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American yogis distort Sikh scripture
Part I: Bhajan’s yogic theories form framework of English translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib
The emperor questioned Ram Rai about the word “Mussalmaan,” meaning “Muslim,” in Guru Nanak’s salok on ang 466:
ਮਃ ੧ ॥
ਮਿਟੀ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨ ਕੀ ਪੇੜੈ ਪਈ ਕੁਿਮ੍ਆਰ ॥
The clay of a Muslim (in the grave after death) becomes a lump upon the potter's clod.
ਘੜਿ ਭਾਂਡੇ ਇਟਾ ਕੀਆ ਜਲਦੀ ਕਰੇ ਪੁਕਾਰ ॥
From it, vessels and bricks are made, and wail as they burn.
ਜਲਿ ਜਲਿ ਰੋਵੈ ਬਪੁੜੀ ਝੜਿ ਝੜਿ ਪਵਹਿ ਅੰਗਿਆਰ ॥
Burning, burning they weep, as the fiery coals fall, fall from them.
ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਨਿ ਕਰਤੈ ਕਾਰਣੁ ਕੀਆ ਸੋ ਜਾਣੈ ਕਰਤਾਰੁ ॥੨॥
Nanak: The Creator who created creation alone Knows (what happens hereafter). 
(Translation: Manmohan Singh and Gopal Singh, modified)
This couplet explains the futility of dividing humanity according to rites of cremation or burial by reflecting on the state of humans, which is physically and mentally conditional upon their natural and social environments, with respect to the mystery and absoluteness of Divine power. According to the Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Aurangzeb and his Muslim advisers interpreted the passage literally, equating the burning of a Muslim’s remains to mean eternal damnation of the soul. Hence, their objection.
To please the emperor, Ram Rai falsely told him that Guru Nanak originally said the word “baimaan,” meaning “dishonest person,” not Mussalmaan.
When Guru Har Rai was informed of his son’s betrayal, he disowned Ram Rai and declared him “thunkhaayaa,” meaning “excommunicated” from the “Panth,” the “Sikh community.” It was Guru Har Rai’s “hukam,” or “edict,” that Sikhs are never to associate with Ram Rai or his followers, known as Ramraia. The “Rehit Maryada,” the Sikh “Code of Conduct,” also instructs Sikhs not to associate with cults, including Ramraia. And Sikhs are again warned when they consecrate “Amrit Sanchaar,” a baptism-like ceremony initiating a Sikh into the "Khalsa" order, or “Army of the Pure."
The Gurus considered any distortion of “Gurbani,” meaning the “Guru’s Word,” a sacrilegious act, and so did their Sikhs. But now, for more than two decades, Sikhs have unknowingly accepted and promoted an English translation of their holy scripture, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, which contains not one but countless distortions – words, phrases and passages – that are based on the Hindu yogic philosophy taught by the late Yogi Harbhajan Singh Puri Khalsa, commonly known as Yogi Bhajan.
“Yoga is not accepted in Sikhism,” said Amarjit Singh of Toronto, a Gurbani and Sikh history expert, and author of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act, passed by the Indian parliament in December 1971.
“If you are given something corrupt, wrapped with sweetness, you will be gone astray,” he told SFP.
When the Akal Takhat jathedar first found out about Yogi Bhajan’s teachings, he threatened to excommunicate him from the Panth.
"The yogi is exploiting Sikhs in the name of Sikhi, and making fools of innocent Americans,” he told the Akaalee Pathrakaa newspaper in Amritsar, in January 1979.
Gurbani is enshrined in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. It is the only scripture uttered and written by the founders of a faith. Sikhs consider it the Message of God, the embodiment of the 10 Gurus, and confer upon the Granth the same reverence as a living Guru. The Gurus and their Sikhs have laid down their lives to protect and preserve the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
“Of all known religious scriptures, this book is the most highly venerated,” said Arnold Toynbee, in his forward to “The Sacred Writings of the Sikhs,” published by UNESCO in 1960. Toynbee was a research professor of international history at the London School of Economics and at the University of London.
“It means more to the Sikhs than even the Qur’an means to Muslims, the Bible to Christians, and the Torah to Jews,” Toynbee said. The (Guru) Granth is the Sikhs’ perpetual guru.” It is their spiritual guide.
Today, much of the world's understanding of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib comes from the English translation authored by one of Yogi Bhajan’s long-time disciples, Sant Singh Khalsa, a pediatrician from Arizona. His translation is prevalent everywhere on the Internet.
Sant Khalsa did not know “Gurmukhi,” the language of the Guru Granth, and never studied Gurbani or Sikh history, he told SFP, and neither did his sole teacher - Yogi Bhajan - former disciples also told SFP.
Sant Khalsa’s rendition is an English translation of an English translation, with Yogi Bhajan’s interpretations.
The making of an American yogi
“When I wanted to be a yogi, I happened to be a Sikh, and I wanted to play games,” Yogi Bhajan said in a 1989 lecture to his disciples in New Mexico. “And you know I believe in victory. I am not lying to you. I just want to win. I am just that kind of man. And I did all the stuff, which I can't tell you.”
Yogi Bhajan was born to a Hindu mother and a Sikh father, former disciples said. He received a Catholic school education and went on to become a customs officer at the Delhi airport.
Yogi Bhajan’s early publications of his “Beads of Truth” journal, and interviews with his former disciples and his Sikh contemporaries, show that before immigrating to the West, Yogi Bhajan and his wife, Inderjit Puri, were disciples of Maharaj Virsa Singh, who founded the notorious Delhi-based Gobind Sadan cult that led an armed takeover of Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib in May 1971.
The gurdwara was shut down for nearly two weeks as Nirlep Kaur, Virsa Singh’s top disciple, continued to lead the fight for control of the Delhi gurdwaras’ management board. The Indian government eventually took control, said Amarjit Singh, who belonged to a highly respected family in Delhi. He successfully united the 137 gurdwaras and crafted legislation for their governance. The Indian parliament enacted the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act, which led to the formation of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee. Amarjit Singh knew Virsa Singh, Nirlep Kaur, Yogi Bhajan and Inderjit Puri very well.
Gobind Sadan was founded in the late 1960s. Its adherents fundamentally follow Siri Chand, Guru Nanak’s “udassi,” or “ascetic,” son, but also practice a hodgepodge of all world religions.
