Sikhism & Tantric Yoga A Critical Evaluation of Yogi Bhajan

by Gursant Singh ⌂ @, Yuba City California USA, Wednesday, April 28, 2010, 07:19 (2918 days ago)
edited by Gursant Singh, Monday, June 13, 2011, 08:42

The following is taken from "Sikhism and Tantric Yoga" by Dr. Trilochan Singh.

Sikhism and Tantric Yoga

A Critical Evaluation of Yogi Bhajan's Tantric Yoga in the Light of Sikh Mystical Experiences and Doctrines.

by
Trilochan Singh

Published by
Dr. Trilochan Singh
© DR. TRILOCHAN SINGH August 1977
This book is Copyright under Universal Copyright Convention. All Rights Reserved. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism, or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrievable system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, electrical, chemical, mechanical, optical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Author.
Indian Edition Published Separately
Distributed in U.K. by International Institute of Sikh Studies, 19 Caxton Road, Southall, Middlesex, Greater London, U.K.

Published by: Dr Trilochan Singh, Model Town, Ludhiana 141002 Punjab, India


Contents

Chapter 1. Sikh Doctrines and Yogi Bhajan's Secret Science … 1

Chapter 2. Yogi Bhajan's Adi Shakti, Shaktimans, and
Shaktis in the Light of Sikh Doctrines … 16

Chapter 3. Yogi Bhajan's Clap Trap Theories of
Kundalini Yoga in the Light of Sikhism …35

Chapter 4. Yogi Bhajan's Ego-Maniac Utterances 79

Chapter 5. Yogi Bhajan's Seven Years in America
and His Tinkling Titles 95

Chapter 6. Sikh Leaders without Conscience 116

Chapter 7. Call to Truth and Authentic Sikhism 136

THE KHALSA

Inspired by devotion, And awake to His Light, Singing perpetually, The Name of the Lord Absorbed in His splendor, Absorbed in His love; Even in error Never believing In fasts and tombs, Temples and idols, Or anything but The devotion to the One: Caring not even for Compassion or charity If God's thought be not in them; Caring not for penances, Nor for bathings, In the holy places. Discarding all yoga practices: Such a Child of Light, Such a paragon, Such a complete Man, Fully enlightened In heart and soul, To be the pure, the Khalsa Is worthily deemed. Guru Gobind Singh: Thirty Three Swaiyas 1.

The Hypocrite With Holy Robes

Like an actor playing many roles,
The hypocrite is here a yogi,
There he is a vairagi, recluse
Here he displays his hermit's robes,
There he sits in false meditations,
Pretending to live by vital breath;
Sometimes he bursts into a Song of praise.
At heart he is intoxicated with greed.
There he pretends to be a celibate.
Here he boasts of performing impossible feats.
In many places he exploits and misleads people
As a holy man carrying a staff;
Victim of avarice and low desires,
He dances the dance of a hypocrite.
How can anyone attain the spiritual realm,
Without divine knowledge and enlightenment.
Guru Gobind Singh, Akal Ustat 33

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO THE AMERICAN SIKHS AND OTHER WESTERN SIKHS

Whose devotion to Sikhism is unique and exemplary, Whose passion to learn from historical experiences and the lives of really great Sikh saints is marvelous, Whose zeal to study the Sikh doctrines and language of Sikh Scriptures in the original and imbibe its spirit is impressive

In the Hope and Sincere Expectation

That they will reject false doctrines and accept Truth as revealed in Sikh Scripture
That they will reject completely Tantric and other Yogas and be Sikh divines,
And accept the Sikh Path of Mystical Enlightenment in theory and practice,
And share with others their truly Sikh experiences and knowledge with humility.
That they will discard all misleading practices of yogic mantras, yantras, and stop shakti worship, shakti cult, and image worship of their Spiritual Guide,
That they will prefer to live in the sunshine of open life than ever confine themselves to the gloomy manifestations of ashram life, That they will choose freedom and religious living in open society and turn their back on authoritarianism, social, cultural, political, and actively participate in the national and international affairs of the Sikhs.

Introduction

I

The years 1976 and 1977 have been for me a voyage into the Unknown, geographically, intellectually and spiritually. I left India for England to deliver "Gum Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom Centenary Lecture" in Albert Hall, London on January 3, 1976 with only £3 in my pocket, the maximum my government allowed. The atmosphere in the country was very depressing. Political leaders, journalists and all suspects were being indiscriminately thrown into prison. For the first time I began to feel what dictatorship and a totalitarian system would mean to India and to Writers and thinkers. I considered this invitation a providential escape from the type of tyranny the sufferers from which, particularly the dissidents from Communist countries and Chile, won my sympathy and support. It is only in this period I began to really feel their agony and sorrow and it is only now I have learned to admire truly the moral and spiritual courage of the dissidents in totalitarian countries. I have no doubt now that the future saviors, prophets and martyrs of humanity will emerge from these creative revolutionaries.
Two friends and neighbors from my village home in India (Mansurpur, Jullundur District), Mr Jojan Singh Sandhu and Mr Pirtam Singh Sandhu, generously made arrangements for a whole year of board, lodging and other financial facilities, the kind of which no Sikh Institution could provide all my life for my research work anywhere. The hospitality of these friends, the generous extension for stay given by the Home Office, and money coming from my lectures and writing enabled me to do considerable research work and collect many out of print books and rare documents from the British Museum and other libraries. Besides this research work, I wrote a book of about 200 pages entitled The Turban and the Sword of the Sikhs to which Lord Avebury referred in his speech in the House of Lords, when he introduced what is known as the "Turban Bill exempting the Sikhs from wearing helmets while driving motor bikes" on the 4th October 1976. Besides this I was able to complete my work on the Sufi mystic Shaikh Farid, the Medieval Cobbler Saint Ravidas, and translation of two works of Bhai Nand Lai. Traveling, lecturing and writing research-oriented books is a task which is exciting and extremely difficult.
At Oxford University Dr Shamsher Singh of the World Bank, and Professor Balwant Singh of Bucknell University invited me to the U.S.A., and even before my arrival in this country had fixed up my lectures for a whole month on the East Coast. My life of lecturing, entering discussions with groups, and talking to individuals anxious to know about Sikhism has been quite a contrast to my life in India where I spent the last twenty-five years mostly in silence, meditation, research and Writing.

