Deslippe & Stukin: How "Siri Singh Sahib" Yogi Bhajan Created An Empire
After months of reporting, dozens of interviews and thousands of document pages, Baaz exposes how Yogi Bhajan’s claimed title of Siri Singh Sahib enabled the Yogi to abuse generations of his followers
Philip Deslippe and Stacie Stukin
July 19, 2022 | 20 min. read | Original Reporting
In 1970 Yogi Bhajan, a former New Delhi airport customs officer turned yoga teacher, took 84 American hippies on a pilgrimage to India to practice yoga, meditate, and sightsee.
The group stayed with Yogi Bhajan’s teacher Sant Virsa Singh, but Yogi Bhajan had a falling out with the teacher and the trip changed radically. In the middle of an election season, Yogi Bhajan presented himself as a missionary who could convert young Americans to Sikhi, and he bussed the Americans to villages where they performed basic Kirtan for a curious Punjabi audience. After a few months, this impromptu tour reached Amritsar.
When the group arrived at the Sri Harmandir Sahib, also popularly known as the Golden Temple, Andrew Ungerleider, who earlier in the trip demonstrated yoga postures for Indira Gandhi at her residence in New Delhi said, “There was a huge fight between Yogi Bhajan and the Sikhs. They (the Sikhs) didn’t do yoga and questioned who he (Yogi Bhajan) was to claim to be anyone.”
Some of these yoga tourists, who knew little about Sikhi, took Amrit and became members of the Khalsa. Their conversions were a surprise, even to the initiates. “We had no idea what we were doing,” said Claudia Meyers, who was on that three-month long trip 50 years ago. “I didn’t know my Banis, I didn’t know the five Ks, I didn’t know the ceremony was affirming an agreement to live the life of a Sikh.”
Yet, she found herself in the heart of the Golden Temple and with no explanation, she watched as sugar and water were mixed with a sword and sprinkled on her eyes and hair for the Amrit ceremony.
Meyers apologized for blindly following Yogi Bhajan’s plan. “I now understand that this could cause Indian Sikhs to be furious with Yogi Bhajan. What we did was a desecration of a sacred ceremony, and it was not appropriate.”
From this chaotic moment emerged an unprecedented claim to Sikh religious authority. Yogi Bhajan and his authorized biographers claimed that Sant Chanan Singh, then president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), an elected body that oversees Sikh sites of worship in Punjab and Northern India, acknowledged Yogi Bhajan as the “Siri Singh Sahib” and made him “Chief Religious and Administrative Authority for the Western Hemisphere.”
When Yogi Bhajan returned to the United States, he used this claimed religious authority to corporatize his version of Sikhi under American law and went on to acquire real estate, personal inheritances and helm successful natural food corporations like Yogi Tea, and Akal Security which reportedly secured over a billion dollars in United States government contracts. His reach also included non-profit organizations such as SikhNet, and he exercised spiritual control over his followers and their families.
Over the years, Sikhs in India and the United States contested the title, yet it stuck, and the currency of the “Siri Singh Sahib” title enabled Yogi Bhajan to financially exploit and sexually abuse generations of his devotees, who considered him to be like a pope of the Sikhs.
In 2020, fifty years after Yogi Bhajan took that group of hippies to India, the Siri Singh Sahib title became consequential again when a commissioned investigation by An Olive Branch, a consultancy guided by Buddhist principles, concluded that Yogi Bhajan “more likely than not” perpetrated a range of abuses against dozens of women and female minors that included rape, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment.
One Yogi Bhajan defender told An Olive Branch, “Yogi Bhajan is not a random priest. He is like Christ or the Buddha.” The report stated such god-like reverence for Bhajan “created an environment that facilitated Yogi Bhajan’s sexual and related misconduct.”
In June 2022, the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation (SSSC), the organization that survives Yogi Bhajan, acknowledged harms perpetrated by Yogi Bhajan and others in the community, when they announced a reparations program for those claiming sexual abuse, physical abuse, and emotional or mental harm that would offer financial settlements and institutional changes to prevent future mistreatment.
The reparations program website states in part, “While we cannot claim to know the full extent of each person’s pain, we deeply regret all suffering in our community, including the abuse, neglect and other serious harms that have been shared by women, members of the next generation, and others.”
After repeated requests, a press representative for the SSSC declined to comment.
