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  • sitting bull 1:19 on 2018-05-08 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cultural appropriation, cultural imposition, , , , tantra, ,   

    The lesser known history of Yogi Bhajan part 5 – his biggest mistake: religion 

    You may be firm with the psychological term “alter-ego”, but there is an aspect I see which seems not to be recognised too often:

    The alter-ego of any winner are the losers s/he did need in order to succeed.
    Same applies to anyone claiming the astrological sun-aspect for themselves (which is often taught in 3HO. (This did suit the “american dream” or “reinventing” oneself and “help yourself then god will help you”.)
    However, when there is an overbearing and ever gloating member in your circle of friends or your family you usually end up being the one pushed down the gutter of marginalisation for not being able to live up to it. And this is why there are quite a few frustrated enemies of 3HO out there who were used, pushed aside, or their realm (like the Sikh religion for example) was claimed by 3HO.

    But you may be surprised that not the dark sides of Yogi Bhajan are adressed here, but a huge lost opportunity which did nullify much of what could have been accomplished.
    It is about what was written in this previously reblogged article, or Turning Yogis into Khalsa Sikhs (as found on thefullwiki.org): 

    Yogi Bhajan in his own words:

    Religion has done the worst. What religion has done is to create the mental coercive state of slaves. Religion didn’t do something to free somebody. It didn’t say: “Go ahead and be!

    So he exactly saw and knew what kind of disasters were and are created in the names of religion – from crusades up to todays terrorism, from the Israel-Palestine-conflict up to the plenty of wars which today are held in the disguise in religion – he knew it and saw it clearly! Yet he continued to precede to contribute towards this problem. This in my eyes is terrible and like someone without even the excuse of having another belief or being in ignorance continues to damage people all for the sake of his own benefit.

    It’s like some of the senior 3HO teachers recognising how our earth is destructed but still continue to create huge ecological footprints by flying over to India in the morning, lecturing there, and flying back in the same evening in order to avoid a jetlag. Do they really think that a Westerners lectures on yoga are the only valuable ones in India?

    Harbhajan Singh Khalsa (Yogi Bhajan) btw, used his extensive flights around the globe (all as a first class VIP with special treatments) to excuse the fact that he – despite knowing all those health-promoting yoga-exercises: – got a heart disease which made him – the teacher of prana – require a protective respirator.
    (And I don’t say this out of spite, but simply to scale his fruits with the many healthclaims of Kundalini-Yoga practicioners.)

    When I came to the United States and I became a Sikh and all that, religion was forced on us. You know I am very anti-religion and I studied all the religions. I know all the loopholes. And I have studied every religion.

    So by the “country of the free” he felt pushed into a position in which the US-laws of “religious freedom” would give him most power (to become a Minister), and also the freedom (to also get green-cards of foreigners). He opportunistically “used the force” – and here is how he did it:

    “I said to myself, ‘Why we have to be Sikhs? What nonsense is this? Forget it!’ Then I looked at myself and said, ‘Wait a minute. There is one way to do it: Give them Baanaa (Distinctive and Gracious Attire). Give them Baanee (Songs of Self-counsel and Inspiration). Give them Seva (A Culture of Service). Give them Simran (Remembrance of the Self in Totality). Put them out in the market. And if by self-awareness they can survive, they will automatically become intuitive.’

    “I took a very calculated risk. I said, ‘No Sikhs. I don’t want to have Sikhs. Sikhs for what?’ But I said, ‘If they can stand under 250 million Americans, totally living differently, dealing differently, not saying “Hello” but saying “Sat Nam”, let us see what happens.’

    “Well, some people came out really great. And it’s true if you get into yourself in totality, you will have reality.” 

    “Calculated risk” are the keywords here: It seems that he knew the tricks of giving Americans what they liked in order to make them oblivious for the fact that he threw them out of the frying pan of orthodox Christianity into the fire of breath (and the next religion.

    He therewith did miss the probably biggest opportunity to loosen spirituality from its religious chains and therewith really create a “new age” just as it is done in Auroville for example.

    Facts are that:

    • Original Sikhism as such does not promote yoga – something many orthodox Sikhs are now angered about when they are overflooded by 3HO instead of Sikh websites;
    • Sikhism also does not call to wear all white – their rule actually is to wear white underwear which is why traditional Sikhs wear all kinds of coloured clothes and turbans.
    • Kundalini Yoga first was mentioned first around the year 700 and therewith is by no means thousands of years old; (source: https://youtu.be/Zwzt9XtSq5Q )
      Yes, the vedic or tantric roots are, but that should be distinguished properly in order to avoid confusion.
    • What Yogi Bhajan taught is NOT traditional Kundalini Yoga, but a mixture of Yoga he learned from his Hindu-Yoga teacher or mere Tantric teachings – teachings which originally was not at all connected to the overly rigid lifestyle he did attach to it. (source: http://yogamag.net/archives/2007/cmar07/tamin.shtml )
      In fact there is no other source to his kriyas than Yogi Bhajan’s. Something which should make one suspicious about the originality of such exercises.

    What first started as a cultural imposition on behalf of Yogi Bhajan, did end as a cultural appropriation by non-indian members of their self-created Sikh-branch.

    Step back for a second and look how many white Western people, how many black members and how many Indian Sikhs  are in 3HO. I only so far saw 3 not-all-white people and no Indian whatsoever. (And I am saying this being white myself, btw.)
    Doesn’t that make you suspicious that no single Indian Sikh ever joined 3HO?

    I saw him coming over to Great Britain, holding a lecture in two original Sikh Gurdwaras and since I drove them around in London for a week, I did what 3HO did – rushed into the religious ceremony – us white dressed paler than pale people standing out – then waiting until he held his speech – and then leaving in the midst of this ceremony in a fashion which might be common in India but considered to be respectless in the West.

    He then would could sit in an separate room with religious leaders whilst the common Indian Sikhs ate down in the hall (where I also ate out of embarrassment of 3HO’s elitism.

    If I was cynical I even could draw a comparison to a German national leader in my grandfathers times who also came from another nation, was dark haired, used ancient Indian wisdom and spirituality to worldly enforce changes, and denied half of is own past in order to lead people who were not of his liking.

    But a nicer comparison would be that to Einstein, Heisenberg and Bohr which at the same time discussed the uncertainty relations. Einstein could not endorse it because he said: “That God would choose to play dice with the world is something I cannot believe.”
    And therewith Einstein held back science as much as Yogi Bhajan held back the human spiritual liberation by not having been ready to disassociate spiritual self-realization from religion.

    ~~~

    Recently a huge doubt came up when I did watch the above recommended discourse about Kundalini Yoga and it was said that the Kundalini energy would connect one to one lineage by uncoiling. It then dawned upon me that there is something else going on which we as practitioners of his ways are sucked into without even being aware of it:
    We are “tuned in” (by the means of the “tuning in” with “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo”) to the Sikh lineage, which undoubtedly acts as a constructive mind-calmer, but also sets us of into the direction of his lineage which by birth never was ours to begin with.

    This made the tune-out song “may the longtime sun shine upon you…” seem like one of those Tibetan monks chanting under the black sun in the Third Reich.

    Maybe – only maybe – my tremendous troubles which came up when doing Sodarshan Chakra Kriya were (& are) not all related to my own bad Karma being washed out, but partly due to the fact that

    • just like in this game where a child is blindfolded, spinned around –

    we are actually set into a total different direction than the biography we were on beforehand.

    I am not certain whether a Guru-worship will give the Guru power beyond his death, but most certainly people are conditioned to experience visions of the saints and teachers of the lineage they were conditioned to. Hence abrahamic saints may see Jesus, followers of  Yogananda may have contact with Mahavatar and Hindus may have visions of one their thousands of sub-divisions of the OM.

    So I did ask a senior yoga practitioner from the before mentioned Auroville if this could mean trouble,
    and I want to share the wise answer from this seasoned man with you below: (If anyone wants to be connected to JV from Auroville just contact me, and I will forward your mail or comment to him).

    “In my opinion, spirituality needs to be distinguished from religion. Though religion may be rooted in spirituality, it diverged form the core axioms, principles and goals of spirituality. For example, One-ness is a core axiom of spatiality but religion are divisive.
    Yoga is essentially a practice-based approach to spirituality, the goals being Self-realization and Union with the One. At a more understandable level, it is the alignment and integration of the 5 koshas (sheaths) of Human Being.
    Anna-maya Kosha ( physical or food-based sheath)
    Prana-maya Kosha ( Energy sheath)
    Mano-maya Kosha (mind)
    Gnana-maya Kosha (wisdom)
    Ananda-maya Kosha (Bliss)
    Kundalini Yoga is one branch of Yoga. Once you make some progress, who you were in the past doesn’t matter because you are moving towards One-ness. So, in my opinion, Yoga is open to all. Familial, social, religious and cultural conditioning will be of no consequence as you proceed in your journey.”

    JV from Auroville

    This gave me great comfort and reminded me
    of Adyashanti’s analogy in his talk “the welcome mat” that

    “Religions are like welcome mats which should guide us as into our own home,
    but unfortunately most people get stuck on worshipping the mat itself
    instead of entering through it into the realm of their own divine self.”
    Adyashanti

    And in the book “Trailanga Swami and Shankari Mataji” in the preface (p.9) is a quote from a kriyayogi about the woman – who supposedly influenced Paramhansa, Ramakrishnadev and Vivekanda:

    Shankari Ma in my opinion is not a follower of Bhakti Yoga, but is trying to solve the problem of life through complete surrender of the self to the Guru, not blindly, but with a rationalistic analysis of the problems of our lifes in its various aspects, believing that religion is an individual problem.

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  • sitting bull 5:09 on 2018-05-07 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: #meToo, , accusations, corruption, , , , sexual misconduct,   

    The lesser known history of Yogi Bhajan part 4 – his dark sides 

    Now that I did prepare you gently by showing you some discrepancies in Yogi Bhajan’s teachings with this article: https://www.academia.edu/4343215/From_Maharaj_to_Mahan_Tantric_The_Construction_of_Yogi_Bhajan_s_Kundalini_Yoga ,
    I want to move on to the by far the most difficult part to convey to excited followers of any teacher they revere.

    Yes it is beautiful to have ones heart opened by given inspirations, but just as the saying goes that “love makes blind”, so does unconditional Guru-worship which raises a normal human being to a god-like level.

    Spirituality is not all about love and excitement – something I can not relate to in many esoteric groups – to me it is about neutrality – the middle path between the negative and positive mind, or as it is taught in the Kabbalah – the middle pillar.

    So in order to make balance to my promoting of Yogi Bhajan’s teachings, I will also add a few sources, which indicate that his alter ego by no means was all perfect.

    Whilst I myself am not at all in the #meToo spirit, where any accusation, even when made a generation later, equals a verdict up to the point that many careers were destroyed before any legal judgment was passed;
    I merely provide the facts of my researches here and will tell you afterwards how I feel about them.

    For brevity’s sake I simply provide links so that people who are offended may skip them, and others who are inclined to research may follow up.

    1. There is a compilation of pages about the dark sides of 3HO which I had to pull from the internet archive, because the page now focusses on making money:
      https://web.archive.org/web/20130817111858/http://rickross.com/groups/3ho.html
    2. An equal compilation can be found on http://www.wackoWorldOfYogiBhajan.net
      (the website name says all about the angle they are coming from)
    3. A forum of a very disappointed former student of Yogi Bhajan who did dedicate 30 years of his life to him: http://www.gurmukhyoga.com/forum/index.php
    4. Another “dis-appointed” student (who “dissed” his “appointment” with 3HO):
      http://lukeford.net/blog/?p=8602

    In those 4 sources you will find accusations of Yogi Bhajan and 3HO having participated or silently condoned corruption, sexual misconducts and many other things.

    Here is how another student of his who still follows his teachings deals with it
    (I urge you to click the youtube button and read the comments there to see how many others also have those problems):

     

    And now – as promised my personal intake on it:

    My first encounter was when I read some of his teachings, started to practice them, and it was clear to me that this guy was spiritually very gifted and shared great insights.

    Then – just as I was doing 2.5 hours of Sodarshan Chakra Kriya daily, I had personal contact with Yogi Bhajan 24 years ago and this was my impression:

    He was extremely authoritarian and did cultivate a guru-worship which I didn’t like, but due to his unapproachable aggressive-deflective aura I realised instantly that there was no way to confront him about it in any way, because he made certain that he always had the upper hand the last word and was right in any conversation.

    So even when he did flatter me for “becoming an incredible healer and a saint”, I was in doubt whether he just wanted to suck me into his cult-like structure.

    The most honest thing I heard him say was “If you do 2.5 hours of Sodarshan Chakra Kriya then there is nothing I can teach you anymore!”, because it was the only time he made himself redundant and bowed to the Kriya which he also said would have been told to do  by his teacher.

    His dominant nature which then merciful fed (the one he just beforehand put down) some compliments was the ideal material to become a cult-leader, because it invokes the Stockholm-syndrome in which people (especially the ones searching for themselves) feel appreciated mostly by the forces which suppressed them beforehand.

    To sum up what does indicate to me that some of those accusations may bear some truth:

    • He certainly was a root-chakra guy with all the dominance involved, so sexual allegations would not surprise me, especially since he himself said that “no man and woman should be left alone in a room”.
    • When Jesus said that “you shall know them by their fruits”, I must say that I was exploited a few times by his follower -student-turned Gurus:
      • the one who passed on SCK to me sucked $2000 out of me at times when I was totally broke and had nothing and did continue this for decades.
        That Kabbalist from NYC also was a heavy womaniser and did commit adultery.
      • altogether I payed a fortune for very expensive 3HO seminars and treatments – a bit too much to leave the impression that spirituality would have been the priority. And all my requests of them employing me in order to get a US-greencard were ignored – I was too uncontrollable to them (hence Y.B. did name me “Amar” which means “free spirit”).
      • and sarcastically it was his people and himself who destroyed my new and frail practice of SCK by making me work for them for a fortnight day and night without me even being able to finish my meals, so that afterwards when they left all that was left was a bunch of tremendous anger and no motivation to continue to do kriyas.
        Y.B. on his second meeting waving me jovially into his room to have a private talk did not do the trick anymore. I simply walked away from him, because I knew that I never could have expressed my frustration to someone who wipes away anything he doesn’t want to hear.
    • Yogi Bhajan got many herbs from our Chinese Medical Pharmacy (which I did grind myself) and never payed – just as hardly any of the teachers who came flying over for a few days (regardless of environmental impact) did of course never declare any of that cash money so it seemed to me that they felt entitled to live above the law for the sake of their higher cause.
    • Once they visited the British head of 3HO to solve a some private and business issues; me, who was just beginning to stretch my head into the realm of spirituality could literally sense a spiritual war between the 3HO-Sikhs and the director of our college, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, taking place: They walked into hour College of Chinese Medicine and with their “Kundalini Stare” literally took over the place, making it their home, so that the Buddhist monk did flee from his premises to visit a retreat. Students who studied Chinese medicine but not Kundalini-Yoga were puzzled about their fierceness and I personally was sucked straight into this invisible war by having to choose a side – something which was not at all in line with my understanding of all-embracing spirituality.
      Hence I started to drink lots of alcohol in order to numb and put a lid on myself.