II

Brown Conference Hall, Bucknell University

When I left London on 23 March 1977, I received the happy news that Mrs Indira Gandhi's reign of terror had met the end it deserved. In my lectures at Notre Dame College of Education, Liverpool University, I had predicted that Mrs Gandhi's days were numbered. I expected a revolt from within, but I did not expect that she had become so unpopular that her own constituency would reject her so bitterly and mercilessly. At the Washington Airport there was waiting for me Mrs Shamsher Singh (Maldeep Kaur), a Welsh lady,wearing a Punjabi dress, Punjabi shoes and carrying her year-old son in her arms. On reaching home Maldeep Kaur gave me that rare oriental hospitality and comforts which I have missed in the U.S.A. and everywhere else. The first news I heard on the television that evening was that Mr Morarji Desai had been sworn in as the Prime Minister and had pledged to restore democracy. So far democracy has existed only for the Majority party and Majority community in India, since 1947, but there has been no real political rights for the minorities and the down-trodden. If Mr Desai really fulfills his pledge and restores democracy for all Indians, it will be by itself a great contribution, and I hope it is a democracy without corruption and without nepotism.
The next day Dr Ajaib Singh Sidhu took me to his house in Baltimore, and from there he took me to the Brown Conference Hall, Bucknell University where a Sikh Study Camp had been organized. Quite a good number of men, women, and children were participating in it. I had a good opportunity to meet prominent personalities from the whole East Coast.
This gathering was a very commendable get together. The burden of organizing and looking after guests pouring in at odd times, and maintaining the kitchen service was a difficult task and fell mainly on the shoulders of Professor Balwant Singh and his artist wife Bimla. Other leading organizers moved about mainly as what we in India call Bara Sahibs (bosses without responsibility). The seminar proved to be very useful to men, women and children. There is no such get together in the West Coast. This seminar could have been more fruitful if fewer rules were made and the introductory speeches of the organizers were shorter than the lectures of the speakers.
After this gathering I enjoyed some physical rest and peace as guest of Professor Balwant Singh, but not mental peace, because every time we got together for lunch and dinner tensions on Balwant Singh's mind came up and he poured his anger and bitterness against his co-organizers like Professor Harbans Lai and others, against their Bara Sahib mentality and their not making necessary financial contributions in time. When at the last dinner I was to have with him Balwant Singh impulsively started repeating the story for the umpteenth time, I interrupted and said, "Balwant Singh ji, for heaven's sake, stop it. No more of this." I know Professor Balwant Singh was bitter because he was sincere, frank and honest, and he intensely disliked people who talked much and did nothing. I was happy to meet Dr Chopra, an eminent urologist from my home town Ludhiana. From Lewisberg I went to New York and stayed with Sardar Baljit Singh Rana who had fixed a lecture in the newly constructed Gurdwara. His talented wife Davinder Kaur performs beautiful Kirtan and has brought up her children in quite orthodox Sikh tradition, taking care to teach them their prayers. I really enjoyed two days of stay with him.

II

Washington

I was back in Washington, a clean city, with 75 percent Negro population and better law and order than in New York and Los Angeles. I had an opportunity to meet members and officers of the Indian Trade Mission in Washington, and the Sikh members were very helpful in taking me around the city. Gurbandha Singh of 3H0 who has made some headway to study Punjabi language came to meet me at Dr Shamsher Singh's residence. He first told me what 3H0 was doing for Sikhism which I politely appreciated. Gurbandha Singh misunderstood my courtesy and became haughty and aggressive and said, "What do you know what we practice and how we practice." He even passed some insulting remarks on Bhai Jiwan Singh's method of meditation and Nam simrin, and went even further to say, "Is this the technique taught by Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh?" This was too much for me to swallow. He first insulted Bhai Jiwan Singh, a divine Singer of Takhat Patna Sahib. Then he started insulting Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh's technique. I have never slapped anyone, but for once I felt like slapping this incurably arrogant man, but then I thought this is the way his Master has trained him. He had also expressed his fears that within a week of my arrival in the U.S.A. many Americans who have left Yogi Bhajan must have come to me to complain against his excesses or about the inside working of 3HO. I reacted strongly and told him, "Will you stop telling lies and talking all this nonsense? What the hell do you people know about Nam Simrin or Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh? Why do you people live in fear if you are all saints and Khalsas? Why have you come to me at all? Get away from here. Do not dare to insult my friends and our revered Saints. I do not know what you people are up to." I went to the other room. Probably persuaded by Dr Shamsher Singh who was there. Gurbandha Singh came there and expressed regret.
Gurbandha Singh probably phoned about his encounter with me and to my great surprise Yogi Bhajan flew from Los Angeles to Washington the next day and contacted Dr Shamsher Singh in his office. He then came home with Shamsher Singh, expecting I would be there. But I had gone to Dr Pabla's house where the Sikh Children of Washington had got together and I was to address them. Among them were the clean-shaven grandchildren of our friend Gurmukh Singh Musafir, who could not speak Punjabi. Musafir's son of course was still a full-fledged Sikh. I enjoyed this walk with children for many hours. At about 9:30 Dr Ajaib Singh told me that Yogi Bhajan was waiting for me at Shamsher Singh's house since 4 p.m. He waited there up to 11 p.m. but I was able to reach home half and hour later.
The next day he sent Larry Singh early in the morning, and he had to wait for an hour before I could finish my work and leave. We met in what is known as Ahimsa Ashram of the 3HO. I was offered a chair while Yogi Bhajan sat on the mattress, looking sick and ailing. I have recorded the details of this talk in my U.S.A. Memoirs. The closed door talks which lasted for about three hours can be summed up thus: (1) Yogi Bhajan was absolutely frank in what he said and I believe every word of it. I asked him Is Sikhism the core of his teachings of Tantric Yoga? Which of these two contradictory disciplines is his basic philosophy? To this question he perhaps honestly replied that Tantra (White as he calls it) is his basic faith while Sikhism is only an off-shoot of his Tantric system. The reason he gave was that he believed Sikhism has no meditation techniques. I told him that Sikhism has more specific, fruitful, and spiritually exalting techniques of meditation, but his misfortune is that he has never studied Siri Guru Granth Sahib, and never cared to live according to Sikh Discipline. He frankly and sadly confessed that when he went to India in 1970 with 84 Americans, 80 left him because Nirlep Kaur lowered his prestige by insulting him everywhere. All except four Americans (which include his Secretaries Premka, Krishna, etc.) left him. He was upset on hearing that Nirlep Kaur had been given a good political position in Delhi Akali Dal. And he said he and his Khalsa Council were writing a letter to the S.G.P.C. and Akali Dal giving them necessary moral directions. It was this letter written by Premka Kaur which was published by Hukam Singh in his paper and a copy of it given to me by Shakti Parwha at Los Angeles. In the letter the S.G.P.C. is treated as a sub-office of 3HO Khalsa Council and Premka writes from a very superior moral position, and perhaps superior spiritual authority also. I jokingly said to Yogi Bhajan that Nirlep Kaur and he are chips off the old block, Virsa Singh, and it is quite probable that she has managed to please the unpredictable Akali leaders more than he could do. He has confined his material influence only to Hukam Singh, Gurcharan Singh Taura and Mahinder Singh, while she has probably won over all the rest.

