In ancient days there was a sacred science of God-realization called Kundalini Yoga. During his lifetime, Yogi Bhajan sometimes called Kundalini Yoga the science of humanology, and stated that “only God knows what it will be called in the future.”(1)
The sacred kriyas and meditations that make up Kundalini Yoga have been preserved for thousands of years. They were handed down through a royal, priestly lineage from master to student, but only after the student had proven himself trustworthy––sometimes after months or years. This practice kept the technology from being misused or diluted.
Yet despite the secrecy, or perhaps because of it, people in certain circles knew about Kundalini Yoga and there were plenty of rumors. In the 1920s, Kundalini Yoga attracted the attention of renowned psychotherapist and author Carl Jung. He went to great lengths to learn about Kundalini Yoga. He then wrote the book The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga, which is short but not light reading. If you can slog through the book, you will find that Jung basically says that what he found was much better than anything he and Freud were doing:
From the standpoint of the gods this world is less than child's play; it is a seed in the earth, a mere potentiality. Our whole world of consciousness is only a seed of the future. And when you succeed in the awakening of Kundalini, so that she begins to move out of her mere potentiality, you necessarily start a world which is a world of eternity, totally different from our world. (2)
Jung referred to Kundalini Yoga as inexpensive psychotherapy because of the way the kriyas and meditations cleaned out the subconscious mind. He acknowledged, however, that the West was not ready for this technology. A few decades later, in 1969, when Yogi Bhajan arrived in Los Angeles for a weekend visit, the West was not only ready, but was desperately in need of Kundalini Yoga. Yogi Bhajan saw and courageously filled this need. Below is a brief biography of the life of the man we have to thank for sharing Kundalini Yoga with the West.
Yogi Bhajan was born Harbhajan Singh to a family of healers and community leaders in what is now known as Pakistan. When he was just eight years old, he began his yogic training with an enlightened teacher, Sant Hazara Singh, who proclaimed Yogi Bhajan to be a Master of Kundalini Yoga when he was only sixteen and a half years old, a feat in itself. He was also a master of other yogas including Hatha Yoga and White Tantric Yoga.
During the turmoil of partition in 1947, when Yogi Bhajan was eighteen, he led the 7,000 people in his village (near what is today Lahore, Pakistan) 325 miles on foot to safety in New Delhi, India. He arrived with only the clothes on his back.
Later, under different conditions he was able to continue his education. He studied comparative religion and Vedic philosophy, and he received a master’s degree in economics, with honors, from Punjab University. Many years later, he earned a doctorate in communication from the University of Humanistic Studies in San Francisco. (3)
When he came to North America in 1968, he was one of the highest living masters of Kundalini Yoga and White Tantric Yoga, yet he was virtually unknown. In 1969, while in Los Angeles, he met a number of young hippies who were experimenting with drugs and alternative lifestyles. He recognized that the experience of expanded consciousness and community that they were seeking could be achieved by practicing Kundalini Yoga. At the same time, these youth would be rebuilding their nervous systems, which were being fried on drugs.
Breaking the centuries-old tradition of secrecy surrounding the science of Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Bhajan began teaching it publicly. When people discovered that Kundalini Yoga provided the natural peace and euphoria they were seeking, they began flocking to his classes. With the science of yoga and meditation, and loving acceptance, he gave an alternative to the drug culture. He called it the 3HO (healthy, happy, holy) way of life. (4)
In explaining his reasons for breaking with tradition, Yogi Bhajan stated, “We are in the desert and I have some water.”(5) He also was familiar with the scriptures and yogic prophecies, and he knew that the world was about to enter a new age (the Aquarian Age, which began in 2012), where the world would be in great turmoil and people would need Kundalini Yoga to sustain themselves and survive the calamities that would precede the Thousand Years of Peace. He was sharing the technology for the future.
By sharing the teachings, he risked his life. His straightforward manner of speaking also made a few enemies, but I know him as a man with loving intentions, infinite compassion, a sense of humor. Though he was a man with human imperfections, he was chosen to fulfill a divine mission in bringing to light this technology at this time. Just like my beloved prophet Joseph Smith and America’s beloved president Abraham Lincoln, Yogi Bhajan had the courage to follow divine inspiration, which has resulted in a vast legacy.
He is now remembered as a religious, community, and business leader, a man of peace, wisdom and compassion. He said, “I have come to train teachers, not gain disciples.”(6) He served tirelessly in this capacity and also as a religious leader. As a deeply devoted Sikh and a leader of the Sikh Dharma in the Western Hemisphere, he has met with other religious world leaders––including Pope John Paul II, the Dalai Lama, and the Archbishop of Canterbury––to discuss interfaith dialog and to foster world peace.(7) He has authored more than thirty books on topics varying from spirituality and consciousness to communication and psychology.
His motto: “If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all.”
His credo: “It’s not the life that matters, it’s the courage that you bring to it.”
His challenge to students: “Don’t love me, love my teachings. Become ten times greater than me.”(8)
(1) Yogi Bhajan, KRI International Teacher Training Manual, Level 1 (Santa Cruz, NM: Kundalini Research Institute, 2007), 196.
(2) Carl Jung, The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 26.
(3) Kundalini Research Institute, “Yogi Bhajan,” accessed March 18, 2014, http://www.yogibhajan.com.
(5) Dharma Singh Khalsa and Cameron Stauth, Meditation as Medicine: Activate the Power of Your Natural Healing Force (New York: Fireside, 2001), 7.
(6) 3HO Foundation, “About Yogi Bhajan,” accessed March 18, 2014, http://www.3ho.org/womens-camp/experience/about-iwc/yogi-bhajan.
(7) Kundalini Research Institute, “Yogi Bhajan.”
(8) 3HO Foundation, “Yogi Bhajan’s Biography,” accessed March 18, 2014, http://www.3ho.org/yogi-bhajans-biography.