It was a revelation sort of things for me to come here after nearly 20 years' stay in Himachal Pradesh. No words can explain the feelings. One wishes there could be more oasis of enlightenment.
-D.K. Sharma, Adviser Planning, H.P. Govt., Shimla
We were all deeply impressed by this Academy and the way it is being run. Based as it is on the vision of a Sant, we are confident that the children, who are lucky enough to get their education here, would come out as young citizens full of character, high ideals, broad outlook, ready to build a better and happier world.
-P.P. Shrivastav, Adviser to Governor
I find no words to appreciate the services Baba Ji is rendering to humanity as a whole.
-Kripal Chand Meena, IAS, Deputy Commissioner, Sirmore H.P.
Surprised to see the Akal Academy and its methodology. It was the most exciting experience of my life. With the inspiration of Baba Iqbal Singh Ji, the students of this Academy will be the leaders of tomorrow.
-M.S. Kohli, Lleader of the first Indian Expedition to Everest
When I left from Delhi, I had in mind that I am going to visit a school. Having been here for almost twelve hours, I had the impression, as if I had been to a pilgrimage. I visit hundreds of schools every year. But the real vision of the school, we as Indians, have in mind is found in Akal Academy. These schools themselves have absolutely misunderstood the definition of education. Whatever they are doing, is mere literacy. What we need first in the society are the noble saints and sages, and the persons with commitment, sincerity, honesty, impeccable character, compassion, care and concern for the poor and downtrodden. This Academy has all these virtues in mind. I believe that Ganges can only flow from the Gangotri. I believe that the morals and virtues can only flow from good teachers, from saints and sages to students. I am greatly impressed having met your respected Principal, Vice-Principal, management and executives. Each one of them is in the category of saints. Saints are not those who live in Himalayas away from the society and the people. Everybody of us has some sainthood in us. The only point is that how we are able to bring it out and this is the task, which Akal Academy is doing. I am really impressed and I go almost with indelible impressions on my mind.
-Pavnesh Kumar, Controller of Examination, CBSE
The library and the junior classrooms specially fascinated me by its collection. A unique learning place for all.
-K.D. Sharma, Controller of Examinations, CBSE
This Academy has a great potential for making glorious progress in its store. My heartiest congratulations for the rich contribution they are making for wholesome development of the children through academic, co-curriculum, sports and games programmes with great zeal and excellence in terms of high quality. The Academy has a glorious and bright future. Akal Academy deserves a special word of commendation for qualitative improvement and expansion in training the young minds for wholesome development of their personality. This Academy, I am happy to observe, has got enormous potential for further growth and development. I am sure it would continue its efforts. I have seen this Academy growing when it started virtually from the scratch. It has crossed successfully the initial teething problems. It has been able to overcome all hurdles and with its constant efforts and endeavors, it is growing up harmoniously with a rapid and fast pace. It has now reached a level, that it has become, though remotely located, possible for it to guide, show righteous path and humble direction for improvement and refinement to several urban institutions, who may be senior to this Academy by several years. The tremendous progress has been made by the Academy by setting up new spacious separate rooms, which are well-equipped. Computer labs give a healthy look with sophisticated and latest infrastructure. Library has got tremendous wealth of rich materials/publications. In a nutshell, the Academy has full-fledged paraphernalia of a most modern school.
-Y.P. Katyal, Regional Officer, CBSE, Chandigarh
The work being done by this institution is a model of value for the youths of all humanity.
-Bhajan Singh (Principal, Singapore)
Because of my various assignments, there was not much time to reflect on the inner reality though there was a vague feeling all the time. There was some vital missing link to establish a harmonious relationship with oneself. Our visit to this most fascinating institution has shown to some extent the direction of further search. The Academy (and all the other sister institutions) is fulfilling a substantial need of humanity.