A Brotherhood and a Corporation
“They took me before the Akal Takhat, they gave me the sword, they told me, ‘you are Siri Singh Sahib’.” - Yogi Bhajan to students at a Gurdwara in Mexico City, Mexico, April 28, 1985
Harbhajan Singh Puri (1929-2004) was born in the town of Gujranwala, now part of Pakistan. In 1968, he immigrated to Los Angeles, started teaching what he claimed was an ancient, previous secret form of yoga he called Kundalini, and became known as Yogi Bhajan. His student base grew among hippies who wanted to get off drugs and get closer to God, he opened an ashram in Los Angeles and established his Happy Healthy Holy Organization or 3HO.
He gave his students spiritual names, arranged their marriages, advised them to become vegetarians, and told them what to wear (white with turbans). He even told them when to be intimate with their spouses. Each day, they woke up before sunrise for hours of yoga and chanting, and they created communal ashrams with yoga studios throughout the United States and Europe.
They referred to themselves as “householder yogis” and many started small businesses like bakeries, restaurants, health food distributors, and landscaping services. Large numbers of his followers formally converted to Sikhi and adopted the last name of Khalsa.
3HO rapidly expanded and Yogi Bhajan’s teachings became an all-encompassing prescriptive lifestyle. But for Sikhs outside 3HO, this combination of yoga and Sikhi was unusual, especially since the Sikh tradition critiques yoga.
"Yoga plays no role whatsoever in the spiritual lives of Sikhs beyond 3HO, either historically or now presently," said Balbinder Singh Bhogal, the Sardarni Kuljit Kaur Bindra Chair in Sikh Studies at Hofstra University, New York, who wrote an academic article entitled Sikhi(sm), Yoga and Meditation.
Within a few years, the counterculture hippies became a religious community with yoga, Sikhi, and Yogi Bhajan, at its center.
The late Philip Hoskins, an attorney and former 3HO member, said in a 2014 interview that Yogi Bhajan became more focused on how he could make money. According to sources who knew Hoskins, the lawyer advised Yogi Bhajan that the best way to control his organization with little financial or government scrutiny was to legally formalize his brand of Sikhi and create a corporation sole.
Unlike regular corporations, a corporation sole gives a single person the power to manage a religion without interference from shareholders, a board of directors, or conflicts of interest. A corporation sole can buy and sell assets, accept donations, loan money, create new businesses and non-profit organizations, as well as appoint and dismiss employees at will. In the United States, most corporations sole are administered by titled religious officers, like a Roman Catholic bishop who oversees a diocese of the Church.
"He loved the idea of incorporating himself and being a nonprofit all by himself," said Pamela Saharah Dyson, who authored a memoir in 2020 entitled “Premka: White Bird in a Golden Cage: My Life with Yogi Bhajan”, about her clandestine sexual relationship with Yogi Bhajan and her time as a top ranking member of 3HO. "He did it (as a corporation sole) because he wanted that much autonomy and all the control for himself."
To create his corporation sole, Yogi Bhajan needed a religion and a title. In March of 1973, Hoskins, Yogi Bhajan, and Dyson signed documents in Los Angeles that established the “Sikh Dharma Brotherhood” as a non-profit religious corporation with Yogi Bhajan listed as “Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Puri.” Although Yogi Bhajan claimed that in 1971 he received the Siri Singh Sahib title in India, this was the first time the title appeared in print.
The Gurdwara Gazette, the official periodical of the SGPC, made no mention of the title in their extensive coverage of his 1971 visit and referred to Yogi Bhajan as “Sardar Harbhajan Singh” and “Jogi Ji.”
In 1975, the state of California approved the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation (SSSC), a corporation sole, giving Yogi Bhajan control over all entities that fell under its auspices.
Around the same time, Beads of Truth, 3HO’s official publication, ran an article that stated: “It is time for us to learn to use the title ‘Siri Singh Sahib’ and ‘His Holiness’ when referring to Yogi-Bhajan-ji because the honor and dignity of the position he holds does require that consciousness and that vibration. It is a good opportunity for us also to be made more aware of the great responsibility that he holds as Chief Administrative and Religious Authority for the Sikh Dharma of the entire Western Hemisphere, Asia Minor and Japan.”
Ajai Singh Khalsa, a lawyer who after Yogi Bhajan’s death in 2004 became CEO and a board member of Yogi Bhajan’s religious organization Sikh Dharma International, compared the power Yogi Bhajan wielded under this new structure to the most famous corporation sole in the world -- the Queen of England.
“In a corporation sole, control and ownership lie in the same person," he explained. “The corporation sole of Yogi Bhajan functionally created a legitimate business monarchy.”
