TW: sexual violence
As a Punjabi woman with Sikh lineage, and presenting myself as an authentic lineage yogic practitioner— I feel it’s time I finally speak on this issue and use my voice.
After Katie Griggs’ ( guru jagat) recent death, increased allegations of her misconduct inside the RA MA institute alongside increased people coming forth about yogi bhajan’s 30+ years of sexual abuse— I am rattled, disgusted and saddened.
I see both of them as expressions of the same dark consciousness— using incredible charm, power and “wisdom” teachings to lure people into their cult.
I finally read the entire report of yogi bajan’s misconduct– compiled of 300 witnesses, by Olive Branch, an independent organization that responds to ethical misconduct in spiritual communities. See the full report here.
What I quickly realized that these were not a few, isolated incidents.
I realized that the entire billion dollar multi – enterprise , 30 + years of yogi Bhajan — was the creation of a narcissistic sociopath.
The rapes, orgies, pornography, the master manipulating, chewing and biting of woman’s labias and tongues, the bruising and sexual grooming.
Under the guise of “Sikhism”. Conflating sacred teachings from a 500 year old religion with his made-up “technology”. He sold out his own people, lineage, ancestry and sold it to the masses.
And so did Katie. Cultural appropriation at its worst.
Taking our white turbans and wearing them when you want — it’s a trend not a way of life for these people. A gold ticket to be saved.
This is not Sikhi. This is harmful and the conflating of ancient Sikh mantra and chant with his made up yoga — it needs to stop. It is harmful to our people and history.
Katie vehemently defended bajan on her RA MA platform— and that is what I find most disturbing. After seeing how she has commodified our religion, verbally abused her staff— she is wielding that same sickening narcissistic leadership— and for some reason people eat it up.
A brown yogini sister of mine spoke out to me as I wept into the phone about this monster — “it’s a trauma bond Abneet.” That’s why so many people were literally “in love” with them.
The question is– why were so many complacent? Enabled the abuse to take place? So many people under his spell. And it brought up 1 word for me:
It’s incredible what us humans will do under fear. And often he threatened his staff and secretaries, and followers if they didn’t do what he was “advising”. Punched a woman straight in the face in front of staff when she disagreed with the advice about how to raise her son. And numerous accounts of situations like this.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
And back to trauma bonding. He ignited a pathway of trauma and fear in his victims, and they clung to him. He made them feel “special” ( he gave wedding rings to many of his secretaries calling them “his wives”– although he was married with children and claimed celibacy) and then threatened them if they disobeyed him.
Preaching publicly about woman’s power, yet behind not so closed doors– dehumanizing, humiliating and abusing women in the worst ways possible. Fucking them in every way– psychologically, emotionally, physically.
What prominent male leader in any industry that you can name right now– hasn’t had allegations of sexual abuse ?
These are not isolated incidents. This is a dark, mass consciousness of dominance and misogyny rearing it’s head through these so called “leaders”.
Yogi bajan used to be a baby, a child , a boy.
What was he exposed to? What did he learn, see and witness as a youth?
Generational trauma is real. Patterns of abuse carry down through the lineage.
I’m not excusing his disgustingness, but zooming out to see that it’s not just “1 sick weirdo”. It’s systemic, and it’s in our entire human consciousness. How we learn to relate to sex and sexuality, women, emotions….
The amount of times he threatened women and called them prostitutes and whores that would end up on the street if they didn’t obey his orders…. this sick Madonna/ whore complex that so often is put on women.
I created this platform of “The Nourished Woman” to empower, elevate and give women permission to honor their own self-care, pleasure and power as emerging leaders of Divine Feminine Consciousness on this planet.
To heal from hundreds of years of dominance, manipulation and control that both bajan and Katie have showcased.
My heart goes out to the victims of both of these cult leaders. It will take years to unravel this abuse.
I was asked a few years ago on a client discovery call why I had not chosen Kundalini yoga teacher training over the more ancient, classical Arkaya yoga training I currently have. I didn’t have a clear answer for her then. But I do now.
It’s because it’s not yoga. PERIOD.
Ahimsa means non-violence in yoga. Even though I didn’t know of his abuse back then– the entire system of putting people in impossible kriyas ( like raising hands over the head for 30 min) seemed off to me and violent. Of the few kundalini classes I did attend over the past 10 years– I always felt a rush of endorphins and understood the whole “kundalini high” people loved.
But yoga isn’t about getting high.
It’s about integration. Rest. Breath.
There is no ethos of yoga in his Kundalini system.
I acknowledge the “technology” has helped many people heal from addiction and find healing.
But I cannot support a practice that is for 1:is based on lies– YB did not learn from the “golden chain’ of unbroken lineage of teachers. He made it all up. Kundalini as a phenomenon absolutely exists, as does the 5.000 year old system of Yoga. But the kriyas and ethos– was all his doing and mastermind. Nobody passed that on to him as it is purported.
I cannot support a practice that took sacred mantras and texts from my lineage of Sikhi– and distorted it into his brand for his profit. I can’t tell the amount of times how awkward it has been for me over the years to step into various kundalini classes here in Vancouver, Canada, taught by white, well-meaning teachers, chanting “Sat-nam” and “Waheguru” during yoga classes– all sacred mantras that I grew up in our sacred temples ( Gurdwaras) growing up in Surrey, Canada. To see proud white Sikh people don their spiritual clothes and attire as if they were the very sons and daughters of the Khalsa, while we, many Indian Sikh diaspora around the globe, felt uncomfortable or even down right ashamed to be Indian and Sikh.
Sundeep Morrison, a Punjabi Sikh activist writes:
And former Kundalini member reports of Katie ( Guru Jagat) :
And lastly, I cannot support a practice that was created by a literal monster who destroyed the lives of hundreds of people, and more that 1 generation.
I remember a few years ago I was dating a white man in Boulder, Colorado. His friend, a white women, pulled out a picture out of her wallet during one of our dinner dates. It was of him– Yogi Bajan. She herself called herself ” a shamanic healer”. She showed it to me and said she carried it everywhere with her. He is the “Mahan- Tantric” she proudly told me, and she was told that by virtue of keeping a photo of him in her wallet and gazing upon such a “realized god being” that she was protected and she too–could gain that same spiritual power he had.
Spiritual power of anal rape? Spiritual power of biting woman’s tongues and labias until they were black and blue, bleeding and swollen, punching, hitting and coercing women into non- consensual sex acts and orgies, humiliating and controlling families, for more than 30 years? Wow– what a power that is.
Why do we pedestal gurus? Why do we defend them, even when the evidence mounting against them are staggering?
I think we have deep roots of protecting abusers in our society. AND I think it’s a collective trauma pattern replaying itself– over and over again.
Today my heart goes out to the people and their families affected by this Kundalini Yoga enterprise.
If you are a Bajan Kundalini yoga teacher anywhere in this world reading this- for the love of God, at least take his pictures down from your studios and websites. It’s incredibly harmful and disrespectfu to the victims and their families.
This whole week in my tantric yoga 7 week course “Awakening Shakti” we expressed eons-old suppressed anger in the body in our solar plexus, in sacred rage temple. Now a few days later, I feel a whole new kind of rage in my body.
If you are reading this or have doing your own investigation and can feel the tears and anger coming– I am going to suggest what my punjabi yogini sister advised me tonight– release this rage in running, dancing, or simply smashing a pillow on the bed. When our fight/flight response gets triggered by reading stories like this– we must fall back on our yogic practices of breath and movement and honouring of emotions– to be set free.
And we must have spaces where we can use our voices to share our stories, without judgement or shame.
In solidarity with you, hip to hip,
I love you.