The Kundalini Research Institute is pleased to announce the recipients of our 2009 Outstanding Achievement Awards for their contributions to the legacy of The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan: Krishna Kaur Khalsa and Sunder Singh Khalsa.
Because of her dedication, devotion, and the ever-expanding light that she brings to the Los Angeles area and beyond; her development of Y.O.G.A. for Youth Programs and trainings; and her inspiration in bringing Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan® to West African countries like Ghana and Togo, this year, the Kundalini Research Institute honors Krishna Kaur for her outstanding service to the international community and KRI’s Teacher Training Programs.
She has been a pioneer in what we now call Reach Out–Teach Out Training programs, bringing Kundalini Yoga to underserved communities in the Los Angeles area as well as abroad. She has served on the Teacher Training Executive Board for many years and her wisdom, experience, and humor have transformed the way we train teachers today.
For over twenty-five years, Krishna Kaur literally studied at the feet of her teacher Yogi Bhajan, the Master of Kundalini and White Tantric Yoga. She has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Russia, Mexico, India, and Africa inspiring and uplifting people with the technology of yoga and meditation.
Krishna Kaur, a dynamic heart centered Yoga teacher, has been teaching the art and science of Kundalini Yoga and Self Awareness since 1970. She is certified by the 3HO Foundation and the Kundalini Research Institute as a Kundalini Yoga Teacher and Trainer of both Level I and II. In 1971, Krishna established and directed the Kundalini Yoga Center in South Central Los Angeles and maintained an active community outreach program for fifteen years. A natural teacher, she has introduced “Yoga” to many diverse communities, taking her classes directly to the youth at Fremont, Locke, Crenshaw, and Jordan High Schools, as well as therapists, entertainers, executives, students, “at risk youth”, teachers, seniors, pregnant mothers, inmates, and drug rehabilitation clients.
Krishna Kaur was recently awarded the HERO Award for peace by the Common Peace organization, and given the LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD during the Malcolm X Opening celebration this year. She is a visionary, community activist, and an integral part of the healing of our people and our community.
In 1993, Krishna founded Y.O.G.A. for Youth, an amazing program that takes yoga and meditation, breathing techniques, chanting, deep relaxation, and stimulating discussions on the philosophy of yoga to urban youth. It is being taught in juvenile detention facilities, pregnant and parenting teens, prisons, and after school programs through out Southern California with satellite programs in New York, Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago. The program aims to give youth practical tools to enrich their lives and assist them in effectively meeting life’s challenges now and in the future.
Krishna Kaur was a founder of the International Association of Black Yoga Teachers (IABYT) in 1998. The Association’s mission is to serve the African Diaspora by spreading the teachings of the ancient art and science of yoga, increase the awareness and availability of yoga classes in the inner cities and be a bridge for underserved communities around the world. With chapters developing around the country, IABYT sponsors a number of events through out the year including “Community Yoga Day” and the annual Black Yoga Teachers Summit and Retreat. They sponsored the first US yoga program in Cuba, a “Festival of Yoga and Music –in Havana” in 1999, which sparked an ongoing yoga exchange between Cuba and the US. In addition, the Yoga in Ghana pilgrimage took place in November 2003, and provided incredible opportunities to meet with spiritual elders and hold yoga conferences in both Accra and in Kumasi. The trip led to the development of an IABYT chapter in Ghana that is an official non-government organization (NGO)
Krishna Kaur conducted yoga teacher training courses in Ghana in 2005 and in Togo West Africa in 2006. The Annual Summit and Retreat will be held in Ghana in 2007 as part of Ghana’s 50 year independence celebration.
Krishna Kaur is also a member of IKYTA, the International Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association, is Regional Coordinator for Teacher Training in Africa, and a member of National Yoga Alliance. She has developed a Y.O.G.A. for Youth Training manual for yoga teachers and artists interested in working with troubled youth, and is now working on her autobiography. She left a highly successful career in the theater to pursue her true gift and talent….. teaching yoga!
The Kundalini Research Institute honors Sunder Singh Khalsa for his devoted service to the emergence of the Teachings of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan® in Asia. He brought the first Yoga Festival to SE Asia, which has become an annual event in Thailand, and has helped the emergence of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan® in Thailand, China, Cambodia, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Sri Lanka, and continues to plant the seeds of the future through Teacher Training. Sunder Singh oversees Teacher Training programs in Thailand, China, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Singapore, with additional programs in Japan, Malaysia and Taiwan scheduled to begin in 2009. He serves as the KRI Coordinator for Teacher Training in Asia and also serves on the KRI Board of Directors and the Teacher Training Executive Council.
By the grace of the Master he is touching the hearts of all those he meets on this journey of life. He lives in Virginia with his wife Sunder Kaur and owns Khalsa Jewelers, a fine jewelry business with multiple stores. They have four daughters and three granddaughters.
Sunder Singh Khalsa was born in Taiwan. His given name is Tzu Ping, which in Chinese means compassionate peace. Ever since he was a young child he was attracted to and had an affinity toward spiritual teachings. He was told by two teachers that he had traveled the path of Dharma before. The first was Yogi Bhajan who told him that he was a saint in his past life, or as Yogi Bhajan put it, “You know what your problem is? You weren’t just a saint, you were a big saint and everything you ever did wrong you have to pay off, for this is your last lifetime.” The second was Taoist Master Ni, who told Sunder that he was a Taoist and although in this life his form is different, he carries the essence of the Taoist teachings with him.
