Every student who does teacher training with Amrit Nam Sarovar will visit Le Martinet at least once. The nature terrain in the midst of the French Alps is the place where each year, early in July, almost 200 ‘teachers-to-be’ from all over Europe gather for a week of intense transformation as part of their Level 1 training. A considerable number of them return, not only to continue their education. They choose to come back to a place which is dedicated to constant spiritual practice rooted in the teachings of Yogi Bhajan and Sikh Dharma. ‘We understand our work as our prayer and meditation in action. Our daily life is the teacher’, explains Jap Singh, who spends most of his time out in the fields to sustain and grow the organic farm that is part of Le Martinet. Jap moved to the south of France five years ago, together with Simrat and their two children.
Many people help build the land, which over time becomes their spiritual home. They stay at Le Martinet as a way to deepen their engagement in the yoga. Some stay for a couple of days while others, living in the vicinity, support the ashram on a more frequent basis. Christine from St. Michel les Portes, the small village situated just above the secluded valley of Le Martinet, is one of the women that help run the kitchen. A daunting task considering that there are trainings and workshops throughout most of the year with numbers of participants ranging from 10 to 200.
GD: A yatra is a pilgrimage, a journey driven by a deep longing for truth, a truth you cannot find in books. Let’s call it the truth of the heart. What did you hope to find?
Karta: The initial impulse came from the teacher’s of the ANS trainer academy who approached me with the question of how to best preserve Yogi Bhajan’s teachings. One way, of course, is to create an archive that holds all materials that have been gathered over a very prolific period of more than 30 years of teaching. That is what KRI set out to achieve with the Library of Teachings, which is in the process of being built. At the same time I wondered if there were any living examples in our tradition of Dharma, Sat Sangat and Gurmukh Yogi. My hope was to find real people that we could connect with and learn from, because it is not enough to preserve the teachings, no matter how sophisticated the system of documentation is. The teachings have to be applied to our times. People today look for a genuine perspective for how to live an authentic life. The way Eastern Sikh Dharma currently presents itself is not at all in line with Yogi Bhajan’s legacy. Sikh Dharma, as I experience it, turned into yet another religion, an institutionalized set of beliefs, that has run dry and bears no interest to future generations. That is why we set out to the land of the gurus in search of true dharma.