The following stories were written by several attendees at the 2007 Jaap Sahib Camp in Espanola, New Mexico. The stories are all personal remembrances.
My Story of Jaab Sahib
– By Gurusahai Kaur Khalsa
I have been to both Jaap Sahib camps. The first Jaap Sahib camp emphasized the sun energy of Guru Gobind Singh, the bright and shining presence, the completion of the cycle begun by Guru Nanak and the first nine Gurus, who were of the meditative moon energy. Lat year, even the environment reflected the emphasis of the course, with the weather being very hot (temperatures were said to be record highs), and no afternoon thunderstorms.
But this year, even though the activities were very similar, the energy centered more on the saint-soldier, with the saint very much in evidence. The kindness, compassion and grace of the Guru was emphasized, and reflected by the kindness and compassion of the teachers. One day, I was having a very difficult time, processing some very heavy things in meditations led by GuruTej Singh. He came to me after the class to see if I was okay, and he gave me a copy of his book of poems. That small kindness was very touching to me and helped to show me the kindness and compassion of the Guru. It helped me to understand in a very real and solid way the essence of the saint-soldier that Guru Gobind Singh infused in his Sikhs, that though you may be able and willing to fight when necessary, first and foremost in your mind is always service with compassion and grace to people, and no thought given to your own reward.
The sweetness of the Guru was shown to me in so many ways. One thing that stands out in my mind is the discussion sessions with the Cherdi Kala Jetha. They were gracious and funny, and unafraid to tell their stories. They were never failing in their service, teaching gutka, and playing for classes, and simply having a great time using the gifts God gave them. They were often smiling and laughing, and there’s no better way to teach the joy of being in the Guru’s court than that!
Again, for this course, even the weather reflected the sweetness of the saint, with evening breezes and thunderstorms to cool the air and create a pleasant temperature.
I was staying with a group of women who were Punjabi, so that meant I was often with a group of Punjabi Sikhs, either from India or England, or sometimes from America. I was very surprised to learn that all of the information presented in the course was fresh and new to them. They had never been told some of the stories we were told, nor had they ever been informed of the meaning of much of Jaap Sahib. It was astonishing to me that they were born with this incredible gift and blessing of being born into Sikh Dharma, and they do not know what it is that they have. There was an older woman whom I did not talk to, but I was so very impressed with her strength and grace when she held steady for the 11 minutes of Archer pose we did in one class. She was SO beautiful in her steady, strong archer pose!
There are a few things that stick with me from the course:
- 1. Paraphrasing from a lecture of Yogi Bhajan’s: We are soldier-saints, but we have it backwards. We are soldiers with other people and saints with ourselves. Actually, we should be soldiers with ourselves, and saints with other people.
2. Paraphrasing from Dr. Harjot’s class and from the Cherdi Kala Jetha stories: The greatest fear in life is the fear of death. Guru Gobind Singh’s warrior were fearless because this was not an issue for them. Guru Gobind Singh said that each person is born with a measured number of breaths, and when those are done, it is simply your day to die. If you truly believe that, then the fear of death is removed, and you can face each moment of your life with a fearless mind, knowing that when it is your day to die, you will die. If it’s npot your die, then nothing can kill you. This was an especially comforting thought to me since my mother had died three weeks before the course, and I was heavily contemplating the fact of death, and the animation of the body by the soul.
3. And I believe this was from discussions that Shanti Kaur had with us: The greatest gift that Guru Gobind Singh gave was to take his own personality out of the equation of spirituality. He gave the Guruship to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, and he gave the leadership of the sangat to the Panj, then was baptized himself. Further, none of his writings were included in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, so the question of his personality could not be introduced into sikhism. I am reminded of the vast compassion and grace of this gift each day when I walk into work. I live in the southern United States, where it seems everybody believes in Jesus. As I walk from the parking lot to the lab, I pass a truck which states “Jesus is the way” on the tailgate. This one statement has been the source of so many fights and so much turmoil, so much judgement and condemnation, not only in my own life, but also in the world. By taking his personality out of spirituality, Guru Gobind Singh ensured that that would not be the case for his Sikhs, and each day I am grateful that he pointed us to the Akal Purkh, not to himself.