    All teachings are energetically tainted by the energy of the guru – which is the reason why the 3HO leaders are so unyielding stern and hard – they simply invested and suffered half their life to live up to the calvinistic pleasure-condemming demands that all they have left now is their reputation to be senior students “who knew the master” – something they would never destroy by tainting their only source of glamorous wisdom.

    And on a personal note:

    In the midst whilst writing this article I suddenly became unpleasantly dizzy – nearly stopped, but deemed it important to follow Yogi Bhajan’s own words:
    “If you are depressed – press back”.
    Now, the next moring I felt very liberated, because I did realise that what he did with me was an energetic violation – not as spectacular as the sexual violations focussed on in the current zeitgeist, nevertheless a deep hidden trauma (of which we all have tons and don’t even know it).

    Ironically what Bhajan said came true for himself too:
    It is the aquarian age everything will come out – so also do his dark sides he did gloss over with overconfidence and his self-created role as a religious leader.

    “All the clever tricks you use, the countless little tricks
    – not even one will go along with you.

    Surrender yourself and walk the way of Spirit’s Will.
    Naanak – be with what is already written.”

    -Japji Sahib, Pauree 1, Guru Nanak

    <previous: how he twisted {hi(s}tory) towards Sikhism            next > Harbhajan Singh Khalsa’s biggest mistake

     
  • sitting bull 2:01 on 2018-05-06 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    The lesser known history of Yogi Bhajan part 3 – how he twisted {hi(s}tory) towards Sikhism. 

    This is the third and last part of the article named:
    From Maharaj to Mahan Tantric: The Construction of Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga
    Permalink: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/6r63q6qn
    Journal: Sikh Formations, 8(3)
    Author: Deslippe, Philip Roland
    Publication Date: 2013-03-14

    Sant Hazara Singh and the Title of Mahan Tantric

    In the spring of 1971, shortly after returning from the India trip, Yogi Bhajan announced to his students after his morning meditation that he had been passed the mantle of “Mahan Tantric.” According to Yogi Bhajan, there was only a single Mahan Tantric on the earth at any time, and his earlier pride meant that the title was previously passed to another student of Sant Hazara Singh, the Tibetan Lama Lilan Po, before coming to him (Gurutej S. Khalsa 1995, 15). As understood in 3HO, it is only under the watch of the singular Mahan Tantric that White Tantric Yoga can be done, a non-sexual form of yoga in which his students would sit in rows facing each other in male/female pairs, staring into one another’s eyes, and under the supervision of the Mahan Tantric, perform exercises lasting up to an hour or more.(38) Both the timing and the title were curious, since at the very least, Tantric courses were taught in both Los Angeles and Arizona in the Fall of 1970, well before the title of Mahan Tantric was bestowed, and early teachers of Kundalini Yoga also taught classes of the same type of yoga before they were told it “took too much energy out of Yogi Bhajan” (Schneider 2003, 71).(39)

    The discrepancies make sense in light of the historical housecleaning that was quickly done in early-1971 in the wake of Yogi Bhajan’s break from Virsa Singh. Maharaj Virsa Singh was struck from the record within 3HO, as were the minor living teachers that were listed in the July 1970 “Who Is Yogi Bhajan?” article in Beads of Truth. If Maharaj Virsa Singh was referred to, it was never by name and always as a type of boogey-man who in numerous recountings challenged Yogi Bhajan, tried to keep Yogi Bhajan’s students from becoming Sikhs, and was covertly responsible for any dissonance between Western and Punjabi Sikhs (S.K. Khalsa 2010). From the first India trip onwards, all of the influences that Yogi Bhajan claimed and placed with the lineage of Kundalini and White Tantric Yoga, became inaccessible: from Sant Hazara Singh to the Tibetan Lama Lilan Po to the Sikh Gurus themselves. As the former executive secretary of 3HO has described it, “All of Yogi Bhajan’s claims about lineage or teachers were not able to be substantiated since all teachers that he referred to were (conveniently) expired.”(40)

    Guru Ram Das and the figure of Sant Hazara Singh took center stage, and any deference or mythologizing given to Maharaj Virsa Singh was now cast onto them or to Yogi Bhajan himself.

    The original story of Yogi Bhajan cleaning toilets for Maharaj Virsa Singh, which was turned into washing the floors at the Golden Temple after work, was again recast into part of Yogi Bhajan’s claimed narrative of studying under Sant Hazara Singh (Yogi Bhajan 1996a, 1999). The description of the Mahan Tantric, a unique title held by only one person on earth at a time, echoed Yogi Bhajan’s previous description of Maharaj Virsa Singh as “the master of the time.” Yogi Bhajan’s dress of flowing all-white clothing and the even way he sat bore a striking resemblance to how Maharaj Virsa Singh [379] carried himself.(41) The Naam that Yogi Bhajan said he received from his former master was now referred to in 3HO publications as “our Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru” (Khalsa 1971a). In October of 1971, 3HO began the practice of celebrating the birthday of Guru Ram Das, and soon that annual celebration would revolve around chanting the shabad Dhan Dhan Ram Das Guru for two and a half hours just as Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru was chanted to honor Maharaj Virsa Singh on his birthday (Khalsa 1971b).

    While the figure of Sant Hazara Singh became central, when all of Yogi Bhajan’s claims about him are brought together, it seems highly improbable that if such a figure existed that he would not have been documented elsewhere.(42) In addition to being a master of Sikh martial arts, Kundalini Yoga, White Tantric Yoga, and someone who had memorized the entire Siri Guru Granth Sahib, Yogi Bhajan claimed that his Sant Hazara Singh organized an armed defense of the city of Anandpur during Partition, remained ageless and had over 250 students including the Tibetan Lama Lilan Po who would have been remarkably studying under a Sikh teacher in the Punjab at a time when Tibet was closed off (Khalsa 1979, 29; Yogi Bhajan 1983, 1996b). The man Yogi Bhajan appointed as his biographer, Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa, has by his own admission never found outside information on the figure of Sant Hazara Singh.(43)

    Beyond the late introduction of Sant Hazara Singh and the convenient timing of his elevated importance, perhaps the strongest evidence against his existence comes from Yogi Bhajan himself. The accepted narrative within 3HO, taken from Yogi Bhajan directly, is that he trained under Sant Hazara Singh from the age of seven until sixteen and a half, when he was declared a Master by his teacher (Yogi Bhajan 1990a).(44) However, on numerous occasions during his first years in the West, Yogi Bhajan himself dated the beginning of his yogic study to a time after he would later claim to have finished his studies under Sant Hazara Singh. Yogi Bhajan initially told reporters that he had been studying yoga “since he was eighteen” and in interviews in both 1968 and 1969, he claimed to have studied for twenty-two years, and in 1970 that number was adjusted to twenty-three years, which at 1946 and 1947, would have made him either seventeen or eighteen years old when he began to study yoga (Hampton 1968; Altschul 1969; Anonymous 1970b; Gray 1970). An early article by the “mother of 3HO” Shakti Parwha Kaur also describes Yogi Bhajan’s meeting with Virsa Singh as the apex of the former’s “22 years search for Truth,” once again placing the beginning of Yogi Bhajan’s spiritual quest at a post- Partition time following his claimed completion of studies under Sant Hazara Singh (S.P.K. Khalsa 1970b, 2).

    With decades to solidify, this shift has become the accepted standard within 3HO today, where nearly all practitioners know of the claimed connections the practice has with Sant Hazara Singh and Guru Ram Das, but hardly anyone is aware of Maharaj Virsa Singh or Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhirendra_Brahmachari

    Conclusion

    When viewed openly, the early history of 3HO is remarkable in the extent that it was so thoroughly revised and replaced as the organization aged, with a figure so initially revered as Maharaj Virsa Singh eliminated and a theoretically essential figure as Sant Hazara Singh introduced only after a year and a half of going unnoted. One explanation [381] of the successful revision of Kundalini Yoga’s history is simply timing. Since these changes occurred in the first two years, there was less of a past to revise, and the passing of time helped to further solidify the new narrative as many of the earliest people in 3HO cycled out of the group. In later years, many students who joined after the first two years were recognized as “old-timers” with decades of experience, and their understanding was given merit even though they were ignorant of 3HO’s earliest and most formative years that often contradicted its later understanding of itself.

    The most significant aspect of the hidden history of Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga, is the central epistemological problem at the foundation of 3HO’s understanding of Kundalini Yoga and its own lineage. Like a small restaurant that places mirrors on opposing walls to create the appearance of depth, it is from the singular person of Yogi Bhajan that all information about the lineage and practice of his Kundalini Yoga originates. From the lectures of Yogi Bhajan and notes taken in his classes came the instruction manuals, books, and 3HO periodicals such asBeads of Truth and the later Aquarian Times that elucidated the practice of Kundalini Yoga. In time, despite contradictions within Yogi Bhajan’s statements and a lack of supporting evidence from secondary sources, outside writers and scholars relied on 3HO’s own materials to describe the composition and lineage of Kundalini Yoga to wider audiences, creating a long and citable bibliography that seems to verify the claims made about the practice.

    Yogi Bhajan was free to revise the understanding his students had of Kundalini Yoga, its origins, and his own personal lineage, since like many other charismatic leaders within New Religious Movements, his word was accepted prima facia by his followers without any need for outside confirmation. While Yogi Bhajan himself can be seen as the primary editor of the understanding of his Kundalini Yoga and its claimed lineage, this filtering was reinforced by figures close to him who wrote and edited 3HO’s periodicals and literature. By eliminating certain events and quotes and emphasizing others, they often revised history and gave a more consistent form to the narratives within 3HO. Shakti Parwha Kaur would say in late-1972, despite everything she wrote in Beads of Truth about Maharaj Virsa Singh in 1970, that when she first met Yogi Bhajan “he had placed his total faith, his total dependence” on Guru Ram Das (Khalsa 1972). With more rank-and-file members this process of resolving conflicting and disparate information could be more subtle, even to the point of being unconscious. An unwitting description of this approach can been seen in Ravi Har Singh, who in describing the process of writing a book based on Yogi Bhajan’s “non-linear and multidimensional” lectures recently admitted, “I found that he (Yogi Bhajan) rarely develops a concept completely in one place, at one sitting. Instead he often delivers fragments of concepts across a wide number of lectures. It is up to the researcher to apply a good dose of intuition to bring these fragments together into a coherent whole” (Khalsa 2011).

    Adding another dimension to Yogi Bhajan’s role as the filter of knowledge in the earliest years of 3HO were the barriers of language, culture, and personal experience. On the first trip to India none of Yogi Bhajan’s students spoke Punjabi or were familiar with Sikh customs, let alone Indian culture at large. While some of Yogi Bhajan’s students would describe firsthand his break with Maharaj Virsa Singh or the events at the [382] Golden Temple in 1971, it is doubtful that they themselves understood what was occurring at the time independent of what they were told via Yogi Bhajan. Even a student who was nearby when Guru Ram Das supposedly appeared to Yogi Bhajan on the 1970-71 trip and reverentially verified his story, did not see the fourth Sikh Guru with her own eyes, and could only find proof through her own interpretation of what she saw in Yogi Bhajan and what he related (Khalsa 1978).

    A close inspection of the events between 1968 and 1971 suggest that Yogi Bhajan was acutely aware of the ways he was presenting his yoga and often reimagined it to suit his audience: at times for long term goals and at other times to suit immediate needs. The figures of Sant Hazara Singh, and to a lesser extent, Lama Lilan Po, were used to cover for the actual personages and influences of Maharaj Virsa Singh and Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari, giving a provenance to Kundalini Yoga that also secured Yogi Bhajan’s possession of it. Without the lineage that he claimed and without creating Kundalini Yoga out of whole cloth, Yogi Bhajan is best thought of as neither a lineage holder nor inventor, but a bricoleur who brought together elements of different practices and presented them to his students as a distinct entity with a romantic mythology surrounding it. Perhaps this says as much about Yogi Bhajan as it does about the expectations and hopes of those who believed him.

    While this paper suggests a radical shift in the accepted understanding of what Kundalini Yoga is and who Yogi Bhajan was, in one sense it also suggests a lateral shift. When the popular mythology of Kundalini Yoga is inspected and dismantled, an ancient lineage of Kundalini Yoga and the figure of Sant Hazara Singh are lost, but we are still left with esoteric yogic practices and a powerful teacher in the Sūkṣma Vyāyāma of Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari and the figure of Maharaj Virsa Singh. This provides both a truer sense of Kundalini Yoga and a more realistic explanation of why it works as it does for its practitioners.

