"I came to create teachers, not to gain students." -- Yogi Bhajan
Sat Nam. Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, aka Yogi Bhajan, was born on August 26, 1929 into a Sikhi family in the Kot Harkarn, district of Gujranwala, in the province of Punjab (British India), in a village named Kot Harkarn in Wazirabad, part of the Punjab that is now in Pakistan.
Yogiji's father, Kartar Singh Puri, M.D., aka Papaji, served the British Raj as a medical doctor. His mother was named Harkrishan Kaur. Their's was a well-to-do landlord family, owning most of their village in the foothills of the Himalayas. His father was was loved and respected throughout the region. Yogiji's mother, Mata Harkrishan Kaur, made a deep and lasting impression on the young Harbhajan Singh. She was was a formidable woman of unshakable will and a staunch commitment to righteous action. She was well known throughout the village, such that even without locks on the doors, no thief would ever dare to come into the neighborhood!
Harbhajan Singh Puri married Inderjit Kaur Uppal in Delhi in 1954. They have three children, Ranbir Singh, Kulbir Singh and Kamaljit Kaur.
I have been born of a great woman, my mother. I don't need any woman after that. She was great. She was great by her own right. I'm not going to doubt it and nothing can make me to doubt it. I can see myself; little, crawling, and untrained even to do potty. And now I see myself as six feet two, great and strong. And I'm grateful to that blood, which she turned into milk to give me that strength. I'm grateful to God, too, but I am grateful to that woman. Wherever I go and walk, I hear her strong voice. Through her words she can cut through any insanity. I can understand and still feel that command. Nothing ever stood before her that did not bow. I have the image of her righteousness, her straightforwardness, and her strength. And in obligation and tribute to her, I feel that every woman should have that basic quality. If not, it should be created. -- Yogi Bhajan, July 1, 1985 Source.
First of all, today is my mother's day - she qualified herself to leave the earth after giving me birth and nurturing me. I am especially grateful to her because she nurtured me so directly that whatever wisdom I have, I owe it to her. She was very direct! There was a saying that I always remember from her. She would say, ‘The world is always in trouble. Don't look around just keep going.’
And there is another thing she would say to me, ‘Stopping is senility; as time never stops, you must not stop. You have to run fast to be ahead of it. Those who do not have speed like you have can never receive the baton from you. They can never run the race, so don't call them friends. If you rely on everybody's soul, you will never regret it. But if you depend on their humanness, you will always regret it. Earth is not your home - you are only traveling through it. If everything in life treats you the worst, that means God only want to see your best. Have courage!’
This helped me so much in my life that I can't believe it. She always understood these words, ‘worst is best’. When I tried to sit and eat at a table when I was a bachelor and young, she always told me, ‘Sit on the ground and eat in my presence.’ When I want to know why, she told me it was because I was a fast eater and she wanted me to slow down. She would say, ‘The stomach has no teeth.’ Her spirit lives on and this son bows in gratitude.
The kindest touch of the mother dwells in one's heart. It is pure. Her purity was power. She was so frank and so straightforward and her words were so good, it's unbelievable. She set a space and a base on which one could walk. The after-effect of her life on me is that I cannot see a woman let herself down, or see anything done to anybody which is a letdown. These are my mother’s words, ‘Don't let yourself down, don't let anyone else down, and don't participate in anybody's letdown.’ Yogi Bhajan, July 4, 1994 Source.
Early 3HO Time Line
December, 1968 -- Yogi Bhajan arrived in the U.S.
June 21, 1969 – First 3HO Summer Solstice Sadhana took place in Aspen Meadows, near Santa Fe, New Mexico.
