According to legend, Kundalini Yoga was first practiced in India by the Sikh warrior elite.
Before You Continue...
Do you know what is your soul number? Take this quick quiz to find out! Get a personalized numerology report, and discover how you can unlock your fullest spiritual potential. Start the quiz now!
An review of mystical literature and traditions, on the other hand, revealed that Kundalini, known by several names, appears to have been a universal phenomena in esoteric teachings for at least three thousand years.
Egyptian, Tibetan, Chinese, Native American, and African esoteric teachings all contain Kundalini-like descriptions or experiences.
From the Bible, Kundalini has been translated as “The Koran, Plato's and other Greek philosophers' works, alchemical tracts, and Hermetic, Kabbalistic, Rosicrucian, and Masonic teachings all mention the solar principle in man.
The Upanishads, Hinduism's ancient books dating back to the fifth century B.C., also had a written description of Kundalini, though the oral tradition goes back far further.
This sacred science and technology was shrouded in secrecy for thousands of years, passed down through the oral tradition from master to chosen apprentice.
Indian yoga helped to the nurturing of Kundalini and the preservation of its wisdom by emphasizing the transformation of energy to higher consciousness.
Before the 1970s, Kundalini was a rare occurrence in the West, until more attention was paid to consciousness. Psychiatrist Carl G. Jung and others, for example, reported in 1932 that the Kundalini experience was uncommon in the West.
Kundalini Yoga was never taught publicly until Yogi Bhajan introduced it to the United States in 1969, defying the age-old tradition of secrecy. It has since spread all over the world.
He penned, “I'm imparting these teachings in order to establish a Total Self science… It is every human being's birthright to be healthy, happy, and holy.”
Where does Kundalini Yoga originate from?
Harbhajan Singh Puri, a Pakistani-born economics major, boarded a plane with a one-way ticket from Punjab, India to Toronto, Canada in 1968. At the age of 16, Yogi Bhajan, as he would later be known around the world, was declared a master of Kundalini yoga, and he was the first to openly teach Kundalini yoga to the public, revealing a lineage hitherto shrouded in secrecy. Yogi Bhajan founded the 3HO, which stands for “Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization,” a nonprofit dedicated to spreading Kundalini yoga principles, in 1969.
Kundalini is a technique that is a bit outside the box for most Westerners who equate yoga with a flowing physical activity. While physicality is one facet of Kundalini yoga, it also incorporates spiritual elements, such as mantras like “Sat Nam,” which means “truth is my essence,” pranayama, or breath control, meditation, and kriyas, or repeated body motions designed to enhance energy flow. Turbans and white garments are worn by both teachers and students. According to Yogi Bhajan, the color white is cleaning, expands the aura, and protects against negative energy. The crown chakra, the physical body's topmost energy point, is protected and contained by the head covering. Kundalini yoga can be performed by anyone, regardless of age or physical fitness level, due to the range of practices offered in a Kundalini class, particularly those that draw more on the subtle body.
Kundalini has an interesting and fascinating history. The technique is derived from Raj Yoga, which has been practiced in India since 500 BC and is recorded in the famous Vedic collection of scriptures known as the Upanishads. Kundalini yoga is distinct from other kinds of yoga in that it is descended from a Sikh tradition, a religion created in 15th century Punjab that promotes love, equality, and service to others and is distinct from Hinduism and Islam. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, studied and practiced yoga, and Yogi Bhajan, a Sikh, combined their teachings. Many of the meditations in the Kundalini practice stem from the Sikh tradition, thanks to the junction of yoga and the Sikh heritage through Guru Nanak. For example, Guru Nanak's enlightenment experience while learning with the yogis inspired him to employ the mantra Sat Nam in Kundalini yoga.
What religion does Kundalini come from?
Kundalini, according to William F. Williams, is a Hindu religious experience in which it is believed to be a form of “cosmic energy” that gathers at the base of the spine.
Kundalini is said to rise up from the muladhara chakra, through the central nadi (called sushumna) inside or alongside the spine, to the top of the head when it is awakened. Kundalini is thought to move through the chakras, achieving various levels of awakening and mystical experiences until it reaches the summit of the head, the Sahasrara or crown chakra, where it produces an incredibly deep shift in consciousness.
When was Kundalini discovered?
