The Return of Guru Jagat

That, and the growing unrest in her community, prompted me to interview Jagat in April. At the time, I didn’t expect it to be our last interview.


In terms of practice, kundalini is characterized by intense breathing activity, repetitive poses, and alternative lifestyle choices, such as wearing white and being primarily vegetarian. Followers — likes of which include celebrities Christy Turlington, Russell Brand and Alicia Keys — call it “ancient technology.” In fact, it was almost entirely created by one person in the late 1960s. Harbhajan Singh Khalsa, a former customs officer, immigrated from India to the United States, where he would die a guru. rich and beloved is called Yogi Bhajan. He’s taken elements of Sikhism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, decked them out with a New Age aesthetic, and sprinkled them with futuristic tech jargon. And, in true American style, he’s stitched this sci-fi story into a multi-million dollar empire that includes a private security firm (one still contracted by ICE). not yogic) as well as a hugely popular, legitimately profitable company Yogi Tea Brand.

Bhajan has been accused of rape, sexual misconduct, and financial abuse in the past, both before and after his death in 2004, but in the era before #MeToo, few seem to have noticed. That all changed when, in early 2020, his former employee, lover and victim, Pamela Dyson, self-published her explosive memoir, Premka: The White Bird in the Yellow Cage: My Life with Yogi Bhajan, sparked a host of other allegations, including but not limited to sex, rape, fraud and child molestation. A report conducted by an independent third party, including interviews with hundreds of witnesses and victims, found that abuse was “more likely than not to happen”.

Jagat saw things differently. After promoting a video that sought to discredit Dyson and defend Bhajan, she wrote in an Instagram post, “This story is no more true than any other – The truth is always in Beholder’s eyes.” “Truth” was something she talked about often; only to her it means something subjective, mutable and relative (not true at all). Her stance sparked a backlash that opened the floodgates. One account, @ramawrong, run by Becky Lowell and Nicole Norton, who was Jagat’s personal assistant, started posting anonymous reports of Jagat’s bad behavior. The sources painted a picture of a toxic workplace that deeply contradicts the company’s stated values. Jagat can be abusive, unreasonable, and easy to lie; she spends money like water and often falls short when it comes time to pay her employees — many of whom, despite being full-time employees with “director” in their title, receive wages are far below the minimum and are required to file as independent contractors, depriving them of benefits such as healthcare. In a company-wide group chat, Jagat wrote, “Fuck” for not drafting a promotional email like she wanted and threatened another group: “I’m going to ring the bells.” [sic] your picture neck if not every picture you’ve taken up until now is not in the drag and drop box. “

Charlotte Medlock, former marketing director of Ra Ma, says: “Perfection is essential. “She wanted us to be wholeheartedly committed.” Satisfying Jagat, whose name means “master of the universe,” is not just a question of job security but spiritual salvation. “It’s like a sect within a cult,” Norton said. And then there’s the new and surprising Jagat leaning towards far-right conspiracy theories like QAnon. “After January 6th, I saw how dangerous she was,” said one former employee who wished to remain anonymous of her habit of promoting QAnon’s rhetoric during her influential health bubble. The acceptance of such extreme beliefs has revealed disturbing socioeconomic and racial biases. Employees were horrified to see Jagat defend an employee who described Black Lives Matter protesters as “cockroaches” in company-wide WhatsApp. As one employee put it, “It moved me to the core.”

Yogi Bhajan in his motel room after attending World Invitation Day 1974 in Boulder, Colorado.
Barry Staver/Getty Images. The Return of Guru Jagat


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