Monday, June 13, 2011


Sachchi Baat with Didi Maa Sadhvi Ritambhara. Excerpts:

PC: Should I say Ram Ram
SR: As you wish.
PC: Once again your name has been in the headlines.
SR: That fact you might know better.
PC: What wrong act have you done? It now seems that a lot of people are after you again?
SR: I don’t think have done any wrongdoing. I am a citizen of India and my fellow countrymen are fed up of corruption. To give voice to the pains of people, I joined Babaji (Baba Ramdev) in Delhi.
PC: So, did you become communal by doing that?
SR: The whole issue started from there.
PC: Are you communal?
SR: See, this is a strange question. If conveying one’s feelings about one’s country, culture is communal, then I am one.
PC: Or you wear saffron-coloured clothes, hence you are communal?
SR: Yes, that also might be true. Maybe being Hindu today is being communal; wearing saffron is being communal.
PC: Congressmen objected you coming on stage along with Baba Ramdev at Ramlila maidan; he also wears saffron clothes.
SR: There were many people wearing clothes same as me on that stage, then why do they have problem only with me?
PC: They said that because there was a charge against you being involved the Babri Masjid issue.
SR: I am an accused in the Babri Masjid issue, but am not convicted. The court has not given its decision as yet.
PC: So, did your going on the stage scare them?
SR: I had gone there, also in the Babri masjid issue, even the court declared that, “wo hamare prabhu ki janmabhoomi hain”. I had gone there to demand our rights.
PC: I am not talking about the Babri Masjid issue, but your presence at Ramlila ground, which scared the Congress to such an extent that it started attacking you. Why are they so scared of you?
SR: This is the question that should be asked to them…as to why they are so scared of me. Because the discussion going on there was regarding the issue of corruption facing the country today and transformation of the present system which has led to this condition. Lakhs of people had come there on being called by Babaji and they all took part in the discussion in a peaceful manner. Even I put forth the same issue that the black money stashed abroad should be brought back to the country. We are in favour of this action. Only they can tell about what caused them a problem. PC: Because one more person who wears clothes like you, Baba Agnivesh—I am calling him ‘ Baba Agnivesh’—a verbally attacked you. SR: I am myself surprised, because many times, whenever there has been a programme regarding the issue of female foeticide, he has sat and taken part with me in all those programmes. So, I think I should ask him about the problem he has got with me. But then I think everybody has one’s own thinking and line of thought; everybody is independent from the other in the manner in which one views the other person. Because, each one’s view is his own, what one sees, or what one is seeing and what one is saying might be different. Hence, this is dependent on the individual and can only be asked to him. He on his part is already saying that he has objection against Sadhvi Rithambara, that she is a communal face. But I don’t think and know what one should do to prove oneself as secular.
PC: If people wearing clothes like you, whether it’s Baba Ramdev, Swami Agnivesh, Sadhvi Rithambara or anybody else are communal, then how is Swami Agnivesh identified as secular. He also wears clothes as you. Even Swami Dayananda Saraswati wore the same type of clothes.
SR: Maybe the clothes are same, but actions are different.
PC: So what difference can you have with him when you both are on the same platform?
SR: That is why I am saying I don’t know what the difference is, but Agniveshji can speak his problem. He said that Sadhvi Rithambara should not have been present there. In between I also feel that Anna Hazareji and all others have already congregated for one issue and take it to its logical conclusion, then Sadhvi Rithambara would have no problem in disappearing from the scene. Because I don’t need any mike or stage; neither am I keen to garner media headlines. From many years I have been working silently. I have also been in the media limelight at a point of time. I have addressed many a grand gathering; hence I have no attraction towards these in my mind. But since Baba called me, I went there. Even if he wouldn’t have called, even if I would have been in the ashram, being the citizen of this country, I would have observed fast. Because, every citizen of the country feels that we have to get rid of the corrupt system.
PC: You said that if everybody comes together by your withdrawal, then you are ready to do the same. Am I right?
SR: Sure.
PC: Now you will keep a distance from Baba?
