Spirituality on Sale in Rishikesh, the Yoga capital of the world

Updated: Aug 22, 2020

Foreigners at a mala stall Rishikesh
Spiritual Items on sale in Rishikesh

Both, Baba Ramdev and Rishikesh in India are synonymous with Yoga, or the Yoga as seen by the modern world. Rishikesh has always been considered as a seat of spirituality and the famous abode of Yoga philosophy to people in quest of their inner selves. Originally, a number of serious students of Yoga like Swami Sivananda have chosen this place as the conducive spot for performing the mental as well as the physical aspect of sadhana considered mandatory for understanding the spiritual angle of their existence. Located on the plains jutted against the outer Himalayas this place is easy to access for many in contrast to the energy sucking trails leading to the abodes of the Gods ( Char Dham) in the inner Himalayas. The turquoise colored waters of the Ganges slices through the center of this holi settlement, as present today, imparting it the required dash of holiness.

What is spirituality? Basically, spirituality is the study of the nature and properties of the spirit, or soul as many may know it, and to live one's life as per its principles in order to liberate it from the temptations of the material world. To do that one must first become aware of the spirit within oneself, for that to happen the mind needs to be wiped clear of the smoke screen of the ever present chatter of thoughts, which in turn requires a still, steady and calmer ambience. This is what Rishikesh provided to the seekers. Modern transportation links had long back penetrated this geographically secluded fortress of peace, purity, and other conditions necessary for fomenting, nurturing and concentrating on the spiritual thought. We can see a deluge of population from across continents pouring into this holy land in search of answers, questions to which have been churning their psyche since forever.

How has this affected the importance of Rishikesh as a spiritual centre? How has the invasion of the modern technology and thought transformed its basic essence? How has the concept of Yoga, the instrument of spirituality, as propounded by the sage Patanjali got diluted in Rishikesh today? As per Patanjali Yogais nothing but arresting of the modifications the untamed mind goes through incessantly. Let us explore how close is the Rishikesh of today to providing conditions which facilitate the process of delving into one's spirit.

First of all, today, Rishikesh looks more of another spot of tourist attraction than a place for contemplating on spirituality. Foreigners from all over the world riddle the swanked up market places adding to the glamour than the spiritual essence of the place.

Women tourist in Market in Rishikesh
Foreigner in Market - Rishikesh

The present Rishikesh has all the allures of the material world. High end restaurants, the ambience wherein matches international standards, far away from anything indian or indianised are sprouting up in every nook and corner. The buzz word of the wellness industry today, "Yoga" has been encompassed in the names being provided to these modern, elite looking eating spaces which remain abuzz with tourists round the clock; where as yoga firmly believes in a circadian rhythm that is in tune with the earth's cycle. These eateries cater to international cuisines designed more for attracting the globetrotters than someone who is intended upon the spiritual pursuit at any level.

Foreigners in an eatery in Rishikesh
Eateries caterer to the foreign palate in Rishikesh

The irony is that instead of introducing the foreigners to the less stimulating, calming Indian cuisine, or may be the yoga diet which can aid in steadying the Citta, and the mind while one contemplates on various paths to reach spiritual awareness these eating hubs are busy stimulating the taste buds of the visitors. Spirituality is about reigning in whatever the mind craves for, food being one of them, than satiating the cravings which is responsible for nudge starting the never ending vicious cycle of gratification and desire. The spices, condiments and flavours added to the preparations here instill the rajasic and tamasic energies in the chow; the food which qualifies as Yogic, or which can assist in the practice of Yoga has to be Sattvic in nature. The concept of " Tapa or fortitude needed for steering one's will away from the objects of the sense organs is completely missing in these undertakings in Rishikesh.

Even the clothing on sale here reflects the culture of consumerism prevalent in all the other spheres of modern living today; strong emotion evoking brightly colored T shirts with spiritual symbols like the Swastika, Om or the Trishul imprinted across the length of their front panels, in fancy fonts, can be seen hanging at the entrances of almost all apparel selling stores littering the narrow streets of this abode of spirituality.

Cloths on sale in Rishikesh
Apparel for Spiritual awakening

Yoga on the other hand advocates simple, comfortable clothing which can contribute to the experience of realising the self and not divert the attention to itself in anyway. Yogic practices are meant to be done on any natural base like a straw mat or an animal hide in order to insulate the body from the contrast in the temperature and the concentration of the prana with the bare earth. The greed infested human mind of the wellness industry has transmogrified this natural base needed for doing yoga into multi-hued, variously textured rubber infested yoga mats. In reality the rubber or plastic used in making these yoga mats suck away the healthier negative ions from the air molecules so necessary for a healthy Yogic breathing involved in almost all the Yoga practices. The display of these supposed to be the base for an humble yogic practice is perfectly oriented to the norms of modern product visibility, or sales strictures.

Yoga mats at display Rishikesh
Dressed to entice the consumers

Today, this vulgar display of Yoga mats has reached a level where in carrying a yoga mat ,hung by a sling along the back, has become a symbol of eliteness, and erudition in our society.

Smaller groceries in Rishikesh are capitalising on this Yoga wave by inscribing the word "yoga" with almost all their consumer items for enticing the foreign consumer into their outlets. Item like bread is made to appear healthy ( more yogic for that reason) by tagging the suffix " yogic" to it. Yogic food is meant to be healthier more for the mind than the body anyways.

