This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
Babaji Singh met the Siri Singh Sahib in 1969 in Los Angeles. He was amazed by his personality and teachings and stayed to live with him for a few years, serving and selling avocado sandwiches for living. He was sent by Yogi Bhajan to Mexico in 1972 to open the first Ashram in Latin America to spread the teachings to the rest of the continent.
Babaji got a loan to open the Ashram, but he had no money left, not even for food. He found a piece of carbon on the floor where the workers that painted the house had heated their food and wrote on a piece of paper: “Kundalini Yoga classes”. He hung it on the door and waited in meditation as Yogi Bhajan told him.
For a week, Babaji only drank water, praying to Guru Ram Das for a first student to knock on the door. Guru Dev Singh (the healer) was the first student to arrive. Babaji began to make yogurt to sell and slowly a successful business began. The Ashram was established. Students of the Ashram were employed and a community grew, serving each other, doing yoga and having Gurdwaras. Yogi Ji began to visit and White Tantric was held in the garden.
One day, in one of his classes, Babaji shared his memory of the day in 1971 when Yogi Ji came out from his room and told his students that Lama Lilan Po left his body and that his energy had passed on to him. Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogi Ji had become the Mahan Tantric. Then the phone rang minutes later. It was a call from India. They were calling to tell the master that Lama Lilan Po had passed away.
One day Yogi Bhajan visited Mexico and told Babaji to marry one of the members of the US community, but Babaji refused. Later on, he married Bhagwati Kaur, who lived in the Ashram. When she got pregnant, they planned a natural delivery in the Ashram to receive the baby. But the delivery got complicated and they had to go urgently to the first hospital available. When their son was born, he couldn’t breath. The doctor tried to help him, but couldn’t. Babaji promptly grabbed the baby and began to give him “garnachazos” (wakening the baby by flicking him with the Saturn finger as he released it from the thumb. —-Imagine a mudra position of the middle finger and the thumb and then unlocking the finger with a strong motion). The baby finally responded, but his eyes were crossed and his hands and fingers contracted. The doctor said there was not much to do and prescribed some medicines for the baby’s brain. Babaji took the medicine for himself first and he felt it was too strong, so he called Yogi Bhajan in deep pain. Yogi Bhajan told him to put a “centenario” (big gold coin) in the heart chakra of the baby all day and night and bath him daily in cold water. He then named him “Guruka”, the son of the Guru. (I saw a picture once of Babaji with Guruka inside a tub filled with ice and cold water laughing!) Guruka is now a healthy, intelligent and happy man.
A few years later, when Babaji was in his late twenties, he was diagnosed with cancer in one testicle. He was scared, because he wanted to have another child. He went to Yogi Bhajan and the master told him to have surgery, but he didn’t listen. He preferred fasting for 40 days drinking only water and using alternative medicine. It didn’t work. Months later he was terminally ill. He had a few months to live. Babaji went to Yogi Bhajan to say farewell and told him that he was going to the Golden Temple to die in India. Yogi Bhajan took him by the beard, shook him hard and shouted, ”Wake up! Only God knows when you are going to die! Go home, meditate and begin the translation of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib in Spanish!”
This time, Babaji obeyed and humbly sat down and meditated. The master had showed compassion in this way by taking him out of his fatalism. A few days later the telephone rang. It was Stanford University, asking Babaji if he wanted to be a “guinea pig” in a powerful chemotherapy trial. Of the 20 patients enrolled, only Babaji survived. He began the translation of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib into Spanish.
The cancer returned years later, when the Ashram was full and the “Sat Nam” Yogurt was in all the supermarkets. Babaji was hospitalized in LA. This time, the doctors came out of the hospital room and told the family and friends he wouldn’t pass the night, because he was not producing blood cells anymore. Guru Singh brought his guitar and, along with other friends, began to chant Ra Ma Da Sa. They chanted all night long. In the morning, Babaji was producing blood cells again. He slowly recovered and he returned back to the ashram in Mexico, where he continued working, giving classes, growing the yogurt business and translating the Guru little by little.
