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Sects Yogi Bhajan and 3HO

Discussion in 'History of Sikhism' started by Satjot Kaur, Jan 6, 2008.

  1. Satjot Kaur

    Satjot Kaur
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    I am an American who is brand new to all of this, so please forgive my ignorance.

    I recently started learning kundalini yoga, and I wondered what the differences, if any, are between what Yogi Bajan taught and the Sikh religion.

    Also, please, is there a translation page so that I can more easily learn the meanings of the sacred words?

    Thank you.
     
    #1 Satjot Kaur, Jan 6, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 1, 2008
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  3. spnadmin

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    Sat Nam Satjot Kaur!!! and Welcome to SPN!!!

    Here is a list to help you get started. Vocabulary by Frequency

    Your first question is more complicated because Yogi Bhajan is viewed in some parts of Sikhi as a very controversial person. I am going to try to answer best I can because at one time I was also a student of Kundalini yoga, and stopped because I found it was distracting me from Sikhi. But that is just my personal experience and do not think I am giving you advice. Everyone has a different story and a different vibration that takes them to the Guru.

    Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan is infused with Sikh themes and elements because Yogi ji was himself a Sikh. He came to the US and was essentially appalled by what he witnessed. It looked to him as if a generation of young people were wasting their lives on drugs, alcohol, sex and aimless wandering from one movement to another. They were lost. He used Kundalini yoga and spiritual practices from Sikhism to get them back on track. He attracted a large following and many of them converted to Sikhism. The original converts, their children and grandchildren have formed communities and built gurdwaras in many places throughout the US, Canada, South America, Europe. As you probably already know the Guru Ram Das Ashram in Espanola New Mexico is a kind of headquarters for what was to become known as "The Western Khalsa" (there is an official name which I can't remember). Yogi ji and his followers have created a HUGE legacy. The SIKHNET - Sikh Religion - Sikhism Information web site illustrates what some, only some, of this legacy is. Many are prominent leaders in the political, artistic, religious and business communities.

    Now to the controversial parts -- or some of them. The 3HO Sikhs or Western Khalsa combine yoga with spiritual practice. They are vegetarians. Some are devotes of astrology and numerology. None of these practices are consistent with the mainstream beliefs of the Sikhs of Shabd Guru, and some mainstream Sikhs also strongly reject these practices. This is not to say however that these practices are at odds with the Shabd Guru, only tangential. Guru Nanak argued that these practices were in the end useless.

    Yogi ji was himself a colorful character and made political enemies in various Sikh communities in India and elsewhere. After one visit to Singapore, he irked a lot of people and was asked not to return. Somehow things got patched up. If you snoop around long enough you will find that he took sides in an argument in which a prominent scholar was condemned by the SGPC in Amritsar and Yogi ji took the side of the scholar in a very vocal way. (I can get you the name of the scholar but it will take some time because it is filed somewhere out of hand right now). It is rumored that Yogi ji had an interesting sex-life. True or not, these rumors are often used as ammunition against him and against all 3HO Sikhs -- which is really unfair and unfortunate. It does nothing to advance Sikhism.

    In the interest of fairness -- a worship service among 3HO Sikhs is no different from that at any mainstream gurdwara -- except that some parts are in English. 3HO Sikhs do all of their Nitnem, daily Banis with great devotion. Many send their children to study in Amritsar. Every one that I know is a student of Gurmukhi. They sponsor amazing seva projects sometimes on a worldwide scale. They believe in One Immortal Being, the teachings of the 10 gurus, and amrit or Sikh baptism.

    My answer may provoke some people on this forum to respond with anger. Do keep in mind that this is my opinion in answer to your question. It is based on research, personal experience, and personal encounters with 3HO Sikhs around the country. I am not 3HO, but I am a Sikh because the intensity of their devotion to the Guru showed me the way. So I have a spiritual debt.

    Do not be discouraged. Pick only the path that leads you to the Guru. All the best.
     
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  4. Sherab

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    I do not like yogi ji, and i will keep it at that.
     
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  5. Satjot Kaur

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    Thank you aad0002 for your substantially comprehensive answers. Yes, I would like to continue to "snoop" as the truth is important to me. I have seen some videos of Yogi Ji, and he did seem quite flirtatious - which does not seem in keeping with recommended spiritual practice. Nevertheless, he was a master, not a saint - two different standards. And it does seem that the greatest of men each had a colorful side that those around them tried to keep discreet. I understand, and I regard each act for what it is.

