3HOHistory.com Presents First Summer Solstice Sadhana A
firsthand account of the early days of
3HO, the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization According to Mukhia Singh Sahib Guru Singh Khalsa
Dali Lama, left, MSS Guru Singh Khalsa, right
Longest day, shortest night
It is the brightest fire of the year, June 21; the longest day; the shortest night; a time spiritual communities have celebrated for thousands of years. This is the Summer Solstice Sadhana, and in June of 1969 3HO began its now forty-three-year-old tradition of gathering from all over the world for celebrating with Kundalini Yoga, meditation, and White Tantra Yoga.
The full story of our tradition actually begins the summer before. It was June of 1968, I had just returned to Espanola, New Mexico, from a year of studying healing music in Michoacan, Mexico. A flyer hanging in the local Safeway store read: “A Gathering of the Tribes, June 21, 1968, in Aspen Meadows near Santa Fe, sponsored by the Juke Savages, the Hog Farm, Ken Kesey, and The Merry Pranksters, featuring the Grateful Dead.” These were all friends of mine from San Francisco so I made the trip up those mountains. See May The Long Time Sun history.
Ken Kesey, center, with The Merry Pranksters
Over a thousand people gathered. It was so wonderful that we decided to meet again at Winter Solstice Sadhana in Los Angeles, where an extraordinary event added to the significance of being in L. A. Another poster caught our attention in early January, 1969, this time in a health food store. The poster read: “Yogi Bhajan teaching at the East West Cultural Center.”
About two hundred of us drove to the class in a group that would soon form the nucleus of 3HO’s original students: dozens of members of the Juke Savage performance group, the Hog Farm commune, and The Committee situation comedy collective. It was not our idea to stay long in Los Angeles, but Yogi Bhajan inspired us all to remain for the Winter and long beyond early Spring, as he taught two phenomenal classes every day except Sunday.
When May returned, our lingering memories of the previous Summer Solstice Sadhana returned so strongly, we invited Yogiji and everyone else to come to the mountains in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. A ragtag caravan of cars, trucks, and buses left from Los Angeles to cross the southwestern deserts to the Aspen Meadows above Santa Fe. At this time in our community’s evolution, we were few, but this would soon change as our enthusiastic innocence attracted several hundred more young people living around New Mexico to our gathering. Yogi Bhajan fell in love with the children, the land, and the “enchanted” State and from this first Summer Solstice Sadhana gathering, he established a center in Santa Fe. As word spread that such a teacher and technology was in town, students arrived in large numbers.
In addition to Kundalini Yoga classes, one of most outstanding events at our first 3HO Solstice Sadhana was the now famous school bus race. As Yogiji stood at the starter’s position -- a homemade checkered flag rose above his salmon-colored turban and he waved it wildly to indicate the start of the race. Enveloped in the largest cloud of New Mexico dust anyone could imagine, he emerged coughing, sputtering, and laughing from the middle of spurting diesel buses speeding down the meadow of our makeshift racecourse. Later that evening, in the teepee Yogiji was staying in, the inspired conversation twisted and turned through tall tales and cosmic commentary, ending in the initial planning for Woodstock, the colossal music festival to take place later that summer. Two months later, the reality was half a million people doing Kundalini Yoga and listening to the world’s best rock bands on a farm in Woodstock, New York. Many of 3HO’s early members came from this gathering.
With this and other events, our 3HO family was growing too large for Aspen Meadows, so for Summer Solstice Sadhana 1970 we gathered in a dry arroyo on the Santa Clara Indian Reservation just outside of Espanola. Bruce King, running his first campaign for Governor of New Mexico, came to visit our campsite. Now a great friend, he loves to tell the story of how he predicted we “would never last a month in New Mexico.” (He is glad to have been completely wrong. See Tribute to Bruce King.) Watermelon was the food of the day and Yogiji would walk around with a huge bucket of ground black pepper to make certain each of us had plenty on our once delicious fruit. People would actually hide from his bucket, but he found us all. It was during this Solstice Sadhana we discovered the land that we now call Hacienda de Guru Ram Das -- our 3HO and Dharmic headquarters in the Espanola Valley.
