Mukhia Jathedar Singh Sahib
Sat Hanuman Singh Khalsa "A channel, not the source."
Sat Nam. In the summer of 1970, I was stationed at Tyndall AFB (Air Defense Command/NORAD) where I was a Sergeant in the Personnel Section of the USAF. I went to my second Rock (Pop) Festival in two years. I had been to my first on Labor Day weekend in New Orleans where the same groups had traveled down from Yazgar's Farm in upstate New York (Woodstock Music Festival) and played again in the deep south. A fellow airman from San Francisco had inspired me to attend with him. Jefferson Airplain, Richie Havens. Janis Joplin, Iron Butterfly, Jimi Hendricks, Its a Beautiful Day and more were there for the weekend. Now, in the summer of 1970, the Second Atlanta Pop Festival came to Georgia. It was here that I first saw the 'long tall' Yogi named Bhajan. He was about 6' 4" and had a commanding presence on the stage. I noticed him, listened to his Indian accented English as he admonished the youth to get off the drugs and learn other techniques to conquer the evils of the world we were currently facing. (See Aquarian Age Began Here.)
I was discharged two months later on October 16th as a "Conscientious Objector" with an Honorable Discharge. I left the base after seeing the movie "Woodstock" the night before at the Base Theater. I then moved to Manchester, New Hampshire and began the re-entry into civilian society.
On the last weekend of April, 1971, I hitchhiked with a girlfriend to Washington, DC to take part in the "Non-Violent" peace activities on May Day, May 1, 1971. Since I had served during the Viet Nam War and saw the culture around me I decided to work for World Peace. On April 30th, the night before the non-violent march on government buildings in DC, my girlfriend and I were at Georgetown University.
The environment was full of people with long hair and beards, kids really, from all over the East coast. There was an apprehension in the air of uncertainty. Earlier that very day, a beautiful Spring morning we experienced the tension immediately. While standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, we watched riot police dismount several buses and sweep the area around the 'reflecting pool' in between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.
I witnessed a mother strolling her infant in a carriage, arrested by 'cops' with clubs and drawn weapons. Suddenly there were police on scooters sweeping the Lincoln Memorial where we stood, watching. This was Sunday, a normally leisurely sunny day in the nation's Capital. We ran around the back side of the Lincoln Memorial to run across the Memorial Bridge, which connects DC to Arlington.
Suddenly, a car stopped in front of us, the door swung open and a woman yelled, "Get in the car now!" I could tell she was trying to help. So we jumped in. She told us that all the police forces in both Northern Virginia and the District were on orders to 'break-up' any assembly on Sunday before the planned protest the next day. I felt that my girlfriend and I may get separated and wanted her to be safe, so we walked around the chaos.
That evening, I met some college kids from New Hampshire and convinced her to join them and return. She reluctantly agreed and I then met a young guy who said he was with the group, which was marching on the Pentagon. I decided that this is where I would practice my contribution. We walked down Pennsylvania Avenue and suddenly at around 2 am we were confronted by some trench coat wearing Secret Service agents who ordered us to cross the street and walk on the other side. We were talking to each other and didn't notice that we were now at the White House and these two security officers didn't want us near the fence surrounding the White House.
We worked our way around the corner and walked up to the Washington Monument. There are fifty US flags which surround the tall obelisk which honors the "Father of the Nation" and we found a place were we could rest in the bushes. I had nightmares all night, due to the flapping of the flags in the wind.
Next morning, we only slept around four hours, we were suddenly awakened to thousands of people gathering to march to the Pentagon. We joined the group and walked down to the off-ramp of I-295, which crosses the Potomac at the 14th Street bridge. We all sat and blocked morning traffic to disrupt the morning work traffic in the city. Later, Life Magazine, May 14th, 1971 issue, showed our non-violent civil disobedience action, that morning. Two weeks later my picture was in Life Magazine. I still have a couple of copies to remind me of that day.
