October 7, 2004
Sikh Leader Yogi Bhajan Dies In New Mexico At Age 75
The Associated Press
ESPANOLA Yogi Bhajan, an India-born spiritual teacher and Sikh leader who arrived in the West in the 1960s and developed a following around the world, has died at age 75.
Yogi Bhajan died peacefully in his sleep Wednesday night, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Thursday.
"Not only was Yogi Bhajan a leader in the Sikh community nationally and internationally, but he was a great friend of New Mexico," the governor said.
Richardson ordered flags in the state flown at half staff Thursday and Friday.
Yogi Bhajan founded the Sikh Dharma in New Mexico's Espanola Valley in the late 1960s. The community has since become a fixture in northern New Mexico and operates a number of thriving businesses.
Among them is Akal Security, founded in 1980 by the Sikh Dharma, which now employees several thousand people in dozens of states. Last year, Akal was awarded a federal contract to provide more than 1,500 armed security guards for Army bases. Akal also provides security for federal courthouses and judges in several states.
The Sikh Dharma also organizes an International Peace Prayer Day at its northern New Mexico ranch, an event that draws thousands of people each year. Yogi Bhajan's late August birthday celebrations also were notable affairs, attracting droves of New Mexico politicians over the years.
New Mexico Lt. Gov. Diane Denish knew the yogi for 30 years.
"He was a great adviser to many of us on issues," she said. "I always felt he was a leveling force."
The Sikh faith was founded in northern India in the 15th century by Guru Nanak, who preached tolerance and equality for all humans, and was first brought to the United States in the 1800s. Central to the Sikh belief system is that there is one God, who manifests existence through every religion.