Yogi Bhajan came to Mexico for White Tantric and to teach classes to Mexican students in different parts of Mexico (Yogi Bhajan loved Acapulco) and Babaji would continue to ask his advice and serve as his bodyguard. He recalled Yogi Bhajan challenging him to get out of his mind-frame all the time. During business meetings, he told Babaji he was too materialistic and when Babaji shifted his position, he told him he needed to be more aggressive as a businessman, or he was never going to bring money to the Ashram.
One day, when Yogi Bhajan was staying in the Ashram in Mexico City, Babaji was guarding his door. At 1:00 am, before Sadhana began, Yogi Ji came out of his room and asked Babaji for sour bread. Sour bread?! In Mexico, there was no such thing as sour bread. (We have all kinds of delicious breads, but not that one). The “bolillo” which is like a small baguette, and is the most similar to a sour bread, was not in the ashram kitchen, because it is made of white flour, not whole flour. Babaji went to his family kitchen, then knocked at a bakery and finally found a bolillo in a friend’s house. He made the impossible possible. He knocked at Yogi Bhajan’s room and showed him in one hand a lime and in the other the bolillo and said: “Sour” (pointing at the lime) – “bread” (pointing at the bolillo). Yogi Bhajan smiled, took the bread and lime and closed his door.
A third cancer returned years later. The Siri Guru Granth Sahib was not finished yet. This time Babaji had a surgery. The surgery went well, but the doctor told Babaji that he had almost lost him. Babaji was so happy that the tumor was extracted, that he didn’t asked the doctor what happened during the procedure. When Babaji returned to Mexico, a student told him that she was in Yogi Bhajan’s class the day and time of the surgery and that something very strange happened. Yogi Bhajan was teaching a lesson and suddenly, in the middle of a sentence, he closed his eyes and went into deep meditation for a short time and then returned to finish his sentence and the class. Babaji remembered what the doctor told him about “almost losing him”, so he immediately called the hospital and the doctor said that thank God his hand had frozen in the middle of the surgery, because he had been about to make a fatal mistake. Babaji then flew to Española and asked for a meeting with Yogi Ji. He asked him about that day. Yogi Bhajan said nothing, but Babaji insisted. Yogi Bhajan answered that he had to freeze the hand of the doctor for a few seconds, so he didn’t make a mistake that would have ended Babaji’s life. “How did you do that?” Babaji asked the Master. He answered, “With my 3rd eye, of course!”
Years later Yogi Bhajan came to give a White Tantric course in Mexico. During one of the meditations, a new student sat in the back. She lived in the Ashram and had 2 kids and hadn’t met Yogi Bhajan yet. She heard about how the Master filtered the karma of the students during the tantric, so she prayed, “Oh Guru, let me split the pain Yogi Bhajan is feeling in his physical body, so he can feel some release”. The pain that she felt was so intense, that she couldn’t bear it. Crying, she prayed again to the Guru to take the pain away. At the end, the students went to the front of the stage to ask for their spiritual names (they had to first put their birth dates on a piece of paper inside a basket). When this woman put hers inside the basket, Yogi Bhajan stared at her and said, “Your name is Jai Ram Kaur. Thank you for your kindness and wanting to sacrifice. I invite you to be my secretary, if you feel inspired.” Jai Ram told me this story with tears in her eyes.
The next day the secretaries and Babaji counted the money that the students paid and Babaji gave the corresponding amount for the US Ashram. Yogi Bhajan left, but a couple of weeks later he called Babaji and said, “Babaji, give me my 80 bucks.” Babaji responded, “No, I don’t owe you any money. Ask your secretaries.” A few days later the same thing happened, but Babaji insisted that it was not fair. Yogi Bhajan insisted a 3rd time, “Babaji, give me my 80 bucks. This is the last time I’ll ask you to do it.” “Why?” asked Babaji, “It is not fair!”. “Just because” answered the Master. “I am sorry, but I don’t owe you that money. I checked what I gave to your secretary,” answered Babaji.