May Day, 1971
The next day, May Day, 1971 was my baptism of fire. I was arrested on the 14th Street Bridge on the way to the Pentagon. Next to me was Dr. Benjamin Spock, the Baby Doctor, whose book my mother and every other 'Baby Boomer" parent used. He was interned with thousands of others in RFK Stadium before being released on misdemeanor charges. I was not so lucky. I was selected by riot police who had corralled us against the railing, tear gassed us, and at gun point threw me into a small wagon with about 20 other protesters. We were taken to Central Locke-up at DC Metropolitan Police HQ. We were put in jail, wreaking of mace and tear gas, tired, hungry and pretty unsure of our fate. Twenty-five hours later, we were brought individually in front of a Court Magistrate. I pleaded "guilty" and paid a $25 fine and was ordered to leave DC, immediately.
I hitchhiked back to New Hampshire. After settling my affairs in Manchester, and reluctantly leaving my wonderful young lady, I hitchhiked to Titusville, Florida, where my mother resided with my siblings.
It was now July 4th weekend and my younger sister begged me to take her to the next Pop Celebration, the "Celebration of Life", which ironically took place on the Mississippi, outside New Orleans.
The life of this young 21-year old was about to take a turn in the road of life. There, walking among the throngs of young people, many strung out on LSD, mescaline, hashish, pot, was the "Long Tall Yogi", I had seen the year before in Atlanta. This time I was free to explore, so I followed him to the stage where he and another Swami would ascend the stage to speak to the hundreds of thousands waiting to hear musicians whom many had missed by not being old enough or unable to attend the original Festival at Woodstock in 1969.
I remember standing next to the "Yogi" and feeling very cool, as the temperature outside his aura was about 105 degrees, and very humid. This was an amazing experience for me. I had been smoking pot, so I wasn't sure it was really happening.
Two days later, I felt compelled to drive back with my sister and two other friends to Florida.
As we traveled south on US 92, out of Tallahassee, Florida, I was sitting in the front seat of the VW "Bug". I was asleep, as were the fellow passengers in the back, along with my sister's Samoyed dog.
Suddenly I was awakened to my face and head crashing through the windshield of the car. We had hit at small pick-up truck stopped in front of us at the crest of a small hill. I was bleeding everywhere. My sister was crying and screaming, thinking I was going to die. I told her to get the ace bandage, which was in the front (trunk) and wrap it tightly around my head. Then I told her to go call the ambulance and police. I noticed the driver had splinters of glass in his face. We were both in shock, but I was more alert than he was. I reached into his top shirt pocket and retrieved two MJ 'joints' and tossed them into the woods.
After spending a week in the hospital, I was flown back to Orlando by the insurance company. I had white bandages, resembling a white turban over my right eye and over my entire head. Weeks later, it was removed but many stitches remained. With some coaxing from a cousin I took the GI Bill and entered BBC, Brevard Community College, in Cocoa, Florida. During the later part of August, 1971, I began taking Kundalini Yoga Classes by a yogi named "John" from Orlando, Florida. He and his wife Soorya would drive over on Saturday evenings to Cocoa Beach and teach a two-hour class at someone's home.
In November of 1971, while attending a World Religion Class with Dr. Lin Osborne at BCC, the professor invited his students to attend a lecture by a yogi who had arrived from California with some staff. I had seen the pictures of the "Yogi" at BCC and realized I was taking yoga classes from one of his students, "Yogi John" Twombly. During the lecture, another student of the "Yogi" asked me if I wanted to come to her home and personally meet this amazing spiritual teacher, whom I first saw back in 1970 in Atlanta, then again a few months before my accident in New Orleans. I was about to have a vegetarian meal and sit at the same table with this "Yogi". We called him "Yogi" because no one had explained his full name, Harbhajan Singh Puri, to any of us.
I realized then, "When the student is ready, the Teacher appears." After all, we had crossed paths three times. I was beginning to get the message.
"No one converts to Sikhi. Conversion is a term used by Christians, Jews, and
Muslims. Sikhs, on the other hand, wake up by Guru's Grace, and they know!"
On April 1st 1972, I took my Sikh vows and committed to living the path of a "house-holder" and keep my hair and beard unshorn. I wore a steel bracelet, kara, on my right wrist. I was given the name "Hanuman" Singh though I didn't know what it meant.
