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Who are 3HO?

Gur Fateh!

Whilst not wishing for this to turn into a controversial debate, I would be interested to know of the forum’s opinions, understanding and knowledge about all that is 3HO.

This is a Jatha, Movement, Organisation however one may refer to it that at one time held considerable sway over some of my outlook both positively and negatively.

Whilst I have never been part of 3HO, I do have some 2nd generation 3HO friends and have in the past been in contact with some UK based members of the organisation through the likes of the Karam Kriya Centre (see: http://www.karamkriya.co.uk/), although with regard to the latter, my net experiences were not entirely encouraging.

There are many interesting, often questionable, notions associated with all that is 3HO, when one looks beyond the white robes, Khalsa- appearance and Kunadlini Yoga (“as taught by Yogi Bhajanâ€) and indeed Yogi Bhajan himself.

As one with a practical and academic interest in Sikhi, Economics, Yoga, Meditation, Health, Fitness, Psychology, Business and ‘lifestyle’, 3HO and Yogi Bhajan certainly did present an interesting and welcome change to the offerings of the majority of more conventional Gyanis and committee members found in most Gurdwaras nowadays...until of course, one wises up and look deeper...

This I certainly did and whilst having approached my few friends within the community (who to their credit, have always answered honestly to my querying mind), formal discussion has all too often been impossible with most forums not willing to entertain any discussion on this matter (Sikhnet clearly being the main one given it’s immediate links to 3HO) or if they do then all too often we find a entourage of emotional insults, which very often come from people with little understanding or experience of the organisation, yet because of it’s more visible differences see fit to cut it down...I’m hoping here, on Sikhawareness, where we do have many diverse members with considerable knowledge of authentic Sikh History and texts, a sensible and intelligent discussion on “All that is 3HO†can be held...

Again, I am not beginning this thread to criticise the organisation or any individuals concerned, however I do feel that this is movement of which we need some better understanding given the close links they have with many Sangats and other Jathas across the Globe and Diaspora and yet the rather naive outlook many have upon them.

Please forgive any foolish comments in the foregoing (or forthcoming),

At the feet of the Sadh Sangat,


To begin with here are some points to consider (more to follow)

*Mahan Tantric and White Tantra –myth or reality?

*Adi Shakti and the Khanda

*Shakti Women

*Trinity and Triangle symbols (see 3HO symbology on Sikhnet and on the 3HO website and also check out Yogi Bhajan’s speeches on Trinity and the Sri Guru)

*Relationship with other Jathas

*Impact of Udasi Baba Virsa Das (Singh)

*Waheguru Waheguru Waheguru Wahe Jio!

*The effects of Jap ji Sahib Pauris as Mantras (see Sikhnet “Sikh Dharma manualâ€)

*The effects of numerological analysis –occult or mysticism?

*Post Yogi Bhajan -the Sri Singh Sahib is old and of failing health as many will know, what consequences can we expect to arise following his death for the 3HO community and their relationship with the Sikh diaspora?

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I think 3HO is fascinating as an encapsulation of the american dream on a spiritual level (as is much of the new age)

There is hordes I could write on this topic, but I'll refrain for now!

There are more scholarly writings by Verne Dusenbury on 3HO. He is generally rather scathing of them. Ironically scholars have approached them from two angles, as an accepted NRM/cult (see A-level Sociology textbooks), and as a sect of Sikhi.

I suggest anybody interested in getting a balanced picture of 3HO and Bhajan visit Kamalla Rose Kaur's ex-3HO forum which has a whole archive of critical info and personal testimonies (including MSS Vikram Singh Khalsa's testimony on the Baba Virsa link)

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Gur Fateh!

An interesting point I find on 3HO is the sometimes strong links they retain with more mainstream Sikhs often through the AKJ sangats (particularly since the advent of Gatka-Khell since the times of Bhai Fauja Singh and Livtar Singh Khalsa continued now in the Miri-Piri Academy) yet at other times 3HO is essentially a 'closed-shop' (say through their International Peace Prayer Day and other exclusive events).

In many ways I do find 3HO to be at a stage where say ISKCON was some 10-20 years ago and often I wonder what lies ahead when Yogi Harbhajan Singh (aka Yogi Bhajan) does pass away...

...any thoughts from the Forum? Are we likely to see closer integration between 3HO and mainstream Sikhs in their alignment with the AKJ (through Kirtan Samagams) and the SGPC (Sikhnet have recently altered their Sikh Dharma Manual to be more in line with the SGPC maryada) or will we see a general division within the community as it breaks into smaller cliques?

