Guru Amrit Kaur had just taken a job as Yogi Bhajan’s new secretary in 1974, but in a critical moment, she became his bodyguard. Here is an article from the Winter 2005 issue of Aquarian Times, where she reflects back to that time and tells the story in her own words:
It was my first trip to India, on duty serving as tour secretary for Yogi Bhajan. I had just come onto his staff…
Traveling with Yogi Bhajan in India was a non-stop experience. We visited one Gurdwara after another. Crowds in the East are nothing like what we’ve experienced in the West. There is no way to explain the experience of being in a space that’s standing room only, and then everyone sits down. As American Sikhs, we were the main attraction and we did our best to uplift everyone by playing kirtan. We did not know the traditional Ragas for each of the shabads, but they all loved our Western tunes and voices as we attempted to sing in a foreign language on a stage with an audience of thousands of people who had come to see what Yogi Bhajan had created in the U.S.
Then he would speak. Yogiji was amazing as he addressed the crowd in the Punjabi language. Everyone would laugh, then cry, being so moved. So even though I didn’t understand a word of Punjabi, I could tell the spirit of the sangat was high in all the Gurdwaras we visited.
All except one. It was at a Gurdwara in Delhi. Eyes glared as Yogiji spoke. Mind you, I did not understand a word, but the tension seemed to grow with each word he was saying in Punjabi. The feeling in the place was intense, thick with animosity. I became hyper-aware as Yogi Bhajan finished his talk and began to make his way to the door. I grabbed his bag and my purse and quickly followed him.
We were nearly out the doorway when all of a sudden a man wielding a sword flew above the crowd from the left and struck Yogi Bhajan on the head. Thank God for the turban and kanga (wooden comb tucked in the hair) as Yogiji was not hurt, but as soon as I heard the metal sword cracking against the kanga, all my warrior instincts erupted. It was clear we were under attack as another man jumped with his sword over the crowd on my right. But as he flew over my head, I literally caught this man and hurled him back onto the crowd.
There was panic. People wanted to run but found no room to move. I tried to secure the space around Yogi Bhajan, but the crowd was not allowing me the visual clarity I needed. Keep in mind, I am a woman who is six feet tall, and most of the crowd was around five feet. So I had visual advantage, but in this crowded scene, I knew we weren’t secure if people that I did not know had physical access to Yogi Bhajan.
In college I had trained in the martial art of fencing. Fencing had developed my instincts to act within milliseconds, or lose the moment. So my executive mind looked for the advantage, rapidly studying the movement of the crowd, the exit points, and the space in general. As I looked around my eyes caught the eyes of another student of Yogi Bhajan, Sat Peter Singh. He was also six feet tall and thinking the same thing I was, so we reached through the crowd to lock our wrists. Then we managed to clear the area, moving the crowd back about 20 feet. With this achieved, others maintained the border of space we created and I moved back by Yogi Bhajan to provide security.
He was still trying to reach the door. Slowly the crowd moved, one by one, to exit the small doorway out into a courtyard. When we finally squeezed through the doorway, the space of the courtyard was a welcome sight. We dashed past the surging mob to the waiting cars, and jumped into the vehicles that rushed us to the hotel.
When we reached the hotel, Yogiji noticed I had a small scratch across my cheek that I had apparently received when I was tossing the attacker. For the rest of that day and into the next—as news of the ordeal spread throughout Delhi and well-wishers came to visit him—Yogiji would smile, point to my cheek, and his friends would stare at me, this unusually tall American woman who had done something they thought was truly remarkable.
But Yogi Bhajan never seemed the least bit surprised that his tour secretary—on that day—became his bodyguard. Yogiji would call it my “battle scar.” But to me, it was just a little scratch.
View this article as it originally appeared in Aquarian Times in Winter 2005 (Vol. 4, No. 4)
Sardarni Guru Amrit Kaur Khalsa – Siri Sikdar Sahiba
Sardarni Guru Amrit Kaur Khalsa started her career in 1974 developing and building the legacy nonprofits established by the Siri Singh Sahib including 3HO Foundation, Kundalini Research Institute, Sikh Dharma Education International, and Sikh Dharma International. She worked internationally in community development and established with the Siri Singh Sahib the Khalsa model of education for Miri Piri Academy in India. She supported the formulation of 3HO events & programs, including Solstices, Khalsa Women’s Training Camp, Khalsa Youth Camp and she helped to standardize the framework for the early stages of the Kundalini Research Institute’s Teachers Training Program by engaging the International body of teachers. She co-founded Amar Infinity to provide endowments and grants to support all the Siri Singh Sahib’s inspired legacy nonprofits in order to bring prosperity for the future of this mission.
