The Siri Singh Sahib  

This is from pages 115-123 of the “Siri Singh Sahib/ Bhai Sahib section of the book, The Man Called the Siri Singh Sahib, published in 1979.

Definition of the Siri Singh Sahib in Action

“My birth and my life and my end are meant to serve, to console, to inspire, to share the sufferings and to take the suffering, and that all is the happiness. 

I firmly honestly and truthfully feel that I am much, much and very much lower than the dust under the feet of those who have uttered Sat Nam once, and that too by mistake.  Therefore, each one and every one has the firm right to call and ask, and it is my privilege to serve.”  ~Siri Singh Sahib Ji

This was written by M.S.S. Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa  of Los Angeles, California and S.S. Gurubanda Singh Khalsa of Pomona, California:

There is One Creator who has created this creation, Truth is His Name and infinite, beyond description is His wisdom. And out of His wisdom, He sent a man to the Western Hemisphere in the year 1968, who would be the instrument to awaken in the hearts and souls and minds of thousands of people, the love of the Holy Nam and the aspiration to live as Khalsa, the Pure Ones. 

One man, Yogi Bhajan, alone and unknown as God willed, came to Los Angeles, in December of 1968, and began teaching.  He soon had endeared himself to thousands of people by his love and compassion, by his understanding of their problems and their needs, and by his ability to give them not only guidance but a concrete method to work out their own solutions. 

His first job was to help to rescue thousands who had sought refuge in drugs.  He gave techniques of Kundalini yoga to purify and strengthen and heal the human body, which is the living temple of God.  He taught through his own example and through inspiring stories of Guru Nanak, Guru Ram Das, Guru Gobind Singh, Baba Deep Singh and others.  All the noble heroes, martyrs, saints, and Gurus were introduced for the first time to the Westerners who flocked to hear this unusual man teach.  His words were so inspiring, his challenge to the youth of North America so stirring, that by the dozens, then by the hundreds, and soon by the thousands, they took up the call to live righteously, to rise before the sun and chant the holy Nam, to earn their living and share with others, and to go out and teach others what they had learned.  They found that they had become Sikhs.  From whatever background of pain and suffering, whether rich or poor, the young people of the West found a reality instead of a ritual in what they had learned and experienced about the Sikh way of life from Yogi Bhajan. 

In December 1970, after two years away from his family and friends in India, he personally took a group of eighty four students to India to show them the holy city of Amritsar and his beloved Golden Temple, where he had cleansed and purified himself through four years of nightly washing its floors.  In joy and gratitude, he visited that house of Guru Ram Das. 

Soon after his arrival, he was welcomed by Giani Mahinder Singh, the Secretary of the S.G.P.C., who was delighted and amazed to see the students who had been guided to the house of Guru Ram Das, and he immediately appreciated the missionary work which was so effectively being carried out in the West by this one inspired Gursikh.

The Siri Singh Sahib met with other leaders, including Sant Chanan Singh, the President of the S.G.P.C., and Sant Fateh Singh, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, to discuss his missionary work in the West.  It was determined that Yogi ji should be honored at the Akal Takhat for his achievements, and that he should be presented with a letter of authority from the S.G.P.C. to establish a Ministry for the Sikh Dharma in the Western Hemisphere. 

In the course of the discussion, Sant Fateh Singh indicated that Yogi ji should be given a saropa of a Siri Sahib (Sword of honor) from the Akal Takhat, and that he should be called by the title of Singh Sahib.  At that point, Sant Chanan Singh spoke up and said:” What do you mean?  This one Harbhajan Singh will create many Singh Sahibs!  We are presenting him with a Siri Sahib, so let us call him Siri Singh Sahib!” 

On March 3, 1971, in the presence of the Sadh Sangat, before the Akal Takhat, the Eternal Throne, established by Guru Hargobind to serve as the Chief Religious Authority for the Sikhs throughout the world, the employed Jathedar (head priest) of the S.G.P.C.  for the Akal Takhat presented Yogi Harbhajan Singh with a sword of honor.  He was charged with the responsibility to return to the West and establish the Ministry of the Sikh Dharma. 