Virsa Singh claimed to have received his spiritual power from a vision of Siri Chand, who told him to repeat the “Ik Ongkaar, Sat Naam, Sri Waheguru” mantra, writes Philip Deslippe, a doctoral student of religious studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara in “From Maharaj to Mahan Tantric,” his 2012 academic analysis of Yogi Bhajan’s beginnings and the development of his Kundalini yoga.
Virsa Singh reduced these sacred terms and concepts from Gurbani to a mantra.
“In Hinduism, "matra" means "charm, spell or magic formula, which has supernatural power,”" said Harjinder Singh Dilgeer of England, author of more than 50 books on Gurbani and Sikh history. “There is no so-called mantra in Sikhism. No one can change God’s command.”
The maharaj also later claimed to have received mantras from Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, Deslippe writes. And Yogi Bhajan would later claim to have received mantras from Guru Ram Das.
Like other cults claiming a Sikh connection, Virsa Singh and his disciples have a Sikh-like appearance, but dress only in white, including their turbans.
The firsthand nature of the Guru Granth eliminates any possibility of cults or sects in Sikhism. The Rehit Maryada also defines a Sikh as a person who exclusively follows the "temporal-spiritual" path of the Guru, known as “miri-piri.” This definition also appears in the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act.
Yogi Bhajan also was a student of Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari, who created his own version of Hatha yoga called Suksma Vyayama yoga, Deslippe writes. Brahmachari was Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi’s personal yoga teacher, according to his Facebook profile.
When Yogi Bhajan immigrated to Toronto and then to Los Angeles in 1968, he began calling himself “Mahan Tantric,” or “grand master of Tantric yoga.” He became a yoga teacher, and established the Healthy Happy Holy (yoga) Organization in 1969, commonly known as 3HO.
He took Brahmachari’s unique postures and techniques, attached them to Tantric theories and Virsa Singh’s mantras, and sold them as his own creation called “Kundalini” yoga.
“When placed alongside the teachings of Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari and Maharaj Virsa Singh, it becomes strikingly apparent that at least in its earliest years, Yogi Bhajan's Kundalini yoga was not a distinct practice, but essentially a combination of yogic mechanics learned from the former and the Sikh-derived mantras (Ik Ongkaar, Sat Naam, Sri Waheguru) and chanting from the latter,” Deslippe writes.
“My idea to teach you Kundalini Yoga was a personal risk,” Yogi Bhajan said in the 1989 lecture, in New Mexico. “Kundalini Yoga has never been taught as we do. I broke the rule. I had read the scriptures and it is prohibited. When I came, I talked to myself and then I said, "Okay, what is the risk? Let us do it. If I die within one year... and blah, blah, blah, whole thing... it matters nothing,"" Yogi Bhajan added. “When I came in this country I was not Mahan Tantric. I didn't have any power. And I didn't lie.”
By 1971, Yogi Bhajan had a hostile falling out with Virsa Singh on his first trip back to India. He took 84 American students to Gobind Sadan in December 1970. They had paid for a three-month yoga experience, but Yogi Bhajan’s primary purpose was to establish an East-West organizational connection and solidify his spiritual lineage with Virsa Singh.
“Intriguingly, this idea is echoed in the January I970 issue of Beads of Truth, in which (his disciple) Shakti Parwha… hopes to publish an account of the trip in the next issue, and refers to Gobind Sadan as “3HO India,” Deslippe writes.
But Virsa Singh rejected Bhajan’s Kundalini yoga. Yoga was not a part of the Gobind Sadan spiritual path. And a power struggle ensued over who would win control of the new American followers.
Yogi Bhajan took his students and left his master.
“He (began) shaping and crafting the itinerary and direction of where things would move,” said Pamela Dyson, formerly known as Premka Kaur Khalsa, Yogi Bhajan’s first translator, philosophical writer, and personal secretary, who also went on the first India trip. “He was extemporaneously creating a whole new strategy.”
Yogi Bhajan went to Punjab. The Sikhs were ecstatic over his young, white, longhaired hippie followers who could chant a few words from Gurbani. He convinced the Punjabis that they were Sikhs-in-the-making and successfully networked with the top leadership of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak (management) Committee, particularly with Mahinder Singh, its secretary.
Once back in Los Angeles, Yogi Bhajan began linking his yogic teachings to Sikhism and branding his own version of Guru Gobind Singh’s Khalsa to build his following in the United States. He became a spiritual teacher, and established the Sikh Dharma International spiritual corporation in 1971, commonly known as SDI.
“(Superficial) conversion to Sikhism offered new identities for both Bhajan and his students,” writes Connie Elsberg, professor of anthropology at Northern Virginia Community College, in “Graceful Women; Gender and Identity in an American Sikh Community.”
“For Bhajan, it provided a position in the world of international Sikhism and in interfaith organizations in the U.S.,” Elsberg writes.
“Look, you like me or not, internationally I am known as a yogi.” Bhajan said in a 1987 lecture to his disciples in Los Angeles. “I mean there’s no doubt. I don’t need a certificate.”
“Bhajan also found ways to tie Sikhism to New Age thinking,” Elsberg writes.
According to religioustolerance.org, New Age is a free-flowing spiritual movement that became popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Its followers have somewhat similar beliefs and practices, which they graft onto whichever formal religion they follow. Its beliefs include a non-traditional concept of the nature of God. And its practices are traceable to astrology, channeling, spiritualism, Taoism, neo-pagan traditions, and Hinduism.
Yogi Bhajan taught his followers that the Siri Guru Granth Sahib was “the fifth Veda, the completion and culmination of the ancient (Hindu) texts,” according to spiritvoyage.com, a blog and online store for yoga merchandise run by his followers.
Yogi Bhajan’s hodgepodge teachings have had a confounding effect, particularly in what the West perceives as Sikhism.
In the West, “Sikh Dharma” is the name of Yogi Bhajan’s spiritual corporation. It is often mistaken for “Sikhism,” the name of the fifth largest religion of the world.
“The word “Dharma” cannot be associated with Sikh,” said Sukhmander Singh, a Gurbani and Sikh history expert, and a civil engineering endowed chair at Santa Clara University, in California. “The correct term is Hindu Dharma.”
All Hindu philosophical schools have a “dharma” or “moral theory,” writes Shyam Ranganathan of York University, in Canada. “Particular schools of Hinduism share much with non-Hindu, but Indian, schools of thought. This is particularly apparent in the case of the Hindu philosophical school of Yoga, whose moral theory shares much with Jainism, and with Buddhist Mahāyāna thought.”
