Snatam Kaur in the latest photo shared at her Facebook page. Background: Yogi Bhajan
By Snatam Kaur | United States |
Truth be told: I’ve been in a healing cocoon, mending a broken heart. In 2020, I learned that my spiritual teacher, Yogi Bhajan, who passed away in 2004, sexually abused many women in his lifetime. A few months after finding this out, the pandemic hit, and a tour I had planned was postponed. That’s when I entered my cocoon. I could have stayed there forever as the image I long held of my teacher crumbled before my eyes. I cried with those bravely telling their stories and as more stories of abuse emerged from our community.
Yogi Bhajan taught me Kundalini yoga and introduced me to the Sikh lifestyle, all of which inspired a set of daily practices I have done since I was a teenager. These practices have brought joy, peace, and strength to my life. I had many positive experiences with Yogi Bhajan. Yet, here is what emerged in my time of reflection. Although I never experienced physical abuse firsthand, I realized how much control he exerted over my life in ways that caused me a lot of pain that I am beginning to process and heal from. I also realized that I believed that Yogi Bhajan was perfect and that I could never match up to that level of perfection and what I thought I should be. This belief left me feeling disempowered and insecure as I aimed for the impossibility of that perfection for many years. I am now forging my own sovereign connection with my spiritual path.
I can no longer call Yogi Bhajan my spiritual teacher.
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Here are the questions I ask myself. Do I love my daily practice and lifestyle that Yogi Bhajan inspired me to do? Absolutely. Do I hate the abusive and controlling behavior I have come to understand? Yes, completely. Holding both hate and love is my path right now. It causes my heart to break and tears to flow. Yet, I am inviting myself and anyone who has ever tried to be perfect or thought someone else was perfect, to let go of that notion and just be who you are. Stand in the “I’m sorry.” Stand with the goal of doing better and being better. Stand in love and in the pain. Go deeper into something much greater — into the presence of your soul and being.
I am grateful to those who have bravely told their stories of abuse and pray for my capacity to do my part along with our entire community, to acknowledge our mistakes, apologize, repair, and create environments of healing, love, and respect for all — now and for our generations to follow.
In love and gratitude.
Snatam Kaur is an American singer, kirtani and yoga teacher raised in the Kundalini Yoga (KY) tradition, the primary teachings of Yogi Bhajan. The note above was an entry at her personal Facebook page on 5 May 2022 as she prepares for an upcoming tour through Europe, Israel and the UK.
In a damning investigative report released in August 2020, Yogi Bhajan was found ‘more likely than not’ to have ‘engaged in sexual battery, other sexual abuse specifically, exposing minors to pornography, sexual harassment, and unethical behavior’. He died in 2004.
The KY fraternity was rocked by the release in January 2020 of ‘Premka: White Bird in a Golden Cage (My Life with Yogi Bhajan)’, a book written by Bhajan’s former staff member Pamela Sarah Dyson who alleged that he coerced her and other staff members into sex.
This led to Yogi Bhajan’s legacy organisations – 3HO Foundation, Sikh Dharma International and Kundalini Research Institute – initiating the investigation.
In a lengthy Facebook entry in March 2020, Snatam had said: “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.”
Yogi Bhajan’s fall from grace. The ‘sexual abuse’ is just the just beginning (Asia Samachar, 20 Aug 2020)
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