Un-silencing of the Lamb:
Interview with MahanKirn Khalsa
By Carin Chea
It is rare to find someone whose silence is as impactful as their words. In a culture overly saturated with social media fluff, healer and author MahanKirn Khalsa is its much-needed counterforce.
Perpetually humble, MahanKirn eschews the titles of “expert healer,” “master yogi,” and “trailblazing activist,” though many would contend she encompasses all three.
MahanKirn’s story is the stuff of Academy Award-winning films, and accessible to all through her book, Queen of Myself: A Women's Journey from Sexual Slavery to Radical Forgiveness.
Having overcome horrors during her years being a sex slave in a powerful cult, MahanKirn has made use of her hideous experiences by dedicating her life to helping others heal and overcome trauma.
Let me say, even when not in an official session with the master healer, MahanKirn’s presence and wisdom does indeed transcend ideologies, religion, and background. This is a woman who understands how to transform pain into radiant physical and emotional health.
MahanKirn, tell us about your background and upbringing.
My parents were followers of Yogi Bhajan, and I spent my early years in a Florida ashram, before being shipped to a disgusting Indian boarding school to ostensibly “keep me away from the sex, drugs, and rock & roll of American culture.”
There I was starved, beaten, and abused. My separation from my family and my horrific and isolating experience at the boarding school was part of my indoctrination into the cult of Yogi Bhajan, a powerful figure who introduced Kundalini Yoga to the West.
Are your parents Indian?
They’re not Indian, but they were both hippies, caught up in the counterculture of the 1960s. Both became disciples of Yogi Bhajan and followed his dictates blindly.
My parents had known each other for three days before they were instructed by Yogi Bhajan to wed each other in a group ceremony. My mother wanted to produce “a saint” to serve the master, so she got pregnant with me. I was the second generation to be enslaved by him.
30 adults and children lived in that Florida ashram, all of us eating food salvaged from dumpsters and sleeping on the floor.
I was awakened at 3 am daily by being thrown into a cold shower, having my wet hair wrapped in a white turban, and forced into positions, some of them tortuous to a small child, to practice yoga poses.
We also chanted for hours and there was hell to pay if I fell asleep. Sometimes this turned into a four-hour ritual. My big reward for following instructions was five raisins.
To a child who largely subsisted on rotten bananas and was always denied sugar, those raisins were little bites of heaven.
What was your first impression of Yogi Bhajan?
Being raised as Sikhs, we didn’t celebrate Christmas; but Yogi Bhajan’s annual visits were like Santa Claus coming to town. We spent months beforehand cleaning everything, even the condiment shelves of the refrigerator, as though a divinity was arriving.
I was five and my first impression was of a tall man in immaculate white stepping out of a car and everyone from the ashram bowing to touch his feet and give him gifts. This is how Yogi Bhajan would travel to his follower’s ashrams, like the royal progress of a king.
His arrival was always the event of the year. The rest of the year seemed dull in comparison. How could it not, after being visited by a living god?
How did the rest of your time with the cult unfold?
Yogi Bhajan did the thinking for all of us. He indoctrinated his followers into giving up control of our lives completely. He dictated our clothing and diet, took all our money, and selected our spouses.
In my case, I had caught Yogi Bhajan’s eye and thereafter was groomed to join the master’s sexual harem. My future included being continually raped by him and, at his command, sexually violated by other cult members.
I became his “queen,” draped with jewels and riches for my loyalty, traveled the globe like a rock-star, met world leaders, shared stages in front of thousands of his followers, and basked in his reflected glory.
I was his healer, his favorite, his slavish devotee. I knew no other life. When he died, I was ostracized and cast out of the only family I had ever known. The pain nearly crushed me. But I did retain some treasures of a non-material type from my time with the cult.
I learned of my talent as a healer and how to access my inner self through a lifelong yoga and meditation practice I follow to this day. Kundalini Yoga is real, even though it was used as a tool of manipulation by a perverse and corrupt man.
What finally was the impetus to write Queen of Myself?
I came to understand that sharing my experience could help others. While doing so, I also helped myself. I learned to heal myself after a decade of relentless chronic pain, by coming to understand that the root of all my suffering was emotional and could only be cured by digging through the mud of my past.
I wanted to share my journey with others, especially women, to help them heal from their own traumatic events by inviting forgiveness into their lives. I came back to myself and the power of me, realizing that I have everything I need to live with grace and harmony.
I lost myself while trapped in Yogi Bhajan’s cult, but I had not chosen that life. I had to take responsibility for what choices I did make or failed to make and forgive myself.
How was it like writing about your journey?
It was very challenging. I had to relive traumatic events to write the book and each memory I relived felt like a blow to my soul.
I often had to stop and take time to work through the trauma. But by pressing on, no matter how painful the recollections were, I reached a new level of healing.
This is what inspired the self-help section of my book, detailing several healing modalities I have used to release the physical, emotional, and spiritual anguish I experienced.
What message do you want your readers to take away from your book?
Healing is a journey, not just a destination. It is my prayer that readers allow themselves to sit in the softness of their own light and potential for healing on the deepest level, regardless of the type or magnitude of their trauma.
I hope they recognize they are more powerful, beautiful, and resilient than any outside circumstance. I recognized I was causing even more pain by not forgiving myself and the perpetrators of my abuse.
Through embracing forgiveness and practicing the healing modalities mentioned in my book, I’ve been able to release myself from the past. I also hope this shows readers how to avoid giving their power away to a teacher or a guru.
If you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, what would you say?
That’s a good question. You’re going to make me cry.
I would tell her that one day, she can walk into a candy store and pick any candy she wants.
I would also tell her: She’s about to go through a shitload of hard stuff, but she’ll meet people in the end who are going to help her and who love her for just being herself; that she doesn’t have to do anything humiliating, coerced, or painful for love.
I would tell her that she doesn’t need to search for light, she is already an enlightened being and stronger than she knows.
Are there any other projects you’d like us to know about?
A lot of exciting things are happening in my world. I hold 1:1 personal healing sessions and group yoga and healing classes, which are found on my website.
I offer home healings where I help align the resonance of a place to its owner’s energy. (Realtors find this particularly helpful as I can clear a house of a previous resident’s energy and thereby help it sell.)
The scripted version of my story has caught the attention of documentarians and a cable network (fingers crossed on a release early next year.)
I’ll also soon be opening my own school, focused on spiritual studies and healing techniques for teachers and caregivers.
Where can our readers learn more about you work and your upcoming memoir?
Information on all these projects and a link to preorder my book may be found at www.MahanKirn.com.
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