Eastern Religion in the West - Part 5

Yogi Bhajan (1929 - 2004) arrived in West: 1969

Harbhajan Singh Puri renamed himself, Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogi Ji (Yogi Bhajan) and created his 3HO religion: Healthy, Happy and Holy. Despite the beards and turbans this cult has no relationship to the Sikh religion and only a tenuous one to Kundalini Yoga. It uses the name but is Bhajan's creation. Despite, or because of those turbans, 3HO became a large and successful religion and valuable multi-national conglomerate with a string of Golden Temple natural food restaurants, holistic health clinics, a publishing company, month-long summer yoga camps and Akal Security which has reportedly earned billions in contracts relating to U.S. security. You can achieve miracles if you have people prepared to work for nothing.

Yogi Bhajan has a mythical lineage and his guru and teacher was the otherwise unheard of Sant Hazara Singh. He supposedly gave him kundalini transmission in 1945 at 16. He told The Miami Herald that he had a helicopter lower him into the mouth of a cave in the Himalayas, where he kneeled for three days until the yogi master inside consented to teach him. In 1971 Yogi Bhajan also claimed to have received transmission from an otherwise unknown Tibetan Lama named Lilan Po, who confirmed him as the next and only Mahan Tantric (master of White Tantric Yoga), a bogus spiritual position in a bogus spiritual lineage. Bhajan claimed to be a well-known holy man back in India but he had been merely a civil servant, a customs inspector. Bhajan was a highly energetic and creative religious leader though his fabrications were rather ridiculous and laughable. Bhajan was active in making interfaith connections but in reality he claimed to the one and only:

Yogi Bhajan is unique among spiritual teachers because he is also the Mahan Tantric of this era. This means that he is the only living master of white tantric yoga in the world, since there can only be one on the planet at any given time. He is a world teacher, a very special instrument whom God has appointed and anointed to awaken the millions of sleeping souls on this planet - Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power, S. Khalsa, 1996

Yogi Bhajan's teachings are his own and supposedly a synthesis of Kundalini Yoga, Tantra, Sikhism and New Age practices. They are not based on Sikh teachings despite what his Western followers masquerading as Sikhs claim and his Yoga was in many cases just made up as he went. His audience and followers knew nothing about the Indian religion back in 1970 and so they accepted his most outrageous ideas.

"Kundalini yoga, as presented by 3HO, is a safe and comprehensive system of exercise, breath control, and meditation. The practice uses some hatha positions, but adds meditation, movement, and breath. It's a very active, almost calisthenic yoga." Kundalini yoga mainly works on the nervous and glandular systems, and its effects register more quickly than do those of hatha, adds Siri Ram, "because we don't hold the postures but move in them."

He even claimed he was the official religious and administrative leader of all Sikhs in the Western world. Sikhs avoid any association with Bhajan's group and Yogi Bhajanism is by not part of the five-century-old Sikh tradition whose homeland is in the Indian Punjab. Like many other gurus he liked being photographed with famous people.

[With Bill Clinton]

[With Dalai Lama]

[With the Pope]

The 10th and last Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, stated that there would be no more Sikh gurus after him and the the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Bible) would be the source of the teachings thereafter.

Bhajan was accused many times of sexual abuse, rape, pedophilia and violence. Akal Security lost Federal Courts contracts after federal fraud investigations. Bhajan became obese and died of heart failure at 75 thereby disproving at least one of the claims he had made for his religous practices (remember 3HO: Healthy, Happy, Holy). A small group of his business administrators then sold off one of the most profitable of the food businesses ripping off over $20 million from the Sikh Dharma religious organizations and Yogi Bhajan's family. Not So Happy and not so Holy either.

Like other Yoga and Hindu inspired groups, Bhajan's enterprises sell beauty and health products.


Swami Muktananda (1908 - 1982) arrived in the West: 1970

There are gurus who sit in perfect silence and stillness, who speak as if their wisdom arises from a peaceful ocean and whose words drop carefully from their perfectly composed lips. Swami Muktananda was not one of those. If you saw him on the street without his robes you'd think he was a street person. His face and hands were constantly twitching, his fingers touching, rubbing and squeezing and with his weathered face, unkempt beard and wearing sunglasses day or night you'd think he was crazy. There are spiritual groups in which everyone appears perfectly composed, still and deep in meditation and initiation is only for people who have done years of spiritual practice and service. Siddha Yoga was not like that, at least not in the beginning. There was chaos, dancing, singing, chanting and movement. The initiation sessions were chaotic. In 1974 they were regularised as weekend long Intensives - pay for enlightenment and get a profound transformation - or your money back. I'm kidding. There were no refunds but people with the maturity and character to demand their money back weren't eating Muktananda's baloney. Muktananda was brought to the West by Albert Rudolph, a home-grown, self-proclaimed guru. Muktananda was a disciple of Bhagawan Nityananda, one of those lie around in a loin cloth all day gurus that are a dime a dozen in India.

