Narayan Singh Off to India

Narayan Singh Off to India

You might have noticed that it’s been a bit quiet on MrSikhNet for the past couple months as we ran the very successful "Camp Miri Piri," followed by participating in the Summer Solstice camp, a "marathon" of friends getting married, and then a few family reunions/vacation. Well, I’m back, though busy as ever, and with some changes in my family.

A few weeks ago before Summer Solstice my wife (Arjan Kaur) started talking to my son Narayan Singh about Miri Piri Academy (MPA) in Amritsar, India. I went to boarding school in India when I was about the same age and have been planning to send him in a few years when he was ready and wanted to go. However, a few weeks ago I was surprised with his determination to go this year. Many of his friends are already there, and with so many great MPA role models (and MPA "Uncles") it’s like the next step for many of our local kids. 

Having spent about 10 years of my youth going to boarding school in India, I know the reality of what it is like, so did my best to try to make sure he REALLY was ready and still wanted to go to MPA. Narayan is one of those great kids who is a "leader of the pack". He is a Leo – The Lion (the Singh Lion!) so is very independent. He makes friends very easily and knows how to fend for his own (which is crucial in boarding school environment). 

A month or so ago it really hit me that he was going to be gone for about 9 months (though we plan to visit him in India). It was interesting watching myself process this change and how I related to him with the thought of him being gone soon. It felt like I needed to make all my time with him count and not take it for granted. In recent weeks I have seen Narayan going through the same process as the time nears his departure for India (Aug. 20).

Narayan Passport Photo 2009

Today I dropped off my 3 year old daughter Charanjeet Kaur at school and one of the teachers asked me about Narayan going to school in India, and I could tell that she was a bit amazed that I could send my child half way around the world for nine months of boarding school. She isn’t a Sikh and doesn’t know all the details, but as I drove away I realized how different people relate to parenthood and their children. For her she couldn’t believe it. For me it was so natural and could see the value. All of the kids in our community go to MPA when they are ready. The only kids you see here in Espanola are either graduates or younger kids. 

Going to School at Miri Piri Academy isn’t just some boarding school. The children that go to MPA are being trained to be leaders of tomorrow. It is unique because it gives them an environment that challenges them mentally, physically AND spiritually in a very balanced way. In most schools these days the main focus is on the worldly side of life and the spirit is left out. This is not so at MPA. Not only will he get a a great scholastic education there, but he will get a good spiritual education as well!

When I think of myself as a parent, I feel that my goal is to teach my children, and give them the best tools with which to succeed in life. I think that as parents we don’t "own" our kids, but are the caretakers. We are the "pay-rents". It is easy to get attached to our kids for our own purposes, rather then recognizing what is actually best for our kids. I find that at a certain point, many of us parents can actually be a detriment to to our own childrens’ personal growth. We dump our issues on our kids and they in turn take up our habits and issues. The kids know our weaknesses and play off of them, pushing our buttons and doing things that they couldn’t do with other people.

Irrigation Master Narayan Singh

I remember SSS Harbhajan Singh Khalsa talking about parenting and the different teachers in life: The first core teacher is the mother (from birth till 3 years old). Then from 3-8 it is the father, and after that the "World" (read more). So it seems Narayan is right on schedule for his next stage of learning and adventure! (He turns 8 next week!)

I don’t think everyone needs to go to a boarding school, but I personally think sending my kids to MPA will benefit them MUCH more then if they were to continue going to regular schools here. Of course we all have different philosophies and practices, so this is what works for my family and for many others here in Espanola.

I think what is different for me from maybe an average parent in America is that I value a strong spiritual lifestyle. Everyday life in America doesn’t support a spiritual lifestyle for kids. The constant bombardment of the media (TV, video games) along with social pressures can be a big negative. The kids in India become VERY independent, culturally diverse, and it brings out their leadership. When I see these kids they have a light in their eyes that I don’t see in other kids. Having been exposed to the world in a much larger way it really makes them grow in so many ways. They are truly multi-cultural citizens of the world, not of any one country or another.

My many years of boarding school in India taught me a lot of things and it gave me the tools to be who I am today. I want the same for my son. This next year will probably be very different for our whole family as we adjust. I’m not quite sure if my younger daughter Charanjeet Kaur realizes how long he will be gone and how she will need to adjust to not having a big brother around. Luckily we have lots of other kids here in our community :)

Narayan is lucky to have many benefits that I didn’t have going to school. Back in the early 1980′s you couldn’t just pick up the phone and call America from India or vice versa. If there was something really important, you sent a telegram. Postal letters took about a month to be delivered if they even arrived at all. I remember getting a package that was empty with only some cookie crumbs. The postman must have gotten hungry, but still he felt duty bound to deliver the empty package. Or another time when a camera was sent, all the flash bulbs were used and the film was used and removed and then the camera was replaced in the box and the package was delivered. It’s funny looking back because you think that the person would just steal the whole package and not deliver the used stuff. I guess he thought he was just "borrowing" it.

These days the kids have the Internet, Skype, cell phones, email, yummy Punjabi food, and the Harimandir Sahib in their "backyard". Vah! If the kids complain now, I can’t help but say "Back when I was a kid….".

