Panthic, Community, People

Bibiji's Lawsuit

The Fight For Yogi Bhajan’s Empire
By Kamalla Kaur | July 28, 2011

Bibiji stood behind her husband as he formed Sikh Dharma International, the religious community that Yogi Bhajan created in the 1970s with numerous contradictions to Sikhism and considered a cult by its former members. Bibiji also stood behind him as he created multi-million dollar businesses in the following decades. Yogi Bhajan died in 2004.

Last year, the dharma’s ousted religious leaders filed a lawsuit in Portland, Oregon, against Unto Infinity, the board of directors that controls the dharma and all of the for-profit and non-profit businesses, and against the six executives of Golden Temple Management, which oversees the Golden Temple of Oregon food company. They are accused of squeezing funds to the religious community and of unjustly enriching themselves.

BIBIJI AND YOGI BHAJAN

In August 1989, Yogi Bhajan spoke about Bibiji's sacrifice to the women attending Khalsa Women's Training Camp in Espanola, New Mexico:

"Sometime, you know, my wife says, “What's going on?”" Yogi Bhajan said. "'We were very happy when we were in India. We were officers, we had servants, we had a home, we had respectability in life, we had a private life. She says so, and she is PhD in psychology, and I sent her to college. She is sitting right there. And I remember also, we used to have a beautiful private life. Now I have a telephone and they give it to me in the bathroom. "It is an urgent call," they say. "Stop what you are doing and attend to it." And she is longing from last so many years to sleep. Her telephone never stops. Now she will say right now, "What are you talking about?" I am telling her that is the price she has to pay as Bibiji. And there's no other way. If she wants private life, then she should live private, and that status which has been bestowed on her will fall apart. But if she wants to live with that status, she's got to serve the status, with her integrity, with her courage, and she has to die with her boots on, period. There's no other way.”

Earlier that year on March 1, 1989, Yogi Bhajan talked in a class lecture in Los Angeles about his stressful relationship with Bibiji and their children.

“My wife never sees me,” he said. “I never see her. I wonder sometimes why don't we divorce? We get mad at each other. We fight like you and me. I yell and scream to tell my children I am the father. The buck stops here. All that drama I do and I do it very intentionally to let them know that I am a very alive human being father. Otherwise they think I am a yogi, I am supreme, I live in the bliss, forget about it. I am just a statue. And once in a while I shake my statue and just let them know I am alive and well and I am just like as they are.”

The court case has not been resolved. The verdict is expected soon after August 5. Yet, no matter what Judge Leslie Roberts concludes, Bibiji and her three adult children, Ranbir Singh Bhai, Kamaljit Kaur Kohli and Kulbir Singh Puri, will be suing Unto Infinity and Golden Temple Management next.

Bibiji's lawsuit is very much like Sikh Dharma's but goes further. In her case, filed in December 2010 in the Multnomah County Circuit Court of Portland, Oregon, Yogi Bhajan's lawyer, Roy Lambert, is the prime defendant, where he was merely a witness in the recent Portland trial.

Lambert is a prominent corporate lawyer in Portland. He had been president of the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation and past officer of the Jewish Federation of Portland.

Bibiji's lawsuit says Lambert was legal counsel to Yogi Bhajan's companies for more than 25 years. He was the organizer of Unto Infinity and legal counsel for all of Yogi Bhajan's companies before and after his death. Lambert also occupied a position of trust with Yogi Bhajan in a separate non-legal capacity, as his advisor.

According to court documents, Bibiji alleges that after Yogi Bhajan's death, Lambert took on positions of authority that had nothing to do with his position as legal counsel with the non-profits and businesses within Yogi Bhajan's empire. Lambert is vice president of the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation and vice president of the Legacy of Yogiji Foundation, both of which control properties and assets within the empire. He also may hold other key positions that Bibiji is not aware of.

She claims Lambert acted out of personal gain in his desire to help the members of Unto Infinity take control.

When Yogi Bhajan was alive, he was the only shareholder in the California corporation called the Siri Singh Sahib of Sikh Dharma, which controlled all the businesses and non-profits. He formed the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation to succeed Siri Singh Sahib of Sikh Dharma upon his death.

A list of board members for Siri Singh Sahib Corporation was to be kept in Lambert’s safe until after his death. But after Yogi Bhajan died, Lambert never produced that list, according to the lawsuit.

Bibiji claims that before Yogi Bhajan died, she and their three children discussed with him their desire to become more involved in the management of the various businesses. She says her husband agreed to appoint them to any board they requested.

According to court documents, Bibiji also claims that Yogi Bhajan gave these instructions to Sopurkh Kaur Khalsa, comptroller of Yogi Bhajan's empire and Unto Infinity member. He told Sopurkh Khalsa about his wishes both orally and in writing, and Sopurkh Khalsa discussed the appointments with Roy Lambert.

Bibiji accuses Lambert and Sopurkh Khalsa of backdating documents to make it appear as if Yogi Bhajan had approved changes that Bibiji says were not in fact authorized by her husband. Bibiji and her adult children say that Lambert and the members of Unto Infinity conspired to keep the family from being members of the Unto Infinity and Sri Singh Sahib Corporation boards of directors.

Bibiji was married to the man who called himself the Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji for 52 years. But it’s common knowledge within the dharma that Bibiji and Yogi Bhajan lived apart. According to Peraim Khalsa’s testimony in the recent trial, Yogi Bhajan was tended to 24 hours a day by his staff of Caucasian secretaries. When he and Bibiji attended functions, Bibiji often arrived in one of the last cars in the caravan.

Despite some personal challenges (see sidebar), Bibiji has had many accomplishments. In 2005, she received the honorific Panth Rattan from Jathedar Iqbal Singh of Takht Patna Sahib. In 2006, she was named New Mexico Ambassador of Peace by Senator Shannon Robinson. And in 2007, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson appointed Bibiji as his representative to India.

Bibiji received her doctoral degree in psychology and counseling in 1989 from the University of Humanistic Studies in San Diego, California. She is a licensed and practicing marriage and family counselor in New Mexico.

Bibiji currently trains emergency medical professionals in Kundalini Yoga using “Yoga and Meditation Technology to manage stress for first responders,” according to the Web site, ‘Create Inner Peace.’ The program is offered by the New Mexico Office of Health and Emergency Management.