The actual origin of Kundalini Yoga is uncertain, however it is first mentioned in the Upanishads, an ancient Vedic collection of literature (c. 1,000 B.C. – 500 B.C.). Before the physical practice, Kundalini was a science of energy and spiritual philosophy, according to historical documents. The term “upanishads” literally means “sitting down to receive the master's teachings.” Those were the first Kundalini classes. Masters sat down with students and recited spiritual visions aloud. In ancient Vedic society, this was a common practice (and would be replicated centuries later by a couple guys named Buddha and Jesus). The body science of Kundalini Yoga evolved over time as a physical representation of the Upanishad visions. Kundalini Yoga has never been taught in a public setting. It was regarded as a post-secondary education. Students had to go through several years of initiation before they were ready to learn the Kundalini masters' spirit-body lectures.
What language is used in Kundalini Yoga?
The ten Sikh Gurus created the Gurmukhi language. It's a mash-up of several languages designed to trigger the meridian points on your tongue's roof. Sikh texts are lovely tributes to God and the Universe written in Gurmukhi.
The word Gurmukhi literally means “from the guru's mouth,” or “from the guru's spoken word.” If you read the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, you'll come across the term Gurmukh, which refers to someone who speaks consciously as opposed to unconsciously. When we speak, chant, or sing Gurmukhi words, they are strong to the extent that we repeat them with reverence and dedication. Because of the tone and frequency with which Gurmukhi words vibrate, they are extremely strong. Words in Gurmukhi do not require definitions; instead, they must be repeated. Furthermore, by noticing how the sounds influence and co-create with his or her own interior journey and increasing consciousness, the one who repeats them develops wise.
Sat Nam means “genuine vibration” in Sanskrit. When Guru Nanak emerged from three days submerged in the River Vaee, he said this word for the first time. When you chant Sat Nam, you unite yourself with your destiny.
Har: This is a word for the heart's voice, as well as a name for God. The tip of the tongue strikes the roof of the mouth when we recite Har, making it sound more like HUD. This is a sound that activates the navel and brings kundalini energy to the surface.
Wahe Guru is the wisdom of present-moment happiness. This is an ecstatic expression.
Siri: This is a strong, creative sound for a woman. Its simple meaning is “great,” yet it is also a moniker for someone who is revered.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib: This is a sacred teacher for all beings; the holy sound stream creates a knot in your mind that connects you to Divine consciousness. We bow to it as a living entity who has given us these mantras, this heritage, and this tradition. For Sikhism devotees, it is referred to as the sacred literature. It is a Guru who is still alive.
Guru is a combination of the words gu and ru, which signifies “darkness” and “light.” A guru is someone who helps us go from darkness to light.
Guru Ong Namo Dev Namo: There is only one united creation, and I bow to it as the holy guru. I surrender my ego to the Creator's and Creation's wisdom. I acknowledge the wisdom that exists inside myself and all things.
Guru Nanak chanted the Japji Sahib, which is a long spiritual poetry or hymn. It's the music that kicks off the Aquarian Sadhana. It's a potent instrument for uniting individual consciousness with heavenly consciousness.
One Universal Creator/Creation (Ek Ong Kaar). This expression evokes a sense of oneness, of unity between the Creator and the rest of creation.
After the Gurdwara service, the seekers are offered prasaad, which is a sweet dish.
Amrit Vela: This is the finest time for a yogi to rise from sleep and practice between the hours of 3 and 7 a.m.
Is Kundalini Yoga bad?
Kundalini meditation is frequently used by people who want to experience the energy release known as a Kundalini awakening. Many individuals find this to be a spiritual experience, but if you're not sure what to anticipate, it can be intimidating.
Physical feelings such as warmth or tingling, disorientation, and perhaps momentary discomfort are reported after a Kundalini awakening.
Some argue that if a person isn't entirely prepared for the experience, they may suffer long-term consequences. While meditation can be a transformative experience, there is no evidence that it has long-term negative consequences.
Apart from that, Kundalini meditation entails deep breathing exercises and slower breathing. You may feel dizzy or lightheaded if you aren't used to it.
Take breaks as needed, and drink lots of water before and after your meditation session.
Is Kundalini Yoga made up of?
Chanting, singing, breathing exercises, and repetitious positions are all part of Kundalini yoga.
Its goal is to awaken your Kundalini energy, also known as shakti. This is a spiritual energy supposed to reside at the base of your spine.
Kundalini yoga is believed to expand your consciousness and help you transcend past your ego by awakening this energy. The practice is sometimes referred to as “yoga of awareness.”
Learn more about Kundalini yoga, its possible advantages, and how it varies from other styles of yoga by continuing reading.
What did Yogi Bhajan do wrong?