A few months later a very painful situation left Babaji alone and without any money. He left the Ashram and months later the Ashram closed, the business went bankrupt and he was divorced from his wife. He went to work in the countryside for a few years. Nobody in the community knew where he was or where he lived. One time, White Tantric was held without Babaji in another location in Mexico. After the Tantric Course, Yogi Bhajan asked one of his students to drive for him. The student asked where were they going and Yogi Bhajan said, “to meet Babaji.” The student responded that nobody knew where he lived; that he was sorry, but he couldn’t take him to any address. Yogi Bhajan just ordered him to drive. And so he did, driving on the highway and then through poor streets and dirt roads in the middle of the jungle, until suddenly the master said: ‘Stop. Now we walk.” And so they did, until Yogi Bhajan found a treehouse where Babaji was staying. He climbed to the treehouse and they talked. Babaji was in Shakti Pad, but always with the Guru by his side.
Yogi Bhajan left and Babaji returned to Mexico City. He began a new life, continued the translation and giving yoga classes. However, a 4th cancer returned. This time it was pancreas cancer and he needed a lot of money for the treatment that he didn’t have. He asked here and there for a loan, but because he had paid the workers from his own pocket in the labor settlement when the yogurt business went bankrupt, he had no credit left. Suddenly a friend of his dad (who had already passed away) called him and offered him $7,000.00 for the treatment. Babaji was very grateful and asked this kind man why he was doing such a thing for him? The man responded the same way Yogi Bhajan had answered Babaji years before, when he asked for the money, “Just because”. Babaji understood his lesson.
Babaji survived the surgery and months later, all the money was spent in doctors, hospitalizations and part of the treatment. He was still in bed, translating the Guru, but without money to live and to fully recover. One day, he sent a student to the bank to bring him what was left in his account. The last bank statement had said he had $300 in his account, but she returned with $2000.00 dollars!! They didn’t know where this money had come from. Month after month $2000.00 was deposited in Babji’s account. Because of that, he could survive for a year until he began to work selling eyeglasses. He opened a little ashram again and began to give Kundalini Yoga classes.
Then I met him. It was 1999. I was his second wife and now I am his widow.
I remember when he last saw Yogi Ji. We flew to the US from Mexico, even though he had no visa or green card anymore. When we arrived, he was brought into a room to be questioned by US agents. I was outside waiting. I didn’t know he had no documents with him. At that time I was only his student, so I was calm sitting without worrying. An officer came out of the room: ‘Don’t worry, everything will be OK.” 15 minutes later, Babaji was allowed to enter the US without a visa. I couldn’t believe it. I asked: “How did you do it?” “I prayed to Guru Ram Das that I want to meet Yogi Bhajan.” Babaji responded.
We stayed in Santa Fe and drove to Española. It was 2002, Yogi Bhajan was very sick and didn’t receive any students or give classes anymore. He was in bed and students meditated every day for his health. Babaji took me to the ranch and asked the student that was guarding the door to tell Yogi Bhajan that he was outside and wanted to see him. Of course the guard told us to leave, but Babaji insisted. At last the guard said that he was going to tell the nurse that we were there. The nurse of course sent us a message to leave and not bother her again. Babaji and I spent the rest of the day visiting the community and some of his friends. In the afternoon we returned to the ranch again and asked for Yogi Bhajan. This time the nurse came out furious and shouted to Babaji: “Stop asking for an appointment! He is very ill. You are only making me lose my time!” And Babaji responded back: “What are you doing here lady? Why are you not taking care of the Master! Don’t lose your time!” She was furious, turned her back on us, and left. Babaji said to me that it was time to leave to Santa Fe. We returned to the hotel in the late afternoon. I packed my bag and put my pajamas on. Suddenly the phone rang. It was Babaji: “Dress with your best bana. We are going to see the Siri Singh Sahib. He is asking for me.” When we arrived, the nurse changed her attitude completely. I couldn’t recognize her. She was kind and escorted us to Yogi Ji’s dome. When we entered the bedroom, the master was lying on his bed, beautifully dressed. He looked royal and as we were entering, he said that I was a good woman. He smiled as we sat down and told Babaji that he was his happiness. I was silent the whole time, feeling his immense love and light. I have never seen such loving eyes, such beautiful hands and such a feeling of shelter.
He said to marry Babaji “before the circle of time ends” and told me to tell my ex-husband to clean his blood. My ex-husband survived 4th stage prostate cancer months later.
