by SS Shanti Kaur Khalsa, Espanola, New Mexico
2023 (Second Quarter)
After several years of isolation due to the pandemic, women from around the world gathered in February at Dashmesh Sadan in Anandpur Sahib, India, for a ten-day retreat organized by Miri Piri Academy (MPA) of Amritsar. Head Principal Japjeet Kaur was an elegant host for the camp, taking care of all the details and allowing us to dive deeply into study, meditation, and experience. We began and ended our time together at the MPA campus in Amritsar, which provided us with ample opportunity to explore the campus, visit the Golden Temple, and indulge in some shopping. Women from various parts of the world, including Europe, the US and Africa, attended the camp, bringing their unique customs and languages but sharing a common desire to elevate our spirits in the company of women.
Anandpur Sahib is the home of Guru Gobind Singh, and Dashmesh Sadan is a facility that embodies the vibration of the 10th Guru. Built by Yogi Bhajan in 2001 as an international learning center, the beautiful house and grounds have hosted numerous camps, courses, and yatras over the past 22 years. The compound is situated on a hilly area surrounded by farmland in the small village of Bunni. To the north, there is a clear view of the gold domes of Takhat Keshgarh Sahib, where Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa on Baisakhi 1699. To the south, the glorious mountain peak of Nana Devi rises—the powerful place where Guru Gobind Singh summoned the energy of the Goddess Durga. All around, there are views of the valleys and hills where Guru Gobind Singh and his people lived and fought, forging the body of the Khalsa that we know today. Dasmesh Sadan is a place of profound meditation and deep healing, thanks to the natural energy of the land it sits on.
Mornings at the camp began with sadhana, sometimes Aquarian Sadhana and other times sitting and listening to the kirtan at Takhat Sahib. These were sacred moments before the sunrise and the start of the day when the spirit ran high and free. After a delicious breakfast, the women gathered to study the Sukhmani Sahib with Rupinder Kaur, an inspiring Punjabi teacher from MPA. The Sukhmani Sahib is a lengthy Bani of 24 Astapadis written by Guru Arjan Dev Ji. During the camp, Rupinder Kaur led the group through the entire Bani, helping them understand the correct pronunciation and the meaning of the words. Siri Sukhmani Sahib contains the very essence of Sikh teachings, and this experience brought healing and inner peace to each woman in the group.
The afternoons were filled with excursions to the historical Gurdwaras of the area. We visited Takhat Keshgarh Sahib, where the Khalsa was born; Virasat-e-Khalsa, an award-winning museum of Sikhism; Gurdwara Guruka Lahore, where Guru Gobind Singh Ji was married; Temple Naina Devi, where Guru Gobind Singh meditated on the power of the Devi; Gurdwara Qila Taragarh Sahib, where a powerful fort of the Khalsa once stood; and the holy places in the city of Anandpur where Guru Gobind Singh lived, meditated, and fought. At each place, we told stories about the Guru’s life, meditated, and experienced the power of the physical locality. Even after hundreds of years, the vibration of the Divine One still echoes in the soil.
There is something very powerful about the company of spiritual women, and we all felt that our time together was too short. Our group has stayed in contact as a strong support structure, and we try to talk monthly on Zoom. The tentative dates for next year’s MPA Women’s Camp are February 15-24. If you are interested in joining, send an email to Principal Japjeet Kaur [email protected].
When we take Amrit and begin walking the path of Khalsa, we declare that Guru Gobind Singh ji Maharaj is our father and Anandpur Sahib is our home. Experiencing Anandpur Sahib in this way, standing at Takhat Keshgarh Sahib at sunset and seeing the sun shooting red arrows of light over the Satluj valley, we–spiritual sisters all— can feel the history of this amazing place in every cell of our being and claim it as our own. Together we call to the Divine, “I am, I am.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SS Shanti Kaur Khalsa is a Sikh Dharma Minister and certified Kundalini Yoga teacher, who brings spiritual values to every aspect of life. She is an engaging teacher of Sikhism, and her involvement with Sikh youth has led to mentoring young people around the world. Shanti travels widely, teaching and giving inspirational kirtan and lecture programs. She is also a published historian and regularly contributes articles on both current events and Sikh history.