But she desired a gurusomeone who could teach her more about Eastern philosophy. They say the instructor emerges when the learner is ready. Later that year, Dyson met Yogi Bhajan and embarked on a life-changing trip. She wasn't alone; the charismatic yogi gathered a loyal following of largely white middle-class searchers who gave up their birth names and joined him on a prescribed lifestyle that merged Sikhism, Kundalini yoga, and new age beliefs in a short period of time. He referred to himself as a Saturn instructor because of his strict teaching methods.
Dyson took the name Premka Kaur Khalsa and dedicated her life to her guru for the next 16 years. She was a member of his inner circle and helped him grow the organization from a few hundred hippies attending classes from him in an antique store on Melrose and Robertson into a multinational juggernaut with businesses, ashrams, and yoga facilities all over the world.
Dyson self-published Premka: White Bird in a Golden Cage: My Life with Yogi Bhajan earlier this year, in which she disclosed a dark side to her guru-student connection. Her story of love, betrayal, and sexual misbehavior is told from the perspective of a 77-year-old lady. She worked on the memoir for 12 years, but it took her more than 30 years to understand the pain that prompted her to write it, long before the #MeToo movement. What was accepted behavior decades ago, much alone a year, a month, or even a day ago, has changed so quickly that Dyson could not have predicted the fallout from her narrative for a spiritual community that relies on Yogi Bhajan's veneration as a pillar of its existence.
Bhajan claimed to be married but celibate, and that he and his wife, Bibi Inderjit Kaur Khalsa, had three children. However, stories about his sexual misconduct had been circulating for years, particularly about his liaisons with his female staff, who dressed in all white and wore turbans. The women accompanied him on his travels, took care of his personal and professional requirements, and lived as if they were nuns with no families of their own.
Dr. Philip Deslippe, a yoga historian who has written extensively about Yogi Bhajan and is a PhD candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, wonders if Bhajan's reputation will be able to withstand the attack. “I believe the issues that are surfacing will make his reputation and legacy toxic,” says Deslippe, who taught Kundalini yoga for a decade before turning his attention to Bhajan as a scholar. “He'll be regarded as the yoga equivalent of Harvey Weinstein or Jerry Sandusky, and I feel his teachings will be polluted in a way that makes rebranding or salvaging them extremely difficult.”
Bhajan passed away in 2004 at the age of 75, having been diagnosed with heart illness, diabetes, and being confined to a wheelchair. Under the banner of the 3HO Foundation, which stands for healthy, happy, and holy, he left behind a vast empire. In his obituary in the New York Times, he was referred to as the “Spiritual and commercial world boss.” He visited with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Pope John Paul II, and the Dalai Lama throughout the years, gaining political clout in Espanola, New Mexico, where many of his businesses were based. He became acquainted with state lawmakers, including Governor Bill Richardson, who ordered that flags be flown at half-staff after Bhajan's death. Bhajan had a maharaja-worthy collection of jewelry, a fleet of luxury cars (he preferred Rolls-Royce and Mercedes), a 20-plus-acre ranch in Espanola, and another 120 acres in the high desert nearby. He enjoyed shopping in Beverly Hills and dining at La Scala, which was not far from the 3HO headquarters, which was made up of various buildings in addition to his modest home on Preuss Road. He divided his time between New Mexico and Los Angeles, with frequent trips to India. However, Bhajan's yoga spread throughout the world, and there are now teachers and ashrams in South America, Europe, and Russia.
“He'll be remembered as the yoga equivalent of Harvey Weinstein. His teachings, I believe, will be corrupted.” Philip Deslippe, a yoga historian
His enterprises grew as well. There was also the Yogi Tea brand and Akal Security, which has been awarded $1 billion in federal contracts to guard courthouses, embassies, and military bases over the years, in addition to the Kundalini yoga enterpriseteacher trainings and events geared toward the 500,000 students the 3HO Foundation claims practice his brand of yoga. Akal Security, like many other 3HO enterprises, was created by a member of the community and then handed over to the organization. It wasn't as far-fetched as it may appear for a yogi like Bhajan to operate a security firm, because South Asian Sikhs have long served in the military and police services. Not to mention Bhajan's business mentality, according to Dyson “Other People's Intelligence and Money, or OPI and OPM. However, most people in Los Angeles are familiar with Bhajan through Kundalini yoga classes at Yoga West and the RA MA Institute. Yoga is a business, too: a teacher training course can cost up to $3,500, not to mention the money generated by 3HO-affiliated enterprises that create new-age music popular among yoga practitioners and instructors.
