It has been almost 12 years since Harbhajan Singh Yogi left his physical body. From 1969 when he came to the West until 2004, Yogi served humanity and the Sikh community with every breath he had. I had the privilege to come close to Yogi Bhajan in 1952 when we both were in the All India Sikh Student Federation. I have observed his work in India as a Government of India official and later on when he went to America and he established the first yoga center in Los Angeles in 1969. I have been attending many international Conferences he organized in the U.S., Africa and Europe, where he preached the message of Guru Nanak. A large number of foreigners accepted Sikh Dharma through these camps and he has been organizing yatras to Amritsar of these Sikhs annually.
Along with Mother Teresa, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Pope John II, Yogi Bhajan is only the fourth person to be recognized in the U.S. Congress for his service to humanity. That is a great honor to an India-born person. A highway has been named after him in the state of New Mexico.
Since his passing away, there has been tremendous expansion of the teachings of Yogi Bhajan both in the realm of Sikh Dharma and Kundalini Yoga throughout the world. In most situations, when a strong central figure is no longer there, it becomes very natural for everything that the person built to diminish over time. But in the case of Yogi Bhajan and all that he created, it is just the opposite.
There are more than 8000 lectures on Sikh Dharma, Kundalini Yoga and Humanology by Yogi Bhajan. Many have been available free through the Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings on the internet.
Today there are several hundred centers of Kundalini Yoga and the teachings of Shabad Guru. The outreach of these have gone far beyond North America, Southeast Asia and Europe – it has reached China, South America, Russia, Africa, and the Middle East.
For the past nine years, China has created several hundred teachers of Kundalini Yoga where thousands now practice the ancient science of breath and meditation, including chanting ‘Japji’ and ‘Sat NamWahe Guru’. Moreover, hundreds of these students come to Amritsar every year to visit the GoldenTemple and pay their respects to Guru Ram Das. Dozens complete the 84 steps of Gowindwal and have undertaken yatras to Anandpur Sahib; Anandpur Sahib, where Yogi ji built a large complex near the Takht. Currently there are eight outstanding Chinese students who study at Miri PiriAcademy, a boarding school founded by Yogi Bhajan 24 years ago at Amritsar.
Recently, in China, thousands participated in ‘BREATHE’, the 3rd Great Asian Tour on Kundalini Yoga for Health Happiness and Harmony. They are following the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. Once, Yogi Bhajan was asked about the prophecy of Guru Gobind Singh of having 960 million Khalsa. He said that will come from China, Europe and Russia.
Russia has seen tremendous growth in the technology of Kundalini Yoga and the expansion of Sikh Dharma over the past decade. Even though Russia began its journey with Yogi Bhajan in 1985, thousands now participate in their Kundalini Yoga festivals, yatras to India, hold langars and build Gurdwaras.
The Middle East and Africa is continuing to grow also at a very steady rate. Ghana, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, South Africa and many others have all expanded in the teachings offered by Yogi Bhajan.
Perhaps one of the larger areas of expansion in the western hemisphere is Central and South America. Chile has now legalized Sikh Dharma as a recognized religion. Amrit Prachar, Gurbani Kirtan, Kundalini Yoga festivals, Gurdwaras, Langar programs and many other forms of seva are well placed in their society. Langar Chile has just celebrated 10 years of national service. Chile and seven other South American countries have requested the Women of Light Foundation to become part of the governmental programs offered to their citizens. Founded by Nam Nidhan Kaur Khalsa, Women of Light is a program developed to serve all women with the technology of Sikh Dharma and Kundalini Yoga.
Moreover, the Crecer Consciente Foundation, which is based on Yogi Bhajan’s teachings for children and developed by Prabhu Nam Kaur Khalsa, is widely accepted on a governmental level by many South American countries. For the past two years, Gurubachan Singh Khalsa has been invited to teach in the National Congress of Chile. He has been the first person in Chile who has had this privilege that is otherwise reserved for the president of the country. In 2016, he was invited to the National Congress of Argentina. Gurbachan Singh received the ‘BASTON of Honor’ from the National Police of Bolivia, the highest honor given to a civilian.
In Paraguay, plans are now being developed to build the first Sikh Gurdwara not only in that country but also as a major center of spirituality for the continent. The Langar Paraguay program, now in its sixth year, feeds more than 200 indigenous street children everyday. The teachings of Shabad Guru and Kundalini Yoga are an everyday reality for many of the countries of 5 million Catholic population. In Argentina there is a growing population of Sikhs both western and Indian. Now there is Guru Granth sahib installed in a Gurdwara in Buenos Aires.
Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, El Salvador, Argentina and Colombia have accepted Kundalini Yoga and the teachings on stress reduction to thousands in their national police force. Sometimes as many as 1200 policemen meditate while listening to Gurbani Kirtan.
Throughout South America many banks, corporations, hospitals, universities and military forces are practicing the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. The relevancy in times of stress, chaos, confusion and extreme social problems has brought thousands to the feet of Guru in one way or another.
Brazil, through the tremendous efforts of a Brazilian woman, Guru Sangat Kaur Khalsa, and the sangat have created the Miri Piri School of Brazil. It is the first school in the Americas that is patterned after the MiriPiriAcademy in Amritsar – all based on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan and Shabd Guru. Even the successful Catholic school systems in Brazil wants to emulate and incorporate into their educational systems many of the programs that MiriPiriSchool is offering.
If you review the hundreds of seva programs that are being offered worldwide through the followers of Yogi Bhajan and his teachings, your eyes cannot remain dry. The compassion and kindness in our seva to humanity emulates the great work Yogi Bhajan has inspired. One man as a humble Sikh leaving a government job in India in 1970 came to the U.S. and started the Sikh Dharma in the western hemisphere and thousands of Americans joined as Sikhs wearing turbans.
By grace of Guru Ram Das Yogi Bhajan’s legacy is guiding American Sikhs to spread the message of Sikhism all over the world, and hundreds and thousands are attending yoga classes chanting Satnam.
Satpal Singh Kohli, his son-in-law, has been named ‘Ambassador of Sikhism’ in the U.S. by Jathedar Takht Patna Sahib, and he has been participating in many international inter-faith conclaves to speak on Sikhism.