Hacienda de Guru Ram Das, Espanola, NM
The following year, 1971, we ventured northward to Paonia,Colorado, a town of about 400 people, known for its cherry orchards. We camped on a mesa covered with groves of cherry and apricot trees and helped pick the fruit as part of our exchange. The highlight of this Solstice Sadhana was that Yogi Bhajan had now inherited the position of Mahan Tantric and the first Solstice Sadhana White Tantra Yoga course took place.
One of the most memorable exercises was to see how long each couple could hold focus and concentration without breaking. Yogiji set up a band of roving jokesters to get people to crack. If you failed this test, you joined the jokesters to challenge those who remained. The last couple held out for two hours and broke when someone got a shovel, thrust it between the couple, and yelled, “Can you dig it?”
This Solstice Sadhana had a unique bathing system of jumping into an irrigation ditch from which you could see the glaciers melting to feed it. You would then float two hundred yards to a low bridge where you needed help to stand; it was far too cold to do it on your own.
Winter Solstice Sadhana 1971 A Poem by Gurutej Singh Khalsa
Winter Solstice Sadhana, Nineteen Seventy-One,
We went to Florida to enjoy the sun
At the ashram of Baba Siri Chand,
Under the green trees, beside the pond.
We set the camp and pitched our tents
To enjoy, together, that great event.
It was a beautiful day in the Sunshine State
To construct the camp and meditate,
Yogiji spoke to us that first morning,
"Be careful what you eat," was his warning.
So we went to the beach, we enjoyed the day,
Then the Sheriff told us that we couldn't stay.
So after dinner we struck the camp,
The evening air was chilly and damp,
We packed the tents as the light grew dark
And prepared to move to a trailer park.
All cars were packed and ready to go
Then one by one, we moved out, slow.
Each car was packed with its full load,
As we moved the convoy onto the road,
One hundred vehicles moved in the night
Past Yogiji, directing with his flashlight,
Standing at the entrance to the Ashram's drive,
He directed the traffic to keep us alive.
We moved across town past the county line,
A long string of cars moving serpentine
Through the streets of the city, our headlights carved their arc,
Then we stopped at that funky old trailer park.
And the first thing that he told us, before the tents went up,
"Enjoy the Winter Solstice Sadhana, but avoid that grocery shop!"
The winter night was lovely as we pitched the tents,
Yet many of us were struggling with his last comments,
For the grocery store was open late into the night,
And that temptation was more than most of us could fight,
Plus, chocolate keeps you warm when it's dark and cold,
So, from that little store, every Hershey bar was sold.
That first Winter Solstice Sadhana was a turning point for me,
So with new inspiration I returned to Tennessee,
For at that funky place in a tent that leaked the rain,
A little spark of Self began to glow inside my brain
And many long years later I can joyfully exclaim,
That little spark inside me has fanned into a Flame! --
In 1973 and 1974, we moved back to New Mexico -- Yogi Bhajan’s preferred location -- to a Scout camp in the Jemez Mountains. Having seen several yatras to India by 1974, a curious group from the SGPC (including President Gurcharn Singh Tohra) came to see us in our own environment. The first Solstice Sadhana Amrit ceremony took place at this camp.
Summer Solstice Sadhana 1974
Silence, i.e., no verbal communication, is observed for 7 days.
"It is pleasant today that we are together. There are weaknesses in us, but so long as we will do three things we'll never fall apart. Remember those three things: Meditate on God in the morning; stay united--unity is strength; and continue celebrating Summer Solstice Sadhana and Winter Solstice Sadhana. These are the two times when the magnetic field on the Earth shifts. You must get together and do nothing but meditate. These two times should be your best holidays. You should never miss them. And you should never deprive yourselves in missing them. Therefore, you must organize your life around them." -- Yogi Bhajan, December 1973
In 1975 and 1976, we went to extreme heights -- literally: the eastern slopes of the Pecos Mountains provided a forestry dude ranch with minimal facilities, frosty mornings, and sizzling White Tantra afternoons. The first Solstice Sadhana-based Khalsa Council meetings took place here.