2) Yogi Bhajan then said that the title Siri Singh Sahib has been thrust upon him although he did not deserve it, and he credited Mahinder Singh with all the honors he is supposed to have received from Akal Takhat. I did not ask him how he was able to win over Mahinder Singh to do so many irregular things, because I knew Mahinder Singh's techniques too well. Even the man in the streets of Amritsar and the clerks and peons of the S.G.P.C. know too much about it.

3) Thirdly Yogi Bhajan asked a favor with which I could not oblige him. He said, "All this I have built in my 7-8 years labor. Please help me to put it on firm footing." His request was pathetically sincere. I said to him, "For you, Sikhism is only an offshoot of your Tantric Cult and you have put in only seven years of labor. You are losing old disciples and finding new ones. All this is all right with you. I took a Vow and made commitments to Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh at the age of 19 to devote myself exclusively to Sikh philosophy, history and mystical discipline. I have put in 35 years of labor on it, and in my own humble way made some contribution also without any help from any Sikh organization or institution. Do you expect me to risk or throw away my 35 years of tapasya (intense labor) for your seven years of Cult Organization where Sikhism is treated only as an offshoot? Give up all this Tantric trash, commit yourself wholly to Sikhism and it will be my duty to stand by you and work with you. Otherwise you can guess what my position is. I have not hesitated to take the risk of criticizing Akali Dal or the S.G.P.C. on many religious and political issues when they throw principles and doctrines to the wind and when they selfishly ignore even our political interest; so if I find any doctrinal inaccuracy I will write about it. That is my duty and moral responsibility as a Sikh Writer and historian." At the time of this discussion I could not believe that Yogi Bhajan had carried his Tantric practices to the extent of insulting the Gurus and doctrines. Dr Shamsher Singh was there by the time the discussion ended and we had lunch together. We met as friends with some differences and we parted as friends with very great differences.

The next day Yogi Bhajan again phoned me early in the morning that he had booked a hall in a university where he wanted me to address his followers on Baisakhi Gurpurb. He had fixed the lecture two hours before the one fixed by Dr Shamsher Singh in American University. I agreed. There were about 65 American Sikhs (men and women). The arrangement was excellent and the atmosphere quiet and peaceful. After Kirtan some young men and girls lectured the one and same theme, and all the lectures were virtually addressed to me. They said they were Khalsa and they loved the Khalsa discipline but they felt very insecure because the Indian Sikhs did not properly appreciate them, and they have many other difficulties. In my lecture I pointed out that Guru Gobind Singh made it clear in the very beginning that the Path is not easy. It is difficult. In history our brothers and sisters have endured so much persecution and cruelty that during the 18th century there was not a single year when thousands of men, women and children did not have to lay down their lives for their Faith. But they faced martyrdom because their minds and souls felt firm security in their Faith and Commitments to God and Guru Gobind Singh. American Sikhs feel insecure because their loyalty and commitments are divided. The moment their commitment is only to Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh all their fears will vanish. I then said, "Here I stand firmly committed to the ideals of Guru Gobind Singh. If because of my total commitments to God and my Masters, all the Indian Sikhs of Washington and New York come even to stone me to death I will not move an inch. I will stand firmly secure in my faith and commitment to Guru Gobind Singh."
I then read from Rehatnamas of Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Nand Lai, that a Khalsa should not practice any yoga asanas, yantras, mantras and Tantras. If they are Khalsa in mind and Spirit they should stick to the mystical disciplines of Guru Granth alone. Then Yogi Bhajan spoke. Without trying to confront my views he spoke to them in a tone different from his usual tone. We again parted as friends with considerable differences and yet friends. Many American Sikhs who met me there, and later at New York and Boston, said that this Washington lecture was an eye-opener and very inspiring. It gave me the impression that most of the Americans in 3H0 are eager to devote themselves mainly to Sikhism. Professor Balwant Singh attended this lecture and would bear witness to what I have said. In the evening Yogi Bhajan gave us a dinner in a Chinese Restaurant. I have described the discussions held at the dinner in the book.