    Sherab, your opinion is noted. If you wish to leave it at that, so be it - yet it interests me that you felt strongly enough to state your opinion, but chose not to back it up with specific reasons. Of course, there is no need to respond if you do not wish to elaborate.
     
  6. spnadmin

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    It is OK not to like Yogi ji. He was controversial, meaning that people liked him or disliked him.

    Satjot, Your point that "he was a master, not a saint" is well stated. He never claimed to be a saint. From all that I have read and heard (his lectures, videos and audios) he acted like one who readily accepted his burden of karma in his lifetime, and moved forward with it.

    Sat Nam!
     
  7. Sherab

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    Satjot kaur ji,

    First off. Let's look at his website.

    yogibhajan.com .

    One.

    You see a banner of apparently "sikhs" using mudras. As an extensive background in tantra, and tibetan buddhism, i can tell you that mantras are used to focus the mind, and activate the flow of rLung (life force, prana) into and through certain channels, and have them dissolve into a corresponding bindi (drop, chakra) . Why would sikhs have a need for methods related to tantra and yoga, in order to train and focus their mind? Is Naam not enough for them, or is there something lacking in Sikhism?

    Let us move on from the home page, to the "About 3HO" tab.

    We see a quote from yogi Bhajan up top in a yellow box. Mine says:

    "“Happiness is your birthright!”
    This is what Yogi Bhajan declared on Jan 5, 1969 when he founded 3HO."

    Above that, you see another banner, with apparently - Sikhs.

    And after you read the first paragraph - you learn that he had a mission to spread "kundalini yoga and tantra". He never specifies what kind of tantra. Tantra itself means "thread". As you know, tantras itself, are texts - threads of instruction to enlightenment. The actual act of performing any form of tantra - is "trul khor", or physical asanas, related to some form of deity worship (buddhist or otherwise, i am using mainly busshist terms for "yoga").

    What kind of tantras does/did he use?

    Apparently, that is never defined in this section. Let us move on to the next tab - "3HO Lifestyle"

    Up top on the banner - more Sikhs. What are Sikhs doing practcing hindu and buddhist yoga, and using mudras? And what do mudras (hand posture) have to do with remaining physically fit, akin with yoga?

    Nothing i can think of.

    Anyways, moving on here, in the same tab - you can find links to numerology. I'll take a look at this later, and give you more info on that. He also gives you "recipes" to try. Okay, that's great. Nothing wrong here... But still some persistence as to why Sikhs are using tantra to find mukthi/moksha/rigpa...

    Next tab. Kundalini Yoga. Ah yes, here is what we've been waiting to see.

    First paragraph. Okay, helps you cope with stress. Good, nothing wrong with that.

    But wait - Here we go. Here is what bothers me.

    " "Kundalini yoga classes are a dynamic blend of postures, pranayam, mantra, music and meditation, which teach you the art of relaxation, self-healing and elevation."

    Why do you need pranayam - breath control?
    Why mantra? (invocations for deities)
    and music? All tor elate you to some source deep within?

    Let us consult gurbani on use mantra, pranayam, and music in another post.

    And what is up with the "Aquarian" teacher. Why is a "Sikh" so obsessed with western forms of constellations and astrology, especially when Hindus used sidereal (not solar) constellations for calculations?

    To me it looks like one big marketing scam....

    More in a second post on the website.
     
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  8. Sherab

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    Continuing where I left off.

    The next tab is about "Yogi Bhajan"

    "[SIZE=-2]The Upanishads, Hindu’s sacred scriptures that date back to the fifth century B.C., describe Kundalini, although the oral tradition reaches back even further into history. For thousands of years, this sacred science and technology was veiled in secrecy, passed along verbally from master to chosen disciple."

    Here again, he re-affrims that it is from a hindu source. What more should be said then this? The details is about the rest of his life, however - he does admit that he propagates a hindu practice, supposedly, as a Sikh. Is there anything else to be said?

    On the Womens 3HO tab -

    "
    [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=-2]Giving up our self-respect is what the word corrupt means in the spiritual world. For by giving up ourselves, our center, our relationship with Infinity, we deny our essence. Without the essence of 'I am I am' (union with Self) we cannot communicate...Communication is meant to share what our spirit is."

