March 25, 1952 – October 1, 2020
by SS Pritpal Singh Khalsa, Espanola NM
I first met Sada Simran Singh as we both tried to enjoy our bowls of un-spiced boiled wheatberries (a weekly routine in the Pomona ashram) for breakfast on my first day in Pomona, California. His outgoing charm was on full display, even though we both were struggling to find an understanding of how we ended up in Pomona, eating wheatberries together that day—but we did find friendship.
Born and raised in Renton, Washington, Sada Simran Singh began his journey on the path as a Kundalini Yogi and as a Sikh in 1976, when he drove his beloved bright red 1960 Ford Ranchero pickup truck down to Pomona, California. There he moved into Guru Gobind Singh Shakti Sadan, a distinguished 3HO ashram that was the birthplace of the Kundalini Research Institute.
At Summer Solstice 1979 Sada Simran Singh married SS Dr. Shanti Shanti Kaur from Phoenix, Arizona, and they began their life together in the Pomona ashram. Living in a tight community of like-minded people, he immersed himself in the study and practice of the teachings of Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma. His commitment to many intensive meditative practices carried him through all challenges for the rest of his life.
By 1982 the couple had moved to live in Los Angeles, close to the headquarters of Yogi Bhajan and the community established there. Sada Simran Singh was always very active in the community, volunteering and assisting wherever needed. For many years he supervised the construction and setup of the Baisakhi gurdwara at the LA Convention Center.
After being involved in several entrepreneurial endeavors, in 2004 he became the director of Yoga West, the primary Kundalini Yoga center in Los Angeles. It was during this time that Sada Simran Singh began to really develop his teaching of Kundalini Yoga and found a deep calling.
A True Sevadar
Going to Summer Solstice in New Mexico every June was a regular pilgrimage, an event Sada Simran Singh really looked forward to. There, he became known for his leadership as the Head-server, directing and facilitating the serving of meals to over 1,000 people each day.
Through this seva he mentored and inspired many new students who were attending Solstice for the first time. He also established many long-lasting relationships based on his charming and energetic personality. Witnessing his command of the food serving was to see his ability to meet each challenge with a smile and words of reassurance.
In December of 1995, Sada Simran Singh and I went to India together as travel companions, to visit my children at their boarding school and to see some of the famous sites of India. We took turns getting violently sick from long rides in (unairconditioned) taxis, inhaling the noxious fumes coming in from the road through the windows, left open to give us some relief from the heat.
But we shared some amazing meals in Rajasthan, dining like maharajas with six waiters to each table. And how could I forget Sada Simran Singh haggling over a beautiful Persian rug, which he insisted on somehow bundling into a spare suitcase and bringing it everywhere we went for the rest of the trip! We were a bit like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in the “Road to Morocco,” but without the film crew.
Over the course of about a decade, Sada Simran Singh and I, along with Didar Singh (Oak Hills, CA) and Gurucharan Singh (Upland, CA) gathered regularly for weekend expeditions of paintballing, mountain-biking and card-playing. Sada Simran was particularly focused on winning with the cards. He taught us all to play “Pitch” and then proceeded to dominate most of the play for several years.
A Love of Bluegrass
Later, about the time that the movie “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou?” came out, Sada Simran Singh and I discovered that we both had a fondness for Bluegrass music. We started out sharing our collections of various recordings, almost intuitively knowing what to buy that wouldn’t duplicate what the other already had.
Then we started to go to Bluegrass concerts around Southern and Northern California. We even attended a weekend Bluegrass festival in Nashville, TN. Together, we saw many of our Bluegrass heroes.
This launched the formation of the “Buc-gurus,” an occasional, very loosely-formed amateur Bluegrass band that only appeared for one performance a year at Summer Solstice. With Sada Simran on rhythm guitar and backup vocals and me on Dobro and lead vocals, we gathered others to support us and played through some of our favorite Bluegrass songs to a somewhat mixed reception.
In 2008 Sada Simran Singh returned to the region of his birth, Seattle, Washington. There, he entered into his second marriage by marrying his high school girlfriend, Cynthia. Together they established the Guru Gayatri Kundalini Yoga and Meditation center. Here he was able to devote his energy to serving the community and building a center which “aspires to serve our community through compassion, strength, and grace (gurugayatri.org).”
Playing the gong became a standard feature of his yoga classes, one that was greatly appreciated by his students. Over the next 12 years, Sada Simran continued to have a deep and meaningful impact on the hundreds of students who came to his weekly classes where he was often profound—but could always make them laugh.
To his students, he was the “Kundalini heartbeat of Seattle—a touchstone to the direct lineage of these teachings as they were first brought to America.”
Working with Guru Singh, Sada Simran delivered several successful Level 1 and Level 2 Kundalini Yoga teacher training programs, graduating over 300 teachers. One of Sada Simran Singh’s favorite projects was the “Breathe to Be” online video teaching program which he developed with his friend, Hari Har Singh.
During these years in Seattle, Sada Simran re-established a close relationship with his father, talking on the phone daily and watching many sporting games together. Cynthia’s four grandchildren became lights in Sada Simran’s life. You could often find him playing games, reading books, and—his personal favorite—dancing with the kids. He loved to make them laugh and could talk to them for hours.
As I spoke to him over the phone a week before he left his body, I was deeply touched by his easy openness and positive spirit. And although I could tell he was challenged by his physical situation, he was clearly happy to talk with me.
Even as he struggled to breathe, he was able to be hopeful and genuine and to shine his light. Sada Simran Singh’s soul departed from this world after an arduous battle with COVID-19 at 4:30 am on October 1, 2020. Recently, it was my honor to join in the spreading of some of his ashes at the site of Summer Solstice in New Mexico. May his spirit forever fly high in the arms of Guru Ram Das.