Sunder came to the United States at age 11 and moved with his family to Portland, Oregon. At age 18 he began his spiritual awakening, which culminated in a near-death experience at the age of 19. The experience gave him the certitude of the Oneness of God and initiated his serious journey toward finding a Teacher. By the Grace of the Guru he finally met Yogi Bhajan at Summer Solstice in Paonia, Colorado. Since then life has been full of both magical moments and challenges. Two defining moments in walking this path of service follow in Sunder’s first person accounts:
In 1971, I was living in the Tucson ashram, and in the winter of that year I was sent out to start an ashram in upstate New York. Prior to my journey to New York, I had an experience during my meditation that impacted me deeply. That experience was a vision or darshan of Sri Baba Siri Chand Ji. While there are too many details to go into here, I came out of that vision knowing I had agreed to something, what it was, at that time I had no idea. All I remembered was what Babaji said at the end of the vision, “It will be difficult, but you will come through it.” Then he touched me on my forehead and everything dissolved into white light. Almost immediately afterward, in both my meditation and my life, I experienced a major shift, as if all the pain and hurt of the world were going through me. This dark night of the soul went on for a few months until it was too much for me to bear. I decided then to leave this Dharma.
Because I was a young man of 21, I foolishly thought if I left and found a different yogic path everything will magically revert back to how it was and I could just stay in my meditative bliss. So one night I packed all my belongings and was prepared to leave the next morning without telling anyone. At two in the morning, I was awakened by the most beautiful music. I remembered opening my eyes and just listening to this celestial sound. In the center of the sound was the mantra, “Har Har Ram Das Guru Hai,“ being repeated over and over. Needless to say, I decided to stay and used this mantra.
More than 15 years later, I was with Yogi Bhajan and told him my experience with the mantra minus the part about almost leaving. He looked deep into me, closed his eyes, and meditated. Finally, he told me that Guru Ram Das Ji has given me a personal mantra and I should use it.
Only in the last few years have I started telling this story, because I feel it is time to share the grace of Guru Ram Das. Even though this mantra came to me, I feel it is for all of us, it is in that spirit I am sharing this. In the many years of teaching, I have only suggested the use of this mantra to one person. It was a Gurusikh in Singapore. He was the manager of a Sikh Center at that time and because of politics left his job. In the following months, he could not find a job because of his long beard. He was told to either trim his beard or roll it up, neither of which, was an option for him. Finally, he emailed me and said, “I am at the end, I have no money, creditors are knocking on my door, I have a wife and two small children, I will do whatever you tell me.” I gave him this mantra among other suggestions and in five days of his using it, his life turned around. Today he is a prosperous businessman. The point of this story for me is that in the darkest night, the grace of Guru Ram Das manifested with this mantra.
During Summer Solstice 2004, I walked into Yogi Bhajan’s room. It was something I had done numerous times, but this time was different; I felt like crying. It felt like it could be the last time. I decided then to ask Yogiji for a hukum. I figured he would give me something that would take me years to accomplish. In some ways, I felt the hukum will be a guiding light for me when Yogiji left his body. He looked at me and said, “Make me a mala.” Because I am in the jewelry business, this was relatively easy for me. Even though the mala was going to be special, I could have it made in one month. It took me until right before Khalsa Council to finish it. I didn’t really want to finish it because my intuition told me that when the mala was finished, Yogiji would also be leaving his physical body.
When I arrived in Espanola for Khalsa Council I heard Yogi Bhajan had toured the grounds the day before. Feeling slightly apprehensive that I might have missed my opportunity to see him, I waited every day to see him and was not able to. On Sunday I was waiting outside his room before Gurdwara and was finally able to see him. Yogi Bhajan was lying on his back with his eyes closed when I walked in. The attendant and I stood in front of him holding the mala together. I had made a gold mala approximately 12 feet long. As we stood, the attendant said to Yogiji, “Sir, Sunder has finished his assignment and is here to honor you with this mala.” With his eyes closed, his hand came out of the bedcover and grabbed the mala like a striking snake. Later on I thought, How did he know where the mala was? His eyes were closed and also, during the last few years, whenever I had seen him his hands always shook. This time his hand was totally steady. The attendant said, “we will put the mala on the altar.” Instead, he held on to the mala and wouldn’t let it go. Then he spoke a few words to me, which the attendant had to translate because his words were slurred. Then he opened his eyes and looked straight into my eyes. I swear there was no pain, no weakness, no sickness in his eyes there was only the Master—100%. After a brief moment, which felt like an eternity, I said, “Sat Nam” with folded hands and walked out of his room.
The next few days felt like a dream. Monday the storm started and that night I could not go to sleep at all. I spent the whole night doing the Ra Ma Da Sa meditation for Yogiji. I felt like I was cradling his head in my arms throughout the night. Tuesday we had the Teacher Trainer Forum and for me, it was pretty normal. Wednesday was the last day of the Forum and I had planned to fly out after lunch. However, after lunch, I just couldn’t leave and decided to wait until after dinner. When dinner was over I still couldn’t leave and decided to stay the night. That evening I went out to Ojo Caliente to relax and soak in the hot springs. Around 7:30 it started to storm and we had to come out of the water. As I sat there waiting for the storm to pass, suddenly I went into a deep meditation. It was the meditation to connect to the subtle body of the Master. Because I had no intention of meditating, I knew it was telling me that it was time. So when I came out of the meditation, I immediately returned to where I was staying and changed into my bana, and went over to the Ranch. A few minutes after I sat down with Bibiji and Kulbir, Yogi Bhajan’s wife and son, they were called into his room and Yogi Bhajan left his physical body. This is a true account of my experience of the passing of my Master and True Friend.