    Gurbani says that we should not entertain egoism, or a sense of self.

    Clearly, we see that Yogi Bhajan was a sikh teaching hindu yoga in order to make money, and start a business.

    More later.
    [/SIZE]
     
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  9. Sherab

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    Well, continuing to explore this site -
    Please see:

    Yoga Photo Yogi Bhajan

    At the bottom you see:

    " If you would like to make an offering/donation in exchange for receiving your spiritual name, please click here:"



    Why would you make an offering to someone who is not a teacher or guru?



    This guys, is now starting to sound like a cult.



    Now, to get onto that numerology i was talking about.



    All it is basic math - and tries to define you loosely. I suggest you all try it and see how rue it is. However, all of it seems to be the same thing ,recycled over and over - no matter what info you put in.



    Link: Tantric Numerology



    Next day is Gurbani to refute Yogi Bhajans ideas.
     
  10. Satjot Kaur

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    Sherab,

    Thank you very much for your elaboration, and I look forward to the rest of your statement. So far, there is only one thing I have cause to disagree with:

    No, actually, I did not know that. I am still very new to all of this, and am still even learning the basics of terminology.

    I very much appreciate your contribution, as it is leading me to a more well-rounded view. If I only wanted the 3HO side of this, I would have only asked the instructors there. I am here and there looking for the whole truth.
     
  11. Satjot Kaur

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    Oh, one more question,

    I tried to look up "ji" on the terminology link that aad0002 gave me, but I can not find it. What does that mean? Is it a form of greeting, or am I linked to Yogi Bhajan because 3HO gave me the spiritual name, or what?
     
  12. spnadmin

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    Satjot ji

    "ji" is a term of respect and it roughly matches up with the idea of "yes." In traditional Indian society a younger person would address an older person with "ji" (Example, Mata ji -- Mother, yes, yes?) which makes no sense at all in English. But in more traditional societies you would be indicating that you respect this person so much that you want them to acknowledge that you are speaking to them. The idea carries over into respectful conversation. So I say Satjot ji -- it translates to -- I respect you and hope that you will notice that I am speaking to you with respect.

    As for obtaining a spiritual name through 3HO. This is one of the practices that varies from mainstream Sikhi. I hope that we on the thread don't create too big a commotion about this.

    And let's all of us think about this. If you were born into a Sikh family you would have had a naming ceremony as a baby. If you are not born into a Sikh family, how would you get a Sikh name? Someone adopts you and takes you to gurdwara for a naming ceremony. You can wait until you take amrit. You can just pick a Sikh name. You can change your name at the county courthouse. You can leave things as they are, eg. Ralph Singh the Sikh convert, journalist and advocate for religious tolerance. You can go to the 3HO site. Options are limited.
     
  13. Satjot Kaur

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    Thank you aad0002 ji.

    I doubt it. My purpose in life is to help bring peace to the world. Here are a few links to help you understand me better:
    World Peace Online - Elizabeth Isabelle
    http://members.optusnet.com.au/~danrowden/Profiles/elizabeth.htm
    Home

    I seek the truth, but because I really do love everyone (yes, I often get eyes rolled at me for that one, but it's true), then I can make it okay. If we all knew the whole truth about all of us, we would be more comfortable with ourselves and our own shortcomings. More importantly, we would all be able to address each other's shortcomings as well as our own from a paradigm of love and healing.

    The world is not ready for the whole truth yet, but we are in a transition period to where the whole truth will be known to each of us about each of us. Right now, that concept would scare most people to the bone, but actually it is a good thing. Only by unabashedly knowing each other and ourselves can we truly achieve our full potential in Oneness.

    Although I never met Yogi Bhajan while he was alive, no matter what is said of him, I will still love him just as I love you and as I love Sherab. I do not love all of Yogi Bhajan's behaviors, but he did accomplish a great deal of good as well. He did say something to the effect of wanting us to be 10 times better than he was, and he did leave enough room for us to do that.