-K.S. Dhillon, IPS (Retd.), former D.G. of Police and Vice-Chancellor, Bhopal University)
I am deeply impressed by the quality education being provided and talent nurtured in the Akal Academy. The institute is a great resource centre for all-round development of the personality of the children and provides, in addition to curriculum, a progressive value-oriented hidden curriculum leading to personality developments. May the institution grow to newer heights?
-H.R. Gupta, Controller of examinations and projects, CBSE, Delhi
Such institutions are the need of the hour, particularly when our social values are being eroded by western culture. Academy is one of the most fascinating features of Baru Sahib for imparting true education to the children, where sense of devotion and ceaseless service is inculcated. I would like to come again and again to the place to seek peace and solace.
-B.K. Thakral, Assistant Commissioner to D.C., Sirmore, Nahan (H.P)
One of the best academic institutions in Northern India. I look forward for everlasting partnership between Parmar University and this academy especially in the areas of environment and spirituality.
-Yaswant Parmar, Vice-Chancellor, University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan (H.P.)
It is an experiment, where academic and spiritual education has found an excellence. A message of universal brotherhood is being echoed from this place.
-Dr. Pritam Singh, Principal, Khalsa College of Education, Amritsar
It is great day in my life to be here. I have been all over the world. But I have not seen such a great institution.
-Sqn. Ldr. Gurmit Singh Rai, Captain, Air India.
The entire course has been meticulously planned and executed. But what has impressed me the most is the concept of education at Baru Sahib and the value system that generates and drives the people.
-Anil Kumar, Punjab Housing Board
As a part of my official duty, I have been visiting schools all over the country. With no hesitations, I must say, this Academy is one of the top most schools, which is somewhat different from the others. In fact, this visit can be considered as a pilgrimage to a holy place. I am impressed by the management and planning of the system, devotion and leadership of the heads of the school, belonging of the staff for the students and the conducive atmosphere for any academic activity.
-P.C. Bose, Ex. Education Officer; Member of the Governing Body, CBSE; Deputy Director of Education, Govt. of NCR of Delhi
The players of Akal Academy, Baru Sahib, are always in high spirits and upbeat mood; and are determined to give their cent per cent, so it can produce Olympians. I pray to Almighty God that this holy land should give at least 10 Olympians to India. Principles of religion originate from the playfield itself. The environment created with the amalgam of spiritual and scientific education enables it to produce intellectuals and sportsmen of high caliber. If the present trend continues, the day is not far when even the Olympics will be held here. I would cherish the memories of this day for long.
-Bishan Singh Bedi, Former Indian Cricket Team Captain
"I was pleasantly surprised to find in the far interior backwoods of Sirmore district, Baru Sahib, 'The Valley of Divine Peace'. This place is situated in the lap of the mountains with sylvan surroundings, lush fields, clear water springs, and a stream running below it. Sant Teja Singh Ji, MA, LLB (Punjab), AM (Harvard, USA), as per the wishes of Sant Attar Singh Ji Maharaj of Mastuana, made a revelation of the 'Tapo Bhoomi' (Holy place) at Baru Sahib and laid the foundation of The Guru Nanak Spiritual University on the pattern of Nalanda and Taxila Universities in the Buddhist Era.
The present President is Sant Baba Iqbal Singh Ji, who has retired as Director of Agriculture, in the Himachal Pradesh Government and has devoted his life to this institution. The Academy provides education from Nursery to 10+2 class. I was told by the President that the best students in every respect have emerged from the poor families followed by middle class families in India and Indian families settled abroad and the students belonging to the higher strata of the society unfortunately have turned out to be big disappointment. Unlike the public schools, run for the children of affluent classes of the society, it would perhaps be much better to have schools like the Akal Academy at Baru Sahib, which run on the lines similar to Gurukul Kangri and Vishwa Bharti., which is the dire need of today's morally degenerated society.