Dyson's book, published earlier this year, was set against this backdrop of spiritual piety and roaring materialism. The book started out as an outlier, and it may have stayed that way if it hadn't sparked an unanticipated flood of testimony from other women, who revealed long-buried memories of abuse at the hands of their guru. The revelations contrasted sharply with the inner-circle members of 3HO, who continue to follow Bhajan's strict guidelines, including wearing white, tucking their uncut hair into turbans, and beginning each day with an ice-cold shower and a session of Kundalini yoga, often in rooms adorned with portraits of their guru. Bhajan had arranged their marriages, and now some of their grown children, who were supposed to pass on his teachings to the next generation, are alleging sexual, emotional, and physical abuse at 3HO-sponsored institutions in India and New Mexico. One of them filed a civil lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court at the end of June, alleging that Bhajan engaged in child sexual abuse and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and that members of 3HO were not only aware of Bhajan's preferences, but also enabled and witnessed them on multiple occasions.
The Siri Singh Sahib Corp., which includes 3HO, found the charges credible and recruited An Olive Branch, a Philadelphia-based consultant that helps spiritual organizations overcome ethical wrongdoing and is guided by Buddhist ideals. Its findings will be released to the public in late July. Shanti Kaur Khalsa, a public-affairs specialist who is part of the inquiry's oversight team, adds, “The mere fact that the charges are believable does not imply that they are accurate. It's a complicated scenario. To be honest, I never had any sign that this was happening in the 40 years I was alive. That's difficult to believe. I'm a pretty intelligent person who is also psychic and a yogi, and I honestly didn't see that coming. That isn't to say we aren't doing the right thing.” An Olive Branch received upwards of 16 claims from individuals alleging injury at the hands of Yogi Bhajan, according to Khalsa, and it examined over 300 members who either verified or defended Bhajan. Members of the 3HO who are adamant about discrediting Dyson's charges think the probe is a sham. They've asked for permission for a 3HO representative to represent Bhajan by gaining access to all of the allegation facts, including the identity of the accusers. “Yogi Bhajan said a couple of things that have now become clear to us. “One of them was, ‘Don't love me, love the teaching,'” Khalsa explains.
Bhajan's images and quotes have been taken off the walls of Yoga West on Robertson Boulevard, the flagship Kundalini yoga studio where he frequently lectured. When Bhajan was still teaching lessons at the antiques store owned by Bhajan student Jules Buccieri, Guru Singh Khalsa, a first-generation senior teacher, joined 3HO. (The location is now occupied by a John Varvatos store.) Singh Khalsa compares his relationship with Bhajan to that of a father and son, and while he is aware of Dyson's sexual assault allegations, he maintains that 3HO was a culture of denial at the time. He apologized publicly on social media in March, expressed regret to his teacher-training students, and promised to be an advocate for transparency and the An Olive Branch probe. “He says, “I believe the folks who are giving their tales.” “Does this imply that I think Yogi Bhajan was a bad guy? Certainly not. Does this imply that I think Yogi Bhajan has flaws? Yes, without a doubt, as do we all. And in some people, those defects might be rather severe.” (Other prominent Kundalini yoga teachers in Los Angeles declined to speak for this story.)
Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, who teaches prenatal yoga courses online through Alo yoga apparel and has celebrity clients including Cindy Crawford, Demi Moore, and Miranda Kerr, made a statement on Facebook saying, “Between the flu and the claims, I chose Joy from the depths of my being. I'm sorry, but I'm at a loss for words. I am a supporter of joy. Joy is the name of my platform. Fear is the polar opposite of joy. Fear feeds on itself. Joy spreads like wildfire. I've decided to teach Kundalini Yoga around the world until my last breath, God willing.”
THE CUSTOMS INSPECTOR
Harbhajan Singh Puri, a former New Delhi airport customs inspector, moved to Los Angeles in 1968 and began teaching yoga under the moniker Yogi Bhajan. A year had passed since the Summer of Love, and revolution was brewing. Robert Kennedy Jr. was shot at the Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard after Martin Luther King Jr. was slain in Memphis. Love-ins erupted in areas like Elysian Park during the Vietnam War protests.
When a buddy told Dyson about the sultry six-foot-two yogi with the coral-colored turban, long black beard, and velvet loafers, Dyson was intrigued. Bhajan taught in the East West Cultural Center on 9th Street, which was directed by Judith Tyberg, a Sanskrit scholar. It was a serious establishment, complete with a library and talks on Eastern spiritual traditions.