Yogi Bhajan created the illusion of democracy by establishing a ruling body called the Khalsa Council, composed of his junior and senior Sikh Dharma ministers. In a 1976 lecture in Florida Yogi Bhajan described the Khalsa Council as, “the most beautiful thing we have created…It has nominated members who can veto anything wrong.”
According to Stephen Josephs, who spent a decade in 3HO as Gurushabad Singh and led the Khalsa Council in the late-1970s, the only person empowered to make decisions was the Siri Singh Sahib. “The Khalsa Council was a profoundly depressing experience,” Josephs said. “…we had no power. Nothing we decided could be enacted.”
The Coming Insanity and Great Commonwealth Takeover
With Sikh Dharma established as a religion and Yogi Bhajan holding sole authority as the Siri Singh Sahib, he warned followers about cataclysmic, planetary changes, and the impending collapse of American society.
"A tidal wave of insanity to almost crush the humanity will come,” he said. “The time to prepare is now. It will be a gray period of the planet, as was experienced before the fall of Rome and Atlantis."
Yogi Bhajan gave students meditations to help adjust their magnetic fields after an earthquake, ward off death, and protect them from the radioactive fallout following a nuclear war.
Some followers stored food in the event of famine and others planned long trips by foot to the group’s headquarters in Española, New Mexico believing it would be a refuge after society collapsed. At large 3HO summer gatherings followers attended survivalist camps and firearms training.
He also encouraged followers to pool their resources and secure their future as a Sikh spiritual nation. “We have to have a common reserve,” he said in the summer of 1975. “That’s why I incorporated Siri Singh Sahib, period. It’s a religious body now. Its assets will be the commonwealth of the Khalsa.”
Sharing assets made sense to many followers who came from the Hippie subculture. Kamala Rose Kaur was a member of 3HO and lived in four ashrams between 1973 and 1992.
“Living together communally was a big part of how we saw ourselves,” Kaur said. “We thought the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation was safe, that it was our legacy and that Yogi Bhajan would protect the money.”
Dyson recalled that Yogi Bhajan sent out a letter suggesting that 3HO ashrams, many of which were homes owned by his followers, be signed over to the organization. According to interviews and public records, at least a dozen of these residences were legally incorporated under the authority of the Sikh Dharma Brotherhood religion, which was controlled by the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation with Yogi Bhajan as the sole beneficiary.
Satya Shephard, a member of the 3HO community in Houston, signed one of these documents in 1979. “I thought it was just a formality, something that was for tax protection and to help us hold our property in a trust through the religion,” she said. “I had no idea it was a tributary.”
Hari Simran Kaur, who was on Yogi Bhajan’s staff for fifteen years and served as the Vice President of Finance for Khalsa International Industries and Trade (KIIT) an organization that managed 3HO’s for-profit businesses, said “He got people to pay mortgages on homes that they no longer owned. If they left, they couldn’t take the equity or the home with them. The ashrams would go to Yogi Bhajan.”
In one case, according to Elandra Kirsten Meredith, Yogi Bhajan demanded that she and her late husband Vikram Singh Khalsa, release the claim to their San Diego home, which was also an ashram. “We had been paying the mortgage, then we paid off the debt and signed it over. We were left with nothing,” she said.
Similarly, as his followers created successful businesses, some got absorbed by the commonwealth and became part of the corporation sole, with Yogi Bhajan acting as the administrator.
Ajai Singh Khalsa explained that these companies grew rapidly with healthy profits because 3HO members worked for free as a form of Seva, or well below industry standard wages, to support this Khalsa commonwealth.
Cameron Healy, a serial entrepreneur who left 3HO in 1994 and went on to start well-known multi-million dollar brands like Kettle Chips and Kona Brewing Company, got his business start in Eugene, Oregon in 1972 when he borrowed money from his sister to buy a bakery that would employ and support his 3HO community.
Healy said he intended that business to stay within 3HO and it eventually grew into a company called Golden Temple of Oregon that later spawned what would later become two of the organization's most successful businesses, Yogi Tea and Peace Cereal.
Healy moved his growing family to Salem, Oregon, and helped grow the Eugene Golden Temple businesses by starting a natural foods distribution company. When Yogi Bhajan had another 3HO member fire him in 1978, Healy started a natural snack food company and eventually founded Kettle Chips. Despite Yogi Bhajan’s repeated attempts to get Healy to sign over his business, he never acquiesced.