I enjoyed catering and eating with the children in their dinning hall. The food served here is nutritious and delicious. Number of food products like bread, biscuits etc. and milk products like butter, curd, cheese are supplied by their own Bakery and Dairy Farm respectively. It has its best catering arrangement. The children are encouraged to tour in every part of India, so as to inculcate in them the much needed international culture for world peace and other countries of the world. They also take part in extra curricular activities. Their fluency in English speaking is as good as in their own language Franca. I was deeply impressed by their sense of discipline, unity, their health and outlook on life, This is partly due to the emphasis laid on spiritual training. The maintenance of discipline would not be possible without the dedication and selfless service of the teachers and above all the President - overall incharge of all the Akal Academies, who have devoted their lives to this institution.
The Academy is recognised by the Central Board of Secondary Education for 10+2. It has produced some brilliant academic results. The public shall certainly support such value-based institutions, which are the need of the hour at home and abroad too. I was deeply impressed by the standard of education, which includes training in computer, physics, chemistry, biology apart from other subjects of art and humanity. The place is kept absolutely neat and clean and the boys and girls look healthy and cheerful. They are provided with recreation sports such as Horse Riding, Volley-Ball etc., which go a long way in building up their physique as well as character. The Academy respects all faiths. Being very scientific in our approach towards religion, we ardently believe in the unity of God. The need is to multiply such institutions in the country and I hope that this small article will attract people from outside to visit the Academy.
-T.N. Kaul, Former Foreign Secretary, Government of India; and former Ambassador to USSR and USA
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
Although extremely busy with many things, I always had desire to share few observations and experiences on the subject of educating our children in controlled environments with the objective to raise such individuals who are equipped with knowledge, love, confidence, faith, and deeper understanding of Gurmat.
I shall share some personal experiences in this regard and then add a few observations, if they can be of some use to prospective parents. I have always been obsessed with the idea that Western countries do not have appropriate cultural and religious landscape where our kids can grow the way we did in Punjab. This is a blanket statement, knowing fully well that there are some holes in this assumption. I agree to a great extent that if we can simulate an environment at home with responsible parents, much can be achieved. However, I am not convinced about many finer things, especially when we are living in foreign lands such as the grip on subtle aspects of the language of Punjab. I also do realize the importance and impact of daily living style of individual families. For example if only basic 'Nitnem' of Gurbani is followed with intense faith and living an ethically & morally clean life, the inter-relationships within the family members are deeply effected, and a certain atmosphere permeates in the home that takes care of many problems just without any effort. I also agree with the fact that there is no replacement to having parents live with their kids as they grow and learn. But sometimes it may not be possible. However, let me stop this here and come to the real topic of educating children in boarding or day schools in India, especially Baru Sahib.
I am a teacher for the last 18 years, and have taught several subjects (Accounting, Computers, Communication Technology, Special Education, Punjabi) in high school system of Ontario, Canada. I have two children, a girl and a boy. I am privileged to have the option of teaching one semester, if I like to, at 50% salary. When my daughter was in grade 3 and my son was in grade 5, I decided to take them to Patiala, India. We both stayed with kids for the first 6 months as my wife also took leave of absence without pay for six months. Kids were sent to day school, and we arranged to have music (Kirtan, Tabla) lessons for them along with regular schooling there. After six months we started taking turns by one person returning to Canada to earn the living, while second person looking after kids in India. We never employed any servant while in India and it was somewhat demanding for me to comb, braid the hair, cook, dishes, laundry, etc. all the other regular chores. However, there was a certain joy in all the trouble we took. We did this experiment for three years. At this time my wife could not afford to take six months off as she was given choice to quit the job or work full time. Therefore, we brought kids back in Canada. But my son was so much in love with India, he wanted to go back and attend a boarding school. He wanted to join Lawrence School, Sanawar near Kasauli. It was very expensive proposition (3 Lakh per year for a foreign student). Anyway, I did put him in that school as I found the Headmaster, Mr. Gautum Chatterjee a great scholar and visionary man. This Bengali gentleman was highly educated from Harvard, had taught in US for many years. I kept my son there for one year. My son fine-tuned his Tabla skills here under a very talented gentleman. The music department was very rich in talent as Mr Chatterjee picked the best musicians from Bengal for advancement of arts. I kept in touch with Mr Chatterjee and he offered me a position at Sanawar, teaching Business/Computer subjects. I went on a casual contract and taught in this school. By staying on campus in Kasauli hills, I got to know the exact political and educational reality on the ground about this school. It was during this stay that I happened to travel to Baru Sahib School with the Sanawar school's Basketball team, of which my son was a member. We stayed at Baru Sahib for two nights and I met administrators, and observed many things. Prior to this visit, I knew Baru Sahib from some trip of Baba Iqbal Singh Ji to Canada years ago with the students from this Academy. I had a feeling that this school may be overly oriented towards indoctrinating and students may not be of a very balanced personality. Visit to the Academy made me compare the Sanawar and Baru Sahib Academy students, and revise my judgment after seeing reality.