SR: No, that is not the case. Why should I say that? That day I felt like this: if people wanted to come but were not coming, then Baba had invited them and they have to come. I feel that in the interest of a larger goal, one should not get swayed by small issues. When the issue is of corruption, then from where did communalism creep in? If Muslims are affected by corruption, then even Hindus are affected by it, Christians are affected, every citizen of the country is affected. The ‘aam aadmi’ is bearing the brunt of corruption. Then when the issue is against corruption, then by talking about communalism, why is it being given it a communal colour? What is the motive behind this?
PC: What in your opinion is the motive?
SR: Only he can say.
PC: Is it politics? SR: The issue of corruption is being raised, lakhs of people are participating and it has caught the attention of the whole country. It is surprising that in the fight against corruption, some people are searching for communal faces and discussing that issue.
PC: Are they finding reasons to attack Baba, and attack people fighting against corruption by pinpointing a face. By saying that because Sadhvi Rithambara is there, then the whole mission and effort have become communal.
SR: It is very unfortunate thought and vision on the part of those people. I have full right to go to any corner of the country, whether or not I am invited. I can talk anything regarding these issues because the whole country wants to listen to me, I can speak and I also have the authority. This is a democratic right which nobody can deny.
PC: Sure it is democratic right, but no sooner than Sadhvi Rithambara appeared on stage, all senior politicians from the country, Digvijay Singh and all other Congress politicians, left Baba Ramdev and started attacking Sadhvi Rithambara. That means she became bigger than the issue of corruption being raised, why? They attacked you as if you were a bigger enemy as compared to Baba Ramdev. Are they scared of your speech, voice, work or face? What is the reason?
SR: Only they can tell the reasons why they fear. I feel that it is a ploy to divert attention from the main issue, and discuss something else. The issue was not communalism; it was corruption. They should have told what they were going to do to fight corruption…whether you are making efforts to nab criminals and offenders, transform the system or frame a law. I was myself surprised as to how Sadhvi Rithambara became an issue among all of this. I have started feeling that I am so powerful to give everybody sleepless nights and hence they started raising objections. That too, when I am not a political personality. I don’t have connections with any political party. Then what problem do they have with me?
PC: So do you think that were political intentions behind attacking you?
SR: Certainly, because if I went there and gave my opinion against corruption, that is my right. Nobody could have stopped me from doing that. But objection, to such an extent that the issue was on channels all day long, has surprised me. In fact, I feel opposition to Sadhvi Rithambara is political.
PC: So, what benefit will they derive by doing this?
SR: There might be some benefit. Otherwise, how could have this issue been discussed all day?
PC: But if big politicians take your name, then it is bound to get media attention. You become so important that instead of attacking Baba Ramdev they started attacking you, Ramdev was attacked with sticks, you were with statements.
SR: But I think it is not appropriate for all those people who have a nationalist thinking. It seems that these days if you want to portray as secular, then you would have to abuse a person wearing saffron clothes, people who believe in Hindutva and have nationalist feelings. This has become a trend.
PC: So, basically this seems to be vote-bank politics.
SR: Which people do all the time. PC: But attempts were made to project you as a dangerous communal face that one should be wary of. Now, you are involved in various activities that many people do not know. So in your surroundings, did people start despising you?
SR: The whole country knows me and even the work I do. I am bringing together and supporting children, women and old people through Vatsalya Gram initiative. People of the whole country listen to me through various platforms. It is not that the country is not acquainted with me. PC: How many families how you helped form through Vatsalya Gram?
SR: Twenty-five families stay in Vrindavan and we are making a village of 100 houses. So, people will stay as a family. Vatsalya parivar is an alternative system to orphanage, women’s help centre and old age home. People need nourishment not just bodily, they need mental nourishment also. Aur koi devki se choot jaye aur Yashodha ke godh main jaaye, ye anusthan hai.
PC: That is why you chose Vrindavan to do work you are doing?
SR: Yes Prabhuji. Somebody asked me the other day, “Didi Maa, how far is Gokul from Mathura?” I replied the same distance as from Devki’s womb to Yashoda’s arms. How much is the distance between life and death? “From the mother’s womb to the crematorium.” Unfortunate are those people who do have a mother to look after them, and fortunate are those who have a mother, even if they live on a footpath. It is my dream to see that children get the love and care of Yashoda and I am working for it. The whole country is acquainted with the work.
PC: Where all in the country have you opened these facilities?