March 3, 1971 – In a beautiful ceremony before a huge congregation, the Jathedar of the Akal Takht presented Yogi Bhajan with a sword of honor and he was entrusted with the responsibility to establish the Ministry of Sikhs in the Western Hemisphere. This was an acknowledgement of his extraordinary impact of spreading the universal message of Sikh Dharma through sharing the Sikh teachings with the spiritual seekers in the West, Sant Chanan Singh (president of the SGPC – the governing body of Sikh Temples in India) bestowed on Harbhajan Singh the title of Siri Singh Sahib, whereupon he was given the responsibility to create a Sikh Dharma Ministry in the West by the Akal Takhat ("Throne of the Timeless One”, the primary seat of Sikh religious authority). This was the first time in history that anyone outside of Amritsar, India, was granted this honor. He was later bestowed with the reverent title Bhai Sahib by the Akal Takhat in 1974. See Glossary of Sikh Terms.
December, 1971 – First 3HO Winter Solstice Sadhana took place in Florida. More.
Summer, 1976 -- America's Bicentennial -- The Siri Singh Sahib inaugurated the first Khalsa Women’s Training Camp in Espanola, NM. Women from all over the world were invited to attend this eight week spiritual camp. Mornings were filled with martial arts and physical training. Afternoons were spent with classes, ending with wonderful daily lectures by the Siri Singh Sahib. (Legacy Teachers can add to this Time Line here. See Yogi Bhajan's Mission Is On The March.)
Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Haribhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, Ph.D., also known as Yogi Bhajan and his wife, Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Khalsa, Ph.D., brought the Sikh Culture and Sikh Community to New Mexico and created a new Sikhi culture of transparency and inclusiveness as founded by Guru Nanak, the first Guru of the Sikhs. Yogi Bhajan, affectionately known as Yogiji, arrived in Los Angeles in 1968. As part of his mission to share the teachings of Kundalini Yoga and to help people live healthy, happy, and holy lives, he founded 3HO Foundation, Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization. He then established Guru Ram Das Ashram in 1972 (see below) where Kundalini Yoga in the West was born. And it was at Guru Ram Das Ashram that Yogi Bhajan first taught, lived, and shared his life.
History of Guru Ram Das Ashram
Arriving in Los Angeles in 1968, Yogi Bhajan began his mission to share the teachings of Kundalini Yoga, and to help people live healthy, happy and holy lives. He first established Guru Ram Das Ashram as a yoga center in West Hollywood, and it was here in Los Angeles that Kundalini Yoga in the Western World was born.
In the spring of 1972, we moved to the current location, a former chiropractic and hydrotherapy office, where it was established as a formal Gurdwara.
Yogi Bhajan lived at Guru Ram Das Ashram until the early 1980s. He resided in the small living quarters in the back, joined by his wife, children and staff. In that humble living room countless came for his guidance, the Khalsa Council was born, both spiritual and world leaders have been welcomed and our babies were named.
What is now our Gurdwara with marble floors, then served as a Sadhana room and Gurdwara in the morning, yoga center by day, and is where Yogi Bhajan, the Siri Singh Sahib, sat and taught classes two nights a week for over 15 years.
He continued to share his teachings with the Sadh Sangat (holy congregation) here for many years until his passing in 2004. Yogi Bhajan said, "I am here to serve anyone who says 'Sat Nam,' even once."
Guru Ram Das Ashram is a sacred place, where for over 35 years people of all walks of life have come to be healed, to meditate, to bow to Guru, and to find peace. The walls of Guru Ram Das Ashram now resonate with the vibration of over 1900 Akhand Paaths (Paths) that have taken place on a weekly basis since those early days, and the chanting, prayer and divine Kirtan from Gurdwara services that have been held here 365 days a year since its inception. Countless individuals have come to partake of the Guru's langar that has been served daily since the mid-1980s.
By Guru's grace, all of these traditions continue, with daily Gurdwara, kirtan, langar, meditation, seva and weekly Akhand Paths. Literally the birthplace of Sikh Dharma International, Guru Ram Das Ashram in Los Angeles truly is, to us, the "Golden Temple of the West." -- S.S. Sat Hanuman Singh Khalsa
The House of Guru Ram Das
In 1976, Harbhajan Singh legally changed his name to Harbhajan Singh Khalsa. His wife, Inderjit Kaur, known as "Bibiji" went on to inherit the religious post of "Bhai Sahiba" of Sikh Dharma of the Western Hemisphere in the 1980's.
