T H E H I T
It is August 14, the day after the much anticipated "hit." The hit is the publication of a report commissioned by the Siri Singh Singh Sahib Corporation, the body designed to continue the work of the legacy organizations founded by His Holiness, Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, Panth Rattan. This article aims to summarize some of the main drivers and responses to that report.
On January 8, a disaffected student of His Holiness published a "tell all" book of her recollections of her relationship with him. It alleges a litany of years of abuse. The book neglects to mention the shadowy financiers for her unsuccessful lawsuit against His Holiness in the 1980s. The author also forgets to mention her attempted reconciliation with him, when she lived for three years in the 3HO community New Mexico in the 1990s. Doubtless, there are other things not mentioned in the book. A reflective video on the author was done by Harijiwan Singh (Los Angeles) and Mandev. It is accessible here.
Stirring It Up
Any book needs a good publicity campaign. In a time when many allegations against powerful men are proven to be true, that book of allegations, together with some strategic media interviews, gave acclaim and an appearance of credibility to Pamela Dyson's work. Moreover, Pamela and her collaborators sought out younger disaffected members of the 3HO community, gave them a sympathetic hearing, and encouraged them to make their gripes public, thereby widening the impact and appeal of Dyson's book. From that point on, it was no longer one book of personal allegations against a deceased, and immensely popular, spiritual leader. It became a joint campaign against His Holiness's entire life and legacy.
Defending the Legacy, But Not Really
When news of the combined allegations reached the business and administrative heads in New Mexico, they did what they had done in previous crises since the passing of His Holiness - they consulted their corporate lawyers. The lawyers, based on their knowledge of US law and recent corporate history, advised that representatives of the legacy corporations admit the likelihood that the allegations were true and hire a third party to launch an impartial investigation. And this is exactly what the "Collaborative Response Team" (CRT) consisting of Gurujot Kaur, Nirvair Singh, Pritpal Kaur, Sahaj Singh, and Shanti Kaur set out to do.
A Faulty Investigation
A Buddhist group based in Pittsburgh and claiming expertise in "responding to allegations of misconduct on the part of spiritual leaders" was hired to conduct an investigation of the libelous gossip surrounding His Holiness. The basic term of reference was that allegations were to be considered credible and accusers were to retain their anonymity. Moreover, there would be no representation for the accused.
Amplifying the Voices of the Accusers
Along with hiring the investigators for an estimated $500,000 to collect and compile allegations against His Holiness, the CRT organized a number of "listening tours" primarily for accusers to heap blame and abuse on His life and legacy.
Opposition to the Investigation
Those opposed to the tactics of the CRT and the group hired to do the investigation, mobilized in several ways:
1) One course was the creation of an online petition to not allow the name of His Holiness to be removed from his teachings. Started on April 1 by Kirti Kaur, that appeal has since garnered 3,624 signatures, most of them in the first month. (By comparison, an opposing petition, started just a week later gained only 260 signatures.)
2) Another effort was an investigation of the investigation. This work was ably carried out by former New Mexico State prosecutor, Guru Terath Singh and OngKar Kaur. Among other things, they found that: a) The Olive Branch (OB) is unlicensed to conduct private investigations. b) It has previous conducted only two investigations. c) Its lacks qualified investigators. This goes without saying that the investigators are likely to be prejudiced by their previous encounters with genuine spiritual impropriety. fairinvestigation.com
3) Those made aware of the faulty nature of the investigation and its potentially harmful outcomes for the family of His Holiness, for thousands of Kundalini Yoga teachers and trainers, and for hundreds of Sikh Dharma ministers, were encouraged to write the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation Board (email@example.com) to oppose the faulty investigation and its inevitably faulty findings. Many emails of protest were sent up to the day before the release of the report. These included a joint statement from South America by Baltej Kaur Khalsa (Peru), Haridass Kaur Khalsa (Chile), Har Hari Singh Khalsa (Ecuador), Kirpal Kaur Khalsa (Perú), and Nam Nidhan Kaur Khalsa (Chile).
4) Hundreds of people from more than fifty countries took part in five webinars where longtime students of His Holiness gave testimony on his behalf.
5) Mukhia Singh Sahib Livtar Singh Khalsa blessed everyone with several strong statements against the flawed investigation, as well as new videos of some of his classic songs of inspiration accessible here.
6) As of today, more than 100 people from around the world have joined a haven of calm resistance, known as the In Gratitude Google Group. To join, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
7) Just yesterday, Mukhia Jatherdar Amrit Singh Khalsa of Espanola, who has run the Mother Ashram for many years, resigned his seat on the elected 15-member Siri Singh Sahib Corporation Board.
