Who was Yogi Bhajan?
Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, known as Yogi Bhajan to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, left his physical body on October 6th 2004. His passing took place at his home in Espanola, New Mexico surrounded by family and friends. 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 vast 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.
Yogi Bhajan’s Background
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 would later legally change his name to Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji in 1976. 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. Later, after graduating with a degree in Economics, he began Indian government service.
In 1952, he married Inderjit Kaur: They had two sons, Ranbir Singh and Kulbir Singh, and a daughter, Kamaljit Kaur.
In September 1968, he left India for Canada to teach yoga at Toronto University. 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.
Yogi Bhajan’s Crusade
Traveling extensively in the seventies and eighties, Yogi Bhajan crusaded tirelessly to educate, uplift, and enlighten everyone he met.
His basic message was “It is your birthright to be healthy, happy, and holy.”
Inspired and motivated by his words and adhering to the practices he taught, students created music, art, and poetry reflecting the universal wisdom he shared. Over 200 books have been written based on his teachings, as well as a wealth of CD’s, videos, paintings, and sculpture. He himself wrote over 30 books including The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan, Furmaan Khalsa, Masters Touch, and Mind and Its 81 Facets.
True to his earliest commitment, “I’ve not come to gather students, but to train teachers” the International Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association (I-KYTA) and the Kundalini Research Institute (KRI) now holds teacher-training courses throughout the world.
Standing six feet three, his powerful and dynamic presence dominated any gathering. Fearless, outspoken yet humble, he could be both charming and daunting as the occasion required. His openhearted acceptance of everyone along with an uncompromising insistence upon excellence made him a formidable teacher.
Although Yogi Bhajan has left his physical form, he asked that his students and those who knew him celebrate his Homecoming. The light of his spiritual essence continues to bless all those whom he loved, and that is the entire human race. He is survived by his wife, children, five grandchildren and all those in his 3HO and Sikh Dharma families.