Straight to the Heart
-By Jude Alcantara Martie
Was it because this was my first visit to 3HO and the Ashram, or the beauty of New Mexico that created the overwhelming sense of bliss I experienced during the week of the Jaap Sahib? While they certainly added to the richness of the visit, in retrospect it was the experience of the Jaap Sahib itself that created this bliss. What led me to Espanola, on one hand is something that is intangible, but on the physical level my journey began about fourteen months ago with my first Kundalini Yoga class at Golden Bridge in Los Angeles. A longtime friend of mine, aware of the difficulties I was facing in my life at the time, advised me to look into Golden Bridge. Upon my first visit, I felt as though I’d returned home. This was very similar to the feeling that I had upon arriving at the Ashram in Espanola.
I was a bit reluctant to venture out to Espanola on my own, but was determined to make the Jaap Sahib course. Fortunately, a friend of mine was willing to join me on this adventure. Her only other exposure to Kundalini or the Sikh community had been at a Snatam concert last spring, which I’d invited her to. I am grateful for her willingness to being open to new things.
Even now as I write this, I stop and reflect upon those five days and I am filled with beauty, peace and joy. I was curious. I won’t lie. I wondered what it would be like to wake up for Sadhana. I wanted to experience the Sikh lifestyle and life at an Ashram. I believe this curiosity existed since childhood. My intent was not to offend anyone. I am utterly grateful for the openness and warmth the Sikh community has thus far presented to me. I have embraced much of the Sikh teachings and ideals. I hold them close to my heart.
Waking at 3:00 a.m. was challenging, but the majesty of those early morning hours combined with the power of the Bowing Jaap Sahib propelled me to unknown levels of consciousness. After both a physical and conscious awakening, we sauntered off into the morning darkness and over into the Gurdwara. The communal feeling wrapped you up in its warm arms with one big swoop. It was like we were all sharing one huge blanket. My body, mind and spirit were in union with the infinite. I believe sharing this experience with dozens of others made it all that more beautiful. The glorious Kirtan music penetrated my soul. I felt altered and find it difficult to put into words. My gratitude goes out to all who performed the Kirtan.
The Jaap Sahib Schedule was tough. They were full days filled with many events. It took me a couple of days to adjust and realize that I would have to choose my time to rest. Unfortunately, this meant that I missed certain parts of the workshop. Still, I believe my experience was complete and bountiful.
I want to personally thank Shanti Kaur. I began correspondence with her even before arriving at the Jaap Sahib. She graciously and patiently answered any questions or concerns that I had. I feel honored to have been present for her lecture on the “Singhnia of Guru Gobind Singh”. It was truly remarkable and I am glad to see clips from the lecture on the MrSiknet.com website.
Another highlight for me was to have the opportunity to take a live class with master teacher Nirvair Singh.
When I hear Snatam Kaur sing, it is as though she is a channel between us and the infinite, all knowing creator. Instantly, I am filled with grace and love. Beauty resides within and without. I am grateful that she could share her extraordinary gifts with us.
I am reminded of the lovely yoga teacher from Chile who instructed us during Sadhana on most of the mornings. Her voice was like the softest velvet and warm. She had a German accent that mesmerized me. I’m sorry that I can’t remember her name, but thank her.
I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the Chardi Kala Jatha and their devotion to the Sikh Warrior. I am grateful to have experienced them as teachers and as Gatka instructors. I really admire how they project a balance of strength and kindheartedness, something that in mainstream culture would seem at odds.
I am honored and grateful to have heard Bibiji Inderjit Kaur speak in person. Harjot Kaur’s lectures were stimulating and filled with information. I also really enjoyed her personal stories and experiences with both Yogi Bhajan and Baba Nihal Singh. Guruchander Singh’s “Radiant Body” class was enlightening and challenging.
The food! Oh, the food was remarkable and it kept on coming. I am grateful to all those who provided the food and the delicious chai and Yogi Tea. Yum!
In the end, I am grateful for everyone who attended. I believe, there was a truly remarkable energy at Jaap Sahib brought about by everyone who attended. I met a couple of brothers from England, as well as others, who I hope to stay in touch with. Thanks to Gurumustak who was willing to answer my questions regarding growing up a Sikh, as well as for his informative website.
My experience at the Jaap Sahib workshop is one that I will treasure always and a memory that I will hold dear to my heart. That’s what it did. It moved my heart.