In the fall of 1972, after a long depression of losing the woman I felt I would share this spiritual life with we moved out to our new home in Orlando, Florida, a 26-acre piece of land in Pine Hills. We had discussed getting married and Yogi John and Soorya Kaur were going to perform the ceremony.
In August, she left one day because she didn't feel the same longing I had felt towards this new path. I felt sad but knew this was the path I was destined to follow. In September, Yogi Bhajan's wife (Bibiji Indirjit Kaur) and her three children arrived to stay with us until Yogi Bhajan arrived from Los Angeles for the second annual Winter Solstice Sadhana.
A young lady in the Ashram was arranged by BIbiji, John and Soorya to marry me in November of 1972. It was our innocence and trust which brought these two people together. Purusha Kaur Chronister would marry Hanuman Singh Erickson on Thanksgiving Day (11/23/1972) at Baba Siri Chand Ashram in Florida.
Two years later the first of two daughters (Satpavan Kaur) would be born in Altamonte Springs, the new home of Baba Siri Chand Ashram. In the cold winter of 1976, after spending 9 months in Cleveland, Ohio as the Director of Guru Ram Das Ashram, I was transferred to Boston, where our second daughter, (Siriswami Kaur) would be born at home on a Sunday evening. In December of that same year, I would petition the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to change Kathleen Chronister Erickson and my name legally to: Satpurusha Kaur Khalsa and Sat Hanuman Singh Khalsa, thereby changing our daughters last name to Khalsa.
In May of 1980, we moved back to Altamonte Springs, Florida where we would eventually move into the house next to the Ashram on a dirt road. In 1983, Satpavan Kaur would accompany her closest friend, Sat Bachan Kaur (one year younger) to Mussoori, UP INDIA to attend school at Guru Nanak Fifth Centenary School at 8,000 feet in the Himalayan foothills. A year later, her younger sister, Siriswami Kaur would fly back to India with her to attend the school.
After 9 years, not without challenges, our two daughters graduated from schools in India and went to live with our Teacher, now Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa (Yogiji) in Los Angeles, CA and eventually Espanola, New Mexico.
In 1992, Satpurusha Kaur and I, after much counsel with the Siri Singh Sahib Ji agreed to an amicable divorce. Both of us would remarry in the summer of 1992.
She would remain on Center Street in Altamonte Springs, now paved, down the street from where we first brought Satpavan Kaur's soul into the world.
I would, with the Siri Singh Sahib Ji's blessings, marry Amrit Kaur Khalsa, on June 14th, 1992.
It's now 22 years later, our Spiritual Teacher has transitioned into the realms of Sach Kand (heaven) and my partner and wife, Amrit Kaur, live just two hours from Eugene, Oregon, where both our daughters (now almost 40 and 38) reside with their spouses of 20 years, each with a daughter and son. Our eldest grand daughter, Shiv Antar Kaur will be 17 on June 23rd, 2014. She will have finished her junior year at Miri Piri Academy, just outside the city of Amritsar in Punjab, India.
What a life, we all have been blessed to live. So many blessings, they are uncountable.
I thank God, I was injured in 1971 in that car accident. I thank God for Dr. LIn Osborne, for Yogi John Singh Twombly and his wife Soorya Kaur. I thank Guru Ram Das for bringing Yogi Bhajan, Siri Singh Sahib ji and Bibiji and my siblings, Ranbir Singh, Kulbir Singh and Kamaljit Kaur into my life. See family photo.
I thank the Guru for the twists and turns of my life. But most of all, I thank the Guru for my commitment, I took in April of 1972, (42) years ago this coming Tuesday (4/1/2014) when I bowed my head to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.
Sometime in 1999, my brother and friend of 42 years, SS Gurubachan Singh Khalsa, told me to say a prayer for the SSSji said daily: Thanks Gurubachan Singh, I have only missed once since 1999.
Ad Sach Jugad Sach, Hebi Sach, Nanak Hosi Bi Sach. God Bless Guru Ram Das, Be Kind to me Oh Lord, this day. You, who rotate this Universe, rotate my Routine.
Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!
Sat Hanuman Singh Khalsa
Sat Nam. I was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1950 and grew up in a low income, and culturally and socially diverse area of North Providence. My family moved to a suburban all White middle class area of East Providence in 1953 where I lived in a diverse religious neighborhood.
