Yogi Bhajan thinks Tantric Yoga is Guru Nanak's teaching

by Gursant Singh ⌂ @, Yuba City California USA, Wednesday, April 28, 2010, 05:33 (4189 days ago) @ Prabhu Singh Khalsa

The following is taken from "Sikhism and Tantric Yoga" by Dr. Trilochan Singh.

Yogi Bhajan's theorists of Kundalini and Guru Yoga on finding the word "Yoga" used in Guru Nanak's hymns in a number of different contexts, jump to the untenable and incorrect conclusion that Guru Nanak's teachings are in perfect accord with the Tantric Yoga taught by their Master, Maha Tantric Yogi Bhajan. The third type of hymns in which the word Yoga is mentioned are those which sum up the debates the Guru held with Yogis of various centers. It may be noted that Guru Nanak visited all the centers of Yogis throughout India and not only convinced them of the error of the Yoga system but under his influence most of them gave up Yoga practices. Bhai Gurdas tells us that Guru Nanak met all Yogis, Siddhas, and those who claimed to be avatars of ancient Yogis, and through debate and spiritual influence he scored victory over them and made them submit to his ideology. Not only that, Guru Nanak also made Babar and his Ministers to submit to his moral and spiritual sovereignty.
Thus the third type of hymn in which the term Yoga is used are those in which various systems and doctrines are severely criticized by the Gurus. We shall be quoting such hymns throughout the book, and shall bring out sharp differences between the various Yoga cults and Sikhism as authenticated by Guru Granth Sahib and Sikh history. As will be shown subsequently, the word "Yogi" is used in Sikh scriptures even for God and the Guru, and this does not mean that God and the Gurus practiced the absurd asanas now taught by Yogi Bahjan, and shown in some of the pictures published in this book.
I would now like to make it clear that the major differences between Patanjali's Yoga and Guru Nanak's Darshana (philosophy) begin with clear-cut differences in Guru Nanak's conception of God and Patanjali's conception of God. The contention of Yogi Bhajan's theorists that with the exception of celibacy Patanjali's Yoga doctrines are identical with those of Guru Nanak, is absolutely incorrect. It appears that these young men and women have neither studied or practiced Patanjali's Yoga theories correctly nor do they have correct knowledge of the profound mystical doctrines of Guru Nanak. All the intelligent inmates of 3HO, particularly the right-hand men and the left-hand women of Yogi Bhajan, take pains to rationalize the Mumbo Jumbo Tantra and Kundalini Yoga of Yogi Bhajan with the hodge-podge and messy knowledge of Sikhism of their teacher. I would therefore first make clear the fundamental metaphysical differences between Guru Nanak's conception of God and that of Patanjali yoga.