Just as the term "Abrahamic religions," is used to categorize Judaism, Christianity and Islam as a Western family of religions, dharma or "dharmic religions" is used to identify religions of the Indian subcontinent with closely interrelated philosophies. Sikhism is not one of them.
“It is a loose and cunning way of including everyone,” Sukhmander Singh added. The term is being used by dubious religious scholars and organizations to subvert Sikhism and submerse it into Hinduism.
“They are confusing people,” Sukhmander Singh said.
Yogi Bhajan made Sikh Dharma a trademark. His followers use the terms Sikh Dharma and Sikhism interchangeably, without clarification.
According to SikhiWiki.com, a Yogi Bhajan website: “Sikh Dharma is a distinct religion revealed through the teachings of the ten Gurus.” And, “This system of religious philosophy and expression has been traditionally known as the Gurmat, literally the counsel of the gurus, or the Sikh Dharma.” This is incorrect.
“Gurmat” actually means “Wisdom of the Gurus.”
Wikipedia.com, the publically-edited encyclopedia, goes even farther: "”Sikh Dharma" is also the original term for Sikhism in the Punjabi language, which is also known as "Sikhi."" This also is incorrect.
Bhajan’s SikhiWiki and Wikipedia have very similar, often exact, content on Sikhism. His Internet-savvy disciples are the “guardians” of online information, diligently monitoring and maintaining a connection between Sikhism and Yogi Bhajan’s teachings, former disciples told SFP.
In 1716, Mughal Emperor Farrukh Siyar ordered the genocide of Sikhs. All Sikhs were to convert to Islam or die. The price of a Sikh head was Rs. 80, a fortune for that time.
“But that was when we saw the fastest conversions into Sikhism,” Amarjit Singh said. The Sikhs retreated to the jungles and lived on saddles as they continued to fight the Mughal oppressors. When people discovered that Sikhs were hiding nearby, they would go to them and take Amrit and become Khalsa, he said.
“Their moral character was so high, they would first reveal themselves to the enemy and only fight face-to-face. If the enemy were running, they would not attack. They would take care of the wounded enemy soldiers and give them “langar,” or “blessed food,” before eating themselves. They would not touch the woman of the enemy, and instead send her home safely.”
The Mugals called them “kuthay,” or “dogs.” They were infuriated by the Sikhs but they also saluted them in their writings. This was and is the Khalsa.
But in the West, Khalsa is a disciple of Yogi Bhajan. It is the surname he gave all his devotees. Many of them were also given first names that begin with Guru or include names of Hindu gods, like Guru Ganesha, Hari Krishna and Hanuman.
At the time, his disciples did not know that Sikhs would take offense to their names, former followers told SFP. But those who remained his devotees kept these constructs, including at least one that begins with Christ.
“In my personal experience as gross-human-body (yogic term), it is the first time in the world the real perfect shape of the Khalsa came into existence,” Yogi Bhajan said in a 1976 lecture published in his journal, “Sikh Dharma Brotherhood.”
“It didn't happen in the time of Guru Gobind Singh,” the yogi added. “I see and now look back at the Sikh history. We have done - a handful of us - a more tremendous sacrifice for the sake of humanity on this planet than anybody can even relate to.”
Yogi Bhajan has made other statements to Sikhs in which he imagined himself having done better than Guru Gobind Singh.
Time to excommunication
Recently discovered documents show Yogi Bhajan was slated for excommunication by Akal Takhat Jathedar Sadhu Singh Bhaura for his teachings, claims and actions that Sikhs consider blasphemous, or “bayadhbee.”
“Under what authority has he declared himself Singh Sahib?" the jathedar asked in a January 1979 news report published by the Akaalee Pathrakaa newspaper in Amritsar.
"If he does not respond, he will be excommunicated from the Sikh Panth," he said. "The yogi is exploiting Sikhs in the name of Sikhi, and making fools of innocent Americans.
“Sikhi is based on principles, not on beard and long hair alone.”
The jathedar initially met Yogi Bhajan on his first trip to India, between December 1970 and March 1971.
At the end of the trip, the SGPC gave Yogi Bhajan a “saropa,” or “gift of honor,” which included a stole and a Kirpan, in a ceremony in front of the Akal Takhat, Premka Khalsa said.
“Months later, he slipped in the whole Siri Singh Sahib title and claimed it came from that ceremony,” she told SFP.
During his second trip to India, in November 1974, the jathedar presented him with another saropa, which included a silver plate and a hukamnama.
In his first hukamnama to Yogi Bhajan, the jathedar recognized him “for his selfless service for the propagation of Gursikhi in foreign lands.” The hukamnama was published in Yogi Bhajan’s 1979 book, “The Man Called Siri Singh Sahib.”
The jathedar addressed Yogi Bhajan as “Bhai Sahib Sardar Harbhajan Singh ji” in the hukumnamaa. But Bhai Sahib was not meant as a title. And Siri Singh Sahib never existed as a title or anything else. Yogi Bhajan ambiguously claimed to have received these titles from either the SGPC or the jathedar. Neither had the authority.
Yogi Bhajan’s titles, teachings and practices created quite a revolt among Sikhs here and in India. His former devotee, Pritam Singh, one of the first to awaken to Yogi Bhajan’s distortion of Sikhism, took all of Yogi Bhajan's publications and handed them over to the Sikh leadership in Delhi and Amritsar.
Time magazine captured the Sikh reaction in its September 1977 report, “Yogi Bhajan's Synthetic Sikhism.”
The jathedar of Takhat Damdama Sahib, Jaswant Singh, told Time he was “shocked” by Yogi Bhajan’s “fantastic theories,” and said yoga, Tantrism and the sexual practices taught by him were “forbidden and immoral.”
Sikh historian, Trilochan Singh, told Time Yogi Bhajan’s synthesis of Sikhism and Tantrism was a “sacrilegious hodgepodge.”
And SGPC President Gurcharan Singh Tohra told Time that the SGPC did not give Yogi Bhajan the title of Siri Singh Sahib, the equivalent of saying "Sir" three times, and that Yogi Bhajan was not the Sikh leader of the Western Hemisphere, as he claimed.
“The Sikhs do not create such offices,” Tohra added.
The Akal Takhat jathedar also shot back.
"The title of Singh Sahib or Siri Singh Sahib has never been bestowed by me to any person," Jathedar Sadhu Singh declared in the second hukamnama, in October 1977. Titles can only be bestowed by the Panth to highly distinguished Sikhs, usually posthumously, like Bhai Vir Singh, the eminent Punjabi poet and theologian.