In 1977, our roving band of 3HO yogis finally found what has become our permanent home for annual gatherings: just outside of Espanola on 150 acres that Yogi Bhajan discovered by the Grace of Guru Ram Das -- the land he named Guru Ram Das Puri. Drilling 832 feet into the mountain, he found the water we would drink, but time was short and when everyone arrived, the only shelter set up was that old faithful system of parachute canopies and straw-bales. Sheepskins, socks, and blankets were always covered with straw when we packed our bags for home. A sacred land used for centuries by the local Pueblos Indians, we gathered our tribe as they had gathered theirs for centuries. See Site Map.
Over the next year, we built the first installment of our White Tantra Shelter, a children’s camp, a Gurdwara, and the beginnings of a fully functioning kitchen, plenty of flush toilets, and permanent tent-sites. In 1985 Yogi Bhajan inaugurated the first International Peace Prayer Day to focus our group energy on global peace. As the years have gone by, our children’s camps have grown, our facilities have improved, the numbers of students from all over the world have increased, and the message remains the same: Guru Ram Das Puri, Home of the Khalsa, is the place to be when Summer Solstice Sadhana rolls around.
Guru Singh Khalsa is a yogi, teacher, musician, author, and minister of Sikh Dharma. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and children. He began studying Kundalini Yoga with Yogi Bhajan on January 10, 1969, and now teaches worldwide with a base at Yoga West in Los Angeles and Miri Piri Academy in Amritsar, India. --
Registered Attendees and invited guests only, are permitted on site
Registered Attendees and invited guests only, are permitted on site
Note: Yogi Bhajan is known as a Saturn Teacher. What is a Saturn Teacher? Click here.
Late Night Arrivals
Please try to arrive at camp before 7 p.m. in order to better facilitate your safety and security. If you arrive after 9:00 p.m. registration will be closed and Security will be taking your name, location of tent or cabin and other information. You will need to check-in or register at on-site registration immediately after breakfast the following morning. Please be aware that arrival after 10 p.m. means you may have to sleep in the White Tantra Shelter.
Bring Your Receipt
Remember that you need to print your registration receipt with the bar code on it. This is your event ticket to get in. You may also bring your Registration ID number.
Upon entrance to the Solstice Sadhana site, the Security Team will be collecting additional vehicle information. This information is being collected to improve camp security and enable us to offer assistance with any vehicles, should there be a problem (including parking considerations, lights left on etc.).
There are still openings for Horseback Riding. Sign up online when you register. You can go back into your registration form and add horseback riding.
Organic Solstice Sadhana
Meals are included in the registration fee, and much of the food at solstice is organic. However, we've had overwhelming requests for more organic food at Solstice Sadhana. Since using organic food and ingredients increases food costs by 30 - 40%, please consider a $20 or more donation to support organic food in lieu of increased registration fees. Thank you for making your contribution to this program and for co-creating the best sustainable practices for 3HO events.
Securing Your Valuables
If you need additional help to secure your valuables, tent locks and money pouches will be available for purchase at the Administration office. See List of things to bring to Solstice Sadhana.
The Solstice Sadhana Security Team is responsible for the physical safety and well-being of the participants and the camp. The primary duties of the Security Team are to staff the camp entrance, monitor the flow of traffic (both pedestrian and vehicular) into and out of camp, patrol the entire camp, act as an information resource for all attendees, maintain order in the parking areas, and coordinate with other service areas, local law enforcement, and emergency response teams in the event of an emergency. Through the successful completion of our duties we hold the space for a peaceful and joyous camp experience for all.
NOTE:SOLSTICE SADHANA SERVICE EXCHANGE IS NOW AVAILABILE. If you wish to serve as a member of the SECURITY TEAM, contact us here. No previous security experience is necessary. All service exchange members will be trained.
Security Team members are expected to rotate among the different posts. This is the only team service that operates 24 hours, which gives you a great opportunity to complete your exchange hours while no camp activities are taking place. You may be seated at the Front Gate or in the office, or walking around camp patrolling the Bazaar and tenting areas. SeeGoogle Map. We are the first people that participants see as they arrive on-site and highly visible in camp while on shift; the priority is to be welcoming, knowledgeable, and firm. You must be able to give direction and hold boundaries regarding requests for information from participants, badge display, parking and other security concerns. Security Team members exercise interpersonal communication skills while implementing and adhering to all Solstice Sadhana policies and Rules of Conduct as established by Yogi Bhajan. To learn more about the Solstice Security Team requirements, visit Interior-Guard.com.