If the former, can we expect to see more Kundalini Yoga ("as taught by YB") featuring in mainstream Sikh communities (as we already see in the UK BOSS lectures with the likes of Karam Kriya) and the Miri Piri Academy spreading 3HO style Sikhi in Punjab...which naturally would bring with it the other aspects of 3HO numerological, mantras and new age thoughts...which again are beginning to feature in the BOSS lectures...

...or in the former, can we expect yet more Sikh sects developing from 3HO and ties being cut from the other sangats should 3HO puritanical attitudes become more manifest ("our women are more involved"..."YB said that 40 Pauris of the Anand Sahib or only 5...etc etc).

Be interested to hear the Cyber Sangat's views on this matter and indeed if we have any 3HO members on the Forum, please do offer your thoughts on the foregoing, as I hope it is clear that this is not to revoke or provoke any negatively or accusation, but simply to increase understanding of some areas and matters...


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Perhaps if we view 3HO as a glass half full rather than half empty, we could look at the positives. Yoga is a way for people who are born into non sikh families to reach a higher state of peace. It is after that they are curious about Sikhism and they learn about the religion.

When Prof. Manjit Singh was acting Jathedar of Akal Thakt, he had long discussions with Yogi Ji, and influence him and his followers to follow the path of Sikhi.

What will happen to 3HO members when Yogi Ji leaves this world?

It is the obligation of the Sikh community to bring all 3HO members into the fold.

We spend too much time critisizing others.

The question has to be what have you done to bring ONE person closer to GOD/Guru

Perhaps everyone will jump on me, but i have had the chance to work the 3HO members closely and they are as much sikh as you and me.

my 2 cents worth.


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Gur Fateh Humblesikh,

Thanks for your comments, I totally agree with your outlook and just like yourself, I too have had the chance to work the 3HO members closely and they are as much Sikh as you and me, and in some cases, much better –regardless, it is not for us to judge another’s relationship with Guru Maharaj. This is not what I am seeking to discuss here, as I made clear in my initial post, I still have very good friends within 3HO communities, the questions I have are on more of a ‘corporate’ level in terms of what can we individually learn and share from these experiences (hence look at the positives to build upon), nonetheless that does not mean we simply turn a blind eye to everything else.

You referenced Yoga as means for people to “to reach a higher state of peace†–whist this is a rather broad statement, I’d like to state clearly that I personally have no issue with Yoga (I have practiced Hatha Astanga Yoga quite intensely in the past and would recommend Yoga as a great tool for everyone regardless of their background). I know many Sikhs have issues with Yoga and Sikhi, personally I never had, Yuktanand Singh has written a great piece on the relationship between the two and I would agree with most of his comments (I provide this a note below). That said, the only issue I have with “kundalini yoga as taught by YB†is that is not ‘real’ kundalini yoga...nonetheless, that is another discussion, I do admire 3HO’s commitment to remaining healthy and active and “kundalini yoga as taught by YB†certainly plays a role in doing so –however, let’s get real, it’s one thing practicing yoga as a tool for health (physical and mental/emotional) and quite another to make this your Nitnem alongside new age occult practices such as Numerology, Astrology etc –this as it happens, is the view of a good friend in 3HO when he explained to me his concerns with the older generation in the communities in New Mexico and Arizona.

You mentioned Prof. Manjit Singh (acting Jathedar of Akal Thakt) held discussions with Yogi Ji, to influence him and his followers to follow the path of Sikhi, however I personally feel they already do follow Sikhi in essence (all live in rehit of the 5 Ks and are committed to the Amrit Vela far more than many other Sikhs) the questions I raise concern what actually happens within this framework...this is not to criticise, but to understand where these trends come from, their relevance and use today...there is a lot of underlying matters here and influence doesn’t work one way only –I’ve personally been to Sikhi Weeks in the UK during my university years when numerology was making an appearance in the lectures and this has since grown...I have no issue with people presenting such ‘technologies’ (sat nam rasayan, breath walk, numerology, yogic cuisine etc etc) but when many of these are clearly manufactured and unauthentic and come with a charge, the business motivation behind these ‘technologies’ for the ‘aquarian age’ becomes quite clear...

