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
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  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.
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  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).
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)
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
(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).
25 Replies to “SCK-course part II: The lesser known history of Yogi Bhajan part 1: Kundalini Yoga is not what he taught”
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.
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.
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.
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?
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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,
and another one about an unknown mystic texts, which deals with exactly your questions:
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.
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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”.
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.
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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.)
The outrage that people feel when they find out the truth about Yogi Bludgeon isn’t about people having impossible expectations of perfection for a teacher that was ‘only human’. Turns out he was more reptilian than human in his nature. He was a clever predator, governed by his reptilian brain which hungered for dominion over others.
As someone who thought of him as a spiritual teacher until he betrayed me, I expected basic human kindness and loving intentions for me at the very least. This was definitely not the case.
I, too, thought that he had my best interests at heart, until he tried to jump my bones at the ripe old age of 17.
Talk about a stab in the back, after sitting on his lap as a baby, and thinking of him like a grandfather my whole life!
Thanks, Captain Karma, this is interesting to read your story, which I totally believe.
I myself actually got two crises over YB: The first when I wrote this article (and I was in the midst of building up SCK by doing it 1.5 hours daily).
This was a contradictory phase in which on one hand I did propagate SCK and on the other write a bunch of shocked articles about him.
My second crisis was after I had built up SCK to 2.5 hours and then it sank in once more what kind of sleazebag he was, plus some other yoga-teacher turned out to merely push his other yoga onto me in the same way religious people always push their single agenda onto anyone.
This actually made me stop doing any kind of yoga altogether and within this year I solely focus on building up my daily mundane routine, so that from spring next year on I might incorporate spirituality and mundane work in the old sense of “ora et labora” (pray and work).
By then I hope to have moved beyond any attachment to YB, meaning that he as a teacher will have hopefully have become irrelevant for my practice.
Never having put my faith in any teacher or path, seeking instead directly, I cannot relate well to your experience unfortunately. I know what it is like to be betrayed though (by someone I had been married to) and knew how bad that was. I think though that this experience helped to support my notion I fostered since childhood that no master save the one in me would run the show or be reason for dissapointment. The good thing now is you had a tempering experience that can allow you to see things more clear eyed: trust but confirm, right? It’s such a colorful show and it is over in just a bit!
Thanks, Stafford. The issue only became more complicated, because after the usual Guru-disappointment, and on top of that another yoga-teacher dismissing my kind of yoga, my entire belief in yoga as such was shattered, because I realised that all those techniques are arbitrary and the entire vedic cullture, I considered, to be so advanced did reveal itself as a mere culture of worshippers instead of wise people.
Some guy I knew confused my doubts for “being spiritual lost”, but the irony of that is that I see in the spiritual path that those kinds of deconstructions of our own clichés are a part of our spiritual growth – something he himself did not yet even start to experience. What does sadden me is that most people do look for some guru who conveys clear black&white versions of reality, not realising that this exactly is bound to fail in the long run and that a more subtle approach which includes the the facets of grey (often in forms of doubt) does tune more into reality than any clear-cut interpretation of it.
Somewhere else in this website I quote the wise Huang Po from the 14th century who said that most people try o grasp spirituality intellectually but run away as soon as they see no guide-rails anymore.
I think this is a more advanced part of spirituality – after the wellness- and love&peace-part: The gradual deconstruction of all misconceptions which gave rise to the egoic self-image of “being this title or that appearance”.
I think this kind of ‘dis-appointments’ (from wrong conceptual appointments with reality) is the latter painful process on the path of surrendering self-realisation – the pain only being our reluctance to let go of our ‘residual self image’ (as called in ‘the matrix’).
So in some way my second wave of nihilism went way beyond the first stage of quick disappointment in a single person – my entire carpet of purpose was pulled away from me.
Well. Good the rug got pulled then, if only to clarify how things are even though I bet it must be hard. For me it was done automatically as if some trapdoor opened and without consent or clue everything in the inner workshop of my life, the code level, had been changed. It might have been harder if I had been married to a method or path…I find it a little funny how when I read about theae world renowned teachers and I find that they say a few things that are right on and then suddenly go off on a tangent of some things that are so off the mark that I cock my head and wonder, no one else is seeing this? Nope. And then there are teachers who are contraversial and they have so much on the mark. I say this as someone who never cracked a book on Eastern practice of any kind yet found I inherited this awareness with kundalini awakening. It’s been like a puzzle with pieces in place that some great teachers do not have, but then some pieces I don’t have, that they do. I am glad not to have been part of a system because I think that would have been hard—it is hard when you think someone is something they are not. I do think, though, that going through this is a merciful innoculant against expecting or assuming too much.
