- Former followers of Yogi Bhajan are speaking out about years of severe physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse. They claim he ran a destructive cult and groomed and abused children.
- Former long-term staff member Kate Felt claims Bhajan brutally raped her at the age of 20 while her sister Amrit Kaur Khalsa, who is the current head of Kundalini operations/3HO, helped him. She also alleges Bhajan kept her hostage with armed guards in the cult.
- A new book by former staff member Pamela Sarah Dyson alleges that Bhajan had coerced her and other staff members into sex. Other members have reiterated her claim.
- Yogi Bhajan stated in a lecture in 1978 that “Rape is always invited, it never happens, a person who is raped is always providing subconsciously the environments and the arrangements.”
- Bhajan was involved with several criminal operations including smuggling twenty tons of marijuana and weapons from Thailand, defrauding people with fake investment scams and overcharging people for jewelry.
- Yogi Bhajan hoarded millions of dollars in precious jewels and gems, had the largest collection of ivory in New Mexico and owned nearly twenty luxury cars. He made millions of dollars off his Kundalini enterprise.
- Bhajan coerced his followers to send their children away for years to his expensive training schools in India where they were physically beaten, emotionally abused and indoctrinated.
- He also arranged over 500 marriages and tampered with relationships, while shaming and ostracizing gay members. Bhajan groomed girls at a young age to be married off to his elite and wealthy friends.
- The Kundalini organization runs a multi-billion dollar private military & security company called Akal Security that works with the U.S. Military. They worked with ICE to detain and ship migrants until group members organized a petition in 2015. A member on the global board of Akal says he is the “guru’s slave.”
- Bhajan died in 2004 of severe diabetes, obesity and heart failure after he had an illegal kidney transplant in India.
- Bhajan is still venerated by 3HO, Sikh Dharma and modern Kundalini leadership and teachers.
- Those aware of abuses have been called “heretics” when bringing information to the governing members in the past. Many in leadership have known of the abuses but have actively been covering them up.
- A scholar claims Bhajan blended modern teachers ideas to create the Kundalini poses, despite claiming they were ancient. Former staff members say some poses were “literally made up on the spot” during yoga class.
WARNING: This article contains graphic accounts of rape and child abuse.
[NOTE: This article is largely based on over a dozen original interviews with the co-founder of the Kundalini Research Institute, former CEOs, several former directors of major ashrams and many senior teachers, students and abuse survivors.]
UPDATE 8/14/20: An Olive Branch has concluded its 5-month independent investigation into Yogi Bhajan and found evidence of rape, group sex, and physical abuse.
By BE SCOFIELD / Bio
March 5, 2020
“I know that you know certain things.” Yogi Bhajan was talking to Tej Steiner, the director of the Toronto Kundalini Ashram in a library-like room at the Clevland Ashram. It was May 1988. “I just want to tell you that there are so many people who love me in this family. So many people. And some of them have guns. If you tell people what you know I’m not responsible for what they might do to you. They are crazy and they love me that much.” During an interview, Steiner told me he then went numb.
Not long before this conversation, Steiner had a phone call that changed everything for him. “Your sister is freaking out,” Bhajan told him. “Go to Chicago now! Speed! Don’t obey the lights!” Neither Steiner nor Bhajan knew what was wrong with his sister, who was also a long-time Kundalini devotee. When Steiner arrived he quickly found out. “Bhajan was having sex with Premka from the beginning” she blurted out. Steiner didn’t believe her. “No way,” he said. “I’ll call her.” Steiner picked up the phone and dialed Pamela Sarah Dyson, known as Premka in the Kundalini community. He only spoke four words. “Is it true Premka?” He took a breath. “Yes,” she said. He knew. And soon after Yogi Bhajan knew that he knew.
Two months later in July Steiner wrote a letter to the Kundalini Yoga community. He sent it to the directors of the 100 Kundalini ashrams around the world. In it, he asked “can we openly question our spiritual teacher’s actions…without punitive measures taken against us?” He was referring to questions about Premka and Kate Felt, another woman who alleged sexual abuse by Bhajan. He warned them: “If we hold any leader ‘above’ this accountability, we move from being in Dharma to being in a cult.” A few months later he also wrote a lengthy letter to Bhajan himself.
The Kundalini leadership attacked Steiner for his action. “I got all kinds of letters from heads of ashrams saying I was a cockroach, that I had fallen from grace and that I was slandering Bhajan.”
That was 32 years ago.
In January 2020, Pamela Sarah Dyson published her tell-all memoir Premka: White Bird in a Golden Cage: My Life with Yogi Bhajan about her nearly 15 years serving as Yogi Bhajan’s secretary and assistant. She details her sexual relationship with Bhajan, how he forced her to get an abortion of their child, how Bhajan was having sex with other secretaries and Bhajan’s various abuses.
In the days and weeks since her book came out, many people have come forth sharing their stories of physical, sexual and cultic abuse by Yogi Bhajan in a Facebook group. They, along with the wider Kundalini yoga community, are grappling with a paradox of how someone of such great spiritual power and societal influence could also have abused that power for evil.
Widespread Cultural Influence
Woodstock music festival began with a Kundalini Yoga class taught by Tom Law, a member of the hippie group called the Jook Savages. Law had studied with Yogi Bhajan in L.A. not long after the guru arrived in America. Bhajan tapped into the zeitgeist of the Woodstock generation to create something that left a sizable impact on the cultural landscape.
Bhajan opened Golden Temple, one of the first-ever vegetarian restaurants in L.A., founded the popular Yogi Tea business and created the billion-dollar Akal Security company with deep ties to the U.S. government and military. Father Yod, who started the Source Family cult, considered Bhajan his “spiritual father.” Yod was an early disciple who traveled with Bhajan on a notorious trip to India. Bhajan also gave birth to a generation of Kundalini yoga teachers who have become famous in their own right.
The Hollywood & Political Connection
One of Bhajan’s most famous students, Gurmukh, opened Golden Bridge Yoga also in Los Angeles in 1993. It became the largest studio in the world after she taught Cindy Crawford, Madonna, and Pamela Anderson prenatal yoga and meditation. Her other celebrity clients include Al Pacino, Gwyneth Paltrow, Miranda Kerr, and Rosanna Arquette. Gurmukh is longtime guru of New York Time’s bestselling author Gabby Bernstein and officiated her wedding.
In 2013 Demi Moore and Russell Brand took part in a walkout at Golden Bridge, protesting Gurmukh. They were upset with Gurmukh because she wouldn’t let their guru, Tej Kaur Khalsa out of her contract.
Alicia Keys hails famous Kundalini Yoga teacher, Guru Jagat, as her teacher. The Sounds True author convinced Keys to stop wearing makeup and spent time meditating with her before the Grammy’s. Kate Hudson is Jagat’s student too. Jagat is the founder of the RA MA Institute and a disciple of Bhajan, Tej Kaur Khalsa and Harijiwan. She charges $100,000 for a 5–7 day private training.
Demi Moore and Russell Brand’s guru Tej Kaur Khalsa is one of the most loyal disciples of Yogi Bhajan. In response to Bhajan’s ongoing sexual abuse allegations, on Feb. 25th, 2020, Tej posted that Bhajan was a “Master” who “will continue to save millions of souls.” Bhajan died in 2004. She will “continue to hold him in deep respect,” she wrote about her lifelong guru. In an email, Tej said the women accusing Bhajan of rape and sexual misconduct are “mentally unbalanced” and “desire attention” for “financial reasons.”
Since the renewed allegations, Jagat shared a video on Instagram that slandered author Pamela Sarah Dyson, one of Bhajan’s victims, and praised Yogi Bhajan in godlike fashion. She wrote, “The Truth as always lies in the eye of the Beholder.” Jagat also recently shared a video boasting of Bhajan’s mystical powers.
Both Tej and Jagat shared a video to discredit the sexual abuse allegations called “The Futile Flow of Fate.” It was produced by felon Harijiwan and his wife Mandev. Harijiwan is Tej’s ex-husband and former right-hand man of Bhajan who has been the chief cult enforcer denying Bhajan’s abuse. Harijiwan appeared on his student Russell Brand’s show in 2013.
“There is a cult within the cult,” a former senior teacher said. The sexual abuse allegations have been known for many years. Senior teachers like Harijiwan, Tej and Guru Jagat have played a central role in covering them up and attacking the victims. Wild Mountain Yoga explained the coverup in a Facebook post, “the organizations he started are complicit in abuse, hiding information, turning-a-blind-eye, slandering and harassing victims, and even at this very moment distorting, hiding, and rationalizing facts amidst a 3rd-party investigation.”
Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was a close confidant of Yogi Bhajan. In 2004 The New York Times reported Bhajan was “a substantial contributor to both the Democratic and Republican parties” and that “Gov. Bill Richardson ordered flags flown at half-staff in his honor” after Bhajan died. Bhajan’s Akal Security, based in New Mexico, became one of the largest security companies in the world after securing U.S. government contracts. In his 2010 article “The Disturbing Mainstream Connections of Yogi Bhajan,” cult expert Steven Hassan also noted that “For a time in the 1990s Yogi Bhajan’s top lawyer, Guru Terath Singh Khalsa, served as New Mexico’s Deputy Attorney General.” A former senior teacher who was traveling with Gurmukh, Bibiji (Bhajan’s widow) and other members in 2006 said Bill Richardson and several kids from Kundalini schools joined them for dinner one night in Amritsar, India.
In 2019 Bill Richardson was named in the Jeffery Epstein scandal. The Daily Beast reported, “Virginia Giuffre, who says that Epstein and Maxwell trafficked her to powerful people for erotic massages and sex, claimed in depositions in 2016 that Maxwell directed her to have sex with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.”
“Credible, consistent reports have since surfaced that strongly implicate Bhajan as a disgraceful predator who groomed and abused women and children.” — Cher Lucas, director of Sat Nam Studios
Many other Hollywood A-listers such as Jennifer Aniston and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are known to practice Kundalini Yoga as well. Oprah loves the Kundalini yogi musician Snatam Kaur. And the Kundalini music troupe White Sun won a Grammy award. Groundbreaking New York Times Bestselling author of “A Mind of Your Own” Dr. Kelly Brogan is a Kundalini devotee, connected to the inner circle as well. She chimed in on the Yogi Bhajan scandal writing a post that cult expert Matthew Remski called a “sophisticated cult/abuse apologist manifesto.”
Bhajan’s influence is far and wide. Hundreds of thousands of people have practiced his Kundalini Yoga all over the world. Kundalini festivals like the Sat Nam Fest and the Summer Solstice attract large crowds every year. Celebrity teachers travel the world offering classes to sold-out crowds.
The question many Kundalini practitioners and teachers are wondering now is, can they separate the teachings from the teacher? Can they reconcile decades of sexual and physical abuse, grooming of children, drug smuggling and fraud with a practice they know and love?
Sexual Abuse & Rape
“Over the past thirty years, I have helped former members who alleged sexual and psychological abuse by and under Yogi Bhajan.” — Dr. Steven Hassan, Cult Expert
A long-time student and employee named Kate Felt alleges that Yogi Bhajan brutally raped her at the age of twenty while her sister, Guru Amrit Kaur Khalsa, helped. Kaur Kalsa is now the current head of the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation (SSSC), they oversee all business related to Kundalini, 3HO, Yogi Tea and Akal Security. She is on the board of directors for both the SSSC and Sikh Dharma International.
Felt first got involved when she was around 13 and quickly became enamored with Bhajan and the teachings. She saw him as a “messenger of God” she states. At 18, Bhajan had arranged for Kate to marry a man named David, who later became a Sikh. When Bhajan’s secretary left him he reversed course and broke off the marriage between the two making them both feel horrible she states. She didn’t realize it then, but later she understood that he was grooming her to be the next secretary.
Felt alleges in her lawsuit that a few years later Bhajan raped her. She recounted the experience in an interview years later.
“As soon as everyone else left the room, my sister locked the door. Yogi Bhajan announced he was going to have sex with me and I said, “No, I don’t want to. I want to get out of here!” And I started crying. He just grabbed me. My sister was in the room the whole time. Anyway he proceeded to rape me and I suffered, I tried to struggle a lot. He hit me and held me down by my hair. When I started to resist through my voice he bit my tongue and my lip, which people noticed for several weeks afterwards. They were asking what happened to me. [Bhajan] did tell some people that he had hit me, and that’s why my lip was cut. It was actually because he had bitten it. He bit my tongue so badly that it was swollen and I couldn’t eat and had to use a straw for five days.
I had bruised nipples, a lot of bruising on my thighs. I was very sore. It was just so shocking because I thought he was my god. And my Sister totally helping with this, I trusted her.
Gratefully it didn’t last long. I mean he just got in and out, got his whatever and then I was just left there with my all my bruises and insult and shame. But I do remember laughing because I had bled so much. A huge puddle of blood. He and Guru Amrit were in a tizzy about it- because it was on the bedcover. Guru Amrit sneaked down to the basement and got some bleach. I don’t know if they ever got it out or what, but [Bhajan] was freaked out that the head of the Ashram there, Swarn Kaur, would notice it.
…A lot more beatings, a lot more bloody noses. I’d get headaches from when he’d hit me in the head so many times. And doing rectal intercourse and having other people hold me down- that sort of thing. But it wasn’t as frequent. Because I know he had a hard time even looking at me. He would say that all the time. But Yogi Bhajan was obsessed with me. I had a private investigator hired on me.”
In Felt’s lawsuit, she names her sister Amrit Kaur Khalsa. “In carrying out his sexual assaults, Bhajan was at times physically assisted by defendant Amrit Kaur and at times physically assisted by defendant Guru Ke, who would physically restrain the plaintiff.”
Felt says that Bhajan threatened to kill her and her family after he caught her speaking to a male member of her family.
“He’d say, if he ever caught me communicating with this man, or any family member, that he would kill all of them and kill me. He said that several times. After that whole event, he couldn’t stand to look at me. Like I had committed adultery. I had broken the relationship. That I had betrayed him, and he could no longer trust me, and I was just for a f — k. I was always there just for a f — k, but it was more explicitly grotesque each time, but it was less frequent.”
She also claims in her lawsuit that Bhajan and his team held her captive with armed guards. Her lawsuit states that during a period of several months she was “at all times held under armed guard, and was, in addition, watched constantly by members of the cult, who would report her every move to Bhajan.”
In Pamela Sarah Dyson’s new book and the previous lawsuit, she describes the first sexual interaction with Bhajan as “gross and impersonal.” Dyson worked for Bhajan as his secretary for nearly 15 years and became a prominent figure in the organization.
“Not long after Bhajan requested that I serve as his chauffeur, secretary and general aide, he began to have sexual intercourse with me. This relationship was not romantic or erotic. The first time was when I had driven him to the parking lot across the street from his apartment. He simply put his body on mine in a way which even then impressed me as being gross and impersonal; it occurred as just one more of the jobs which by then I was expected to do for him.”
In the lawsuit, she also says that he demanded her to take part in sex with other women and coordinate orgies for him.
“In 1976, while I was living at the ashram in Espanola, Bhajan directed me to act as his sexual surrogate with another female member of the Secretariat. I was horrified and humiliated by this request, and told him that I did not wish to do it. He pressured and manipulated me and manipulated the other woman until we finally did attempt to perform as he demanded.”
“Bhajan demanded that I coordinate his sexual liaisons with other members of the Secretariat, and arrange the orgies that occurred between him and several members of the Secretariat. I refused to participate in the orgies and in making the arrangements for them. I learned later that he then would discredit me behind my back as untrustworthy and advise the other women members of the Secretariat not to trust me in any matters.”
In her book, she describes her sexual duties.
“Each night it had become my responsibility to kneel down next to him, massaging him to sleep. He would often pull me into his bed for muffled and secretive sex. Afterwards, though I longed to enjoy lying next to him, hoping to be held by him, he would inevitably nudge me back onto the floor to continue massaging him until he fell asleep.”
Dyson states that she naively believed Bhajan’s divine status would prevent her from getting pregnant.
“When the Yogi initiated sex with me, I assumed that he was infallible, that he either had God-like powers or was, at the very least, divinely protected. I naively assumed my status as his devotee, along with careful timing, would serve as adequate contraception. This magical thinking of mine was ripe for a large dose of reality.”
When Dyson got pregnant with Bhajan’s child he forced her to get an abortion. Dyson begins her book with a story of her hemorrhaging blood on the flight from India to London a few months after the abortion.
Dyson also describes how Bhajan told her several stories about past karmic lives to justify and explain why they needed to have sex. He told her, “I am just fulfilling an obligation to you because of past karma. I have no need of any sexual relationship. I am beyond all of that.” In one story she was a temple priestess and he was a monk and they are fulfilling their karma from this previous life. In another, he told Dyson that he had three lives. “When I asked him to reconcile his role as a professed, celibate religious leader with the fact he was having sex with more than one woman, that he put a religious gloss on the sex. He said he was actually living three lives in one, and that I was his spiritual wife in one of the lives.”
Dyson would plead with Bhajan trying to convince him the relationship didn’t need to be sexual. “I would really prefer to just serve you as a devotee,” she told him. She “desperately wanted to be free of the torment” and “duality of their relationship.” But he told her she was there to serve him in every possible way.
“Premka, it is not in your destiny to marry. You have only one option and that is to serve me. You have to do my laundry and wash my floors. It is the only way you can clean your karma. I am just looking into the Akashic records, and I am just telling you what I see.” — Yogi Bajhan
Sarah Laurie (not her real name) said she was groomed from the age of 8.
“I was groomed to become one of the cult leaders ‘secretaries’ or consorts from the age of 8. I was raised to believe this cult leader, “Yogi Bhajan” was an all seeing and knowing, living spiritual god. Among many other insane things, I was taken to live in one of the cult leaders estates right out of school from India. I was moved to Los Angeles at 16-17 where I worked in the Sikh corporate office. I was regularly sexually assaulted, psychologically broken down, manipulated, publicly harassed, humiliated, and controlled by Yogi Bhajan. During my time working for the Sikh corporation, I witnessed insurmountable hypocrisy and corruption within the organization and its businesses. I had no choice but to flee to NYC, in order to hide and escape the abuses of the sexual predator that Yogi Bhajan was.”
At 18, Jessica Canter (not her real name) worked briefly for the Kundalini organization. During an interview, she said her father was a very close associate with Bhajan and she spent a lot of time around him. She claims Bhajan groped her breast and butt telling her “You are almost ready, turning out very nicely.”
“Many nights I would be with [Bhajan] and his “Entourage” at Dr Allen’s house. One night he called my father and me into the back room. He started to yell at me, that I was a slut, was I even a virgin? He said that a kid I grew up with, told him I was a flirt. And yogi did not believe my answers. I was devastated.
In the late fall of 1990, I was at Dr. Allen’s cleaning [Bhajan’s] room. He made me stand up, asked me to twirl around, then he proceeded to put both of his hand on my breast, he squeezed them. He turned me around and did the same to my butt. I was scared, we were alone. I was mortified. He said, ‘You are almost ready, and turning out very nicely.'”
Canter said it was obvious that Bhajan was sleeping with his secretaries. “He’d come over in the middle of the night and there’d be only one bed.” She was referring to the home of a secretary with whom she stayed. “There’s no two ways that he wasn’t haven’t sex with all these women.” Canter recalled that one of Bhajan’s most repeated phrases was “A woman’s duty is to be a saint in the kitchen and a hooker in the bedroom.”
“Rape is always invited, it never happens, a person who is raped is always providing subconsciously the environments and the arrangements.” — Yogi Bhajan, lecture from April 26th, 1978
Michael Eldan, a long-term kundalini yoga teacher, recounts a time when he heard Bhajan having sex with a secretary. He said it wasn’t Pamela Sarah Dyson. Eldan along with three others were assigned to guard Bhajan’s cabin, where his secretary also stayed during a yoga retreat in Loches, France. As they walked around the cabin they heard loud orgasmic and sexual noises. “It was clearly obvious to anyone what was going on,” Eldan said.
Christa Houser (not her real name) moved into the Portland Kundalini Ashram when she was 18 and lived there for six years. During an interview, she told me she heard Bhajan having sex with one of his secretaries who was traveling with him. They stayed directly above her room in the ashram. She didn’t want to name the secretary, but she said it wasn’t Pamela Sarah Dyson. Christa said it “shattered her world” to hear him having sex with the secretary.
“A woman’s duty is to be a saint in the kitchen and a hooker in the bedroom.” — Yogi Bhajan
A woman named Kathy Roney filed a lawsuit in 1985 against Yogi Bhajan for coercing her to get a “laparoscopic tubal ligation” which left her sterile. This surgery, i.e. “getting your tubes tied” is done to prevent pregnancy. In the suit, she claims she was “physically and psychologically debilitated at said time and place by the physical regimen, isolation, manipulation, indoctrination, and mind and psychological control tactics of defendant Yogi, which were carried out both by himself and by other members.” Roney was on a thirteen-day food fast at the time of the procedure, also of which she was coerced onto she claims.
Sarah Nest (not her real name) said at the age of four she was forced to sit on Yogi Bhajan’s lap every day, at times while sexually explicit and violent material played on TV in the room.
“…As a four-year-old young girl I was forced to sit on [Bhajan’s] lap day in and day out…The reason I am posting is I want people to understand that Yogi Bhajan was willing and able to do extreme harm to a four-year-old child. That harm, even as a grown adult, has affected me every day. I have never felt my body was my own…he was extremely rough with me (squeezing me until I couldn’t breathe, pinching my face so hard it hurt and left marks.) They had a TV in the room and often played sexually explicit and violent material. They would watch this for hours at a time, day on end, and I would be sitting on his lap the whole time. Sometimes he was sexually aroused. I can’t explain the damage that did to me. My father sat in that room and not only did he not stop it, but it was his ticket into the inner circle so he encouraged it…
What I do remember was that at one point I was brought into Yogi Bhajan’s bedroom and I was summoned to his bed. My father saw the whole thing happen, let it happen, and left the room and I was alone with Yogi Bhajan in his bed. That is where everything goes black…
Another thing that negatively affected me is that Yogi Bhajan would force me to sit on his lap while he shamed and screamed at men, women, husbands, and wives who admired him and many of whom had joined the ashram to be near him and learn from him. He would shame them so harshly that rarely did anyone leave without sobbing, grown men and women brought to tears, because the man they looked up to shamed them and tore them apart.”
Another person knew of a time Bhajan was claiming to heal a woman with “promiscuity” issues by breaking down her defenses while there was porn playing on the tv in the background in front of a group of men.
During an interview, Ronald Alexander, co-founder of the Kundalini Research Institute, told me that two 15 and 16-year-old teenagers saw his then-wife as a therapist. The girls told her that Bhajan told them he was going to have sex with them to clear their karma. There are also other credible stories of sexual abuse by Bhajan, including with teenagers. Alexander also said Bhajan asked him numerous times questions like “Is it ok to have vaginal sex and then finish in a woman’s ass?” and “If a straight man finishes in a woman’s ass does that make them a homosexual?”
Ronald Alexander also said that Bhajan told his ex-wife that he healed a young woman who had a tumor on her uterus. Bhajan claimed he cured it by sticking his hand in her vagina, reaching up and grabbing the tumor and pulling it out. Bhajan claims he then filled the woman’s vagina with yogurt and she was healed.
Several other former members reported that Bhajan’s secretaries always slept in his room and it was known he was having sex with them. Former assistant and secretary Gursant Singh said he often “dropped Bhajan off at different women’s residences at 1 am.”
Karan Khalsa, CEO of Spirit Voyage, a Kundalini business, issued a public statement saying she heard first hand the stories of abuse. “In the last 2 weeks, I have personally heard from 7 women whose stories of being abused by Yogi Bhajan have been heartbreaking. They are horrifying.”
Famous musician Snatam Kaur also acknowledged the reality of the abuse in a public Facebook statement, “I have dear friends that I grew up with who have in the past few weeks, conveyed to me varying degrees of sexual abuse that they experienced with Yogi Bhajan. I have been deeply affected and shaken to the core in hearing their stories, and I believe them.”
Cher Lucas, the director of Sat Nam Studios posted a statement saying they would be teaching Kundalini Yoga free from all references to Bhajan. She wrote, “Credible, consistent reports have since surfaced that strongly implicate Bhajan as a disgraceful predator who groomed and abused women and children.”
“I have known about this for a long time and when I tried to raise the subject at Khalsa Council I was called a heretic.” — Sat Santokh Singh Khalsa
Yogi Bhajan’s Physical & Verbal Abuse
Gursant Singh was Bhajan’s personal coordinator and security guard at the headquarters in Los Angeles from 1981 to 1984. He lived down the street for ten years and was heavily involved in the organization. In 2012 he published a tell-all book called “Confessions of an American Sikh” in which he described various abuses he witnessed. In an interview, he recounted these instances and told me how Bhajan relentlessly bullied and physically abused people. “I had witnessed Bhajan physically kick a depressed young man mercilessly inside the Sikh temple of the Guru Ram Das Ashram in LA while the boy just lay there helplessly.” He also saw Bhajan punch a woman.
“Once, a lady disagreed with him over something. I remember, it was about how she was raising her son. He didn’t bother arguing. He just punched her in the nose in front of all of us. He really did…One of Bhajan’s secretaries, Nirinjan Kaur, who witnessed the event, told me that he had done much worse to all of them and for me not to worry about it.”
John Lamenzo founded a Kundalini center, 3HO Connecticut, and was a longtime senior kundalini teacher. During an interview, he told me that Bhajan punched him on two different occasions. “I’m standing there with a group of people, he just punched me in the center of my chest, threw me back a couple of feet.” Bhajan didn’t say anything to him before or after hitting him. “He figured he had the right to slug anybody.” He was punched in his chest in a similar manner on a separate occasion as well. “He was known for kicking the shit out of people, and everyone would laugh,” Lamenzo emphasized.
In her lawsuit, Kate Felt stated that she was “repeatedly struck” and abused between 1978 and 1985. The suit stated the actions included but were not limited to “beatings; involuntary sexual intercourse, sodomy, and other sexual attacks; administration of ostensibly medical treatments; administration of bizarre rites; urination upon the plaintiff; and other particulars.”
“I had witnessed Bhajan physically kick a depressed young man mercilessly in front of the Sikh Temple of the Guru Ram Das Ashram in LA while the boy just lay there helplessly.” — Gursant Singh
“He could be very friendly and nice,” Gursant Singh told me. “Bhajan could draw you in and be personable and make you feel like he was your father.” But he was also abusive he said. “He was demeaning. He would yell at us and he’d talk behind people’s backs all the time and stab them in the back to get things.”
Christa Houser described what Bhajan would call “psychic surgery.” It amounted to him very intensely screaming at his students. He would yell terrible things she said. “You cock-sucking, mother-fucking…just really perverted stuff at a very loud volume.” She said they were perfectly nice people who were subjected to his attacks. “It was total verbal abuse, total crudity.”
Pamela Sarah Dyson also noted the verbal abuse in her book. “I had often witnessed his verbal assaults on Bibiji, or Sat Simran or Soorya — they were his usual whipping posts. I was always offended by that behavior of his, and when I had private conversations with him, challenging those harsh and angry tirades, he would dismiss it as his way of teaching them.”
One time Tej Steiner missed a rent payment for the Toronto Kundalini ashram. Bhajan relentlessly verbally abused him in front of a group he claims. “It was a tirade,” Steiner said. “He was screaming and cursing at me saying I was a piece of shit, saying this is the guru’s house.” He said the shaming was horrible. “There’s no words” to describe the abuse he said.
Jessica Canter said Bhajan berated her frequently. “He yelled at people regularly and I saw him hit people at times.” Those around her would justify Canter’s abuse by telling each other Bhajan was “helping her become more spiritually enlightened.”
“He was always insulting people in his lectures,” said Elandra Kristen Meredith. She and her husband Antion ran the San Diego ashram for 17 years. “We thought we deserved it.” She said he’d order someone to stand up and say “the most horrible stuff.” He would call women “whores and prostitutes in front of the whole group” exhibiting a “display of power for no reason.”
On one occasion Bhajan demanded that she and Antion immediately drive several hours from San Diego to Los Angeles. At great inconvenience to themselves, they drove there as quickly as they could. Once they arrived he told them “I could do whatever I want with you,” with a “really scornful” attitude Elandra said. He then “started hitting Antion with a stick over and over again all up and down over his body.”
When Elandra and Antion decided to buy one of the homes owned by the San Diego ashram for their personal use it was planned that the money would be used to fund a larger spiritual center for the group. Bhajan had other plans. One morning he arrived with his entourage at 5 am using intimidation and demanding they immediately turn over the $170,000. It derailed the dreams of the San Diego members to grow and expand the center as they had wanted. “It was tragic and horrible,” Elandra said.
Antion Singh learned that Bhajan had criticized his students in front of a group of Punjabi’s in their language. Bhajan said to the Punjabi’s look at all the stupid followers as he pointed to his students. “They are like my poodles and will do anything I say,” Bhajan said in front of his students.
Gursant Singh described a time when Bhajan sent his right-hand man to “strong-arm” a Hispanic couple into signing a contract to sell their house for much less than they had wanted. “He wouldn’t leave until they signed,” he said. He had no sympathy for the couple Gursant said and Bhajan sued them to try and reinforce the contract. The wife was even in bed sick with cancer.
Tej Steiner recalled that Bhajan bought the home where the Toronto ashram was based. Bhajan insisted it was in his own name, not in the name of the organization. It was purchased for $75,000 and Bhajan sold it for $650,000 years later Steiner said. “Bhajan pocketed all that money,” he told me.
A woman who served as a secretary was coerced into giving her entire inherence of millions of dollars to Bhajan. It was this money that was used to buy the land and centers in Espanola and in Los Angeles.
Exploitation, Lies, and Domination
The accounts from former followers of Yogi Bhajan depict a grim portrait of a man who used anything and everything he could to exploit, abuse, control and dominate the very people who devoted their lives to him. Like so many other disgraced gurus his goal was money, sex, and power. And the hypocrisy was apparent. Bhajan was married with kids and claimed to be celibate but was sexually abusing his followers. He made his followers become vegetarian but hoarded an extensive collection of ivory and exotic animal furs. He organized drug-free America campaigns while he and his right-hand men imported twenty tons of marijuana. He preached a spiritual life yet hoarded millions in jewels and luxury cars.
Bhajan lied and deceived his students from the very beginning. The ruse began with his fabricated back story as a “well-known holy man in India.” He told his followers larger than life mythical stories about himself and claimed to be the only original “Tantric” in the world. In reality, Yogi Bhajan was nothing ever more than a customs inspector who traveled to the U.S. in 1968.
Scholar Philip Deslippe describes the ethos that Bhajan tapped into:
“The late-Sixties were an incredible boom time for Eastern spiritual teachers in the West. For someone like Yogi Bhajan, charismatic, physically imposing, and offering the secrets of the mythical and dangerous kundalini energy, Los Angeles in 1969 was the right place at the right time. While Yogi Bhajan’s initial plans in America were to sell items to Hippies as part of an import/export business (fitting for a customs officer), he quickly made yoga his business. There seemed to be no limits to his growth among Hippies as a teacher in his own right, and with an almost franchise-like pattern, Yogi Bhajan offered an accelerated teacher training program consisting of only a few weeks, and then quickly dispatched his newly minted teachers across the country to open satellite 3HO ashrams. Soon, there were Kundalini Yoga teachers in a rapidly expanding list of college towns and major cities.”
Bhajan also claimed his Kundalini Yoga poses were part of an “ancient” and “secret” tradition. Many current teachers invoke this ancient lineage today. Philip Deslippe challenged this claim in his lengthy research article that explored the origins of Bhajan’s yoga. He concluded that Bhajan created his method by combining techniques from two modern teachers; Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari (1924–1994) and the Sikh Sant Maharaj Virsa Singh (1934–2007). Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga is not ancient or secret.
Furthermore, Kate Felt stated in her lawsuit that Bhajan would literally make up yoga poses during a class as it progressed.
Unbeknownst to his followers, Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga poses were his first strategic tactic designed to break them down. Using quick, repetitive breathing and motions the poses kept people in trance-induced states making them highly suggestible and disoriented.
From there Bhajan would “love bomb” his students, showing deep interest and care for them. As his students believed Bhajan was divine, a master teacher or God, this attention was extremely meaningful.
And Bhajan hijacked the Sikh religion, twisting it for his own ends. “Yogi Bhajan’s teachings are closer to a synthesis of Kundalini yoga, tantric and New Age practices than anything originating from Sikh teachings,” writes Steven Hassan, a prominent cult expert.
Once Bhajan had fabricated a divine backstory, manufactured a fake ancient yoga practice, stole from and twisted the Sikh tradition, and disoriented his followers with trance-inducing breathing techniques, he built a cult following around himself. He made up eclectic titles for himself like Siri Singh Sahib, spiritual leader of all Sikhs in the Western Hemisphere and gave out titles like Mukhia Singh Sahib(MSS), making himself and his followers seem important. Many of these kind-hearted spiritual seekers would end up being profoundly sexually, financially, physically and emotionally exploited by Bhajan. Some worked hundreds or thousands of hours over years for no money whatsoever. They helped build the foundation of what became the modern Kundalini movement and Bhajan’s multi-million dollar corporations such as Yogi Tea and Akal Security.
Yogi Bhajan’s “influence on everybody’s life was completely pervasive,” Gursant Singh said. For those that knew him or worked with him, it was hard to imagine an area of their lives that he couldn’t touch. Gursant Singh said Bhajan told Gursant’s wife “what to do, where to live, everything.” Christa Houser told me Bhajan “always had an answer for everything…who to marry, food advice, brushing your teeth.” Bhajan was the master and he “dictated everything” Gursant said. “Bhajan rarely let other people talk around him and he would interrupt you.”
Tej Steiner explains how Bhajan dominated everyone:
“The primary means of control that Yogi Bhajan used with all of us was through endless prescriptive instruction. He had ‘teachings’ on every subject imaginable, including what kind of clothes to wear, how to eat and what to eat, what a certain posture or meditation would do for your spleen, nervous system or soul. He told us in which direction to sleep, how to cure allergies, depression and impotency, who to marry, how to educate our children, and, of course, how to go to the bathroom properly. There were thousands and thousands of these prescriptions. In fact, his teaching was almost entirely prescriptive. Do this and you will get that.
The more he kept giving us ways to do things, the more we saw him as a master teacher. This was his real secret of control.”
Mel Hofmann lived in the San Rafael Ashram for 9 months when she was 16. She said there were “strict rules” for the married adults in the ashram like “sex only once a month (during times of fertility), marriage only among members of the opposite sex, and showering with underwear on.”
Gursant Singh believes Bhajan was a calculating sociopath, a sentiment echoed by other former followers. “He had an agenda. He was a very clever businessman,” he said. It was hard to talk with him one on one Singh claims. “You could never really have a regular conversation with him. It was more like ‘he was the master’ and he dictated everything.” He continued, “Bhajan rarely let other people talk around him and he would interrupt you.”
Most of his followers believed Bhajan was a divine being or direct conduit of God. He was the master, they were the loyal and devoted students.
Numerous ex-members report that he frequently told them they’d get sick and die if they left or disobeyed. Kate Felt stated in her lawsuit that Bhajan told her it was her “destiny” to be “sexually attacked and die in an auto accident” and become a prostitute if she left him. Moreso she claims Bhajan threatened to kill her if she spoke to any male friend or family member. Michael Eldan said Bhajan threatened to have him killed.
Those who did leave were demonized by Bhajan. Bhajan said Pamela was a “fallen woman” and a prostitute who had succumbed to her second chakra once she left him. Several former followers I spoke with told me they too were ostracized and demonized after leaving.
“Your devotion must be so pure, like that devotee who can just walk in on her teacher. Finding him naked and having intercourse with one of his female students, her response was to put a blanket over both of them, and quietly leave the room, closing the door behind her. That is the sign of a pure devotion. To see but not see.” — Yogi Bhajan
Hofmann said Bhajan once put her and other group members on a strict watermelon only diet for a week straight. She said they were then required to drink so much water that they threw up. Bhajan also put Hofmann on a greens only diet where she ate mostly green vegetables and split peas. “I felt like I was starving,” she said. Her menstrual cycle was absent for the entire 9 months that she lived in the ashram due to malnutrition and excessive exercise.
In her lawsuit, Kate Felt claims that Bhajan “routinely prescribed numerous bizarre and unhealthful fasts and diets” for her. It was done under the guise that he was “specially trained, as well as divinely inspired, to diagnose physical ills and ailments.”
Felt claims that the diets, breathing techniques and rites like reciting Bhajan’s name for hours left her “confused, demoralized and unable to clearly think or reason.”
According to former members Yogi Bhajan arranged over 500 marriages in his time as a leader. He would call devotees his “daughters and sons” but he lacked any “personal feelings” for them and would carelessly match them in marriages. Christa Houser said she saw Bhajan arranging marriages regularly.
“I observed many arranged marriages. Yogi Bhajan would sit up on stage, especially in the early years, and simply point and say, ‘You! And you! Get married. Your auras look good together.’ This was often done in front of a very big audience you understand, and most of us went along with it because we believed he knew his stuff, that he could see things that we couldn’t see.”
A former member notes how it wasn’t just Bhajan, but rather the heads of ashrams who were involved in matching people up.
“The last day all of a sudden people were getting matched up…People were just astounded. These young couples were just stepping off the brink and people were amazed and very uncritical. By the next solstice, however, when there were even more arranged marriages it was a much less spontaneous thing. All the ashram heads, and more particularly the ashram heads’ wives were involved in these machinations over who should hook up with who. It was like trading baseball cards or something.”
One former member believes Bhajan would intentionally mismatch people to sow discord and then pit the partners against each other. There were “many sad matches” they claim.
Pamela Sarah Dyson also mentioned Bhajan’s arrangements in her book. “He was quick to match up any single men or women newly entering the fold. He would relocate people in the blink of an eye…” She said Bhajan would “turn lives upside down” while the inner circle would nod and repeat the mantra, “It’s all God’s Will.”
Tej Steiner, the former director of the Toronto ashram had an arranged marriage by Bhajan. It happened in a group, along with 7 other couples. He told me that Bhajan took him aside at the Solstice gathering and said he had the “perfect woman” for him. “This woman will allow you to fulfill your destiny personally and collectively,” Bhajan told him. “I would marry her but because I can’t I will give her to my favorite son,” Bhajan said. Their arranged marriage was “unhappy and a mismatch” Steiner said but they stayed together for 15 years and had two children.
Bhajan also arranged marriages for his wealthy friends and benefactors, at times older men with girls as young as 18. One of them was Dr. Allen whom Bhajan lived with for many years on Preuss street in Los Angeles.
Any marriages or partnerships were to be strictly heterosexual. This was just one of many traditional or more conservative elements of Bhajan’s methods.
Bhajan sent staff member Mani Niall at the age of 22 to get therapy with Sat Kaur and Hari Jiwan to explore his attraction for men. He said he was “grilled” by Jiwan with a “thinly veiled disdain” about his “sex life, sexual past” and “masturbatory fantasies.” Bhajan then called a staff meeting and in front of several other people said to Niall “So you want to be gay?” He said the “floor went out from under him” as Bhajan’s action was done with “maximum drama, public shame, and humiliation.” Bhajan proceeded to out Niall to his wife as gay and his best friend told him that she could no longer be friends with him. After years of working for and living with the community, he quickly became an outcast.
“Bhajan didn’t like homosexuals,” Steiner told me. Bhajan outed a woman in the group as being gay to Steiner. “I remember being so shocked that he was telling me that he couldn’t tell anyone that she was gay but he was telling me that.” Steiner said he knew Bhajan was manipulating him.
Child Abuse & Children Swapping
Once Bhajan had haphazardly arranged marriages of his followers leaving their lives in turmoil he took their children from them. Bhajan heavily pressured his followers to send their children to live with families other than their own or to be sent to his special training schools in India where many were physically and emotionally abused. At the age of 18, the children were discouraged from attending college and pressured to work for free for Bhajan’s organization in New Mexico. It was all a calculated effort to break down the family, exploit labor and indoctrinate and groom the children for his personal and sexual gratification former members claim.
Tej Steiner sent his baby boy away at the age of 2 to the Washington D.C. ashram at the behest of Yogi Bhajan. This was a process called “children swapping” where kids would be sent to other families’ homes. “It was excruciatingly painful,” Steiner said. At the age of 7 he sent him to India where he stayed for five years. He and his wife also sent their daughter to India for a year at the age of 9. She was then sent to live with a family in New Mexico. “We were told that it was for the best,” Steiner said. “Bhajan convinced us we must protect them from the culture of sex and drugs and from our own parental neuroses.”
Jessica Canter’s parents sent her away at the age of two to live with a family at the Washington D.C. ashram. Throughout her childhood and teenage years, she was shuffled to Phoenix, Arizona and Espanola, New Mexico and finally to boarding school in India.
“Oh my god, the pressure was harsh,” Christa Houser said. “They would bring mothers up in front of hundreds of people and relentlessly pressure them until they said yes and agreed to send their kids to India.” She said she’d “never experienced peer pressure like that” in her life.
Former directors of the San Diego ashram, Elandra and Antion Meredith sent their two young daughters to India as a result of Bhajan and the groups “enormous” pressure Elandra said. “If we didn’t we were not good people or good Sikhs. We were disobedient.” When the daughters came home a few years later they were suffering from “severe PTSD” and were in “really bad shape.” One of them moved out at the age of 15. Both “totally rebelled against us and the organization,” Elandra said.
John Lamenzo recalls an instance when in 1983 approximately 153 children of Yogi Bhajan followers boarded a flight to Amritsar, India. He too was pressured into sending his daughters away.
For some parents, sending their kids to India meant not seeing them for years. Only those who could afford the expensive trips could visit or bring their kids home during breaks.
Like the others, Michael Eldan was duped into believing that sending his daughter away was good for her. He first sent her away to live in Espanola, New Mexico at the age of 9 and then to India at the age of 12. But he realizes it was a huge mistake. “I feel terrible about what happened,” he told me. “I have no pen on paper to describe my regret. A whole pack of paper wouldn’t be enough.” He paused as he became emotional. “I abandoned my daughter. And I believed in it and I was wrong. I ask for forgiveness.”
