One Hundred Thousand Hearts: Yogis Work to Save Homeless Pets
By Guru Karta Kaur Khalsa
Film Festival Award (from left to right: Alice Russell (author's sister and Production Assistant), author's son Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa (Executive Producer), author (Guru Karta Kaur Khalsa - Producer/Director), and Dawn-Jackie Madison (Associate Producer)
I moved into the Houston, Texas ashram in June 1977, met Yogiji in September 1977, and began teaching Kundalini Yoga that same month. I've taught at ashrams, Montessori schools, adult continuing education classes, community centers, nursing homes, health institutions, and fitness clubs, and to private clients. I’ve taught in Houston, Austin, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, and Melbourne, Australia. My son, Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, was born at home in the Houston ashram in 1980 and has practiced Kundalini Yoga his entire life. I know that Kundalini Yoga works to create a healthier, happier, more wholesome life because I have experienced it for over 35 years. I'm grateful for this path.
Last summer I produced and directed a full-length educational documentary, “One Hundred Thousand Hearts” on the homeless pet population crisis, feral cats, and the need to spay/neuter. In April 2011, the film won a Gold REMI Award at the 44th Annual Worldfest Houston International Film Festival. “One Hundred Thousand Hearts” is my third documentary. My son is the Executive Producer, and everyone involved with the film donated their time, energy, and talents, including two amazing musicians, Cary Beare and Wendy Francisco. I interviewed veterinarians, shelter workers, rescue groups, volunteers, fosters, and pet lovers, and met their rescued animals. The film is not graphic because we wanted children and sensitive people to be able to watch it and learn. It shows what we can do to help change things for the better, from tiny steps to big deeds. The film has had free public showings, aired on cable, and is online for free viewing at http://www.ohth.org and its Facebook page is “One Hundred Thousand Hearts.” Members of the Houston sangat are also featured in the documentary: Guru Gian Kaur Khalsa is interviewed with her rescue dog Angel; as well as Guru Shabd Singh Khalsa with his dog, Lily.
We created an award, The Awareness Award, given to children in the Houston community who do outstanding work on behalf of homeless pets. In February 2011, the LemonAid Girls received the first Award in recognition of the money they raised for a local spay/neuter clinic by selling organic lemonade and hot chocolate. You can find out more about the LemonAid Girls on their Facebook page.
I enjoy volunteering with two amazing groups in Houston that have teaching programs. We go into local area schools to teach children responsible pet ownership and the importance of spay/neuter. The film's preview has been incorporated into the presentations as a teaching tool with Corridor Rescue's C.A.R.E.S. Teach and Reach Our Children, and with Barrio Dogs Educational Outreach program.
Brown dog Tobey Khalsa, black dog ThunderBear Khalsa, and Shelby Kibodeaux (featured in documentary, a 14-year volunteer with Citizen's for Animal Protection and fellow rescuer). Tobey and ThunderBear are the "poster children" for the movie--it's their baby photo. They were feral rescues at 6 weeks old!
I also rescue off the streets, as my mother did during my childhood. We are currently fostering two dogs and a cat who are in adoption programs. It is a seva filled with unconditional love and a whole lot of fun and laughter. It is also a seva that can create a great road trip. Hari Kirn Kaur Khalsa and I drove to Wichita, Kansas recently to take Rosie, a beautiful blue and white terrier mix, to her new home.
One of the things about Sikh Dharma and 3HO that I love is the respect for other living beings. In the Siri Guru Granth Sahib it says, “It is the same light that is in every soul.” I am both a Kundalini Yoga teacher and Sikh Dharma minister. Yogi Bhajan told us to be forklifts to lift others up and to be a lighthouse in the darkness. That has always made sense to me. If it is dark, bring the light, and if someone is down, lift them up. That is a righteous way to live; it is a good way to live. It is a touchstone I hold myself to.
I am currently filming a commercial for a spay/neuter clinic, and I also have a small team of volunteers who are helping create a Spanish language version of “One Hundred Thousand Hearts.”
Our next project will be filming Public Service Announcements. We ultimately hope to inspire everyone to learn, save lives, and maybe even film within their own communities to continue to spread the light of awareness.