Guru Nanak's Absolute God and Patanjali's Ishvara

"The word Yoga was originally applied to control horses and then it began to be applied for control of flying passions." The senses are the horses and whatever they grasp are their objects. In Panani's time the word 'yoga' had attained technical meaning and he distinguished this root yug samadhau (yug in the sense of concentration) from yugis yoge (root yugir in the sense of connecting). The science of breath had attracted the notice of many early Upanishads, though no systematic form of pranayama developed as in the Yoga system. A system of breath control ideas are found even in Katha and Svetesvara Upanishads.2
The science of breath known as pranayam in Yoga, and embryonic respiration in Taoism, is involved in the mystical meditations of Sufis called dhikr (zikr) and Simrin of Sikhism, called svas svas Nam japna, and has been found even in some practices of Christian mystics. But this involvement of the science of breath in various systems has nothing to do with Yoga asanas, and Yoga techniques. They are the natural outcome of a continuous disciplined mediation.3 The Hesychastic monks to whom Yoga was unknown developed through their meditations similar techniques. Summarizing the essential Hesychastic prayer, Father Irenee Hausherr says: "It comprises of two fold exercises, omphaloskespsis and indefinite repetition of the Prayer of Jesus: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.' By sitting in darkness, bowing the head, fixing the eyes on the center of the abdomen (navel) trying to discover the place of the heart, by repeating this exercise indefatigably and always accompanying it with the same invocation, in harmony with the rhythm of respiration, which is retarded as much as possible, one will, if one perseveres day and night in this mental prayer, end by finding what one sought, the place of the heart, and with it and in it, all kinds of wonders and knowledge."4 Jean Gouillard quotes a 13th century Christian monk Nicephorus, who says, "As for you, sit down, compose your mind, introduce it—your mind, I say—into your nostrils; This is the road that the breath takes to reach the heart. Push it, force it to descend into your heart at the same time as the inhaled air. When it is there, you will see what joy will follow; you will have nothing to regret."5
When Tantric Yoga theorists of Yogi Bhajan seek to identify the Raja Yoga of Pantanjali with the philosophy and mystical doctrines of Guru Nanak, they forget that there is a world of difference between the two, in their conception of God, in their techniques of meditations, and in the steps of the mystical journey to the supreme state. Even the concept of Samadhi and illumination in Sikhism is radically different from the Yoga systems. Patanjali, the author of Yoga Sutra, does not believe in the Absolute and supreme God, the worship and achievement of which forms the prime foundations of Sikh faith and practices. Patanjali speaks in Yoga Sutra, chapter I, 23-29 and Chapter II, 1, 45 of the Deity as Ishvara, an eternally emancipated Purusha Omniscient and the teacher of the past teachers. By meditating on him many of the obstacles such as illness, which stand in the way of Yoga practices, are removed. He is regarded as an interesting object of concentration.6 "The God of Patanjali is not easy to describe. He is said to be a special kind of 'Self untouched by the taint of imperfections and above the law of Karma (1-24). He is omniscient teacher of the ancient Rishis. So he is not the Creator and Preserver of the Universe but only an inward teacher of Truth."7 This personal God of Yoga philosophy is very loosely connected with the rest of the system. According to Patanjali, "the goal of human aspiration is not union with God, but the absolute separation of Purusha from Prakirti. Patanjali's God is "only a particular Self (purusvisesa) and not the Creator and Preserver of the Universe. He does not reward or punish the actions of man. But some work had to be devised for him when he was on the scene. Ishvara facilitates the attainment of liberation but does not directly grant it.8 Patanjali's "Ishvara has not created the Prakirti (Nature); he only disturbs the equilibrium of the Prakirti in its quiescent state and later on helps it to follow an intelligent order by which the fruit of karma are properly distributed and the order of the world is brought about. This acknowledgement of Ishvara in Yoga and its denial in Samkya are the main theoretical differences between the two."9
In any case, at least as he appears in Patanjali and Vyasa, Ishvara has none of the grandeur of the omnipotent Creator God, none of the pathos that surrounds the dynamic and solemn God of various mystical schools. All in all, Ishvara is only an archetype of the yogin—a macroyogin; very probably a patron of the yogic sects. At least Patanjali says that Ishvara was the guru of the sages of immemorial times."10
Guru Nanak believes in a God which is the Creator, Preserver, Destroyer, the Light Eternal, the Saviour and Father of humanity. The concept of Ishvara in which Patanjali and some other Hindu systems believe is absent in Sikhism. Although the Immanent Spirit of God is accepted as the Indwelling Spirit of the infinite in everyone, it is not called Ishvara and it is not Ishvara of Patanjali. This difference in the theism of Patanjali and Guru Nanak leads to all the theological, metaphysical, and mystical difference in Yoga and Guru Nanak's Sikhism.