III

New York

I was at New York and wanted to meet Dr Amya Charavarty, Dr Rama Commarswamy and many other scholars, but for the one week I was to be there the Sikh Sardars had already fixed a night in one of the five or six houses. No one spared his car or left me free to go where I liked. The whole week was very tiring and exhausting. Mrs Rajinderjit Kaur, sister of Dr Atamjit Singh of Delhi University, invited me to 108th Story Restaurant on Trade Center from where the whole of New York can be seen as a thing of beauty. It was one of the finest evenings I have enjoyed in my Western tour, when the red glow of the sunset made New York not only look like a painting of Rembrandt but at least for one evening concealed all the social, cultural ugliness of the city, which these days has as bad roads as we find in our Jullundur City. I enjoyed the hospitality of Sardar Ujjagar Singh and his noble wife Gobind Kaur, Dr Harbans Singh, Jagmohan Singh Sethi and his wife Anupma from my home town, and Dr Sadhu Singh Agluwalia. I also met Giani Gurdeep Singh who expressed regret that while he was Granthi he was able to arrange a collection of about £2000 for Kehar Singh Bairagi, the Akali missionary who cannot deliver a sermon without taking wine. In a small gathering at Leamington in London, Kehar Singh Vairagi said in my presence, "It is Dr Trilochan Singh who persuaded us to continue agitation against Mrs Gandhi's dictatorship, otherwise we were prepared to make a settlement with Giani Zail Singh." Publicly Kehar Singh had condemned Emergency, but his private views were in favor of Mrs Indira Gandhi. This duplicity was not new to me. It was a shock to the people sitting there. I told Giani Gurdeep Singh that I have always been helped by friends who understand me. Kehar Singh Vairagi was a politician and deserved help, because he can render some favors, but what can a Writer and scholar give beyond books and lectures?

III

Pittsburgh

I was at Pittsburgh for a week and enjoyed the overwhelming hospitality of Dr Sunder Singh Chudhary and his devoted wife Kamal, of Dr M. S. Luthra and Dr Damyanti, Dr Surjit Singh and Dr Ranjit Kaur, and Sardar Prithipal Singh, son of Sardar Lai Singh Kamla Akali. Here also came friends from Cleveland and Detroit to extend an invitation, but I have not found time to visit these places. Pittsburgh, the industrial city of many bridges, is a beautiful place. About a hundred Sikhs that are here live at long distances from each other.

IV

Kingston, Boston, Hanover, Portland

At Kingston I stayed with Professor Harbans Lai who had fixed some lectures at Rhode Island University. I enjoyed my stay with Professor Harbans Lai very much. I had met him after many years, and felt at home because he still maintained a deep interest in the affairs of Punjab, because he was disgusted with the behavior and politics of his old comrades of the Sikh student Federation. This organization was created by the zeal of the young men and the vagrant ambition of Akali leaders. It died because the leaders lost their character faster than even the Akali leaders. Some have become Con-gressites, others informers of Congress Rulers, and yet there are others who have perfected themselves in the art of telling lies on Akali stages, by giving emotional speeches. Professor Harbans Lai's orthodox Hindu mother is always worried lest her son become a full-fledged Khalsa, although she is herself well versed in Gurbani. Here I met some American Sikhs, Pritam Singh, his noble and generous wife Gurdain Kaur, who sought Professor Harbans Lai's advice about their embittered relations with Yogi Bhajan. What intrigued me most was that Professor Harbans Lai was on the one hand encouraging Pritam Singh and Gurdain to stand on principles and not to surrender to Yogi Bhajan's excesses, while on the other hand kept the Washington Headquarters of Yogi Bhajan informed of Pritam Singh's activities. I think by doing this he was creating considerable trouble for both parties. Sometimes I have an uncanny feeling that wherever there are two groups, Professor Harbans Lai is with every group and everybody and yet really with none. Anyway, that makes him quite a well-known figure on the East Coast. He is everybody's good acquaintance and friend but no one appears to take his friendship seriously. He is associated with every Society on the East Coast but rarely gives his wholehearted participation to any one. That I think is the safest and best position one can take and also a very comfortable one. Although he did not care to send my mail which came to his address in the end of April, and even opened it, he asked me on the phone towards the first week of August, when I was at Berkeley, "What is your over-all impression about Yogi Bhajan and the 3HO?" I said in reply, "I have discussed my opinion with you in considerable detail while I was with you, and now I am writing my impression about every body in my Memoirs."
At Boston I delivered a lecture in the Boston University which the Professor and students enjoyed and ended with a fruitful discussion. At Hanover I stayed with Dr Manohar Singh Grewal, who along with his wife Gita have done more than anyone else to be helpful. They have all along shown great concern for my health and well being. They are highly respected both by the American Sikhs and the Sikh community in general for their integrity. I stayed at Portland with Pritam Singh and Gurdain Kaur, whose faith in the Sikh Gurus certainly surpasses that of Yogi Bhajan and the best among his followers. He is young and very enthusiastic and like all other American Sikhs has much to learn. His wife Gurdain, a very pure and noble soul equally devoted and committed to Sikhism, is a student of philosophy and music. Here I also met Gurdain's friend Lisa Davison who is making headway in her Sikh studies. The sincerity and devotion with which she is studying Sikh scriptures and Punjabi language is remarkable and her aim is to work among Sikh women in the Punjab. I hope and pray the Guru grants her wishes.

V

Modesto, Stockton and Yuba City

I was about to leave for England after six weeks of tour on the East Coast when I suddenly received an invitation from the West Coast. After staying a night with Dr Amarjit Singh Marwah at Los Angeles I went to Modesto to stay for a couple of days with Professor Kirpal Singh Grewal and Tripat his talented wife. Here Makhan Singh, an old patriot, met me and introduced me to many Freedom Fighters who are in their eighties and nineties. At Stockton I lectured and met some local people and felt happy to meet Sardar Charanjit Singh, who in my opinion is the best organizer in this region. With very short notice he arranged a lecture in a hall hurriedly booked for the purpose in Fresno and for about three hours there was lecture and healthy discussion. This is the one lecture I have enjoyed most in the whole West coast. Sardar Charanjit Singh invited some freedom fighters and their children to his house and we discussed some important matters.
At Yuba City I found an opportunity to stay with Gurmeet Kaur, the daughter of my dearest friend in life, Dr Gurdap Singh, who died in the Japanese bombing in Burma. I was happy to note that dear Gurmeet has imbibed many of the virtues of her father which other members of the family have completely missed. Her husband Jagtar Singh is a staunch Akali, who talks about peaches in the day time and about Dr Jagjit Singh's Sikh state at night. And when he talks about the Sikh state others dare not speak. I warned him that Dr Jagjit Singh's opinions may change once he is back in Akali politics.
I stayed for two days with Sardar Didar Singh Bains, a prominent farmer, who is contributing much in his own way to Yuba City Sikh Community. I was greatly impressed by the integrity and sincerity of his wife Santi, and her attempt to keep her children Punjabi in mind and spirit. I met the oldest Freedom Fighter Thakur Singh Tulli and his son Kartar Singh Johar. While I was with him Yogi Bhajan called on the telephone and he kept on talking for one and half hours, offering me the same terms and even much more for a total deal with him of the kind he has done with Mahinder Singh and others. I angrily refused. Kartar Singh Johal was surprised to hear the whole discussion on the phone. I also met Sardar Ujjagar Singh Cheema and Bhagat Singh Thiara for a while.
VI

