Two decades ago, you were a penniless sadhu sitting under a tree in Kankhal, Uttarakhand. You run a business empire worth 05,000 crore today. How would you describe this journey?
I was born in a nondescript village, studied in a small government school and moved further from there. I never thought I would make yoga or any other thing a brand. I studied grammar, Vedas and ayurveda, and began serving people. I have never tried to compete with someone. The brand and other things associated with me are mere by-products and not my ultimate goal, which is service and charity.
What made you move from yoga to consumer goods, which is the turf of multinationals.
I have travelled about 20 lakh kilometres; 100 crore people recognise me by my name and work. This journey is going to be very long. Hamne naya vichar, naya aakar, naya aadhar aur naye drishti rakhi hai [I have came out with a new thought, new shape, new base and new vision]. My focus is charity, patriotism and to promote world-class products at low profit. If someone else wants to join this trade, he is welcome.
What is the secret of your health, wealth and influence?
The secret of my health is that I eat very little, and do yoga every day. Secret of my prosperity is daan [charity]. And, the secret of my influence is that I am proud of my nation.
What challenges do you face while running the Patanjali empire?
I transformed challenges and difficulties into strengths and opportunities. The Congress attacked me, but I took it as a gift. I passed the agni pariksha [test by fire]. This hiked my credibility. My life is based on truth and service. The Congress has helped in increasing my authenticity.
During the Congress regime, there were around 250 cases against you.
I have not done anything wrong. These cases are pending in courts. I have full faith in the judiciary.
Earlier, you were quite vocal about black money and tax-evaders. You become silent after Narendra Modi became prime minister.
Modi aur maun, do virodhi shabd hain [Modi and silence are antonyms]. I am not silent about Modi. I have confidence in him, and, so far, he has not broken that confidence.
Patanjali products like ready-to-eat noodles and Putrajeevak Beej, which allegedly guarantees a son, became controversial.
Our products strictly follow the guidelines laid down by the government. I have not done anything illegal or immoral.
You promote swadeshi, but noodle is not of Indian origin.
I have made noodles swadeshi and bharatiya [Indian]. We have been making it from vegetables and wheat flour, while others were making it from maida [refined flour]. We have been using rice bran oil.
I plan to establish 500 world-class acharya kulum [education centres] countrywide. Estimated expenditure for this would be around Rs 25,000 crore. Then we intend to spend Rs 500 crore on research, development and betterment of cows and herbal medicines.
In the last two decades there have been many controversies about you, like the incident at Ramlila Maidan, and your remarks about actors. Why do such things happen?
I believe that the means and end should be right. I have not done anything wrong. Despite all these things, if there are controversies about me, what can I do? It means I am being discussed, and I am popular.
Does the Modi government listen to you more than the Manmohan Singh government did?
The previous government tried to chain me, silence me. The Modi government is reasonable, and unlike them.