Siri Singh Sahib Corporation Legal and Institutional History
Prepared by Hari Nam Singh, former Assistant Chancellor to the Chancellor’s Office
On September 27, 1997, Siri Sikdar Sahib Corporation (now known as Siri Singh Sahib Corporation) filed its Articles of Incorporation as an Oregon Nonprofit Corporation. Of significance are the following provisions in that initial Articles of Incorporation:
“The corporation shall operate exclusively for charitable, religious, educational and scientific purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or the corresponding section(s) of any future tax code.”
“The corporation is organized to act as sole member of Sikh Dharma following the death or incapacity of Siri Singh Sahib Khalsa Yogiji, and in such capacity to conduct and/or facilitate religious, charitable and educational activities.”
“Following the death or incapacity of Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, the directors shall be those persons designated in writing by Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji. The written designation, and any amendment or supplement to it, shall be dated upon execution and shall be delivered to, and held in confidence by, the attorney for the corporation and Sikh Dharma designated in the corporation’s Bylaws.”
On December 3, 2001, an Articles of Amendment to the original Articles of Incorporation was filed with the State of Oregon, at which time Siri Sikdar Sahib Corporation was renamed to Siri Singh Sahib Corporation.
On October 1, 2004, an Articles of Restatement of Siri Singh Sahib Corporation was adopted by the then sitting board of directors, which was subsequently filed with the State of Oregon on November 15, 2004. The second and third provisions cited above in the original Articles of Incorporation were somewhat modified in language as follows:
“The corporation is organized to act as the successor legal organization to the Siri Singh Sahib of Sikh Dharma, a California corporation sole, following the death or incapacity of Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, and in such capacity to conduct and/or facilitate religious, charitable and educational activities.”
“Following the death or incapacity of Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, the directors shall be those persons designated in writing by Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji. The written designation, and any amendment or supplement to it, shall be dated upon execution and shall be delivered to, and held in confidence by, the attorney for the corporation and the Siri Singh Sahib of Sikh Dharma designated in the corporation’s Bylaws.”
It is universally acknowledged that the Siri Singh Sahib prepared a list containing the names of 13 qualified persons, including the Siri Sikdar Sahib/a and the Bhai Sahib/a as ex-officio members, to sit on the initial Siri Singh Sahib Corporation Board following his death, and that he delivered said list in trust to Roy Lambert, the then attorney for the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation and Unto Infinity.
On October 3, 2004, an Articles of Restatement of Siri Singh Sahib Corporation was adopted by the then sitting board of directors, which was subsequently filed with the State of Oregon on January 11, 2005. In that document, the board members of Unto Infinity, the then existing executive board of the organization, were given far reaching powers in the organization, essentially giving them complete control not only of Unto Infinity, but the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation itself.
As we know, the Siri Singh Sahib left his body on October 6, 2004. In short, the members of the Unto Infinity Board were able to effectuate their plan to take over complete control of the organization by having their attorney, Roy Lambert, withhold the list of the names of the 15 persons the Siri Singh Sahib had appointed to serve on the initial Siri Singh Sahib Corporation Board of Directors following his death and to which he had entrusted Mr. Lambert. Essentially the Unto Infinity board members filled that void in authority that they themselves had created.
These highly questionable tactics soon came to light to the greater Dharmic community, including the Khalsa Council, ultimately resulting in a lengthy and contentious law suit, in which the plaintiffs, representing the ministry, sought to gain back control of the organization from those who were perceived as using their positions of trust in order to further their own personal interests. The plaintiffs eventually prevailed on the merits of the case in December 2011, ultimately forcing the defendants into a settlement made final in May 2012, resulting in them relinquishing their positions of authority in the organization and allowing the ministry to gain back control of the assets and direction of the organization.
The first order of business was to fill the still vacant seats on the Board of Directors and it was decided by those principally aligned with bringing the lawsuit that the initial SSSC Board of Directors would be nominated and elected by ordained ministers in good standing as well as by those who had contributed to the success of the lawsuit. It was also determined that the SSSC Board would consist of 15 elected and 2 ex officio members.
The initial Board of Directors was comprised of the following individuals:
- SS Avtar Hari Singh Khalsa
- SS Dharm Singh Khalsa
- SS Guru Amrit Singh Khalsa
- SS Gurujot Kaur Khalsa
- MSS Gururaj Kaur Khalsa
- MSS Guru Singh Khalsa
- SS Gurujodha Singh Khalsa
- SS Hari Nam Singh Khalsa
- SS Harjot Kaur Khalsa
- SS Jai Singh Khalsa
- MSS Krishna Kaur Khalsa
- SS Shanti Kaur Khalsa
- SS Siri Pritam Kaur Khalsa
- SS Siri Vishnu Singh Khalsa
- SS Viriam Singh Khalsa.
- SSSa Guru Amrit Kaur Khalsa
- Bhai Sahiba Bibiji Inderjit Kaur.
As per the lawsuit settlement the following were added to the Initial Board: Amrit Singh Khalsa, SS Deva Singh Khalsa, MSS Sada Sat Singh Khalsa.
The first meeting of the initial Board of Directors was held on June 18, 2012, in Española, New Mexico. Along with taking care of matters to “get the ball rolling,” SS Gurujodha Singh Khalsa was elected President. At the first continuation meeting of the Board, held on January 26, 2013, in Los Angeles, California, the Board voted that the following be the mission statement of the SSSC Board of Directors:
“With the guidance of God and the grace of the Guru it is the mission of the SSSC to protect, preserve and cultivate the prosperity of the constituent community and its assets; listen to, serve and elevate the constituent community; support the non-profit and for profit entities and the family of constituent communities; and live to and hold the values of the teachings of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib and the Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji: selfless service, compassion, kindness, honesty, integrity, trustworthiness and Guru inspired consciousness.”
The initial Board decided that the term of service for Board members would be five years, with one-half of the Board having to stand for re-election (or choosing not to run again) every two and a half years. The Board also set eligibility standards for both candidates and the electorate. The most recent Restated Articles of Incorporation of the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation were filed on March 7, 2013. It remains an Oregon Nonprofit Religious Corporation, by virtue of it being considered a “church.” Its “Purposes,” as stated in that document are as follows:
“To operate exclusively for religious, charitable, and educational purposes, within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or any successor provision, including but not limited supporting and advancing the practice of the Sikh religion as was taught by the Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Khalsa Yogiji (“Yogi Bhajan”) and bringing together its adherents, and acting as the successor legal organization to the Siri Singh Sahib of Sikh Dharma, a California corporation sole and serving as the guardian and steward of those assets dedicated by Yogi Bhajan to supporting the Sikh Dharma/3HO co