Who at that time understood the dimension of the office which he was to fill?  Who, but himself, could have imagined the breadth of the task before him?  He was, after all, not only the Siri Singh Sahib; he was the first Siri Singh Sahib.  He was to sit at the helm of a Dharma in the West.  He had been and was to continue to father the Dharma during its infancy.  He had not only to delineate the duties of his office, but also to set the standards of performance by which his successors would be measured.  In addition, he had to foster in his students a respect for and understanding of the office of the Siri Singh Sahib, as apart from the deep love and respect which they bore him as their teacher.  In short, it was a job for a man of super-human caliber: a man like Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogi ji, a man whose un-precedented missionary work had created the office of the Siri Singh Sahib before the title was actually even given. 

Returning to the States, the Siri Sigh Sahib remained simple “Yogiji” to his students, and few of them ever thought of him as a “religious” leader in the traditional sense.  He knew that to build a Dharma strong enough to last thousands of years, he would have to start with a broad and deep foundation.  So he continued to teach about Sikh Dharma in an indirect way, molding the character of his students through yoga and meditation, developing them in the traits which would eventually be necessary for the formation of the Khalsa. 

As the students progressed, they found out that their teacher came from a rich background of yoga, meditation and divinely inspired songs; that his Guru, Guru Ram Das, was part of the succession of ten Divine Masters, each of whom exemplified a different aspect of God-in-being; and that the technology of consciousness which Yogi ji had been teaching them was part of a well-defined way of life, formulated in ancient times and re-introduced into society by the Sikh Gurus for modern man to follow.  Cautiously, they approached the various aspects of the Dharma, and following their habitual pattern of skepticism and experimentation and then loving acceptance, they made the Dharma their own. 

Within a few short years, they were wearing the Guru’s fashion, singing the Guru’s hymns, teaching one another the Guru’s language and recounting the inspired histories of the Guru’s lives.  Moreover, they had acquired an intuitive understanding of their place in history as the pioneer Sikhs of the future, the direct heirs to the tradition of Guru Gobind Singh.  The foundation complete, the first task of the first Siri Singh Sahib was done. 

His thoughts turned toward the future.  How was the Dharma to survive in the years ahead, through all the tests that were sure to follow?  Faith and sacrifice would be required, but in addition he foresaw that a strong organizational structure was essential, in order to provide cohesion and communication in times of stress. 

He also foresaw that the greatest protection available to the Sikhs in America would be the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion.  Yet, to come under its aegis, the Sikhs would have to present themselves as more than the practitioners of an alternate lifestyle.  They would have to demonstrate that they were a legitimate, organized religion in the style of Western religions. 

 He gave them a body of qualified ministers, men and women alike, to serve and to guide the people and represent the Dharma to the world.  He gave them a flag to symbolize the ideals given to them by their Guru and to represent their collective existence to the world. 

He established the Sikh Dharma as a federally recognized religion in the United States.  He promulgated the “Principles of Sikh Dharma” and the “Model of Standard Behavior for Sikh Ministers”, and he established the Khalsa Council as the chief administrative body for the Sikh Dharma of the Western Hemisphere and he also gave to it, its own flag.   

He created the offices of Mukhia Singh Sahib and Mukhia Sardarni Sahiba, the Secretary General of the Sikh Dharma, the Chancellor to the Siri Singh Sahib and the Bhai Sahib of the Sikh Dharma, and he caused to be drawn the “Articles of Organization of the Sikh Dharma”, which clearly outlined the organization of the Dharma and the responsibilities of each of its officers.   

The Siri Singh Sahib had given to his students a dignity and a respectability in society, which would guarantee their right to live the principles of their Dharma. 

“Money is as money does”, the Siri Singh Sahib has always said, and “money makes the Dharma run.”  One of his first concerns was that the infant Sikh nation have a well-established financial base to support its growth and development. He, therefore, encouraged his students, men and women of very little business experience, to pool their resources and start “family businesses.”  From their humble efforts, he assured them, would come in time, factories, chains, and corporations to provide employment, prestige and security for the future. 

The “children of the Age of Aquarius,” soon became parents in their own right, and no parents cared more for their children than the Siri Singh Sahib cared for this second generation of pioneer Sikhs.  In addition to sharing his wisdom on child-raising, he encouraged the formation of Khalsa schools for the young. 

