Although I was born to Christian parents from Texas, I find myself through Guru’s Grace and life’s twists and turns a Sikh for over thirty-five years and a committed student of Gurmat Sangeet for the last 13 years which is the period of time in which I have participated in bi-annual 12-day kirtan courses led by Bhai Baldeep Singh.
When I began studying with Bhai Baldeep Singh I had little musical training and a lot of insecurity around expressing myself. I was terrified of making mistakes when I sang in class and was not able to sing in public. In our first course Bhai Baldeep Singh promised that he could teach us to know for ourselves when we were on pitch and in rhythm. That is what convinced me to commit to this process. I knew I needed to look inside myself for acknowledgment rather than look to others.
Through these courses I have developed the ability to sing on pitch and in rhythm. I sing regularly in Gurdwara and express myself easily with others. I play beautiful hand-made instruments from the Guru’s tradition which bring joy to me and those around me. To reach this place I suffered a lot. The main thing I have had to give up is the fear of making mistakes.
Bhai Baldeep Singh talks about the four cornerstones of kirtan as “ raga, tala, Bani and chit (focus or the purity of the vessel). “ Through studying raga, tala and Bani we have automatically had to work on ourselves. In the early years of studying we cried a lot. Over time we have learned to take things less personally. Studying kirtan has been such a beautiful way to grow as a human being and has left me with amazing fruits of music and expression.
Siri Sevak Kaur, Millis, Massachusetts