The inventing (and re-inventing) of Kundalini Yoga

For anyone unaware (is there anyone?), Kundalini Yoga and 3HO Sikh Dharma are inextricably linked.

There is no historical, ideological, or anthropological connection–what-so-ever–between the religion of Sikhism and Kundalini, aka Tantra. Yet this link has nevertheless found its way into the common vernacular among many people in the west with little epistemological discourse.
I’m not here to UN-link the two.  That’s been done, almost to the point of exhaustion already. I have the benefit of believing in neither. That means I’m free to look at it from a distance, although that distance for me is never too far, having been brought up to have a devout and uncritical belief and appreciation for the ideologie(s) AND the link.  
This brings me to my current topic, which is 3HO’s many iterations, or, re-inventions of their ideologies, beliefs, and social positions, and the inherent conflict that this ongoing re-invention presents.
If, during my childhood in the 70’s, 80’s, 3HO purported an ideology or belief system, it was presented as the truth. It was presented as well that there can only be one truth. And that if this truth was the one truth, there really can be no other truth.  Truth, in the religious sense, is not subjective.
Devotees of Harbhajan Puri (Yogi Bhajan) accepted his teachings as this truth.  It wasn’t subjective. It was not up for discussion or debate. (Although many of his lectures were hardly coherent, and often conflicted with other lectures. No matter, his truth was THE truth).
He lectured extensively about sexuality.  He lectured about women’s sexuality. He lectured about men’s sexuality. And he lectured about homosexuality.
Here are some of so-called truths about homosexuality that I can recall off the top of my head: “Homosexual men are homosexual because their mother didn’t love them while they were in the womb”… “Homosexual men were stuck in their first chakra”… “Homosexual men like to wear black leather and studs and have anal sex because they are obsessed with their first chakra, and can’t get out of their lower chakra”…  “Homosexual women were homosexual because they hated men”… “Sex between two women is different than being a homosexual”.  …and so on.
Enough.  It’s so absurd, and to think it was presented as truth makes me sick.  Because in this case it meant that the devotees had permission from their leader to be homophobic.  And when it came to real life, they acted out their homophobia openly and aggressively.  Make no mistake. I was there. I saw it, and sometimes I was even the recipient of it. And I left because of it.
Even if 3HO is different today, if YB’s teachings were the truth (and in this world, remember that the truth is not subjective) aren’t they in conflict with his doctrine?  In end, are they openly saying, “Yogi Bhajan was wrong”?

No. Instead, they are revising his teachings, wiping the slate clean of all the crap he said, picking and choosing what, of his many bizarre philosophies to re-iterate, and painting a false picture of a progressive and learned person who really wasn’t either.

Religions need to be flexible with the times. And it’s way better that 3HO appears to now be on the side of good. Just keep in mind that it was not that long ago that Bibi Inderjit Kaur was asked that she give permission to gay couples to have wedding ceremonies in the Gurdwaras in New Mexico. She denied that request.  This was in the early 2000’s.

3HO Sikh Dharma has a very short history, and amnesia only works for those who stand to benefit from it.

I’m no amnesiac.

2 Replies to “The inventing (and re-inventing) of Kundalini Yoga”

  1. Hello, I would like to talk to you about your experience in the 3HO schools. I am a reporter for the Sikh News Network (, and I am considering a story about the kids. Please email me at or call me at 202.550.9990.

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