by SS Gurukirn Kaur Khalsa, Phoenix AZ
Many years ago, when the Siri Singh Sahib was attending Gurdwara during a visit to Phoenix, he looked straight at me and said, “The clock has stopped.” I admit that I had noticed that it had stopped when I walked into the Gurdwara, but as I wasn’t “in charge’”of the Gurdwara, I didn’t feel that it was my responsibility. But then he said, “It is your responsibility.” The piercing impression of his words changed my attitude from that moment on.
In the years that followed, I had the privilege to serve him during subsequent visits. Through his instruction and my own intuition, my discernment grew as to what it takes to keep the Guru’s Holy Court as a place of regal majesty. Critical elements are cleanliness, order, and beauty.
Even though these qualities were being applied to maintain an earthly environment, I believe that they are equally important in the heavenly environment. The Guru’s Darbar is truly an expression of heaven on earth—as above, so below. This practice of bringing heaven to earth has been essential to my role at Guru Nanak Dwara.
A Testing Ground for Devotion
For the past year and a half, since the new Gurdwara in Phoenix has been open, it has been a great testing ground for my devotion. The care and support that go into sustaining the Guru’s Court can be quite trying and mundane at the same time.
On our opening night, Guru Ram Das’s birthday, one of the toilets on the main floor overflowed and the water leaked down to the basement level, dripping over the main electrical panel.
A crew of us grabbed wastebaskets, towels, and rags and sopped up the overflow, without an interruption to the service. There have been other similar incidents since, such as a fire alarm going off during the Kirtan, the power going out in the middle of a visit by a well-known guest Ragi, and someone getting stuck in the elevator. In building the new Gurdwara, we asked for more, and we got it!
We now have a team that takes these challenges in stride and is dedicated to maintaining this standard of care. I feel Guru Nanak’s presence in our Gurdwara, and I feel that we are caring for him personally.
I often ask myself what he would have wanted. At times I sense that he is looking over my shoulder. I think he would have wanted us to create a place where his Sikhs would be delighted. He would be happy if his Sikhs were attracted by the beauty of this place, and the Kundalini would rise as they gathered in His Name.
Others are learning what it takes to create the same environmental subtlety that the Gurus provided and that the Siri Singh Sahib demanded. If there is a wilted flower in the arrangement, remove it. If the marble steps are dusty, sweep them. If there is litter on the ground, pick it up. If the clock battery is dead, change it.
About the Author
SS Gurukirn Kaur Khalsa began her studies with Yogi Bhajan in the early 1970s at the Pomona Ashram. At the time she was a student at Pomona College in Claremont and took Kundalini Yoga classes there. She continued her studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she received a BA in Studio Art. Art has been an integral part of her expression as a spiritual being. In 1975 she took a job at Guru Nanak Dwara in Phoenix and has lived in Phoenix ever since. She and her family have helped to complete the new Gurdwara, which has been under construction for the past 20 years. Her work can be seen at www.gurukirnkhalsa.com.