    Yogi Bhajan can not improve himself any more in that lifetime, because that lifetime has ended. What we have left is his legacy. I agree that sometimes it does look like Bajan worship and some of the women do get a spooky look on their faces when they describe his physical appearance. I do not believe that is what Yogi Bhajan's higher self really wanted. He did say that he was only the messenger, and that the important thing was the message. As a human, he had some human weaknesses. It is our job to keep the reality of who he was alive by remembering the good as well as the areas that needed improvement. Yogi Bhajan did some good work, and I don't want to see what happens to his work go the same way as what happened to Jesus' work. Not to speak ill of all Christians because there are some good ones out there, a great many of them really messed up Christ's messages, and the religion was inadvertently destroyed by leaders trying to bury Christ's human side, and only deliver the parts they agreed with, and even altered some of the more important messages.

    I do not want to see a rift form between 3HO and the original Sikh religion as there was a rift between Jews and Christians. Actually, I want to help heal that rift. Somehow long ago, there formed a rift between Muslims and Jews in much the same way, but the details of that are well buried. It is quite difficult to repair a rift that we do not understand, and impossible to repair unless we understand it the best that we can. Right now, 3 sons of God are killing each other over Jerusalem. That is not the way, and it is against the teachings of all 3. If we do not understand our shortcomings with love, that is what we are reduced to.

    Do not worry about raising too big of a commotion (Yogi Bhajan himself never worried about that, so why should his followers?). As long as the commotion is raised with love, it will not be too big of a commotion.
     
  14. Sherab

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    Hi Satjot, if you are looking for more information on tantras - here are a few excerpts.

    tantra(s) (Skt. / Tib. gyu): Literally, "thread" or "continuity." Root scriptures of vajrayana Buddhism, this esoteric collection of texts are ascribed to the Buddha Shakyamuni in certain of his manifestations. Each usually describes the mandala and practice associated with a particular yidam. Tantra also is a synonym for vajrayana.

    From: BodhiPath Glossary

    Basically, these tantras - such as the Kalachakra tantra - are heavily symbolic (such as having se, drinking blood, etc.) symbolizing an inner process of change related to the 2 main channels in the body, and the 10s of thousands of radial channels, as well. The tantra itself is the codified text. This text is then explained by the master, the Lama, and the actual meaning becomes clear. For example, __________ Tantra (we'll go with hevajra) tells you to go kill 3 men while chanting some weird mantra. You would probably think someone was insane. However, those "3 men" are lust, ignorance, and anger - emotions that are to be destroyed inwardly (with no harm to others). Basically, the tantras are faster because they use real life examples to better imagine, and activate an inner meaning, that parallels with something we can already think of, in the outside world.

    Later today, i will get onto posting those Gurbani Sources.

    Aad-ji, thank you for clarifying what i meant about the whole "ji" topic. :D
     
  15. Sherab

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    So, as for gurbani sources against the practices of yogi Bhajan.

    First off I said -

    " You see a banner of apparently "sikhs" using mudras ... in order to train and focus their mind? Is Naam not enough for them, or is there something lacking in Sikhism?"

    And here is why I am perplexed. From Ang (page) 1348 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (hereby SGGS):

    ਭਗਉਤੀ ਮੁਦ੍ਰਾ ਮਨੁ ਮੋਹਿਆ ਮਾਇਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ
    The sacred mudras - ritualistic hand gestures - are made, but the mind remains enticed by Maya. ||1||Pause||

    You can view the whole Shabad here:

    Sri Granth: Shabad/Paurhi/Salok SGGS Page 1348

    If you read the full thing, it will make alot of sense.

    Second, I said:

    "
    And after you read the first paragraph - you learn that he had a mission to spread "kundalini yoga and tantra". He never specifies what kind of tantra."

    From Ang 196 of SGGS:

    All medicines and remedies, mantras and tantras are nothing more than ashes.
    Enshrine the Creator Lord within your heart. ||3||

    All the practices you could ever do with mantra, any form of yoga you could do, any form of tantric meditation or practice - WILL NOT lead you to God. the Naam will not enter your heart - you will be to distracted with outside ritual purity to even focus on the name of God within.

    Here is another shabad against use of mantras and yoga:
    Sri Granth: Shabad/Paurhi/Salok SGGS Page 477

    Further on Ang 866 of SGGS, we read:

    My Tantra and Mantra is to meditate, to vibrate upon the Lord God.