THE EARLY MORNING SADHANA
Practiced before the sun rises
Established by Yogi Bhajan
*Japji Sahib is the Song of the Soul by Guru Nanak (1469-1539). Japji is the opening narrative of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred compositions of the Sikhs. This simple message does not belong to any particular religion, nor any particular historical period. It is a timeless message to be experienced in ecstatic song.
THE SOLSTICE SADHANA DIET
Changes your body chemistry
Established by Yogi Bhajan
The Solstice Sadhana Diet is a simple, nutritious, and cleansing yogic vegetarian diet (much of the diet is vegan). Yogi Bhajan designed this diet to support the Solstice Sadhana experience. The spicy soup for breakfast and spicy mung beans and rice served at dinner are part of his recommendations. Note: A non-spicy version of the soup and dinner dish is available to anyone who cannot tolerate spicy food.
Organic Food Upgrade
Meals are included in the registration fee, and much of the food at Solstice is organic. However, we’ve had overwhelming requests for more organic food. If you prefer eating organic, please contribute to the support of organics at Solstice.
Bring reusable/washable cups, dishes, utensils, and cloth napkins for your own use at meals. Cups, dishes, and utensils may be purchased on-site.
Breakfast: A potato, celery, and onion soup is served with bananas and oranges on the side.
Lunch: Quinoa tabouli, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, tortillas (Special note: Because Yogi Bhajan did not design a specific lunch menu, this meal may vary somewhat.)
Dinner:Mung beans and rice with lettuce, steamed beets and carrots, and hot sauce served on the side. A special meal is served for dinner on the night before camp ends. See Recipe.
Solstice Sadhana Sauce, and Mung Beans and Rice with Vegetables
Solstice Sadhana Beans And Rice (Makes 60 qts.)
Chant His Name And Food Will Be Perfect. Note: This recipe must be reduced for family size.
. Remove rocks from mung beans, and soak overnight in 5-gallon bucket full of water.
. In the morning strain beans, rinse and dump rinse water – then add beans to each 60 qt. pot with 2 gallons of chopped onions & chopped celery. Fill with water to 2/3 full. Bring to boil.
. Use stainless steel paddle to dip in pot and check if beans are soft enough to mash with finger, then add spices, as described below. Add 9 oz. salt to each pot.
. Clean and wash 5 quarts of rice per pot. (When beans are soft) Add rice to pot and stir continuously scraping every spot on the bottom of the pot with stainless steel paddle (to prevent sticking and burning). Allow the pot to come to a rolling boil, then turn off, cover, and remove from burner. (Burners will burn the rice even with no flame on.) Pot must be removed from stove. Add 2 cups minced garlic - 2 cups seeded minced lemons, including lemon peel, to each spicy pot, add only diced lemon to the non-spicy pot. Add 2 cups oil to each pot. Stir well.
. Add boiling water as necessary to keep the mixture light and very digestible.
Spices For Adult Soup, Beans And Rice Note: This recipe must be reduced for family size.
Add to each 60 qt pot:
Chili powder blend, 2-2/3 cup and 1/2 cup each: coriander, turmeric, cumin, ¼ cup ground chills, and no more than ¼ cup cayenne. Start with 1/8 cup to taste-test.
NOTE: For non-spicy soup or beans only, use ½ cup each of turmeric, coriander and cumin only. DO NOT add cayenne, or any kind of chilies.
Mung Beans, Rice and Veggies Recipe For 15-20 Servings
2 cups mung beans
2 cups white Basmati rice (Lundberg Farms in California grows excellent white Organic Basmati or Premium White Basmati rice. These likely have substantially less or no pesticide residue compared to imported Basmati rice.) I’m using 1/2 organic millet these days -- instead of all rice.
2/3 - 3/4 cup Organic (if you prefer) Olive oil, expeller pressed safflower or sunflower oils or ghee (clarified butter) or any combination.