“We were looking away from our parental indoctrination and towards the East,” Dyson says. She studied Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, The Tibetan Book of the Dead by The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and talks by Jiddu Krishnamurti, who lived in Ojai. “Yogi Bhajan spoke prophetically in front of us, telling us that he would die and that we would go on.” He pretended to be an Eastern Jesus who was bringing humanity together. He expressed a desire to fulfill our ambitions and lead humanity toward god consciousness.” Despite the fact that Dyson believes Bhajan touched her breast during her first yoga class, she remained his disciple. His magnetism, as well as his claim to be able to read auras, had her and other early devotees spellbound. He urged them to cease smoking cigarettes and marijuana, to abstain from alcohol and drugs, to abstain from meat, and to utilize food as medicine.
According to a 1977 Time magazine article describing Bhajan as a “womanizer,” Tyberg fired Bhajan just a few months after he arrived at the East West Cultural Center for reasons she refused to divulge. Despite this, his raucous hippie following grew quickly; he taught followers how to get “high on their breath” and sent them around the country to open ashrams and teach yoga. Students were enthralled by his yoga, which he described as a “hidden ancient science” that he was transmitting for the first time, thereby forming a “golden chain” of teacher-to-student transmission.
Yogi Bhajan's Kundalini yoga is similar to other modern yoga lineages with questionable ancient origins in many aspects, and the story Bhajan presented about Kundalini's origins turned out to be more fiction than fact. Deslippe wrote an academic paper in which he questions the legitimacy and origin of Bhajan's yoga style, concluding that it is neither ancient nor secret, but rather derived from a verifiable hatha yoga lineage that Bhajan interpreted and reconstructed into his own version of asana (yoga poses) and lifestyle. Bhajan was a divisive figure among South Asian Sikhs during his lifetime, with some claiming that he adopted some aspects of their faith while rejecting others. Sikhs, for example, are not vegetarians, their faith excludes yoga, and they do not respect live gurus. They also don't dress in white.
“They're essentially selling Sikh spiritual names on an internet platform, as if our religion is something they can take and profit from,” says Sheel Seidler, a Punjabi Sikh who took Yogi Bhajan's Kundalini teacher training but modifies her classes to honor her Sikhism practice. “There's a casual contempt for the religion and the 30 million people who follow it around the world that feels imperialist.”
THE SECOND GENERATION
“Pamela and the first generation of Sikhs took the decision to become Sikhs. “We didn't have a choice,” recalls Nadine Stellavato Brown, 48, a Bhajan follower who was taken to an Indian school when she was eight years old. Stellavato Brown's parents' decision had serious emotional ramifications for her. “As pleased as I am that Pam published the book, which finally allowed us to speak our tales, the irony is that she and the entire first generation were the ones who perpetrated the abuse.” She was a part of the system that exploited us.”
More than 200 first-generation members listened as their children and friends' children recalled physical and sexual abuse, some from Yogi Bhajan himself, during a series of Zoom calls with the Khalsa Council, a council of ministers within 3HO, in April and May. Child swapping, an emphasis on parental detachment that encouraged mothers to suppress their nurture instincts, and being sent to boarding schools in New Mexico and India where a cruel survivalist mentality prevailed, which they compared to Lord of the Fliesthe second generation expressed the emotional toll of the social experiments they endured. “When Pamela's book came out, all the grown-up stuffthe salacious sex stuff that's so characteristic of cultswas the focus. Instead of feeling like we were being heard, we were once again being talked over. “I had to bring it back to our tales,” says Narangkar Glover, a Portland-based artist who attended Indian schools from the age of eight to sixteen.
“These boarding schools were where we grew up.” We were beaten with sticks until our bodies were covered in large welts. Glover adds, “Some of us were tormented.” “Absolute neglect, abject squalor were at the heart of our experience.” Head lice, diarrhea, dysentery, and hepatitis were all present. For days, we didn't have running water; there was feces on the floor and on the walls; and the power would go out. We'd watch as stray dogs were slaughtered directly in front of our eyes.” “They would claim it wasn't easy foreither,” Glover continues when the children tried to tell their parents about the conditions. “But I tell them, ‘You had food; you had hot water; you drove around; you went to the movies; you got to float around Los Angeles with celebrities, looking lovely and glowing in your white perfection.'”
Shanti Kaur Khalsa claims that a committee has been formed to deal with the second generation's charges, and that anyone who requests counselling would be given $1,200. She wouldn't talk about her own son's time at an Indian boarding school, but she did declare, “I know these kids.” I've heard their stories before, but they've always been delivered in a lighter, humorous manner. It's now been exposed for what it was all along. It was a traumatic experience, and I admire their bravery.”