“If you take away the moral filter, a strategy of building a strong spiritual organization and having businesses incorporated into that to help fund it is a smart strategy. It gives a lot of control over your funding sources,” Healy said. “Many of those (3HO) businesses were acquired because of how effectively [Yogi Bhajan] could brow beat his students to turn them over. And they provided funding to keep the organization going over a long period of time. Without those businesses, it would have been a lot different.”
Guru Gun Kaur worked at several of the group’s Golden Temple vegetarian restaurants during her dozen years in 3HO, and remembers working at times for free or just for tips.
In 1977, Bhajan pressured her to sign over her inheritance, which today would be valued at nearly $5 million, to the California-based corporation sole. She wasn’t the only one. Several members of the community also gave inheritances to the organization.
“In exchange for the gift, I asked for a guarantee that me and my family would be taken care of for the rest of our lives,” Guru Gun Kaur said.
It didn’t work out that way. When she left 3HO, she and her children suffered financial hardship, and for most of the last decade, she has been unhoused.
Her assumption that her inheritance would help the community, their families, as well as widows and orphans was reinforced by Yogi Bhajan’s claims during lectures like one he gave in the summer of 1976 in Espanola, New Mexico.
“Siri Singh Sahib Corporation has one motivation,” he said. “If you want your children to be secure, if you want their life to be secure, instead of paying to the insurance, pay it to the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation.”
Yogi Bhajan repeatedly told his followers that the future well-being of their children was best left to him. In August of 1975, only months after the creation of the corporation sole, Yogi Bhajan rhetorically suggested to one of his lieutenants in a public lecture that the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation should adopt all of the children. The children, according to Yogi Bhajan, would behave better if they knew that they were only on temporary loan to their parents' care.
For Narangkar Glover and other second-generation members born into 3HO, this claimed security does not match the realities of their childhoods. Since 2008 on her blog Rishi Knots, Glover has documented the institutional abuse she and her peers suffered because of the control Yogi Bhajan had over their parents.
Glover characterized 3HO as a cult. She and her peers were sent to schools in India, some as young as five years old, where they lived in squalor, suffered from neglect, malnutrition, and endured physical and sexual abuse from those charged with their care.
“There’s no way our parents would have done anything they did if he wasn’t the Siri Singh Sahib,” Glover said. “He was central to every aspect of their lives. With their kids way off in India, where they were beaten, got head lice, intestinal parasites, and hepatitis, it created the perfect storm for willful ignorance. Instead of going to an outside authority, our parents went to the authority in their world which was ‘the Siri Singh Sahib’ because they thought he knew what was best for their families.”
Tej Steiner, former head of the Toronto 3HO ashram, left the organization in 1988. At the time he wrote an exit letter that characterized 3HO as a feudal hierarchy and questioned the Siri Singh Sahib’s control over financial matters. He lost faith in his spiritual teacher, especially after he discovered the veracity of sexual misconduct alleged in lawsuits brought by two of Yogi Bhajan’s former secretaries and Bhajan’s support of one of his lieutenants, who was arrested on federal drug smuggling charges.
An Unprecedented Title Gains Clout and Condemnation
Within the United States, where little was known of Sikhi, the Siri Singh Sahib title was reproduced in newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and The New York Times. Yogi Bhajan met with American mayors, governors, senators, and congressmen as a Sikh religious leader. He also met with religious heads around the globe and was photographed meeting two popes and the Dalai Lama.
“To my knowledge, the title of ‘Siri Singh Sahib’ does not have any precedence in the Sikh tradition,” Bhogal said. “It is certainly unusual if not wholly unwarranted given past practice as it is quite counter to the keynote of humility and community authority that thread the whole tradition.”
Sikhs outside of 3HO questioned the Siri Singh Sahib title for decades. The strongest denunciations came from Sadhu Singh Bhaura, the twenty-first Jathedar of the Akal Takht from 1968-1979. In 1977 he issued an edict known as a Hukamnama which stated, “no such title as Siri Singh Sahib exists” and that it “has never been bestowed by me to any person.”
Fifteen months later the Jathedar told the Amritsar-based Akaalee Panthkaa newspaper that Yogi Bhajan could not “call himself Siri Singh Sahib under any circumstances” and that he was “misleading” and “making a fool” of his “American Sikhs and devotees in the name of Sikhism.”
In a 1977 Time magazine article SGPC head Gurucharan Singh Tohra, who visited Yogi Bhajan and 3HO Gurdwaras, said he gave his “full approval” to 3HO and Yogi Bhajan, but denied that Bhajan was the head of Sikhs in the Western Hemisphere, that he was given the title of Siri Singh Sahib, or that such a title was valid within Sikhi.
