Kundalini Yoga/3HO Terminology and Acronyms
A very biased selection
3HO – The Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization. The organization was created by Yogi Bhajan to promote Kundalini Yoga and Tantric Yoga, his main revenue stream. Sometimes redundantly referred to as the “3HO Organization”. Organization – Organization – get it? Guess the great man didn’t think that one through thoroughly.
Adi Shakti – this was Yogi Bhajan’s name for a common Sikh symbol called a Khanda, comprising a double-edged sword in a circle with two protective swords. What it looked like in 3HO was often rendered as a metal pin and stuck to the front of the turban of the oh-so-religious ones. The Khanda is simply the symbol of the Khalsa or Sikhs in general – like the cross for Christians. Calling it an ‘Adi Shakti’ gave it a Hindu twist, something many Sikhs were not happy with.
Akand Path – continuous reading of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs. It can take one to three days, depending on the skills of the readers. In 3HO ashrams, the holy book is in both English and Gurmukhi, the old language of the Sikhs, so people can read in either Gurmukhi or English.
Amrit Vehla – The early morning hours of dawn, the three hours before sunrise. Before the sunrises and the day begins. Said to be the ideal time to meditate. Also great for inculcating new members into the cult via sleep deprivation.
Amrtisar – the capital of the Punjab state of India- is home to many Sikhs. Amritsar is where the Golden Temple is located. The Golden Temple would be the equivalent of the Catholic Vatican. Except that Sikhs don’t have a pope. The last of the Sikh Gurus declared that the holy book would be the leader henceforth. YB missed that lesson and declared himself the ruler of the Sikhs in the Western Hemisphere.
Asana – yoga posture
Ashram – group house or building for community members
Baisakhi or Vaisakhi – The foremost Sikh annual holiday, commemorating the founding of the Khalsa order by Guru Gobind Singh.
Bana – distinctive uniform, or type of dress; the traditional bana of the Khalsa consists of a turban, tunic, churidars, and chuni for women. In 3HO this was specified to be all white, or sometimes blue.
Breath of fire – A rapid, energizing breathing technique. Other yogas sometimes call this Kapalabhati or ‘skull-shining’ breath.
Dasvandh – the practice of donating 10% of your earnings to a religious organization. In Indian Sikh tradition, giving one-tenth of one’s earnings to the Guru. In 3HO, it became about donating to 3HO-owned and controlled organizations.
Ghoraa Sikh – Caucasian or Western-converted Sikh.
GNFCS – Guru Nanak Fifth Centenary School in Mussoorie, India. This was the first boarding school that 3HO children were sent to this school. The era was 1983-89.
Golden Temple – the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, in Amritsar, Punjab, India.
GRDA – Guru Ram Das Academy – 3HO school in Dehra Dun, India. The first 3HO school was Guru Nanak Fifth Centenary School in Mussoorie, India, followed by GRDA in Dehra Dun. The current school MPA – Miri Piri Academy is in Amritsar.
GRDA – also Guru Ram Das Ashram – common name for ashrams in various cities, including LA.
Gurduction – the practice of skimming off a portion of yoga teachers’ fees and sending it to some 3HO foundation. The tax was introduced by YB to improve cash flow.
Gurdwara – A Sikh place of worship. This could mean a temple, or just a corner of someone’s living room, where ever the Sikh holy book was could be gurdwaras.
Gurmukhi – The written form of Punjabi used in the Sikh scriptures, propagated by Guru Nanak and Guru Angad.
Gursikh – Someone who is deeply and sincerely devoted to the service of the Guru, basically a religious ‘goodie-goodie’. Some people you could describe as true Gursikhs were actually nice, but many were a bit of a pain. Like fanatics in all religions, they use their religion as an excuse to not relate well to regular (lesser) people.
Hukam – The ordered will of God. Takes the form of a randomly selected reading from the Sikh holy book, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.
Hukamnama – Instructions issued by the Gurus, or other people in Sikh authority.
Jalous – Outdoor procession led by the Guru Granth Sahib and five Khalsa Sikhs.
Jap – Devout repetition of the divine name of God, or a scripture.
