I had the honor to connect with Yogi Amandeep Singh at Summer Solstice. I’ve been so curious about him and his work, due to innumberable high praises of him in the kundalini world. I could feel the inspiration pouring from him during our conversation, and I hope to not miss his workshop at Sat Nam Fest East this year! From what I understand, his workshops are quite a journey in consciousness.
Yogi Amandeep Singh is a counselor, a Kundalini Yoga teacher, and a Scholar for the Kundalini Research Institute (KRI) who brings the teachings in a profound way. He unites many lineages through his work. He leads yatras to India, and offers meditations on numerous inspiring albums.
The chants on his album ‘Baba Siri Chand Chants from Brahm Buta‘ immediately take you into a higher state of consciousness. The rhythmic musical journey his album ‘Intoxicated with the Divine’ will likely have you and your soul dancing in bliss! Each album of his is a unique gift.
Below is our full interview:
Q: I’m curious about the lineages you are connected to, and if you could summarize what you are bringing or connecting to?
A: For the past 2,000 years, man in the name of God, has killed people, divided people, conquered people and converted people. Yogiji says that if everything goes well, this coming Aquarian Age will last for 5,000 years. In this age, we are going to unite people in the name of God. We will bring people together in the name of God. There are many different traditions that I am connected to, and that I am bringing through the teachings. My effort is to unite everyone.
In the words of Yogi Bhajan, when somebody asked him, ‘there are so many traditions, are you going to create a new tradition?’ You know, a 3HO new tradition . . .
Yogiji said, “I am not creating a new tradition. I am here to unite all the traditions.”
So, I think I am just following the steps of the master. Trying to bring all of these different traditions together . . . the Tibetan tradition, the Zen tradition, the Sufi tradition, the Nirmala traditions of Guru Gobind Singh, the Udasi traditions of Baba Siri Chand, the twelve schools of the Nath Yogis, the six philosophical schools of Eastern thought. I’m just uniting everybody. That is what I am doing.
Q: And when you work with all these traditions, these lineages of light, of divinity, what is your connection like with the Gurus behind that tradition? On a daily or personal level? For example, many people in kundalini yoga connect with Yogi Bhajan. He appears in their dreams or their thoughts.
A: There is only one master, which you are connected to. Through him, all the mastery comes. All other masters come through. You can only have 1 root. And once you are rooted, your branches can go as high as you want. They can touch any space around you. So, it is not that we are going to jump from one to another.
You should recognize your roots. And all roots are beautiful. You can be in the Zen tradition, the Kundalini tradition, you can be a Sufi, whatever. But by being rooted in your tradition, you should not have any problem with some other tradition. You are able to embrace everyone. You are able to recognize the oneness that is also there and exists within you.
So it is getting rooted in your main tradition, and being respectful of all others. And recognize the same truth . . . you see, Guru Nanak says, “When I saw my breath, I saw it was the same breath in all. When I heard my heartbeat, I realized it was the same heartbeat in all. And when I saw myself, I realized this was the same self in all.”
So you have to be rooted in yourself first – in your roots, your tradition. And then you should be so open, so vast, that your branches can embrace anyone. Because ultimately we are all the same.
Q: Could you share a little bit about your journey? Did you grow up in a particular lineage, in Sikhism?
A: Yeah, I am born a Sikh. And I’ve had the privilege to study with many Sikh traditions, primarily the Udasi tradition of Baba Siri Chand, and the Nirmala traditions of Guru Gobind Singh.
And then with time, in my journey, I just knew that there was this man somewhere, and that he would give me uncountable exercises, uncountable kriyas, uncountable movements of my hands, through which I would evolve. And with time I found this book, The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan – and that completed my journey. I started with the SA TA NA MA meditation, and I knew that this is what I am supposed to be, and what I am supposed to be teaching.
