Interview with SS Dr. Gurusangat Kaur Khalsa, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
For me, to relate to the teachings and to live a life as Khalsa means to immerse myself in the sangat and inspire the sangat to be consistently present, living the teachings and serving. By God’s Grace, the most auspicious blessing that could ever happen to a sangat is to be faced with challenges and to get strength and to get re-affirmed in its goal and in its own way of existing.
In 1995 I returned to Brazil from Germany, where I had been living at that time. I had no thought of what was just about to come into my life: serving the Guru’s mission, which would be the creation of a very dynamic sangat. The blessings come when, without thought, we allow ourselves to be in the flow of the teachings.
Guru Arjan never asked how to get rid of his sacrifices; he never asked why he should do one thing rather than another; he just performed his duty, as the Gurus before him. I never asked myself what I should do and why I should do it. I simply was there and somehow God and Guru came along and instructed me.
Looking back today, I see that I wasn’t being told what to do through direct lines. I was being guided through service. I see how our sangat was created through service. Initially I was serving; by benefitting from those services, people were inspired to serve along with me; that produced a chain reaction. When we were faced with challenges, instead of getting out of the situation we worked together more closely.
Our organizational structure is based on the model that Siri Singh Sahib ji gave for the Khalsa Council. We have a council of 85 members. Every year, we gather for meetings. We set up the sacred space with prayers; we honor who has done what in the past; how we kept up. You see, we don’t have financial resources; we don’t have for-profit businesses. Everything is done by seva. We always establish a challenge/theme for ourselves and we set up our agenda for the next two years.
That strengthens our determination to live as a sangat. Over the years these challenges have resulted in many service projects. For the past five years we have had a program in detention houses for pregnant women, We serve in nursing homes and in hospitals for chronic kidney disease patients. There is a protocol using Kundalini Yoga and the Shabd Guru in a hospital for hemodialysis patients.
Miri Piri Academy in Brazil
Four years ago during our council someone brought a proposal to create a school. People in the sangat were asking, “Where are we sending our kids? We can not send them to Catholic schools. We cannot send them to Miri Piri India since we cannot afford that right now. We don’t have any options in town. So let’s create a school based on the teachings of the Siri Singh Sahib and the Gurus.”
A Sikh Dharma school in the heart of the Catholic state of Brazil. What a challenge! I told myself, I had better not think too much about this; otherwise I will freak out. So I thought, once again, if this is the Guru’s will, then it will be done. So we started developing the project four years ago.
The sangat came together. We have 118 donors; monthly donations pay the consultant fees, and all the other fees involved in the initial stages. We have now come a long way. Our vision is to open the school in 2014. I was thinking, how is this possible? We would need a beautiful large place to honor the Guru. We don’t have money for that. Last month we started a 40-day kirtan and meditation program in every sangat member’s home, for Guru Ram Das to guide us.
On the 16th day of that meditation, He delivered a perfect house on two acres of beautiful land in a pristine mountain area surrounded by forest for a price that was manageable for us to buy! Instead of renting a little house temporarily and having to make adjustments and compromises, we decided to go for it.
It’s going to cost us two million Reais, which is a million dollars, the equivalent in the United States to buying a school for two million dollars. So we just need to get 2000 Brazilians donating $1000 each and we’re going to get that!
We have a community of more than 200 very active Kundalini Yoga teachers. Of these, five or six are Amritdhari Sikhs; all the others are Sahejdhari Sikhs. They have not taken Amrit but they live the lifestyle, dressing in full bana. It’s very inspiring.
One of our sangat members, Guru Tej Singh, is the president of the University. He is now one of the Board members for the school. He is giving 12 years of his life for this project. One day he came to me during langar after Gurdwara. He said: “You know, Guru Sangat, we are the best Catholic Sikhs in this town!”
My name is Guru Sangat, which means I am completely destined to live that lifestyle and live in the sangat. What I have learned is that people don’t need to be Guru Sangat to be a sangat member or to be involved in maintaining the life of the sangat.
People need to be involved with the Guru and with the mission, which is to be together, to struggle to have freedom, to have sovereignty, to have autonomy, so we can have a better world for everyone.
About the Author
SS Dr. Gurusangat Kaur Khalsa is an ordained Sikh Dharma Minister. She is one of the founders of The Brazilian Association of Friends of Kundalini Yoga (ABAKY) in Belo Horizonte, sharing the technology and the teachings of Kundalini Yoga and Shabad Guru in Brazil. The ABAKY is affiliated with 3HO Foundation (Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization). She is involved in the creation of the Miri Piri Academy in Brazil and is a member of the International Khalsa Council.