First Lady of 3HO
influential of Harbhajan Singh's relations in his early development
was his paternal grandfather, Bhai Fateh Singh. Fateh Singh taught
him the essence of Sikh teachings and instilled in him a respect for
all religions. As a teen, Harbhajan
Singh spent several years under the strict tutelage of Sant Hazara
Singh who declared his student a Master of Kundalini
Yoga at the young age of sixteen.
In 1953, he entered the Indian Civil Service. Harbhajan Singh served in the Revenue Department, where his duties took him all over India. Eventually, he was promoted to the post of customs inspector for the country's largest airport, outside of Delhi.
his life, he continued his practice and pursuit of yogic knowledge.
His government duties often facilitated his traveling to remote ashrams
and distant hermitages in order to seek out reclusive yogis and swamis.
According to his own account, Harbhajan Singh immigrated to Canada in 1968. He left India after being urged to participate in Soviet psychic experiments to train special elite forces in the Soviet Union at their designated research center in Tashkent. The man who was assigned to meet Yogi Bhajan in Canada died in a car accident just a day before their meeting.
In late 1968 a bearded and turbaned Yogi Bhajan went to visit a friend in Los Angeles, but ended up staying to share the teachings of Kundalini Yoga with the already long haired members of the hippie counterculture of California and New Mexico. In effect, he had found his calling.
“It is the job of a spiritual teacher to poke, provoke, confront and elevate."
Special Note: Yogi Bhajan refers to himself as a Saturn teacher. "The planet Saturn is known as the Lord of Karma in many texts. Saturn manifests the lessons we need to learn, and forces us to face them. We can choose the easy way or the hard way, but Saturn makes sure we take responsibility for past actions, thoughts and feelings. Saturn teachers take the same approach. They can give difficult, tedious tasks to teach a lesson and reveal you to yourself. They are taskmasters who seek to confront you with things that you don’t want to see. These Guides ask us to face our fears and the very things we run away from. They push us past our emotions, and give us limits for us to push and test. Saturn is the higher vibration of the emotionally reactive Moon, setting boundaries and discipline with our feelings. Saturn teachers aid in breaking down the ego and false identities.
Yogi Bhajan described two styles of spiritual teachers, the Saturn teacher and the Jupiter teacher. Both look to the soul of the student, but each uses a different mode to evoke results.
Saturn Teacher: The planet Saturn is the only planet with rings. The rings provide limitation and constriction. The Saturn teacher is all about discipline. He specializes in always doing the unexpected and he “carries a stick” so he can suddenly “whack” any student who gets out of line. His role is to give the discipline and the limits. It is through limitation that we gather our strength and become potent and powerful.
Jupiter Teacher: The planet Jupiter is large, expansive, and full of wisdom and blessings. The Jupiter teacher acknowledges every student's radiance and always blesses and expands everyone. The Jupiter teacher is a fountain of happiness, enthusiasm, love, and joy. See Yogi Bhajan's Teacher.
The Spiritual Teacher
"Samskaras are the account of karmas you have earned in the previous life. The physical body was granted to you according to those samskaras. Then you make the karma in this life; samskaras and karma get together and that guides your destiny.
If there are very heavy samskaras and the karmas do not overshadow them, (samskaras can be either positive or negative, both ways), then a blessed being is given the opportunity to learn from a teacher who is a first rate teacher on the spiritual path.
There are three types of teachers in the Universe. A first rate teacher is a teacher who is very hard, very intolerant of the mistakes of the students, and he gives a crushing blow on every step. A second rate teacher is one who just reminds a person of his mistakes, and a third rate teacher is one who just pleases him. The harder the teacher is, the better one can learn; the softer the teacher is, the less one can learn.