When another parent overheard the reports on the Zoom calls, he sobbed. Tej Steiner, who left 3HO in 1988, recalls, “I felt like I got run over by a vehicle.” Steiner and his former wife, who was arranged by Bhajan, sent their children to school in India. He wrote on a Facebook forum, “Yogi Bhajan built created schools for our children and staffed them with nasty, masochistic teachers.” “They were profit centers for his multibillion-dollar corporation.” He also realized that isolating children from their parents would strengthen his grip on both.”
Second-generation members like Sunny Khalsa, who tried alerting adults and peers that Bhajan was sexually inappropriate with her but claims they wouldn't listen, are enraged by the idea that no one knew awful things happening in the schools. “They responded, ‘He's simply putting you to the test.' There was always a reason to be completely blind. “Or they'd be furious because I was slandering our religion,” Khalsa explains. “We were raised to believe he was a god, that he was my spiritual father, that he could see my soul, but no one saw him for what he was: a nasty, manipulative, divisive, dangerous guy.”
Khalsa, now 46, accuses 3HO and 100 unidentified defendants of grooming her from the age of eight to become one of Bhajan's secretaries, and that he frequently groped, grabbed, and sexually abused her in a lawsuit filed in June. According to the lawsuit, Bhajan and his associates used 3HO's businesses as a front for a “thinly veiled, covert second purpose” to “operate a cult to lure people in and take all of their money as well as place Bhajan in a place where he could abuse women verbally, emotionally, spiritually, and sexually.” Bhajan “cultivated other persons in his organization who supported him in breaking down people to transform them become devotees,” according to the lawsuit.
The suit claims that when Khalsa was eight years old and living with her mother on the 3HO-operated Hacienda de Guru Ram Das Ranch outside of Espanola, she was summoned to Bhajan's quarters. He touched her vagina and verbally insulted her in front of his associates, wanting to know if she wanted to be a prostitute. Shanti Kaur Khala, 3HO's current spokesperson, allegedly took Khalsa on a $1,000 shopping spree when she was ten years old in an attempt to endear her to Bhajan, according to the lawsuit. She planned to acquire her GED and attend college when she was 16 and returned from school in India in 1990; instead, she was given some white Chanel clothes and brought to Los Angeles.
Khalsa has taken up residence at one of the Preuss Road complexes. She worked at the 3HO offices during the day and made juices for Bhajan at night, who ordered her to massage his feet in front of others while he watched graphic pornography. “I'd been warned I'd have to start sleeping with him.” “It was my responsibility,” she says. “He would grip my ass or my breasts, question me about sex, and tell me he was going to fuck me,” she claims.
Khalsa finally fled in 1992, after Bhajan summoned her to a conference where all the secretaries sat silently in a circle around her, she claims. According to the lawsuit, he declared her in love with him and informed her that “she needed to be fucked.” “He said he had the world's biggest cock and that he was going to fuck her with it.” Instead of going to the party he planned to throw to honor her submission, she walked to the bus station and booked a ticket to New York. “It was like committing suicide,” she adds. “They excommunicated me, and I vanished from the face of the earth.” People later informed her she was a drug-abusing prostitute living on the streets, which she later discovered. (A 3HO spokesman responded in an email that the organization couldn't comment since it hadn't read the lawsuit yet.)
Bhajan's popularity, on the other hand, remained virtually unaffected. “Friends have come to me over the years, thrilled to tell me they've discovered Kundalini yoga,” Khalsa adds. “I've heard he's a saint.” That's like stabbing me in the heart with a dagger. He was a lecherous, manipulative, and creepy man who was to blame for a great deal of misery and abuse. His yoga should not be practiced by anyone.”
Bhajan's ongoing popularity, according to Deslippe, is due to 3HO's Sikhism. “The conservative mainstream and Sikh ideals are perfectly compatible. They value hard labor and family. They own and operate their own enterprises. They practice yoga. “Because they don't use drugs, nothing sticks,” he explains. “All of this keeps 3HO under the radar.”
While Bhajan was allegedly engaging in unrestricted sexual abuse, police were paying attention to some of his far-flung businesses. The DEA raided a member of Bhajan's inner circle's residence in Great Falls, Virginia, in 1988. Gurujot Singh Khalsa was captured and convicted as part of an undercover sting operation for his role in an international narcotics smuggling conspiracy that brought thousands of pounds of marijuana into the United States.