It was his dream that the young saints and sages-to-be should be provided with environments in which they would be taught not only the basic skills necessary for living, but also the values, history and practice of the Dharma.  He projected that the Khalsa would one day have an entire system of schools, culminating in at least one major university, in which the technology of spirituality would be taught on an equal footing with the arts and sciences. 

Ever far-reaching in his vision, the Siri Singh Sahib foresaw the need for a home for the Khalsa in the West, a sanctuary where the weak or ailing could come for recuperation, where the aged could come for peace and meditation, and where women and children could be safe in event of political, economic or social upheaval. 

Through his efforts, land was purchased in Espanola, New Mexico, and the major task of development was begun.  Now every child of the Dharma knows that he or she has a home-away-from-home, in the rolling hills and quiet valleys of new Mexico. 

The Siri Singh Sahib came to the West initially as a teacher for the younger generation.  He brought them from total unawareness of the Dharma to total commitment.  But in developing the office of Siri Singh Sahib, he had to also assume responsibility for ministering to the needs of the two million Sikhs of Indian origin residing in the West   It was a difficult responsibility, and one to which he devoted himself selflessly. 

Wherever he traveled, if there was a Gurdwara in that city, he spoke to the sadh sangat, reminding them of the value of the Dharma with which they had been blessed since birth.  He urged them not to forsake it, no matter what temptations or pressures they might face.  

He visited families and urged them to maintain a daily practice of saadhanaapaath, and keertan.   

He counselled young couples having difficulty in marriage and brought them to reconciliation.  He inspired men and women who had lost their faith in their Guru and cut their hair; through his efforts, many returned to the life of Dharma.  He spoke plainly with the children of Indian families about the pitfalls of American society and urged them to seek a more fulfilling and elevated life in the technology and values of Sikh Dharma.  He fostered the development of the Sikh Youth Federation in Canada, to organize and to inspire the Sikhs of Indian origin living in that country. 

He became a champion of Sikh rights throughout the Western Hemisphere.  When Sikhs in the U.S. Armed Forces were being court-martialed for attempting to maintain their hair and beards, he launched effective legal action, and the Sikhs won the case.  When Sikhs of the United Kingdom were being arrested for refusing to wear helmets while riding motorcycles, and when Sikhs in Canada were arrested for carrying kirpans, he pushed every legal means until their rights were secured.  When Sikh-Canadian relations seemed to be reaching the boiling point, he inspired his people to adopt an attitude of non-aggressive preparedness, while warning the Canadian people, through major press interviews, that they should not make the mistake of pressing the Sikh people too far, less they respond with an effectiveness known throughout their history. 

From time to time, interests within and without the Sikh community have sought to divide the Sikhs into factions: Americans against Indians, or “traditional” Sikhs against “modern”.  Though often a thankless and painstaking job, the Siri Singh Sahib has patiently lectured, advised, and counseled against any division among the Sikh people. 

At the same time, he has refused to compromise Sikh principles merely for the sake of temporary and superficial unity.  Specifically, he has refused to condone any dissolution or liberation of the Rahit  Maryaadaa, established by Guru Gobind Singh, neither for man or woman, nor societal or political pressures.   He has held fast to the concept that there is one standard and one path for all Sikhs, and that anyone who purely desires to follow in the example of the Gurus, regardless of his or her weaknesses or past errors is welcome to walk on the path.  As he has said many times, “I am a leader for the Sikhs, not of the Sikhs.  

Beyond the many roles which he has had to play and the duties which he has had to fill, Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogi ji has brought to the office of the Siri Singh Sahib something more.  Beyond being an effective administrator, leader and visionary, he has demonstrated that the Siri Singh Sahib must be an exceptional human being   

Despite the great number and magnitude of the responsibilities he carries, he has proven himself to be the most compassionate person, giving freely of himself at all hours of the day or night, willing to serve even those who return his concern with abuse, reserving the most difficult and thankless jobs for himself, and then granting others all of the credit.  He has given aid and comfort to the sick and troubled at times when his own strength was all but exhausted, giving living proof to his words. “My birth and my life and my end are meant to serve…” 

He has set the example that in the Sikh Dharma, only that person shall be considered worthy of the highest seat of the office who can humble himself to be the dust of all people’s feet.  There may never again be another man or woman to truly fill the role as he has done, but at least we shall have recorded in our history, what a true Siri Singh Sahib is. 

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