    Source: Sri Granth: Shabad/Paurhi/Salok SGGS Page 866

    This is where most who practice mantras, yoga, and tantra would say here that Guru Arjan Dev is saying the practice of all of that is okay if you focus on God - however - It is rather saying that to vibrate on the Lord is HIGHER then tantra. In the next few lines we see:

    Illnesses and pains are dispelled, meditating on God.

    Mantras have many purposes. some of these is too cure disease. Some people use yoga to cure an affliction in their body. None of these works as well as alone, meditating on God.

    Man bāʼncẖẖaṯ pūran fal pā*ė. ||3||
    the fruits of mind's desires are fulfilled.

    Next, I said:

    "
    But wait - Here we go. Here is what bothers me.

    " "Kundalini yoga classes are a dynamic blend of postures, pranayam, mantra, music and meditation, which teach you the art of relaxation, self-healing and elevation." "

    Let us look at what gurbani thinks about these.

    they perform worship services, wear ceremonial religious marks on their foreheads, and take ritual cleansing baths at sacred shrines of pilgrimage.
    They perform the inner cleansing practice with water and adopt the eighty-four Yogic postures; but still, they find no peace in any of these. ||2||

    Source:

    Sri Granth: Shabad/Paurhi/Salok SGGS Page 98

    You cannot find peace in any Yogic postures, according to Gurbani. However, it does say:

    By His Mercy, I have met the Holy Saint.
    My mind and body have been cooled and soothed; I have been blessed with patience and composure.
    The Immortal Lord God has come to dwell within my heart. Nanak sings the songs of joy to the Lord. ||4||5||12||

    This verse is from Guru Arjan Dev himself - he had met the Holy Saint, God. The only way to find peace is to chant the Naam, and enshrine god in your heart - then any other methods of Yoga are fruitless.

    Please read this whole shabad, it is useless to quote the whole thing here.

    Sri Granth: Shabad/Paurhi/Salok SGGS Page 208

    Yoga is useless if we do not enshrine love for God in our hearts, and stop relying on yogic methods.

    In fact, Kabir even says:

    In the cave of silence, dwell in your Yogic posture; let the subjugation of desire be your spiritual path. ||1||

    Source: Sri Granth: Shabad/Paurhi/Salok SGGS Page 334

    I will add more also, later, as i compose my thoughts, with the grace of Waheguru.
     
    #14 Sherab, Jan 9, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2016
  16. spnadmin

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    Satjot ji

    You are an idealist -- so it is good to meet you -- idealists let the rest of us know what the blue sky may contain. They dare to look in that direction.

    Yogi ji never claimed to be either a great man or a saint. In fact he was a very pragmatic individual. His early university training was in economics. He worked in the Internal Revenue Office in India. After relocating in the US he started numerous enterprises which are still flourishing -- e.g., Yogi Teas, Peace Cereals. An astute business man and someone who understood the American political system. Early on he became actively involved in local and national politics. This tells me he was a fighter and a survivor who knew how to function in the world of culture and society.

    Flawed and Amazing. Totally focused.
     
  17. Satjot Kaur

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    Thank you both. Sherab, I will read as you have asked. You have given me much to contemplate, and I do enjoy contemplation.

    Blessings to you both.
     
  18. Lionchild

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    sorry to jump in, but sadly, that is what will happen.. it has already effectively became a sect of sikhi when they created their own rehit, and code of standards for its followers.

    They have some good concepts, but they also have some weird ways :hmm:
     
  19. Satjot Kaur

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    I figure that God must love variety because E made such an abundance of it.
     
  20. Sherab

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    I agree, but that doesn't mean all of the variety is correct.. Therefore, we could just be manmukh, say we love god, and engage in 5 evils, etc.

    It's just a different variety of God, correct, so it's okay?

    Meant in a non-harsh way. :)
     
  21. Satjot Kaur

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    Re: Yogi Bajan and 3HO

    A beagle is a variety of dog. A pit bull is a variety of dog. A Siamese is a variety of cat. Dogs and cats are both varieties of animals, but they are different kinds of animals. If what is asked for is a variety of animal, then a pit bull would be okay. If what is asked for is a variety of cat, then a pit bull would not be okay. That doesn't mean that there is anything inherently not okay with the pit bull, it is just that it is not a cat, and it was a cat that was asked for.
     

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