(As the Supreme Court gets ready to give its verdict on Section 377, The Quint is republishing this sting operation it conducted in June 2016 on Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali clinics.)
Calling homosexuality a mental disorder, Baba Ramdev has claimed that it can be cured through yoga. The Quint went undercover to find out if and how Ramdev’s Patanjali Chikitsalayas are offering to do so.
We visited three Patanjali Centres across Delhi NCR. My colleague and I posed as homosexuals seeking a cure for our ‘condition’.
Homosexuality: Mental Disorder and Addiction
Our first destination was the Patanjali Chikitsalaya at Noida Sector 26. We met an elderly Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery (BAMS), Dr Gyanendra Kumar, who termed ‘homosexuality’ a ‘mental disorder’ and claimed Baba Ramdev’s ‘pravachan’ (preachings) can cure this disease.
Inko Swami ji (Baba Ramdev) ka karyakam dikhao. Isse mansic vikar thik ho jayega. Yeh toh unnatural hai. (Show him Swami ji’s programmes. That will help in curing this mental disorder. All this is unnatural.)Dr Gyanendra Kumar, Patanjali Chikitsalaya, Sector 26, Noida
Dr Kumar also advised us to stay away from ‘uss tarah ke friends’ (‘those kinds of friends’) to become sexually ‘normal’. Yoga and medicines worth Rs 800 were prescribed.
Homo se Hetero, for Just Rs 1,200
Our next stop was the Patanjali Chikitsalaya in Sector 62, Noida. Dr Rajat, a certified Ayurveda doctor, who also holds a BAMS degree, said homosexuality is not a disease but it is not accepted by society. Hence, if a person is a gay, he has to change to fit into the societal system.
Yeh bimari nahi hai, lekin humara samaj isse accept nahi karta. Will power se isse thik kiya ja sakta hai. (Homosexuality is not a disease. But our Indian society does not accept it. One can get over it with a strong will power.)Dr Rajat, Patanjali Chikitsalaya, Sector 62, Noida
Dr Rajat, who appeared to be in his mid-30s, said that he has another patient with a similar problem, and his treatment is yielding positive results. Medicines worth Rs 1,200, primarily comprising energy tonics, were prescribed.
When we visited the Patanjali Chikitsalaya at Connaught Place, one of us posed as a lesbian looking for a cure for her ‘disease’. We were in for more shocking revelations. This clinic is literally tucked inside a retail shop.
Yeh problem hai, iss liye bimaari hai. Kyuki ki yeh mansic problem hai to meditation hi iska illaj hai. Aapko apni soch badalni hogi. (This is a problem, and hence a disease. It’s a mental disorder that can be treated through meditation. You have to change the way you think.)Dr Yogesh Kumar, Patanjali Chikitsalaya, Connaught Place
Dr Kumar said changing the way one thinks can help that person get attracted towards the opposite sex. We were also told that homosexuality is a hormonal disorder and tests were asked to be done to check for my (Poonam’s) testosterone levels, before medication or treatment was prescribed.
Patanjali Stands by its Doctors
The Quint contacted spokesperson of Patanjali Ayurved Centre, SK Tijarawala who stood by his doctors and said that homosexuality is indeed unnatural and a mental disorder.
We believe it is a mental disorder. A person can become normal by adopting a spiritual lifestyle, gaining knowledge of our culture, along with yoga exercises. Attraction towards the same sex is unnatural.SK Tijarawala, Spokesperson, Patanjali Ayurved
We asked some other Ayurveda doctors about the medicines and treatments prescribed by Patanjali doctors . We found that most of the prescribed medicines were energy tonics, and the rest meant to cleanse bodily systems. But what we failed to understand was how these were related to homosexuality?
Ayurveda medicine is part of a lifestyle. These medicines are required for better mindset and for a strong nervous system. This helps them in changing their thinking.SK Tijarawala, Spokesperson, Patanjali Ayurved
Tijarawala confirmed that all Patanjali Ayurved doctors are certified Bachelors of Ayurveda Medicine and Surgery. He also confirmed that these doctors are paid salaries by Patanjali.
A Patanjali store staff informed us that he sells medicines worth around Rs 19-20 lakh per month.
Ayurveda and Homosexuality
According to some Ayurveda doctors, there is no reference to homosexuality in the classical texts. It is neither considered as disease or mental disorder, nor are there treatments for it.
Homosexuality is not a disease, hence there is no question of curing it. Ayurved doctors who claim they can cure it are just fooling people for money.Dr Vinod K, Arya Vaidya Sala, Kottakal
Even the Bachelor of Ayurveda Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) course books do not refer to homosexuality.
The Ayush ministry is yet to formulate guidelines on Ayurveda medicines. Are Patanjali clinics then misleading people?
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia