Yogi Bhajan told his followers to place this photo on an altar

Now deceased “Yogi Bhajan” (a.k.a. Harbhajan Singh Puri), a notorious guru and purported “cult leader,” was recently honored posthumously through a joint resolution of the United States Congress. Followers of the man who took the title “Siri Singh Sahib” (SSS) now boast that their dead leader shares the same honor bestowed upon Martin Luther King, Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa reported Indian Express Newspapers.

This is just one more accolade arranged by diehard SSS devotees and the guru’s old political cronies since his death on October 6, 2004.

Bhajan was the founder and absolute leader of a relatively small group called the “Healthy, Happy Holy Organization” (3HO) based in the United States with a membership of a few thousand Americans that often took on Sikh names like “Singh,” “Khalsa” and wore white.

Prominent sociologist and Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Offshe stated in an affidavit that “3HO exhibits characteristics common to cult organizations.”

The well-scripted praise heaped upon Bhajan since his demise includes no less than a “presidential proclamation” by George W. Bush and flags ordered lowered to half-mast by the Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson.

The resolution by congress cites the alleged cult leader’s “legendary compassion, wisdom, kindness, and courage.”

However, his former followers have less than glowing things to say about the dead guru. Many claim that 3HO exploited them and hurt their families. And some women have said that the guru’s attentions were less than spiritual. A former secretary once sued Bhajan for sexual harassment and gross misconduct.

Her lawsuit stated, “The method by which Bhajan induced others to follow him was to pose as a Yoga master and teacher, and then covertly subject yoga students to a process of mental and emotional conditioning in which their personalities are disrupted and ultimately destroyed.”

But lawsuits against Bhajan and/or his businesses were quietly settled and the guru lived a life of luxury, until his death last year at 75.

Harbahjan Sigh Puri (a.k.a. “Yogi Bhajan”) immigrated to the US in the 1970s and built a following amongst largely white, middle-class Americans. He started as a yoga teacher, but soon declared himself a religious leader. His idiosyncratic brand of religion was a blend of yoga, meditation and his quirky personal philosophy. And that composite belief system was frequently denounced and/or criticized by more mainstream and traditional Sikhs.

Over the years Bhajan put together a multi-million dollar financial empire, largely through the devotion, donations and hard work of his American followers. His business interests included AKAL Security, one of the largest private security companies in North America, which relied heavily upon government contracts. He also marketed teas, herbs and assorted health food.

In the 1980s SSS’s right hand man “Gurujot Singh Khalsa” (a.k.a. Robert Alvin Taylor) was criminally indicted for conspiring to import more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana into the US. He was subsequently sentenced to a term in federal prison.

Bhajan was also known for his astute political connections and New Mexico was his main sphere of influence. 3HO maintains a large compound near Espanola, NM where numerous programs and retreats are staged.

Governor Bill Richardson, a long-time political crony, once rushed in a state-owned helicopter to be on time for his appearance as a keynote speaker at an event within the guru’s ashram.

The House resolution honoring Yogi Bhajan sponsored by US Congressman Tom Udall of New Mexico passed by a voice-recorded vote of 405 to 0.

Reportedly 3HO has spread south from New Mexico to old Mexico, and has a following in that nation’s capital city.

Mexican devotees wear the typically white dress of Bhajan’s followers and practice his peculiar form of “Kundalini Yoga” reported India Abroad of Toronto.

SSS may be dead, but his multi-million dollar financial empire and old political cronies continue to live on. This can be seen not as a legacy of “legendary…courage,” but as the residue of collected political favors, business connections, continued proselytizing, real estate assets and plain old hard cash.


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