I wrote my first letter to Yogi Bhajan many, many years ago – I was about 18 years old. I wrote to him “Accept me as your student.” And he writes back – he actually wrote a letter, which is about four paragraphs. And in those four paragraphs he wrote my entire journey. For instance, what I am doing today? It’s written there, but in a very esoteric way you know. I can relate to it now – the words he used to guide me. Basically he was just telling me the coming future. The master wrote,” Travel around the world. Spread the teachings of the Guru.”
I found Yogi Bhajan, and the journey was complete. During this time I was also working on my studies. My background is that I am a computer engineer. Then, I completed a masters in psychotherapy, and a masters in comparative studies of world religion. I also worked in Singapore prisons as a counselor for drug addicts and all of that. But none of this ever satisfied me.
Then I did a 40-day sadhana of Yogi Bhajan’s letter – you know, just reading his letter for 40 days. Then things became clearer, and with time KRI invited me to the U.S., and I spent some time here. And then I had a choice, to continue on this journey or go back to the world that I came from. And I chose not to go back, and to hang around here instead. And now I’ve been traveling all over the world, sharing the teachings that come, that flow, through the grace of Sri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan.
Q: I’m curious– a lot of students, especially when they first come to the path, they might have visions or very profound meditative experiences, and yet it seems that the essence or goal of this practice is coming to be our ultimate human potential. I’m wondering if you can speak to that desire, to have profound meditative experiences, versus just showing up, and committing to the practice, and not having any attachment to what might happen. For example, some people will see flashing lights, or they will hear voices, and sometimes it is easy to judge one’s spiritual growth based on whether or not that is happening for them, while others never have these experiences– they are just showing up and opening themselves to the teachings.
A: So, every person is unique, and it’s not necessary if one sees light, that another must also see light. It is a very unique path – it is an individual path. And there are things mentioned in the scriptures that say when you reach a certain state you will see this, and when you reach a certain state, you will see something else. Many times this information becomes an obstacle. It is best that you stay open in awareness to whatever happens in the moment, or doesn’t happen. Because the reality as mentioned in the ancient scriptures is that nothing has ever happened. Everything is a projection of the mind.
The reality is perfect as it is, nothing needs to be added and nothing needs to be deleted from it. Being in the here and now and walking on the earth in awareness is the greatest achievement, nothing more or less.
You are unique and your path is unique and your experience will also be unique. Please don’t project anything just be.
Q: Could you talk a little bit more about Baba Siri Chand, for those who might not know about him?
A: Baba Siri Chand is one of the greatest yogis who walked on the planet Earth. He was the eldest son of Guru Nanak.
Guru Nanak went all over the world, and united the different traditions. When he was in Tibet, he was known as Lama Nanak, Rinpoche Nanak. When he sat with the Sufis, they called him Wali Nanak. When he was with the Tao tradition in China, they called him Bhusa Nanak. And when he was with the Buddhists in Nepal, he was known as Buddha Nanak. When he was with the Hindus, he was known as Avatari Nanak. So all the traditions claimed him, and Guru Nanak belonged to all, yet Guru Nanak belonged to nobody.
Similarly, Sikh’s claimed he was a Sikh. Everybody started claiming him. Guru Nanak was everything and yet he was nobody – uniting this whole humanity, under the umbrella of Ek Ong Kar, which means one universal consciousness. We are all the same.
When he came back home after 22 years, Baba Siri Chand bowed at the feet of the Guru. And in that devotion when he bowed, Guru Nanak took off his robe that he used in his travels, and he gave it to Baba Siri Chand. And he said, “Now you continue traveling, the way I traveled.” Baba Siri Chand continued that, and with time he became an authority on all twelve schools of Yoga and the six philosophical schools of India, and he came to be recognized as one of the greatest masters. He had a beautiful connection with all the Sikh Gurus.
The second Guru offered his eldest son to Baba Sri Chand to be initiated as an Udasi yogi. The 3rd Guru offered his eldest son to Baba Siri Chand to be initiated as an Udasi yogi. Guru Ram Das offered his 2nd son to Baba Siri Chand to be initiated as an Udasi Yogi. The 6th Guru offered his eldest son to Baba Siri Chand, to be initiated as an Udasi yogi.