A few months after the pending excommunication was announced, the jathedar was gone, possibly removed from his position by Tohra and Mahinder Singh.
“Bhajan has important backers in India,” Time reported. Tohra confirmed that the SGPC gave Yogi Bhajan full approval of his 3HO yoga organization, and recognized the yogi as a preacher, even though Sikhism rejects both yoga and the concept of a priest class.
Yogi Bhajan was emboldened by the SGPC and relentless in his pursuit of power. With the SGPC’s declaration of him as a Sikh minister, Yogi Bhajan formed corporations solely under his name and amassed great wealth, including properties and businesses given to him, or created by, his disciples, court documents show. His family and his disciples have been fighting legal battles since his death, in 2004, for control of his wealth.
“We do not drive those fancy Rolls Royces and Mercedes because they are very comfortable,” Yogi Bhajan said in the 1989 New Mexico lecture. “Car is a car. But we drive them to say, "Those who believe in 'Ik Ongkaar' will have a nice car."”
Yogi Bhajan built a wall around his disciples, kept them away from Sikhs, and indoctrinated them with the notion that all of the 25 million Sikhs who originated from the Indian subcontinent had forgotten their yogic history, that the Gurus were the greatest yogis of all and that they all practiced all yoga, including Tantric.
“Yogi Bhajan told us that he was teaching the real, original Sikhi,” said Siri Amrit Kaur Khalsa of Arizona, also a former devotee. “He told us not to trust the Indian Sikhs, that they were watered-down Sikhs who had forgotten that the Gurus were yogis and taught yoga, that they were "patit" (heretics), and that they were “negative” because they were jealous of him.
"In 3HO, the word negative was, and still is, a hugely loaded word,” she told SFP. "The most shaming thing that could be said about someone was that they were negative. If he declared that someone was negative, that person's reputation would be destroyed, and he or she would be distrusted and shunned by all of his faithful students. This served the purpose of stopping any and all criticism of Yogi Bhajan.
“If Yogi Bhajan taught us that the sky is orange, and the Indian Sikhs said the sky is blue, we would trust Yogi Bhajan because he said so."
That is still the case today.
“The Siri Singh Sahib's stories… even if they were only half true, I would not care,” says Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa, a long-time disciple and Yogi Bhajan biographer, in a recent blog post on harisingh.com. “There is a Sufi saying, which I believe, that if a story exalts the spirit, it is true.”
In a response to SFP’s request for comment, Guru Fatha Khalsa adds: “Sometimes his talks, most of which are recorded and together comprise the majority of his teaching legacy, contain what we might call "hyperbole," exaggeration - or at least statements contradicted by the historical evidence available to us… (like) Guru Gobind Singh definitely beheaded his five piaraas… but we love them still and they serve a vital part in our faith and legacy.”
Breaking away from decades of physical, emotional and social commitment to Yogi Bhajan’s ideology is extraordinarily difficult to do, former disciples said. It is easier to justify and rationalize diametrically opposite facts and beliefs. The psychological term is "cognitive dissonance."
“Stick to the teacher’s teachings,” says Hari Jiwan Singh Khalsa, another of Yogi Bhajan’s close disciples, in a Feb. 5, 2015, group email.
“For Christians, it’s Christ; for Sikhs, it’s the Siri Singh Sahib’s.”
Hari Jiwan Khalsa did not respond to SFP’s request for comment.
While Sikhs believe that everyone has the right to choose any path, if it is not the Guru’s path, or “maarag,” it cannot be called Sikhism, and its follower cannot be called Sikhs.
SFP’s year-long investigation, which includes interviews with several former and current disciples of Yogi Bhajan, research into his many publications, and study of a variety of websites belonging to his disciples and organizations, shows how Yogi Bhajan and Bhajan’s yogis have been, from their beginning in 1968 to today, revising Sikh history in their publications and altering the Divine Message of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib in their translations, to transform Gurbani to better align with the yogic teachings of their master - Yogi Bhajan - the self-proclaimed “chief religious and administrative authority for Sikhism (or Sikh Dharma) in the Western Hemisphere.”
Guru Nanak traveled more than12,000 miles in five odysseys from about 1499 to 1524. He went by foot to Bengal in the East and Sri Lanka in the South, Tibet in the North and Mecca in the West, and then around the Punjab.
Contrary to artistic renditions of him as a plump, elderly man, he was in the prime of his life during those journeys, from about age 29 to age 55, Sukhmander Singh said.
And considering the treacherous terrains and climatic extremes he had to endure, Guru Nanak had to be extraordinarily fit and probably was very athletic looking. He never practiced yoga as a form of exercise.
He also never practiced yoga as a form of meditation. During his journeys, Guru Nanak sang his Bani to the people and debated with political and spiritual leaders about the fallacies of their ways. Among them were the yogis. He explained to them the true meaning of "yoga," or “yoke,” and the true path to enlightenment.
Hindu yoga includes numerous, often overlapping, interpretations and practices. Yogi Bhajan taught a combination of some of the more well-known traditions made popular in the West by Swami Vivekananda in the late 1800s, which asserts that one can meet God within oneself by using techniques of controlling the gross physical-body and its subtle energy-channels to completely silence the mind and ultimately unite with the Ultimate Reality.
The Gurus used the word “jog,” meaning “yoga,” but transformed it to mean union with God through intelligent contemplation and love-worship of the One, and through selfless service for the uplifting of humanity.
A section of the Guru Granth, called Siddh Gosti, is Guru Nanak’s successful debate with all sects of yogis, including the occult Siddh yogis.
"The Siddh yogis sought to become "Perfected Beings" through the practice of Hatha yoga, alchemy or Tantric ritual,” said David White, professor of comparative religions of South Asia at the University of California in Santa Barbara, and author of several books on ancient yoga. "They saw themselves as joining the ranks of the semi-divine Siddhas who, according to Hindu mythology, lived in the sky, had supernatural powers and had perfect bodies.”
Bhai Gurdas, whose “Vaaraa,” or “Ballads,” were considered by Guru Arjan as a key to understanding the concepts of the Guru Granth said, wherever Guru Nanak went and debated the futility of yoga, the yogis gave up their yogic paths. The yogis of “Gorakhmata,” meaning “Wisdom of Gorakhnatha,” the founder of Hatha yoga, converted to the path of Guru Nanak, and also changed the name of their ancient center to “Nanakmata,” meaning “Wisdom of Guru Nanak,” known today as Gurdwara Sri Nanakmata Sahib.
