Yogi Bhajan, The Name Game

Sat Nam Dear Family,

It was February 9, 1978 and I remember it like it was yesterday, The Siri Singh Sahib was in New York teaching. My secretary transferred a call to me anxiously, “The Siri Singh Sahib’s on the line for you.” I picked up the phone, “Hari Jiwan,” he said in that unmistakable voice, “I’m sitting here with your future wife from Toronto. What do you think?” “Well,” I said nervously, “your will is my will.” I remember every word verbatim as he continued, “Son, you know you get everything in life that you deserve, there’s no doubt about it. But, once in a while, if you have a spiritual teacher, you get a gift. That’s what I’m giving you. And, If you don’t marry her, I’ll divorce Bibi ji and marry her myself” (of course, this was his humor to lighten the situation). “Here, you talk to her,” he said.

“Wahe Guru ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru ji Ki Fatah,” I heard a woman on the other end of the phone say in the familiar Sikh greeting. “So you’re form Canada, I love hockey,” was all I could muster in the apprehension of the moment. It’s going on 33 years since that phone call (we were wed several weeks later) and he was right again, she has been a great gift, blessing in my life. But, that’s not the story, just the preamble.

My wife arrived in L.A. shortly thereafter. We had a two week whirlwind courtship (which was always chaperoned). I got to really like her. She wasn’t the blond, blue eyed, Scandinavian I had fantasized, but much more. She loved her teacher, she was committed to our lifestyle, she encouraged the latitude it took for me to be with my teacher, she is a great mother to our children, and she had the depth to deal with someone like me (as all men need someone who can deal with them, no exceptions).

After a week or so of courting, we went to see the Siri Singh Sahib to request his presiding over the marriage ceremony. He hadn’t been performing weddings for some time, so my request was somewhat of a demand although I didn’t know it at the time. He agreed, but he also got even with me.

As we were sitting in his living room, a thought came to me. I had known of several couples who had the same name (except for Singh or Kaur, the designation for a man or woman) and these name changes came about because of their marriages. I said, “Sir, don’t you think it would be great if we have the same name. She could become Hari Jiwan Kaur.” He looked at me and said, “That’s a great idea, how would you like to be Sat Bachan Singh?” Since he framed the response as a question, I had the right to answer, “Oh,” I quickly exclaimed, “Sat Bachan Kaur is a beautiful name and I’m good with it.” Matter closed, thank God.

Stay Tuned,

M.S.S. Hari Jiwan Singh Khalsa

Chief of Protocol

Sikh Dharma

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