Yoga Bread in Rishikesh
Yogatisation of Bread

Banners displaying Rishikesh sightseeing options are more numerous than the shops selling spiritual books on spiritual healing and meditation techniques as have been proposed by the great thinkers from India.

Ethics, virtuosity and plane concern for our fellow beings are another victims of this mind boggling chase for the material at a place which is popular for helping people lead the path of renunciation. The foreign tourists are being duped in every possible way by the local mercenaries. While enquiring about the price of a singing bowl at one of the antique shops I was admonished in whispers, by the owner, of disclosing the real price quoted to me, to the Italian girl who was being convinced for buying the same at thrice the real price by his salesman in another corner. It seemed that the girl got an inkling and looked in my direction with the probing eyes. Don't know why, but I couldn't muster up the courage to reveal the truth to her at that moment. May be I am cleansing my soul of that guilt by writing this article here, sure, am feeling cathartical about it.

There are a plenty of places in Rishikesh which are just not interested in entertaining Indian buyers; is it because their is a risk of the beans getting spilled in doing so. The prices of the common Indian musical instruments have been spiked by packaging them as providers of spiritual solace. Incense, spiritual symbols and the blaring of spiritual mantras on high decibel instruments are being used as bates for alluring the foreigners to step in. Local sales men have picked up the accents and mannerisms of these foreign tourists in order to design flawless traps for them. My heart went out to the female from the foreign land, revealing the right price to whom was advised against to me by the owner of a antiques shop as I had just bought the same bowl by paying three times lesser that was being quoted to her. I couldn't pick up the courage to warn her on it at that moment.

Thus everything that exists in Rishikesh, spiritual or material is being capitalised upon by the local businessmen. Its been seen as more of an opportunity to pump up their sales to the foreign consumers of Yoga, in every way possible, than promoting the concept of yogic thought as propounded by Patanjali in his Ashtanga Yoga. Yoga, as also believed by most of its seekers today, is in fact a multi billion dollar industry in Rishikesh in its rightest sense.

Subscribe to our blog

40 views0 comments

About Us








Test Yourself

Plans & Pricing

Science of Yoga

Yoga Retreat Shahzadpur Blog

Samkhya Philosophy

Check Out Our Yoga Classes

Yoga at home

One time Call-in class at home

Yoga at Studio Bandra

One time Drop-in class at Studio

Free Consultation

Online Class

Yoga at home Mumbai

Yoga Camps at the 

 Yoga Retreat Centre near Chandigarh

Yoga Trainer in Chandigarh

Yoga Weekend Retreat near me

Yoga Camp near me on Hypertension

Yoga Camp near me on Diabetes

Yoga Camp near me on Orthopaedic Issues

Yoga Camp near Chandigarh on Asthma

Yoga Camp near Chandigarh on Pre-post natal care

Yoga Camp near Chandigarh on Heart problem


Yoga Camps at Mumbai


Camp on Pre- Post natal Care

Camp on Heart issues

Camp on Asthma

Camp Orthopaedic issues

Camp on Hypertension

Camp on Diabetes

Benefits of Yoga

Yoga for Large Intestine

Yoga for Jawline

Yoga for Anxiety

Yoga for Bronchitis

Yoga for Constipation

Yoga for Kyphosis

Yoga for Double Chin

Yoga for Kidneys

Yoga for Lung capacity

Yoga for Pancreas

Yoga for Spinal nerves

Yoga for Vertigo

Yoga for Digestion

Yoga for Insomnia

Yoga for Nasal issues

Yoga for Slipped Disc

Yoga for Metabolism

Yoga for Rejuvenation

Yoga for Abdominal Organs

Yoga for Hips

Yoga for Sagging Breast

Yoga for Incontinence

Yoga for Backache

Yoga for Flat Feet

Yoga for Calves

Yoga for Upper Back

Yoga for Osteoporosis

Yoga for Thighs

Yoga for Vertebrae

Yoga for Hyperthyroidism

Yoga for Rheumatism

Yoga for Shoulders

Yoga for Appendicitis

Yoga for Sinusitis

Yoga for  Neurasthenia

Yoga for Physical Stamina

Yoga for Nervous System

Yoga for Cervical Spondylitis

Yoga for Lower Back Pain

Yoga for Fertility

Yoga forr Stretch Marks

Yoga for Mental Stamina

Yoga for Sympathetic Nervous  System

Yoga for Colitis

Yoga for Menopause

Yoga for Urogenital Health

Yoga for Vocal Cords

Yoga for Hamstrings

Yoga for Flatulence

Yoga for Menstruation Issues

Yoga for Knees

Yoga for Blood Circulation

Yoga for Dyspepsia

Yoga for Varicose veins

Yoga for Hernia


Yoga for Hysteria

Yoga for Liver

Yoga for Depression

Yoga for Throat issues

Yoga for Pelvis

Yoga for Spine

Yoga for Myalgia

Yoga for Arms

Yoga for Headache

Yoga for  Sciatica

Yoga for Appetite

Samkhya Karika 11

Samkhya Karika 12

Samkhya Karika 13

Samkhya Karika 14

Samkhya Karika 15

Samkhya Karika 16

Samkhya Karika 17

Samkhya Karika 18

Samkhya Karika 19

Samkhya Karika 20