A Man of Peace
“If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God
Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, known as Yogi Bhajan to hundreds of thousands of adherents worldwide, left his physical body at 9 pm MST on October 6th, 2004. His passing took place at his home in Espanola, New Mexico surrounded by family and friends.
The cause of death was complications due to heart failure. He was 75 years old.
An outstanding pioneer in many fields with a deep and compassionate insight into the human condition, he established permanent institutions, created spectacular events, and produced a prolific body of teachings.
The first to publicly teach Kundalini Yoga, when he arrived in the West in 1968, he announced he had come to the West "to create teachers, not to gain students".
A deeply devoted Sikh, his inspiration and example motivated thousands to embrace the Sikh way of life. Through his personal efforts, Sikh Dharma was legally incorporated and officially recognized as a religion in the USA in 1971. In 1971, in acknowledgement of his extraordinary impact of spreading the universal message of Sikhism, the president of the SGPC (governing body of Sikh Temples in India), Sant Charan Singh called him the Siri Singh Sahib, Chief Religious and Administrative Authority for the Western Hemisphere, and he was given the responsibility to create a Sikh Ministry in the West by the Akal Takhat, the Sikh seat of religious authority in Amritsar, India. He was honored with the title Bhai Sahib by the Akal Takhat in 1974.
Born Harbhajan Singh Puri, August 26, 1929, in the part of India that became Pakistan in 1948, he was the son of a medical doctor. He spent his youth in privileged environments in private schools and his summers in the exclusive Dalhousie mountain region of Uttar Pradesh. As a young boy he attended a Catholic convent school.
When he became a United States Citizen in 1976, Yogi Bhajan changed his name legally to Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji.
When he was just eight years old he began his yogic training with an enlightened teacher, Sant Hazara Singh, who proclaimed him to be a Master of Kundalini Yoga when he was sixteen and a half.
During the turmoil of partition in 1947, at the age of 18, he led his village of 7000 people, near what is Lahore Pakistan today, 325 miles on foot to safety in New Delhi, India, where he arrived with only the clothes on his back. Displaced Indians were given houses in India and soon he was able to continue his education at Punjab University where he excelled in debate and was a star athlete, playing both hockey and soccer and earning the name "China wall" from his opponents.
After graduating with a degree in Economics, he began Indian government service with India's Internal Revenue Department, and supervised the creation of the IRS building in New Delhi. Shortly thereafter he moved to the Customs Service and become head of Customs at Palam International Airport (now known as New Delhi's Indira Gandhi Airport).
He married Inderjit Kaur in 1952. They had two sons, Ranbir Singh and Kulbir Singh, and a daughter, Kamaljit Kaur.
Throughout his academic career and government service he continued to teach yoga to people from all walks of life.
In September of 1968, he left India for Canada to teach yoga at Toronto University, carrying a letter of recommendation from Sir James George, Canadian High Commissioner in New Delhi, who had been his student. After two months in Canada, he flew to Los Angeles for a weekend visit. Arriving in Los Angeles virtually unknown, Yogi Bhajan met a number of young hippies, the spiritual seekers of that era, and immediately recognized that the experience of higher consciousness they were attempting to find through drugs, could be achieved by practicing the Science of Kundalini Yoga, while simultaneously rebuilding their nervous systems.
Breaking the centuries old tradition of secrecy surrounding the empowering science of Kundalini Yoga, he began teaching it publicly. With the yogic sciences of yoga, meditation, yogic philosophy, and loving acceptance, he gave the soon to be called "Baby Boomers" an effective alternative to the prevalent drug culture. He called it the "3HO" (healthy, happy, holy) way of life.
From humble beginnings, teaching first at the East West Cultural Center and then in a student's furniture store in West Hollywood, "The Yogi" was like a magnet. Students flocked to his classes. Soon he was teaching at colleges and universities, including Claremont and UCLA, and accepting invitations to teach in other cities.
In July of 1969 the non-profit 3HO Foundation (Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization) was incorporated in California. 3HO's service to humanity is through Kundalini Yoga, meditation and the Science of Humanology which improves physical well being, as well as deepening spiritual awareness.
In 1982 Yogi Bhajan oversaw the placement of the first Sikh cadets to attend NMMI, the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, New Mexico. Under his guidance these cadets excelled in all academic and athletic programs in which they participated at the Institute. They achieved scholastic excellence and graduated with honors. He is shown above with NMMI Superintendent, Major General Childress, attending the NMMI Homecoming ceremonies in 1983.
1989 Yogi Bhajan met with then President Mikhail Gorbachev and established
addiction treatment programs in Russia based on the 3HO SuperHealth
model. Currently a pilot project of SuperHealth is being formed by
the Punjab State Government in India.
1971 at the Celebration of Life Music Festival in New Orleans he shared
the podium with Swami Satchitananda and Swami Vishnudevananda. He
participated in many interfaith forums and conferences, including
the World Parliament of Religions. In the early 70's he helped organize
the first 'Meeting of the Ways' in San Francisco and was co-founder
of the Unity of Man Conference. He became Co-President of the World
Fellowship of Religions in 1974. He served on the Board of Directors
of the American Council of Executives in Religion and was a member
of the Interreligious Council of Southern California, the Rotary Club,
and the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.