Misc Religions/anti sikh practices
QUESTION: ssa ji.. being a sikh from punjab basically i, like many others,appreciate sikhi spreading to west. but the fact that 3ho group practices yoga and idol worship and the picturs depicting tantaric yoga are disturbing. "" yog baneya tera kirtan gaya" this is hukam of sggs, when i sing kirtan ..that is my yoga..there are many more references from gurbani..about this..i want to know why 3ho sikhs keep following these anti sikh practices.. sorry if i m being harsh...honestly..i really am very happy seing sikhi spreading to west.and appreciate harbhajan singhs efforts..
ANSWER: Sat Siri Akhal ji. Thank you for your inquiry. I trust I can answer you completely and honestly. Yes, people who are in 3HO do practice Kundalini Yoga and for that we are all grateful to Harbhajan Singh yogi. But, and this is important we do not worship or deify him in any way. We honor and respect him for the sacrifices he has made to bring that science to the West for the benefit of people open to it.
Let me say now that the great majority of people who practice and teach Kundalini Yoga are NOT Sikhs. They are students and teachers who have taken up this very beneficial discipline to aid and facilitate their lives through exercise and meditation. Many also have adopted some aspects of the Sikh lifestyle, rising early for yoga and meditation, vegetarianism, allowing their hair to grow, and covering their heads as a sign of respect to the Creator. They do not consider themselves Sikhs nor members of a cult. They consider themselves practitioners of a yogic lifestyle that will aid them in living a healthier, happier and even holier lifestyle than what they were able to achieve before practicing Kundalini Yoga.
Now to address your concerns about many American people who consider themselves Sikhs as well as Kundalini Yoga practitioners (or yogis!). Let me say at the outset that I have practiced Kundalini Yoga for nearly 40 years. I also consider myself a Sikh of the Guru as you may be able to tell from my name. I am not the world's best Sikh, but I do rise each morning (95% success rate) before the Sun, I bathe, comb my hair and beard (uncut for those same 40 years) read Jaap-ji, perform yoga and spend more than an hour chanting God's Name. I am like many other American Sikhs. We first found the yoga taught by Yogi Bhajan (Harbhajan Singh) and then, seeing the validity and strength of his words and his example as a Sikh, we adopted a life style similar to his, which I speak about above.
You speak about seeing tantric yoga pictures. I do not know what pictures you have seen but let me tell you of my personal experience with White Tantric Yoga as given to us by Yogi Bhajan. First, it is done in large groups with couples (my wife and I for example) sitting in meditative postures facing each other, holding hands perhaps (nothing remotely sexual if you are wondering about that ) while chanting mantras like the mool mantra, Gobinde Mukhande, Wahaa Guru and so forth. This is strictly a meditative practice. My wife and I have been married for nearly 37 years and we have practiced this White Tantric Yoga many times over the course of our marriage. I can tell you that I know the sacred strength of Sat Inder Kaur through these meditative practices and she has a perception of mine. White Tantric has gotten us through many difficulties as a couple, we know each other through them, we trust each other because of them and we are strong enough because of them to weather any storm or crisis. Let me emphasize once again that White Tantric Yoga meditations have nothing to do with sexual practices what so ever.
You talked of idol worship-- I only bow to the Guru, the one eternal Guru of the Sikhs, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. In this we follow the instructions of Guru Gobind Singh. We read from the Guru each day, taking a hookamnama each morning after our meditations. If you refer to pictures of the Gurus, yes, we have them throughout our house to REMIND us of what we should be doing as Sikhs of the Guru. And yes we do have pictures of Yogi Bhajan as well, also to remind us of his tremendous inspirational capacity as a Sikh, a Yogi, a father and as a man and most importantly as a human being.
I hope I have answered all of your questions, I have done my best. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me if necessary.
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QUESTION: thanks for replying...and i do consider you and harbhajan singh as good sikhs..but the fact that yoga is an exercise or body workout.. and not a sikh practice..and when people see white sikhs doing tantric yoga ..it gives a wrong message..since you and myself ..we all are followers of guru granth sahib..so regarding yoga..we should follow whats written in guru granth sahib...and another query was regarding baba siri chand ji's idol ..which is there in the espanyola gurdwara......there were offerings in front of the idol...what sikhs from other part of world...think ..of 3ho sikhs as misguided in certain aspects..which were mentioned before.
regarding yoga...this is what gurbani says....ANG265 SUKHMANEE SAHIB..ashtpadi in sukhmanee sahib says.. jaap taap gyan sab dhyan , khat shastar simrat vakhyan , JOG abhyas karam dharm kirya , sagal tyag ban madhe firya,anak prakar kiye bahu jatna ,punn daan haume buh ratna,sarir kataye haume kar rati, vart naem kare buh bhaati,,NAHI TUL RAAM NAAM BEECHAR ,NANAK GURMUKH NAAM JAPIYE IK BAAR...
what sikhs like me are concerned...about is..mixing of yoga and sikhi...here in india..we do not allow yoga to be done in gurdwaras..and under banner of gurdwara..yoga is basically a hindu practice...its like ..we do not let people do aerobics and dancing in gurdwara because it will keep your body healthy..if people want to do yoga they could do that in there homes...its a body exercise like others...
Yoga IS a form of exercise. That is true. But isn't exercise good for our bodies? Our Creator has given us these bodies as "vehicles" to use so that we may realize the divinity given to us by God. We must maintain that vehicle in good order just as we would maintain a car so it will deliver us to our destination. I have seen too many Americans who are totally unhealthy, overweight, ill in body or mind, so much so that they could not realize their spiritual destiny if Jesus himself took them by the hand and led them to the top of the mountain (of holy spirituality).
I do yoga so that I can maintain my body in good order that I may continue to bow my head before the Guru Granth Sahib, so that I may cook langhar for my brothers and sisters, so that I may make sure their shoes are neatly placed outside the House of the Guru. I (we) do not do yoga in the presence of the Guru, that would be disrespectful. The Gurdwara is where we listen to the words of the Guru, where we are transported by the kirtan and where we are served the delights of prasad. Even though I may be inclined by all of these things to finally MEDITATE upon God & Guru, I do not do yoga there. My yoga is practiced elsewhere.
As for mixing yoga and Sikhism, what harm can there be in sitting quietly in a meditative space, where there are pictures of our Gurus to remind us of our possible potential, and to speak those words spoken by Guru Nanak (Mool Mantra), and Guru Ram Das and Guru Arjun. Would I not be blessed if I spoke (sang, chanted) these words? This is a religious tradition exploited by holy men and women throughout all ages as a way to achieve liberation, is it not? Yes yoga is a Hindu practice. Is vegetarianism bad because someone else thought of it first. Is not cutting our hair bad because there were and still are long haired yogis and Hindus? Is serving the poor bad because it was taken up by Mother Theresa?
I know the statue of Baba Siri Chand of which you speak. It is there, outside the GurdwaraSahib in a small enclosed space. People go there to talk and meditate and perhaps remember what a great yogi he was who lived a long life and thus was able to worship God for a longer time than most of us who are short lived! If you were to visit Espanola I could show you many other statues of holy personages. They are NOT worshiped but they are there to remind us of our potential of what we can achieve if we continue to Love God, Serve our fellow man (and woman) and Remember that we actually are a part of the Divine.
I have read passages in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib that actually propose chanting God's Name while inhaling the breath, and remembering God's Name while holding the breath in and exhaling while remembering God's Name. I know that Guru Nanak had many recommendations for the Yogis who questioned him closely. I also know that he respected their practices and adherence to a spiritual discipline as he did with his son, Baba Siri Chand.
As for what other Sikhs think of us I cannot account. We are Sikhs, but we are from America. That may be a great handicap or a great advantage. I do not know. But I do know that the way of the Sikh as taught by Guru Nanak through Guru Gobind Singh is a path I choose freely. I do the yoga and meditation to enable me to better understand and appreciate that path. Before I became a Sikh I knew that it was better not to cut my hair, I did not know why, but I knew I felt better for the 5 or 10 years that I did it before becoming a Sikh. I also had stopped the use of tobacco years before becoming a Sikh. I thank God I did it when I did, I am healthier for it. I also stopped drinking alcohol years before bowing to the Guru. I had also stopped eating meat, fish or eggs before my spiritual awakening. All these things prepared me for the divine moment when I knew I was a Sikh without using the word Sikh. In effect, I was destined for it and the yoga and meditation as taught by Yogi Bhajan merely opened the door to the Gurdwara and spoke the words into my previously deaf ears. Wahe Guru!