Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Yogi Bhajan – Making Punjabi Sikhs proud & May his soul rest in peace!

I just happened to read two different perspectives about Yogi Bhajan and decided to post what my thoughts are on this and if it matters to anyone to read.

Have you ever tried to reform a person from alcohol or a drug addiction and think it is an easy job? If you have then you know what I am talking about? If not, try it and you will see what I mean. Even try to tell them to read Guru Granth Sahib and listen to Gurbani and tell me how successful you were at the end in getting them to quit their addiction? I will get to this later.

Another question, given the outside pressures of non-Sikh socities where do you think Sikhism would be 100 years from now and if our children would be able to live happy lives without being lost?

Since the end of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s reign Sikh have been scattered all over the World for political and economic reasons from Thailand, England, Canada, Africa, China, Australia and United States. Even though Sikhs have been living in the United States since late 1800’s, not very many in America knew or to even this day know who Sikhs are, what values they carry and what beliefs they hold. The typical attitude of hatred, racism, sexism that prevailed towards Black African slaves, native Indians, women, the Chinese, Mexicans, the Irish, the Italians and others also prevailed towards earlier Indian immigrants most of whom were Sikhs from Punjab, with minority Hindus and Muslims. The attitude was persistent without regards to their religious, cultural or traditional beliefs and their ways of life. Even though the Sikhs with their distinct religious garb of turban on the head stood out more than everyone else, they were still labeled as Hindus.

Till about 1960’s, with America’s growing interest in spirituality and Eastern philosophies, practices like yoga and religions like Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism started to get explored. This is the time when Yogi Bhajan came to America and started teaching Kundlini yoga.

In my opinion, as Guru Nanak and other Gurus taught that every Sikh needs to seek the company of the lowest of the low in a society, Yogi Bhajan sought the company of people that were fed up with the rigid rules of the American society of early 1900’s ranging from racism, hatred , treatment of blacks, immigrants and women and their civil rights, World War I , II and the Vietnam War underway. Many people were taking refuge in drugs, sex and other maniacs of the society of the times to get their mind off these problems. Yogi Bhajan showed them how to take refuge in Guru Granth Sahib, Gurbani and Sikhi so they can be saved from drowning in this maya of World ocean.

Now back to my original question, what do you think your success would be to try to reform a drug addicted person?

Over the last few years after Yogi Bhajan’s death, I have heard and read both positive and negative comments from some western non-Sikh media and some Punjabi Sikhs about the man, about the organizations and companies he helped establish. This ranges from 3HO being labeled as a cult, his Yoga practices being called sex oriented and not Sikh norm, his encouragement of vegetarianism as a non-Sikh thing, some other allegations of frauding people for money, healing, numerology. Some Sikhs even treating Sikh Jathedars bad on the issue for their own political gain. I never really met Yogi Bhajan and have heard some of the lectures and quotes posted on http://www.sikhnet.org/

No Sikh is going to be perfect, whether of Indian, Punjabi or western or many other backgrounds to come in the future. We are all trying to get to the same place but somehow keep fighting about it as to how to get there. Who defines what is a wrong or right way to live as a Sikh? If believing in God, following the teachings of ten Gurus, and Guru Granth Sahib is cultish than I probably along with many others will fall into the same category, and then I say let it be. I know many Punjabis that call themselves Sikhs that cheat, lie, shave, cut hair, drink alcohol, do empty rituals and do all other things that Sikhs are not to do. I myslef was clean shaven, drank alcohol, ate meat myslef and called myself a Sikh. I was and still am the last thing being a Sikh bacause I have not even taken an Amrit. With the drugs becoming a major problem in India, many mothers and fathers probably wish they had Yogi Bhajans in Punjab to get rid their kids addiction. With millions of cows, chickens, pigs killed everyday for human consumption, some body would have to account for this sin and torture against God's creation. I just hope I am not one of them and leave with a positive credit in my life account. The more divisions there are within Sikhs, the quicker the panth will fall. The ultimate question is if you want to be a bridge burner or a bridge builder between various Sikh and non-Sikh communities?

Personally, I am glad and proud that Yogi Bhajan was a Sikh. I really don't care what non-Sikh media or some Punjabi Sikhs say. Everytime, I see the little children of western (black, white and others) or Indian backgrounds in their patkas and banas, future Khalsa Jathedars come to mind which will carry the sword and light of Sikhi. Yogi Bhajan was able to do that not very many Sikhs had been able to do that is to introduce Sikhism to a totally foreign culture, and build an organization that is making a difference in the World by bringing message of Sikh Gurus to the corners of the World that it has never gone before. I can’t say this was just a coincidence. A highway was just dedicated to his memory in New Mexico State, timing of which could not be any better especially after 9-11, when there is a great need for both western Sikhs and Punjabi Sikhs to unite and integrate into non-Sikh societies surrounding them and still be able to maintain Sikh values. I wish India would recognize him the same way.

Personally, I don’t believe in numerology, superstitions, empty rituals, pilgrimages, fasting, idol worshipping, following sants, and babas but I am trying to believe and follow vegetarianism as a Sikh way of life, teachings of 10 Gurus and Guru Granth Sahib, trust God and my fellow Khalsa Sikhs of all backgrounds mentioned above.

3 Comments:

Blogger Sikhi Seeker said...

I'm sure you enjoyed reading about him. The first time I learned about him was at the time of his death, when it was in news all over the world. And I looked more into him and 3HO.

I can't be a judge of the controversies....but i think the man was specially blessed by Waheguru - has to be. No ordnary man can impart such bliss and pure religiosity to such a great number of people. And when I look at the spirit and passion of the "New Sikhs", if I may call so for clarity without offending anyone, I then see no doubts in my mind about the goodness of Yogi ji's character.

5:16 PM, May 04, 2006  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

I agree completely with you about him having been blessed by Waheguru. That was about the same time I had learned about him more. As a kid I had heard his name in India a few times associated with western Sikhs. I was even thinking about it this morning that how he applied the Gurus teaching of Ek Onkar by seeing God in all and loving everybody and not just Punjabis. About controversies, it is very easy to criticize anybody, but hard to see the good things in a person. Sometimes, I think it is a ploy by non-sikhs and other Sikhs to create divide to further their own agenda. I attended the Khalsa Youth camp last year and met some wonderful people including some amazing kids. I like how more and more kids and women get to do kirtan, read Guru Granth Sahib and taught all kinds of wonderful things. It is a little expensive, but I think it is worth it for kids to learn and take part in Sikh way of doing things. My kids learned and got inspired so much in just two weeks that I could not do for last 6-10 years. This year the whole family is palnning to go, but not sure yet.

8:59 AM, May 05, 2006  
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