Sorry to have offended anyone, if the forum feels this discussion is better held elsewhere, then I happily agree to having this thread removed –should this occur, those interested in pursuing the discussion feel free to PM me. I find the evolution of Sikh practice and groups fascinating, both from a historical/academic angle and from a personal angle...be it 4 Sampradya through to Niskham Seval Jatha, Nanaksar...down to AKJ, 3HO and Namdharis and Nirankaris. I am aware that critical discussions of these groups, jathas and organisations are being held elsewhere on this forum, here I’m simply interested to explore more of their lifestyles...

Sat Sri Akal!

Note referred to:

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa!

Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

As we know, Patanjali writes, "Yoga is removal of mind's noise. Then,

the observer can become established in view of the Self." Gurbani does

not oppose this form of Yoga. Rather Gurbani supports it. As Ranvir

Singh implied, 'Raj Jog' (Pronounced, 'Joge' like in vogue) in Gurbani,

is just a Punjabi version of the word Raja Yoga.

I just want to add to what Ranvir Singh has already written:

We should try to find the correct meaning of the Gurbani terms from

Gurbani itself. We do not need extensive knowledge of Gurbani to

search and see that, all the Shabads that seem to censure 'Yoga'

condemn, in fact, only the physical activities and rituals touted as

Yoga. Gurbani does not oppose the practice of correct Yoga that is

suited for the modern people of this age. Educated Sikhs need to grow

out of this phobia of the term.

Practice of, correct conduct (Yama), correct diet (Part of Niyama),

correct posture (Asana), correct breathing (Prananyama), control of the

senses (Pratyahara), mental concentration (Dharana), and meditation

(Dhyana), to name just a few, are natural elements of a truly devoted

Sikh's daily lifestyle. Correct form of 'Yoga' is natural outcome of a

Sikh's submission to the Guru. However, it is practiced as subservient

to the practice of Naam Simran. When a sincere desire to see god is

awakened inside, one cannot help practicing the above naturally. Those

who condemn these components, without any practice of their own, will

continue to wander off the path.

Yoga exercises do not lead to God realization, per se. Most of the

time they result in an obsession with the body and its functions,

because they are self-directed, without submission to the Guru.

Practice of different postures or some other physical disciplines as

means to liberation, is not supported anywhere in Gurbani, either.

Such acts only help boost one's ego. However, weights and martial arts

training would boost one's ego also. Why do we not condemn them also?

Yoga is condemned in Gurbani if it dominates our outlook and makes us

preoccupied with the body and its functions, if it keeps us away from

Naam Simran and inner Bhakti, or if it turns into a mere show of


We need to regard Yoga just like other exercises, only for what they

are worth, no more and no less.


Yuktanand Singh

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  • 1 month later...

Gur Fateh!

Just to get back to the topic, any thoughts from the forum on some of my original points say,

*Mahan Tantric and White Tantra –myth or reality?

*Adi Shakti and the Khanda and Shakti Women

*Trinity and Triangle symbols (see 3HO symbology on Sikhnet and on the 3HO website and also check out Yogi Bhajan’s speeches on Trinity and the Sri Guru)

*Relationship with other Jathas

*Impact of Udasi Baba Virsa Das (Singh)

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...oh on the Trinity and Triangular symbols, those of you who may be that way inclined, consider this aspect in addition to all else with similar trends pointed out by those who claim to follow the so called 'illuminati'...strange, very off the wall, bu interesting!...

[Again, no offence intended to anyone]

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...oh on the Trinity and Triangular symbols, those of you who may be that way inclined, consider this aspect in addition to all else with similar trends pointed out by those who claim to follow the so called 'illuminati'...strange, very off the wall, bu interesting!...

[Again, no offence intended to anyone]

You must admit that using triangles and trigrams and trinities is a bit too facile and tired to necessarily reflect anything meaningful or profound, when they are used by modern organisations. It's almost lazy. It would be interesting to see a return of Buddhist-type rationality in relation to philosophical concepts. It would be a better way to link Asian or Oriental philosohopies to modern ideas, such as quantum physics.

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Baba Virsa Singh ji of Gobind Sadan fame...claims Udasi parampara, which would make sense, although I've yet to come across any details, and some have suggested he is a self-proclaimed Udasi. Broke off ties with YB early on, because YB never returned to Delhi with his new white followers, but instead broke away. Supposedly all the long 3HO chants were Virsa Singh's.

(The source for this is the sterling work Kamalla Rose Kaur's x-3HO forum is doing interviewing early 3HOers about how it all started)

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I like to do yoga before meditation because it quiets my body/mind and I am able to meditate better.