It was Thursday and we married on Sunday. After the wedding, we met Yogi Bhajan again and he told me to touch people’s heart and spread the teachings all over, down to Punta de Fuego quoting the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, with a metaphor I remembered, because back then I was helping Babaji to correct the Spanish translation of the Guru: “…as oil in water.” Tears were running from his eyes as he said to “drag Babaji with me”. Back then we didn’t know Babaji was going to die 4 years later.
I saw the master a couple of times more and I was surprised that one day he told me to use a cat eye stone as jewelry because it was going to help me with a problem I had and nobody knew about it! It helped me completely!
Back at the airport, I said to Babaji that it was time for his medical tests, but he replied, “I will not die yet. I will wait until I finish the translation of the Siri Guru Granth.” We went back and began together to work on the translation. In 2004, one week before Yogi Ji transitioned, Babaji told me to go to Española. I did and when the master passed, I had the privilege to bow before him in complete gratitude.
Our Sadhana continued in 2005, finishing the translation. I only read what Babaji was translating and made the corrections that I saw in Spanish. We finished at the end of the year. Babaji went to the printer and asked him to use a special kind of sheet and to make a very elegant cover with a soft white cotton that was going to come from Spain. The printer told him that it was going to take a few months. Babaji agreed. It was December.
In January of 2006, Babaji was diagnosed with bladder cancer. By then he had one testicle, both of his hips were replaced, he had no appendix, part of his liver, colon, pancreas and duodenum had been removed. One kidney was gone, he had no gallbladder, he had surgery in one of his lungs and he could see only from one eye. And yet he was the most happy person I have ever met. Once, looking at one of his pictures, I asked him if he missed not doing Yoga. He answered: “I can’t make my legs grow again, but I have been able to expand my mind and be happy. I owe that to my beloved teacher.”
We spent most of the year in the hospital. Guru Dev Singh, the healer, came to visit. Babaji was very happy. A student told him that Guru Dev was the one that sent the 2000 dollars each month for his recovery. They talked and remembered the old days. Guru Dev told me that Babaji’s Pranic Body was weakening. I knew. In November, Babaji decided to go to die in the Ashram. It was a Tuesday. The prognosis was 24 hours. Babaji raised the bed to be able to sit a little and asked me if I was comfortable! I couldn’t believe that even at that moment, he was taking care of me. He looked at me and asked again: “Are you sure you are comfortable? Because I know that the doctor must have told you that I will die soon, but I will spend 6 more days in this position.”
My family and some friends arrived and we sat on the bed massaging his feet and hands. Students of the Ashram and all the community of yogis began to come from different parts of Mexico and from the US. Babaji’s family, young and old students, teachers and even the doctor, chanted in one voice around his bed. The room was packed. Students were sitting on the stairs down to the kitchen, where food was being prepared 24/7 as people were arriving. It was a celebration of life.
On Wednesday, one of his students organized a group to knock at the printer’s house. The printer said that it was impossible to have the Siri Guru Granth for the next day; that the Spanish cotton for the cover was still in customs. The students insisted and the printer worked all night, while the students chanted. The printer made a beautiful single tome, with a cover in Mexican blue cotton.
On Thursday, Babaji closed his eyes and we were still chanting. The Ashram was packed. Suddenly, that afternoon, the students entered the room, carrying the Siri Guru Granth Sahib overhead. One of them placed it carefully on Babaji’s lap. Miraculously, he opened his eyes and raised his hand with difficulty and asked for a magnifying glass. He read the Mool Mantra in Spanish and closed his eyes again. I kept reading the Guru, beginning the first Akhand Path ever read in Spanish: The prophecy of Guru Gobind Singh was fulfilled. Six days later, as Babaji predicted, he passed away. It was Sunday, when suddenly a heavy rain began to fall…
All love and gratitude,
Guru Amrit Kaur Khalsa, Mexico (Babaji’s widow)
After Babaji’s lifelong efforts, in 2008, Guru Amrit Kaur, Babaji’s widow, was blessed to join Sangat members to bring the Spanish Siri Guru Granth Sahib to India to present to the Gurus, the Golden Temple and the Takhts. Here are some photos of Guru Amrit Kaur, with BibiJi and other community members, presenting the Spanish Siri Guru Granth Sahib on October 29, 2008 at the Hazur Sahib Takht in India.