Guru Nanak never practiced yoga, and neither did any of the following Gurus, their Sikhs or the Khalsa. Yoga is unmistakably refuted in the Guru Granth.
In Japji Sahib, ang 2, Guru Nanak says:
ਸੁਣਿਐ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਤਨਿ ਭੇਦ ॥
By listening to God’s Name and Word, the mortal understands the ways of uniting with the One (yoga) and the secrets of the body.
(Translation: Manmohan Singh and Gopal Singh, modified)
Listening – the technology of Yoga and the secrets of the body
(Translation: Sant Khalsa)
...ਨਾਨਕ ਭਗਤਾ ਸਦਾ ਵਿਗਾਸੁ ॥
…Nanak: Ever blissful are the saintly disciples.
(Translation: Manmohan Singh and Gopal Singh, modified)
...O Nanak, the devotees are forever in bliss.
(Translation: Sant Khalsa)
But Sant Khalsa translates it as: "Listening – the technology of Yoga and the secrets of the body… O Nanak, the devotees are forever in bliss."
Without explaining what to listen to, it seems that Guru Nanak is accepting yoga, according to the translation. Sant Khalsa also uses the word “technology,” which is a 3HO term that means “philosophy of experience” through yoga.
“Yogi Bhajan's Kundalini theorists go to the impossible and improper length to rationalize their own un-Sikh-like practices, haphazardly taken from Hindu systems and oddly practiced in their ashrams (Hindu monasteries), and project them as the real practices of the Khalsa,” said Trilochan Singh in “Sikhism and Tantric Yoga,” his scathing 1977 exposé of Yogi Bhajan’s teachings.
Yogi Bhajan’s publications are “a clear example of this conscious and deliberate distortion,” he said.
Now, Bhajan’s yogis rationalize and justify the Sikhism-Yoga connection on the Internet.
According to Bhajan’s SikhiWiki.com, “Sikh yoga is one of the original empowering practices of the Sikhs… "Yog" and "yogi" (or jogi) have been repeatedly mentioned in Gurbani, but in the traditional Sikh world, these things are little known or understood.” This is incorrect.
The Guru Granth includes such terms as “jog,” “jogi,” “sahajya,” “sunya,” “turiya,” “anhada” “nirvana,” “samadhi,” and “omkar,” which had their origin in early Vedic literature, but they underwent a dramatic transformation of ideology under Jainism, Buddhism, Shivaism and Nathpanthi Yogi cults, Trilochan Singh said.
“Two thousand years after the death of Buddha, the creative genius of the Sikh Gurus redefined these terms, in the light of their divine experiences, there was once more transvaluation of values,” he said. Similarly, terms from the Islamic tradition, such as “namaz,” “kalma,” “ma'arfat,” “tariqat,” “haqiqat,” and “sidaq,” also were redefined and given new meaning and content.
“Those who see these terms in the Sikh scripture and rush to the conclusion that the Sikh Gurus borrowed them from older religions or creeds in their classical sense, express grave ignorance either of the Sikh doctrines or of the philosophic and religious system from which they are borrowed, or of both," Trilochan Singh added.
According to the Sikh Encyclopedia, “The Sikh Gurus have used the terminology of yoga in their verses and recognized the utility of self-realization but the methodology prescribed by them is that of “Naam simran,” “remembrance and praise of God,” rather than self-mortification.”
In Sikhism, Naam simran is not the repetition of one word or a hymn, as in a yogic mantra, Harjinder Singh added.
“Sikhism totally rejects ritualism,” he said. “The mere repetition of any word or hymn is pale ritualism.”
“There are some people who claim there is no relationship between yoga and Sikhism,” says Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa, one of Yogi Bhajan’s top philosophical writers today, in a recent blog post on 3HO.org, called “Guru Nanak and the Yogis.”
“However, Yogi Bhajan talked about it very differently," she writes. “Guru Nanak, himself, practiced yoga and attained a very high state of realization."
“Why else would he go meet with the yogis?” she told SFP.
"When (Ek Ong Kaar Khalsa) says “Guru Nanak, himself, practiced yoga”, she is insulting the Guru," Harjinder Singh told SFP. "Guru Nanak rejected such austere practices in several verses."
ਸੂਹੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ਘਰੁ ੭
Suhi, 1st Guru, stanza 7.
ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
1 God, by the grace of the True Guru is realized.
ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਖਿੰਥਾ ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਡੰਡੈ ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਭਸਮ ਚੜਾਈਐ ॥
Yoga is not the patched coat, Yoga is not the staff, Yoga is not smearing the body with ashes.
ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਮੁੰਦੀ ਮੂੰਡਿ ਮੁਡਾਇਐ ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਸਿੰਙੀ ਵਾਈਐ ॥
Yoga is not the earrings, nor the shaven head; Yoga is not even the blowing of the horn.
ਅੰਜਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨਿ ਰਹੀਐ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਇਵ ਪਾਈਐ ॥੧॥
Amid impurities (attachments) remain pure (detached); in this way will one find the way of (true) Yoga. 
ਗਲੀ ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥
By mere words one does not become a Yogi.
ਏਕ ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਕਰਿ ਸਮਸਰਿ ਜਾਣੈ ਜੋਗੀ ਕਹੀਐ ਸੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
One is called a Yogi if one looks upon all mortals with the same eye and deems them as equal. [Pause]
ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਮੜੀ ਮਸਾਣੀ ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਤਾੜੀ ਲਾਈਐ ॥
Yoga is not wandering around tombs or crematoriums; Yoga is not sitting in a trance.
ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਦੇਸਿ ਦਿਸੰਤਰਿ ਭਵਿਐ ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਈਐ ॥
Yoga is not roaming native and foreign lands; Yoga is not bathing at places of pilgrimage.
ਅੰਜਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨਿ ਰਹੀਐ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਇਵ ਪਾਈਐ ॥੨॥
Amid impurities (attachments) remain pure (detached); in this way will one find the way of (true) Yoga. 
ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਭੇਟੈ ਤਾ ਸਹਸਾ ਤੂਟੈ ਧਾਵਤੁ ਵਰਜਿ ਰਹਾਈਐ ॥
If one meets the True Guru, then one's doubts are dispelled, and the wandering mind is restrained.