    Some critics and ex-members of 3HO try to dismiss the practice of Kundalini Yoga entirely, often basing their view on contradictory evidence within Yogi Bhajan’s claims or by contrasting the practice with accepted Sikh orthopraxy. But with vast numbers of teachers and students of Kundalini Yoga over the decades, it is unrealistic to think that all of them were deluded, found no benefits through its practice, or did not have profound experiences through it. Kundalini Yoga was often described by Yogi Bhajan and 3HO as “The Yoga of Experience.” When viewed critically and historically, perhaps the individual experience of its practitioners, and not the figure of Yogi Bhajan or the mythology of the Golden Chain, is the most honest and fruitful vantage from which to view it.[383]

    ~~~ End of article ~~~

    < previous: his Janus-face between Sikhism and Yoga
    coming up: the dark side of Yogi Bhajan

    My personal 2cents:

    1. Maybe Y.B.’s transformation towards Sikhism had something to do with the US-laws which grant religious workers green cards.
    2. The ones who don’t believe this article may the read how he came to his conclusion by reading the entire original here,
      or simply look at the extensive research done as documented in the Footnotes and References below:

      Footnotes:

    (38) Yogi Bhajan originally taught these White Tantric Yoga classes in person, and later with declining health the courses were done through video tapes and in-person representative “Tantric Facilitators,” a format that continues today, years after Yogi Bhajan’s death.
    (39) Interview with Antion Vic Briggs, telephone, 5 July 2011. Interview with Jack Sokol, telephone, 7 September 2011. Sokol was an early student of Kundalini Yoga and studied under “Baba” Don Conreaux at Arizona State University in early 1970 before teaching and going through a ten-day teaching training in Los Angeles in the summer of 1971.
    (40) Interview with Pamela Dyson, telephone, 23 September 2011.
    (41) Interview with Antion Vic Briggs, telephone, 5 July 2011.
    (42) There were notable Hazara Singhs who were outside the timeline Yogi Bhajan gave for his claimed teacher: a Bhai Hazara Singh who was killed in 1921 and made one of the first two martyrs of the Gudwara Reform Movement, and a Baba Hazara Singh Sevawale, who supervised the building of the Gudwara in Taraori, north of Karnal, in 1970. If there was in fact a reality-based source for Yogi Bhajan’s early teacher, the most likely suspect who comes remotely close to the timeline that Yogi Bhajan established for him was a Sant Hazara Singh from the village Chhote Ghuman. According to the author Dr. Kulwant Singh Khokhar, who frequently met with him and mentioned him in the acknowledgements section of his 1999 book Way of the Saffron Cloud, this Sant Hazara Singh was an uneducated, retired farmer who lived very modestly and barely spoke, a sharp contrast with the tales Yogi Bhajan told of his Sant Hazara Singh.
    (43) Correspondence with Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa, email, 15 June 15, 2011.
    (44) This contrasts with the earlier claim in the July 1970 issue of Beads of Truth that this mastery was obtained by Yogi Bhajan at the age of eighteen.

    References:
    3HO (Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization) 1970. Display ad. Beads of Truth, March, vol. 1 no. 3. Altschul, Marty. 1969. Tense housewives, businessmen try relaxing Hindu way. Los Angeles Times, June 22.
    Anonymous. 1970. Guru & mantra yoga. Beads of Truth, March vol. 1 no. 2, 1.
    Anonymous. 1970. Yogi on yoga. Santa Fe New Mexican, March 20.
    Anonymous. 1970. Television notice. Arizona Republic, November 28.
    Anonymous. 1971. Yogi bailed out, flies back to US. Hindustan Times, March 20.
    Aquarian, Isis [pseud.], ed. 2007. The Source: The untold story of Father Yod, YaHoWa13 and the Source Family. Los Angeles: Process Media.
    Brahmachari, Swami Dhirendra. 1970. Yogāsana Vijñāna: The science of yoga. New Delhi: Asia Publishing House.
    Brahmachari, Swami Dhirendra. 1973 [First English edition published 1965]. Yoga: Yogic SūkṣmaVyāyāma. New Delhi: Indian Book Company.
    Claiborne, William L. 1970. Yoga students set India trip for drug study. The Washington Post, December 23, B2.
    Fisher, Mary Pat. 1992. Everyday miracles in the House of God: Stories from Gobind Sadan, India. New Delhi: Gobind Sadan.
    Gray, Brett. 1970. World must purify self soon, yoga warns. Orlando Sentinel, May 31. Hampton, Edna. 1968. Yoga’s challenges and promises. The Globe and Mail, November 28.
    Khalsa, Gurucharan Singh, ed. 1975. Kundalini meditation manual for intermediate students. Pomona, California: Kundalini Research Institute Publications.

    Khalsa, Gurucharan Singh, and Rama Kirn Singh. 1976. Yoga: The origins and development of yoga and the science of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. Kundalini Quarterly, Summer, 2-8.
    Khlasa, Gurutej Singh. 1995. Khalsa is born in the west. In The history of Sikh Dharma of the Western Hemisphere. Edited by Shanti Kaur Khalsa, 1-25. Espanola, New Mexico: Sikh Dharma International.
    Khalsa, Krishna Kaur. 1978. Guru Guru Wahe Guru Guru Ram Das Guru. Sikh Dharma Brotherhood, Winter, 8-9.
    Khalsa, Premka Kaur [Pamela Dyson]. 1979. Early history. In The man called the Siri Singh Sahib, edited by Premka Kaur Khalsa et al. Los Angeles: Sikh Dharma.
    Khalsa, Ravi Har Singh. 2011. Becoming Aquarian: How a book deal changed my sadhana and me. 3HO Foundation Kundalini Yoga News. Posted July 21.http://www.3ho.org/ecommunity/2011/07/becoming-aquarian-how-a-book-deal-changed-my- sadhana-and-me-2/
    Khalsa, Shakti Parwha Kaur. 1970. High times. Beads of Truth, March, vol. 1 no. 2. Khalsa, Shakti Parwha Kaur. 1970. Who is Yogi Bhajan? Beads of Truth, July, 2. Khalsa, Shakti Parwha Kaur. 1970. High times. Beads of Truth, September. Khalsa, Shakti Parwha Kaur. 1971. High times. Beads of Truth, Autumn.
    Khalsa, Shakti Parwha Kaur. 1971. Guru Ram Das Ji’s birthday celebration. Beads of Truth, Autumn, 48.
    Khalsa, Shakti Parwha Kaur. 1972. Lecture at Grace of God Course in Tucson, Arizona, November 10.
    Khalsa, Shakti Parwha Kaur. 1996. Kundalini yoga: The flow of eternal power. New York: Perigee.
    Khalsa, Shakti Parwha Kaur. 2003. Kundalini postures and poetry. New York: Perigee.
    Khalsa, Shanti Kaur. 2005. My teacher’s teacher. Aquarian Times, Winter, 38-41.
    Khalsa, Shanti Kaur. 2010. Lecture at Gudwara in Espanola, New Mexico, August 7.
    Schneider, Carrie. 2003. Krishna Kaur. In American yoga: The paths and practices of America’s greatest yoga masters. Edited by Carrie Schneider, 68-75. New York: Sterling.
    Sharma, Suresh. 1971. Warrant issued against Yogi. Hindustan Times, March 19.
    Singh, Bhai Himat. 2009. A brief biography of Bhai Himat. Posted December 10.http://www.bhaihimat.com/bio1.htm
    Singh, Bhai Kirpal [AKA Major Sahib]. 2010. Major Sahib’s own story. Gobind Sadan USA. Accessed December 11. http://www.gobindsadan.org/usa-website/41-gobind-sadan- institute/scholars/131-bhai-kirpal-singh.html
    Singh, Ralph. 2008. A path to follow: Reflections of a student at Gobind Sadan. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers.
    Yogi Bhajan [pseud.]. 1969. Class lecture in Los Angeles, February 8. [Reprinted in Beads of Truth vol.1 no. 7]
    Yogi Bhajan [pseud.]. 1972. Mantra: From lectures by Yogi Bhajan. Beads of Truth, Summer, 7. Yogi Bhajan [pseud.]. 1983. Ishnaan, The science of hydrotherapy. Class lecture at unknown location.
    Yogi Bhajan [pseud.]. 1987. Class lecture at Ladies’ Camp in Espanola, New Mexico, July 31. Yogi Bhajan [pseud.]. 1990. What it means to be a teacher. Class lecture in Los Angeles, March 23.
    Yogi Bhajan [pseud.]. 1990. The meaning of dharma. Class lecture in Los Angeles, April 8.
    Yogi Bhajan [pseud.]. 1995. Addresses the healers. Lecture to Khalsa Chiropractic Association, August 2.
    Yogi Bhajan [pseud.]. 1996. What is happiness? Class lecture at Master’s Touch course in Espanola, New Mexico, July 20.
    Yogi Bhajan [pseud.]. 1996. The golden rules of a teacher. Class lecture at Master’s Touch course in Espanola, New Mexico. July 22.
    Yogi Bhajan [pseud.]. 1999. The experience of your self. Class lecture in Johannesburg, South Africa, December 12.
     
    • David 1:45 on 2018-07-17 Permalink | Reply

      decades, it is unrealistic to think that all of them were deluded, found no benefits through its practice, or did not have profound experiences through it. Kundalini Yoga was often described by Yogi Bhajan and 3HO as “The Yoga of Experience.” When viewed critically and historically, perhaps the individual experience of its practitioners, and not the figure of Yogi Bhajan or the mythology of the Golden Chain, is the most honest and fruitful vantage from which to view it.[383]
      The last paragraph says it all for me – in the end, it doesn’t matter much, its your individual experience with your local Kundalini teachers that is most important. I still believe that much of the yoga we practice is derived from rituals thousands of years old before they were written down.
      This story reminds me a bit of the exploits of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, who founded and spread the Mormon faith in our country and now around the world.
      Thanks to Thilo for posting this

      Liked by 1 person

    • David 2:07 on 2018-07-17 Permalink | Reply

      And the video was fascinating!

      Liked by 1 person

  • sitting bull 3:00 on 2018-05-05 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    The lesser known history of Yogi Bhajan part 2 – his Janus-face between Sikhism and Yoga 

    This is part 2 of the article
    From Maharaj to Mahan Tantric:
    The Construction of Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga Philip Deslippe
    which you can read in full here: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/6r63q6qn
    (the first part can be read here)

    The Construction of Kundalini Yoga

    When placed alongside the teachings of Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari and Maharaj Virsa Singh, it becomes strikingly apparent that at least in its earliest years, Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga was not a distinct practice, but essentially a combination of yogic mechanics learned from the former and the Sikh-derived mantras and chanting from the latter. Sometimes these two practices would be juxtaposed, and Kundalini Yoga students would chant Naam immediately following a yoga set. They were also frequently intertwined, and rhythmic yogic exercises were coordinated with mantras such as “Sat Nam” and “Wahe Guru,” and the chanting of “Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wha Guru” was done with deep breathing and the application of internal body locks known as bandhas. Yogi Bhajan himself acknowledged this coalescence in an early lecture, saying

    There are two ways to find the Divine. One way is that you open the solar plexus and charge your solar centers. You get direct with the Divine. The other method is [374] that you concentrate and meditate and get this sound (Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wha Guru) in you, and it directly charges your solar centers and in this method you get the Divine light to you.

    (Yogi Bhajan 1972, 7)

    While this mélange was presented as a seamless form to students of his Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Bhajan was radically combining two disparate practices and making significant modifications to each. Maharaj Virsa Singh did not believe in yoga as a spiritual path, and his followers at Gobind Sadan did not practice any form of physical yoga. Yogi Bhajan’s references to Maharaj Virsa Singh as the inspiration under which he learned “Nam Yoga, Laya Yoga, and Mantra Yoga,” were rhetorical, trying to include Maharaj Virsa Singh within his system by way of a very broad definition of the word “yoga” which itself was never used at Gobind Sadan (Khalsa 1970b, 2).(17) Similarly, Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari’s teaching of yoga and Sūkṣma Vyāyāma was done firmly within the context of the Yamas and Niyamas, or the codes of conduct found within the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, particularly complete sexual continence and a strict interpretation ofMitahara or diet that would have forbid the “trinity roots” or garlic, onions, and ginger that Yogi Bhajan promoted to his students. In the process of combining the teachings of Maharaj Virsa Singh and Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari, Yogi Bhajan also made his Kundalini Yoga more palatable and appealing to his young audience in the United States.

    While Kundalini Yoga comingled elements from both Maharaj Virsa Singh and Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari, each these two figures were represented in distinctive ways that point towards a conscious and deliberate construction by Yogi Bhajan of himself as a leader and Kundalini Yoga as a distinct practice. For Yogi Bhajan’s initial students, Maharaj Virsa Singh was openly acknowledged as the teacher of Yogi Bhajan and a powerful, mythologized touchstone for their practice. Many early students, unaware of one another, echo the claim that the early years of 3HO were “all about Virsa Singh.”(18) In stark contrast, these same students knew little about Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari, hearing about him as an associate of Yogi Bhajan or the head of a yoga center Yogi Bhajan taught at, if at all. To an outside audience, it was just the opposite. Yogi Bhajan’s connection to Maharaj Virsa Singh was never mentioned to the press or public, while he constantly used the professional credential of being of Swami Dhirendra’s “House of Yoga of Vishwayatan Ashram” and pointed out its two most famous pupils, Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

    The reasons for claiming Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari publically and Maharaj Virsa Singh privately make sense in the context of the time. The respectable and professional credential of the former would make Yogi Bhajan look more serious and noteworthy for newspaper readers and the general public. For his young students, most of whom were primed on the lore of Carlos Castaneda, Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, and tales of Zen masters, a teacher who was a student of a great teacher had a stronger claim to spiritual knowledge and power than an “orphaned” or “self-realized” teacher without a pedigree that pointed to an established lineage or antiquity. Yogi Bhajan would paradoxically be more significant as the student of a great master than as the head of his own singular and contemporarily constructed practice.

    But lineage was a double-edged sword. Most spiritual teachers who came to the United States from the East in the late-1960s had received their position after the passing of their own teacher, and mundanely speaking, risked none of what they built in the [375] West by praising their forbearers. As attested to by the students of Baba Ram Das who went to India to find his teacher Neem Karoli Baba, or the readers of Carlos Castaneda’s works who ventured into the Mexican desert to find his alleged and elusive Yaqui guide Don Juan, a living teacher of a teacher who was even remotely accessible could prove to be a legitimate rival. Yogi Bhajan was in the awkward position of having not one, but two of his teachers alive, well, and available to his own students. Additionally, there were serious disconnects between what he taught his students and what his claimed teachers taught. This tension would grow within the rapid expansion of Yogi Bhajan’s first two years as a teacher in the West, and would foster a radical shift in how he portrayed himself and his students understood him in the wake of a catastrophic and dynamic three-month trip Yogi Bhajan took with his students to India in late- 1970 and early-1971.

    The longterm-anger of the traumatised student in this ^ video  (who isn’t the writer of this article) shows how domination or misdirection of  innocent seekers can damage people’s lifes. Gurusant could never totally shed Yogi Bhajan’s conditioning, so he kept the traditional Sikh-religion, but threw Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga over board.