Japji – morning prayer of the Sikhs. Read first thing in the morning.
Karah Parshad or Prashad – A sweet combination of flour, water, ghee (clarified butter) and ghur (cane sugar) or honey, served at religious ceremonies in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib and sanctified by prayers. Very delicious and has been known to get some people out of bed and to the morning meditations, when nothing else would. It is supposed to be a symbol of equality for all members of the congregation. You weren’t supposed to serve it to yourself.
Karma – Christians call this ‘as you sow, so shall you reap.’ or ‘What goes around comes around.’
Kaur – Middle or last name of a Sikh female. Yogi Bhajan gave everyone who joined 3HO a new ‘spiritual name’. Now, 3HO has a business selling names derived by some ‘secret formula’. Every female was given the name ‘something-something’ Kaur Khalsa. Some Indian Sikh women use it as a last name.
Khalsa – last name was given to 3HO followers. The name comes from Guru Gobind Singh, who created the Order of the Khalsa.
Khalsa Council – An international body of Ministers of Sikh Dharma originally appointed by YB. In the book Premka: White Bird in a Golden Cage, Khalsa Council is described as ineffectual, because it operated blindly from what was actually happening to monies collected in various forms by the group. Also, apparently, the group could work on some idea or project for years and then have it dropped on the whim of YB.
Kirpan – a ceremonial dagger worn by all Sikhs. Sometimes it is just a small amulet on a neck chain, but often, it is in the form of a dagger worn at the side, hanging from a cloth sash. It symbolizes the idea that Sikhs are warrior saints, willing to stand up for everyone’s right to religious freedom.
Kirtan – religious music or hymn. ‘We sang a kirtan’. or ‘the Kirtan is playing now’.
Kriyas – In Kundalini Yoga, often the exercises would involve a combination of movements or a posture and a breathing exercise. These combinations, Yogi Bhajan called ‘kriyas’.
Kundalini Yoga – Yogi Bhajan’s particular brand of yoga, is derived from a combination of Hatha Yoga and vigorous breathing exercises.
KY – Kundalini Yoga
KYM – Kundalini Yoga Meditation
KYATBYB – Kundalini Yoga As Taught By Yogi Bhajan
Langar – Free community kitchen found in all Sikh Gurdwaras. A cornerstone of the Sikh religion and a symbol of equality, it was instituted by Guru Nanak
Miri & Piri – The concept of spiritual and worldly matters. Sikhs are expected to maintain the balance between the two, this idea was introduced by Guru Hargobind and represented by two swords.
MPA – Miri Piri Academy – 3HO school in Amritsar India.
Mudra – hand postures. For example, when sitting in ‘easy pose’, a cross-legged sitting position, for meditation, practitioners of Kundalini Yoga will often join the index finger with the thumb, in what is called Gian Mudra, or the mudra of knowledge.
Nitnem – The daily prayers that Sikhs are expected to read. Nitnem consists of reading Japji of Guru Nanak, Jap and Ten Swayyas of Guru Gobind Singh in the morning; Rahiras, a collection of nine hymns by Guru Nanak, Guru Amar Das and Guru Arjun at sunset and Kirtan Sohila, five hymns by the same three Gurus at bedtime. This was done by ‘serious Sikhs’ and could take up to 3 hours a day. It was read in Gurmukhi, the language of the Gurus.
Paranthas – stuffed Indian bread. mmmm…
Pranayama – yogic breathing exercise. A favourite in 3HO is one called Breath of Fire, involving rapid exhales pushed from the abdominal core. In Kundalini Yoga, yoga postures (also called asanas or kriyas) are often combined with pranayama breathing.
Rag – (pronounced ‘raag’) – A tune or the series of five or more notes upon which it is based
Ragi (pronounced ‘raagi’) – A musician who sings the hymns of the Guru Granth Sahib in gurdwaras.
Ram Das Puri – This is a large piece of land near Espanola, New Mexico, in the hills. It is where the Summer Solstice is held every year.