I was raised in the United Church of Christ, and grew up during the "Civil Rights" movement era and I organized an Interracial Sensitivity Council at age 17 while in my senior year of high school on the conservative East Coast of Florida.
I adopted Sikhi formally in May of 1972 at Baba Siri Chand Ashram. I began teaching Kundalini Yoga the same year. I am married to Amrit Kaur Khalsa, with whom I've enjoyed a committed partnership for nearly 25 years. I am the father of two daughters, four grandchildren. I took Amrit in 1974 and I had my name legally changed in 1976.
From the very beginning I worked on interfaith events, including radio and local TV interviews.
I lived in 3HO ashrams from 1972-2005 on the East Coast and I was Director of Guru Ram Das Ashram in Cleveland, Ohio for one year, 1975.
I was employed by several 3HO affiliated with several Dharmic businesses from 1973-2002. The most important among them was CBB Sales and Marketing, created as the national sales division of Yogi Tea, Sunshine/Soothing Touch, and Golden Temple Bakery in the Spring of 1986. I am currently employed by Presence Sales and Marketing (since July 4, 2013) as a Beverage Merchandiser.
Since I was first hired as an independent contractor, I developed my region from 1986 and 1993, when Yogi Bhajan, CMA (Chief Management Authority) of K.I.I.T, dropped "independent contractors" and offered me the position of Southeast Sales Manager in a national Dharmic natural brokerage company called of SGN, Inc. Amrit Kaur who had developed her own independent sales company was offered a position with SGN as well.
After 10 years, developing and strengthening our portfolio in the Southeastern US, we were relocated to Boston, where I was given the new position of NE Sales Manager and Distributor Brand Manager. Amrit Kaur was promoted to Administrative Manager for SGN, Eastern Division.
SGN, Inc., at this point became one of the two most advanced and successful Natural Product Brokerages in the country. We were generating several million dollars in sales monthly, pioneering and expanding the sales not only of the three primary Dharmic-owned natural manufacturers, but many of the now largest and most successful companies in the past 30 years.
Our sales practices and success, made SGN a "household" name, which exemplified "TRUST and GOODWILL" and set the standard for integrity and customer service, attracting not only the best of the best Natural Companies in the Natural and Organic Products industry, but also created a positive work culture for employees who desired to work for our company. With 40 employees, four of us Sikhs, whom with one non-Sikh, we made up the Management Sales and Marketing team of SGN, Inc.
Amrit Kaur and Sat Hanuman Singh Khalsa, February 17, 2010
Sat Hanuman Singh and Amrit Kaur Khalsa, 1998
Amrit Kaur and Sat Hanuman Singh Khalsa, married, June 14, 1992
Amrit Kaur and Sat Hanuman Singh Khalsa at Amrit Kaur's parent's 50th
My Father's Military Medals
Corporal James Sven Erickson ll
320th Infantry Regiment
35th Division, 3rd Army
Normandy July 6, 1944
St. LO France, (PUC) Paris
Ardennes (Bulge) (BS) CIB
December 1944 - January 1945
Elbe River, Germany 4/1945
Honorably Discharged 1/1946
Ft. Devins, Massachusetts
Airman James S. Erickson lll, Age 18
5'9", 125lbs, Flight line, Kessler AFB
Personnel Specialist Tech School
Buloxi, Mississippi, September, 1968
Jackie and Arlo Guthrie at Guru Ram Das Puri, Espanola, NM
My wife Amrit Kaur and I moved from Millis, Massachusetts in the late fall of 2005 to Troutdale, Oregon, 15 miles east of Portland. I had been in Natural Products industry for 18 years on the East Coast, helping to found a brokerage company, SGN, Inc, where we served as members of the management team until 2002.
It happens that on September 11th, 2001, due to circumstances never expected I was in NY city to see the late ( Doctor) SS Dayal Singh Khalsa. I had driven down the night before and arrived shortly after midnight. Due to the horrific day of destruction and death, Dr. Khalsa and I hunkered down at his home until I was able to leave on 9/15 and drive home to Boston.
