It is fascinating how much we can miss on a first reading or a first viewing. When I was introduced to videos of Yogi Bhajan at my Kundalini Teacher courses I thought oh here we go, another opinionated old bloke who thinks he’s got some esoteric knowledge, do I really want to participate in a training where such ‘gurus’ are revered? It was a point in life where I was relatively closed minded – I thought chanting mantra was daft too, and to dress in white with a turban and beads was pretentious, that it was done to draw attention.
It was the practice of kundalini kriyas that led me to want to train. Firstly in California with whatever teachers were around when I was in San Francisco. Then in London with Maya Fiennes, and then with various of the excellent teachers at TriYoga. It was the great sense of calm, balance and strength that I experienced at the end of each class that gave me the impulse to take an in depth look at kundalini yoga. The joy that the technology of the kriyas brought outweighed my disappointment that there was some patriarchal guru whom I was encouraged to mention occasionally to my students.
So I tested my teachers at the training: This Yogi Bhajan – what gives him the authority? Why should I do this or that? “Try it and see” was usually the answer. Also my teachers did not say they revered Yogi Bhajan, they just acknowledged and thanked him for bringing kundalini yoga and deep yogic wisdom to us. They emphasised the Golden Chain – the lineage of yogic practitioners from Guru Nanak, Guru Ram Das, through Yogi Bhajan, to us, to yoga practitioners in the future, as a link of humanity and wisdom. It is “the law of the soul connected and projected through the mind…Guru Ram Das is not away from us. When we link mentally with him, he comes to our aid exactly as a physical person would, but with much more grace.” Gradually I realised the methods that Yogi Bhajan offered have real power.
Yogi Bhajan when he was teaching in the west 1969-2004 was like Sadhguru now, working endlessly to raise the consciousness of the globe, to generate income for charities and drug rehabilitation centres in Yogi Bhajan’s time, schools and tree planting in Sadhguru’s case. Both work incredibly hard for world peace. They have the vision to know that these things are possible, where a lot of us can’t even dream of solutions being an option. Yogi Bhajan is so perspicacious, as is Sadhguru, they see through the fog that surrounds most of us. Sadhguru has a daughter, Yogi Bhajan has a daughter, both have incredible respect for women. Again and again they speak of women as grace. Yogi Bhajan acknowledges that the aura of a woman is in general 16 times more radiant than the aura of a man. “She is the honour and redeemer of all redeemers.” She is the Soul’s self – all Soul’s Self. “From you this creation is born.” All she needs to do is to walk tall, woman is born to rule. She will command her family.
When asked if he thought it was right for boys to go out and a girls to stay home, Yogi Bhajan said “I don’t understand, what is wrong with a girl? You are born of a woman, you live with a woman, you love a woman, 99.9% of your life is influenced by a woman, why can’t they go out? Why have they got to be kept at home? Ok if they want to stay at home themselves, but as far as girls are concerned they are equally human….Girls have the right to be educated and be as strong. As a Khalsa woman and a Khalsa man there is no difference at all…They’re not your prisoners. If you do not trust your children why would you expect your children to trust you?” When asked how a woman could deal with a man’s ego Yogi Bhajan said “Man with ego and woman with smile: woman with smile wins.”
It is none of my business, nevertheless I know that he was celibate and was faithful to his wife Bibiji Kaur also a PhD who like Yogi Bhajan devoted her life to teaching kundalini yoga. She leads excellent women’s groups and continues in a life of service.
Yogi Bhajan emphasised, ultimately it is just you with you, it is your soul, your consciousness, you have to be the one to sort yourself out, you are your own guru, divine is in you, divine bows to you when you uplift another, to be human is a privilege and it brings responsibility to be true to yourself. He suggested that we align with the Truth of the Cosmos. He gave us technologies to do this: Pranayama, which carries oxygen to all of your cells, heals and cleanses (check out this sweet video of Sadhguru and Baba Ramdev) Mantra, which takes the vibratory effect of each of your molecules into the Infinity of the Cosmos. Chanting mantra stimulates 84 pressure points in the roof of your mouth to activate the higher glands – pineal, pituitary, and hypothalamus. He gave us Kriyas, sets of exercises that build on each other to bring specific healing to the body, psyche, and spirit. Kriyas that balance your hormones, cleanse the liver, deal with distracting memories, clear the blood, increase lung capacity, balance the brain hemispheres, and strengthen the nervous system. There are thousands of kriyas, all drawn together by Yogi Bhajan from ancient tantric yoga and presented to us in ways that bring maximum benefit.
He gave us yogic philosophy and yogic anatomy, knowledge of the energy bodies. Explanations of origin vibrations such as “Sat Nam” From “Sat” the tattvas (five elements/principles of reality) are created, and the tattvas create the chakras, then the gunas (sattvic, rajas, and tamas) are a projection frequency of the chakras. He showed how the tattvas must be in balance for us to have freedom from mind, and that mind should be guided by the soul. This is what he is referring to when he talks about intuition in the video above. This is what he means about finding your own way. He only ever offered. He did not prescribe, order or expect. He poked, provoked, and uplifted. He recognised that each person needs to go at their own pace.
We do not initiate in kundalini yoga. Yogi Bhajan was clear about that from the start. In fact Yogi Bhajan was crystal clear about everything. I have watched all of the videos I can find, some several times over, and each time I realise there is some wisdom I missed before, that he is more genuine than I had given him credit for. A teacher is an easy target, some people project on them and hold them to higher standards than their own. He bore the burden through his whole life and stuck it out in the face of all sorts of dangers, jealousies, resentments, attention-seekers, mercenaries, and people out to hurt him. Not only that, his handing on to us the kundalini wisdom has to stand the test of time. Look at the way men behaved from the 60’s and 70’s look at the sort of things they said, and then look at how Yogi Bhajan carried himself. It is clear the wisdom he shared was beyond his time. He needs no defence. It is evident in his life’s work of such incredible unswerving devotion to the uplift of humanity.
I have read most of the books by Yogi Bhajan, a lot of them need more than one reading to begin to grasp their exquisite wisdom. He never called himself a guru, he was a yogi just like the rest of us. His words were “I did not come here to gain students I came to create teachers” He did not want to be revered and to have devoted followers. He said it was misguided to praise him in place of the teachings. He said he was like a pipe, a tap from which the teachings flow. He and other kundalini yoga teachers are simply vessels. He also told us we should be ten times better than him, knowing that the ascent of humanity was real. He never said he had any knowledge that none of us could acquire. He went out of his way to say he was no different and that anything he knew, we could also know and understand.
I trust Yogi Bhajan.
Because he did not ask me to trust him. He said “Don’t believe me; try it for yourself and see.”