SR: We started with Delhi, in a place called Jwala Nagar located in the interiors of Vishwas Nagar. For many years we have been working there; the kids then have turned teenagers now. The first son is of 20 years. I have been working for many years, but have started working on a large scale only in the past eight years.
PC: How did you come into this line of work? You were also associated with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. You seem to hail from a well-educated family. Seems that you are from Punjab, from your language and diction.
SR: I was born in Ludhiana district in Punjab. I got darshan of my gurudev in Amritsar, when I saw him; I realised the path in life I had to take.
PC: Hence, you left your house?
SR: Yes.
PC: Which year was it?
SR: I can’t recollect, but it’s been 30 years since I have been a disciple of gurudev. Yugpurush Swami Parmanandji Maharaj. He is an amiable personality. He follows Vedanta philosophy and has nationalist feelings. I got to learn from him that the sanyasi should not only be a thinker, he should also follow his religion and duty towards his country.
PC: I don’t understand. You are forming families on one end, and on the other you left your own family.
SR: When you leave a small circle, you accept the infinite and the whole world becomes your family.
PC: But what did you have in mind when you left your family, education and all the comforts of home. You started reading the Ramayana.
SR: Then I did not have an idea that I would form families. That time I became a disciple of guru due to adhyatmik prerna (spiritual quest). Slowly and steadily, I learnt under his guidance. When one person raises his thinking above his own personal needs, he starts thinking about everybody.
PC: Wherever you go, you read the Ramayana or give a Ramayana or Geeta lecture. What is the particular paragraph, event or saying from these texts that you feel telling people about?
SR: The character, life and deeds of Krishna and Ram inspire me. The seriousness of Lord Rama, his 14 years of life in exile. Instances like the ‘Bal Kaand’ of Ramcharitamanas, when Vishwamitraji comes to Dashrathji, I really like the verse that he says then. Gadi tane man chinta vyapi, Hari bin mare na nischar paapi.
PC: When you left, you would have had a sense of mission. What did you want to do?
SR: I moved out of the house to uplift my spirit. As a disciple, I learnt the importance of ‘rashtradharm’. A sanyasi should spread the message of truth and ‘rashtradharm’ in society.
PC: Did you attend school and college?
SR: I went to school and college, following which I became a disciple of gurudev. Following that, I became associated with the Ramjanmabhoomi movement. My role was completed after that andolan reached its zenith.
PC: Did you join the andolan on the advice of gurudev?
SR: Yes, indeed. Even he was part of the movement. But I always had a feeling to look after the needy, a sadhu never has the aim of living for himself. He works for everybody and everything is his; including the whole universe. Now, I embraced, babies thrown in dustbins, sisters—young women who are alone with nobody to support and parents who were thrown by the same children they raised.
PC: There was a point when you were associated with the BJP, did you ever have plans to be a politician and fight elections.
SR: No, never. I was never even remotely a member of any political party. Prabhuji, I have touched the heights of recognition in the country, lakhs of people have been coming to listen to me. I had had to enter politicians, then 20 years ago was the time when I should have entered because, every individual who gains fame and recognition thinks of joining politics.
PC: Even Baba Ramdev said this. Do you think he will enter politics?
SR: No, that is a different issue. But since you have spoken about me, let me complete that first. Engaging in politics was never my aim, but that does not mean that I cannot follow any ideology. Nationalism is my ideology.
PC: People said Ram Mandir is apoliticial; like the BJP again recently reiterated in Lucknow that they will construct Ram Mandir. Whenever elections are round the corner, they remember the Ram mandir issue. Now in the run-up to the UP assembly elections, they again say they will make Ram Mandir, they even named Atalji.
SR: For worshippers of Ram, the construction of Ram Mandir is not a political issue but a matter of faith.
PC: But for people like you who raised the issue of Ram Mandir, it was an apolitical movement. It was later that political parties joined the wagon. Do you feel the Ram Mandir movement weakened because political parties overtook it? Now even if one speaks of Ram Mandir, he is labelled as communal.
SR: Certainly, something has happened to the ‘andolan’ which got the heart of the whole country to beat together on one issue.
PC: It changed governments.
SR: It changed governments; the second point is that the movement dissolved the differences of caste. We were together from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Politics was the reason and the issue fell prey to it. But Ram Bhakts, who have sacrificed their blood for this land, don’t get inspired by politics. They are inspired by their beliefs.