Hari Jiwan Khalsa, the chief of protocol at 3HO and a close ally of Bhajan, paid a $4 million judgment to satisfy FTC charges linked to a company he operated that telemarketed gemstones and falsely stated that the purchases would result in enormous profits ten years later. (Bhajan asserted that there was no karma over the phone, which encouraged additional 3HO telemarketing enterprises.) Another Harijiwan Khalsa linked to 3HO served nearly two years in prison for a “toner bandit” scheme in Los Angeles that billed medical offices for copy-machine toner that was never delivered. (The later Harijiwan is currently a Kundalini yoga teacher in Los Angeles and a member of White Sun, which won Best New Wave Album at the 2015 Grammy Awards.)
REASSESSING A LEGACY
Dyson initiated a civil suit against 3HO and Bhajan in 1986. Katherine Felt, a former Bhajan follower, claimed in a separate lawsuit that he regularly assaulted her. Sexual and psychological abuse, assault and battery, starvation owing to forced fasting, and sleep deprivation were all stated in Dyson's complaint. According to the lawsuit, “Bhajan has no good faith conviction that he is serving God or guru, and is instead focused on gaining his followers' money, abilities, and sexual services in order to serve himself.” The lawsuit sought $25 million in damages, but it was settled for significantly less outside of court. (Bhajan was never deposed despite his frequent claims of medical exemptions.)
“To women, he was pretty nasty,” Dyson recalls. “He claims to elevate women and the divine feminine, yet preaches that husbands have the right to abuse and rape their wives. It was all about who had the most power.” His lectures have been thoroughly recorded and are available on the Library of Teachings, a 3HO website. “Rape is always solicited… a raped person is always supplying the settings and arrangements subconsciously,” Bhajan said in a speech in 1978. “It's impossible until you give the circumstances and arrangements.”
In 1989, he observed about battering, ” “But the amusing aspect is that some women are stimulated by being beaten… 20% of women are mistreated and it stimulates them, and 30% of women are those who cause violence and love it.”
The director of the San Francisco Kundalini Yoga Center, Awtar Kaur Khalsa, believes it's time to examine Bhajan more closely. She's been with 3HO since 1972 and is a lead teacher trainer. Despite the fact that she had never personally witnessed sexual misbehavior, she issued a message on Facebook in February that she had been working on for nearly five years. It all started with, “Reports of sexual assault by my spiritual guru, Yogi Bhajan, have elicited a variety of replies over the years. Some people consider the claims to be unfathomable and treasonous. I used to be one of them. Others downplay, dismiss, or categorize the charges. This is something I've done as well. But I'm not able to do it any longer.”
She goes on to say, on behalf of herself and other Bhajan-obsessed women, “We'd always suspected he was a brilliant manipulator, but we felt he was acting in the public interest.” Bhajan's sexual interactions with his workers, although preaching monogamy and claiming to be celibate, appeared particularly destructive to her. “I rationalized it because I assumed it was only marginally consenting at the time. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I'm a highly intelligent person in many aspects of my life, but when it came to this, I was willing to be uncritical. And, of course, we now recognize these power dynamics, and they are not consent.”
Awtar has kept her turban on, but she has taken a break from teaching in order to research cults and mind control. “I've spent my entire career fighting the label of cultI've always rejected it,” she explains. “It didn't seem to match any of the cult's criteria. But the more I learn about that strange mix of dread and love, the more I suspect it's a cult. That is something I am willing to be quoted as saying. And with certain folks, my social capital has plummeted to nil.”
Kundalini yoga may be Yogi Bhajan's greatest lasting impact in Los Angeles and around the world. This isn't a sport where acrobatic feats or contortionist flexibility are required. Rather, it's a holdover from yoga's early hippie days, when gaining altered consciousness presented a counter-narrative to the dominant drug culture: arm-waving, hyperventilation-like breathing “Chanting mantras, meditation, and gong sound baths are all examples of “breath of fire.” Every class still has a blessing song at the end “May the Sun Shine Upon You Forever.” The practice's therapeutic benefits and ability to transform awareness in a manner that other yoga does not are lauded by teachers and students alike. However, studios who provide Kundalini yoga may need to reconsider whether or not they can separate the teacher from the teachings, and whether or not their students are willing to do so as well.
“I'm glad for the practice, but as a feminist and a woman, I'll never quote or mention his name again.” Libby Lydecker, Libby Lydecker, Libby Lydecker,
Libby Lydecker has been a certified Kundalini yoga instructor since 2007. She has been practicing Kundalini yoga for over 20 years. Bhajan smacked her across the face when she first met him in 1998 and shouted, “You are far too fortunate to be sad.” She thought the behavior was prescient at the time, and she was lucky to receive his tough love; today she sees it as a mask for misogyny. Lydecker takes the spiritual name Dya Kaur when she teaches, but she does not wear a turban and does not practice 3HO Sikhism. “I'm grateful for the opportunity to practice. It's been a wonderful experience that has greatly benefited both me and my pupils. However, as a feminist and a woman, I will never reference or use his name again.”