But there are so many things which seem a bit suspicious (Women only camps, Tantric Yoga, Numerology) to me about 3HO, right now it seems just like a corporate company trying to expand.

Does this Kundalini yoga info differ from what is taught by 3HO?


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Gur Fateh Jeeo!

I would always recommend Yoga to anyone and am looking to resume my own practice after a long time out, however Kundalini Yoga "as taught by Yogi Bhajan" and indeed "White" Tantra is wholly made up by YB and do not correspond to authentic Kundalini Yoga (which is more akin to harsh Aghori Tantrik pratices, see texts such as 'Tantra, the cult of ectasy' and 'Aghori Kundalini parts I and II' for further details). White Tantra simply does not exist!

That much said, the exercises and lifestyle taught and practiced by many second and third generation 3HOers is inspiring insofar as their honest desires to serve Guru Jee, remain physically fit and mentally trained (many of the new generation are quite removed from the 'hippy' roots of their parents or grandparents') and see Kundalini Yoga and Meditation (whatever the dubious nature of its origins within the organisation) genuinely as tools and secondary to the Sri Guru and consider themselves Sikhs first and foremost...

Much of this can be witnessed by the close links of this generation with the likes of the celebrated Bhai Avtar Singh to learn Gurmat Sangeet and also that with the likes of the Raj Academy in the UK to learn more authentic means of Sikh Culture...

...it only breaks down when they begin speaking of Raag Bilawal being powerful and raising one's Kundalini Energy...!

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  • 4 months later...
Guest Sardar Moderator Singh

Dear All,

I will invite some 3HO brothers and sisters to pariticipate in this discussion and on this forum in general, watch this space, please do welcome them accordingly and let's hope we can both seek to learn more together...



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I have nothing against yoga or any such spiritual practices, however controversy has surrounded the 3HO organization. Religion first and foremost should not be placed in an organization and 2ndly, i have yet to see the credentials of Yogi Bhajan Ji.... Like we all know there are many Sants out there that are tru to the Akal and spread His word, yet there are many more that are pakhandi and have no spirituality at all....

I'm just saying that we have to be very careful about things like this...

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Guest Sardar Moderator Singh

Dear Canadian Jatti,

Surely then the opportunity to discuss this openly as well as general Sikhi with 3HO sikhs directly would be best rather than rely solely on 3rd party sources?

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Let me first state that I do not hold anything against 3HO, and do not really know much about them.

After seeing this topic i done a bit of research on them...

Here is one article i found by a former member.

Giving (Your) Head to the Guru

February 1999

By "Breath of Fire Kaur"--a former member of 3HO

When I first got into 3HO, I thought that I was going to experience the classic Guru/Disciple relationship. In the Sikh tradition, there is a saying that you "give your head (the ego) to the Guru". The implication is that through humility and commitment and faith, the spiritual treasures will then be your blessing or reward. It seems to me that Yogi Bhajan turned this entire concept into a way to manipulate and control students. But actually, many religions at times appear to use guilt-trips very similar to my old guru.

One former 3HO student, who was once an accountant for the group, approached the producers of the "60 Minutes" television show about doing a segment on Yogi Bhajan. Their response was that people like Yogi Bhajan are just "small potatoes" compared to big newsmakers like the Peoples Temple and Waco Davidians.

Bhajan may not be a real master of any type of Yoga, but he is a master at picking students that he can manipulate and control and who will typically not expose him to the media. And his legal team seems to have found some very effective ways of keeping embarrassing stories out of the media spotlight.

My first few years of being in 3HO were fun--everything was fresh, exotic, in defiance of my upbringing and I was in an interesting and often exiting new peer group. As a young woman I also thought I had hit the dating pool jackpot--all I saw around me were cute men, many who were Jewish, with long hair (under their turbans), who were vegetarians and did yoga!

In my naivete, what more could I want? Any one of them would do--or so I thought. And to top it off, these men apparently didn’t mind considering women who wore layers upon layers of unnecessary clothing, no make-up and had hairy legs!

I really related to the organic, hippie values and felt privileged to be a part of this budding utopian society that would help heal the world by teaching yoga, meditation, and what I thought was conscious living.

As the years wore on I began to see many discrepancies and hypocrisy in the lifestyle. There were just too many to list here. But just one example: Yogi Bhajan states in his lectures that it is ungraceful for a woman to go around in public without her head covered. He quotes scriptures that say, "There is no difference between a mad dog and a woman with her hair down". Well, where are his priorities? I walked around town looking like the Pillsbury Doughgirl--while my guru played around and committed adultery year after year.