All the time you are in a fight between the ego and the soul, the conscious and unconscious mind. A pupil understands a teacher when he does not understand him with his ego. Then he can understand clearly. If I am talking with a man in a room, and somebody is listening from behind the wall, he does not hear clearly. If he will try to listen from there he may not clearly understand, because the wall creates a resistance to the sound current. Just so, the wall of negative ego, when trying to intellectually understand what the teacher says, creates a confused state of mind in a normal practitioner.
A teacher has no interest in you, except to make you spiritual, self-confident, and fearless. That is the power he has and he will adopt every method to show you your weakness. If he cannot show you your weakness and your negativity, then why do you have a spiritual teacher?
A teacher is a person who tells you where you are at. You do not like that because it hurts your ego. So if you love your ego, don't walk on the path of spirituality. Then make money, eat steak, drink beer, have a lot of fun, have orgies, do something which everybody is doing. I'll say either be a crow and live with crows or be a swan and live with swans. Don't be a crow and live with swans, crows can't live with swans. It has a very weakening effect.
You must basically understand this truth; I want to make it very clear to you: if you want God, God consciousness, and spirituality, then learn to surrender. That surrender is not to a man, rather it’s to a custodian of Truth. You have to learn to surrender to your higher consciousness. Without learning this first step, you may have all the knowledge in the world about mystics and spiritualism but you are not going to achieve any results whatsoever. That is why we have given a basic surrender order to those practitioners who want to study—they must get up in the morning, they must chant the Holy Nam so their soul may become clean and powerful and their ego may become less and less and less. Surrender is within the self.
Our purpose in this life is to live in higher consciousness and to teach others to live in higher consciousness. But the best test to that consciousness is humility, selflessness, and sweetness. When you teach, teach with honesty, truthfulness, and straightforwardness. As a teacher, never compromise. As a man, always compromise. The teacher who compromises is an idiot; a person who does not compromise is an idiot. Because the teacher does not teach for himself, but for the higher consciousness. And higher consciousness will never compromise with lower consciousness. This is a straight law and that has to be considered as a law; that has to be observed as a law.
My greatest reward comes from those who have improved themselves; who have come here for this Yoga, this union; and who, upon going from here, keep the mantra in their heart. My prayer is that you continue to improve yourself and become better and better." ©The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan
Reprinted from Aquarian Times, Winter 2005
Yogi Bhajan began his mission to counter the drug abuse of the time by introducing an alternative and transformational technology in the form of Kundalini Yoga, which was unknown in the West. Yoga practice and philosophy was generally considered a part of Hindu culture, but Yogi Bhajan distinguished himself as a practitioner of Kundalini Yoga and meditation, a teacher (founder of 3HO, the Healthy, Happy, Holy Foundation), and as a Sikh. At the same time his high visibility as a Sikh, represented by his turban and beard, was a compelling attraction for many young people with whom he made a connection. (See WordPhysiology.com.)
The authority and role of Mahan Tantric, the Master and only-one-at-a-time teacher of White Tantra Yoga, i.e., self-mastery by way of obedience, was bestowed on Yogi Bhajan in 1970. See White Tantric vs. White Tantra. See TheMahanTantric.com.
Yogi Bhajan never tried to convert his students. Although he himself was a devoted Sikh, the fact that he did not proselytize anyone was an added attraction. He did not come to America to gain followers, only to create teachers by way of the ancient technology of Kundalini Yoga. (Note: It is not the customary practice of the adherents of Sikh Dharma to proselytize. Sikhs often express the term "Sat Kartar," i.e., "God is the Doer." In this sense meaning, only those with such destiny will become Sikhs.)