Fifteen years later in 1992, Harinder Singh Khalsa, then Secretary of the SGPC gave an interview to the World Sikh News and “gave notice” to Yogi Bhajan for calling himself the Siri Singh Sahib.
“If anyone professes that he received such a title he is indulging in a blatant lie,” he said.
Yogi Bhajan’s attorney, Ram Das Singh Khalsa, responded to the World Sikh News and demanded a correction. Yet, he also acknowledged the SGPC secretary was correct. Yogi Bhajan claimed the title Siri Singh Sahib not through the SGPC or the Akal Takht, but through Sikh Dharma, the non-profit religious organization that had been recognized by the American federal government in 1973.
The SGPC confirmed to Baaz News that there is no record that Yogi Bhajan ever received the title of Siri Singh Sahib. Despite numerous attempts over a six month period, the SGPC declined to comment further on their position regarding Yogi Bhajan’s role in the Sikh Panth, his conduct or the Siri Singh Sahib title.
Verne Dusenbery, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Hamline University with an expertise in the often-antagonistic relationship between 3HO and Punjabi Sikhs in the United States and Canada, said, “Most Punjabi Sikhs in North America were mystified and some were outright hostile at the claims of the Siri Singh Sahib title.”
Dusenbery explained the congregational nature of Sikhi, where local communities manage their own affairs, differed from the hierarchical structure of 3HO Sikhi. This congregational structure also unintentionally enabled the title of Siri Singh Sahib to continue. “There is no way to determine who represents Sikhs and nobody to verify claims,” he explained.
Whether one believes the Siri Singh Sahib title is legitimate matters little in the United States, where the Constitution protects religious freedom with little scrutiny.
“The government is not going to ask whether the title or the religious pretensions of a group itself has any legitimacy,” said Perry Dane, a professor of law and religion at Rutgers School of Law. “To put it crudely, anything that looks like a religion will be treated as a genuine religious group.”
As Dusenbery noted, “Once the US courts have accepted the title, what can be done?"
For Yogi Bhajan’s followers, any criticism of the title of Siri Singh Sahib was dismissed as political infighting among Punjabis or simple slander of their leader.
“Within 3HO, the title was the great legitimizer,” Steiner said. “We never doubted the title. He was always the only reference we had of Sikhi…questioning it was like asking if the Pope’s motives were right.”
The Corporate Monarchy and Its End
"You think you are corrupt, sometime I feel I am corrupt and I feel wonderfully I am very corrupt because I am Siri Singh Sahib, so I should be big corrupt. If you are small corrupt, I should be big corrupt!"
- Yogi Bhajan to his students in New Mexico, June 20, 1993
By the mid-’90s many 3HO businesses expanded and Yogi Bhajan controlled a vast array of lucrative for-profit businesses like Peace Cereal (which was sold in 2010 for $71 million), the Yogi Tea Company, one of the biggest operators in the billion-dollar global tea market, and Akal Security, which reportedly earned over $1 billion in United States government contracts securing government facilities like courthouses, prisons, and ICE detention centers.
The for-profit businesses were legal, audited entities that paid taxes, but while Yogi Bhajan was alive, he transferred significant amounts of money to himself through gifts from his followers and from consulting fees, intellectual property rights and royalties. “Because he controlled everything (through the corporation sole), it was like a semi-liquid bank account that he could move around as he wished,” Ajai Singh Khalsa said.
The powers of the corporation sole allowed Yogi Bhajan to control all facets of the businesses, including organizational structure and personnel matters. Henry Ahlefelder, who was a member of 3HO and the European sales manager for Yogi Tea from 1996 to 2000, said that Yogi Bhajan had control over each person who worked for the businesses. "Yogi Bhajan was integral in every hiring and firing decision. Nobody came in or was let go without his direct involvement,” he said.
Survivor accounts in the An Olive Branch investigative report commissioned by 3HO, revealed the power Yogi Bhajan wielded facilitated the culture that resulted in the abuse and grooming of dozens of women. Some were lavished with expensive gifts and shopping sprees, others were promised jobs and titles, and nearly every member was dependent on something directly under Yogi Bhajan’s control: a home, a business, a child in the boarding schools, or their belief in him as their spiritual guide.
One of these women is Nadine Stellavato Brown, who was born into a family that joined Sikh Dharma in the early years. Her father ran 3HO businesses, she was sent to a children’s ashram without her parents at just two years old, and later she joined her peers at the boarding schools in India. She said Yogi Bhajan’s position as the Siri Singh Sahib enabled him to control all aspects of her life.