    The Raising of Kundalini Yoga and the India Trip of 1970-71

    The late-Sixties were an incredible boom time for Eastern spiritual teachers in the West. For someone like Yogi Bhajan, charismatic, physically imposing, and offering the secrets of the mythical and dangerous kundalini energy, Los Angeles in 1969 was the right place at the right time. While Yogi Bhajan’s initial plans in America were to sell items to Hippies as part of an import/export business (fitting for a customs officer), he quickly made yoga his business.(19) There seemed to be no limits to his growth among Hippies as a teacher in his own right, and with an almost franchise-like pattern, Yogi Bhajan offered an accelerated teacher training program consisting of only a few weeks, and then quickly dispatched his newly minted teachers across the country to open satellite 3HO ashrams. Soon, there were Kundalini Yoga teachers in a rapidly expanding list of college towns and major cities.

    In this atmosphere of seemingly limitless possibilities for a yoga teacher, Yogi Bhajan’s view of himself and role as a teacher began to quickly shift. As the year 1970 unfolded, Yogi Bhajan began to modify his previous claims and distanced himself from Maharaj Virsa Singh in three main ways: the reverence of Maharaj Virsa Singh was diluted as he became the most important teacher within an ever-expanding list of teachers Yogi Bhajan claimed, the figure of Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, was introduced as Yogi Bhajan’s “personal Guru,” and Yogi Bhajan himself was increasingly placed in the role once reserved for Maharaj Virsa Singh, often in the same terms.

    In July of 1970, Beads of Truth published a one-page article titled “Who Is Yogi Bhajan?” which reads as part biography and part resume, with a lengthy list of the teachers that Yogi Bhajan studied with. This article, nearly a year and a half after Yogi Bhajan began to teach Kundalini Yoga in the United States, appears to be the first mention in print of the figure of Sant Hazara Singh, who in two brief lines is mentioned as the teacher of “Kundalini Yoga and other various yogas.” The list continued with Yogi Bhajan’s grandfather Bhai Fatha Singh, Sant Ranjit Singh who taught “universal spirituality” and comparative religions, Swami Devmurti under who Yogi Bhajan obtained “mastery of Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga,” Acharya Narinder Dev of Yoga Smitri in New Delhi who taught Yogi Bhajan hatha yoga and “the impact and balance of the nervous system,” the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh where Yogi Bhajan “was able to drink deep and fill his mind and heart with the Sanatana Dharma,” and Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari [376] who taught “Yoga Therapy” and at whose ashram Yogi Bhajan claimed to be “Senior Professor of Yoga.”(20)

    The early account Yogi Bhajan offered of washing the bathrooms for Maharaj Virsa Singh was changed to him “finishing his duties at the airport” and going “directly to the famous Golden Temple at Amritsar where his wife would bring food and with the children, join him for dinner, before he started his daily routine of scrubbing the floor of the temple” (Khalsa 1970b).(21) While Maharaj Virsa Singh was still revered as “Master,” he was viewed more as a capstone to Yogi Bhajan’s lifetime of spiritual searching, which was curiously a process of searching that now had mastery of Kundalini Yoga at its mid-point.

    In the spring of 1970 photographs began to be sold of Yogi Bhajan, clad in all white, seated in full-lotus with his palms together at his chest, staring deeply into the camera lens (3HO 1970).(22) Around the same time, an enthusiastic Kundalini Yoga student encouraged readers of Beads of Truth to “meditate on your Guru’s picture, see through his eyes,” and another student who taught Kundalini Yoga in Memphis remembers being told to bow before the picture of Yogi Bhajan and seek guidance from him before teaching each class (Anonymous 1970a).(23) By the summer of 1970 Yogi Bhajan was regularly flanked in print by the titles “spiritual guiding force of 3HO” and “Master of Kundalini Yoga.” The sandals of Maharaj Virsa Singh no longer had their place on Yogi Bhajan’s bed; in both a literal and symbolic sense, that space was now his.(24)

    In the last few days of 1970 Yogi Bhajan took a group of approximately eighty students for a three-month spiritual pilgrimage to India. Yogi Bhajan told a reporter shortly before the trip that the group was on a fact-finding mission in India to research how to best get the youth of America off drugs via yoga (Claiborne 1970). For those within 3HO, the point of the trip was to visit and stay at Gobind Sadan, “home of Yogi Bhajan’s beloved master, Maharaj Virsa Singh Ji”( Khalsa 1970c, 11). Yogi Bhajan told Jim Baker, one of his senior students in Los Angeles, to come on the trip for the purpose of getting the blessing of his teacher (Aquarian 2007, 46).

    The trip would end up radically shifting its focus and on the group’s return three-months later Maharaj Virsa Singh would be persona non grata, the figures of Sant Hazara Singh and Guru Ram Das would become central, and Yogi Bhajan would audaciously claim titles of Sikh administrative authority over half of the globe and Tantric mastership. In light of his growing following and shifting view of his role as a leader, even if Yogi Bhajan did in fact leave India in the fall of 1968 as a devout student of Maharaj Virsa Singh, then it is doubtful that he returned to India two years later as one, given the shift in the portrayal of himself and Maharaj Virsa Singh.(25) It is also doubtful that he would not have foreseen a conflict with the major differences in what he was teaching his students and what Maharaj Virsa Singh was teaching at Gobind Sadan. If Yogi Bhajan was not intentionally looking for a break from his master, then it was a development he would have welcomed.

    Almost immediately upon arrival, the jetlagged group was welcomed by Indira Gandhi at the gardens of the prime minister’s palace, where one of Yogi Bhajan’s students, Andrew Ungerleider, demonstrated hatha yoga postures for her and Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari. Indira Gandhi, moved by the interest the young Americans had in India, spoke to the group, and then they all held hands and chanted “Om” together.(26)(27) The group then went outside the city to Gobind Sadan, but in less than [377] a week, Yogi Bhajan dramatically broke from Maharaj Virsa Singh and the group quickly left Gobind Sadan and relocated to a mango farm. One American student remembers the group being suddenly told that Virsa Singh was not Yogi Bhajan’s teacher and that the departure was political, with Maharaj Virsa Singh wanting Yogi Bhajan to support someone politically, although it is hard to imagine Yogi Bhajan, a mid-level customs officer over two years removed from India, having any amount of political influence worth fighting over in the elections that were taking place at the time.(28)

    Yogi Bhajan would later claim that he left because Maharaj Virsa Singh wanted to be recognized as Yogi Bhajan’s teacher, which seems strange since Yogi Bhajan claimed as much time and time again. Yogi Bhajan insisted in later retellings that the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das, was his true teacher. According to Yogi Bhajan, Maharaj Virsa Singh asked if in keeping with having a guru, if Guru Ram Das gave Yogi Bhajan a mantra, and the next morning during his personal meditation, Guru Ram Das tangibly appeared in front of Yogi Bhajan and gave him the mantra “Guru Guru Wahe Guru Guru Ram Das Guru.”(29) The story was frequently repeated by Yogi Bhajan over the years and seemed to serve several ongoing purposes simultaneously: solidify the claim of Guru Ram Das as Yogi Bhajan’s personal Guru, position Guru Ram Das as the patron saint of 3HO, further link Yogi Bhajan and Kundalini Yoga to the Sikh tradition, and put distance between Yogi Bhajan and his previously claimed devotion to Maharaj Virsa Singh (Yogi Bhajan 1987, 1990b, 1995).

    Those who were closest to Yogi Bhajan and Maharaj Virsa Singh recount much more material and directly embarrassing reasons for the former breaking from the latter. Early devotees of Maharaj Virsa Singh recall him telling the group of students in front of Yogi Bhajan that he never taught anyone yoga and that yoga had nothing to do with Sikhism. Rather, for Maharaj Virsa Singh, Gobind Sadan and its inspiration from Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh was the model for the spiritual path: hard work, remembrance of God, taking money from no one, and sharing with others in need. Yogi Bhajan’s secretary during the trip, Premka Kaur, said “he had to be in a lineage… he couldn’t let someone else have it anyway because he would lose that control.”(30) Another person present recalled Yogi Bhajan wanting a type of territorial agreement in which Yogi Bhajan would “keep” his students and Gobind Sadan would become a type of “3HO East.”(31) Yogi Bhajan’s proposal was laughed at by Maharaj Virsa Singh and with self-induced pressure, Yogi Bhajan left soon after in a huff.(32)

    Keeping the mango farm as a base, the trip dramatically shifted and despite no previous mentioned intention of Sikhism being a focus on the trip, day after day the group went to one Gudwara after another. Students were dressed in white Punjabi clothes, performed basic kirtan, and were told to not mention yoga. One participant remembers being told, “If Indian Sikhs ask you anything about what you’re doing, just say ‘Naam Japo.’”(33) The idea of American “Gora Sikhs” was unimaginable in the Punjab, and Yogi Bhajan’s students drew large crowds where they went. The buzz around the group grew and in early March they were hosted at the Golden Temple in Amritsar where Yogi Bhajan presented himself as a Sikh missionary and was feted. Some members of the group were married and others took Amrit, although it is doubtful that they knew the details or larger implications of what they were doing. One recalls that they were told what to do and how to carry themselves. “Basically none of us knew what we were even doing… we were just silent pawns in however we wanted to be portrayed… just following the instructions of (Yogi Bhajan).”(34) In a bizarre crescendo, the India trip [378] ended with Yogi Bhajan being arrested on charges of defrauding a man named Amarjit Singh for 10,000 rupees, quickly being bailed out, and then fleeing the country with his students after being nearly stopped at the airport (Sharma 1971; Anonymous 1971).(35)(36)(37)

    <Kundalini Yoga is not what he taught           how he twisted {hi(s}tory) towards Sikhism >

    Footnotes:
    (17) If the practice of Naam was common among both students of Yogi Bhajan and Maharaj Virsa Singh, the mechanical and technical practice by the former clearly set it apart from the devotional and emotional practice by the latter.
    (18) Interview with Antion Vic Briggs, telephone, 5 July 2011. Interview with Ron Brent, telephone, 6 January 2011.
    (19) Interview with Warren Stagg, telephone, 8 June 2011
    (20) There is also evidence from a student who spoke at length with Yogi Bhajan for the very logical possibility that Yogi Bhajan’s knowledge of yoga, meditation, and related subjects were not entirely based on these teachers but also heavily supplemented by books and other minor figures. See Harrysingh1 (pseud.), comment on “The Sikh Connection,” The Wacko World of Yogi Bhajan, comment posted on February 8, 2005, http://forums.delphiforums.com/KamallaRose/messages?msg=579.39.
    (21) Considering the 300 miles that separates the airport in New Delhi from the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the possibility of such a commute is extremely unlikely.
    (22) This photograph was also sold in a cropped version with only Yogi Bhajan’s face in what seems to be a prototype of the “Tratakam” portrait of him.
    (23) Interview with Jim Migdoll, telephone, 7 September 2011. Migdoll was involved in 3HO from early to late-1970, and was sent to Memphis, Tennessee during that time to teach the flagship Kundalini Yoga classes there.
    (24) An account of Yogi Bhajan’s sleeping habits was given by early students of his in Florida in their account of an early 1970 visit. See “Early History of the 3HO Foundation According to Hari Singh and Hari Kaur Bird Khalsa,” last modified July 19, 2012, http://www.harisingh.com/3HOHistory.htm.
    (25) In the commemorative book The Man Called The Siri Singh Sahib, the Punjabi-born and London-based journalist Gurucharan Singh Khalsa, described meeting with Yogi Bhajan at Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari’s Vishwayatan Ashram in early 1968, well before supposedly being told to go to the West by Maharaj Virsa Singh, in which he heard from him that inspired by “some mysterious call from within” he “was planning to leave his job and go to foreign countries as a yoga teacher.”
    (26) Interview with Andrew Ungerleider, telephone, 23 June 23 2011.
    (27) A photo of Yogi Bhajan, Indira Ghandi, and Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari at this gathering was reprinted in the December 1972 issue of Beads Of Truth, page 28.
    (28) Interview with Rahmaneh Meyers, telephone, 18 August 2011. Meyers was involved with 3HO during its earliest years and was a participant on the 1970-71 trip to India.
    (29) The most striking element of Yogi Bhajan’s claimed encounter with Guru Ram Das is how closely it paralleled the story that Maharaj Virsa Singh told of receiving Naam from Baba Sri Chand and Guru Nanak, a story that Yogi Bhajan was doubtlessly aware of and his students almost certainly were not.
    (30) Interview with Pamela Dyson, telephone, 23 September 2011. Also known as Premka Kaur Khalsa, Dyson was involved in 3HO from 1969 until 1985 and was the tour secretary for the 1970-71 trip to India. Highly significant in the growth and history of 3HO, Dyson compiled English translations of Sikh sacred writings, wrote numerous articles both for and on behalf of 3HO, and was the editor of Beads of Truth for a dozen years, Secretary General of the Sikh Dharma Brotherhood, Vice President and Director of the 3HO Foundation, and a high-ranking minister, with the title of Mukhia Sardarni Sahib.
    (31) Intriguingly, this idea is echoed in the January 1970 issue of Beads of Truth, in which Shakti Parwha Kaur hopes to publish an account of the trip in the next issue and refers to Gobind Sadan as “3HO India.”
    (32) Interview with Ron Brent, telephone, 6 January 2011.
    (33) Interview with Rahmaneh Meyers, telephone, 18 August 2011.
    (34) Interview with Pamela Dyson, telephone, 23 September 2011.
    (35) Interview with Antion Vic Briggs, telephone, 5 July 2011.
    (36) Later, the blame for the arrest was implicitly laid at the feet of Maharaj Virsa Singh and the debacle was cast as the negative work of “the jealous egos of so-called ‘holy’ men in India (who) created almost insurmountable barriers to Yogi Bhajan’s safe return to America.” See Shakti Parwha Kaur, “Guru Ram Das Ji’s Birthday Celebration,” letter dated September 23, 1971, printed on page 48 in the Autumn 1971 issue of Beads of Truth.
    (37) An intriguing possible connection to this event, or perhaps Yogi Bhajan’s initial trip West, can be found in Khushwant Singh’s 2005 collection of obituaries titled Death at My Doorstep, in which he described Yogi Bhajan being confronted at a gathering by the daughter of a man who twenty years earlier loaned Yogi Bhajan Rs. 10,000 “to pay for his air-ticket to Canada… when fleeing from India” (114).

     
  • sitting bull 3:13 on 2018-05-04 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    The lesser known history of Yogi Bhajan part 1: Kundalini Yoga is not what he taught 

    Since this blog is dedicated to one specific exercise taught by Yogi Bhajan;
    yet nowhere else any of his exercises were taught, it is imperative to research into the history and sources, in order to be clear of the angle where his teachings came from.
    In the first 5 minutes of following video scholar Christopher Wallis explains that Kundalini Yoga historically is not at all what Yogi Bhajan (who did claim the term) taught.

