If you watched Woodstock, the 1970 documentary movie, you probably remember the scene where, in between band sets, a long-hair hippie is up on the stage leading everybody in Breath of Fire. What you probably didn’t notice is part way through the exercise, in the crowd in the right-hand corner, a little head pops up in the crowd to see what’s going on. Next time look closely and you’ll witness a 16-year old Guru Dass Singh getting his first introduction to Kundalini Yoga. He, of course, hadn’t taken the name Guru Dass at the time. He had convinced his parents to allow him and his 17-year-old best friend (the future Gian Singh) to fly from Puerto Rico to New York to participate in a “summer music camp.”
It wasn’t until a couple of years later, as a student at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, that he started to practice Kundalini Yoga. He soon left the College and joined the Ahimsa Ashram in Washington, D.C., sleeping in the notorious “men’s dorm” and working long shifts at the Golden Temple Restaurant.
That early ashram life was beautifully captured in the song “Keep Up” by the Khalsa String Band. That wonderful band was composed of the finest musicians of early 3HO and Guru Dass Singh was the youngest member. He wrote and sang many of their songs and had incredible stories of “life on the road” as they toured the country playing college campuses, sometimes as the opening act for Yogi Bhajan’s class. The music they created together was truly magical. It told our story in song and bound us together as family. Every new cassette tape recording was an event, awaited with great expectation. I remember exactly where I was when I first heard Guru Dass sing “Flowers in the Rain”, and I remember it made me cry. He went on to write and sing so many songs that chronicled the growth and journey of 3HO such as, “When Will I Walk on the Cold Marble Again”, “The Ballad of Guru Ram Das”, “I Am – I Am”, and so many more.
In 1978 Guru Dass Singh and Kaur moved to Europe at Yogi Bhajan’s bequest, and founded the Guru Ram Das Ashram in Barcelona, Spain. The ashram was on the top floor of a beautiful old apartment building, with no elevator, and exactly 108 steps to climb to reach their door! Barcelona was one of the seven original ashrams which brought Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan© to Europe. Guru Dass established Kundalini Yoga in Spain and contributed to the growth of 3HO throughout Europe.
Early on, looking for a way to support his family, Guru Dass Singh asked Yogi Bhajan if he could return to the USA for two years to attend chiropractic school. In typical style, Yogi Bhajan gave him six months, and Guru Dass used the time for a “crash course” with Wha Guru Singh, learning at his clinic. He then returned and established a successful chiropractic clinic and a school that taught the first generation of chiropractors in Spain. During their years in Spain, Guru Dass Singh and Kaur produced many of the beautiful CD’s that are still known and loved around the world today.
In the early 2000’s they felt they had completed their mission in Spain and asked Yogi Bhajan if they could return to the USA. Yogi Bhajan gave them his blessings to move, and gave Gurudass Singh the hukum to became a traveling Yogi, spreading the teachings around the globe. He went on to live in Santiago, Chile and established KRI Teacher Training programs in many South American countries.
Guru Dass later returned to Europe where he met and married Raj Kiran Kaur and moved to her native Sweden. From his home near Gothenburg, he continued to travel theglobe to spread his love and light, share his music, and train teachers. He was one of the original five KRI Level One and Level Two Lead Trainers personally appointed by Yogi Bhajan to teach the KRI Aquarian Teacher Training program in Europe. He was one the original members of the Aquarian Trainer Academy and a founding member of the KRI Teacher Training Executive Council. He personally trained hundreds of KRI certified Kundalini Teachers across the globe with programs in Spain, Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, Sweden, Australia, India, USA, France, and Bali.
His love and dedication to the Teachings was such that, even while knowing he was in the last stages of cancer, he traveled to Bali to teach and inspire the international group of students who attended the Level One immersion he had organized there, as well as comfort and support the core group of trainers he was mentoring in the Academy.
In his last weeks on this earth he was blessed to be surrounded by his children, Nirankar Singh and Simran Simrit Kaur (Simi), and his grandson Forest. As he moved into his last days I was able to reach him by FaceTime on several occasions. Every time he greeted me with his smile, which shined with the radiance of the brilliant light within. He was sad to leave his family, friends, and students, but he was unafraid to pass on to whatever waits for us on the other side. His timing was impeccable, leaving his body as his 3HO family was gathered together for Summer Solstice where we could grieve his loss together. We celebrated his life and remembered all that he gave to us as we listened together to joyous and inspiring music which, as his song says, “…will live forever in our hearts…” and inspire generations to come.
AKAL – Love you forever, Bro
Listen to more Khalsa String Band music