It is not the customary practice of the followers of
The Siri Singh Sahib of Sikh Dharma
In 1971, at Amritsar, India, Sikh leaders honored him by proclamation, bestowing on him the first-ever title of “Siri Singh Sahib”, i.e., Supreme and Noble Lion, the supreme religious and administrative authority for the Ministry of Sikh Dharma in the Western Hemisphere, with the responsibility of establishing the Sikh Dharma ministry in the West. It was in this capacity that Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, ordained Hari Singh and Hari Kaur as Sikh ministers, i.e., Singh Sahib and Sardarni Sahiba of Sikh Dharma respectively, September 1, 1973, in Denver, Colorado. He later proclaimed Hari Singh to be Mukhia Singh Sahib of Sikh Dharma in April, 1978, in Los Angeles, California. See Guru Ram Das Ashram, Los Angeles, CA. See Yogi Bhajan family.
"It is incumbent on those who know, to teach those who do not know."
A native of the Midwest, Mukhia Singh Sahib Hari Singh Bird Khalsa is of American Indian heritage by way of his father and the Cherokee and Modoc nations. Hari Singh is also a Certified Kundalini Yoga Teacher and Sikh minister, and since 1969 he has been a student of Yogi Bhajan, who is the founder of 3HO, the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization and the master of Kundalini Yoga. He began teaching Kundalini Yoga in 1970 and directed 3HO activities in the Denver, Colorado region from 1973 to 1984. His career as an Optician began in 1958 following active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps. Although currently retired, he holds active Optician licenses in Florida and Arizona. He is certified by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO), and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE), and he's a passionate advocate of a) the resurgence of the Optician as a genuine Health Care Provider, i.e., highly skilled Eyewear Professional, as opposed to today's eyeglass dispensers, most of whom are trained only as merchants or online clerks, b) the resurgence of three dimensional dispensing of prescription eyewear, and c) most importantly, the conscientious Hands on the Patient practical training of aspiring Opticians in the design and delivery of handcrafted, form-fitted eyewear. Hari Singh is currently a teacher/consultant with Opticians For Change and conducts Hands-on Frame Fitting Workshops, which are accredited for Continuing Education by ABO and the Florida State Board of Opticians, and sponsored by POF, the Professional Opticians of Florida. Also see OpticalGuidelines.com.
History of Teaching
Hari Singh has a long teaching history at numerous locations including prisons* and other other facilities as a volunteer teacher of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, and as a Counselor-Chaplain, which include the Federal Prison in Littleton, CO; the Colorado State Prison at Buena Vista, CO; the Youth Detention Center, Brighton, CO; the Orange County Jail, Orlando, FL; the Florida State Prison, Bushnell, FL; the YWCA, Orlando, FL; Sikh Chaplain at the New Mexico Military Institute, Roswell, NM; and several years as the Close Order Drill Instructor for the Select Women's Rifle Drill Team at the 3HO Women's Training Camp, formerly Khalsa Women's Training Camp (KWTC**), Espanola, NM, now 3HO Women's Camp. See inspiring account of one woman's Close Order Drill Team experience at Khalsa Women's Training Camp.
*NOTE: Hari Singh taught the first-ever Kundalini Yoga and Meditation prison classes to inmates at the Orange County jail in Orlando, Florida, 1971-1972; followed by the first-ever classes at the Florida State Prison in Bushnell, Florida; followed by, in the mid-70s, the first-ever classes at the Colorado state and federal prisons.
my experience as a teacher of Kundalini Yoga,
each and every environment, good
"A daily Sadhana practice is a must for any yoga teacher.
"People of Color who remain silent enable White people to remain ignorant.
"A wise woman is never old.
a woman all men are born. How then can
woman on this planet who values herself as a
A native of the Midwest also, Sardarni Sahiba Hari Kaur Bird Khalsa was a senior in high school when she met her husband, Hari Singh. They married soon after Hari Kaur's graduation. Their first child, daughter Ong Kar Kaur, came along in late 1964 followed by their son, Sat Kartar Singh, in late 1966.