    This series of articles will send the kundalini yoga practitioner into unkown territory.
    For a start: it is explained in this video that Kundalini Yoga is not older then 1400 years.

    So here is the first part of his recommended article:

    From Maharaj to Mahan Tantric:
    The Construction of Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga Philip Deslippe
    which you can read in full here: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/6r63q6qn

    Introduction:
    On October 6 , 2004 the man born as Harbhajan Singh Puri and popularly known as Yogi Bhajan died of complications from heart failure at his home in Espanola, New Mexico. The obituary that ran in the New York Times a few days later called him the “’Boss of Worlds Spiritual and Capitalistic,” a fitting title for someone who in the course of three and a half decades had built up numerous large businesses, counted politicians and dignitaries as close friends, and was held as spiritual leader. Despite its size or its many facets, Yogi Bhajan’s legacy and empire was decidedly built upon the practice of Kundalini Yoga. Wherever his students located themselves, as primarily Sikhs, employees of the businesses, healers, yoga teachers, yoga practitioners, or a combination thereof, virtually every single person was introduced to Yogi Bhajan and his Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO) through the practice of Kundalini Yoga.

    Previously untaught to the public and presented as distinct from other forms of hatha yoga being taught, Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga was a vigorous and intense combination of postures or asana, rhythmic movement, chanting, meditation, and intense breathing exercises orpranayama. Within the framework of an ancient, sacred, and [369] previously secret yogic tradition that uniquely claimed ties to Sikhism and its ten human Gurus, Kundalini Yoga offered its practitioners powerful experiences and a lifestyle that went well beyond yoga and meditation to encompass everything from diet and sleep to dress and relationships.(2)(3) If it is difficult to conceive of Yogi Bhajan’s legacy without Kundalini Yoga, then it is just as easy to see how many of its practitioners placed it at the very center of their lives.

    A few months after newspapers and wire services ran their obituaries of Yogi Bhajan, Aquarian Times, the official magazine of 3HO, ran an obituary of their own in the form of a tribute issue to honor their spiritual guide. Nestled between the personal memories, tales from 3HO’s early years, and dozens of old photographs, was an article written by Shanti Kaur Khalsa, one of Yogi Bhajan’s senior students, titled “My Teacher’s Teacher”(Khalsa 2005). Crafting a smooth narrative from fragments of Yogi Bhajan’s lectures that had been retold and passed on by his students for decades, Shanti Kaur’s piece told of Yogi Bhajan’s training in Kundalini Yoga from his teacher Sant Hazara Singh. While just a young boy, the privileged and spirited Yogi Bhajan was sent to study under his teacher, a Sikh sant and mystic who had memorized the 1430-page Siri Guru Granth Sahib and was a master of the martial art of Gatka, White Tantric Yoga, and Kundalini Yoga. Sant Hazara Singh was a strict disciplinarian and brutally demanding, often putting his young student through exhaustive trials and yogic training that molded his character. At the age of sixteen, and just before Partition would tear India apart, Sant Hazara Singh declared Yogi Bhajan a master of Kundalini Yoga, ended his own role as his teacher, and told him that the two were never to see each other again.

    For students of Yogi Bhajan the history of Sant Hazara Singh is more than a matter of simple genealogy or lineage. Yogi Bhajan taught that that in Kundalini Yoga the link that stretched back to antiquity from student to teacher formed the “Golden Chain.” Every time Kundalini Yoga is practiced, whether privately or in a public class, the mantra “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” is intoned three times to “tune in” to this Golden Chain and to be guided and protected by it (Khalsa 1996, 14). Sant Hazara Singh is the only tangible person offered that precedes Yogi Bhajan in the lineage of Kundalini Yoga. The idea of The Golden Chain also helps to bolster the accepted belief in 3HO that Kundalini Yoga was an ancient practice that was forced into secrecy for centuries until Yogi Bhajan taught it openly in the West. The secrecy explains why nothing predating Yogi Bhajan seems to mention the specific details of Kundalini Yoga’s practice in the same context, while The Golden Chain of masters and their students explains how such a practice could be passed down and remain intact until the late-1960s.

    But when the Golden Chain of Kundalini Yoga is investigated rather than invoked, it unravels. Within the first two years of 3HO is a hidden and vigorously revised history that stands in stark contrast to the accepted understanding of what Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga is and where it originated. A three-month trip Yogi Bhajan took to India with eighty-four of his students in December 1970 can be seen as the dramatic, demarcating pivot that ended the initial understanding of Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga and birthed its current, popularly understood mythology. Instead of a single unaltered lineage, there lies a progression of forgotten and abandoned teachers, figures invented and introduced, and a process of narration and mythologizing born out of cultural context, temporal events, and pragmatic necessity.[370]

    The Sant and The Swami

    When Yogi Bhajan first began teaching his Kundalini Yoga in Los Angeles, he did not mention Sant Hazara Singh as his teacher and guide, rather he deferred to a Sikh sant named Virsa Singh. Born in present-day Pakistan about eight years after Yogi Bhajan, Virsa Singh moved with his family to the Indian-controlled section of the Punjab during the Partition of 1947. Soon after the move and near the age of ten, the young Virsa Singh became quiet and introspective, detaching from worldly life and meditating for twelve hours a day. He then had a vision of Baba Siri Chand, the son of the Guru Nanak, who appeared to him in physical form. Baba Siri Chand instructed the young Virsa Singh to repeat the Naam of Ek Onkar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru, and later, Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh also appeared to Virsa Singh (Fisher 1992, ch. 20). Virsa Singh became itinerant and miracles and healings were done through him. As the renown of his spiritual power spread he was referred to as “Maharaj.” By the late-1960s, Maharaj Virsa Singh was living in New Delhi at 9 Teen Murti Street, a house given to his student and member of Parliament, Nirlep Kaur, and by 1968 a farm and spiritual center to be known as Gobind Sadan was being constructed on the outskirts of the city, inspired by the models of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh and with the Siri Guru Granth Sahib at its center.

    Yogi Bhajan was living in New Delhi at this time, but it was his wife, born Inderjit Kaur Uppal and popularly known today as BibiJi, who was the initial devotee of Maharaj Virsa Singh. A student of Maharaj Virsa Singh was told by Maharaj himself how BibiJi would carry bricks and dirt on her head to help the construction at Gobind Sadan, and before there were buildings on the land, would sleep on the ground after a day of service there.(4) It was BibiJi who told Yogi Bhajan to go to Maharaj Virsa Singh and receive darshan from him (Khalsa 1970b, 2). In time, Yogi Bhajan himself would bring others to Maharaj Virsa Singh, including Major Sahib, the man who gave Gobind Sadan its name (Singh 2010). During his first years in the United States Yogi Bhajan would often repeat a story of how he would visit Maharaj Virsa Singh after he finished his day’s work as a customs officer at Delhi’s Palam airport. Still in his uniform, Yogi Bhajan would dutifully clean the toilets at Gobind Sadan until one day Maharaj Virsa Singh was emotionally touched by his student’s devotion and then physically touched Yogi Bhajan at his third-eye point between his eyebrows, inducing an ecstatic and enlightening state of “cosmic consciousness.” This story was written up, printed, and offered as one of the few pieces of 3HO literature available to students and guests in the early days in Los Angeles.(5)(6)

    While there is no secondary confirmation of Yogi Bhajan’s story of being touched on the forehead and becoming enlightened, Maharaj Virsa Singh himself stated that he gave Yogi Bhajan the Naam of Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru in 1968, something that Yogi Bhajan himself recounted in an early lecture he give in Los Angeles and was often repeated within 3HO (Yogi Bhajan 1969; Anonymous 1970a). According to devotees of Maharaj Virsa Singh, theNaam of Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru can be traced back at to Guru Gobind Singh and a Janamsakhi from Bhai Ram Koer, a Sikh from the Court of the Tenth Guru (Singh 2008, 115). Maharaj Virsa Singh would give Naam openly and publically, often to large crowds of people, but at times he would give it directly to individuals. Outwardly, the process of giving Naam is simple: the Master recites the mantra [371] Ek Ong Kar- Sat Nam- Siri Wahe Guru, to the student in three parts, the student repeats each section back to the Master in turn, and the whole mantra is repeated back and forth in this way for three rounds. Inwardly, the giving ofNaam is described as a much deeper and powerful mystical experience. A former student of Yogi Bhajan who went on to study with Maharaj Virsa Singh after Yogi Bhajan’s death, Bhai Himat Singh, described the experience of receiving Naam from Maharaj Virsa Singh as something encompassing blessing and a transmission of spiritual power. Just before Bhai Himat Singh was given Naam, Maharaj Virsa Singh told him, “I am going to give you the same Naam I gave your teacher before he went to America!”(B.H. Singh 2009). It was the chanting of thisNaam of Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru that was at the center of the practice of Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yogi during its first two years, and constantly reprinted posters of this mantra would claim that chanting it for two and a half hours a day for forty consecutive days would liberate the practitioner.

    Yogi Bhajan also claimed that he was sent to the West by Virsa Singh and that shortly before departing, he was presented with his master’s sandals in a ceremony. In his earliest days in the United States, as a matter of deep respect, Yogi Bhajan would place those sandals on his altar, and a photograph of these sandals was included on a brochure printed to promote a celebration of Maharaj Virsa Singh’s birthday.(7) Warren Stagg, Yogi Bhajan’s second host in Los Angeles after Doctor Amarjit Singh Marwah, remembers that Yogi Bhajan would place sandals on the bed he was given and sleep on the floor.(8) While, again, there is no secondary confirmation of the narrative involving the giving of sandals, the term which Yogi Bhajan repeatedly used to describe Maharaj Virsa Singh was clear: Master (Khalsa 1970a; Yogi Bhajan 1969).

    Maharaj Virsa Sing.png

    Beyond the term “Master,” there is a wealth of further evidence documenting the relationship Yogi Bhajan claimed with Virsa Singh. A photograph taken by Lisa Law in 1969 of the New Buffalo Commune in Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico, clearly shows an image of Virsa Singh placed on an altar of one of Yogi Bhajan’s students, above a photograph of Yogi Bhajan and below a poster of the “Code Mantra” of Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru.(9) The 3HO ashram in Tucson, Arizona was named the “Maharaj Virsa Singh Ashram” in honor of Yogi Bhajan’s teacher.(10) One of Yogi Bhajan’s senior teachers during this time, “Baba” Don Conreaux claimed that in helping 3HO’s rapid expansion during its earliest years, he was helping to fulfill “the Hookum (Holy Order) given to him by Yogi Bhajan from Maharaj Ji, to train 108 teachers to open 108 Ashrams” (Khalsa 1970c, 11). The birthday of Maharaj Virsa Singh was celebrated by Yogi Bhajan’s students in February of 1970 as a holiday with a week of around-the-clock chanting of Naam in two-and-a-half hour shifts leading up to the day itself (Khalsa 1970a, 2).

    While chanting the Naam of Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru was essential to the students of Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga, the physical elements of the practice did not come from Maharaj Virsa Singh, but rather from a Hindu yogi named Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari, five years the elder of Yogi Bhajan. When he was just an adolescent, Dhirendra met his guru, Maharishi Kartikeya, in Bihar and began to study yoga and related subjects under him (Bhramachari 1973, xiii). By the time he was in his forties, Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari was a teacher in his own right and based out of his Vishwayatan Yogashram in New Delhi. In addition to growing acclaim, he counted Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi among his students. It was at this center in the early 1960s where Yogi Bhajan began to study with Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari. The former director of the ashram, Mrs. Vanmala Vachani, described Yogi Bhajan as a frequent visitor to Dhirendra’s classes, but not a very close student or acolyte.(11)

    While Swami Dhirendra Bramachari was viewed as a teacher of hatha yoga, the essence of his teaching was Sūkṣma Vyāyāma, described as “a subtle practice aiming at cleansing the nervous- , nadi-, and glandular-systems in order to achieve higher awareness in the body.”(12) It is within the Sūkṣma Vyāyāma and Swami Dhirendra’s unique teachings that the defining physical characteristics of Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga can be found.(13) The most significant of the numerous similarities between the two include: the use of the rapid diaphramic breath through the nose known as Bhastrikā Prāṇāyāma (renamed as “Breath of Fire” by Yogi Bhajan) while holding postures, the frequent use of the posture Uttānapādāsana in which the buttocks rest on the floor and the head and feet are raised off the ground (renamed by Yogi Bhajan as “Stretch Pose”), the holding of postures for extended periods of time which Dhirendra would teach “to enter a state of trance and meditation,” and the retention of the breath and the application of internal bodily locks known as bandhas at the conclusion of an exercise or pose.(14)

    Dhirendra’s Sūkṣma Vyāyāma was also the source for several of the unusual and numerous rhythmic, callisthenic “back and forth” exercises Yogi Bhajan taught as Kundalini Yoga including: turning the head left and right, rotating the head and neck in circles, extending the arms straight out in front of the body in punching, jerky motions, rotating the arms in circles forward and backwards, standing and stretching the arms up and back while stretching the body backwards and inhaling (renamed by Yogi Bhajan as “Miracle Bend”), alternately kicking the buttocks with the heels of the feet to stimulate the kundalini energy, and squats with the arms extended straight out in front of the body (renamed by Yogi Bhajan as “Crow Squats”).(15)[373]

    The influence of Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari was not only absorbed through Yogi Bhajan’s time at the Vishwayatan Ashram, it was also taken literally by the book. The two English- language titles of Swami Dhrirendra’s teachings were included in the bibliography of a 2003 book of photographs and poetry dedicated to Yogi Bhajan’s hatha yoga practice and claimed expertise in the late 1960s (Khalsa 2003, 204). In 1975, the 3HO magazine K.R.I. Journal of Science & Consciousness published their special Summer Solstice issue which would later be reprinted as an instructional manual titled Kundalini Yoga for Intermediate Practitioners. Both printings included a section written by Gurucharan Singh Khalsa, a student of Yogi Bhajan and director of the Kundalini Research Institute, titled “The Navel Point” that was a crude and unaccredited reworking of the chapter “Nabhi Cakra” from Dhirendra’s earlier work YogicSūkṣma Vyāyāma. The 3HO publications included a four-part “Navel Adjustment Kriya” that was presumably offered as a Kundalini Yoga exercise, but was taken directly and in the same sequence as Dhirendra’s four-step “Self-Treatment of the Navel” exercises.(16)