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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”?
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:
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:
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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
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”
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.
after long thought I reply to a part of your belief system I don’t subscribe with:
” …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.
“…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.
” 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.
After 2 1/2 years I learned a few things I would like to share with you in the best will of inspiring you – not to criticise our differences.
This basically arises because we both had higher hopes for him, meaning we made internal “appointments” of our hearts, which then lead to “dis-appointments”.
This is similar to why clickbaits or wrong titles of lectures or movies do anger us, because we get involved in the hope for something else.
The way for me to solve this is to see him as a postman who did kickstart us into a new path -nothing more and nothing less. You also would not expect the postman who delivered the Siri Guru Granth Sahib to you to be enlightened or an angel – for all you know this can be the biggest idiot whom you stil may even tip for having delivered the valuable message. You certainly would not have any expectations in him being enlightened.
This is where 3HO is flawed, but leave it up to them to maintiain another cult – their Karma is down, whilst ours is rising because we don’t sell false prophets.
Sikhism vs Yoga:
After decades of having sincerely searched for the divine within me by the means of yoga I realise that a religious search for the divine Waheguru is as sincere and can lead to similar results as seen by mystics of all religions.
The only flaw or dowfall I see is if we are convinced that our path would be the only one and thereby discredit other paths. I did discredit religions in the past, and you the yoga, because it is not a part of original mainstream Sikhism.
Where we both can meet is to ensure that both should not be mixed (even though in Hinduism it seems to be the way).
Hence I think you do corner yourself when criticising Yogi Bhajan and at the same time discredit yoga as such, because people who are on the yoga-path can not fully agree with them.
It is like pulling the rug out from people who held on to yoga in times of need and expecting them to thank you for that.
This is the same as if I told you that Sikhism would be a fake and you should abandon it because YB was an idiot.
You need Sikhism as a guide rail to give you purpose in life, and in the same way some need yoga in general – they just should be made aware that this is a very arbitrary version taught by a doubious person, but then leave it up to them whether to practice it or not.
This is why Premka had so much more success than you, even though you did publish your book long before her.
I hope this helped and since I wrote many mails to you which you did not even have the courtesy to answer anymore (after you discovered that I am not that ally you wanted me to be),
I will leave it up to you to decide whether mental flexibility is more important than being right.
I for my part want to move away from someone like YB continuing to dominate me by summing up what I learned in a concise course and then move on to my own life.
All the best to you,
I think some arguments in the paper from “From Maharaj to Mahan Tantric” now are become false, Jugat Guru, principal of Miri Piri Academy academy, in Amritsar, and a musician of the Chardikala Jatha
come into contact with a son of Sant Hazara Singh, and he has photos, other anecdotes etc
Thanks, this is interesting to know, Angolero.
If you know of any details, please let me know
and if it is confirmed I either update this article or take it out of this blog.
For now, people at least see your comment.
I merely also did post the negative sides, because I did not find any website which displayed a complete picture of Yogi Bhajan,
so for that reason I am always happy to modify, add, or take away informations,
because it it supposed to be about the complete truth, and not about a tainted picture.
Angolero just responded to my comment by mail and his (unaltered) response was:
So basically he told us nothing whatsoever, and for any disgruntled 3HO-follower out there I can say:
As long as no one disproved any articles I leave them in the blog.
In the same way I also can’t take GuruSant’s criticism of Yogi Bhajan serious anymore, because in above comments I proved personally and uniquely researched sources within the Siri Giri Granth Sahib and he chose to blinkere-eyed dismiss anything which goes beyond his orthodox narrow view.
So both sides shun me for simply being open to all versions of reality.
Whatever – this is a quest for the whole truth, not just the version the mainstream likes.
Not so fast. Just because there are pictures with YB and Sant Hazara S. doesn’t mean that DeSlippe’s well researched article should be dismissed!
YB was a pathological liar, actually, and everything that he said that was false should be rooted out,
one sentence at a time,
one kriya at a time,
one idea at a time.
Thanks 4 your reply, I agree with your approach to root out false kriyas, which is why I only focus on Sodarshan Chakra Kriya, and I do explain in my course why in my eyes this stands out from his other teachings.