PC: But the movement weakened. Now it seems there is no chance of a Ram Mandir being constructed.
SR: Please don’t say so, Prabhuji. Because it is the work of Ramji, it’s happening because of Ramji. It can never remain incomplete.
PC: But a case is there, a court is hearing the matter. You got some relief in the High Court, but now the case is in the Supreme Court, and you would have to abide by its decision.
SR: But beliefs won’t wither away. We know that the land belongs to Ram Lalla. Crores of people want to see Ram a grand temple.
PC: But for Rithambara, Vatsalya became more important compared to Ram Mandir.
SR: The importance of no issue becomes less or increases. My role is that of a nationalist, my nature is that of Vatsalya, by my heart, I am living both roles.
PC: But what happens when a person becomes popular? He starts going more and more to foreign countries because there are a lot many NRI bhakts there. There, Indian diaspora is facing a problems…like broken families, lack of knowledge about Indian culture. Hence, Sadhvi Raithambara and Baba Ramdev are abroad most of the time. You came from abroad recently.
SR: Certainly, wherever Indians are based, they call us, but one feels asphyxiated there after staying for 15-20 days. We are attracted by the smell of Indian soil. Going abroad is like going to jail, but there are people there who have a lot of feelings for us. Yes, we go for 15-20 days sometimes, but staying far away from Indian soil is not peaceful because there is something about the humaneness of the people here. It cannot be compared with anywhere. Merely going abroad is no motive; it is not very satisfying also. But there are ‘little India’s’ all over the world, and one feels good after seeing it.
PC: You go abroad, but cannot live there for a long time.
SR: Cannot stay for a long time, many times people have organised a two-month programme, but then I felt it is too long.
PC: As the attacks against you will increase, questions regarding the resources at your disposal and income will also be raised. There might be income tax raids also. What is the source of your income? You have made such a big empire, have done such good work. Where does the money come from?
SR: See, this is no big empire. We formed Paramshakti Peeth around 20 years ago. When I was working with the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad), I realised that I was able to inspire people. Though I am giving speeches, I have not done any work for people by using hands. Hence, I thought how could I work directly for people? That’s when I started work from a small place in Jwala Nagar, a place that is difficult to access. I lived there for seven years subsequent to the Ramjanmabhoomi movement. I had a small plot which had been donated to us, we constructed a Vatsalya temple there, we made a steady start with one child and later we were living with 22-25 children there for seven years.
PC: What is the source? Do people give donations to you?
SR: Certainly, I do ‘kathas’ of Ram Bhagwat. We get ‘daan and dakshina’ (donations), but when a sanyasi becomes associated with some social work, he then develops emotions even for the social work that he is doing.
PC: But have the recent attacks scared or disturbed you. You were also seen in proximity of Baba Ramdev, will you run away from him now? SR: Why will I run away from him? PC: Is there no pressure on you, moves to defame you and raise issues by which you are feared and forced not to be seen near Baba Ramdev?
SR: See, certainly there are many people who might get affected if somebody starts saying things about them. But any person is known by his deeds. Hence, I feel there is no need to fear if you stand by the truth. I was called and I joined Ramdevji’s movement on stage.
PC: If called, you will go once again?
SR: A feeling and environment has been created in the whole country that every citizen and individual has to assert his voice so that we are relieved of this corrupt system, and we do not have to feel shameful before the world.
PC: If called again, will you go?
SR: Why wouldn’t I go, what is the problem in that?
PC: What is Sadhvi Rithambara’s dream? In the next five years, 10 years or immediate? What are you going to do, things that you have not done as yet, what do you feel you have to do?
SR: The work that I have taken up through Vatsalya Gram, I feel every child should have somebody to look after him. Kyunki Raghunath ke desh mein koi bhi anaath nahi ho sakta. A child is an orphan when there is no one to pat a child’s back and nobody to bless him. I am associated with all these works; I will always be associated with those issues facing the nation, which affect the nation’s self-esteem, stance, brotherhood and stability. I would always be associated with these issues facing the nation. That is my duty as a nationalist.
PC: You will never join politics?
SR: Politics is not my subject.
PC: You will never go that way?
SR: Never.
PC: May you achieve success in your mission and dream; our best wishes are with you. Thank you for coming to our studio.
SR: Thank you, Prabhuji


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