google you’ll get close to 18.3 million results. Ramanuja’s story is not well known. Ramanuja took charge of the administration of the Srirengam Temple and brought out many sweeping reforms. Many vested interests who were eating out of the temple money found Ramanuja a hindrance to their life of luxury. They gave 150 gold coins to a priest (a huge sum in those days) to poison Ramanuja. At the time of this story Ramanuja had taken sanyas and had to beg for his daily food from seven houses. On that fateful day Ramanuja stood before the house of the traitor-priest. Rice mixed with a deadly poison was ready for him. The lady of the house was carrying it to the door. Now this lady was the Saint’s ardent devotee. She emptied the food into Ramanuja’s bowl, looked at him pointedly with tearful eyes and then went around him three times and finally prostrated at his feet. She then ran away to her house sobbing. Ramanuja got the clue. One should not cry while serving food to a sanyasi. One should not prostrate while serving food. He now knew the food was poisoned. He threw it away and then declared a fast. Not against the traitor-priest but against corruption. Had he half-winked his eyes the traitor would have been burnt alive and those who instigated the crime would have met with even worse consequences. History says the fasting continued for 20 days. During the 20 days he did not lie on the beach with an air conditioner nearby. He continued his work in the temple. Other than the few drops of water he took as a prasadam after the daily pooja in the temple he did not eat or drink anything. 700 Jeeyars (religious heads) and about 12000 people assembled. The whole Empire shook. Somebody ran to Thirukoshtiyur to bring Ramanuja’s teacher Thirukkoshtiyur Nambi as Ramanuja would not listen to anybody else. Nambi started running towards Srirengam. It was March-April and Srirengam was experiencing one of its hottest summers. As soon as Ramanuja heard that his Guru was coming he ran up to the Southern Banks of Cauvery to receive him. There was no water in the river. When Ramanuja saw his Guru he fell down before him. Remember it was peak summer. The river bed was like a massive oven with the sand being roasted therein. According to tradition the disciple should not get up from his prostration state unless his Master asks him to do so. Nambi’s face was as hard as the stone. Boils started to appear in Ramanuja’s body. Deprived of food and water, the holiest man on earth, was suffering from pain and heat. Ramanuja was more than sixty years old at that time. No one dared to speak against Nambi who was a religious authority. A puny man called Kidambi Achan rose against Nambi. “How dare you do this to our Ramanujar? What kind of cruel pleasure do you derive in placing a flower garland in an oven? Do you have a heart by any chance?” Defying authority he lifted Ramanuja. The saint was in a semi-conscious state. He leaned on Kidambi’s shoulders. People thought Nambi was going to pounce upon him. Instead Nambi hugged Kidambi Achan. “I’ve been waiting for you, my son. You are the right man to take care of him. Don’t let Ramanuja beg anymore. You will have to cook food for him. "I’ll make arrangements for rice and provisions. Let’s not take any more risks with this good man’s life.” That statement not only ended the fast but also ended the corruption in the Srirengam Temple. Now contrast that with the fast by Baba Ramdev. Ramdev is worth more than a thousand crores. Ramanuja lived the life of a pauper. He did not even own a house. Many times he had to beg for his food. Ramdev was given IV fluids to sustain his life. Ramanuja on the other hand had to do with just a few drops of holy water from the temple. When Police was about to act Ramdev dressed himself as a lady and escaped. Ramanuja stood firm till the end. Ramdev promptly convened a press conference and condemned the Police, the Government and everybody. Till the end Ramanuja did not even reveal the name of the person who wanted to kill him. Ramdev does not have a role in administration of the country. He is outside it and is fighting against corruption. Ramanuja had already started a war against corruption by being the Administrator himself and his fasting was only part of the war. You need to pay Rs. 50000 if you want front row seat in Ramdev’s group. With Ramanuja all seats are free. You need not even go to him. Just think of him. And he’ll fill your mind with love. Ramdev is all about big money, media popularity and costly political stunts. Ramanuja is all about love. Nothing but love. I beg of you ladies whenever you read anything about Ramdev utter these lines Ramanujasya charanau saranam prapathye I take refuge in the feet of Ramanuja. May he protect us from corrupt rulers and Baba Ramdevs. Note: This blog is inspired by my revered teacher Dr.Arangarajan who spoke on Baba Ramdev and Bhagawath Ramanuja at the Triplicane Temple in Chennai recently. The entire credit for this comparison goes to him.