ਨਿਝਰੁ ਝਰੈ ਸਹਜ ਧੁਨਿ ਲਾਗੈ ਘਰ ਹੀ ਪਰਚਾ ਪਾਈਐ ॥
The mind’s spring oozes Nectar, celestial music plays from within the mind, and sees the One in one’s home.
ਅੰਜਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨਿ ਰਹੀਐ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਇਵ ਪਾਈਐ ॥੩॥
Amid impurities (attachments) remain pure (detached); in this way will one find the way of (true) Yoga. 
ਨਾਨਕ ਜੀਵਤਿਆ ਮਰਿ ਰਹੀਐ ਐਸਾ ਜੋਗੁ ਕਮਾਈਐ ॥
Nanak: In the midst of life, be in death. Practice such Yoga.
ਵਾਜੇ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਸਿੰਙੀ ਵਾਜੈ ਤਉ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਈਐ ॥
When the horn sounds without being blown, one attains the state of fearlessness.
ਅੰਜਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨਿ ਰਹੀਐ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਤਉ ਪਾਈਐ ॥੪॥੧॥੮॥
Amid impurities (attachments) remain pure (detached); Then one finds the way of (true) Yoga. 
(Translation: Gopal Singh and Manmohan Singh, modified)
Ek Ong Kaar Khalsa’s only source of information is Yogi Bhajan. From his August 1979 lecture, she quotes him saying, falsely: “Guru Nanak was a very good yogi, trained by very good yogis. He had a very great friendship with yogis. If he would not have been a yogi, he would not have gone to the yogis. An idiot finds the company of idiots. Men of God find the company of men of God. That’s the law. Birds of a feather flock together. All his life, Guru Nanak flocked together with the yogis.”
“Japji Sahib is Guru Nanak’s own description of his own enlightenment experience as a realized yogi,” Ek Ong Kaar Khalsa adds, falsely. She translates “Japji” as “Song of the Soul,” which also is the title of her translation of Japji Sahib, published in 2005. Her translation is incorrect.
Again, her only source is Yogi Bhajan.
“One of the most important (Banis) is Japji,” Yogi Bhajan said in the 1989 New Mexico lecture. “”Ji” means "the soul." “Jap” means "the repetition of your own soul.”" His translation also is incorrect.
“Jap” actually means “Meditations.” And “ji” is a suffix that adds formality and respect.
Ek Ong Kaar Khalsa did not respond on the record to SFP's request for comment.
Back in 1976, Premka Khalsa also falsely wrote, “Yogic terminology and the objects of yogic practice were totally in accord with the realization (that) Guru Nanak was sharing during his lifetime.
“Yogi Bhajan has been teaching in the spirit and in the light of the Wisdom of Guru Nanak, for he has taught Kundalini yoga, the yoga for the householder,” she wrote in “The Secret Science of Yoga – Seen Through the Sacred Eye of a Sikh,” namely Yogi Bhajan.
Premka Khalsa's article was published in Beads of Truth, Yogi Bhajan’s first journal, published from 1970 to 1991. She was the editor. Yogi Bhajan knew she had worked as a secretary before she met him at a yoga class in 1968, when she was 25.
“He made use of my secretarial skills after I met him,” Premka Khalsa told SFP.
“One of the first things he asked me to do was to type out Japji Sahib as it appeared in somebody’s translation (Manmohan Singh) that he found in the library of the East West Cultural Center,” she said. “I typed it up and handed it to his students.
“He gradually kept adding more. Now do Jaap Sahib, now do Rehras Sahib, now do Aarti. He would give me different Banis.”
She also translated Sukhmani Sahib and Siddh Gosti.
“I was understanding and gaining my interpretations from his explanations in everyday classes that Yogi Bhajan would teach, and how he explained things to us,” she said. “I would try to understand what the Guru was trying to express, filtering it through what Yogi Bhajan told us what the Guru was trying to express.”
Premka Khalsa’s collection of translations, which were rewrites of the English translation by Manmohan Singh to align with Bhajan’s yogic indoctrinations, was published in a book called “Peace Lagoon.” The title, which was Yogi Bhajan’s translation for “Sukhmani,” is incorrect.
“Sukhmani” actually means “That which gives peace to the mind."
Peace Lagoon had a dramatic effect on Yogi Bhajan’s disciples. It confirmed everything Yogi Bhajan was teaching them because they believed it came from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, former disciples told SFP.
Now, Sant Khalsa has translated the entire 1,430 angs of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Like Premka Khalsa, he also did a rewriting of Manmohan Singh’s translation.
“I have gone through nine translations of Guru Granth Sahib, five in English, including Sant Khalsa’s,” Harjinder Singh said. “Sant Khalsa’s translation is 90-percent copy of Manmohan Singh’s translation. He has, in fact, corrected the grammar of Manmohan Singh's translation, plus he has tried to Brahmanize it.”
When Sant Khalsa did not agree with the Guru’s Word, he retrofited it with terms and concepts used by his sole teacher - Yogi Bhajan.
“So what?” said Pritam Singh, of Florida.
“This is not the first time in the history of the Sikhs that people have tried to falsify the Guru Granth, make themselves into sant-babas and create their own rehit,” he said. “I see Yogi Bhajan as no different than that. He’s in that same mold. Their interpretations are no more out of line than the Radhasoamis or anybody else, the very groups that are considered heretical.
“The problem is, his people are sneaking it all in as the core of Sikhism.”
Distortion around the world
Whether it’s Yogi Bhajan’s sikhnet.com, sikhitothemax.com, srigranth.org, searchgurbani.com, khojgurbani.org or SGPC.net, all of these websites use the same translation by Sant Khalsa.
For those who do not frequent the Internet, Sant Khalsa’s translation can be seen at many gurdwaras in the United States and around the world, even Darbar Sahib in Amritsar.
Projected high on large electronic screens during Gurbani kirtan, the shabad is displayed one-line-at-a-time in Gurmukhi, sometimes with the phonetic English transliteration below it, but always with Sant Khalsa’s English translation underneath.
While Indian-born Punjabi-speaking Sikhs follow the shabad written in Gurmukhi, English-only-speaking Sikhs and non-Sikhs read Sant Khalsa’s translation to understand the Guru’s Message.
Gurmat camp teachers and Punjabi class teachers also use the Sant Khalsa translation to instruct Sikh youth. Yogi Bhajan’s disciples from sikhnet.com reference this translation in their youth camps, which are held in the yogi’s ashrams, and now also in Sikh gurdwaras.
