SS Guru Dass Singh Khalsa
February 4, 1954 – June 17, 2017
by SS Guruganesha Singh Khalsa, Herndon VA
Singh Sahib Guru Dass Singh, my beloved brother and fellow Minister in Divine, was a total gift from Guru Ram Das ji. I met him in January 1973 at Ahimsa Ashram in Washington D.C., where we lived, worked, played guitars, and sang together.
I can’t tell you how many times during the last 45 years the tears poured from my eyes while listening to one of his beautifully crafted, heartfelt songs of devotion and Divine love. Songs like “Flowers in the Rain,” “My Hands are Empty,” “Ballad of Guru Ram Das,” “Love is the Answer,” “Never Again,” “Ode to Guru Gobind Singh,” and countless other songs stand as remarkable testimony to his beautiful gift.
My soul instantly knew that Guru Dass Singh’s songs came directly from the Source, as I felt that no human being was capable of writing melodies and lyrics this touching, this heavenly. His music expressed the deepest, most exquisite longing for God.
In 1999, Mata Mandir Kaur and I had the distinct privilege and pleasure of traveling to Barcelona, Spain to record the album “Train to Amritsar” with Guru Dass Singh and his magnificent wife, Guru Dass Kaur. I will never forget the fun, laughter, and amazing meals the four of us shared during those two joy-filled weeks—not to mention the heart-pounding exercise we got several times daily trekking 108 steps (no elevator in that building) up to their lovely apartment.
In 2008, while Snatam Kaur and I were recording the album “Liberation’s Door,” Guru Dass Singh approached me with a new melody that he had just composed to one of Guru Ram Das Ji’s most beloved poems. Guru Dass told me that he heard Snatam Kaur singing it in a dream the prior night. He sang it for me and my eyes started gushing again.
Snatam Kaur loved it too and we both knew that we had to make room for it on the nearly-completed album. In my opinion, Snatam’s performance of his song “Crimson” stands as one of the most beautiful of Snatam’s epic career. Two years later, in 2010, she and I were thrilled to sing it together with Guru Dass and his lovely daughter Simi for over 1,000 people at a concert in Santiago, Chile, where they were living at the time.
On Peace Prayer Day this year (June 17, 2017), at exactly 11am MST, I was in Espanola, preparing to go up the mountain, when I received a phone call from our dear brother, Gurutrang Singh. He could barely talk as he broken-heartedly told me that Guru Dass Singh had just left his physical body.
I thought it so fitting that his passing took place on a day when he had serenaded our 3HO/Sikh Dharma community countless times over the last 45 years. We spent the rest of Summer Solstice singing his songs and sharing our memories. What an amazing musical legacy Guru Dass Singh has left for us and all of our generations to come!
SS Guru Dass Singh Khalsa was introduced to Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan in 1969 at the Woodstock Music Festival. He was just 16 years old and came from Puerto Rico to be part of the historic event. He became a member of the Ahimsa Ashram and began practicing Kundalini Yoga in the early 1970s, working “long shifts” at the Golden Temple Restaurant in Washington DC, along with his fellow ashramites. He was a member of the Khalsa String Band, composed of “the finest musicians of early 3HO” (according to a wonderful article by SS Tarn Taran Singh). Guru Dass was the youngest member of the group and wrote and sang many of their songs. He was ordained as a Sikh Dharma Minister in 1976 and moved to Spain at the Siri Singh Sahib’s request in 1978. He studied to become a chiropractor and was part of the Khalsa Chiropractic Association, receiving hands-on training in healing from the Siri Singh Sahib. He is the father of Nirankar Singh and Simran Simrat Kaur and the grandfather of Forest.