Bhajan – A Teacher for the Ages
Born Harbhajan Singh Puri,
August 26, 1929, in the part of India that became
Pakistan in 1948, he was the son of a medical doctor. He
spent his youth in privileged environments in private
schools and his summers in the exclusive Dalhousie
mountain region of Himachal Pradesh. As a young boy he
attended a Catholic convent school.
When he became a United States Citizen in 1976, Yogi
Bhajan changed his name legally to Harbhajan Singh
When he was just eight years old he began his yogic
training with an enlightened teacher, Sant Hazara Singh,
who proclaimed him to be a Master of Kundalini Yoga when
he was sixteen and a half.
During the turmoil of partition in 1947, at the age of
18, he led his village of 7000 people, near what is
Lahore Pakistan today, 325 miles on foot to safety in
New Delhi, India, where he arrived with only the clothes
on his back. Displaced Indians were given houses in
India and soon he was able to continue his education at
Punjab University where he excelled in debate and was a
star athlete, playing both hockey and soccer and earning
the name "China wall" from his opponents.
After graduating with a degree in Economics, he began
Indian government service with India's Internal Revenue
Department, and supervised the creation of the IRS
building in New Delhi. Shortly thereafter he moved to
the Customs Service and become head of Customs at Palam
International Airport (now known as New Delhi's Indira
married Inderjit Kaur in 1952. They had two sons, Ranbir
Singh and Kulbir Singh, and a daughter, Kamaljit Kaur.
Throughout his academic career and government service he
continued to teach yoga to people from all walks of
In September of 1968, he left India for Canada to teach
yoga at Toronto University, carrying a letter of
recommendation from Sir James George, Canadian High
Commissioner in New Delhi, who had been his student.
After two months in Canada, he flew to Los Angeles for a
weekend visit. Arriving in Los Angeles virtually
unknown, Yogi Bhajan met a number of young hippies, the
spiritual seekers of that era, and immediately
recognized that the experience of higher consciousness
they were attempting to find through drugs, could be
achieved by practicing the Science of Kundalini Yoga,
while simultaneously rebuilding their nervous systems.
Breaking the centuries old tradition of secrecy
surrounding the empowering science of Kundalini Yoga, he
began teaching it publicly. With the yogic sciences of
yoga, meditation, yogic philosophy, and loving
acceptance, he gave the soon to be called "Baby Boomers"
an effective alternative to the prevalent drug culture.
He called it the "3HO" (healthy, happy, holy) way of
From humble beginnings, teaching first at the East West
Cultural Center and then in a student's furniture store
in West Hollywood, "The Yogi" was like a magnet.
Students flocked to his classes. Soon he was teaching at
colleges and universities, including Claremont and UCLA,
and accepting invitations to teach in other cities.
In July of 1969 the non-profit 3HO Foundation (Healthy,
Happy, Holy Organization) was incorporated in
California. 3HO's service to humanity is through
Kundalini Yoga, meditation and the Science of Humanology
which improves physical well being, as well as deepening
Under his guidance as Director of Spiritual Education,
3HO mushroomed worldwide, to 300 centers in 35
countries. In 1994 3HO became a member of the United
Nations as an NGO (Non-Governmental-Organization) in
Consultative Status (Roster) with the Economic and
Social Council, representing women's issues, promoting
human rights and providing education in alternative
systems of medicine.
Traveling extensively in the seventies and eighties,
Yogi Bhajan crusaded tirelessly to educate, uplift, and
enlighten everyone he met. His basic message was "It is
your birthright to be healthy, happy, and holy".
Inspired and motivated by his words and adhering to the
practices he taught, students created music, art, and
poetry reflecting the universal wisdom he shared. Over
200 books have been written based on his teachings, as
well as a wealth of CD's, videos, paintings, and
sculpture. He himself wrote over 30 books including The
Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings™ , Furmaan Khalsa,
Masters Touch, and Mind and Its 81 Facets.