    Next: > Yogi Bhajans religious Janus-face

    Notes:
    (1) Followers of Yogi Bhajan will commonly refer to him by the title “Siri Singh Sahib” as a matter of deference to a title he claims he received in early 1971 at the Golden Temple that made him the Sikh authority of the Western Hemisphere. Critics of Yogi Bhajan will often refer to him by his birth name, Harbhajan Singh Puri, as a way of consciously stripping him of titles they consider fraudulent. He is referred to as “Yogi Bhajan” in this article to primarily reflect the way he was most popularly known and to also stand distinct from both views. The figure of Virsa Singh was referred to as Maharaj in his earlier years and Baba Virsa Singh in his later years. While both “Maharaj” and “Baba” are respectful titles, in this article he will be referred to as Maharaj Virsa Singh, in keeping with references made to him both within 3HO and at Gobind Sadan during the time period focused on. The phrase “Kundalini Yoga” will be capitalized to denote the specific practice that Yogi Bhajan taught and to keep references distinct from other practices that were referred to as kundalini yoga. Finally, the term “3HO” will be used as an umbrella term to encompass the various organizations created by Yogi Bhajan and his followers, since this was the first organization and it, along the variation “3HO Family,” has been used in a similar way within internal literature.
    (2) While Kundalini Yoga has simply been described as “ancient” by 3HO for the last several decades, through the 1970s an approximate date of its birth was given by 3HO as 26,000 B.C. See “Yoga: The Origins and Development of Yoga and the Science of Kundalini Yoga as Taught by Yogi Bhajan” by Rama Kirn Singh and Gurucharan Singh Khalsa in Kundalini Quarterly, Summer 1976, 2-8, and a mention of Yogi Bhajan in the November 28, 1970 issue of the Arizona Republic.
    (3) Some of the many instances in which Yogi Bhajan asserted that the historical Sikh Gurus practiced the same Kundalini Yoga that he taught include classes on June 10, 1971 and January 12, 1976, and undated Kundalini Yoga exercises such as “Indra Nittra Meditation” and “Ong In Virasan (For Negativity).” In the summer of 1976, an article was written in Kundalini Quarterly by Gurucharan Singh Khalsa and Rama Kirn Singh that claimed that not only did the Sikh Gurus practice Kundalini Yoga, but that very yogic practice predated them and “gave rise to a group of practitioners known as Sikhs.”
    (4) Interview with Bhai Himat Singh, telephone, 16 June 2011. Bhai Himat Singh was a practitioner of Kundalini Yoga and a direct student of Yogi Bhajan’s for approximately two decades, beginning in 1983. After Yogi Bhajan’s death, Bhai Himat went to Gobind Sadan where he spent time with Maharaj Virsa Singh and was given Naam by him.
    (5) Interview with Ron Brent, telephone, 6 January 2011. Brent was an early student of Yogi Bhajan’s in Los Angeles. In late-1970 he left to become a student of Swami Muktananda and travelled to India to spend time with him. By coincidence he was staying at Gobind Sadan when Yogi Bhajan and his students arrived in late-1970. He not only saw the group at Gobind Sadan, but during that time was one of five people in a small meeting between Yogi Bhajan and Maharaj Virsa Singh, and at Maharaj Virsa Singh’s insistence, had the Punjabi conversation translated into English for his comprehension.
    (6) Interview with Antion Vic Briggs, telephone, 5 July 2011. Also known as Vikram Singh Khalsa, Briggs was in 3HO for approximately two decades starting in January of 1970, and was a Mukhia Singh Sahib (or senior minister) within the group.
    (7) Interview with Antion Vic Briggs, telephone, 5 July 2011.
    (8) Interview with Warren Stagg, telephone, 8 June 2011. In the mid-1960s Stagg owned and operated H.E.L.P. on Third and Fairfax, one of the first health food restaurants in the city, which quickly became a meeting place for New Age people, teachers arriving from the East, and “everyone on a health trip.” Stagg described himself during this time as “the guru greeter of Los Angeles.”
    (9) Available to view on the online “Communal Living” exhibit on the website of the Smithsonian: http://americanhistory.si.edu/lisalaw/6.htm#h05
    (10) Interview with Andrew Ungerleider, telephone, 23 June 23 2011. Ungerleider began practicing Kundalini Yoga in the fall of 1969 in Arizona and then later in the spring of 1970 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was present on the 1970-71 trip to India and left 3HO in the mid- 1970s after 3HO made its turn towards strict discipline and the reorientation towards Sikhism. (11) Correspondence with Reinhard Gammenthaler, 21 September 2011. Gammenthaler was a close and the final student of Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari. His tutelage is described at length in an interview with Schweizer Yoga-Journal from 2003 that is available at http://asianyogaholidays.com/interview-gammenthaler-DB_en.html.
    (12) Correspondence with Reinhard Gammenthaler, 21 September 2011
    (13) Descriptions of Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari’s yogic teachings are based on his two booksthat were translated into English, Sūkṣma Vyāyāma (1973 edition) and Yogāsana Vijñāna (1970edition), and correspondence with his student Reinhard Gammenthaler.
    (14) Correspondence with Reinhard Gammenthaler, 23 and 21 September 2011
    (15) Parallels to these rhythmic exercises can be found in Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari’sSūkṣma Vyāyāma (1973 edition) as exercises #9, 10, 13, 16, 22, 41, and 43.
    (16) Compare images #5-10 from Kundalini Meditation Manual For Intermediate Students with images #105-108 in Sūkṣma Vyāyāma (1973 edition).

     
    • Amy 19:45 on 2018-07-01 Permalink | Reply

      Why all the lies and deception from the 3HO that Kundalini Yoga is an ancient science. K Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan is not ancient whatsoever. The thing that upsets and confuses me the most is that all these people act like Yoga Bhajan is some person that should be celebrated and revered but he was kind of a bad guy. This information is so prevalent in the world, why does the 3HO mislead people? Their actions are the complete antithesis of what Kundalini Yoga is supposed to be all about – truth and awareness. I can deal with the fact that Yogiji was not great, he was a human, but why the continued deception from the 3HO? Please help me reconcile and understand this.

      Like

      • sitting bull 7:18 on 2018-07-02 Permalink | Reply

        I totally agree with you, Amy, which is why I finally got around to let it all out despite the esoteric pressure not to say negative things. I don’t believe in love&peace always, but in seeing things for what they are.

        From my personal experience with YB I would say that he certainly had some spiritual gifts and his strength was in a very strong assertiveness – actually too strong for a balanced emanation of compassion, wisdom and clarity.

        This then led to his followers to be sucked into his demands so that they are wearing all white when in fact original Sikhism merely calls for white underwear (which could have simply been a cleanliness-rule like the one with pork meat when no fridges did exist, but probably was mixed up by him with a thought of white light containing all colours or so).

        I never liked uniforms so I only wore it once when I was driving them around London for a week but never liked how us white whites did run into the Sikh Gudwara-temples, just listened to his speech and then run out again,which I found disrespectful for the ones celebrating the Sikh-mess.

        But that seems to be the Indian way to attend movies and walk out after the pretty actress was seen on stage, as a friend told me.
        Also an Indian custom is it to talk not only long winded and allusive, but very often to exaggerate like he did when describing his Kriya-exercises.

        On one hand this is good to get beginners excited and motivated, just as teens join martial arts in order to be able to fight, but later find out that they don’t even want and need to anymore, because it balanced out their mind and body.
        So YB used many scientific explanations to draw in rational-minded people and what got me hooked was the promise of this kriya being “the highest of all” and “never failing” and bringing all kinds of powers and abilities.

        It was hard for me to realise the faults in him and the ego and womanising attitude of the follower who passed on this kriya (exercise) to me, and I nearly dropped it, but then realised that those people merely are postmen who delivered a valuable package, so they got my appreciation at the time but I now feel that this is in the public domain which is why I do share it without charge publicly also.

        What makes it difficult for us is to distinguish wisdom from the deliverer, but if you get your shoes repaired you also don’t expect the shoe-maker to be perfect. All you trust is in his competence in this field. So it is also with elevating techniques. The fact that this techniques do guarantee not more an enlightening teacher than an olympic sports shoe does the fitness of the shoe-maker.

        This may be the cause for the many sexual allegations in gurus – those guys are put on pedestals which makes it very tempting to reap the worldly rewards and thereby fall back karmically.

        So after long deliberation I checked upon how the kriya works for me and I have to say that after a painful time of going through all emotions I feel that I slowly come out the other end and be able to get moments of bliss without the concern of past issues, so after having built it up for 2 1/2 decades I want to continue it for 3 years full length in order to give it the full chance.

        What I could recommend to you to build this kriya up very slowly and meanwhile observe your motivations and if in need also do other stuff of the manifold possibilities out there. This is not a primary recovery exercise with immanent benefits for your health, but a total holistic balance which takes slower than training your right arm specifically with a biceps-curl for example, but therefore in the long-term will solve things for good by also dealing with underlying issues which in the first place did contribute to your stroke.

        Remember – it’s not him who invented this, and i will elaborate in future articles about the underlying principles which are found in many meditations. The 10 Sikh-Gurus simply shined those principles up to make this exercise most efficient.

        The most important is that you take one path which makes sense to you and then stick to it for a long time despite doubts which will come up everywhere. This is like drilling for oil deep instead of starting do dig small holes all around.

        Like

      • sitting bull 16:38 on 2018-07-03 Permalink | Reply

        I thought about you again, Amy, and wanted to add something.

        Nearly all people shine up their path by not displaying problems, which is not what I do here in order not to lead on people.
        However, that doesn’t mean that this meditation is not working, and we should not throw the baby out with the bath water and not do it. Else all that is left are ancient teachings of people who aren’t alive anymore, so that we can’t see their flaws.

        And another thing about it not primarily being a healing exercise:
        This also doesn’t mean that it is not good, because in the end you have to evolve holistically.
        I think I compared it to bodybuilding above. A footballer who broke his legs will have to train the legs specifically to build up muscle, but thereafter all other aspects still have to be worked on.
        Rowing for example does train everything but would not build up the legs so fast. Yet, in the end the entire body is trained.

        The major causes for diseases is the psyche, because it makes us live imbalanced lifestyles, so I think if you work on it all it will yield results in the longterm.

        Hence my suggestion would be to build up something holistic like this meditation-kriya or something else which you llike in the background and build it up slowly whilst you do your specific exercises or diets for your health.

        The reason of me recommending not to postpone this work is because it literally takes decades to consolidate your higher self. Its like you starting the coffee-machine in the mornings before you prepare breakfast, because it takes longest. If you wait until the end you get frustrated having to wait for it to finish.

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    • Amy 19:34 on 2018-07-03 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you so much. The phrase “but if you get your shoes repaired you also don’t expect the shoe-maker to be perfect.” really comforted me. Thank you.

      I have started and stopped this kriya so many times in the last few years. I started again shortly before I found your blog and I’m now on Day 22 (consecutive) for 31 minutes. This is not your recommendation to build it slowly. I’m able to do it physically and comfortably I guess just because I’ve been doing K yoga so long and have attempted this specific kriya several times in the past. Is the reason you say to build it slowly more because people are not physically capable of doing it yet/ don’t have the lung capacity, or is the reason you suggest to build slowly more of a spiritual reason?

      I know for sure that I’m going to continue with this kriya for a long time. I have a new determination about it now. I read a quote from Yogi Bhajan (he was pretty wise for all his faults I guess) regarding dedication to taking up a sadhana, he said “you’ll be fine, if healing your neuroses is more important than taking time for daily practice you’ll be fine. If your neurosis is more important, then it will win” That’s not an exact quote, I forget exactly. Anyway, that really resonated with me and I know I’m going to stick with it this time.

      Do you have any idea when this kriya done daily will start to make me feel better, or is that something that you couldn’t possibly answer because it is so individual?

      Liked by 1 person

      • sitting bull 1:11 on 2018-07-04 Permalink | Reply

        Congratulations on your 3 weeks of half an hour !
        I have to admit that I myself also did not do it slow but in the beginning tried to force it all the way through by first training my way into the 16x Wahe Guru for 2 weeks and then I did build it up within a short time to 2.5 hours.

        This in a way should answer your question about the lung capacity: For me personally it was: “once I can do 2 cycles in a row comfortably I can do as much as I want”, so it was merely a matter of patience and the capability to sit – but I “cheat” by sitting on my bed and putting the legs down every once in a while – whilst continuing the Kriya. So breath is not an obstacle to do it longer.

        The 2 reasons why I do recommend the slow parts are first of all because it brought up so much stuff that I ended dropping it and it even backfired on me, making me run into the pub to calm down all the stuff which came up.
        I tried and failed for literally 2 decades, so I only want to spare others this kind of pain.

        The second reason for recommending to taking it slow is that the expectations don’t get disappointed, because the character change takes time, which brings me to your question on how long this takes: The short english proverb to dismiss your question would be: “how long is a piece of string?”, but since I find it dissatisfying I want to get into more detail:

        Soon I will post in the series about “keys to understanding the universe” an elaborate description from someone who did dedicate himself totally.
        But not to string you on, I give you the answers I gathered so far:
        YB talks about the legendary 40,90,120 & 1000 days and the minutes 3,11,22,31,62 & 2 1/2 hours.
        The similar Christian exercise I mentioned on this site talks about doing it all the time (which I think was the instructions for monks who could get back to do it),
        an islamic mystic said if one repeats the lords name constantly (like the Christian monks) would reap benefits after 3,6 and 9 months,
        and the Tibetans talk about a 3 year, 3 month and 3 day retreat.

        The problem here is that we have 2 aspects: The length of the kriya and the duration,
        and the amount one has to workout from his or her Karma.
        For me it seems that we are talking cycles which are much larger than our life – either seen from a perspective of reincarnation or from the energy you inherited over many generations.

        We can not see how deep our issues are buried within us – just look at children and pretty teens:
        For them everything seems clear and one should think that being set on the right path would guarantee a golden future, but the issues pop up in mid-life when we are tested against adverse circumstances, and only then we see how some turn bitter, others aggressive and the third ones introvert.

        Preconceptions can cloud our access to total clarity and they are rooted deep in our energy which we defend with belief-systems we deem to be our own.

        So my basic answer is: How long it takes depends on 3 factors:
        1. your dedication and persistence – dedication meaning how long you an do it, and persistence meaning for what kind of period you can do it.
        2. how many slaps of your own conscience you can take – i.e. how honest you are with yourself and how many sacrifices you can make,

        I am not knocking anyone down who is not fully committed to a long practice for years, because the pain one has to take can be unbearable, but what I am saying is: Think about what you lost in your life due to your stroke, and then consider if you merely want to get back to the old, or “use the force” to elevate your presence to entire new heights.

