This Is How Guru Gobind Singh Did It
(By His Own Testimony)
by SS Krishna Singh Khalsa, Española, New Mexico
2023 (First Quarter)
“Now I relate my own story as to how I was brought here, while I was absorbed in deep meditation. The site was the mountain named Hemkunt, with seven peaks. There I was absorbed in deep meditation on the Primal Power, the Supreme Maha-Akala. In this way my meditation reached its zenith, and I became One with the Omnipotent Lord. When the Lord ordered me I was born into this Iron Age. I had no desire to come, because I was totally absorbed in devotion for the Holy Being of the Lord. But the Lord caused me to understand His Will. He sent me into this world with the following words. So what follows are the words of the Immortal Lord to this insect that I am. Whatever the Lord of the world said, I say the same unto you. I cannot remain silent in this abode of death.”
–The Autobiography of Guru Gobind Singh, Dasam Granth, Chapter 6
For me, as a Sikh; as a Kundalini Yogi as taught by Yogi Bhajan; and as an ordained minister of Sikh Dharma, what follows in this article represents the crowning gift in my own life’s adult quest of sixty years. The daily sunrise, from twilight to full daylight, takes less than an hour. So, to witness attentively, sometimes desperately, for the mental Sun within me to require sixty years to fully rise might seem like an unbearably long time. On the other hand, from an eternal perspective, sixty years is shorter than the blink of an eye.
For me, the candle (being the twilight before spiritual dawn) was lit by Plato in 1963, when I studied with Dr. Leonard Eslick at St. Louis University. Dr. Eslick was and remains a pre-eminent master for deciphering Plato during the 20th century. In western studies of the cosmos, Plato is one of the very, very few who was ultimately and fortunately NOT materialistic. For him reality was essentially a product of “Oneness, Formlessness, and Form.” No other western thinker has ever highlighted “formlessness” as a primal cause of reality and all of its components. So, within my beginner’s mind, I went with Plato’s sense of reality.
Imagine my great surprise when, six years later at the beginning of my life of study with Yogi Bhajan, I learned that “Oneness, Formlessness, and Form” (that is, EK-ONG-KAR) were the very first words that Guru Nanak spoke after his dramatic experience of full enlightenment as a young man. Also, early on, Yogi Bhajan immersed me into Patanjali’s Raja Yoga. This is a path of gaining true knowledge and understanding through awareness alone, where physical sensory experience is not required. This is Ontology, “the science of Being (through Awareness by itself). In other words, Being and Awareness are essentially the same. As Yogi Bhajan famously pointed out, “Kundalini Yoga is the Yoga of Awareness.” And as Guru Gobind Singh stated, the path of “True Being” is the only path to follow.
My career practice of Kundalini Yoga thus far has amounted to 54 years, during which time I’ve experienced many heart and mind wrenching experiences–such as standing, in a factory, in front of a 24-inch polishing-wheel, spinning toward me at 100 miles per hour, for four years in Los Angeles. Followed by two painful divorces which I did not want, and complete separation from my beautiful son for nine years. And as a worker in 3HO businesses I faced financial difficulties that forced me to reinvent myself for what seems like a hundred times or more, simply to survive. My beautiful spiritual teacher was very involved with all of this, and I never refused the duties that needed to be taken. I embraced them, and each time completion yielded gifts of growth, strength, and fulfillment beyond any hope or expectation. I learned to trust taking the hard way as the best way through life. And with each episode, before and after his death, I’ve experienced nothing but a deepening of trust and love for Yogi Bhajan and all the gifts that have unfolded from the path he pointed out and has guided me through.
All these trials and difficulties can be traced back to my own karmas, accumulated over millions of lifetimes, as Guru Nanak has told us. Moreover, if we can learn and master the process of “driving all of our causes of personal suffering into One Cause,” (namely our own history of Karma and Ignorance), then we gain the very best opportunity for ending our suffering forever. Whenever we point fingers at “circumstances” or at other people, as responsible for causing our suffering, then the ignorance of that choice of blame will continue to plague us with suffering, until we own the responsibility to ourselves as the cause of all our own karmas and suffering.
Because of clues I perceived in Yogi Bhajan’s lectures, I was intuitively drawn to Tibetan Buddhism, guided by a master Lama in Eugene, Oregon. And so, I’ve become aware that there are a number of Tibetan Lamas who regard Guru Nanak as an “Activity Emanation” of Padmasambhava Guru Rinpoche. Padmasambhava was an enlightened Buddha who transmitted Buddhism from India to Tibet at a time in which hostilities of Indian brahmins and Afghan invaders threatened to destroy all traces of Buddhism in India.
From this “possible and plausible” connection between Guru Nanak and the founder of Tibetan Buddhism (who lived 700 years before Nanak), we will also point out and examine a very concrete connection between Guru Gobind Singh and an important crisis event and meditation practice in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. After 28 years in this lifetime of Buddhist teaching, practice and reflective understanding, I’ve come to recognize that there is really not one whit of difference between Tibetan Buddhism and Khalsa Dharma.