In May of 2006, after waiting over six months to be hired by Whole Foods Market, I took the tests and passed to take a job as Federal Security officer at Portland International Airport (PDX) working as the first turbaned wearing Sikh for the Transportation Security Administration. This for some seemed strange for person who had been in sales his entire adult life and was closely aligned with yoga, meditation, Gurdwara Seva, Natural Foods, but I felt this was an important decision which my Guru Sahib had called me to serve. It paid very little but that was not as important as being seen with a full Daastar, beard in a Department of Homeland Security (TSA) uniform each day at an International Airport where I currently reside.
During the almost six years I served, I was chosen by the Oregon Federal Security Director to train every officer at seven airports in Oregon, consult with DHS and TSA in Washington, DC to help bring an awareness of how to treat Sikhs wearing Turbans, what Kirpans and other aspects of Sikhi are with regards to Security and air travel.
In 2008, I was appointed to the TSA National Advisory Council in Arlington, VA, where I served for 2 years. I was promoted in 2008 as a Lead Security Officer and went to additional training. In 2010-11, I joined the ranks of Union to organized Collective Bargaining rights for TSA and to get out the vote. I had kept a close relationship with TSA management but I am sure this ruffled some feathers in the upper leadership ranks within TSA.
Along the way, I was asked by Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) and Sikh Coalition to help change a garb law on the books in Oregon which had prevented qualified Teachers in Public Schools from teaching due to the wearing of religious garb, This affected Sikhs, Muslim women and Orthodox Jews. On April 1st 2010, the law was signed by the Governor of Oregon.
Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski made history April 1, 2010 by signing a
landmark bill that allows public school teachers within the state
religious clothing required by their religious faith in their classrooms.
In late November of 2011, I retired from TSA and decided to retire. That lasted 1 year and now I am back serving as a natural food broker merchandizer in Portland, Oregon. By Guru's Grace I continue to serve as he directs.
S.S. Sat Hanuman Singh Khalsa on duty as Lead TSA Officer at Portland OR airport
S.S. Sat Hanuman Singh Khalsa, Bibiji Inderjit Kaur,
Kulbir Singh and Ronbir Singh at Portland OR airport
S.S. Sat Hanuman Singh Khalsa
with co-workers, Portland, OR
Sat Nam. The reason these folks are all smiling is I helped them finally win union representation.
The folks I worked with in Portland for six years are good souls. They treated me with respect and honor. I am grateful for the time spent with them serving our nation and working with the folks in Arlington, VA, at TSA headquarters, training FBI and Oregon State Police personnel and the TSA Officers and managers in Oregon airports from Portland to Medford, from Bend to Klamath Falls.
National Advisory Counsel, a group of Security officers, Lead Security officers, Supervisors,
Managers, Asst Security Directors from 700 airports at TSA headquarters, Arlington, VA 2009
The entire body covering is called the burqa,
whereas the head cover is the niqab, or face-veil.
Now, Muslim women with hijab, Orthodox Jews wearing yamaka, and Sikh men and women wearing turban can teach, if qualified, in public schools and don't have to compromise their religious mandated identity. I am blessed to have been able to make a difference in the culture of security and the role of Sikhs in America. --
Please help me raise awareness and propose the Edmund Pettus bridge, which spans the Alabama River, be renamed to honor Viola Gregg Liuzzo. Anyone you know who cares about justice and equality and would like our Nation to heal from its racist and violent past, please spread the word. Read on.
"Viola Liuzzo (1925-1965) was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan on the last night of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March. She is the only White woman honored at the Montgomery Civil Rights Memorial. Remembered primarily for the atmosphere of scandal surrounding her death, she is considered the most controversial of the civil-rights martyrs.
By 1965 Liuzzo was a 39-year-old, middle-class Detroit housewife and mother of five. After her youngest child started school, she enrolled as a part-time student at Wayne State University and was inspired by returning students' reports about the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer project to register Black voters. In March 1965, she participated in sympathy marches to demonstrate solidarity with Blacks in Selma, Alabama, who were planning a pilgrimage to the state capitol to support passage of a federal voting-rights bill.
