Sat Nam Dear Family,
It was summer, 1976 and I came to California to take a Kundalini yoga intensive class in Pomona. I had been practicing Kundalini yoga for a few years and was now ready to commit to a lifestyle change. After the six week course, I settled down in Guru Arjun Dev ashram in L.A. I hadn’t really personally met the Siri Singh Sahib, but after being in L.A. for a few months that changed.
I had a sales job which started at 5:00 AM and my day was finished at 10:00 AM., As I returned to the ashram after work, the ashram director’s wife and I were the only people in the house. I saw her in the kitchen and took the opportunity to let her know of a “karma yoga” duty which wasn’t being done the way I felt it should. Thinking nothing of my advice, I left the kitchen to return to the single men's room (where I lived) to shower and change for the rest of the day.
I was a neophyte and didn’t realize that not all people are the same and some take constructive criticism (advice) as criticism. I was really innocent and trying to be helpful. It was an honest reflection of my upbringing. What a shock! I was misunderstood again. The door to my room flew open and there she stood as flushed and angry as a disturbed wildcat. What I said had made her livid. Well, I was not only stunned, I was stark naked. I don’t think she noticed as she railed on me for what seemed like an hour, but was probably less than minute. I can accurately report that it’s almost impossible to argue with a woman while you’re in the buff. The only thing you can think of is covering up. She slammed the door and left, thank God!
I was never a hippie. I was a decade or so older than most in the ashram. I had given up my father’s business, a family, friends, and a life to join the ashram. So, you can imagine my deep concern when that evening I got a call from one of the Siri Singh Sahib’s secretaries telling me that he wanted to see me at the Estate immediately. I actually thought I could be excommunicated. I knew the rules and chain of command of ashram life and, although unintentional, felt I may have breached them.
As I entered the Estate, I was ushered to the back bedroom. The Siri Singh Sahib was reclining on the bed watching a nature program on PBS. Without saying a word, he motioned for me to sit down on the carpet next to him. One of his secretaries brought me a plate of what I’m sure was delicious Indian food, but I could barely taste it. In spite of my nervousness, I forced it down as protocol demanded. It was a struggle.
Thankfully, the program ended. He turned to me as I tried to maintain some semblance of balance and, with that determined face we all know, said, “Isn’t she absolutely nuts.” Wow, not only was I relieved, but I verified that I had the right teacher as he sees the world somewhat they way I do. Whether he did this to satisfy some need in me so I could move on or he really meant It is irrelevant, the game was on, the relationship had begun. Then he said, “Let’s go to the movies.” We did and continued to do so many many times for over 30 years. I want to express my pure gratitude to this woman who kick started my relationship with my teacher. It’s always easier to live life backwards. The test is to live it forward with the same retrospective perception (intuition). It’s never too late.
M.S.S. Hari Jiwan Singh Khalsa
Chief of Protocol