According to Guru Singh (Los Angeles), who recounted this story in 2012, there was a need to have photos of Yogi Bhajan for brochures and posters, so in October 1969 Guru Singh and Shakti Parwha Kaur took him to a photo studio located on Melrose Ave. near Jules Buccieri’s antique store, where the first kundalini yoga classes were held. The photographer was well known for doing “head shots” for movie stars so he took numerous photos of Yogi Bhajan.

About a week later, when the proof sheet of the photographs was ready, Guru Singh and Shakti went back with Yogi Bhajan to look at them. Yogi Bhajan looked at one of them and said,

“this photo captures the essence of all of the lineage of the golden chain”.

Shakti expressed that it was too stern and not friendly enough for promotional materials and Yogi Bhajan said he did not care about that and that the one he chose was special. After a short time, he introduced the practice of tratakam meditation using this photo.

Over the years, Satsimran Kaur and others tried to get the original negative for this photo, but were unsuccessful. The photographer died and his work was not saved. A second generation negative was discovered in the archive files in 2012, and was remastered by Ram Jiwan Singh (Steven Stickler) a student of Yogi Bhajan and a professional photographer from LA (now deceased). He painstakingly went over the negative, removing dust and filling in damaged areas.  Older copies of the photo have part of his beard missing and are not as sharp.

Here is a link to a black and white image of the Tratakam photo.

Here is a link to a black and white image of the Tratakam photo with an orange border.

Here is a story published in a 2005 Aquarian Times article of how Yogi Bhajan first gave this meditation.

Here are instructions for this meditation.

Here is a free download of “Guru Yoga and the Technology of Tratakam.