Los Angeles

At Los Angeles the well known hospitality of Dr. Amarjit Singh Marwah and his wife Kuljit Kaur from Sodhi family of Patiala was extended to me with its usual warmth and courtesy. Dr. Marwah found very little time for serious discussion because of his profession and his hobbies: his horses, his wines, his dogs, his farm, his surgery. Yet he would personally rush to receive and send off guests that flow in and go out in a continuous line. Although he does not practice Yoga he is very alert physically and mentally, and compared to him Yogi Bhajan who teaches Yoga, is the bulkiest and laziest person I have seen amongst U.S.A. Sikhs. He reminds me of medieval abbots and mahants. He has neither the body nor the mind and soul of a real Yogi.
In Los Angeles about half a dozen 3HO leaders who left Yogi Bhajan met me and told me their positive and negative experiences. Later on Ms Theda Parmer took me to a film on Yogi Bhajan's first visit to India with 84 American Sikhs. (I have described the film in the book). The theater was full of ex-disciples of Yogi Bhajan, and only about 4 present day disciples, one of whom was an Indian Sikh. Many of those who were disgusted by the inside administration of 3HO by Yogi Bhajan met me during interval and when the film was over. They were neither Yogis nor Sikhs. It appeared that they went through an experiment and gave it up for good. The prominent leaders with whom I held lengthy discussions were Yogi Bhajan's first Chancellor Phillip Hoskins (Akal Singh) his young and sensitive wife Colleen, Filmmaker Don Conreaux, Gregory Wolf, Jeffrey Rubenstein and his father Albert I. Rubenstein and a host of others. Each had a very very sad tale to tell. It was difficult for me to disbelieve them, and it was still more difficult for me to check the authenticity of what they said. Their bitterness is taking the shape of hatred. The question they could not answer satisfactorily was why did they put up with all this for so many years. Even if one hundredth of what these gentlemen said was true then Yogi Bhajan has been consciously or unconsciously sowing the seeds of self-destruction within his own system. The sooner he weeds these poison plants from within 3HO the better for him. If their part of the story is to be told, it can be told and substantiated by them only. I would personally forgive Yogi Bhajan, if he mended his ways and methods and I would never carry the bitter reaction to those ultimate limits to which these old Comrades of Yogi Bhajan might carry. I also met Dr Balkar Singh, Dr Hokam Singh, Dr A. S. Grewal and later Sardar Chamkaur Singh and Sardar Hardev Singh Gill. I delivered a lecture at the East West Center founded by Dr Judith Tyberg a PhD in Sanskrit from Benares Hindu University. Dr Tyberg, one of the most respected figures in Los Angeles religious and cultural centers, described to me after my lecture; her own bitter experiences of Yogi Bhajan's three months association with her Center. Tears rolled down her angelic face and her body trembled as she described vividly some of the unashamed activities of Yogi Bhajan for which she has ample evidence. Like true saints, she is trying to forgive and forget.; I felt very happy to meet and lecture at the Rama-Krishna Mission, Vedanta Center now headed by my friend, Swami Swahananda, whom I have known for years when he was Editor of Vedanta Kesari and later Head of the Delhi Center. Even the Americans who attended my lecture in Vedanta Center asked me, "What is your opinion about Yogi Bhajan? Is he really a Sikh? The doubts about Yogi Bhajan being a true Sikh lingers in every person who knows him.
In Oakland I stayed for two days with Sardar Ajaib Singh Sidhu, a teacher who had fixed my lectures in Sikh Temple Bay area. Ajaib Singh is an old Sikh Student Federation leader. Now his sons are students but not Sikhs in mind, body and spirit. It is a pitiable sight to see teenagers in Sikh families growing as unspiritual and culture less Americans and not as disciplined Punjabis and Sikh children. This is happening where parents have taken a negative attitude towards Sikhism and are themselves reluctant to practice it seriously. But I have seen hundreds of parents who live a truly religious life, and their children are proud of their heritage and assert it in schools and playgrounds.
At Berkeley I stayed for over a month with Sardar Sukh-mander Singh, an internationally known Soil Engineer, a devout Sikh and a brilliant scientist, a fiery and orthodox reformer, and remarkable organizer. His contribution to the imaginative construction of Sikh Temples in Houston and Berkeley is outstanding. He is now the backbone of the new organization, "West Coast Institute of Sikh Studies." During my long stay with him I was able to unearth about 500 documents about Ghadar movements and Indian Settlers in U.S.A. and I hope to collect most of them, within the next few years. All this was possible only because of the generous hospitality of Sukhmander Singh and his tender hearted wife Charanjit Kaur, the youngest daughter of the internationally known Orthopedic surgeon Dr Karam Singh Grewal of Amritsar. While working sometimes 18 hours a day on research and writing, the gentle-hearted Charanjit who has imbibed many noble qualities from her father and mother was always there to look into my petty needs, the worst of which was tea or milk in the middle of the night. A fortunate coincidence was that Sukhmander Singh also worked very hard on some science papers of his own much harder than I did. For over a month we continued to work like two monks meditating in their separate cells, and the patient Charanjit looking to our requirements. The dynamism of Sukhmander and his deep and sincere concern about the fate of the Sikh community as a whole in its historical and contemporary perspective impressed me greatly. It was interesting to see Sukhmander Singh shouting loudly, "I will pack up from this country and go and work in my farm in Ferozepore district and live in peace," so determinedly that it appeared that he was really packing up, while actually he was hurrying fast to his Richmond Hill Laboratory with a mind excited and put under tension by his new creative experiments. He takes Brahminical pride in being a peasant (Jat) of Ferozepore district, and only people living in the Punjab know what that means. Ferozepur is the Texas of Punjab, and peasants there handle guns better than the plough or the tractor. In Berkeley University I was pleased to meet the eminent Sikh Artist Mahinder Singh Gill who is Associate Professor of Art in an American University. I enjoyed a night long talk with him, his sister in law, and Dr. Jaswinder Kaur at San Francisco. At Berkeley I received considerable help and support from Sardar Santokh Singh, Sardar Kewal Singh and also met Sardar Harbhajan Singh Nihang, J. P. Singh, Dr Janmeyja Singh and others when I had opportunity to address the Sikh Center Sangat twice. I went to Yuba City one day again to meet the saintly Bhar Darshan Singh.
At Berkeley a surprise invitation came from Guru Tirath Singh Head of Berkeley 3HO and Chancellor of the whole organization. I had earlier been invited to 3HO headquarters at Los Angeles, when a devout young lady, well disciplined in Sikh thoughts and manners came to pick me up from Dr Marwah's house. I have described that visit in considerable detail in the book. Guru Teerath Singh invited me to a Chinese Restaurant where Yogi Bhajan is alleged to be generally feted. Sardar Sukhmander Singh accompanied me. There we found Sat Santokh Singh who claims to be the Chairman of the Khalsa Council of Yogi Bhajan, and Guru Tirath Singh, a lawyer and Chancellor, who has replaced Akal Singh (Phillip Hoskins). Sat Santokh Singh is not very popular in the Bay area, but Guru Tirath Singh is highly respected for his integrity and many Sikh-like virtues. Guru Tirath Singh who is sober, gentle and reasonable did most of the talking, while Sat Santokh Singh with his left arm in the sling, remained silent throughout the dinner but kept on eying me like an Intelligence expert from some communist country. Guru Tirath Singh asked me if some people who left 3HO had met me, and he complained that some parents were taking away their Children by kidnapping them. He cited the case of some parents who took their son to Israel. I understood what he meant. I told Guru Tirath Singh that I have no conveyance of my own and I cannot go to see anyone. If anyone comes to see me, I listen to him. I do not necessarily subscribe to the views of those who for one reason or the other hate Yogi Bhajan. Yogi Bhajan had been courteous and friendly to me, and I have no other reason to be critical of him except doctrinal, where a large area of differences between us are there. I then gave him a sample of my doctrinal differences with 3HO teachings. I took out of my pocket Premka Kaur's article which forms the subject of criticism in the first two chapters of this book. I read some passages which I have criticized in the first two chapters and told him "This is undiluted nonsense and rubbish so far as Sikh doctrines are concerned. "I think Guru Tirath did not have a very high opinion of Premka Kaur and perhaps no one considers her a literary genius except Yogi Bhajan. I sometimes wonder whether these fantastic theories he has imposed on Sikhism come from Yogi Bhajan's brain to Premka's pen, or they go from Premka's brain to Yogi Bhajan's mouth and speech. Premka of course generally takes no responsibility, because she starts every idea with the words "Yogi Bhajan says." Then Guru Tirath Singh bluntly asked me "What is your opinion about Mahinder Singh, Secretary S.G.P.C? I said "He is a first rate mischievous man and the common man in the streets of Amritsar knows it." Guru Tirath Singh smiled meaningfully and understandingly as if he already knew it from his office records. I told Guru Tirath Singh that my doctrinal differences with 3HO teachings are very pronounced and I shall be expressing my views in the form of a book on the subject sooner or later. The book was in press at that time. We parted as understanding friends, and I hope the understanding and dialogue continues. The whole discussion took place in the presence of Sardar Sukhmander Singh. I feel sure that men like him, Ram Das Singh, Vikram Singh and Larry Singh and a few very enlightened women in 3HO in the younger cadre can do some serious thinking and save 3HO Organization from tearing apart between two opposing systems, and gear it to the service of Sikhism. If that is done sincerely, authentically, I shall be able to throw my whole weight to serve them as a humble Writer and thinker on their side. But if they try to rationalize their sins of omission and commission, then they will create confusion and chaos for themselves. I hope God graciously guides them and saves the best that has been done and eliminate the dangerous things which have hurt so many people to the point of war of vengeance.