Early Morning at the Gurdwara
Jaap Sahib Course
– By Harjot Singh
Jaap Sahib Course was a whole new experience for me. I learnt so many things .I was like a blank person when I came to the course, but by the end of course I was like a pot full of information and confidence.
The main thing that I learnt from the course was that, you can live a very good life without having a lot of money but with enough of spirituality which comes at no cost at all but with some personal effort and dedication.
Other thing that I felt was the power of Jaap Sahib, reciting Jaap Sahib in the sangat gave some kind of confidence and power to me, and I could really feel it. I really felt close to Guru Gobind Singh ji.The other thing I came to know about Jaap Sahib was that it was one of the most musical and the most difficult banis of all. I really enjoyed the “Bowing Jaap Sahib” part , in which you had to bow for every reference to “Namo” and “Namastan” (which was approximately 800 times,) that means that you had to bow 800 times. This was a really a test of patience for my body for first time, I changed positions at least 50 times, but from second time onwards I just changed positions few times. So, one thing that I learnt from this was that by controlling your mind you can do everything in your life. As it is said in Japji Sahib “Man Jitta Jag Jeet.” It was enduring for the body but rewarding for mind.
The other thing that I developed was my positive attitude towards Nihang Singh’s. The lectures given by Baba Nihal Singh and translated by Dr.Harjot Kaur were really a good source of information about Nihang’s and how they perceive Sikhism, because the general perception is that Nihang’s are always in a state of high .
Then we had to really endure our bodies, by doing some really difficult kriyas like Sat Kriya, Archer pose each for eleven minutes. Gurutej Singh and Guruchander Singh were trying to give us the same training they got from SSS Harbhajan Singh Yogi ji. But it was good to test how much your body can endure, those were really the most painful classes of the whole course. But our teachers told us that they are painful but they would really make us powerful from inside as well as outside. And I now I realize that it is really true when I try to practice those Kriyas at home, I think what they said was really true and I now respect them for what they said at that time.
During the course there had been times of enjoyment also. The best part was the Gatka workout time. It was under the aegis of Chardi Kala Jatha. They taught about the Pantras, which is the basic of Sikh martial arts, they also taught made us to do Sarvan Dandam Kriya. They had planned a really good workout schedule for us. The best part was that they used to make us play some really rough games like “Lions and Tigers” and “Human Tug of War.” During the whole Gatka workout Jaap Sahib would be played in the background which always gave us some feeling as if we were being trained to serve our Guru Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
During the course I had an opportunity to know a lot about Guru Gobind Singh Ji by listening to the Sakhis told by Chardi Kala Jatha, they really recited the stories in a really nice way. Their bold voice can awaken anybody in this world. Then were the stories from Shanti Ji about the role of Singhnia’s in Guru Gobind’s life, that was such a great Sakhi. We also had a chance to know all about the Jaap Sahib ,through the words of Bibi Ji .It was a really informative lecture about Jaap Sahib, giving in depth detail about each and detail about Jaap Sahib. With these stories we had some Q&A sessions, which were really great. They really gave answers to so many questions to which I could not find answers for a long time.
During the course I had a chance to meet some really great people like Chardi Kala Jatha, Shanti Kaur Ji (“The Punch Lady,” that’s what comes in my mind when I remember her name, as related to the big punch she gave to one of the reporters in India who was trying to sneak into the train cabin in which yogi ji was sitting), Gurujot Singh, thw twins Hari Singh and Prabhu Singh, Lakmi Chand and Siri Chand, Gurmustuk Singh (aka Mr.Sikhnet) and many more.
I felt like I have one more family in New Mexico, they were all so nice. And not to forget to mention Bibiji, she is so down to earth that I cannot explain to you, because generally people of her stature are really full of ego and would never meet anybody. But she was such a gentle lady that she would just mix with other people like just a common person. She made such a delicious Indian food for us on the last day, and she would offer anybody to come to meet her any time they feel like.
Besides these religious affairs we came to know about the entrepreneurs like Gurutej Singh, the way he was rejected by LAPD and then he started his own security company “Akal Security” which is one of the most reputed security companies in USA as of date.
They say that when somebody comes to Espanola, he doesn’t go back. But I thought that what was so special about Espanola that would attract people to keep them back in such a non commercial place? At time of leaving Espanola I felt the same way I felt like staying back here. I don’t why. But I was very much more confident when I left Espanola after the course, both as a Human and as a Sikh.
