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Swami Ramdev Acquires Scottish Island For Wellness Retreat

PTI 27 Sep 2009, 7:39:55 IST

It's nothing quite like the buyout of Anglo firms by the Tatas, but iconic yoga guru 'Swami' Ramdev has acquired a Scottish isle for about two million pounds to set up a wellness retreat.

The Little Cumbrae Island, off the fishing town of Largs in Scotland, will also serve as the guru's base overseas, where his teachings of yoga as a means to cleanse the body and mind are gaining popularity.

The acquisition itself was carried out by a Scottish couple of Indian origin, Sam and Sunita Poddar, who saw recession and the resultant fall in property prices as an opportunity to expand the base of Patanjali Yogpeeth -- the institution founded by Ramdev for scientific research and treatment in yog, spiritualism and ayurveda.

The island property inaugurated on Sunday with a 'hawan', a Hindu fire ritual, will be administered by the Patanjali Yogpeeth (UK) Trust.

"The island base is not about property as much as it is about spreading Indian values," Ramdev told PTI to a question if he saw any likeness between his acquisition and those carried out by the Tata Group, which has lapped up British brands Tetley, Corus and Jaguar-Land Rover over the last few years.

"My aim is to turn this island into a peace haven," said Ramdev, who joins a handful of gurus to have set up international bases. One of them was the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who shot to fame because of his association with The Beatles. He had shifted from Rishikesh to Vlodrop in Netherlands. Swami Ramdev will not move in here just yet.

"Swamiji (Ramdev) will naturally become a frequent visitor to this island," one of his associates said, when asked if he would spend less time in his Haridwar ashram.

The conch-shaped island, spread over 1.25 sq km and home to a 13th century castle, was put on the block, according to a source familiar with the deal, by its previous owner due to developments related to the credit crunch.

Local media reports on the buyout were rife with taunts on Ramdev's move to set up the health retreat and rechristen it as 'peace island'. Guardian reported that "a nun known as Saint Veya set up a religious sanctuary on Little Cumbrae in the seventh century, the ruins of which can still be seen today. Whether she too claimed that her breathing exercises could cure cancer is sadly unknown."

The Telegraph's report on the peace island described Ramdev as "India's most controversial television lifestyle gurus... who claims homosexuality can be 'cured' by yoga."
Residents of Largs, the nearest fishing town that has off-late reinvented itself as a tourist destination, said that they couldn't care less about such controversies.