Some of the children were subjected to a variety of physical and verbal abuses by Nanak Dev, the charismatic leader, and director of the school that Bhajan had appointed. Certain kids that he didn’t like suffered the worst abuse. “Dev was a charismatic guy with wild mood swings,” Jessica Canter told me. “He could be real fun or a real terror.” She said Dev and other men in the group were emulating Bhajan and could be loving one minute and abusive the next.
A former child survivor describes the abuse. “We were beat and slapped by the Indian teachers and guides at GNFC, and were also made to do lots of bizarre corporal punishments, that had lots to do with awkward positioning and endurance.” GNFC stands for Guru Nanak Fifth Centenary School, located in Mussoorie. It was one of three schools in India where kids were sent.
The same former child survivor says each child was forced to wake up at 4 am to do 1.5 hours of Kundalini Yoga followed by an hour of meditation. Any slight drop in their heads during the meditation was “reason enough to invite a swift blow from the cane” he states. “One minute I would be chanting, the next minute, I would be jarred awake after getting hit in the back, the pain taking a few seconds to register while my body woke back up.” It happened to both girls and boys.
One of John Lamenzo’s daughters describes how Nanak Dev abused her sister.
“One girl was forced to carry a rock dubbed the “Ego Rock” wherever she went, as punishment for talking back to him. She was also forced to stand in one place in the garden for an entire day, being monitored by some of the older boys. Afterwards, Nanak Dev would go out of his way in later yoga sessions to berate her and publicly humiliate her, something I knew all too well.”
She alleges Nanak Dev severely beat her sister as well.
“And before that day of standing out there with a 20lb stone, she was locked up in a room and brutally assaulted by Nanak Dev. He pulled her by her hair, and he threw her back and forth, pounding on her chest and back, screaming at her and demanding her contrition. This went on for god-knows-how long, but long enough that Nanak Dev had two senior kids, Rama and Ravi (Kaur) keep watch outside the room where he was beating her up — a 12-year old girl. Why was she his target that day? Because she was running ‘too slow’ during the rounds they were forced to run after losing at soccer.”
3H0 still sends kids to a training center in India, called Miri Piri. Things have “dramatically changed” nowadays Christa said but the abusive legacy of Bhajan’s scheme still lives on and in 2015 there was a death of an instructor that 3HO tried to cover up.
Breaking up families and tampering with relationships is a common trait found in cults. These methods are designed to keep the sole focus on the guru.
[If you were sent away from your family or part of a family who sent children from the home please contact the author at email@example.com if you’d like to share your story.]
Yogi Bhajan’s senior partners Hari Jiwan, Harijiwan, and Gurujot Singh Khalsa, in addition to other 3HO members, were charged with a variety of criminal activities including drug & weapons smuggling, fraud, and jewelry schemes. These three were some of the closest and most trusted associates of Bhajan.
Smuggling Drugs & Weapons
Early one morning during Sadhna practice in 1987, a SWAT team burst into the Kundalini Ashram in Great Falls, Virginia with guns drawn, pointed at people’s faces. They yelled at everyone to lie on their bellies. The team apprehended Gurujot Singh Khalsa, head of the Ashram, and took him away in handcuffs. Singh, described as Bhajan’s “prince” and “defense minister” by Christa Houser, was director of the entire eastern region.
Unbeknownst to the Kundalini yoga teachers and students present that morning, Gurujot was involved in one of the largest international drug rings in history. Together with his co-conspirator Albert Ellis, who was also a follower of Bhajan, they made several trips to locations such as Hong Kong to arrange the purchase of 20 tons of marijuana worth millions of dollars from Thailand. The U.S. government complaint against Gurujot states that he also wanted to purchase numerous weapons, including a grenade launcher. The sellers were confidential informants however and the ship was seized by the coast guard with 22 tons of marijuana on board. A section of the complaint about Gurujot reads:
“Throughout late 1983 and 1984, defendant [Gurujot] made several trips to Thailand and Hong Kong to set up a 20 to 40 ton marijuana importation. The informants told defendant they would need $2 million front money. The defendant told them the money should be laundered in Hong Kong through a money launderer, Tom ODonnell…Between November 1983 and January 1984, over $1 million was fronted. During one meeting with CI#l, defendant asked if CI#l could get him pistols with silencers, an M 79 grenade launcher and an M 50 caliber machine gun.”
What was Yogi Bhajan’s right-hand man, defense minister, and director of the entire Eastern region of Kundalini Yoga doing traveling the world to make multi-million-dollar deals to import drugs and high caliber weapons? “No one did anything without Bhajan knowing about it or being involved,” Christa said. This was all Bhajan’s doing former members claim.
Members of the 3HO community mortgaged their homes and borrowed money to get Gurujot out on bail, adding financial stress to their lives. He did go to prison but was let out because he turned many in who were involved Christa Houser said.
Both Albert Ellis and Gurujot were mentioned in the book Reefer Men: The Rise & Fall of a Billionaire Drug Ring that chronicled the story in-depth. Author Tony Thompson describes the two Bhajan devotees: “Resplendent in their white turbans, long flowing robes and with ragged beards covering their faces and reaching all the way down to their bellies…” The book describes details such as how they traveled to Thailand to watch the marijuana packaging process unfold in the warehouse.
The cruel irony of Bhajan being involved with drug smuggling is that he was actively campaigning for a drug-free America and justified ripping children from their parents by telling them they needed to be sheltered from the mainstream drug culture.
Fraud & Jewelry Schemes
Smuggling drugs and guns weren’t Gurujot Singh Khalsa’s only offense. Yogi Bhajan’s right-hand man faced another criminal complaint in 1993 after he defrauded nine investors out of $491,000. According to the SEC filing, Gurujot, along with another 3HO member, Darshan Singh Khalsa, created a fake investment company and lied to Sikh community members to get them to invest money into their new company. They told investors their money would be invested in “Time Deposits,” but instead, they used the money to repay other debts.
In June of 1997, the FTC filed charges against Hari Jiwan, another of Yogi Bhajan’s right-hand men for scheming people into buying over-priced jewels and diamonds. Along with Jiwan, two other 3HO associates, Siri Ram Singh Khalsa, and Kirtan Singh were accused of defrauding people in what was dubbed “Project Field of Schemes” by authorities. Gursant Singh Khalsa describes what they found.
“In its complaint detailing the charges, the FTC alleged that the defendants routinely misrepresented the risk, value, appreciation, and liquidity of the gemstones they sold and falsely claimed that consumers would realize tremendous profits. In addition, the defendants falsely pledged that they could and would easily liquidate consumers’ gemstone portfolios after an 18-month holding period. In fact, according to the FTC, the defendants typically ceased all contact with consumers and refused to liquidate their gemstones after the 18-month period.”
Yogi Bhajan and Jiwan did regular business at a jewelry store in Beverly Hills owned by a man named Jerry. Bhajan, Jiwan and Jerry would pressure followers to buy jewels. A former witness describes what would happen. “Bhajan and Jerry double-teamed people (not just the women), urging them to purchase things because they were ‘beautiful’ or ‘good for your aura.’”