So, he was a very important personality. He held the throne of the renunciates known as the Udasi Gaddhi.
In the older oral Sikh traditions, this is how it is viewed. Guru Nanak had two thrones – one was the Guru Gaddhi which went from Guru Nanak all the way to Guru Gobind Singh. This is the lineage of the householders, the Guruship lineage. And on the other side, is the Udasi lineage, which is the lineage of the renunciate yogi. So after Guru Nanak is Baba Siri Chand.
When the 6th Guru, Guru Hargobind, came to visit, Baba Siri Chand asked, “What gift did you bring for me?” Guru Hargobind said, “I give you my eldest son as a disciple.” Baba Siri Chand initiated him, and made him the 3rd teacher in the lineage of the Udasi tradition, giving him the throne of the Udasis, of the Yogis, the renunciates, Baba Siri Chand himself walked towards the Chamba hills, towards Kashmir, and up into the Amarnath caves, and he disappeared into that valley. According to the Udasi traditions, he is still sitting down there meditating. He sends his representatives, he sends his people to revive the Dharma, to revive the yogic path. So that is Baba Siri Chand.
Q: For someone who is on the spiritual path, what would you say is the most important thing for them to be committed to?
A: Commitment to a regular practice. Even if it is for three minutes. It is not the quantity, it is the quality.
Many times we want to go into quantity – you want to sit for two and a half hours. By the end of the day, every 2 or 3 minutes we are looking at the watch.
So it is the sadhana of the watch, the sadhana of the time, okay? It is not the sadhana of the self.
So my suggestions is regular practice, minimum. Even if it is for three minutes. But for these three minutes you are completely present. You forget yourself. You have to forget your body, forget your mind. Just become aware of your consciousness – and it should not be about quantity, but quality. Simple. Don’t make spirituality a complicated thing.
In this world, to be successful we want to have as much as possible, you know? But in the spiritual world, it is opposite. It is not about gaining. Spiritual world is about losing. Material world is gaining – you gain popularity, fame, money, status.
But in the spiritual world, it is about losing, you have to lose, you have to dissolve yourself. Guru Nanak says, “Aph Gawaeay, ta shao paeay”. Guru Nanak says, you have to lose the self. You have to lose your individual identity, your psychological self. Because all of this belongs to the realm of the body, and the realm of the mind. But you are neither the body or the mind. You are the consciousness, you are the spirit. So until you lose all of these different identities, and sub-personalities that you carry with you in the realm of the body and the realm of the mind, you cannot enter the world of the consciousness and the world of the spirit.
So that world, the other world, is the world of losing yourself.
I am not the body, I am not the mind. I am pure consciousness. I am the witnessing awareness. That’s all. Everything comes, everything goes, but I remain.
So everything that you carry with you – all the burdens have to be lost, have to be loosened up, have to be dissolved, before you can walk on the spiritual path. So this is the difference between the world, and the world of the spirit, the world of the consciousness.
This is about gaining, and there it is about losing. So we make the mistake, because we want to gain here, we go on the other side and we also want to “gain,” you know? “I do this much meditation. I do this amount of meditation.” In the beginning, it is good. And when it’s time to grow, let’s grow out of it.
Q: Would you consider losing yourself as the same thing as giving yourself to God?
A: Yeah, to the Consciousness, or to Higher Spirit, or to the Universe, yeah. According to the Gian Yoga we say losing yourself, and in Bhakti Yoga, we say giving yourself to God. It means the same depending on what path you are walking on.
Q: And are there particular practices that you think are very potent for the beginner to find that losing of one’s self?
A: Any practice where you are present is potent. It can be cooking, walking or meditating. It is not what you do, but how you do it.