Hari Kaur is a Certified Home Health Aid, and holds Real Estate, Mortgage Broker and Insurance licenses. At the same time, Hari Kaur continues to serve as a wife, mother and grandmother. And she's served as an administrator and Opticians' Assistant for her Optician husband, and as a Computer Lab Assistant at the New Mexico Military Institute. She continues to serve as a mentor to those in her Florida community. See Early Family Photos. See Today's Family Photos.
**Yogi Bhajan first invited the women of 3HO to gather in New Mexico in the summer of 1976. He said that to renew themselves, women must get together away from their families, work, and the pressures and stress of life. He said it is a basic requirement that a woman arrange her life so that she can focus on her own self. To serve this need, he created Women’s Camp, defining it as an environment of challenge and excellence. --
CLOSE ORDER DRILL
Sat Nam. Here's a testimonial from a former resident of the Denver ashram that was discovered online by my wife. It is one of the very few accounts I've ever heard that has also experienced a spiritual insight while performing Close Order Drill.*
One of the highest spiritual practices I ever did was Close Order Drill (see photos and video) at the Denver ashram. I learned so much about responding over reacting -- about authority over disrespect -- about serving others over the self. Thank you, Hari Singh Bird, the greatest spiritual teacher I ever had.
Reading this account causes me to reflect on my training and experiences with COD in the Marine Corps, and when Yogi Bhajan requested that I go to the Phoenix, AZ and San Francisco, CA ashrams back in the late '70s to lead COD during morning sadhana. It also makes me wonder why this is not a part of today's 3HO/Sikh Dharma experience as when Yogiji introduced it to the women at KWTC many years ago. I've often wondered too if people understand the technology and its role in teaching leadership skills.
Years ago---back in the early 70's my brother Joseph invited me to a 3HO Kundalini Yoga Intensive that was offered in the mountains outside of Boulder, Colorado. We had just lost our little brother and our family had suffered much before this sad event. I went with sister Mary Lynn to spend some quality time Joseph. It was a silent retreat with class after class of yoga and meditation. These yogi's were wearing turbans and called themselves Sikhs. I got up at 3:45 am with my brother to take a cold shower and prepare for the morning Sadhana (spiritual discipline). All of this was amazing to me. Cleaning my blood with pranayam (breathing techniques) and sweating through rigorous yoga techniques left me ready for meditation. During this retreat an American--Marine--Sikh--spoke of family and praying and living happy--healthy--and holy lives. I got Higher than a kite---acid and peyote were no longer needed for me to have expanded awareness. The catch was that Sikhs, being very aware and with healthy nervous systems, did give up their lives for freedom. How could I not be attracted to people who put their heads on the ground and put their lives at risk for others. Thank you and Happy Holidays to Hari Singh, Hari Kaur, Kirpal Singh, and Kirpal Kaur for touching the lives of my family, and for your courage and love. Sat Nam.
I remember that weekend very well...I was pregnant with Donalisha and I received massages and fruit several times a day. It was heaven! I also remember wandering off into the woods with you and being completely at peace. Thank God for Joseph's unyielding commitment to our family, also!
One of the cornerstones of Marine Corps customs, courtesies and traditions is our execution of Close Order Drill and ceremonies. These traditions are perpetuated from one generation to the next through constant use and practice. The “esprit de corps” of every Marine has been brought about by their ever-present feeling of pride, not only in their unit, but also in themselves. The preservation of traditional discipline, customs and courtesies, and the heritage of our Corps is our duty. It is our further duty to see that the same high standard of discipline and esprit de corps is not only preserved, but also further strengthened. These intangibles must be passed on to the future Marines who will take their place among the ranks of our Corps.
The object of Close Order Drill is to teach Marines by exercise to obey orders and to do so immediately in the correct way. Close Order Drill is our foundation of discipline and esprit de corps. Additionally, it is still one of the finest methods for developing confidence and troop leading abilities in our subordinate leaders. Marine Corps Drill and Ceremonies Manual
Those who shall not learn to obey shall never be in a position to command. Yogi Bhajan
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