- Bhajan, Yogi
- (1929–2004)Sikh guruHarbhajan Singh Puri was instrumental in estab-lishing the Sikh religion in North America. The future guru was born on August 26, 1929, in what is now Pakistan to a family headed by a medical doctor. He spent a privileged youth in private schools (he attended a Catholic convent school) and summer retreats. At the age of eight he began training in yoga with an enlightened teacher, Sant Hazara Singh, who proclaimed Harbhajan a mas-ter of KUNDALINI yoga at the age of 16.During the unrest of partition in 1947, the young Harbhajan led thousands of villagers from their residence near Lahore, Pakistan, to resettle in New Delhi. He went on to study comparative religion and Vedic philosophy and received a master’s degree with honors in economics from Punjab University and a Ph.D. in communications psychology. He married Inderjit Kaur in 1952 and they had two sons. He entered Indian government service, employed in the internal revenue supervi-sion and customs service.In 1968 Harbhajan immigrated to the United States, via Canada, with a vision of introducing YOGA to the West. He announced that he had traveled to the West “to create teachers, not to gain students.” A devoted SIKH, he helped legally incorporate the Sikh Dharma (order) in the United States in 1971. That year Sant Charan Singh, president of the governing body of Sikh Temples in India, named Harbhajan Siri Singh Sahib, Chief Religious and Administrative Authority for the Western Hemi-sphere. The Akal Takhat, the Sikh seat of religious authority in Amritsar, assigned him responsibility to create a Sikh ministry in the West. He redirected young people who were experimenting with drugs and altered states of consciousness to seek higher consciousness, pointing to their deep desire to real-ize holistic and liberating states of mind.In 1969, Yogi Bhajan created the HEALTHY, HAPPY, HOLY ORGANIZATION (3HO) to integrate kundalini yoga, MEDITATION, compassionate phi-losophy, and healthy living. It was one of the most popular of the new religions in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. He died on October 6, 2004.Further reading: Yogi Bhajan, Guide to Aquarian Pregnancy: Birth and Child Care through Yoga (San Diego, Calif.: 3HO Foundation, 1977); Yogiji Harbhajan Singh Khalsa, The Inner Workout Manual: Kundalini Yoga (San Bernardino, Calif.: Borgo Press, 1990); Yogiji Harbhajan Singh Khalsa, Kundalini Yoga for Youth and Joy (San Bernardino, Calif.: Borgo Press, 1990); Yogiji Harbhajan Singh Khalsa and Harijot Kaur Khalsa, Owners Manual for the Human Body: Kundalini Yoga (Eugene, Oreg.: KIT Catalog 1993).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.