VIII
Author's Stand

Both in the East Coast and West Coast of U.S.A there are groups of well placed persons who have been carrying on a virulent hate campaign against Yogi Bhajan for one reason or the other. It would not be wrong to say that more often than not, Yogi Bhajan has provoked and invited these campaigns against him by his absurd posture and curses which no decent and civilized man can tolerate. All the groups that have entrenched themselves against him consist either of his Old Friends and Benefactors who have suffered from his ungratefulness and taunting arrogance, or his 3HO leaders and Organizers until recently and were his immediate successors in the Ecclesiastical hierarchy he has built around him, notably Don Conreaux and Phillip Hoskins (Akal Singh) and his wife Colleen and a host of others. These leaders know too much but can say very little because they have actually participated in all his irreligious and unhealthy activities to some extent. It is something like some people in the Arabian Nights venture, "Ali Baba and Forty Thieves breaking away after five or six years and accusing Ali Baba and his Gang of criminal thefts. However, these old disciples are now prepared to go to any length and employ any means to demolish his system and see him wrecked and punished for what they sincerely now consider dangerous activities. How they do it, I do not know, but Yogi Bhajan is pretty nervous about their moves. I have sympathy for their lot and the sympathy they have undergone, but I have made it clear to everybody that I cannot under any circumstances lend any support to any hate campaign conducted against Yogi Bhajan. I can be bitter. I can be angry. But I cannot hate. And when I am very bitter about a person I do not write about him.
I have therefore long ago completely disassociated myself from these hate-mongers both on the East and West Coast, whether they were his old friends or his old disciples. I strongly disapprove of some of the methods they tend to be using which only unscrupulous politicians can employ to malign and oust their opponents. But it cannot be denied that Yogi Bhajan uses these unscrupulous methods even against his just critics.
There is a group which is supported in its campaign by Sant Virsa Singh, Yogi Bhajan's Old Teacher and the mistress of his ashram, Nirlep Kaur. They have been fighting bitter battles against Yogi Bhajan since his split with them in 1971 with poster wars and actual guns. Their ugly methods have so far rebounded on them and they have repeatedly failed to harm him even though a lot of money flowed from the rich of Delhi and U.S.A. to help them. On the other hand they have unwittingly strengthened his position. No ideological differences were ever involved in these clashes. The differences were purely personal and never ideological.
In 1974 a Society in U.S.A. financed Nirlep Kaur to renew the battle with greater intensity, and this smart and charming lady Nirlep Kaur did intensify the publicity campaign with the help of two young men J. S. Bhuller, alleged to be connected with the Police department, and Manjit Singh, youth leader from Calcutta. As the criticism was without substance, the campaign again failed. Within Delhi, Nirlep Kaur had a limited support as she still has, but outside Delhi, particularly in the Punjab she and her Master Sant Virsa Singh were intensely disliked for having mounted an armed attack on Sis Ganj Shrine to capture administration by force. The police saw to it that she did not succeed. Both Yogi Bhajan and Nirlep Kaur are Chips off the same old Block, Virsa Singh, and could come to terms if they wished to. Attempts were afoot to bring about a reconciliation but it failed, because Nirlep Kaur acquired a political position in the Akali Dal set up and Bhajan backers have weakened, and may be ousted soon. Up to 1972 Yogi Bhajan's wife, Inderjeet Kaur was in charge of an important section of Sant Virsa Singh's Establishment in Delhi. For a long time she hesitated to part with Sant Virsa Singh. Very reluctantly she had to do it like a dutiful Sikh wife. I met her almost every month during this period, and was fully acquainted with Nirlep Kaur's gangster exploits of which she was so proud, and which I condemned in the Hindustan Times, when her armed men occupied Sis Ganj Gurdwara and stopped the Religious services for nearly two weeks.
During the last four months every friend and foe of Yogi Bhajan has come to me and discussed this controversial man with a streak of genius for extremely good actions and extremely bad deeds. Yogi Bhajan is a Sikh by birth, a Mafia Tantric by choice but without training, and a 'Siri Singh Sahib' and self styled Leader of the Sikhs of Western Hemisphere by fluke and mysterious strategy. He has undoubtedly helped many people and taken them out of the hellish pit of drugs and homelessness, a great contribution by itself; to some he has given the right path but the wrong techniques and doctrines gleaned from his pedestrian knowledge of many Indian traditions. His disciples beautifully dressed in Classical Sikh style, a thing charming and courageous by itself, and not easy for those who do it in this country, are indoctrinated by utterly absurd doctrines of Tantra and hearsay mantras of Sikhism. Within six years he could have given them a detailed interpretation of Sikh scriptures and the best works on Sikh history; but as he is himself gravely ignorant of them all, and unable to interpret even two pages of Adi Guru Granth, he has been feeding them with mumbo-jumbo sermons, which sometimes do not make any sense. I have quoted innumerable instances of his abhorrent knowledge of Sikhism which would make a high school student from the Punjab burst into laughter. The sincerity of his followers is so deep and profound that even for their sake one would hesitate to criticize 3HO; but their ignorance and misguided faith may lead to a situation when they too may fall away disillusioned and disgusted with his false doctrines, and blame Sikhism and Sikh savants for not warning them and saving them.
I have listened to the painful stories of those who have suffered under 3HO despotism of the leaders. The underlings and children which were being brought up by a strange Spartan discipline have been the worst sufferers. Many have put up with it in the hope that they too would climb the Ecclesiastical ladder which he had built. I have recorded these sordid details of many incidents in my Memoirs and Journals. But I have refused to either encourage or help in the Hate campaign of those who wish to demolish him and see him disappear into the air. That is what may not happen, and I hope does not happen. My main concern is with those beautiful souls who still seek the Light of the Gurus and the purest ideals of Sikhism. I may not be able to do much for them but my sympathy, my affection and personal love is basically for these beautiful souls. I am prepared to go to any length to help them, in the way they want it, but not in the form they would like to have.
Yogi Bhajan has always been, to those who knew him, physically and emotionally attractive, intellectually Bohemian and repulsive because of rough and abusive tongue. His organizational ability backed by the brilliant imagination of Americans, expert in commercial publicity, project him as a person head and shoulders above many Sikh leaders. His Bohemian ways, his impious holiness, his liberal stance, his outward courtesy and friendliness and secret intrigues to run down others, his private admission of his weaknesses and his public declaration of his Messiah ship, his divine sermons and abusive tongue, make him what I would call a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of his own kind, a remarkably apt character for a Shakespearean stage. Between his blind admirers, who go into ecstasy on receiving every touch on their soft skins, and his virulent uncompromising critics, a Writer of my position has nothing to choose. My stand is for an understanding compassion and a healthy change in the Person and Teachings of Yogi Bhajan. If I knew that his enemy would be firing a bullet at him, given the time and place, I would like to defend him with my person. No bullets have ever been able to destroy any teaching. I admire him for many of his qualities which make him distinguished and lovable like a famous Circus Clown. He might not have taken the path of sacrilegious innovation and mixing his mumbo jumbo Tantric rituals with Sikh mystical ideals if thoughtless and selfish leaders like Gurcharan Singh Taura and Hukam Singh had not given him the license and authority to do anything he liked. These leaders are known for their ethically unstable bungling and treacherous roles in Sikh political and religious life, to which I have devoted a whole chapter.
"A Writer", says Alexander Solzhenitsyn, " is a government in himself." A Writer devoted to the Cause of Sikh Minority which has suffered for centuries under one arrogant Majority-tyranny after another, has to be much more firm and steadfast than governments usually are. He has to be a rock-like self-reliant Institution by himself so that the sovereignty of mind and spirit stands against all falsehood, against all cultural and political hypocrisy, tyranny and injustice. And who has suffered more injustices than the Sikhs even under the Congress Regime? I have had to fight many battles in the Press all alone. I have always preferred suffering for Truth, but I have never compromised with Falsehood.
When I was hardly 26 I had to fight a tough lone battle with the Communists in 1946 because they were helping the British to sabotage freedom movement. My second lone battle the same year was to prevent G. B. Singh's controversial book Prachin Biran which was full of genuine research material but nefarious comments from being banned. I had requested Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh and Bhai Sahib Vir Singh not to issue any statement against it, to which they agreed. Matters became worse when G. B. Singh was assaulted one morning while going out on a walk by the notorious Akali Parcharak Puran Singh. As the columns of daily papers were not available to me I had to wait till Sahit Samachar, a monthly brought out a special issue of the magazine. I wrote a long article "Hat ka nau Chowdhary" which fortunately silenced the agitation and prevented the book from being banned. For the past 30 years the Congress Rulers have been trying to destroy by sheer oppression the political ambitions of our people; and our religious and political organizations like the Akali Dal and S.G.P.C. have played a cowardly and shameful role at every moment of crisis. All I could do during this period was to publish over two hundred articles, pamphlets and protest notes in English and Punjabi Dailies for the just political demands of the Sikhs. At times firm stand had to be taken against University dons who tried to mutilate and corrupt history just to please the anti Sikh policy of the Ruling party. Sardar Kapur Singh is perhaps the only other writer who firmly voiced his dissent on many issues. My battle now is not against Yogi Bhajan but against his sacrilegious teachings in the name of Sikhism. My sympathy is with those Americans who are genuine seekers of Sikhism, and who are prepared to walk on this Path with or without Yogi Bhajan and not with trained hooligans who under his orders threaten and insult others. This is one more campaign for Truth and sanctity of religious principles for which I may have to suffer both at the hands of hate campaigners and the brainwashed and programmed followers of Yogi Bhajan. I have always paid the price of isolating historical truths from political campaigns of self-interest of the few. I will do it again. Even fifty years from now this book will have a meaning and significance of its own. An open inquiry should be held into everything our own leaders have done to misguide and mislead the American Sikhs by Five Sikhs elected by a Takhat outside the control of S.G.P.C. leaders.
I hope the Sikh Community will wake up from the sleep of apathy and indifference towards all the sacrilegious activities committed by our politicians in the name of Sikh Religion and Sikh Panth. Most of the American Sikhs are absolutely innocent as well as ignorant. They must know authentic Sikhism from authentic and inspired Sikhs. God alone knows how long we will continue to suffer these shameful activities of our politicians and charlatans passing as holy men. After years of silence I have decided to stake my life, my honor, my prestige to fight this demonic evil at all levels and in all areas of the lives of our people. Even if I am alone in this fight I shall continue to fight these decadent and destructive forces till the people with faith and commitments to doctrines and historical experiences of Sikh Faith rise as one man and wipe out these gravely corrupt forces. All over the world, people are sick of their misdoings. Even if I am alone in the battle, I shall not feel alone morally and spiritually. Guru Nanak-Guru Gobind Singh who pledged their Grace and Presence for those who fight for Truth, His Wisdom, and the Sanctity of His Doctrines will certainly be with me in mind and spirit. Into their Gracious Hands and their divine guidance I entrust myself, and hope others will take up this battle for decency and truth with much more vigor and much greater courage than vouchsafed to me.

Trilochan Singh
Berkeley 30th July 1977 Permanent address: Model Town Ludhiana, 141002 Punjab, India

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“Amid the legal infighting following Yogi Bhajan’s death, critics are offering another portrait of the Sikh leader.”
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