8) A host of musicians, including Gurutrang Singh (Virginia), Sat Kirin Kaur (Espanola), Sukhdev Kaur (Estonia), Harhari Singh (Ecuador), Dharmdev Kaur (Los Angeles), Siri Kartar Kaur (Rome), Mata Mandir Singh (Espanola), Simran Kaur and Guru Prem Singh (Los Angeles), Siri Sadhana Kaur (UK), Sat Sarbat Kaur and Satmukh Singh (Austria) are all pledged to lead online chanting to Guru Ram Das from August 15 to 26 in celebration of the birthday of His Holiness, at times suitable for various time zones. To access that schedule visit here.
Dysfunction in New Mexico
To arrive at this point, clearly the administration of Sikh Dharma and Kundalini Yoga and the legacy corporations of the Siri Singh Sahib is not doing so well. A spiritual organization founded by a saint is not a regular corporation. Whether in good times or in bad times, it cannot respond to events like a Monsanto or a Dow Chemical would. Calling allegations "credible" was a big mistake. Allegations are allegations only until they are proven credible.
Moreover, the situation in the administration seems to be ripe for double-dealing. Gurujot Kaur is not only conflicted because of her daughter's position as a leading accuser of His Holiness, Gurujot is also a member of the Collaborative Response Team and the Siri Singh Sahib Board, CEO of Sikh Dharma International, and Secretary General of the Khalsa Council, plus her husband Satwant Singh is Executive Director of the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation. If there is a lawyer in the SSS Corporation, they seem to be asleep to the concept of conflict of interest.
Clearly, there are issues with the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation Board. Aside from falling on its face during this current challenge, its members, like the ministers and members of the Khalsa Council are generally in their seventies. A graceful handing on of wisdom and authority to younger generations is not happening. And the complete shutting of Miri Piri Academy, regardless of the pandemic, is not a good harbinger.
What does the Guru Say?
A very instructive Hukam was read yesterday after sadhana at Hacienda de Guru Ram Das in Espanola:
SHALOK, FIRST MEHL: They tax the cows and the Brahmins, but the cow-dung they apply to their kitchen will not save them. They wear their loin cloths, apply ritual frontal marks to their foreheads, and carry their rosaries, but they eat food with the Muslims. O Siblings of Destiny, you perform devotional worship indoors, but read the Islamic sacred texts, and adopt the Muslim way of life. Renounce your hypocrisy! Taking the Naam, the Name of the Lord, you shall swim across. || 1 || FIRST MEHL: The man-eaters say their prayers. Those who wield the knife wear the sacred thread around their necks. In their homes, the Brahmins sound the conch. They too have the same taste. False is their capital, and false is their trade. Speaking falsehood, they take their food. The home of modesty and Dharma is far from them. O Nanak, they are totally permeated with falsehood. The sacred marks are on their foreheads, and the saffron loin-cloths are around
their waists; in their hands they hold the knives . they are the butchers of the world! Wearing blue robes, they seek the approval of the Muslim rulers. Accepting bread from the Muslim rulers, they still worship the Puraanas. They eat the meat of the goats, killed after the Muslim prayers are read over them, but they do not allow anyone else to enter their kitchen areas. They draw lines around them, plastering the ground with cow-dung. The false come and sit within them. They cry out, Do not touch our food, or it will be polluted! But with their polluted bodies, they commit evil deeds. With filthy minds, they try to cleanse their mouths. Says Nanak, meditate on the True Lord. If you are pure, you will obtain the True Lord. || 2 || PAUREE: All are within Your mind; You see and move them under Your Glance of Grace, O Lord. You Yourself grant them glory, and You Yourself cause them to act. The Lord is the greatest of the great; great is His world. He enjoins all to their tasks. If he should cast an angry glance, He can transform kings into blades of grass. Even though they may beg from door to door, no one will give them charity. || 16 || Page 471-472
What am I going to do about it?
I do not feel a calling to join the Khalsa Council or be elected to the SSSC Board, though clearly they need new blood and re-organization. But I do plan to continue with prayers and dialogue toward the fulfillment of the Siri Singh Sahib's mission, a world that is infinitely healthier, happier and holier than today's. I plan to continue teaching Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, networking, and building bridges where possible.
In the short term, I hope to complete a biography of a young saint who inspired many - including myself - while he lived, that is Bhai Sahib Dayal Singh (1955-75). His Holiness called him "the best flower of his garden," and so he was.
What are you going to do about It?
Now it's your call. Meditate... Pray... Connect with others... The path forward will present itself with each living day by the grace of Guru Ram Das. Let's stay in touch.
Love to all! Peace to all! Life to all!