Muktananda reiterated many times the value of celibacy for the practitioner (sadhaka). He advocated restraint, even for those married, to convert sexual energy into spiritual energy. Muktananda oversaw the initiation of sixty-five monks (sannyasis) between the years of 1972 and 1982.

[Mukta and Gurumayi]

[Malti Shetty] For at least some of his career in India and the West, Muktananda secretly fucked many of his female devotees, especially young ones using the pretence of his tantric powers and their spiritual development. Despite the fact that the gurus of SYDA have twice been publicised in scandalous behaviour completely unworthy of anyone purporting to being a Spiritual Master the organisation went from strength to strength and attracted famous figures who dabbled in it's exotic claims. The simple explanation of Muktananda's behaviour is that he was just another phony "fallen guru" who used his reputation and power to sexually abuse women. True believers say the accusations are false or he was practising secret Tantric sexual practices that were hidden from the public who were "not ready" to understand these Tantric practices.

A long time Indian devotee had sent 2 of his children to live with Muktananda in the late 1970s. A teenage girl Malti Shetty and her younger brother, Subhash. In 1981 Muktanada decided that Subhash should be his successor. 6 months later he announced Malti and Subhash would be joint co-successors. At the Ganeshpuri Ashram near Bombay in May of 1982, Brahmin priests performed elaborate yagna rites and Sanskrit chants filled the air as the 74-year old Muktananda passed his spiritual mantle to Swami Chidvilasananda, 27, and her brother, Swami Nityananda, 21. To all concerned, they were co-gurus until death.

Six months later it was announced that Nityananda was stepping down. This shocking news was explained as giving blissful grace to devotees by SYDA spin doctors. This is another standard way phony gurus explain away events that shock their devotees. Nityananda had had at least 6 sexual liaisons with women in the preceding years. Chidvilasananda took control and after much pressure and some violent, physical beatings Nityananda gave up his role and membership in SYDA. The whole sordid story was documented in an article called "O Guru, Guru, Guru" by Lis Harris, published in the New Yorker in November 1994. As documented in "The Guru Looked Good" SYDA administrators attempted to stop the article being published with black magic but Ms Shetty was up against women stronger than she. Nityananda was left with no means of support so he tried to restart his career as an empowered guru but without the finances of SYDA he has struggled and was a distant second to his sister.

Bhagawan Nityananda (1897 - 1962) became known in West: 1970s

Albert Rudolph aka Swami Rudrananda aka Rudi had begun to talk about Bhagawan Nityananda in the early 1960s. However Rudolph died in a plane crash in 1973 before he achieved fame and he became nothing more than a footnote in the Swamified history of the USA most famous for his association with two more successful and evil gurus, Swami Muktananda and Franklin Jones aka Adi Da. It does appear that Rudolph may have received dietary advice from the "Belly Baba", Nityananda.

It was Swami Muktananda who publicised him during the years of his success in the West. Bhagawan Nityananda became known as Muktananda's guru.

According to his disciples, Nityananda was found as an abandoned infant and when a young adult became a wandering yogi in the Himalayas and other places. In 1920, he settled in southern India and gained a reputation for creating miracles and wonderful cures. He began an ashram near Kanhangad in Kerala which is now a pilgrimage centre though he had moved to Ganeshpuri by the mid-1930s. He lived the usual divine Indian guru lifestyle, sitting around with his eyes closed and a beatific smile on his face, apparently doing nothing, being fanned, clothed and fed by his disciples, having his feet massaged, getting fat and performing all sorts of miracles and giving spiritual teachings without actually performing any actions and saying very little but very meaningfully. A thriving town developed around him with finances supplied by the pilgrimage trade. He became unable to eat and unable to sit and died at 10.42 A.M on 8th August 1961. He is most famous in the West for being the guru of Swami Muktananda.

Osho Speaking About Nityananda Maharaj:

One of the great Hindu monks, Nityananda, the master of Swami Muktananda - Muktananda was very well known in America. Nityananda had only one unique quality: his belly. I don't think in the whole history of man anybody had such a big belly! When he lies down you can see a strange shape.

When I saw him I told him, "You don't have a belly, your belly has a head and legs, because that is your major part!" But he is worshipped, he is thought to be enlightened. And his belly is proof enough. And now this man cannot be celibate: he is eating so much that he will create sexual energy. What is he going to do with that energy? Anything that he will do will be a perversion; and the easiest way is always homosexuality, because if he is found with a woman, all his respectability and great sainthood will disappear. He has to be with a man, and then nobody suspects.