Baru Sahib is a very well managed school. It is an institution that is relatively very very economical but far far better than such schools as Sanawar, Dalhousie, Bishop Cotton, YPS, PPS Nabha, Doon etc. Please note that I have been to PPS Nabha, YPS, and Doon schools as well prior to selecting Sanawar for my son. I was offered teaching positions at both PPS Nabha and Doon (Dehradun) with option of free education for my children. I dropped Dehradun, as it was too far from Punjab. PPS Nabha, my son did not like. (When I started teaching at Sanawar, they refunded some of my son's tuition, as I was a staff member.).
There are several people who are volunteering in managing the Baru Sahib School. Doctor couple from Delhi, one engineer couple from USA, Dr Khem Singh Gill (Ex VC, PAU, Ludhiana), Baba Iqbal Singh Ji, are absolutely dedicated individuals. The facilities are all state of the art technology. I was absolutely impressed with their Computer and Media labs and the Library. I have never seen such equipped library anywhere in Punjab with latest journals, choice and variety of books one can ever imagine, are there. The quality of food, and living conditions were better than Sanawar. Most importantly, the natural setting is absolutely pollution free with freshness of nature all around you. Discipline wise, it is absolutely a great place. I observed all kids of all ages filing past in lines into the huge Durbar hall at 4:30 in the morning and all kids doing 'Nitnem' in perfect harmony and discipline. All teachers are not necessarily Sikh. Some teachers such as Physical Education, Computers, Science, English etc are from other parts of India. Facilities for teachers are most modern. It is all eye captivating experience to watch this place live with exuberance and energy. Their sports teams are highly competitive and best in physical shape as every morning they are taken on long distance runs in the hilly landscapes that has built their stamina that is unbeatable. Both boys' and girls' Basketball teams from Sanawar were beaten badly by the Baru Sahib teams. The class rooms are well equipped with latest facilities, and sport facilities and grounds are well maintained. There is a huge hospital which not only serves the students and staff but the local people free of cost. School and apartment buildings are equipped with elevators for easy access.
I checked the costs and found them to be many times less than the Sanawar School. Overall I found this to be the best school amongst all especially for Sikh children. The only place I wanted to visit was Miri Piri Academy, which I could not.
I am very pleased that I took my children to Punjab. Both my children are comfortable with Hindi, Punjabi, English, French, and have deeper grip on Tabla, Harmonium and singing Kirtan. My daughter is trying her hands on Sarangi and Dilruba as well without much difficulty.
Final comment: Baru Sahib is a great place if a Sikh family wants kids brought up in a Boarding school. It is all due to tireless efforts of many devoted Gursikhs. They deserve all respect and support. Behind all this is the spirit and dedication of Sant Attar Singh Ji of Mastuana Sahib.
If I had to do it again, I shall send my kids to Baru Sahib for sure.
Janam maran duh-hoo meh naahee Jan parupkari aae
Jeea daan de bhagti lain Har sio lein milaae
London - Ontario - Canada