"What is a mantra? Mantra is two words: ‘Man’ and ‘Tra.’ ‘Man’ means mind. ‘Tra’ means the heat of life. ‘Ra’ means sun. So, mantra is a powerful combination of words which, if recited, takes the vibratory effect of each of your molecules into the Infinity of the Cosmos. That is called ‘Mantra.’ "
Our celebration includes lots of kirtan throughout the 4-day event. Enjoy the uplifting power of mantra and music with Amarjit Kaur, the Cherdi Kala Jatha, the Khalsa String Band, and many more great ragis.
He walked into the Gurdwara as Amarjit was performing. It was 1965 and she was 15 years old playing Kirtan in Delhi. After she finished, this stranger stood up and announced to everyone sitting in the vibration of the Siri Guru that Amarjit Kaur was going to be doing 4 hours of Kirtan and Sukhmani Sahib everyday at his house from then on.
And she did. She ended up doing this for a year. Every day she played at his house and during this time, Amarjit built a very strong connection with him. He would even come pick her up from school and she would ride home on the back of his scooter through the dusty streets of India. Yogi Bhajan became like a father to Amarjit and she grew very close to his family.
Her Kirtan was what drew him to her when she was just 15 years old and whenever she came to visit the Ranch in Española, New Mexico, Yogiji would have her play music for him and the sangat, all day and all night.
In 1972 after Yogi Bhajan came to America, he brought Amarjit along with him to teach Kirtan. She was the first Gurbani teacher at Women's Camp and trained all of the Ragi's in the early days of 3HO.
Amarjit is classically and professionally trained in anything from Punjabi folk music to Gurbani Kirtan. In classical Indian music, each Ragi has an individual style, many of which have been passed down through generations. Amarjit has been honored to carry the lineage of Bhai Sahib Bhai Sant Singh, who she spent a great deal of time learning from. She is the sole practitioner of his distinct lineage.
We are privileged to have her join us for the 10th Anniversary of Yogi Bhajan's passing where she will be playing the music that he loved so dearly.
Asa di Vaar on Saturday, Sunday, & Monday
Sukhmani Sahib Panth
Friday Kirtan at 2:15-2:45pm
Saturday Kirtan at 5:00-5:30pm
Sunday at Hacienda de Guru Ram Das Gurdwara
Monday @ Hacianda de Guru Ramdas 6th of the month Gurdwara
"Just see how powerful a mantra can be. All the stars and the Universe are very powerful, I am not disagreeing with the powers. But, by chanting a mantra, just see how powerful you can be."
Cherdi Kala Jatha
Growing up in India, Jugat Guru Singh, Sada Sat Simran Singh, and Hari Mander Jot Singh were able to study classical Indian music and Gurbani from quite a young age. When they first started playing kirtan together, they were not endorsed by anyone except Yogi Bhajan.
Whenever Yogiji was on Yatra in India, he would insist they played for him. He would send them out to perform at political events and different Gurdwara programs all over India. Yogiji even arranged the first time they played at the Golden Temple. On his insistence, they met with the head Granthi and the Jathadar of the Akal Takat to show that they could meet the standard for ragis.
It took Yogi Bhajan’s word for anyone to take them seriously not only in India but also in the West. They were second generation Sikhs, so they were placed second in importance behind other musicians. However, Yogiji would call on their behalf and demand they get the best times to play, without any question of conditions.
His interest in Cherdi Kala Jatha went beyond endorsement. He would teach them, correct them, and give them advice. He would stay on speakerphone when they played and listen to their whole hour performance. After it was over, he would ask them for a full report. Yogi Bhajan was grooming them to take on a special role as the second generation of 3HO who could be a bridge to India. One of Yogiji's missions was to bring the different Sikh communities together and Cherdi Kala Jatha was a key. They were white Americans who could still communicate with the Punjabi community, verbally and culturally, with no question of accent or understanding.
They in turn, were trying to be good students, so they listened, did what he said, and tried to represent him to the best of their ability. Yogi Bhajan said that no one should worry about them because what they wanted to do was serve and play music. They are dedicated to the Kirtan, and not engaged in the political or financial games. He charged them with his mission, which required perseverance and a lot of sensitivity.
Later in his life, when he was in the hospital in Delhi, he would send them out to play kirtan in the morning and in the evening they would sit with him and he would still asked for a full report. One day when they went to visit him at the hospital he, deeply touched, looked at them and said, "I thought it would take a lot longer to get here."
Cherdi Kala Jatha has since played all over the world and continues to provide a connection between the East and the West. We are pleased to have them joining us to celebrate the life of our teacher.
Their schedule is as follows:
Friday at 1:45-2:15pm
Saturday at 9:30-10:00am
Sunday at Hacienda de Guru Ram Das Gurdwara
Monday at Hacienda de Guru Ram Das 6th of the month Gurdwara
Monday at 9:30-10:00am
The Khalsa String Band
The 3HO musical scene had been taking shape since Yogiji began teaching in Los Angeles in 1969. Some of his earliest students had begun putting mantras to music and writing songs of and for this new and emerging spiritual family. They soon became The Sat Nam Band, and played at 3HO gatherings and celebrations.
In the summer of 1973, Guruka Singh, a local ashram member and music lover, took the group to a studio in Manhattan to record an album. We began with hardly an idea of what we were going to record and after two weeks came out as the Khalsa String Band, the name Yogiji gave us.
In the winter of 1973, the Khalsa String Band was invited to join Yogi Bhajan on his East Coast teaching tour. They accompanied Yogiji and played after each class he taught. He would usually sit in the front row of the audience and in his masterful way, he coached us and brought out our showmanship. [Gurudas Singh remembers overcoming stage fright and learning how to keep a smile because of him, as he’d always stick his tongue out at him while he sang.] There was no way to keep a straight face during his yogic antics.
This tour, which ended in Florida at the Winter Solstice gathering, was the stage for songs that later became icons in our 3HO history.
In the spring of 1974, the band went back on tour. After rehearsing for three weeks in Detroit, they began a six-month tour across the U.S. that took them from Kansas City to New Mexico, St. Louis to Madison, up to Vancouver and down to Los Angeles. They played in ashrams and concert halls, churches and parks. They barely covered our eating and gas expenses. They were their own roadies, setting up and taking down their own equipment, often after driving up to 12 hours a day.
In the coming years, many new songs came to be. Solstices were the platform to share new songs. These songs reflected the collective consciousness of the 3HO family at the time and were emblematic of where we had come from and where we were going.
3HO music has begun to find its place in the homes and yoga/meditation classes of many people all over the world. The mantras and chants we learned from Yogi Bhajan along the years are heard and chanted by thousands.
By the Grace of God, the creativity awakened in us by our continuing practice will allow us to keep singing and sharing our music with all.