But if you are asking for a meditation as a particular practice, then I would suggest Sodarshan Chakra Kriya. That is the best one to start with. Sodarshan is the name of Vishnu’s weapon that he uses to dissolve negativity in the creation. This kriya dissolves all which is not serving you. But if that is difficult, just sit and watch the coming and the going of the breath, and the one who watches. Watch the one who is watching the coming and going of the breath. Awaken the witnessing awareness.
Q: Would you say that there is a benefit to gathering in events as we are now– or at Sat Nam Fest, and how does that shift the consciousness of the group to elevate?
A: Rumi says, “Stay in the circle, of those who are intoxicated with the Divine wine. At the end of the day, even if you do not get the wine, at least you will smell the wine in their presence.” This is very important. You have to be with those who are walking the path. You have to be with those who are trying to make an effort to awaken themselves, so you catch the fire.
There was a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh, who said, “By staying in the congregation, by staying with those who are walking the path, the Dharma, I have caught the fire. And this fire is so intense, that wherever I go, if somebody looks at me, he too catches the fire.” So, we come to all these places to be lit up by the fire, so when we go back home, we are inflamed by the Divine light – inflamed by the Divine flame. And whoever comes into our aura, into our boundaries, he or she automatically catches the fire. So what happens is with time, this fire dims down, which is why coming regularly to Solstice, to Satsangs, to Gurdwara, to Sat Nam Fest, this is to renew the fire. Then, when we go back into the world, we again get other people lit up with this fire, and these fires go on and on and on and on.
And in the Udasi tradition, we call congregations, spiritual gatherings, Dhoonas. Dhoonas means fires, activated fires. So Baba Siri Chand, wherever he went, created Dhoonas, activated fires. So this is the effort to activate the fires.
Q: And you seem to be igniting that fire wherever you go. Where do you consider home? Where do you most often travel to?
Somebody a few days ago asked me, “You are traveling all the time, where is your home, where do you abide?” So now you ask the same question. The answer I gave was, “l abide in my body, this body is my home, in this life.”
The home of my body is Canada, in Alberta, in Edmonton. Through the guidance of Siri Singh Sahib Yogi Bhajan, I am travelling wherever he guides me. Bhagat Kabir says, “I am a dog of my master, he is holding my chain, where ever he pulls me I go there.”
Q: I’m curious how the yogis connect to the elemental realm and to the nature spirits. In the English language we talk about them as gnomes and fairies and elves, and those sorts of things. And a lot of people in other realms of thought are wanting to bridge that gap of communication between the human and the earth realms. Is there any connection that you have or that you are aware of within the traditions that you work with?
A: Originally, in the training of a yogi – he or she has to pass through the five elements. I am reviving this program. In two years’ time, this program will be out, so watch out for it.
Until you pass through the five elements, you cannot go beyond the realm of the mind and the realm of the body.
Traditionally, the yoga practices or teachings start with the Earth element. A yogi had to spend 6 to 12 years. It depends on the individual person. Sometimes it is only mastery of one element in one lifetime. Because, in the yogic tradition, these lives are just a small, small page in the great book called life – existence. So anytime from 6 months to 12 years, a yogi would spend with the earth element, meditating with the earth in underground meditation cells. I’m leading a yatra to India in November, and we will be visiting some of these places, these underground meditation cells – Baba Siri Chand’s underground meditation cells. The ninth Guru sat for 27 years in an underground meditation cell. This was the effort to connect with the earth element.
Once you know the earth, you transcend the earth, and of course there are kriyas, mantras and esoteric teachings connected with it too. Then, the next element comes. Again, the time frame depends from 6 months to 12 years. The second element is the water element. You sit in water, be with the water, and submerge yourself in the water. Guru Nanak had his enlightenment under water. What Buddha attained under the Bodhi tree, Guru Nanak attained underwater.