On March 7, 1965, Liuzzo watched news broadcasts of state troopers armed with billy clubs and tear gas attack 600 demonstrators crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge on their way to Montgomery. Civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. called off the attempt and issued a national appeal for Americans to come to Selma, join the marchers, and help them try again. Liuzzo and 25,000 other Americans answered his call.
For five days, Liuzzo worked for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's (SCLC) transportation service ferrying marchers between Selma and Montgomery. On March 25, she and Leroy Moton, a 19-year-old local Black activist, headed to Montgomery to pick up the last group of demonstrators waiting to return to Selma. While stopped at a traffic light in front of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, at 7:37 p.m., they were spotted by four Klansmen who, according to the later testimony of one of them, had spent the day seeking an opportunity to kill King.
When they saw the White Liuzzo driving a car with Michigan plates after dark with a Black man in her passenger seat, they decided to attack them instead. The Klansmen hoped that this would send a clear message about White supremacy to Northern Whites, Southern Blacks, and like-minded liberals. Engaging Liuzzo in a high-speed chase on Highway 80, they pulled alongside her car about 20 miles outside of Selma and fired. Liuzzo was killed instantly and Moton, covered in her blood, escaped by pretending to be dead.
Protestors cross the Edmund Pettus bridge just outside Selma March, 1965
*Edmund Winston Pettus was born in Limestone County, Alabama, to John Pettus and Alice Taylor Winston in 1821. He graduated from a public high school and attended Clinton College. He then went on to Tuscumbia, Alabama, to study law and was admitted into the state's bar association in 1842. In 1844 he was elected to serve in the seventh Judicial Circuit of Alabama as a solicitor. From 1847-1849 he served as a lieutenant with the Alabama Volunteers during the Mexican–American War. From 1854 he served as a judge in the seventh Judicial Circuit of Alabama, until resigning in 1858. After resigning as judge he went back to Selma, Alabama where he went back to practicing law. Following the outbreak of the American Civil War he served with the 20th Regiment Alabama Infantry, eventually attaining the rank of brigadier general in 1863 and being assigned a command in the Army of Tennessee. Following the war he resumed his law practice in Selma. At that time he also led the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. He was residing in Selma when he was elected as a United States Senator from Alabama in 1897 and 1903. He died in 1907." -- Source.
Ku Klux Klan was mainstream organization in U.S. in last century.
Ku Klux Klan marching in Washington DC, August 9, 1925
Ku Klux Klan in front of Treasury Building, Washington DC, August 9, 1925
KKK women marching in Binghamton, NY, 1920s
Again, I am proposing that the Bridge be renamed due to the nature of the crime, from its original name in honor of a known 'White racist' named Edmund Pettus to that honoring a 'White' woman whose life was snuffed out by members of that very organization (the Ku Klux Klan), of which he at one time was Grand Wizzard in the State of Alabama.
In 2013, the bridge was named a "National Landmark". There are those who say the name cannot be changed but I propose that interested parties make contact with the White House and U.S. Congressman John Lewis, who was present on the Freedom Rides of 1961 and again at the Selma March during the brutal beatings by the Selma police and the Alabama state police on 'Bloody Sunday" in 1965, on behalf of the name change.
Another example of a National Landmark, which was declared sacred at one time to many Americans is in Hardin, Montana. Its a battlefield site where two cultures clashed in 1876. This National monument was declared by the Truman Administration as the "Custer Battlefield Park".
So my proposal has to go to many channels. It needs to go to high places, but using the internet and social Media will expedite the speed of awareness across the nation.
I have written to Thom Hartmann and Mark Thompson, and attempted to post on Oprah Winfrey's FB page. I have posted on John Legend and "Common", noted Rapper and collaborator of "Glory", the award winning song written by him and Legend. I have also tried to reach U.S. Congressman John Lewis.
If anyone has any ideas to facilitate this, I welcome them. Please help by posting it to your FB, Twitter account, personal BLOG, or by letting others know of the idea.
The inspiration for this came when I heard a 63 year daughter of Ms. Liuzzo speak on Monday, January 19, 2015 (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day). She spoke very strongly and I was moved. She told how the FBI maligned her mother and how she had to resort to the "Freedom of Information Act" to retrieve archives and statements made by FBI agents as well as J. Edgar Hoover.
Thank you for considering to help make this a reality!