        I just created two articles especially for you to read:

        One to discuss such questions,
        https://sodarshanchakrakriya.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/exchange-of-experiences-of-sodarshan-chakra-kriya-practitioners/

        and another one about an unknown mystic texts, which deals with exactly your questions:
        https://sodarshanchakrakriya.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/what-happens-when-you-tune-into-the-divine-daily-and-with-dedication/

        Like

    • Waking The Infinite 8:40 on 2018-08-12 Permalink | Reply

      So many want the teacher to be perfect so they portray that teacher that way. Sometimes the teacher presents him or herself this way, too. In truth, there is the human component and it does not go away and it remains frail and weak, but now in the presence of cosmic consciousness. It learns from that guru within, but this takes years to develop, to perfect. It grows on you gradually I observe as “the work” of unraveling so much programming in order to get to the authentic self. And still, imperfect. Let us all love truly and accept that there is no real perfection save for our compassion and grace which forgives our shortcomings and continues the work. And I have yet to read of a single teacher who was not themselves human while touched by this sacred presence. Something Buddha said about expectation leading to suffering. Instead of expectation, maybe a dose of authenticity, honesty, and realness might be a good way to go forward.

      Liked by 1 person

      • sitting bull 11:42 on 2018-08-12 Permalink | Reply

        I like your Buddha quote that “expectations lead to suffering”, because it reminded me of the etymological meaning of the word “dis-appointment”.

        Such was the case with YB for me, because by never admitting to any mistake whatsoever he did insinuate that he would be perfect which did not allow me and the main bunch of his followers to simply see him as a normal human.

        In case you haven’t seen it you can watch the mockumentary “Kumare”.

        Like

        • Waking The Infinite 19:29 on 2018-08-12 Permalink | Reply

          I think that Kumare is an excellent case in point. I think the spiritual world needs a healthy dose of self responsibility as it moves forward.

          Liked by 1 person

          • sitting bull 19:45 on 2018-08-12 Permalink | Reply

            The only thing I did not like was that the director of Kumare (ab)used naive and open-hearted followers to ridicule them in front of the entire world – but the overall message is great.

            And as for self responsibility: Apart from the Guru-worship adyashanti.org brilliantly said that ” religions merely should serve as a welcome mat to guide one to ones own self, but unfortunately most are stuck worshipping the mat”
            (and in my experience those are the ones which in capital letters impose their belief on others as the ONLY way.)

            Like

    • Gursant Singh 11:23 on 2018-12-01 Permalink | Reply

      Sitting Bull, You said above, “… if you get your shoes repaired you also don’t expect the shoe-maker to be perfect. All you trust is in his competence in this field. So it is also with elevating techniques. The fact that this techniques do guarantee not more an enlightening teacher than an olympic sports shoe does the fitness of the shoe-maker.”

      I do not consider Yogi Bhajan to be “competent” at “elevating techniques”. Sikh scholar and historian Dr. Trilochan Singh stated after spending months with Yogi Bhajan in 1977, “Yogi Bhajan is using the sacred Sikh mantras and sacred name of Guru Ram Das as a mantle for his Tantric & kundalini Yoga which will inevitably lead to mental and physical debauchery of those who take his brand of Sikhism contaminated by crazy sex-energizing asanas seriously. Every Sikh having even rudimentary knowledge of Sikhism and even every non-Sikh scholar of Sikhism, would agree with me that Sikhs and Sikhism in America will go down the drain if these things continue to be practiced secretly or openly in the name of Guru Ram Das, and with sacred Sikh mantras as instruments of this type of Tantric Yoga which is extremely repulsive to Sikhism.”
      “The Tantric techniques he (Yogi Bhajan) is teaching and practicing lead a person to self-destruction as soon as he loses the balance between life of the Spirit and life of the Flesh and Sex.” Dr. Trilochan Singh http://gurmukhyoga.com/forum/index.php?id=25&fbclid=IwAR1WFm9e7UQI2WqXFO9qXmcGRaMAPeg_XgGvSGFwDPmAl_WXidgIiY7Fqx4

      You have to ask yourself, “do I want to follow the teachings of an Indian customs officer turned business yogi that might get me a momentary “high” or do I want to follow the tried and trued practices the Sikh Gurus taught for living a happy and fulfilling life”?

      Like

      • sitting bull 21:45 on 2018-12-01 Permalink | Reply

        Dear Gurusant Singh,

        I agree with you on the part of YB having taught a mixed bag and also am not happy about it.
        You can see this easily if you click on the “next” link on the bottom of this article here,
        and you can see there, that I even added videos and sources from you.
        My critical series about him goes over 5 articles, which you all can read.

        This is why recently a 3HO leader wrote me a shocked mail – yet, since I am dedicated to the truth, I can’t just omit unpleasant facts merely for the sake of being in harmony with everyone.
        So I am in the strange position of being even more dedicated to one of “his” kriyas, whilst not being aligned to his organisation.

        What connects us is that we both were influenced by YB personally and chose not to follow him personally anymore, yet follow half of his teachings with devotion.
        The difference of the both of us is that you chose to stay faithful to the Sikh half,
        whilst I stay faithful to the Yoga-half, because it is my believe that Yoga can make an impact,
        yet, we both agree that he should not have mingled everything into one for his convenience to get a green-card as a minister on the basis of religious freedom in the USA.

        An exchange of our informations could lead to an interesting discussion, so I will share what I found so far. Since I did some research (including your informations out there), so far I found out two interesting things:
        1. Surprisingly: in the Sri Granth Sahib, I did find certain sources about this technique, which then probably were refined by whom ever into the Sodarshan Chakra Kriya:
        https://sodarshanchakrakriya.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/some-ancient-roots-of-sodarshan-chakra-kriya/
        2. I think through you I came along a critical book which taks about “mumbo-jumbo cult ideas from Yogi Bhajan”, and on studying it, I surprisingly found out that there did exist a very similar kriya in form of a Christian prayer, which is twice as old as Sikhism:
        https://sodarshanchakrakriya.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/a-western-version-of-sodarshan-chakra-kriya-from-the-13th-century/
        3. And when seeing god not bound to a specific religion, but approachable by them all, I also found out that Ismail (a muslim mystic), did elaborate upon the effects of dedicated prayer over a long period here: https://sodarshanchakrakriya.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/what-happens-when-you-tune-into-the-divine-daily-and-with-dedication/
        Since Sodarshan Chakra Kriya basically consists of a constant repetition of the divine “Wahe Guru”, this also seems to apply to this kriya.

        So maybe throughout history, religion and “esoteric” (inwardly turning) prayer-techniques, were always intermingled. Still I agree with you, that he should not have mixed both up – especially since he had the chance for a total reset when coming to the USA. He should have chosen one, or the other, but not pick out raisins of both paths.

        I also will write a series on articles about orthodox religions and their difference to mysticism, which did exists complimentary to those religions in a few months and am looking forward to your inputs on them.

        Thanks for all your informations you did put out there, which did further my research, and also for connecting me to people like Ravi Singh who, even though they don’t subscribe to your philosophy.
        That is a quite noble attitude to even connect people despite the fact that you don’t agree with them.

        Like

    • Gursant Singh 9:55 on 2018-12-02 Permalink | Reply

      Sitting Bull : Thank you for your well thought out and sincere response. I have read your arguments carefully concerning how you believe “Sodarshan Chakra Kriya” is a part of Sikhi and how you feel there are directives in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji for one to practice this kriya. The verses in Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji you have quoted never say that the reader should practice these so called yogic kriyas. The references to yoga are only in the SGS Ji as a reference to readers who were Hindus and practiced these yogic kriyas. Sikhi is based on devotional worship of God and Whaeguru and it is only by God’s grace that one is liberated or given salvation. the important words here “By God’s grace”. Yogic kriyas and YB’s “Sodarshan Chakra Kriya” are man made practices. When you practice “Sodarshan Chakra Kriya” you are trying to achieve something. Again, Sikhi is a path of pure devotion to God and no amount of YB kriyas will ever achieve the salvation you seek. Dr. Trilochan Singh describes what I am saying much better in his book which you can download for free at: http://gurmukhyoga.com/forum/index.php?mode=page&id=1

      Below is just one excerpt from Dr. Trilochan Singh’s book which might shed some light on this subject for you:

      “Yogi Bhajan’s theorists of Kundalini and Guru Yoga on finding the word “Yoga” used in Guru Nanak’s hymns in a number of different contexts, jump to the untenable and incorrect conclusion that Guru Nanak’s teachings are in perfect accord with the Tantric Yoga taught by their Master, Maha Tantric Yogi Bhajan. The third type of hymns in which the word Yoga is mentioned are those which sum up the debates the Guru held with Yogis of various centers. It may be noted that Guru Nanak visited all the centers of Yogis throughout India and not only convinced them of the error of the Yoga system but under his influence most of them gave up Yoga practices. Bhai Gurdas tells us that Guru Nanak met all Yogis, Siddhas, and those who claimed to be avatars of ancient Yogis, and through debate and spiritual influence he scored victory over them and made them submit to his ideology. Not only that, Guru Nanak also made Babar and his Ministers to submit to his moral and spiritual sovereignty.
      Thus the third type of hymn in which the term Yoga is used are those in which various systems and doctrines are severely criticized by the Gurus. We shall be quoting such hymns throughout the book, and shall bring out sharp differences between the various Yoga cults and Sikhism as authenticated by Guru Granth Sahib and Sikh history. As will be shown subsequently, the word “Yogi” is used in Sikh scriptures even for God and the Guru, and this does not mean that God and the Gurus practiced the absurd asanas now taught by Yogi Bahjan, and shown in some of the pictures published in this book.
      I would now like to make it clear that the major differences between Patanjali’s Yoga and Guru Nanak’s Darshana (philosophy) begin with clear-cut differences in Guru Nanak’s conception of God and Patanjali’s conception of God. The contention of Yogi Bhajan’s theorists that with the exception of celibacy Patanjali’s Yoga doctrines are identical with those of Guru Nanak, is absolutely incorrect. It appears that these young men and women have neither studied or practiced Patanjali’s Yoga theories correctly nor do they have correct knowledge of the profound mystical doctrines of Guru Nanak. All the intelligent inmates of 3HO, particularly the right-hand men and the left-hand women of Yogi Bhajan, take pains to rationalize the Mumbo Jumbo Tantra and Kundalini Yoga of Yogi Bhajan with the hodge-podge and messy knowledge of Sikhism of their teacher. I would therefore first make clear the fundamental metaphysical differences between Guru Nanak’s conception of God and that of Patanjali yoga.”

      III

      Guru Nanak’s Absolute God and Patanjali’s Ishvara

      “The word Yoga was originally applied to control horses and then it began to be applied for control of flying passions.” The senses are the horses and whatever they grasp are their objects. In Panani’s time the word ‘yoga’ had attained technical meaning and he distinguished this root yug samadhau (yug in the sense of concentration) from yugis yoge (root yugir in the sense of connecting). The science of breath had attracted the notice of many early Upanishads, though no systematic form of pranayama developed as in the Yoga system. A system of breath control ideas are found even in Katha and Svetesvara Upanishads.2
      The science of breath known as pranayam in Yoga, and embryonic respiration in Taoism, is involved in the mystical meditations of Sufis called dhikr (zikr) and Simrin of Sikhism, called svas svas Nam japna, and has been found even in some practices of Christian mystics. But this involvement of the science of breath in various systems has nothing to do with Yoga asanas, and Yoga techniques. They are the natural outcome of a continuous disciplined mediation.3 The Hesychastic monks to whom Yoga was unknown developed through their meditations similar techniques. Summarizing the essential Hesychastic prayer, Father Irenee Hausherr says: “It comprises of two fold exercises, omphaloskespsis and indefinite repetition of the Prayer of Jesus: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.’ By sitting in darkness, bowing the head, fixing the eyes on the center of the abdomen (navel) trying to discover the place of the heart, by repeating this exercise indefatigably and always accompanying it with the same invocation, in harmony with the rhythm of respiration, which is retarded as much as possible, one will, if one perseveres day and night in this mental prayer, end by finding what one sought, the place of the heart, and with it and in it, all kinds of wonders and knowledge.”4 Jean Gouillard quotes a 13th century Christian monk Nicephorus, who says, “As for you, sit down, compose your mind, introduce it—your mind, I say—into your nostrils; This is the road that the breath takes to reach the heart. Push it, force it to descend into your heart at the same time as the inhaled air. When it is there, you will see what joy will follow; you will have nothing to regret.”5
      When Tantric Yoga theorists of Yogi Bhajan seek to identify the Raja Yoga of Pantanjali with the philosophy and mystical doctrines of Guru Nanak, they forget that there is a world of difference between the two, in their conception of God, in their techniques of meditations, and in the steps of the mystical journey to the supreme state. Even the concept of Samadhi and illumination in Sikhism is radically different from the Yoga systems. Patanjali, the author of Yoga Sutra, does not believe in the Absolute and supreme God, the worship and achievement of which forms the prime foundations of Sikh faith and practices. Patanjali speaks in Yoga Sutra, chapter I, 23-29 and Chapter II, 1, 45 of the Deity as Ishvara, an eternally emancipated Purusha Omniscient and the teacher of the past teachers. By meditating on him many of the obstacles such as illness, which stand in the way of Yoga practices, are removed. He is regarded as an interesting object of concentration.6 “The God of Patanjali is not easy to describe. He is said to be a special kind of ‘Self untouched by the taint of imperfections and above the law of Karma (1-24). He is omniscient teacher of the ancient Rishis. So he is not the Creator and Preserver of the Universe but only an inward teacher of Truth.”7 This personal God of Yoga philosophy is very loosely connected with the rest of the system. According to Patanjali, “the goal of human aspiration is not union with God, but the absolute separation of Purusha from Prakirti. Patanjali’s God is “only a particular Self (purusvisesa) and not the Creator and Preserver of the Universe. He does not reward or punish the actions of man. But some work had to be devised for him when he was on the scene. Ishvara facilitates the attainment of liberation but does not directly grant it.8 Patanjali’s “Ishvara has not created the Prakirti (Nature); he only disturbs the equilibrium of the Prakirti in its quiescent state and later on helps it to follow an intelligent order by which the fruit of karma are properly distributed and the order of the world is brought about. This acknowledgement of Ishvara in Yoga and its denial in Samkya are the main theoretical differences between the two.”9
      In any case, at least as he appears in Patanjali and Vyasa, Ishvara has none of the grandeur of the omnipotent Creator God, none of the pathos that surrounds the dynamic and solemn God of various mystical schools. All in all, Ishvara is only an archetype of the yogin—a macroyogin; very probably a patron of the yogic sects. At least Patanjali says that Ishvara was the guru of the sages of immemorial times.”10
      Guru Nanak believes in a God which is the Creator, Preserver, Destroyer, the Light Eternal, the Saviour and Father of humanity. The concept of Ishvara in which Patanjali and some other Hindu systems believe is absent in Sikhism. Although the Immanent Spirit of God is accepted as the Indwelling Spirit of the infinite in everyone, it is not called Ishvara and it is not Ishvara of Patanjali. This difference in the theism of Patanjali and Guru Nanak leads to all the theological, metaphysical, and mystical difference in Yoga and Guru Nanak’s Sikhism.