Harijiwan Khalsa, the Grammy-winning toner bandit who was arrested for felony fraud, released a video titled The Futile Flow of Fate, which featured pictures of Bhajan surrounded by angelic white women. He defends Bhajan in the video and accuses her of writing her memoir for financial gain. Guru Jagat, a mentee of Khalsa's who has students including Alicia Keyes, Kate Hudson, and Moon Juice's Amanda Chantal Bacon and who promotes herself as a feminist, shared Khalsa's video. Critical remarks were removed and the comment box was closed after they were placed. (Interview requests for Khalsa and Guru Jagat were not returned.)
Dyson lived a quiet life in Hawaii until she released her book, and she had no idea how popular Kundalini yoga had become. She didn't anticipate the uproar her book would cause. She considered abandoning the endeavor several times since she didn't want to harm anyone. She ultimately made the decision to put the book down, went to bed, and awoke feeling relieved. Then, she claims, a light appeared with an image of Yogi Bhajan at its center. The light's energy was warm and thankful, and it was a source of astonishment. Bhajan was imprisoned in the Buddhist hell realm, which she acknowledged. She realized he wouldn't be free until his followers were free. “She says, “Take him down from the altar.” “He isn't a prodigy. He's not exactly a saint. Just get rid of him.”
Is Kundalini Yoga part of Sikhism?
Yoga is clearly condemned as a spiritual method in Sikhi. Bhajan's pseudoreligion and Kundalini practice are yogic in nature, with Sikh Gurbani mantras being used as yogic chants and spells.
What is God in Kundalini Yoga?
It's a safe bet that Kundalini Yoga would still be unknown in the United States if it hadn't been for Yogi Bhajan. Yogi Bhajan experienced the hippie cultural revolution in California in the late 1960s, many of whose concepts he recognized from his own Sikh culture. He made two observations. #1) Young people in America yearned to experience God, as shown by their yearning for enlarged consciousness. #2) They were going about it all wrong, aided by drugs and half-baked mysticism.
Outside of the holy Indian lineage, Yogi Bhajan recognized it was illegal to teach Kundalini Yoga. On a weekend vacation to Los Angeles in 1968, however, he got a vision of a new spirituality that merged ancient knowledge with modern practicality during a meditation. He was inspired as he awoke from his meditation. “It is everyone”TMs birthright to be well, happy, and holy, and the practice of Kundalini Yoga is the way to claim that birthright,” he would assert as he taught Kundalini to the west. His weekend trip to Los Angeles grew into a year-long stay. He would found the 3HO (Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization) Foundation and the Kundalini Research Institute within the next two years. He hadn't even begun yet.
Yogi Bhajan”TMs effect is not limited to yoga. He authored several books, founded Foreign Peace Prayer Day, and collaborated with a number of international governments on programs aimed at promoting peace and mindfulness in the globe. Yogi Bhajan felt that through practicing mindfulness and compassion, we can all help to improve society, and he committed his life to making his vision of practical spirituality a reality. Following his death, a bipartisan resolution recognizing his services to the world was passed by the United States Congress.
“Kundalini Yoga is the science of bringing the finite and infinite worlds together.”
Yogi Bhajan is a devotional song written by Yogi Bhat
Let us trace the history of Kundalini Yoga back to the Upanishads, which were the first historical works to mention it by name. The Upanishads (similar to the Vedic literary writings) are a collection of oral teachings on the spiritual nature of reality written by various unknown writers over the duration of 500 years (between 1,000 and 500 B.C.).
The Upanishads are the foundation of Eastern spirituality, having been passed down from masters to students following deep contemplative insights. The Upanishads are where Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religious traditions get their ideas. Kundalini feels the same way.
The philosophical objective of Kundalini, as the “yoga of awareness,” is to awaken your Higher Self. Each individual is thought to be a Brahman energy center (God-like creative consciousness). We can disengage from the worldly Ego and connect directly with Universal Brahman by applying the scientific procedures developed by Kundalini masters over thousands of years.
The essence of God, according to Kundalini Yoga, is the same essence of ourselves. God is the creative awareness that flows through everything, including ourselves. Because Brahman is already a part of us, we can reach it. To put it another way, we are all expressions of the same collective energy. Kundalini is a technique for releasing our false Ego story of separation and experiencing the genuine nature of our being. Isn't that good for a little stretching?