Becoming the Mahan Tantric (only living Master of White
Tantric Yoga) in 1971, he conducted workshops in cities
around the world. In 1987 he transferred these workshops
to videotape, calling them "Renew to be New" Courses,
which will continue to be held worldwide.
In 1973, Yogi Bhajan founded 3HO SuperHealth, a
remarkably successful drugless, drug rehabilitation
program, blending the proven ancient yogic wisdom of the
East with the modern technology of the West. SuperHealth
was accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation
of Healthcare Organization and received its highest
commendation. In 1973 it distinguished itself as being
in the top 10% of all treatment programs throughout the
In 1989 Yogi Bhajan met with then President Mikhail
Gorbachev and established addiction treatment programs
in Russia based on the 3HO SuperHealth model. Currently
a pilot project of Superhealth is being formed by the
Punjab State Government in India.
True to his earliest commitment, "I've not come to
gather students, but to train teachers," the
International Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association and
KRI (Kundalini Research Institute) now holds
teacher-training courses throughout the world.
Embodying a rare combination of spiritual and
down-to-earth practical wisdom, Yogi Bhajan was equally
at home in the pulpit, the podium, the board room, the
living room, or sitting on the grass in a park, teaching
and educating people in all walks of life. His expertise
and influence extended into the realms of communication,
the healing arts, business, religion, and government.
Loyal friend and mentor of Senators, Congressmen, and
Governors regardless of political affiliation, he
promoted spiritual awareness in all arenas. An ardent
advocate of world peace and religious unity, the Siri
Singh Sahib met with world leaders of all faiths to
encourage dialogue, including Pope Paul VI, Pope John
Paul II, the Dalai Lama, and two Archbishops of
Canterbury. In 1995 he received the Courage of
Conscience Award from the Peace Abbey in Sherborn,
In 1971 at the Celebration of Life Music Festival in New
Orleans he shared the podium with Swami Satchidanda and
Swami Vishnudevananda. He participated in many
interfaith forums and conferences, including the World
Parliament of Religions. In the early 70's he helped
organize the first 'Meeting of the Ways' in San
Francisco and was co-founder of the Unity of Man
Conference. He became Co-President of the World
Fellowship of Religions in 1974. He served on the Board
of Directors of the American Council of Executives in
Religion and was a member of the Interreligous Council
of Southern California, the Rotary Club, and the Los
Angeles World Affairs Council.
In June of 1985 he established the first International
Peace Prayer Day Celebration in New Mexico. This annual
day of musical celebration and interfaith prayer draws
several thousand participants, including prominent
national and international leaders in the realms of
religion, politics, and humanity. Those honored at this
event and given grants for leading the way in spreading
the word of peace have included: Grandmothers for Peace
and the Gesundheit! Institute.
A graduate in Economics from Punjab University (1952)
and a savvy entrepreneur he encouraged his students to
start their own businesses. One of the first, Yogi Tea,
brought his famous recipe into the mainstream, and it is
now one of the leading tea companies in the health food
market in the USA and Europe.
He became a trusted management consultant for 14
corporations worldwide, representing industries as
diverse as health food manufacturing (KIIT-Golden Temple
Foods), computer systems (Sun and Son), and security
services (Akal Security). He conducted business seminars
and authored several books to guide the aspiring
entrepreneur as well as the seasoned executive.
He was a champion of women's rights, and believed that
it is women who are the backbone of society, and since
1972 when he inaugurated the first of annual women's
camps, he taught technology to turn 'chicks into
Yogi Bhajan fathered the science of Humanology and in
1980 he earned his Ph.D. with his dissertation titled
"Communication: Liberation or Condemnation".
Standing six feet three, his powerful and dynamic
presence dominated any gathering. Fearless, outspoken
yet humble, he could be both charming and daunting as
the occasion required. His openhearted acceptance of
everyone along with an uncompromising insistence upon
excellence made him a formidable teacher.
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".
Although Yogi Bhajan has left his physical form, he
asked that his students and those who knew him celebrate
his Homecoming. The light of his spiritual essence
continues to bless all those whom he loved, and that is
the entire human race.
©The Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings, November 24,1990