      IV

      Guru Nanak Totally Rejects Yoga Darshana

      Although the philosophical terminology of the ancient systems like Samkhya, Vedanta and Yoga was accepted by Guru Nanak, he completely rejected the Yoga System as enunciated by Patanjali and his commentator Vyasa. As I have already indicated, the use of terminology is to express the Concepts of Sikhism on the same themes of knowledge and experience as indicated by these terms.
      When Guru Nanak visited the Himalaya Retreat of eminent Yogis and held discussions with them, their leaders Loharipa and Charpat reminded Guru Nanak that according to them, Yoga Darshana was the supreme of the six Hindu systems and out of them he should accept it and become a supreme Yogi. Even out of the twelve schools of Yoga he suggested he should accept his own school of thought as a life philosophy. Loharipa says to Guru Nanak:

      Out of the six Hindu systems, Adopt the system of Yoga;
      Out of the twelve sects of Yogis
      Banter ours the leading one.
      Though you say, only those
      Whom God has illumined
      Have truly grasped divine Wisdom,
      We from our knowledge and experience suggest,
      Control your mind by the Rules of Yoga
      And you can attain the highest samadhi.
      Rejecting this Yoga system in which God is ignored, and the emphasis is only to increase concentration and apparently control the mind and reach Samadhi, Guru Nanak says:
      My own philosophic system (darshana)
      Is continuous meditation on the Word of God.
      My symbols of penance
      And robes of poverty and renunciation,
      Are to discard attachment and pride.
      And see God in all human beings.
      (And not in one’s own Self as Yogis do.)
      Only the Lord can make me free.
      God is the Truth.
      And Truth is His Name, says Nanak. Let everyone test and experience this.
      Guru Nanak, Sidh Gosht: p 938-47
      And yet Gurbandha Singh, a 3HO spokesman from Washington, in his editorial article in Sikh Dharma Brotherhood, Vol II, 3, p 2 Column 2 and 3, in which he roundly abuses and insults Dr Narinder Singh Kapany with a malicious audacity which I have never encountered before, tries to prove in his usual devious ways and illogical logic of a fanatic, that Guru Nanak was the first to establish a relationship of technology and experience between Sikhism and Yoga, and for his source of inspiration and knowledge, he refers us to the translation of Sidha Gosht which his worthy Maha-Tantric Teacher, Yogi Bhajan, got translated into American English by Premka Kaur, the first and last translator and theologian produced by 3HO Tantric Yoga Church. This learned translator of the Tantric Church of Yogi Bhajan conveniently skips over the verses and lines translated above. In her incoherent prose translation there is nothing American or literary, but there is a lot of un-American ignorance and dishonesty shown in this translation.11 Guru Nanak concludes the Sidha Gosht by saying, “Without serving the true Guru no union with God can be attained. Without inner communion with the true Guru no liberation can be gained.” (70)
      Bhai Gurdas has given a vivid description of the encounters of Guru Nanak with the Yogis and concluded that wherever Guru Nanak went and debated the futility of Yoga asanas, they gave up the Yoga technique and asanas. The path to peace was through love, devotion, meditation of the divine Name, and service of humanity. Gorakhmata was the most important center of Yogis in Uttar Pradesh in India. When the Yogis of Gorakhmata acquired peace from the convincing enlightenment imparted to them by Guru Nanak, they not only gave up asanas, and yogic techniques but also changed the century old name of the Center from Gorakhmata to Nanakmata, which still it is.
      At Achal Batala in the Punjab, Guru Nanak encountered a very haughty Yogi named Bhangar Nath. This encounter is described in detail by Bhai Gurdas. When Guru Nanak attracted the people by his music, poetry, and love-imbued songs of God, the haughty and angry Yogis boastfully, displayed their techniques and occult powers but failed to draw people again. Bhangar Nath then angrily said, “O Nanak you have come like a strong antithesis to our whole system of Yoga darshana and poured lemon juices into our milk (yoga system). All that is precious to us has been belittled by you.” Guru Nanak replied, “O Bhangar Nath, your mother (your founders of yoga) like a bad housewife did not clean the vessel, that is why your milk is spoiled and has become distasteful to everyone.” What Guru Nanak meant was that “the yogic teachers have put into your heart such filthy stuff connected with Yoga (asanas, mudras, etc.) that you have become haughty and vain yogis full of greed and craze for occult power over the people, because of your wrongly motivated philosophy.” Guru Nanak urged them to throw away the ugly and out of date practices and take up the path of the mysticism of love of God. Bhai Gurdas says that Guru Nanak visited all the centers of Yoga and made them submit to his philosophy of divine Love and give up yoga asanas and techniques:

      sidh nath avatar sabh gosh kar kar kan phadaya Babar ke Babe mile niv niv sabh Nawab nivaya. Guru Nanak met and encountered all Sidhas and Yogis and those who claimed to be avatars of spiritual adepts, and after holding debates and discussions with them made all Yogis and Siddhas catch their ears, meaning that he made them discard their Yogic cults and submit to his ideology unconditionally.
      Babar and his courtiers, the Nawabs and amirs, met Guru Nanak and they bowed low and offered salutation to his mystic Path, and moral and spiritual influence.
      Bhai Gurdas, Var 26

      Conclusion
      Our conclusions in the expositions of this chapter are:

      1) The Samkhya, Yoga and even Vaishnava, and Sufi terminology used by the Sikh Gurus in their writings are used to express their views on the mystical and philosophic themes of their protagonists, and they in no way indicate the Guru’s acceptance of Yoga and Vaishnavas or other systems.
      2) The Sidha Gosht and other compositions of Guru Nanak are highly critical of the Yoga systems and Yoga doctrines and asanas, and the deliberate attempt of Yogi Bhajan’s theorists to confuse ignorant Sikhs by their false beliefs and practices and their aggressive audacious posture, branding others as Patits (apostates) and claiming themselves to be the holiest of the holy, have succeeded so far because 3HO Journals never reach any serious student or exponent of Sikhism. They are circulated among some of his uncritical followers or admirers in America and among accomplices and politicians of S.G.P.C. In the rest of this booklet, researched and written within two months, in every chapter I have given well-documented factual statements from original sources of Yogi Bhajan’s publications. It will be clear from this book how three irresponsible leaders known to the Sikh Community for many treacherous acts in the past misguided the S.G.P.C, Akali Dal and other Sikh organizations about the Cult activities of Yogi Bhajan, Maha Tantric and Master of Kundalini, and supposedly appointed Chief Administrative Authority of Sikh Dharma in the Western Hemisphere. No such authority has ever been appointed for India or for Eastern, Northern, Southern, and Western Hemispheres, nor can any Institution, least of all the S.G.P.C, a body formed by a Bill of the Punjab Provincial government covering only historical shrines, ever do that. The President of S.G.P.C. and the Jathedar of Akal Takhat or the High Priest of the Golden Temple can neither assume nor exercise any such Authority, nor have they ever done in the past three hundred years. I wonder how Yogi Bhajan can do so. The S.G.P.C. cannot impose its will and authority even on historical Sikh shrines of Delhi or on shrines in other States of India.
      NOTES
      1. Trilochan Singh: Commentary on Hymns of Guru Tegh Bahadur, p 24
      2. Katha Upanishad III, 4
      3. Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu were already familiar with methodical respiration, and a Chou dynasty inscription attests the practice of a respiratory technique in the sixth century B.C. Mircea Eliade: Yoga, p 62
      4. For Sufi practices, see: Kashf-ul Mahjub and Writings of Dara Shikoh on medieval saints, notably Mian Mir in Safinat-ul-Aulia, and Sakinat-ul-Auliya.
      5. Quoted by Mircea Eliade in Yoga f.n. p 63
      6. Das Gupta, S.N., Indian Philosophy Vol II p 258
      7. Radhakrishnan, Indian Philosophy, Vol II p 370
      8. Ibid, p 371
      9. Das Gupta, S.N., Indian Philosophy, Vol I p 259
      10. Mercia Eliad, Yoga p 74-75
      11. See Peace Lagoon, compiled and rendered into American English by Sardarni Premka Kaur with the Hawkish stare: Picture of Yogi Bhajan published in this book and a short Foreword by him. See p 10-11, p 145-223

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      • sitting bull 22:57 on 2018-12-02 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you for this additional perspective, Gurusant Singh,
        I think, in order to get closer to the essence of our discussion, it is probably best to shed light on our pretext in order to be able to move forward.

        Basically, the history is that we both were influenced by YB, which did make us change life-course:
        You finally were drawn to Sikhism, and me to this yoga kriya,
        and since we both felt dominated and to (a more or lesser extend) let down by him, we both now take what we worked so hard for but dismiss the messenger YB himself.

        If I am not describing our common issue with him as you see it, please let me know.
        ~~~
        In order for us to be happy, the next step is now how to deal with it:
        C.G. Jung said that there are so called “compensatory abilities, say if one had an overbearing father, as in the display of David Helfgott in the movie “Shine”, he became a great pianist, but at great expense for his psychic well being.

        So the both of us did dedicate ourselves very strong to overcoming the tremendous pressure Yogi Bhajan did put on others in order to fulfil his version of spirituality. Of course we did not do it for him, but he did manage to cut right into our propensity for wanting to be spiritual devotee.

        C.G.Jung said that one then does not have to throw the abilities overboard, but still may use them, but without the tremendous pressure to be perfect behind it.
        ~~~
        The way I personally deal with it is to recognise: Yes, it might well be, that YB played the role of my overbearing father, but the reason I was drawn to this kriya is not to please him, but my very own longing for spirituality.
        In fact, by honestly and authentically overcoming my own tremendous difficulties and working through my issues, I feel slowly even overcoming him to the extend that should I ever reach his level of spiritual insights or charisma, I won’t have his egotistical needs to be the great cult-leader he was.
        ~~~

        The reason I get down to the knitty-gritty psychological stuff first, is because without having solved our resentments towards him, our entire following discussion about the compatibility of the yoga and Sikh path would be tainted by an aversion towards him.

        So as for me – I am trying to leave YB and his opinions out of the following discussion, because for me (and probably for you in the end) he is not any more relevant than having been a servant of our Karma in the form of having been a postman.
        We both payed our karmic debt for his delivery – you more so than me it seems, but I also was ripped of financially, so we now don’t owe him anything anymore.

        ~~~

        And on a short note to at least answer your input:
        I think there is a symbiosis of both our views out there in the form of a book, called:
        “The Socially Involved Renunciate: Guru Nanak’s Discourse to the Nath Yogis Kamala Elizabeth Nayar and Jaswinder Singh Sandhu”
        https://tinyurl.com/y7jo655p
        in which is said:
        “While it has discounted hath-yoga as a means to self-realization, the
        Sikh tradition has, in fact, not been against yoga in relation to the physical
        benefits that it provides. For instance, gatka-the Sikh martial arts started by
        the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind-involves physical, mental, and breathing
        practices derived from Ancient Indian exercises that were appropriated by
        the formalized school of yoga. However, the physical discipline of gatka is
        by no means regarded as a spiritual practice.’ Indeed, spiritual
        development is considered achievable only through the devotional
        recitation of the Divine Name. ”

        So my intake would be – dedication towards the divine is essential,
        but in order to accomplish a perfect lifestyle, yoga helps and provides insights.

        It seems to me that we both walk towards the same goal but from two opposite directions.
        So – all the power to your work!
        I will soon write a series on the dedication towards the divine, because this seems a complex subject.

        Like

      • sitting bull 6:02 on 2019-03-11 Permalink | Reply

        Dear Gurusant,

        after long thought I reply to a part of your belief system I don’t subscribe with:
        You wrote:
        ” …you believe “Sodarshan Chakra Kriya” is a part of Sikhi ”
        I don’t believe that – all I was stating was that I could understand that a more esoteric interpretation can lead to the development of SCK.

        You continue:
        “…and how you feel there are directives in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji for one to practice this kriya. The verses in Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji you have quoted never say that the reader should practice these so called yogic kriyas. ”
        I personally do believe that this is the same case as with the Jewish Torah in which you may only find stories, but beneath them are more hidden meanings, like numerology.
        Those religious books nearly always are written in two ways:
        One literal one which always was for the simple people, and a more esoteric one for the scholars.
        Look at the bible with the Genesis which merely is a reference to kabbalistic principles which still can be seen in todays weekdays.

        You continue:
        ” The references to yoga are only in the SGS Ji as a reference to readers who were Hindus and practiced these yogic kriyas. ”
        This does not make sense to me, because a holy book about the one and only truth should not need to bend to other people’s belief systems.
        Either you take that book literally as the total and absolute truth or you interpret it as a strategic text to advertise to Hindus. You can’t have it both ways.

        Finally you add:
        “Sikhi is based on devotional worship of God and Waheguru and it is only by God’s grace that one is liberated or given salvation. the important words here “By God’s grace”. Yogic kriyas and YB’s “Sodarshan Chakra Kriya” are man made practices.”

        This is the same argument all orthodox believers make whether they come from Abrahamic relitions or elswhere: That their god is the only and true one and therefore any other interpretation must be wrong.
        In order not to make this comment too long, in a month I will write an article about the different aspects of dedications towards the divine which will be called “dedication to the vertical”.
        All I add for now is that to me there is no discrepancy of believing in a supreme consciousness and at the same time making all possible effort to strive towards it.
        Vice versa: The ones who deprive themselves of such techniques merely subscribe to a fatalistic worldview in which a “big daddy” has the only right to better ones life.
        I for my part choose to walk have way towards the divine.

        Like

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