Interview with Satya Kaur
Associação Ram Dass Guru
Satya Kaur founded Associação Ram Dass Guru with her husband Shiv Charan Singh, in 2013. Since then, she has been an essential part in its growth and in the consistence of its values. Seven years after, we invite her to make a summary of the most significants changes has well of how her life is still entangled with ARDG and its main project, the Ashram Ram Dass Guru at Quinta do Rajo.
“(…) he arrived and said “look, to me this is an Ashram. I feel as well as i was in India. I would like to do Seva here”.
ARDG: How does a family house become an ashram?
Satya Kaur: It became an ashram spontaneously. After we arrived, about 6 weeks later a friend visited us and brought a friend with her. The boy came here and said “look at me this is an ashram, I feel like I’m in India. I would like to do it here ”. He was not connected to Kundalini Yoga, but he lived here and became the first sevadar. He stayed for a long time and his help in this pioneering phase was important. All of this in September 2008.
ARDG: When was the Association created and when it became responsible for the Ashram management?
SK: At the beginning everything was one, like the World. It was us, our home, the Ashram, the company, everything was ONE. We suddenly realized that there was a lot of work and we couldn’t handle everything, financially and energetically. Thus, around 2013, at the beginning of the year the ARDG was created, which shortly afterwards officially took over the management of the Ashram.
ARDG: What was the purpose of the creation of the Association?
SK: As Sikhs we feel an obligation to donate 10% of what we receive. In Portugal, and in the area, we looked for institutions that had a beautiful action with nature, animals, etc. to invest a certain amount every month. And we didn’t find anything that really made a difference and that had to do with us. Thus, we created ARDG to invest these funds for actions that made sense to us. Initially, ARDG’s intention was to take the techniques of Kundalini Yoga, which we believe as teachers and individuals, to people who normally would not have access to these teachings and that if they did, their lives would be transformed. At the beginning, the objectives were not so specific, there was an idea and a desire, but nothing exactly clear. Little by little everything materialized. But we can say that that was the initial purpose.
“My idea is more to take care of the direction ARDG takes and what and how it manifestate it. Its more to take care that things will be true to the initial purpose.”
ARDG: After 7 years how do you see ARDG?
SK: I think it has become a model of life. From living in community and proof that what we know, what we teach, what we propose, is manifested and realized. And the truth, justice and ecological principles are manifested day by day in the way the Ashram and its inhabitants and visitors live and experience the space. In addition, the Ashram today is not just the space or the building, today it is a whole community that has grown and flourished around us. AND US in a very broad sense of the word.
ARDG: After being the President of ARDG for 5 years, how do you describe your current relation with it?
SK: Well, I’m here and ARDG has its headquarters there (you can see the Ashram from Satya’s house), and it will continue to be at least for a while, it may be growing so much that this is no longer the future … But at this point, I always consider that I will have a role of some influence, sometimes direct, sometimes indirect. My idea is more to take care of the direction that the ARDG develops and what it manifests. It is more to take care that things are always intact and true to the initial purpose. I think that times are changing a lot and in my view that same initial purpose even has to incorporate other more urgent things, in this case, environmental issues that were not a priority at the beginning, and that need to be.
ARDG: How do you see the marriage between ARDG and the Ashram?
SK: Therefore, the Ashram is something that has to be managed and ARDG has taken over its management. Why not ?! There were other options, but this was the one that was there and was a priority. The Ashram and ARDG are linked, but ARDG must continue to invest in other activities. Those that already exist, and that should not be abandoned, but to go further, not only to look at what is close to the navel, but to go to those who will never find us so directly. At this moment, it makes sense to have these two lines: the space with its management and maintenance; but also the investment to find other communities that need these lessons.
ARDG: Leave a suggestion for the future Board of Directors…
SK: I think ARDG should invest more in protecting nature and how to live in a more balanced and deeper way with the environment, taking care of it. Not only saving resources, but also encouraging people who pass by (Ashram) to relate to nature in a more intimate and fearless way.
Interview @Namdeep Kaur, ARDG General Manager
original interview in portuguese, english version by google translator