July 20, 1947 – September 11, 2020
Sardarni Sahiba Ram Das Kaur (nee Lois Katz/aka Rami Katz) served as the Secretary of Religion for Sikh Dharma International through the 1970s and 1980s. She inspired a generation of Khalsa men and women in the West in her embracing of the Sikh faith and her spreading of the Guru’s teachings. She was a mother of two children and a grandmother of three. She traveled the world as an ambassador of the Sikh religion, teaching philosophy, yoga, Kirtan, and the Gurmukhi language.
by SS Siri Ved Kaur Khalsa, Bakersfield CA
I first met Rami in 1971 or 1972, when she was Lois Katz and lived in Northern California. Soon Yogi Bhajan arranged her marriage to a man from San Diego and gave them spiritual names: Ram Das Kaur and Ram Das Singh. The morning-to-night wedding celebration included both traditional Jewish and 3HO-style Sikh wedding ceremonies, each followed by music, dance, and vegetarian feasting.
It was a day filled with non-stop joy—the same spirit I have always associated with Ram Das Kaur/Rami (appropriately, post-3HO she became a professional “Joyologist,” devoted to helping others find their joy.)
We got to know each other when she moved to Los Angeles a few years later. She had been appointed Secretary of Religion. Like Bhai Sahib Dyal Singh, she was deeply inspired and transformed through the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.
Studying with Bhai Sahib ji, Bibi Jasbir Kaur, and others, she devoted herself to learning to read and understand the original Gurbani, and to living the rehit (prescribed lifestyle for a baptized Sikh).
She and Bhai Sahib became great friends through this journey and during their travels in India. She discovered deeper understanding and inspiration studying Sikh history and sakhis and brought these stories to life as she shared them with sangat in Gurdwara and her weekly Sikh Dharma classes. Nothing was ever boring with Ram Das Kaur!
Her love of Guru, Gurbani, Kirtan, Gatka, yoga, all of it, was vibrant and true, and she ignited the same love in others. Her kirtan was the most energetic, devotional, and rooftop-raising.
In the late 1980s, I heard she was getting a divorce and moving to Arizona. She and I met for a few hours the day before she left, and she taught me every shabd I requested.
I didn’t speak with her about the move then, but heard the divorce and move were because she was gay. It didn’t make sense to me, yet I did not question.
Years later I learned she had struggled with great pain and duality all her nearly 20 years in the 3HO community. Being a lesbian in that day and age and unable to openly be her complete self within what was then an intolerant community surely was more than she could continue to bear. Her anguished decision to leave the 3HO community and Dharma she had loved with all her heart took a strength and faith I can hardly fathom.
Gratefully, she and I had one more beautiful time together in 2016, reconnecting with a group of “old-timers” to share stories of Bhai Sahib Dyal Singh with his family. I’d made sure to invite Rami, knowing she would have great stories from her years of studying and traveling with him.
We had all looked forward to seeing her and hearing her tales. The evening was filled with love and laughter, remembering those days. When Rami was asked to share, she simply smiled and shrugged her shoulders, saying brightly, “Hmm! I don’t seem to remember anything!” I noticed she was somewhat forgetful that night and the next day but didn’t realize that she was in early-stage dementia, a disease that would eventually steal her away.
The next morning, we practiced the Dhan Dhan Ram Das Guru shabd and then played together in Gurdwara. That time with her was absolutely the best! She broke into tears of sadness and joy.
Now she is freed from it all and, if there truly is life after this one on Earth, she has found Total Joy, Light, Love, and Liberation. Sweet, divine, beautiful, spark of light, soul, heart, servant of the Infinite One, Ram Das, Rami. I will love you forever and ever, dearest sister.