Beginning in 1985, she served as Secretary General of Sikh Dharma International for 20 years and served the leadership body of ministers by developing the agendas for the International & European Khalsa Council meetings. During that time she traveled around the globe in service to the Sadh Sangat helping communities and individuals through transitions, growth challenges & governance issues as well as facilitating White Tantric Yoga courses. An ordained minister of the Sikh faith since 1977, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Comparative Religions. In 2004, at the Siri Singh Sahib’s passing he bestowed upon her the privilege to serve the Sangat as the Chief Spiritual Minister.
The Siri Singh Sahib has said about her:
“When you want a logical and rational spiritual counseling, Guru Amrit is the best. She has a very different kind of vitality and projection as a human being. But if you are in a terrible difficulty she is very kind and compassionate. She can do in three minutes what nobody can do in thirty days. In three minutes she will give herself to you and she can enter your soul to uplift it to the height you can experience. There is no magic about it.”
“I have never seen a human being with such a perpetual grit that she stood with me through every odd and even like a rock. She has an extremely dependable character and she has a God given gift which I don’t think can be valued in any way. She is absolutely a living rational and logical person and extremely analytical and extremely soothing. Her style is her own. Her life is her own, herself is her own. She is a very rare human being. I not only respect her. I have great reverence for her. She is a very unique person. Her language is her own and it is very joyful and I am very happy and extremely feel very helped that I have all these years of association with her and she is a comrade in hand, friend in the waiting. She is a great healer. She is a real missionary.” Lecture: Los Angeles, California 3/20/1991.
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5 thoughts on “Saving Yogiji”
Peter Macdonald Blachly says:
The former Sat Peter Singh here. With all due respect to GuruAmrit, whom I have long had friendly and respectful relations, I would like to offer a few corrections and additions. The successful attacker approached from the right, not the left. His sword was in a wooden sheath, but the cloth had been removed, so the sheath broke apart on impact, revealing the naked blade. I was directly in front of GuruAmrit (who was next to Yogiji on his right), and when the attacker’s sword hit Yogiji’s head, I turned and grabbed the blade, twisting it and immobilizing the guy. I do remember punching him in the face, but I don’t remember joining hands with anyone (that was a very crazy, adrenaline-filled moment). But as Yogiji and the others were ushered to a small stairway and an upstairs room, I remained behind, facing the astonished crowd and threatening anyone who came within 6′ of me. My turban had flown off and my hair (3’+ long) was helter skelter. After a few moments, an SGPC sevadar approached with my crumpled mass of turban and tried to calm me down, saying it was all over and that I should cover my head in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. He led me up into the room where our group had assembled, and where Yogiji was already retying his turban. The context of this story is also missing, and it is important. The attackers were devotees of Maharaj Virsa Singh, whom Yogiji claimed (and 3HO literature outlined) in the early days was his teacher. At the end of 1970, when Yogiji took the first group of 84 students to India, Virsa Singh demanded that both students and their money be turned over to him. When Yogiji refused to do so, it caused a huge rift, and for years Virsa Singh’s people antagonized us. I traveled often to India and was at many events with Yogiji that were disrupted in various ways by them. However, it was in Gurdwara Bangla Sahib that things finally boiled over as desribed here, with a planned attack by at least three of Virsa Singh’s people (the other two, approaching from the left, were stopped before they could reach us). I did not feel I deserved much credit for bravery in this matter. I was mostly just enraged and filled with more adrenaline than is healthy for a human being!
OngKar Kaur Khalsa says:
Thank you for sharing your memories of this story. It’s nice to have another first hand account. Many Blessings to you.
Sital Singh Sarai says:
I bow to her inspirational qualities
SS SiriNam S. Khalsa says:
I attest to Guru Amrit Kaur’s compassionate nature. I worked with her for several years in the summers as she helped and supported me while I directed Khalsa Youth Camp. One experience that I will always be grateful to her for was when my older, Ananda, needed an alternative experience during the summer in Espanola while I directed camp. Ananda was a horse lover. Guru Amrit graciously arranged for Ananda to spend the summer at the ranch to help care for the SSS ji’s horses while I did my job with the camp. Sat Nam!
Kaline C Khalsa (GianJot Kaur) says:
What an amazing story, thank you for sharing. I remember Yogiji – so, this would be in his last years – being extremely precise in the words he used, never speaking a word without a thorough knowledge of its impact and never using more words than was necessary. At least that was my perception, which of course it took me many years to analyze and understand consciously. So for him to to speak so highly of someone, using so many words to describe her excellence… I am truly impressed. Each generation of teachers brings a new and valuable facet of the Master and all are useful and wonderful. But we often forget how much the first student-teachers had to sustain, how much grit, courage and vision they had to show for the Master to be able to download these teachings, create this new pathway in our minds for us to be able to receive them. And for that I am so deeply, truly grateful. Thank you to all of you who recognized a Master and jumped to protect him and his incomparable gift to humanity. Wahe Guru. Sat Nam.