“It was all about money for them,” Gursant Singh said. “Bhajan and Hari Jiwan were a pair of con men.” One time Bhajan tried to pressure Gursant into purchasing an expensive ring for several thousands of dollars. “Bhajan told me I was ‘naked’ because I wore no jewelry,” he said. He said he’s glad he did not give in to Bhajan’s pressure.
According to Gursant, Yogi Bhajan’s collection of jewelry alone was worth millions of dollars. He also had the largest collection of ivory in New Mexico and owned nearly twenty luxury cars, all Mercedes and Rolls Royces. Other former members confirm Bhajan’s obsession with luxury goods. In his book, Gursant Singh describes his astonishment at seeing the jewels for the first time at the Beverly Hills bank. He traveled there every week with another secretary.
“On my first visit to the bank, my eyes almost popped out of my head. Within the safety deposit boxes, I saw literally dozens of trays of expensive and ostentatious jewelry. Each week Yogiji demanded a fresh array of pendants, necklaces, and rings; different kinds of gemstones to align his auric body with the vibrations of different planetary positions and conjunctions. It was highly scientific and Yogiji had it all figured out.”
Another of Bhajan’s right-hand men, prominent Kundalini teacher also named Harijiwan Singh Khalsa (with no space between Hari and Jiwan), was sentenced to two years in prison for defrauding companies into paying fake, overpriced invoices for printer cartridges. Dubbed the “toner bandit” by the media he served 18 months. Bhajan put him in charge of Yogi Tea for awhile. Harijiwan’s band White Sun won a grammy award in 2017.
The primary organization that oversees all Kundalini related business, Siri Singh Sahib Corporation, runs a multi-billion dollar security company called Akal security that has worked with ICE to detain and ship migrants. It was founded in 1980 by two 3HO members Gurutej Singh Khalsa and Daya Singh Khalsa. Akal is now one of the largest private military companies in existence and has secured very large contracts with the U.S. government and military.
In 2015 a Kundalini teacher organized a petition and movement to stop Akal from working with ICE. The petition demands that the Kundalini organization sever any ties with the prison industrial complex: “immediately divest from all financial interest in ICE in order to end any profiting or appearance of profiting from mass incarceration & detention. We also call on SSSCorp and Akal Security to eliminate any business relationships, associations, and contracts associated with the detention of human beings in the prison-industrial complex, which disproportionately affects communities of color including immigrants and now asylum seekers.”
“I am a warrior and the Guru’s slave. This is the battle that faces us and if, by Guru’s Grace, my skills and talents can be of use, I only exist to serve the Sahd Sangat.”— Amrit Singh Khalsa, Akal board director
In his article Questions About Akal Security Phillip Tanzer asks a poignant question: “Should a nonprofit, tax-exempt church oversee a for-profit security contractor tasked with enforcing ICE policies?” He describes how Akal saved money by employing ICE detainees. “[Akal] also saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars by implementing a national policy of using jailed migrants as a source of cheap labor. Not convicted criminals, mind you; these were simply ICE detainees serving food and scrubbing floors for $1 dollar a day. For years.”
Unsolved Murders & Suspicious Deaths
In 2012, Oscar Galvez, an instructor at MiriPiri, the Kundalini Yoga school in India for 3HO member children was found dead in a bathroom at the school. Alarm bells were raised when 3HO wouldn’t send the body back and started covering things up Christa told me. “When they finally got the body back it was completely mutilated from organ theft.” The body had no heart, kidneys, stomach or prostate. The family, from Chile, was furious and frustrated Christa said. His death remains unsolved as they couldn’t perform an autopsy due to the state of the body. Chilevision did a fifteen-minute news segment on Galvez and his suspicious death. Some believe Galvez was murdered and the organ theft/body mutilation was done to cover it up. The family stated that the managers of Miri Piri may have pulled off the “perfect crime.”
Guru Preet Singh was involved in the Eugene Oregon Kundalini ashram and was found murdered in the trunk of his car in September 1987. Not long before, Bhajan had arranged a marriage for Guru Preet. The associated press reported that he was a “major drug dealer” and had “made a 45-minute call to a friend in Salem who apparently was involved in the Sikh religion.” This was allegedly a call to Gurujot Singh, the right-hand man of Bhajan busted in the international drug ring. A member known as “Deep Turban” who spent time with Guru Preet before he was killed claims that the murder was connected with Gurujuot’s and Bhajan’s drug ring.
As described earlier, 3HO members Albert Ellis and Gurujot Singh Khalsa were arrested for drug and weapon smuggling. In 2009 Albert Ellis’ son was murdered in unexplainable fashion when someone shot him at point-blank range. No motive or suspect was ever discovered. The killing could be random but given Ellis’ background as international drugs and arms dealers, former group members are suspicious.
Master of Deceit
“I just share with you what God channels through me. Do not misunderstand me, I am not the one who is speaking. I’m just a humble servant. Rather, it is the God working through me.” — Yogi Bhajan
It’s become clear that an entire generation of spiritual seekers has been duped by a customs inspector from India who manipulated, raped, sexually assaulted and abused them. Nearly everything he did, from the yoga poses to the peculiar prescriptions and the schools in India was designed to destroy, disrupt and diminish his followers so he could better control them. Bhajan lived a life of luxury, unhindered sexual pursuits and fame while his followers suffered enormously. His stroke of evil genius was convincing them the abuse was spiritual growth. Yogi Bhajan was a master of deceit, not a master of spirituality.
In a post on Facebook Wild Mountain Yoga Center the director called out the wider Kundalini organizations for being complicit in the abuse:
“It has become overwhelmingly clear that Yogi Bhajan, and the organizations he founded are involved in a deceptive-web of sexual, mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse, lies, and corruption. Moreover the organizations he started are complicit in abuse, hiding information, turning-a-blind-eye, slandering and harassing victims, and even at this very moment distorting, hiding, and rationalizing facts amidst a 3rd-party investigation.”
Matthew Remski, author of the book “Practice and All is Coming” about cults and Pattabhi Jois’ abuse, warns that “one of the biggest obstructions to justice in yoga abuse crises is the false belief that reform can come from within an abusive organization.” He continues. “Anyone who remains faithful to the internal logic and affect of the group to want it to be perpetuated will be allergic to the very questions that disturb that logic and affect.”
Gursant Singh is calling for a “truly independent investigation” into all of the Yogi Bhajan related institutions. “The Yogi Bhajan cult of personality needs to end and a restorative justice program must be implemented as a way to compensate victims and mitigate the incredible amount of damage Yogi Bhajan did.”
The Siri Singh Sahib Corporation has made millions of dollars through its various companies like Akal Security, Yogi Tea, and other ventures. All victims should be financially compensated for their pain and suffering and for costs related to healing and recovery.
Nobody listened to Tej Steiner’s warning 32 years ago. Just think of how different everything could have turned out. Thus, if you become aware of abuse in a yoga or spiritual organization, don’t ignore it. If you act, you may alter the course of history and change lives forever.
NOTE: A follow-up article is being written. If you were abused by Yogi Bhajan, were sent away from your family or have anything you would like to share with an independent researcher please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.