Rishi knot – Because most Sikhs don’t cut their hair, they tie it up in a knot on the top of their heads, (a little more forward for men, a little farther back for women) This knot is called a Rishi knot. A Rishi is considered to be a powerful yoga master.
Sadhana – religious practice. Usually refers to the practice of rising early to do yoga and meditations.
Sahib – Term of respect used for the Sikh Holy Book as well as applied to historical gurdwaras
Sangat – Holy congregation. The community would refer to itself, or its members as the ‘Sangat’.
Sat Sri Akal – The Sikh greeting meaning “Immortal God is Truth”
SDFE – Sikh Dharma Foreign Education Program – responsible for the 3HO school in India
Seva – spiritual work. Any kind of task or job, that is seen to be serving the religion, group or God.
Sevadar – someone who serves. When you work at the Golden Temple, or a Gurdwara cleaning or cooking, you are a sevadar. Also used in the context of serving a newborn’s mother in the first 40 days following birth. A woman gets a sevadar to help out with meals and laundry.
Shabad – The religious hymns contained in Sikh scriptures
Sikh Dharma – The Sikh path, or way of life. Also refers to Yogi Bhajan’s organization. He created a few distinct organizations, 3HO, which was about yoga and meditation and a pure lifestyle, and Sikh Dharma, which was more focussed on the Sikh aspects of religion.
Sikhi – The anglicized word ‘Sikhism’ is derived from the Punjabi verb Sikhi, with roots in Sikhana (to learn), and Sikhi connotes the “temporal path of learning”.
Singh – Lion, the common last or middle name of male Sikhs. It is the last name for male Khalsa Sikhs. Something, Something Singh Khalsa.
Singh Sahib – 3HO leader, usually the ashram leader in a city. Some larger cities might have more than one Singh Sahib. It was used interchangeably with ‘minister’. Next level up was a Mukhia Singh Sahib, which could be seen as the equivalent of a bishop or a regional leader. Finally, at the top was Yogi Bhajan, who took the title ‘Siri Singh Sahib’.
Siri Guru Granth Sahib – The writings of Guru Nanak and other saints, compiled by Guru Arjun, and designated the Guru of all Sikhs by Guru Gobind Singh in 1708.
Siri Singh Sahib – title made up by Yogi Bhajan. Oft repeated by the 3HO faithful as ‘Well, the Siri Singh Sahib says…” Siri Singh Sahib (the equivalent of saying “Sir” three times)
The 5 Ks – Five physical symbols of the Khalsa Sikhs. These were laid down by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs.
tratakam – Gazing meditation, often prescribed by 3HO to meditate on a black and white photo of YB.
Wahe Guru – roughly translated means ‘Oh God’ or ‘God is great’. Used by many 3HO people as an expression of joy or disappointment or anything that was out of their hands. Sometimes used like Canadians use ‘eh’.
WTY – White Tantric Yoga
White Tantric Yoga – Yogi Bhajan taught Kundalini Yoga to all and sundry, with the goal of spreading Kundalini Yoga as a form of yoga in the West. White Tantric Yoga was his exclusive domain. He would personally teach these, usually three-day events, until he became too ill to travel. At that point, he would create a video of the exercises and then have them monitored by an appointed representative. White Tantric Yoga would usually consist of a large group of people lining up in rows, male and female partners facing each other. They would then do a series of exercises or kriyas, that would often involve breathing patterns, chanting and holding postures for long periods of time. These postures could often be quite excruciating and participants were admonished to ‘keep up’ to avoid breaking the pattern. Yogi Bhajan would consider an exercise successful and complete when everyone’s aura turned blue, something which only he seemed to be able to discern.
Yatra – spiritual pilgrimage.
Yogi Tea – basically chai, an Indian-style spice tea, that includes cardamom, black pepper, cloves etc.
YW – Yoga West – LA, Vancouver etc. have Yoga West yoga studios.
YB – Yogi Bhajan, leader of 3HO. Born in 1930. Died in 2004. Caused lots of problems.
Yogi Bhajan – leader of 3HO. Other aliases: Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, Yogi Harbhajan, Harbhajan Singh Puri, Siri Singh Sahib, the Mahan Tantric, serial sexual predator.