WHO'S GURU FATHA SINGH?
Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa is an insightful and inspiring teacher of Kundalini Yoga, and one of the world's leading authorities on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. Guru Fatha has written several authoritative books and published a number of historic transcripts and recordings of these empowering teachings. He is an outspoken advocate for human rights, peace, and a healthy environment. Guru Fatha Singh is also involved in ground-breaking research into the transformative effects of Kundalini Yoga on practioners' health and well-being.
1970s & 1980s
Guru Fatha began his study with Yogi Bhajan in 1972 when he was eighteen years old. Their relationship continued through more than three decades of his Master's teaching and travels. That is also when Guru Fatha Singh began to teach yoga classes and was given his name, meaning “the lion who is the being of victory of the Guru.” It was during a visit of Yogi Bhajan to Toronto in 1983 that Guru Fatha began his research of his Master's life and teachings in earnest for it was then that he was tasked with writing “Messenger from the Guru's House,” a biography of his teacher.
In this time, Guru Fatha Singh also served numerous roles in the burgeoning Toronto Kundalini Yoga community. For a time, he was its representative on the board of Yoga Ontario. As a new member of the small Sikh community of that time, he took up two successful human rights cases, the first to join the Canadian Armed Forces, and the second to be permitted to drive a taxicab with his turban and beard uncut.
Having dropped out of high school to pursue his spiritual quest, Guru Fatha Singh entered the University of Toronto and earned a degree in religious studies, then started a business selling health foods he imported from yogi friends who manufactured them in California. For a while, Guru Fatha served as the Kundalini Yoga community organizer in Toronto, facilitating meetings and events. It was also his job to gently wake everyone in the ashram on Palmerston Boulevard for 4 a.m. yoga each day, a job he loved to do. In 1987, he and his wife, Gurufateh Kaur were blessed with a shining son named Himmat Singh, “Brave Lion” (now long grown up and serving as a Mukhia Jethedar at Miri Piri Academy in India).
In the 1990s, Guru Fatha Singh wound down his business and, in 1995, submitted the first draft of the biography to his teacher for his review. He also submitted the editors in New Mexico a manuscript on Yogi Bhajan's core teaching, the daily practice of yoga and meditation in the pre-dawn hours. Though the Master would approvingly have selections of that biography read to an audience of thousands at a Summer Solstice gather in New Mexico five years later, it would be the fate of that work to languish in editorial limbo even beyond his passing in 2004. The other manuscript was simply lost without a trace.
Blessed to be able to visit the Sikh homeland of India for six months in 1995, Guru Fatha Singh took the opportunity to inquire about the history of that land under British rule, an inquiry which resulted in a short study called Badges of Bondage: Conquest of the Sikh Mind [1847-1947] (1998). At this time, he also submitted dozens of articles and poems to The Sikh Review in Calcutta for publication. Bearing in mind, Yogi Bhajan's instruction that he wanted his students to learn to communicate in Punjabi, Guru Fatha Singh used his recent experience to write a Punjabi primer for English speakers, The Punjabi I Know (1999).
Still awaiting word from the editorial group that had been given the biography of Yogi Bhajan, Guru Fatha went on to research and write a defining work on the unusual stance of his Master, as Kundalini Yogi and Sikh Master called The Essential Gursikh Yogi: The Yoga and Yogis in the Past, Present, and Future of Sikh Dharma (2003). Because of the gracious hospitality of the congregation at Nanaksar Thath, Mississauga, Guru Fatha Singh took up his most ambitious project yet, an exploration of the context of Yogi Bhajan's teachings in the context of the Sikh tradition and the global evolution of culture and science in the past several centuries, Five Paragons of Peace: Magic and Magnificence in the Guru's Way (2007). Several hundred copies of this book have been sold worldwide.
Guru Fatha's most recent work was written in answer to the lack of literature for Sikh girls. Women of Grace and Power: Stories for Girls and Women of All Ages (2013) is a collection of accounts of the lives of great Sikh and nonSikh women, historical and still living.
Starting in 2013, Guru Fatha Singh began posting short educational videos online. His most most-seen video is his lucid explanation of Yogi Bhajan's essential teaching, the Adi Shakti Mantra which has been seen over 2,000 times. In 2015, Guru Fatha added to these a new series of Kundalini Yoga videos, including Kundalini Yoga and Islam, Kundalini Yoga and Buddhism, Kundalini Yoga and Children, plus two English/Mandarin videos and a captioned video, Kundalini Yoga and the Deaf. In 2016, several more videos were published.
Sometimes a teacher is lucky to have an exceptionally hard-working and dedicated student. In Farah Jindani, Guru Fatha Singh found a gifted collaborator who helped him put together the first-ever (2011) global survey of practitioners of Yogi Bhajan's teachings. Then, in 2012, Farah conducted a large study of eighty sufferers of posttraumatic stress in a six-week Kundalini Yoga program. That study earned Farah her Doctorate in Psychology at the University of Toronto. In also resulted in the publication of scientific papers in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2015), Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2015), and the Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work (2015).
From his first classes at a converted synagogue on Darcy Street in Toronto's Chinatown to classes at the European Yoga Festival, in the Himalayan foothills, in the Andean jungle, and at 3HO Summer and Winter Solstices in the USA, Guru Fatha Singh is an inspiring and insightful teacher dedicated to the progress of his students. Still based in Toronto, he gives occasional workshops and trainings. Currently, Guru Fatha teaches weekly classes for children, seniors, sufferers of posttraumatic stress, University of Toronto students and friends, advanced students, and just regular people who want to deepen their life experience. In Spring 2017, Guru Fatha Singh is scheduled to travel to Munich, Germany to provide a training for caregivers in the use of Kundalini Yoga as a therapy for sufferers of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
These are fascinating times. One of my current interests are how automation is affecting our lives and our concept of ourselves and each other. Sherry Turkle has written some interesting books on this subject.
Of course, I am interested in politics and grateful that we in Canada have been able to elect a new government that is respectful of aboriginal peoples, women, minorities, and the environment. I hope the best for my neighbours in the US in this crucial election year.
Now that I am teaching students of all ages, I am constantly fascinated by the utter transformation people undergo from childhood to senior adulthood. I wish more people could manage to keep some of that childhood spunk and playfulness as they grow older. In fact, that is exactly what we are aiming to achieve in our classes.
I humbly dedicate myself to the progress of all my students and my yoga family everywhere. Wherever we are, I pray that we might, each of us in our unique way, contribute to a world that is more peaceful, kinder, and more liveable than the world of yesterday. Sat Nam.