Parents were also made to feel like overly possessive neurotics if they didn’t ship their kids off to schools in India. But what many people didn't know was that every time a planeload of children went off to India, Bhajan’s son-in-law (a travel agent) made money.

These types of things began to weigh heavily on my conscience. Year after year I would see good people becoming frustrated by and dissatisfied with the organization and Yogi Bhajan himself. People who stood up to the authorities within the group were labeled as "negative". God-forbid anyone should say anything critical of Bhajan--then you would be thought of as a "slanderer of a saint".

Those of us who managed to retain a sense of humor quietly acknowledged the power struggle. Someone came up with the joke--"How many Sikhs does it take to change a light bulb"? Answer: "Just one, but he has to ask 'the Siri Singh Sahib' (Bhajan) for permission first". And truly, if it weren't Bhajan’s call, then he would assign one of his inner power circle to take care of a matter. Completely unqualified people gave marital or business advice to those in crisis--like a hospital run by the patients.

Speaking of the inner circle, Bhajan has always surrounded himself with really peculiar people--some who seemed racist or homophobic. These are the people that he shared his business ventures with--that he liked to have around to entertain him. There were secretaries who seemed to be part of his huge sexual clan, people who appeared to be his security force and special members with money. It seemed like there was a caste system within the group. And extra "Brownie points" or special attention was given to young, impressionable and attractive women---or a man with money.

Yogi Bhajan made such a big thing over the years to "fake it until you make it"--that many students patterned themselves after him materialistically. They drove old Mercedes just so they could look "prosperous"--- even if they were barely making a living. There were countless examples of such bizarre behavior, but it would be too painful and not really therapeutic to cite them all.

In part, I consider my own departure a real success--because I don’t dwell too much on the past. People who are in 3HO believe that is their reality. It seems that many are like big fish in a small pond and the pond has grown rather stagnant--but that's their choice.

The real point of my contribution to this Web site, is to offer some insights that will hopefully help someone on the fence about 3HO think twice before joining that group--or any other exclusive "New Age" meditation group. Many such groups seem to have the same soap opera going on: gurus having sex with their students, misuse of authority and money, shaming people who leave the organization with parting warnings that if you leave your life will be ruined.

None of this threatening retribution for leaving a religious group is really new or original. Hey, it’s been going on within quite a few groups for thousands of years. I have finally come to understand that there is often a distinct difference though between being spiritual and religious. They can both go together, but they can also be quite distinct. There are some people who are very religious by appearance or through their rituals, but they often lack the truly meaningful spiritual insight to treat people, their families, and even themselves properly.

Of course one frequently asked question always arises: How can smart people get involved in cults? For the same reason that some people that experiment with drugs never consider the possibility that they might become hooked. It starts out being just dabbling, just a little, but slowly bit-by-bit you can get hooked without even really knowing it.

Being in a cult or a destructive group can actually be a tremendous spiritual and personal lesson. You can learn to believe in yourself and grow once you have recognized what has happened to you. Leaving a cult may be hard, but ultimately it can be a meaningful spiritual break-through and personal victory.

In fact, when I was making my plans to "take off the turban", I worried that my yoga students would be let-down or disillusioned with me. Quite the contrary, virtually everyone that knows or hears of my past has expressed strong support for that decision and my new life.

I find it easier to communicate now with people. Today there are no superficial barriers like white clothes from head to toe, which separated me from mainstream society. I still believe in and practice a spiritual lifestyle, but now my "cult radar" helps me to recognize the warning signs and potential for abuse in certain situations.

Yogi Bhajan often used guilt-trips in his lectures. He said that people left 3HO because of "sex, power, or money". The implication was always that people, who in his estimation somehow failed spiritually--were weak and could not stay on the spiritual path because of worldly temptations. Looking back now, it seems to me, he should have listened more closely to his own advice.

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Guest Sardar Moderator Singh

These articles are quite old and have been circulated heavily during the late 1990's -even to Sikhnet, who claim that "Rick Ross" is the fraud and that ex-3HO members have left Sikhi (i.e. cut their Kesh etc) and out of anger chosen to express their rage against Yogi Bhajan, however there are others out there indicating otherwise (i.e. ex-3HO and still Sikh).

I am keen for 2nd and 3rd generation 3HOer to come on this forum and express their view, for they will undoubtedly express a view more progressive and forwarding looking than that of those brought into Sikhi by the 'personality' of the charismatic Yogi Bhajan.

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