Neo-Sikh 3HO movement feels reverberations from sex abuse charges against founder

While rumors of sexual misconduct by the late founder of the neo-Sikh and yoga movement 3HO (Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization), Yogi Bhajan (1929-2004) had circulated for years, such accusations are now being considered very seriously and are impacting the movement, writes Stacie Stukin in Los Angeles Magazine (July 15, 2020). A new self-published book with revelations from a now 77-year old former disciple, Pamela Saharah Dyson (Premka Kaur Khalsa), who used to be part of Yogi Bhajan’s inner circle, has encouraged other women to speak about their experiences, including alleged rapes. A dedicated website was launched by 3HO and associated organizations in February. Its first post stated that “credible allegations concerning sexual misconduct by Yogi Bhajan have come forward.” This comes at a time Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan has become quite popular, while other 3HO-related businesses continue to flourish, such as the Yogi Tea brand and Akal Security. It is difficult at this point to foresee the consequences those developments will have. Quoted by Stukin, historian Philip Deslippe doubts that Yogi Bhajan’s reputation can survive the onslaught. At some prominent Kundalini yoga studios, “portraits and sayings [of Yogi Bhajan] have been removed from the walls.”

An independent investigator has been entrusted with the task of investigating the alleged abuses. An organization called An Olive Branch was formed in 2011 as a project of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh for providing services to organizations dealing with ethical misconduct on the part of religious leaders, as “a neutral third party, inspired by the tradition of Buddhist teaching that stretches over 2,500 years.” An Olive Branch also provides training services and mediation services. The report on the allegations of abuse linked to Yogi Bhajan is expected to be released in the near future. No religion is immune these days to critical reassessments of the figure of once highly respected spiritual masters whose legacy becomes criticized due to the revelation of abuses. From Buddhist teachers to the founders of various Catholic movements, there has been a wave of such cases in recent years. Often, the abuses involved attempts to rationalize or legitimize them from a spiritual angle. It remains to be seen what the long-term impact will be on these organizations and on individual followers, since those are movements built on the charisma of what seemed to be inspiring figures. The multiplication of such cases does not seem to be conducive in promoting blind trust toward spiritual masters.

(Website of the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation Collaborative Response Team:

(Website for the book by Pamela Saharah Dyson, Premka: White Bird in a Golden Cage: My Life with Yogi Bhajan:

(Website of An Olive Branch: