Yogi Bhajan touched the hearts and opened the minds of people in all walks of life. Equally at home in a boardroom or teaching in a park sitting on the grass, he was mentor to statesmen, politicians, and CEOs and confidante of religious leaders, media personalities, and simple seekers.
Yogi Bhajan’s favorite quote was, “It’s not the life that matters, it’s the courage that you bring to it.” His bottom line, printed on the back of his calling card: “If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all.” And Yogi Bhajan lived it well.
Yogi Bhajan was born Harbhajan Singh Puri in India on August 26, 1929. During early childhood he learned at the knee of his saintly grandfather. When he was eight he was sent to study with the great Master, Sant Hazara Singh, under whose unrelenting tutelage the boy mastered Kundalini Yoga when he was 16 ½ years old. During the partition of India in 1947, young Harbhajan’s village had to be evacuated because it was to become a part of Pakistan. Still a teenager, his leadership ability already recognized, he was put in charge of bringing more than a thousand people to safety in Delhi, traveling through many dangerous miles of country in violent upheaval.
As a young man at Punjab University, Yogi Bhajan won prizes in debate, was a champion athlete, and earned his master’s degree in economics. In the Indian Army he was a Motor Transport Officer and then served the Indian Government in the Tax and Customs division until he came to the West. Yogi Bhajan married Bibi Inderjit Kaur in 1953. They had three children born in India and five grandchildren born in the United States.
Yogi Bhajan gave his first public lecture in the United States on January 5, 1969. He was determined to train leaders and teachers with the power to heal, uplift, and inspire humanity. Yogi Bhajan said, “I’ve come to train teachers, not to get disciples.” In July of 1969, Yogi Bhajan legally established the 3HO® Foundation, with “3HO” standing for Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization.
Yogi Bhajan taught Kundalini Yoga openly to the public for the first time in history, despite the taboo that had kept it shrouded in secrecy for centuries. Yogi Bhajan didn’t just teach physical exercise, meditation, and yogic breathing techniques as such, he taught people how to live, how to relate to each other, and how to relate to God. The 3HO way of life offered an alternative to the drug culture prevalent among young people at the time.
Yogi Bhajan’s penetrating insight, infinite compassion, tireless service, and delightful sense of humor immediately endeared him to the eager young people who flocked to his Kundalini Yoga classes. He taught students how to access their intuitive awareness, how to experience higher consciousness without drugs, and how to build a future for themselves and their families. Dedicated to promoting the welfare and equality of women everywhere, Yogi Bhajan inspired women to lead, uplift, and heal through their inherent grace and power.
Yogi Bhajan was definitely not the stereotype of a yogi from a cave, wearing a loincloth and carrying a begging bowl. On the contrary, he inspired and was the driving force behind 19 thriving corporations, all of which espouse the principles he taught. Yogi Bhajan published over 30 books and over 200 other manuals, videos, and CDs featuring his teachings (available from KRI). In 1980, he earned his Ph.D. in the Psychology of Communication. Yogi Bhajan never took credit for any of his achievements; always saying it was all the grace of God and Guru, that he was “just the mailman delivering the message.”
Although he himself was a devoted Sikh, Yogi Bhajan never tried to convert anyone. However, his example of unshakable faith and commitment to God and Guru was contagious, and many of his students recognized they were destined to walk through life on the Sikh path. In 1971, at Amritsar, India, a prominent Sikh leader honored him by giving him the first-ever title of “Siri Singh Sahib,” with the responsibility of establishing Sikh Dharma in the West. While promoting world peace throughout his very active lifetime, he met with religious and spiritual leaders all over the world.
Yogi Bhajan left his body on October 6, 2004, at the age of 75. To many people, he hasn’t actually “died” because his presence is still so vibrantly with us. His divine wisdom and inspiration live on in the enlightened legacy of the vast Library of Teachings he created to serve us now, and for countless generations to come.
All information on this page summarized from Khalsa, Shakti Parwha Kaur. Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power. New York: Berkeley Publishing Group, 1996.