This firsthand account of the early days of 3HO, the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization, according to Sardarni Sahiba Sat Bachan Kaur Khalsa was first shared on www.harisingh.com in 2017.
Sat Nam. Yesterday, the 41st International Women’s Camp (affectionately called Women’s Camp, or Khalsa Women’s Training Camp, KWTC), commenced at Guru Ram Das Puri, here, in Espanola, New Mexico. Starting back in 1976, the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, taught the very first Ladies’ Camp at the Ranch, his summer home. These precious transcripts are printed as, “Under the Blue Skies of New Mexico”.
He knew when he taught the Women in the Dharma, that he was not only teaching us, but more importantly, he was affecting generations to follow. He gave us the tools to Keep Up through all challenges while living through our Power and our Grace. He told us the importance of creating environments of coziness and nobility because, “God lives in cozy homes”.
He taught and counseled us for hours, days and years to never give in to our weaknesses and only relate to our virtues. Women have four opportunities to be liberated. They can serve a Devotee of God, they can marry a Devotee of God, they can give birth to a Devotee of God, and they can become a Devotee of God.
By her own right and through the myriad of ways that a woman conceives, creates, and influences, she creates security and miracles, and she changes the world.
Camping under the cottonwood trees, doing Sadhana outdoors under the Big Top, eating yogic vegetarian food that was prepared for us in the company of friends from all over the world, and gathering every evening to sit at the Feet of the Master – amidst all of this sweetness – we were lifted into a higher realm of possibilities and consciousness. In this way, we were taught the importance of sisterhood and the miracle of being a Woman. “Be more sisterly and rely on each other and give each other help.”
“Everything is off in a woman when her exercise is off.” So he had us running 5 miles every morning along the river, right after our 2-1/2 hour Sadhana, singing in unison, “We are the Khalsa, Mighty Mighty Khalsa!” At my first Women’s Camp we were graded during the weekly PT exercises. (See an inspiring account.)
I just recently found a letter that I had written to my husband, Hari Jiwan Singh, announcing that “I made two records today at Camp! I did the most sit ups…over one hundred and the least push ups…two!! I had my work cut out for me…to strengthen those upper arm muscles. While taking Pilates lessons many later years, I learned that weak arm muscles reflect a problem with setting boundaries. Ahhh! Of course. It is important to have strong boundaries, but always making sure you are not using this as an excuse not to serve. The Siri Singh Sahib Ji taught that to be a devotee of Guru Nanak, there was no, “no”. Na Na…Nanak means “No ‘No'”.
“When you have to say no, you don’t say no.” There are boundaries and there are boundaries. Be clear on the right ones. Serving is always a blessing, within the scope of a balanced and giving life.
Back in the early days of KWTC, we would get dressed up everyday in our best white Bana and wait for him to drive (drive up to the Big Top in his army jeep. This was pretty much the only time we ever saw him man a car! We would be chanting with deep love, Guru Guru Wahe Guru Guru Ram Das Guru, to welcome his most beautiful smile and huge radiant aura! We were all blessed to be there together to create this Sadh Sangat of spiritual women growing in divinity, strength, and consciousness
He talked a lot about our diet. He reminded us often that men and women are different species! That sentence right there says so much and only he could say it so perfectly. Because of that we should know that we eat differently than men. He told us so many times that one wrong word can spoil everything, just like one drop of lemon in a pot of milk can curdle the whole thing. One of the biggest concepts for me was, “you don’t discuss with your husband”.
This concept has been lost in the 21st Century but it doesn’t mean it is not right. Men are fighters (warriors), and what they require from their wives is comfort. The first thing he should remember when he thinks about his wife and that relationship is that she provides non-judgment, love and comfort; a haven where he can truly relax. And by Guru’s guidance, this should in no way compromise our grace and our strength. This is what works. Our projection and prayer in fact become much more effective in a relationship which is trusting and relaxed. Bottom line, he emphasized that our power and our happiness lies in our grace, not in our opinions, dictates or demands.