Guru Nanak Totally Rejects Yoga Darshana

Although the philosophical terminology of the ancient systems like Samkhya, Vedanta and Yoga was accepted by Guru Nanak, he completely rejected the Yoga System as enunciated by Patanjali and his commentator Vyasa. As I have already indicated, the use of terminology is to express the Concepts of Sikhism on the same themes of knowledge and experience as indicated by these terms.
When Guru Nanak visited the Himalaya Retreat of eminent Yogis and held discussions with them, their leaders Loharipa and Charpat reminded Guru Nanak that according to them, Yoga Darshana was the supreme of the six Hindu systems and out of them he should accept it and become a supreme Yogi. Even out of the twelve schools of Yoga he suggested he should accept his own school of thought as a life philosophy. Loharipa says to Guru Nanak:

Out of the six Hindu systems, Adopt the system of Yoga;
Out of the twelve sects of Yogis
Banter ours the leading one.
Though you say, only those
Whom God has illumined
Have truly grasped divine Wisdom,
We from our knowledge and experience suggest,
Control your mind by the Rules of Yoga
And you can attain the highest samadhi.
Rejecting this Yoga system in which God is ignored, and the emphasis is only to increase concentration and apparently control the mind and reach Samadhi, Guru Nanak says:
My own philosophic system (darshana)
Is continuous meditation on the Word of God.
My symbols of penance
And robes of poverty and renunciation,
Are to discard attachment and pride.
And see God in all human beings.
(And not in one's own Self as Yogis do.)
Only the Lord can make me free.
God is the Truth.
And Truth is His Name, says Nanak. Let everyone test and experience this.
Guru Nanak, Sidh Gosht: p 938-47
And yet Gurbandha Singh, a 3HO spokesman from Washington, in his editorial article in Sikh Dharma Brotherhood, Vol II, 3, p 2 Column 2 and 3, in which he roundly abuses and insults Dr Narinder Singh Kapany with a malicious audacity which I have never encountered before, tries to prove in his usual devious ways and illogical logic of a fanatic, that Guru Nanak was the first to establish a relationship of technology and experience between Sikhism and Yoga, and for his source of inspiration and knowledge, he refers us to the translation of Sidha Gosht which his worthy Maha-Tantric Teacher, Yogi Bhajan, got translated into American English by Premka Kaur, the first and last translator and theologian produced by 3HO Tantric Yoga Church. This learned translator of the Tantric Church of Yogi Bhajan conveniently skips over the verses and lines translated above. In her incoherent prose translation there is nothing American or literary, but there is a lot of un-American ignorance and dishonesty shown in this translation.11 Guru Nanak concludes the Sidha Gosht by saying, "Without serving the true Guru no union with God can be attained. Without inner communion with the true Guru no liberation can be gained." (70)
Bhai Gurdas has given a vivid description of the encounters of Guru Nanak with the Yogis and concluded that wherever Guru Nanak went and debated the futility of Yoga asanas, they gave up the Yoga technique and asanas. The path to peace was through love, devotion, meditation of the divine Name, and service of humanity. Gorakhmata was the most important center of Yogis in Uttar Pradesh in India. When the Yogis of Gorakhmata acquired peace from the convincing enlightenment imparted to them by Guru Nanak, they not only gave up asanas, and yogic techniques but also changed the century old name of the Center from Gorakhmata to Nanakmata, which still it is.
At Achal Batala in the Punjab, Guru Nanak encountered a very haughty Yogi named Bhangar Nath. This encounter is described in detail by Bhai Gurdas. When Guru Nanak attracted the people by his music, poetry, and love-imbued songs of God, the haughty and angry Yogis boastfully, displayed their techniques and occult powers but failed to draw people again. Bhangar Nath then angrily said, "O Nanak you have come like a strong antithesis to our whole system of Yoga darshana and poured lemon juices into our milk (yoga system). All that is precious to us has been belittled by you." Guru Nanak replied, "O Bhangar Nath, your mother (your founders of yoga) like a bad housewife did not clean the vessel, that is why your milk is spoiled and has become distasteful to everyone." What Guru Nanak meant was that "the yogic teachers have put into your heart such filthy stuff connected with Yoga (asanas, mudras, etc.) that you have become haughty and vain yogis full of greed and craze for occult power over the people, because of your wrongly motivated philosophy." Guru Nanak urged them to throw away the ugly and out of date practices and take up the path of the mysticism of love of God. Bhai Gurdas says that Guru Nanak visited all the centers of Yoga and made them submit to his philosophy of divine Love and give up yoga asanas and techniques:

sidh nath avatar sabh gosh kar kar kan phadaya Babar ke Babe mile niv niv sabh Nawab nivaya. Guru Nanak met and encountered all Sidhas and Yogis and those who claimed to be avatars of spiritual adepts, and after holding debates and discussions with them made all Yogis and Siddhas catch their ears, meaning that he made them discard their Yogic cults and submit to his ideology unconditionally.
Babar and his courtiers, the Nawabs and amirs, met Guru Nanak and they bowed low and offered salutation to his mystic Path, and moral and spiritual influence.
Bhai Gurdas, Var 26

Our conclusions in the expositions of this chapter are:

1) The Samkhya, Yoga and even Vaishnava, and Sufi terminology used by the Sikh Gurus in their writings are used to express their views on the mystical and philosophic themes of their protagonists, and they in no way indicate the Guru's acceptance of Yoga and Vaishnavas or other systems.
2) The Sidha Gosht and other compositions of Guru Nanak are highly critical of the Yoga systems and Yoga doctrines and asanas, and the deliberate attempt of Yogi Bhajan's theorists to confuse ignorant Sikhs by their false beliefs and practices and their aggressive audacious posture, branding others as Patits (apostates) and claiming themselves to be the holiest of the holy, have succeeded so far because 3HO Journals never reach any serious student or exponent of Sikhism. They are circulated among some of his uncritical followers or admirers in America and among accomplices and politicians of S.G.P.C. In the rest of this booklet, researched and written within two months, in every chapter I have given well-documented factual statements from original sources of Yogi Bhajan's publications. It will be clear from this book how three irresponsible leaders known to the Sikh Community for many treacherous acts in the past misguided the S.G.P.C, Akali Dal and other Sikh organizations about the Cult activities of Yogi Bhajan, Maha Tantric and Master of Kundalini, and supposedly appointed Chief Administrative Authority of Sikh Dharma in the Western Hemisphere. No such authority has ever been appointed for India or for Eastern, Northern, Southern, and Western Hemispheres, nor can any Institution, least of all the S.G.P.C, a body formed by a Bill of the Punjab Provincial government covering only historical shrines, ever do that. The President of S.G.P.C. and the Jathedar of Akal Takhat or the High Priest of the Golden Temple can neither assume nor exercise any such Authority, nor have they ever done in the past three hundred years. I wonder how Yogi Bhajan can do so. The S.G.P.C. cannot impose its will and authority even on historical Sikh shrines of Delhi or on shrines in other States of India.
1. Trilochan Singh: Commentary on Hymns of Guru Tegh Bahadur, p 24
2. Katha Upanishad III, 4
3. Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu were already familiar with methodical respiration, and a Chou dynasty inscription attests the practice of a respiratory technique in the sixth century B.C. Mircea Eliade: Yoga, p 62
4. For Sufi practices, see: Kashf-ul Mahjub and Writings of Dara Shikoh on medieval saints, notably Mian Mir in Safinat-ul-Aulia, and Sakinat-ul-Auliya.
5. Quoted by Mircea Eliade in Yoga f.n. p 63
6. Das Gupta, S.N., Indian Philosophy Vol II p 258
7. Radhakrishnan, Indian Philosophy, Vol II p 370
8. Ibid, p 371
9. Das Gupta, S.N., Indian Philosophy, Vol I p 259
10. Mercia Eliad, Yoga p 74-75
11. See Peace Lagoon, compiled and rendered into American English by Sardarni Premka Kaur with the Hawkish stare: Picture of Yogi Bhajan published in this book and a short Foreword by him. See p 10-11, p 145-223

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