Baba Ji Singh Khalsa, Bhai Ji
By Guruka Kaur Khalsa/www.sikhnet.com
I was recently blessed be in Mexico City with the community there as Babaji Singh Khalsa prepared for his great transition from this lifetime. I felt so privileged to share in this very sacred time of Babaji's returning Home to God. In the early '70s Babaji was the first teacher to bring Kundalini Yoga to Mexico and today, there are thousands of teachers and students throughout Mexico. I arrived with Nirvair Singh Khalsa, the General Manager of KRI. We arrived in time to present Babaji with the Proclamation announcing his honorary title of "Bhai Ji" (respected soul brother) bestowed on him by Sikh Dharma International in honor of his completion of a Spanish translation of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. By God's grace Babaji was still conscious and able to understand the honor he had been given. We sat as close as possible, right next to Babaji on his bed, so he could hear, as we read him the Proclamation. He indicated that he understood completely. Before and after the reading of the Proclamation a group of teachers, students, family and friends chanted together to create a sacred space for Bhai Ji Babaji. I have been visiting with this community for three years and went as a representative from International Headquarters, bringing prayers and blessings from everyone. I felt that they were very happy that we had come to be with them all through this transition. Friday morning and afternoon, Babaji was very quiet. Thoughout the day, the room was filled with singing and chanting. I started repeating Japji Sahib (Japji helps the soul leave the body) and Sukhmani Sahib (Sukhmani brings peace to the mind.) In the early evening the completed Spanish translationhe had done of the Shabd Guru, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, arrived. Babaji became completely animated. He was practically sitting up. He was so articulate that he complained that the cover of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib was not what he ordered and he was able to read the opening Mul Mantra without assistance. Guru Amrit Kaur (his wife) completed the Japji in Spanish. Then we moved on to a celebration, a great party! We all chanted and sang lively Mexican songs and Babaji was very animated and happy. Guru Amrit Kaur has been Babaji's wife for about four years. She was surrounded by both of her beautiful daughters, Paulina and Tatiana, her sister Carmine, as well as Guruka Singh, Babaji's son. The family support in this group was so loving and beautiful. Any time any of them was feeling emotional, they surrounded each other with love and support. Guru Amrit Kaur did an incredible job of opening their home in the Ashram to anyone whom Babaji requested to speak and to anyone who wanted to be with him. She showed an incredible spirit of generosity in sharing her last days with her very beloved husband. I was truly grateful to be included in this special time. After the "upbeat" nature of the day Friday, Saturday was a difficult day. We kept up - chanting, meditating, offering our prayers, Japjis and Sukhmanis, but this day it became clear that Babaji's condition had progressed to the point that he was no longer mentally with us. Though he was in the process of withdrawing and preparing to leave, we all felt the presence of his soul very powerfully. We spoke to his soul in gratitude for the work he had done in this life, and conveyed our prayers that others would keep carrying the work forward. It was a hard day, but a very intimate one. Having suffered with cancer for many years, Babaji had recovered many times previously from being near death, but it was clear that this time that he was transitioning out of his physical body - though his physical body still appeared to be strong. Sunday, started in the same manner, though now both he and we were all more peaceful. His breathing was slowing down and getting weaker. We did the "Aquarian Sadhana." We chanted and sang for hours. While some beautiful music that Babaji and Guru Amrit Kaur both loved was being played, Jai Hari Kaur and I started another round of reciting eleven Japji Sahibs. When the music ended I moved up and started chanting Japji in Babaji's ear. Within a few minutes Guru Amrit saw that he was barely breathing. We all stood around the bed and chanted Japji together very powerfully. Within a few minutes, he passed and we all started chanting Akal together. (Chanting Akal at the time of death guides the soul to pass out of this worldly realm and directly into the Akal Purkh, the Undying Being.) It was a beautiful and joyful death, and together we all learned and experienced the celebration of the departure of a great soul in the very manner that Yogi Bhajan always exhorted us to do. Later that night we cleaned Babaji's body and dressed it in full bana with a turban. He had a gentle smile on his face, and we brought him down to rest in the Sadhana room, where many came by to say farewell. In the morning we came together to chant Japji and we shared our stories of Babaji. At 11:00 am a small group went to the crematorium. We recited Japji and repeated Kirtan Sohila until the body was cremated. (The same recitation was happening at the Ashram.) We then went out to one of Babaji's favorite local restaurants and celebrated. We returned to the Ashram in time for Gurdwara. We finished with a beautiful lungar, and a birthday party for two members of the Ashram community. I shall always be grateful I was able to go to Mexico to serve the sangat during Bhai Ji Baba Ji Singh's passing, for in the process I learned (from the sangat) how to go through this great transition with beauty, joy, grace and hope.