What a blessing that Bachan Kaur will be joining as a presenter at Sat Nam Fest this April! Bachan is a kirtan artist whose spirit awakens our primal instinct for worship. Her music is pure pleasure. Her spirit is full of genuine Bhakti. Her devotion is infectious. We are grateful she took the time to answer these interview questions.

Can you tell a bit of the story of your journey with sacred music and Gurmukhi songs?

Bachan Kaur: Hahaha…. Well to be honest, as a teenager, I used to go out into the forest on sacred journeys with my closest friends on magical mushrooms.  I would have these Divine and transcendental experiences connecting with the universe, the infinite, the Godhead, the essence of life and deathlessness and the beauty of love. These experiences were always fueled by nature, collective song and dance. I became inspired to discover how I could develop this state of awareness all the time without special plants, and a friend of my older brother who had spent time with Baba’s in India, suggested I learn to meditate.

I thought at the time that sounded pretty boring!  I did end up in a yoga class, and during Shivasana I felt the embrace of peace, bliss and beauty that I had experienced in these expansive journeys in nature, so I decided to dedicate myself to a yoga practice. At first, I started an early morning routine of Hatha yoga from an old 80 & 90’s yoga book my mother had (with a cute elder lady in tights:) and loved it.  Shortly after, my family moved across the country to Vancouver.  I was walking near our new house, I saw a Kundalini Yoga studio with a poster for early morning Sadhana, my soul lit up with joy! This was exactly what I was seeking, and so I started to attend regular classes and morning sadhana at Yoga West in Vancouver. It felt so familiar, though I thought the chanting was a bit weird at the time. When I read the translations of the mantras, they perfectly described all the cosmic and spiritual realities I had been experiencing and the mantras provided a language for the expression of my spirit and consciousness in a beautiful way.

Soon I enrolled in teacher training and during that program, a young tiny Nirinjan Kaur (my Teacher Guru Raj Kaur’s daughter) came in to share Gurbani Kirtan. The first time I heard the ambrosial sounds of the Sikh devotional poetry and song, I felt so overwhelmed with devotion, bliss and beauty that this path became the center of my life.  I dove into the Shabad, the sound current with all my heart, practicing sadhana, mantra and learning more and more about Gurmukhi, Gurbani and kirtan as it provided an endless well of peace, comfort and joy. Every morning would be an overflowing fountain of song and devotion and I began to record and share with my friends and sangat.  And so it continues to this day…..though I now find the healing and illuminating force of love through sounds and songs of a wide variety of traditions and nature.

What are ways that you take care of your voice?  What is your favorite self-care pleasure?

Bachan Kaur:  Sing every day! I have so many self-care pleasures, my goodness! I must say my FAVORITE ones take me back to my roots and they are to sing and dance in nature. I love to go to wild places or just places where no one else is around, no need to feel self-conscious. There I connect with the natural elements, the birds trees, waters and winds and I love to dance around in freedom and worship and allow songs to flood and flow through me.  It is a love song and fills me with joy, wonder and gratitude in a way that my authentic self gets to fully express on our precious planet. I also love deeply to swim in the cold Canadian Ocean waters early in the morning as the sun is rising, this is one of my greatest joys….and THEN go dance, dance, dance when I’m all charged up with Ishnaan (cold bath).

As for taking care of my voice specifically, I have many practices. First and foremost is sing everyday like the birds. Some of my favorite exercises to do are basic scales in the Raag tradition, chakra toning from Jonathan Goldman, freestyle toning, making weird sounds and faces, and vocal sliding up and down to massage and open the voice.
What is your intention or vision for your performance at Sat Nam Fest this year?

Bachan Kaur: My Intention and vision for Sat Nam Fest this year is to be present with the specific moment in time and space and the unique collective of souls gathered.  I feel that every moment is a precious possibility of our collective healing and evolution. It continues to be a mysterious process that leaves me humbled and in awe to feel and witness the role we each play in that unfolding.  I know I have a dharma with healing and uplifting through the sound current, and it teaches me and surprises me all the time, revealing my purpose, presence and power. My prayer is to be open to deliver the love and space for all those present to connect with themselves and each other in an authentic and meaningful way for whatever healing and beauty they need as individuals and collectively. It is always my intention to connect the group to ourselves and also allow our song to be an offering to nature, the Divine and the greater good of all beings. In the Kaliyug, I truly experience that vibrating sound together with other souls of love is one of the most powerful ways to cut through the darkness and pain of these times, return to our true nature and contribute toward raising our collective consciousness, vibration, love and radiance on our beautiful planet.  I envision a playful unfolding of laughter, tears, depth, great joy and liberation.

What is your favorite mantra or kriya for moving through setbacks and challenges?

Bachan Kaur: Wahe Guru! All day every day 🙂 I love to dance and shake. I love to smile in my heart and breathe very slowly. I love to sit in gratitude with “gurprasad” mudra or prayer pose doing one minute breath. I love to revisit my day at the end of the day and give thanks and blessings to all the people, places and things that I interacted with…this always breaks through blocks of self-absorption.

What musicians, teachers, and guides influence you?

Bachan Kaur: 

Teachers & guides: nature, children, family, angels, Indigenous wisdom, Yogi B, Thich Naht Hahn, Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Qyan Yin –  all of them!

Musicians: so many!
Singh Kaur, Hari Bhajan Kaur, Micheal Jackson, Nina Simone, King Tubby, Curtis Mayfield, Madonna, David Bowie, Karnamrita, De La Soul, Townes Van Zandt, Dolly Parton, Nick Drake, Chris Williamson, Paul Simon, Jahvani harrison, Lulacruza, el Buho, Shimshai, Alonso del Rio, Ishq, Deuter, Enya, Luluc, Low, Soledad Bravo, Livtar (big and little),  Nirinjan Kaur, Avtar Singh, Snatam Kaur, Krishna Das, Shantala, Robbie Robertson, Chronixx, Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Sizzlah,  Dechen Shak-Dagsay, Mirabai Ceiba, Deya Dova, Thornato, Craig Pruess and Ananda….so many more….

Can you talk about gratitude; what are you grateful for, and what are ways you like to express gratitude?

Bachan Kaur: I try to be grateful for everything. I feel that gratitude and smiling are the simplest and most effective ways to open our heart and lift our spirits so we can be true and be a blessing to ourselves and others.  I am so grateful for sound and silence, for nature, for water, for family, friends and all the ancient teachings that uplift and heal us.  Grateful for diversity and mystery, for infinite things….all we have to do is start to pay attention and there are infinite things to be grateful for, often our greatest challenges truly bring gifts beyond understanding.  The ways I like to express my gratitude are by smiling and loving others…especially customer service and homeless people. Sharing what I have with others, and making offerings in nature to the elements. I love to make gifts for others, to paint and create things for someone I love to show my gratitude for them is one of my favorite things to do. Always I pray with gratitude every morning and evening standing on the earth to remember the essence of what we are and re-connect with the simple blessing of breathing and being alive in this beautiful universe.

Surjot Kaur is a KRI certified teacher of Kundalini Yoga as Taught by Yogi Bhajan. She writes about yoga, meditation, and consciousness. She seeks to be a humble observer of the Play of Divine Consciousness. She prays all beings may awaken to total freedom. She lives with a loving husband, two daughters, and a dog in San Diego.