The Siri Singh Sahib Ji was always telling us to do Sadhana!
“Americans run away when things don’t go their way. But when you do Sadhana, you guarantee yourself a good day because you have had a positive early morning beginning. Our higher self is developed through our our meditative practice and then we live in our Intuition.”
“You are blessed by beings of a higher caliber.”
Then we truly can know who we are. And this brings us to the hierarchy of our devotion. Our first allegiance is to God, then Guru, then our spiritual teacher and finally our husband. Nothing deviates from this order of devotion.
I stumbled across a passage on marriage that the Siri Singh Sahib Ji had given in the 1976 Women’s Camp. I had written it down in my diary, for constant inspiration during my my first year of marriage, otherwise known as, Keep Up and You’ll be Kept Up…Don’t Dare Think you have a Choice!!
“So if you love a man, you have two things to do. Don’t look to his weaknesses because he’s an apparatus of weakness. See how much strength you can give him. That’s the only way to keep the whole thing going. It’s a one-way traffic. Because you are a giver like God. Your real womanhood is to keep pouring. No man is yet born who can give back the woman her due.” Page 304 8.11.76 KWTC
As a Canadian, a Westerner, raised after WWII, in all that excitement of prosperity and Maya, I had not been trained in the virtues of a Khalsa woman. I wish I had known my dear friend Manjit Kaur of Espanola, as I was growing up! She remarked to me once that movies, all those romantic comedy kind, should actually be rated as R, or R-17, definitely not PG or PG-13. Young people raised on them, falsely believe that relationships are like these movies, and so they have a huge gap to confront when they see the reality of a partnership and married life. We should rather be cautioned when going to see such movies and know that they are entertainment, pure and simple, basically PURE FICTION!!!
And the reason I am referencing Manjit’s wisdom is because I certainly brought plenty of fantasy and romantic ideas about life and relationships to this new marriage. That first year was a wake-up call to the reality of life and living on a spiritual path. Let me comment here, with endless gratitude to Guru, who by His Grace kept it going, that Keeping Up on a Spiritual Path gives you much more than you ever could have imagined or even thought you deserved!
Speaking of movies though, the The Siri Singh Sahib Ji enjoyed movies a lot! Some of our fondest memories are accompanying him to relax in a movie with popcorn and M&M’s!! He enjoyed life to its fullest and wanted us to enjoy as well. He enjoyed all those romantic comedies too, but he wanted us to live our lives with all our faculties highly tuned – body, mind and soul integrated to live only as Khalsa so that we could live in our purity, power, divinity and grace. He didn’t want to sugar-coat life for us. He told it straight and knew we could, and would, rise to every challenge. Here are just a few of the gems he gave to us at Women’s’ Camp, so that we could live a life that allowed us to manifest our destiny:
The Noble Woman Song
Grace of God Meditation
Many KWTC Kundalini Yoga Sets
Recipes to Heal Negativity, Sadness and Depression
Woman as her own Psychiatrist: “This day I will be graceful!”
Bana, Bani, Seva, Simran
Grace and a Face, and gratefully,
Volumes of lectures, given from the heart and the soul of a Master, to every woman who wants to excel!
Looking at my old hand-written notes today is bringing back all the energy and love our beloved teacher shared with us every day. How lucky we were! But truly, so are all of you who relate to the Siri Singh Sahib Ji as your spiritual teacher! You have these same blessings available to you now! Hear his words and act upon them… your life will blossom and you will bless many along the way.
“But there is a very fundamental and direct question, ‘to be, or not to be.’ If you adapt to confirm with your own grace, with your own ability and you confirm each time and you do not give in to something, which is not noble, you won’t give in to something, which is not noble, the end result will be, you will be a noble living person.” The Siri Singh Sahib Ji Lecture, “Virtues of Virtues”. —