Siblings of Destiny
While sitting in the sangat, most of the problematic translations are easily missed as they flash across the screen, but many others are very apparent. All of them cross the boundary from mistranslation and misinterpretation to falsification and distortion, Sikh experts on Gurbani said.
One of the more obvious corruptions of Gurbani is with the word ਭਾਈ, pronounced "bhaaee" but typically written as "bhai."
"“Bhai" simply means "brother,"” said Ranbir Singh Sandhu, author and lecturer on Gurbani, and professor emeritus of engineering at Ohio State University.
“Anybody that Guru Sahib is talking to is referred to as brother. Bhai is used for all Sikhs, even when a Sikh addresses another Sikh.”
Bhai is a common word, which appears in Sri Guru Granth Sahib 587 times, according to searchgurbani.com. It is not necessarily gender specific unless the Guru specifically means brother, as determined by its context. According to the Encyclopedia of Sikhism, bhai is employed in the Guru Granth as a title of affection between equals.
But in the following line from Aasaa Dee Vaar, ang 471, Sant Khalsa translates bhai as something completely unknown to Sikhs - “Siblings of Destiny.”
ਅੰਤਰਿ ਪੂਜਾ ਪੜਹਿ ਕਤੇਬਾ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਤੁਰਕਾ ਭਾਈ ॥
O Siblings of Destiny, you perform devotional worship indoors, but read the Islamic sacred texts, and adopt the Muslim way of life.
(Translation: Sant Khalsa)
O brother, within thou performest (idol) worship, outside thou readest Muslim books and adoptest Mohammedan way of life.
(Translation: Manmohan Singh, modified)
“The translation as brother is old,” Sant Khalsa told SFP. “What about the sisters?”
Dissatisfied with the Guru’s use of bhai, Sant Khalsa decided to use a term that he felt was more appropriate.
“Sri Singh Sahib used the term Siblings of Destiny,” he said. “It means “brothers and sisters in spiritual quest.
“It’s a new concept for a lot of people, sure,” he added.
“The problem is when the translator inserts his own ideas into the Guru’s Word and assumes the Guru must have meant this or that,” said Ranbir Singh, from California. “It is not a good translation. He cannot insert his own words that are not the Guru’s. He cannot judge the Guru.”
The Guru also specifically uses the word "bhaenaa," meaning "sisters." But bhai is translated as Siblings of Destiny 484 times by Sant Khalsa, according to searchgurbani.com.
“It is extremely frustrating to see a Sant (Khalsa), who probably is a nice guy, but he doesn’t have a clue what he is doing,” Pritam Singh said. “And he doesn’t have a clue how he is polluting Sikhi.”
Sant Khalsa was asked to respond to the Sikh objections in a follow-up interview.
“I’m not going to debate that now,” he told SFP.
While a linguistic-translation, from one language to another, is expected to capture the original meaning, Siblings of Destiny leaves the reader still searching for the meaning of bhai.
An Internet search for Siblings of Destiny shows links to websites and blogs run by Bhajan's yogis and organizations.
Just as Yogi Bhajan created the terms Mahan Tantric and Siri Singh Sahib for himself, he also created the term Siblings of Destiny for his disciples.
“Siblings of Destiny” means "disciples of Yogi Bhajan."
“Just remember: We are siblings of the destiny,” Yogi Bhajan said in an April 1989 lecture to his disciples, in Los Angeles.
“…the Siri Singh Sahib told us we are Siblings of Destiny…,” his wife, Inderjit Puri, said in her January 2010 blog post on sikhsandseekers.org.
Inderjit Puri did not respond to SFP's request for comment.
According to espanolaashram.com, the website for Yogi Bhajan’s headquarters: “Española is the home of the Siblings of Destiny, the international body of over 200 ministers who… return to our mother ashram (Hindu monastery) each year to deliberate on... the message of Sikh Dharma for the global commuity.”
Sikhs interviewed for this report were baffled by the translation of bhai as Siblings of Destiny.
"The Guru never referred to Akalpurakh as destiny,” Sukhmander Singh said. “They are inserting their own terminology into the Guru Granth."
"Siblings of Destiny. If you say it to a Sikh, they would say, "What are you talking about? Bhai sahib is bhai sahib,"” Pritam Singh said. “But what happens when you say it to an American? They think ridiculous cult.”
"For me, Siblings of Destiny in this context just means siblings (brothers/sisters) on this spiritual path of Sikh Dharma,” his disciple, Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa, said in a 2012 blog post on mrsikhnet.com. He also is one of Yogi Bhajan’s current top writers, and founder and developer of sikhnet.com.
“In Gurbani, the Siblings of Destiny is mentioned quite often…” he added, referring to Sant Khalsa’s translation.
Gurumustuk Khalsa did not respond on the record to SFP’s request for comment.
Yogi Bhajan published a book in 1983, called “Siblings of Destiny,” which contains a collection of his lectures. “Eleven pages of The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan can change your mental depression right on the spot,” the description claims, on kundalini-yoga-info.com.
Siblings of Destiny also is a song in praise of Yogi Bhajan.
“The Sikhs are very nonproselytising, nonpromoting, and keep pretty much to themselves,” Pritam Singh said. “It’s the people who are out there doing music, writing books, teaching classes, the people who are making a living at it - which again is a non-Sikh thing to do – who are the ones getting the audience.”
If they stop following or teaching Yogi Bhajan's teachings, they will lose their credibility and their livelihoods, his other former disciples also told SFP.
“Yogi Bhajan taught us not to share (his) teachings for free,” the Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association says on its website. “There is a karmic law of exchange, and whatever the student takes, he or she has to pay for it in one way or another.”
“God has a nickname, too, and that is Sat Naam,” Yogi Bhajan said in a 1989 lecture to his disciples in New Mexico. “True Identity. What is true identity? What is this Sat Naam? What is the truth we are selling to each other? It is a business," he said.
“There is no Sat, truth. Not possible. Don't be fooled. You can buy it, you can sell it, and (for) everybody like me who teaches, it is all a business.”
Sant Khalsa met Yogi Bhajan in 1972. He began living in the yogi’s ashrams, studying his teachings and learning kirtan, but the Guru’s Message always eluded him. Like his teacher, he had no knowledge of Gurmukhi, Punjabi, Hindi, Sanskrit, or any related language when he began his translation in late 1983. Nor did he study Gurmukhi, the Guru Granth, or Sikh history.
“It was all a self study,” he told SFP. “I had no formal education. But if you spend enough time, you could pick it up easily.”
