Spirituality, advice on yoga and other wellness disciplines were on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda today as he offered prayers at the Kedarnath shrine and then flew to controversial yoga guru and known BJP supporter Ramdev’s research institute in Haridwar.
The famed Himalayan shrine accorded customary VIP treatment to the prime minister — he was the first visitor at the famed Himalayan shrine that opened its doors today after a six-month winter break. He also became the first prime minister to visit the Shiva temple after V P Singh in 1989.
Excitement ran high as Modi, accompanied by Uttarakhand Governor K K Paul and Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, arrived in an army chopper at the helipad built close to the temple and headed straight for the eighth century shrine located at a height of 11,755 ft near Chorabari Glacier.
Braving the early morning chill, around 4,000 devotees had turned up at the temple to witness its ceremonial opening and to catch a glimpse of the prime minister, who performed a rudrabhishek (ritual bath of the Shiva lingam) in the sanctum sanctorum.
He did a ‘parikrama’ of the Nandi statue outside the temple before walking through the crowds to make for the convoy that was to take him back to the helipad.
An hour later, Modi stepped into the chopper again to inaugurate Ramdev s research institute at Patanjali Yogpeeth.
The yoga guru’s consumer goods behemoth has been at th e centre of several controversies over the years, ranging from allegations of misbranding to misrepresentation of its products. Late last month, Patanjali’s amla juice was withdrawn from the canteens of defence forces across the country following a negative report from a Kolkata lab.
Addressing the gathering, Modi rued that successive governments had sought to forget India’s traditional medicinal systems instead of promoting them. Patanjali promotes its products as homegrown alternative to Western products.
“In the pre-independence era, the gems of our traditional systems of medicine and healthcare were deliberately kept under wraps because we were a slave country. But even in the post-independence era, unfortunately, there was an effort on the part of successive governments to forget the distinctive specialities of our traditional systems rather than promoting them,” Modi said.
He said the new institute, designed to facilitate clinical trials and modern packaging of ayurvedic medicines, was a big step forward towards “holistic” healthcare and would pave the way for a wider acceptance of India’s traditional therapeutic systems.
He congratulated Ramdev for the research institute and for taking yoga “to every household across the world”.
Ramdev conferred the title of “Rashtra Rishi” on Modi for his “relentless efforts to build a clean, strong and united India”.
A visibly awestruck Ramdev, who had actively campaigned for the BJP and Modi in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, termed the prime minister a gift of God.
(With PTI inputs)