Business Today

Decoding the Patanjali Phenomenon

Will Patanjali Ayurved be able to sustain its exponential growth?

Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev's brainchild, Patanjali Ayurved, consistently manages to grab headlines. It was only recently that the company's MD Acharya Balkrishna had spurned the interest shown by luxury brand LVMH's private equity fund, L. Catterton, in Patanjali. He had commented that they will never sell stake to a foreign company. The Ramdev Balkrishna duo have always referred to their enterprise as swadeshi and have openly expressed their opposition to multinational corporations.

Barely a week later, the flamboyant yoga guru announced that Patanjali Ayurved will be turned into a non profit charitable trust and all the revenue and profit it generates would be used for charity. Ramdev is known to have clearly stated to his associates that the reins of Patanjali can be passed on only to a sanyasi. "Turnover and profits have never been our goal and this has been the recipe of our success," says Balkrishna.

The white dhoti clad head honcho of Patanjali, who owns 96.8 per cent of the company's shares and is among the richest Indians, claims that he is least interested in creating wealth for himself. If Ramdev is the flamboyant face of Patanjali, Balkrishna is the backroom operations head who prefers to maintain a low key. He says all that he earns would be ploughed back into the business. "We keenly listen to the needs of people and come up with products that would help them lead a better life."

Balkrishna's home, Kripalu Bagh Ashram in Kanhal, Haridwar is also understated. It is here that Patanjali made a humble beginning in 1995. Unlike the home of a typical corporate head honcho, there are no signs of opulence barring a couple of luxury cars parked on the campus a Range Rover and an Audi (the Acharya quickly points out that they are not his but given to him by the organisation). Nestled in the midst of a sprawling herb garden, the Acharyas compound opens into a havan kund. After a havan at the crack of dawn, he heads to his rather nondescript looking study that is more like a storehouse of herbs. He formulates Ayurvedic remedies here that ultimately make their way into the products manufactured by

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