“He decided the kind of relationship I was allowed to have with my parents, the direction I was allowed to sleep (East to West), the yoga and meditation I was forced to do, the freezing cold showers I had to take every morning.”
The most consequential decision Yogi Bhajan made for Stellavato Brown was to forgo college and work with Yogi Bhajan’s secretaries in the Los Angeles office of Sikh Dharma. She earned no salary and when Yogi Bhajan began to make inappropriate comments, she realized she was being groomed to have sexual relations with him. When he sexually assaulted her, she told her parents, and unlike some of her peers, her parents believed her. The whole family eventually took off their turbans and left the organization.
Stellavato Brown, along with 16 men and women from the second generation, who have claimed various types of abuse, engaged a lawyer who has worked on behalf of survivors of abuse, secured a settlement with USA Gymnastics, and is currently in settlement negotiations with the Boy Scouts of America.
“It’s bigger than just the money…There needs to be some sort of justice, and acknowledgement of our abuse and trauma. The second generation has always been protective of one another and a big reason we’re doing this is to get reparations for all of us and to protect future generations,” Stellavato Brown said.
Yogi Bhajan died in October of 2004, after years of chronic illnesses and poor health.
Months later, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution that honored his achievements including earning the title of Siri Singh Sahib. Thaddeus McCotter, a Republican representative from Michigan, read Yogi Bhajan’s claim to the title into the Congressional Record: “In 1971, the president of the governing body of Sikh Temples in India gave Yogi Bhajan the title of Siri Singh Sahib, which made him the chief religious and administrative authority for Sikhism in the Western Hemisphere.”
In India, after news of Yogi Bhajan’s death, the SGPC closed its offices and President Bibi Jagir Kaur honored Yogi Bhajan’s missionary efforts. Years after his death, Jathedars and SGPC representatives continued to visit 3HO Gurdwaras and appear at the Baisakhi celebrations in Los Angeles organized by 3HO.
Yogi Bhajan’s death also marked the end of the title and his claimed religious authority. While Yogi Bhajan promised many that they would be the next Siri Singh Sahib, he never appointed a successor to the title. The principles running the companies fell into a series of contentious lawsuits and power grabs.
Eventually, Yogi Bhajan’s corporate monarchy was divided up into what Ajai Singh Khalsa described as “an interlocking related group of regular corporations.”
Even though the SSSC exists today as a religious non-profit corporation whose mission is to promote Sikh Dharma and Kundalini yoga, it is controlled by a board, not a single person. A monarchy, even one in corporate form, cannot exist without a sovereign.
As Stellavato Brown waits to see if her legal team can come to an agreement through the reparations program and avoid litigation, the practice of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan and lucrative teacher training programs continue all over the world.
Yogi Bhajan’s portrait still hangs in the Central Sikh Museum at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. In the painting, he looks off to the side. Behind him is a Nishan Sahib waving in the wind, his hands are bejewelled, and he wears white. The text identifying him says, “Bhai Sahib, Bhai Harbhajan Singh Ji Yogi” with the words “Siri Singh Sahib” absent.
As Yogi Bhajan said on American Independence Day, July 4th, 1978, “God is very kind and merciful to even people like, idiot people like me, who just pretend to have faith… Those who fake it, make it, that's what I always say.”
Stacie Stukin is a Los Angeles-based arts and culture journalist. You can find her on Twitter at @staciestukin
Philip Deslippe is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. You can find him on Twitter at @PhilipDeslippe
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very interesting and timely. I am a Sikh born in Kenya but lately disillusioned. I was brought up to believe that Sikhs did not believe in Castes and were all of equal status but I have come to note that there are people who give themselves titles such described in this article and then they go and abuse these to nomminate their chosen crooked people and promote them by nominating them with titles like Bhai and Sant who are accepted by the congregations and are at liberty to exploit the system like Bhai Mohinder Singh of Nishkam Jetha. Can any one explain where does one get that title and what does it really stand for. Also the Akal Taknat that is controlled by Badal in India, How can we Sikh respect that when we do not have any representation, It is time the Sikh from all corners of the world and colour and status be allowed to nominate and elect leaders. I was recently in Nairobi and went to one Gurdwara to ask if they could give me the telephone of the Gurdwara in Makindo only to be told that that Gurdwara has been comandeered by Jatts and here in Woolwich where I live now there are two gurdwaras one mile apart one frequented by Jatts and other by Ramgharias none of them mix so i prefer to go to the local Pub.