In the late 1960’s, the West was going through a revolution of consciousness. The young people of the time had a longing to touch Divinity. As their prayer went out to the Universe, an Indian Kundalini Yoga master named Harbhajan Singh Puri answered the call. This yoga master, who would come to be known as “Yogi Bhajan”, traveled to the West in 1968. For the first time in recorded history, he openly taught Kundalini Yoga – a very old and sacred science for awakening God-consciousness within the individual. He often said that he had come to the West “to create teachers, not to gain students.”
Yogi Bhajan was not only a master of Kundalini Yoga. He was also a Sikh. As thousands of people flocked to study yoga with him, a smaller group of his students became fascinated by the Sikh tradition. One by one, through his inspiration and example, they began to adopt the Sikh way of life – Sikh Dharma.
Yogi Bhajan had a way of communicating the great spiritual truths succinctly and clearly. To capture the spirit of universal compassion, he said, “If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all.” This was on his business card.
Through his personal efforts, Sikh Dharma was officially recognized as a religion in the USA in 1971.
In 1971, in acknowledgement of his extraordinary impact of spreading the universal message of Sikh Dharma, the president of the SGPC (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the governing body of Sikh Temples in India), Sant Chanan Singh called him The Siri Singh Sahib, Chief Religious and Administrative Authority for the Western Hemisphere. He was given the responsibility to create a Sikh Ministry in the West by the Akal Takhat, the Sikh seat of religious authority in Amritsar, India. He was honored with the title Bhai Sahib (a reverent title given to honor a Sikh for his or her spiritual insight and knowledge) by the Akal Takhat in 1974.
Founded in compassion, and a commitment to sharing teachings that would help free people from their pain and confusion, Yogi Bhajan built his mission for nearly 40 years. Under his spiritual guidance, ashrams, yoga centers, Gurdwaras and communities sprang up all over the world. He was also a pioneer in the interfaith movement and a friend and mentor to public leaders everywhere.
From 1968 until his death on October 6, 2004, Yogi Bhajan traveled, taught, and inspired millions around the world. His work had such far-reaching impact that after his death, a special bipartisan Joint Resolution was issued by the United States Congress honoring his life and work. He taught that God lives in everyone and everything. And that to experience the Divine is the privileged, right and ultimate aim of each human life.
Read more about the life of Siri Singh Sahib Yogiji.