Even in our everyday life, these elements play an important role. They control us in many ways. There is a dominating element in everybody. Some of us are very fiery. Some of us are very earthly, very grounded. Some of us are always in the air, and some of us are always lost in the ethers. Every individual has a certain dominating element. Similarly, every teacher, every master, every great sage, also has a dominating element. The element of the Buddha was the earth element. So when he was enlightened, the first thing he did was took his hand and put it on the earth and he said, let the Earth be the witness that I have attained. Guru Nanak’s element was the water element. Guru Nanak attained it in deep waters. This coming Yatra to India in Nov, we would be visiting this river too. After enlightenment in water, he flowed like a river on the planet earth uniting humanity, submerging everyone in the Naam. So in the Guru’s tradition, every sacred place is by the lake, by the river. If these two are missing, then there is always a well. If you go to India, at all the sacred sights of the Guru, there is always a water element right beside it.
Also in the Kundalini tradition the water is a very important element. You have to take your cold bath before you can connect with God. So even the paths have an element. The element of the Kundalini path is the water element. This comes from Guru Nanak, the Aquarian sage. Before you meditate it is important that you take your cold bath. Of course there are medical reasons for that, but esoterically you are connecting with the water element. It is the element of this path.
Coming back to our conversation – after going through the water element, the yogi enters the fire element, and masters the fire element. There are the fire ceremonies, and all that stuff. If you go to India, you see yogis sitting in fire. Really esoteric. And then he goes on to the air element. He sits on trees and meditates. Yogi Bhajan, you know, he sat in a tree – you might have heard this story . . . he was there for days. So that is mastering the air element, and after mastery of the air element, you enter the fifth element, which is the ethers. The yogis go to the mountains which is where the ethers are.
So elements play a very important role. It is important that we find our element, or the element which we have been working on for lifetimes. And that makes the spiritual path in fact very easy. So get your element, be with your element, meditate with your element.
If you don’t know your element, it is very simple. If you are in the kundalini path, start with the water element. Sitting by the lakes, sitting by the rivers, and meditating. You will be amazed how your consciousness shifts immediately. So all these things that are in the universe, they are for you to use and to go into. All that you see in this world, all that you see of this expansion, this outward expansion – the only reason they are there is so that you can connect with them, and relate to their aspect that is existing within you, that is vibrating in you. So everything around you can help you. Some people call it fairies, some people call it angels, some people call it elements – different names in different traditions. Some people associate it with the animals, some people associate with the herbs. So every tradition has found a certain way to connect with the visible outer, as the visible outer is just a reflection of the unseen inner.
Wow. Thank you so much for sharing these words of inspiration, we are looking forward to having you at Sat Nam Fest!
Master Teacher, Yogi Amandeep Singh M.Sc(Aust), MA(UK), B.Sc Hons(UK) is a counsellor by profession and an accomplished yogi, having studied in depth many yogic traditions in India. He is a Kundalini Yoga Teacher, a scholar with Kundalini Research Institute (USA), Healer, Mystic & a teacher of Eastern Spirituality. He is a leading authority on philosophy & history of ancient yogic traditions.
He is also involved in addiction & recovery programs around the globe. He combines psycho-spiritual techniques with modern developments in the field of emotional and psychological transformation. He brings great depth, accuracy, joy and spontaneity to his teaching. Being inspired by Yogi Bhajan, his master, he travels around the world sharing transforming wisdom. www.yogiamandeepsingh.com
Thank you Yogi Amandeep!
What others are sharing about Yogi Amandeep:
Amandeep Singh is a spiritual comet who has streaked in and he carries the lineage of Kundalini Yoga in a profoundly moving and authentic way. It is a deep joy to be with him. —Sat Dharam Kaur Khalsa, Toronto, Canada
I felt you were a clean, real channel, honoring and allowing the energy of Sri Singh Sahib Yogi Ji, of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, of Guru Ram Das Ji and of Baba Sri Chand Ji to be with us, in a powerful yet compassionate way. —Siri Kartar Kaur, Los Angeles, USA
You have many gifts as a teacher. The entire history of yogic thought and practice is serving you. You are inspirational. —Nirvair Singh Khalsa, CEO & President of KRI-USA