Yogi Bhajan could not help him.
“He did not know Gurmukhi,” Premka Khalsa said. “His own Nith Naym was written in Urdu.”
Yogi Bhanjan’s Sikh contemporaries also said he had negligible knowledge of Sikhi to pass on to his students.
“He could have given them a detailed interpretation of Sikh scriptures and the best works on Sikh history,” Trilochan Singh said in his exposé. “But as he himself is gravely ignorant of them all, and unable to interpret even two pages of... Guru Granth, he has been feeding them with mumbo-jumbo sermons, which sometimes do not make any sense,” he said.
Bhajan’s yogis had to rely on available English translations to understand Gurbani.
The first translation of the Guru Granth was published in 1877, during the British Raj. It was a partial translation commissioned by the India Office and written by Ernest Trumpp, a German missionary. The Sikhs rejected this translation for its “odium theologicum,” or "hatred due to differences in religious beliefs."
Max Arthur MacAuliffe, an Irish civil servant in British India, authored the first accepted translation, in 1909. It also was a partial translation, but it was commissioned by the Sikhs. His aim was to undo the harm that Trumpp had done and “present a knowledge throughout the world of the excellence of their religion.” In addition to the “gyanees,” or “learned readers,” in his employee, he worked with many prominent Sikhs, and received constant assistance from the esteemed English-speaking theologian, Bhai Kahn Singh of Naba, author of “Gurshabad Ratnakar Mahan Kosh,” a Punjabi encyclopedia of Sikh literature.
By the end of the British Raj, in 1947, a significant percentage of Sikhs also were proficient in English, and eventually embarked on their own English translations.
The Siri Guru Granth Sahib has since been translated at least six times in its entirety. Sant Khalsa used four of these translations: Gopal Singh, 1962; Manmohan Singh, 1969; Gurbachan Singh Talib, 1990; and Pritam Singh Chahil, 1992. The other two are by Gurbachan Singh Makin, 2000, and Darshan Singh, 2005.
Gopal Singh’s and Gurbachan Singh’s translations are written in poetic-rhythmic style with annotations in the footnotes to explain linguistic, philosophical, cultural and other subtleties. The corresponding angs are noted in the right margin.
Both also had their translations proofread by well-known Sikh theologians. Kapur Singh, professor of religion at Khalsa College, Bombay, critiqued Gopal Singh’s work. And, Jodh Singh, Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, critiqued Gurbachan Singh’s work.
These translators, and everyone involved in their proofreading and critiquing, acknowledged that any translation lends itself to a certain degree of separation from the original. None believed that a translation of the Guru Granth should be attempted without an understanding of Gurmukhi.
“The holy writings of other world scriptures can be mastered with the help of tutors and dictionaries because they are generally homogenous,” MacAuliffe wrote. “But the Guru Granth is written in many medieval Indian dialects, including Persian, Prakrit, Hindi, Marathi, old Punjabi, Multani, and several local dialects, and uses Sanskrit and Arabic vocabularies,” he said. “There is hardly any one Sikh who is capable of making a correct translation of his sacred writings.
“The Granth Sahib thus becomes probably the most difficult work (to translate) …that exists, and hence the general ignorance of its contents.”
“It is not easy to translate Guru Granth Sahib,” added Harjinder Singh, who also will be publishing his translation by 2016. “Firstly, one must have complete knowledge of Punjabi, Sanskrit and the language in which it is to be translated. Secondly, one must have thorough knowledge of the life and the teachings of the Gurus.”
And because the Guru Granth is authored by the founder(s) of a faith, its contents are the direct quotes of the Gurus, and are not open to interpretation. Every effort has to be taken to render the translations close to the original Word of the Guru, in meaning and in spirit, the Sikh translators and MacAuliffe said.
Sant Khalsa’s only concern was with the readability of the translations.
Gopal Singh’s has “antiquated and distracting” grammar, he says in his critique of the translations. Gurbachan Singh’s translation is “grammatically the least satisfying.” Manmohan Singh’s translation has “a large number of antiquated, idiosyncratic expressions more common to 18th and 19th century British India” and “much of his grammar is so dated as to be distracting, and even confusing to the modern ear.” And Pritam Singh’s translation “is only a slightly revised version of the Manmohan Singh translation,” and most of the distracting idioms and antiquated expressions are copied verbatim, he says.
“The translations would be a hodgepodge,” Sant Khalsa told SFP. A new English translation written in simple English was “worthy of the situation.”
“I would look in all the available versions and try to see the congruence,” he said. “If three were in one direction or three closer than one,” then those were the translations he would choose to combine and render into more readable English.
Premka Khalsa used the same strategy as Sant Khalsa when she began translating in 1968.
“I would pull together three different English translations and I would sit with all those translations spread out in front of me and read each one and compare the words and concepts and try to rewrite the same meaning, but in more flowing English,” she told SFP.
Sant Khalsa calls his work a "consensus" translation. It is a combination of the previous translations but with greater reliance on Manmohan Singh’s version, which was the first to directly relate the English to the Gurmukhi, line-by-line. Although its somewhat literal rendering and Biblical-style English may be the most difficult to read or understand, it is easier to determine the definitions of the Gurmukhi words, Sant Khalsa said. But he still had to rely on Punjabi-English dictionaries.
Sant Khalsa is supercritical of Gopal Singh’s and Manmohan Singh’s use of parenthesis to add explanations of words and passages. Those words are “not actually in the original Gurmukhi,” he says in his critique. And “Gurbachan Singh Talib takes much wider license with the Guru’s Word, so that the original is often not even detectable in the translation,” he says.
But Sant Khalsa took the widest license of all when he inserted “Siblings of Destiny” into the Guru’s Word.
Sant Khalsa's consensus-translation was first published in 1993. It went online on sikhnet.com following the website’s launch in 1996. It was republished as a five-volume set last year, and is being misleadingly sold on sikhnet.com as Sant Khalsa’s “original” work.
“This is an original translation,” the advertisement falsely says. “It was not derived or adapted from anything else. It was done over a period of 15 years, defining each word, and carefully translating each line.”
“Most translators, when they have completed their renderings, proceed to publish without subjecting their work to native criticism,” MacAuliffe said. He went to the extent of soliciting inspection through newspaper advertisements from any Sikh who wanted to take a look.
Sant Khalsa did not request native criticism of his translation, he told SFP. But it has been accepted by Sikh gurdwaras and websites everywhere, even by the SGPC, which has made it the official translation on sgpc.net.