An Open Letter to Bhajanists

Posted by stillasikh:

I have no personal animosity towards most of you, and still have great affection for many of you.

I have no objection to you performing Hindu pujas, placing garlands on statues of idols, or any of that Hindu stuff. I have no objection to you performing ritual food offerings for the granting of wishes, or performing prosperity meditations, or any of that stuff. I have no objection to Yogi Bhajan having his ashes disposed of in a classical Hindu (not Sikh) ceremony, or to his Shinto shrine for paying homage to the dead (although IMO it’s in extremely bad taste). If all these rituals and superstitions make you happy, more power to you! But you need to be honest and call yourselves something other than Sikhs, because

these things are forbidden in Sikhism. That is all. There’s no shame in being truthful about what you are.

I do object to these practices being performed in and around Gurdwara, or in the context of you doing them and calling yourselves Sikhs. The Guru absolutely, unequivocally forbade Sikhs to do these things, as strongly as He forbade Sikhs to wear the veil, practice female infanticide or caste.

What I object to is that you guys identify yourselves as Sikhs whilst practicing things that are absolutely verboten to Sikhism. Not just mildly discouraged or left to individual discretion, but strongly prohibited! I object to you teaching these non-Sikh, even anti-Sikh practices to your children and calling it Sikhism. I believe you are doing this out of ignorance and innocence, because Yogi Bhajan taught a twisted amalgam of Hindism/Sikhism and called it Sikhism.

But what you are doing is as preposterous as a Christian sect calling themselves Jews, claiming that their Christian practices are the “real” Judaism, and that traditional Jews don’t understand “real” Judaism, because their spiritual teacher told them so.

You guys practice Yogi Bhajan’s teachings; you bend Sikhi to conform to them using any number of rationalizations to do so. That’s not good. You trusted that YB’s teachings about Sikhism were accurate. They weren’t. He lied to you. He was a man, not a Guru. He wasn’t even fluent in Gurmukhi.

All men and women are flawed creatures. That’s why the Guru emphatically told Sikhs never to bow to a man as their spiritual authority. Guru wisely told us to look to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib as our only guide, as that way we would never be swayed by a charismatic human personality that could lead us astray. For any authority besides the Guru it’s vitally important to “trust, then verify”. Don’t blindly follow anybody, not even if they call themselves a spiritual teacher.

A spiritual teacher can be wonderful, but if he tells you to do something that is a violation of the Reht, then if you are a Sikh you must say “No”. If you are a Sikh and a human tells you to do something that contradicts the teachings of the Guru, you must follow the Guru, not the human. It was this dichotomy between what the Guru teaches and what Yogi Bhajan ordered that forced me to make a choice between following my Guru or following Bhajan. I had to follow my Guru. That’s why, with a broken heart, I left Bhajan and you guys.

My objection to Yogi Bhajan mixing Sikhism and yoga is that the Reht forbids the taking of bits and pieces of Gurbani and reciting them as magical mantras for personal boons. If you’re going to do Kundalini Yoga, fine, but please leave Gurbani out of it.

Why is this such a big deal, you may wonder? Because a Sikh understands that the Creator of all things cannot be forced to obey the will of created beings by dint of magical mantras or ritualistic acts. A Sikh puts all their reliance on God and Guru, does their best, and humbly accepts God’s will. A Sikh doesn’t engage in superstitions, rituals or magical thinking. To bring the Guru’s bani into these practices is an insult to Guru Nanak, who tried to liberate the world from superstition.

I think you guys should simply declare yourselves a new religion. You could call yourself Hindus since most of your practices are Hindu, but true Hindus will never accept you. To them you are, and always will be, untouchables. Did you know that? That’s the ignorance and stupidity that the Guru tried to liberate you from.

Since you like to live according to the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, why not call yourselves Bhajanists? Just as followers of Martin Luther broke away from the teachings of the Catholic Church and called themselves Lutherans. But please stop calling yourself Sikhs, because most of what you’re doing is an insult to Sikhism.