To Discover and Choose the Enlightenment Path
Rishi Dusht Daman’s practice of Mahakala Puja was one of the paramount practices of Tibetan Buddhism. Moreover, at the very core of Mahakala practice is the “100 Syllable Purification Mantra and Prayer of Vajrasattva.” For Guru Gobind Singh, destined to serve as the founder of the Khalsa (the “Nation of Pure Ones”), what could be more appropriate than that he should have reached full enlightenment (as Rishi Dusht Daman at Hemkunt), in devotion to the “purification practices” of the prayers and insights within the Mahakala Sadhana.
Although I practiced the Mahakala Puja weekly for years, my relationship with this sadhana has deepened over the past three years, during the Covid crisis and also the internal crisis being experienced by many in our Dharmic family in relation to Yogi Bhajan. This sadhana has led me to find profound understanding into the primacy of internal awareness, which is the very essence of Guru Nanak’s realization of “EK ONG KAR, SAT NAM, SIRI~WAHE GURU,” as the source of all Being of Humanity and Nature. Through blessings of contemplation and insight over time, I have been able to render Tibetan sources and terminologies for understanding the Vajrasattva prayer, into language and terms of Sikh Dharma. This brings the powers of Tibetan liberation insight into alignment with the ways in which Guru Gobind Singh communicated to us his sense of Khalsa Dharma. In addition, we witness perfectly these same sacred terminologies in the first section of the Ardas prayer, which also comes from the same Dasam Granth that is the source of Guru Gobind Singh’s Autobiography.
If one would want to experience this practice more fully in the terms I’ve just described, there is a video online with masterful sound current of Tibetan chanting, transliteration of the Sanskrit (Tibetan) text, a rendering of meaning in Khalsa terminology, along with the text of Guru Gobind Singh’s Autobiography from the Dasam Granth, chapter 6. Find at: https://vimeo.com/785512065.
It is also my hopeful intention to begin a series of podcast dialogues to explore any and all the proposed insights within this article, and their implications. These podcasts would involve Dharma practitioners holding a variety of perspectives. What I’ve described from my own long-studied perspective is my personal response to Wahe Guru as he has guided me. And yet our universe is capable of countless responses, according to the unique qualities of every individual. This is only a beginning.
Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!
Singh Sahib Krishna Singh Khalsa
100 Syllable Vajrasattva – Wahe Guru Prayer 1
The Liberating Maha-Akala Practice of Guru Gobind Singh
(as clarified by Rishi Dusht Daman, in Dasam Granth, chapter 6)
01. Oh Lord of All Being, Ek-Ong-Kar is what we are!
02. Our primary duty: is to become a living embodiment of Sat Nam
03. Upheld by Wahe Guru ~ Guru Gobind Singh
04. Please protect and guide our unending tenacity in performing our sacred duties.
05. Firmly and without compromise.
06. Please grant us complete satisfaction,
07. And increase positivity.
08. Please reciprocate Your love among us,
09. So that all the Siddhis (powers of being),
10. And all the necessary actions can be realized.
11. “Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa!” is our direct source of being.
12. Siri Baghauti is the mother of all environments and all living beings:
13. Mastery of All, (“Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!”), identifies the basis of our ultimate enlightenment.
14. The joy, love, and devotion that YOU bestow upon us, are never ending.
15. Please, Oh Embodiment of All the Tatagathas, (the fully enlightened, transcendent Ones) – please do not abandon us!
16. Please awaken us to Wahe Guru’s living presence within us!
17. Oh Thou True and Ultimate champion of duty,
18. Sat Nam is what we’ll be!
1 This prayer expresses the key petitions and promises of the “Sacred Covenant” between Divinity and Humanity, as Realized and Manifested for Khalsa Enlightenment by Guru Gobind Singh, and Mastered by Rishi Dusht Daman at Hemkunt Sahib.
Image Credit: Sikh Art by Bhagat Singh – https://www.sikhiart.com/
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SS Krishna Singh Khalsa is a Minister of Sikh Dharma, a graphic illustrator and animator of yoga and Dharmic teachings and practices, and a healer. His primary research interest of the past sixty years concerns the unique Science of Being (Ontology) of Guru Nanak, as it relates to the warrior purification (Khalsa) and Enlightenment teachings of Guru Gobind Singh. These two interests converge with the Tantric Buddhist, and Bodhisattva views and teachings, of Tibetan Buddhism. Krishna Singh began teaching Kundalini Yoga in January 1970. As a Sikh, under the direction of the Siri Singh Sahib, he served as a training sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve in Los Angeles for seven years. He lives in Espanola, New Mexico, and is very happily married to SS Sangeet Kaur Khalsa (Newsletter Article Editor). His video website contains more than 100 videos produced over the past 20 years: https://vimeo.com/krishnakhalsa.