3 Tablespoons each -- cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, ground coriander, turmeric (these are my spice preferences -- you might like it a little spicy so add some black, red pepper, red chilis or fresh hot peppers to taste)
5 - 8” pieces of ginger, and 2 bulbs garlic -- both peeled and chopped fine. Any of the following vegetables can be substituted.
3 zucchini, 1 small cauliflower or 1/2 head, 1 bunch broccoli
3 carrots or beets or 1/2 lb. Brussel sprouts
4 large (9 small) onions
1/2 lb. frozen corn
Soak mung beans overnight -- rinse -- then boil in 5-6 qts. water until soft using large pot (at least 3-5 gallon).
Prepare masala (onion, ginger, garlic, spices and oil or ghee) in wok, cast iron, stainless steel or other non-aluminum vessel by cooking medium to finely chopped onions in olive oil or ghee, add seeds -- cook for approx. 45 minutes on medium high heat. (Note: Aluminum cookware is unhealthy. See research online.)
Stir constantly then add finely chopped ginger -- continue cooking, then add finely chopped garlic. (Add water to prevent sticking.)
Continue cooking -- when onions are translucent add turmeric and coriander powder (plus any other powdered spices you’ve prefer).
Stir -- cook another 15 minutes -- stirring constantly.
When onions are very translucent and mixture appears to be a 'merger' of all ingredients -- masala is done. (Smells heavenly!)
At the same time as you masala mixture begin adding chopped vegetables to the mung beans boiling in the pot. (Firmer veggies first, i.e., those that normally require longer cooking time.)
Do not chop any veggies too small or they’ll disappear after cooking. After mung beans and firmer veggies come back to a boil add the washed rice and masala mixture and stir regularly. (If using millet, add first, as it takes longer than rice to cook.)
When that comes back to a boil and rice starts to swell (10-20 minutes) add softer veggies and corn -- continue stirring until rice becomes full sized and soft.
Add sea salt -- stir thoroughly -- turn off heat and let sit until softer veggies become tender. Let cool before refrigerating or freezing. Enjoy!
Solstice Sadhana Hot Sauce (Half of 32-gallon bucket)
Note: This recipe must be reduced for family size.
. Fill 32 gal. bucket by half with minced onions
. Combine: 1/2 gal. Almond Oil, 2/3 gal cider vinegar, 1-1/2 cup sea salt
. Blend: 16 oz. tamarind with 3 c. water; add to above.
. Cook following spices as if you would prepare spices for soup or beans:
1/2 gal. Almond oil
2 c. chili powder (blend)
2 c. chili flakes (crushed)
1 c. ground chilies (powder not blended)
1 c. cayenne pepper
1/2 c. turmeric
. Stir cooled spices thoroughly with onions.
. Cover barrel, label with the date. Marinate as long as possible.
. Stir daily, especially before serving.
Solstice Sadhana Soup (Makes 60 qts.) Note: This recipe must be reduced for family size.
. Fill pot 3/4 full of celery, potatoes and onions, (add potatoes first.)
. Add water or carrot stock to 5/6 full. Bring to boil.
. Add spices. See below. Add 9 oz sea salt to each pot.
. Boil soup approximately 2 hours, stirring every 10-15 minutes or until potatoes have cooked down and become incorporated into the broth.
. Let sit overnight. Next morning, bring back to boil - or very close then shut off and add to each spicy pot: 2 cups minced garlic and 2 cups oil. Do not add garlic to the non-spicy pots.
Yogi Tea with soy milk or cow’s milk (upon request) will be served twice daily: after Morning Sadhana and nightly at the Yogi Tea Café. There are also hot water and alternative Yogi Tea options provided all day long. On White Tantra Yoga days, Golden Milk will be added to the menu. Golden Milk is a traditional recipe for joint health. It is a delicious combination of milk, turmeric, cardamom, and almond oil.
Special Dietary Needs: If you have special dietary concerns, we cannot support them in the kitchen. You may bring dry foods, however please do not bring anything that requires refrigeration. We also suggest you keep any food items in a tight lidded container so animals cannot get into it.
"It takes 40 days to break a habit;
90 days to gain the new habit;
120 days and you are the new habit;
1,000 days and you are Master of it."