I have a pretty eclectic past and a pattern of immersing myself deeply into whatever my current chosen path may be. In early 1998 I was living in New York, and started practicing Kundalini Yoga. That summer I took the Master’s Touch course in New Mexico with Yogi Bhajan (1929-2004). It was a great experience and the lifestyle and practices were very appealing to me at the time, so I chose roll with it and take a spiritual (Sikh) name from Yogi Bhajan.
He replied to me by mail and said, “You have been blessed to live as Guru Banda Singh, which means ‘the lion who is the guru’s right hand man’. Meditate on that name and your path in life will become clear to you”. People often think is it bandha (like mulabandha), but it is actually taken from Banda Singh Bahadur who was a military commander in Guru Gobindh Singh’s Khalsa army. A warrior you might say ;)
That year in December, before dawn on the winter solstice I took Amrit ceremony. Amrit is like a Sikh baptism where one takes vows that provide a foundation of living a certain lifestyle to further develop and enhance your spiritual practice. The vows include not cutting your hair; refraining from meat, alcohol and other stimulants; remaining celibate until married and maintaining a monogamous relationship with your spouse; and committing to meditation and prayer each day. After taking Amrit one becomes Khalsa, which mean pure.
I kept it up for one more year, then in 2000 I shaved my beard and started practicing ashtanga yoga. That part of the story is not quite so simple, but I will save that for another day.
So the BS in GBSK is not for Barry Silver, as many people assume. GBSK is Guru Banda Singh Khalsa. Eddie and I used to joke that we were going to start a hardcore band called GBSK, instead it became the name of the t-shirt brand. Probably should have chosen a name that is easier to remember. But the truth is, I never thought it would go anywhere. Just wanted a platform to share my art and designs with some yoga students in Japan who asked me. Then it just grew from there. And if people can remember CBGB, UB40 and DMX….why not GBSK?
Guru Banda Singh Khalsa