Jaap Sahib 2007
– By Gurujot Singh
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!
I was so happy to meet all the Sikhs who came to this event. It was definitely the first course of it’s kind. 3HO usually attracts yoga students and white Sikhs. I felt like I was back in Punjab. there were Aunties in the kitchen making me eat pakoras. There were my Khalsa brothers that I could connect to so fast because of our common view on Sikhism. I felt this was a really important cornerstone in 3HO history, that we invited Indian Sikhs and they came… and they loved it. Time has passed and we don’t need to be so concerned about being judged for doing yoga. this event was a big highlight of my year
Cherdi Kala Jatha
8 months of miracles
– By Jasdeep Kaur
In January(’07) I was graced to find the Naad (or perhaps it found me).
I noticed certain sounds were heard not with the ears, but with the whole being, concentrated in the spine. A sort of central Harp.
It was not until May that a rudimentary understanding of the vast, indescribable significance of the “Naad” began to dawn on/in me. Yet, any time I tried to speak of it, I was blocked!
Either I spoke gibberish, or the listener could not hear.
Initially, the music of Sat Kirin Kaur and Snatnam Kaur provided a life preserver, keep in mind, I was unaware that I was drowning.
The Shabad; “Re man eh bidh yog kamau” served as healing salve for my confused mind.
I did not know the meaning of the words, yet they were hauntingly familiar.
During this period I had been meditating with a small zen group, the zen master (74y/o) holds expertice in NLP and Eriksonian hypnosis.
I never imagined a caliber of people the likes of this man. I do not consider myself naive, attending Bellevue Nursing School-NYC, MSN & nurse practitioner training from Columbia University, thought I’d seen a lot and was somewhat “with it”….
I do not see myself as a victim, however this was a sinister, evil trap I had fallen into. Facing an expert actor, NLP master wielding hypnosis as his sword proved no contest to the unseen assistance bestowed on my behalf!!
In March I had a very unusual dream…. driving along, came upon an accident, getting out to help the victim, realized he was decapitated!!! Not knowing where to start first, looking at the body, turning to the head, I looked into the eyes and the eyes of the decapitated man looked back and locked onto mine!!!!
I woke very shocked & aware – this was no ordinary dream.
The next day, opening an email advertisement from itunes, I noticed Grateful Ganesh CD on the ‘front page’ clicked on and found my way thru a link to JAAP CD by Sat Kirin Kaur.
I was drawn to the art work (woman in rock pose holding a sword) on the cover.
Never hearing this before, I downloaded the album and was amazed (to put it mildly) upon hearing the story of Baba Deep Singh. After weeping uncontrollably, I was infused with super human energy. Standing in the kitchen, assuming a challenging yoga balancing pose with my right arm thrust into the air, my youngest sons wondered “what is mom doing?”
I emailed the zen master “I’m coming to help you”
I did bring him a copy of the CD where Yogi Bhajan says “DON’T SNEAK WITH YOUR LIFE….DON’T”
It appears to me that the sacred sound current acted as a tow line away from danger. I followed the current to a workshop given by Sat Kirin Kaur at Golden Bridge NYC, then to WTC with my daughter, and finally Jaap Saib where my strength was restored through the cumulative efforts of all the teachers and musicians.
Anyway, I realized after attending the Jaap Saib course that somehow I was graced and protected by the Sikh Warrior Saints.
Learning that “Guru Gobind Singh declared that he had come to the world with a mission to protect and help the good and to chastise and uproot the evil doers”
This awareness became obvious as I sat listening to Jagat Guru Singh and Sada Sat Simran Singh. After one lecture, I blurted out “you guys sound like you’re 400 years old” – later I did the math and gasped!
Gurutej Singh, Guruchander Singh and Navair Singh each uniquely demonstrate the living embodiment of commitment, courage and Truth. Shanti Kaur, Dr. Harjot Kaur, & Hari Kaur generously expressed their direct experience with such devotion. Gratitude to all the musicians and sangat members.
And Bibiji – one of her radiant smiles has enough wattage to illuminate Manhattan during a blackout!
One cannot help but feel joyous when she smiles, such a treasure.
I was spared from spiritual and psychic abduction. My story is disclosed to encourage you. Your upholding the purity of Sikh Dharma is more important than I can express.
For now, I humbly bow in gratitude, forever grateful.
Jude, Hailey, Jag and Harp