We’ll see how this adventure unfolds this year….

Kids grow up fast. It’s hard to imagine that not so long ago Narayan was just a baby…

Narayan Singh
More family pics here

29 Responses to “Narayan Singh Off to India”

  1. Khalsa Lakhvir Singh says:

    nice. i think sahib singh will also be on his way there, too … but how does it feel to live so far off from you kid for so long? isn’t it lonely and empty?

    • When I first went to boarding school when I was about 8 I was definitely missed my parents. I remember crying a lot for the first couple weeks, but then once I got settled and adjusted to the changes I was fine, and the Adventures began.

  2. Raminder Kaur says:

    Veerji, best of luck to Narayan. I know he will do great :)
    And I know you will too :)
    But just think……..Harmandhir Sahib in your backyard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He is one lucky kid to have that beautiful gift to look at everyday!!!!!!!!!!!

    Fateh ji!
    -Raminder Kaur(Rosey-NY)

  3. singh khaalsaa says:

    WAHEGURU JI KAA KHAALSAA WAHEGURU JI KI FATEH

    you sure are a bit emotional! aren’t you?

    Well the header image of him facing Harmandir Sahib is a sad one i mean the look on his face that sums up the mood at MrSikhNet,
    Well it must be difficult to send off your little kid to a far off country,whatever be the benefits you foresee you just can’t ignore that heavy heart, well we are the ones whose parents wouldn’t let them study in a city across the village just because it is too far away from them, and it isn’t just you who have seen Narayan grow up, we too who have been following MrSikhNet feel the same, mean how fast! it was only yesterday when you posted his pics in kesri clothe along with your own as a post.

    Well i hope he assimilate well there, yeah we the grown ups (or kids) might look forward to visits at Harmandir Sahib but kids still need some time

    May Waheguru Bless you all

    WAHEGURU JI KAA KHAALSAA WAHEGURU JI KI FATEH

  4. Inder Singh says:

    Its a nice thought to do so. I myself have a 18months old son and before his birth I had in my mind to send him to MPA.

    I did visited their website to find out whats the fee charged, I found the fee on their website but was not sure was that per year or for that whole duration(e.g they have 409,419 for 3rd to 6th, is that for 3 years or per year)

  5. Gurjeet Singh ( HAPPY ) says:

    Dear Gurumustuk Singh ji,

    Wanted to let you know that me and my wife are feeling much the same as you both too.
    Both my kids, Simran Kaur and Japji Singh , will be joining Miri Piri this term too, grade 5 and 4 respectively. Its really tough to think of them being away from you and from all the convinience they have at home but the thought of them hopefully getting to learn alot from MPA makes it a little comforting, i understand it probably even more difficult for parents who send their kids from USA or Cananda , its so far, me being from Thailand will probably get a lot more chance to visit them if want too. Anyway all the best to Narayan Singh ,,,and by the way which grade is he going to ?

    • Gurjeet Singh, wow…that’s great that your kids are going this year too! It sounds like the junior program at MPA is growing this year. One of my friends Amrit Kaur is going to be heading up the junior program this year which will be great. She was a senior when I was in boarding school in India, but we were there the same time. This was one of the big reasons why I felt comfortable sending Narayan knowing that the younger kids would get more personal attention in relation to their age group.

      Narayan will be in 3rd grade. How old is Japji Singh?

  6. Gurjeet Singh says:

    Dear Gurumustuk Singh ji,

    Nice to hear about Amrit Kaur, Japji Singh is 9 yrs…i am sure he and Narayan Singh will bond up well, i talk alot to my kids about you, you are a very good role model to all young Sikhs around the world, so its like having a celebrity Sons in the school.

    Me and my wife will be personally dropping them at MPA even though it is not really advisable, but its not that far for us too and then again spend a few days at the Golden Temple.

  7. Dear bhai sahib jee,

    I just returned from my very first trip to India (Punjab to be precise) and I can fully understand the excitement on all side in your family.
    Narayan is up to a great adventure and it will change his life completely. Mine was changed a lot in these 2 weeks and with Guru Jee’s Kirpa it will be only to his best.
    Without being directly related to him, I am very proud of him and I feel for you and your family.
    Great times ahead!
    WJKK WJKF

    Jagbeer Singh Khalsa

    PS: If (!) I am able to get there as a guest teacher (if they still like my curriculum for practical Graphic Design) I might meet Narayan then. Looking forward to it.

  8. Hey ji, I really enjoyed reading this. You’re a great papa and in fact I think you have a special gift for communicating about family life. I think about this possibility for Siri Amrit often I appreciate your perspective….will be sharing this with my family and friends.
    love to you and your family. the Guru shines through you.

  9. Tejinder Kaur Khalsa says:

    Lots of love to Narayan Singh as he takes another great leap forward. He is fortunate two have two conscious, courageous parents who are willing to let him go and embrace his destiny!

  10. Bikramjit Singh says:

    Waheguru ji ka khalsa
    Waheguru ji ki fateh

    Gurumustak Singh ji,

    Why can’t Miri Piri Academy or a Khalsa school be opened in Espanola (New Mexico) or Yuba City area (California) ?

    Waheguru ji ka khalsa
    Waheguru ji ki fateh

    • It’s not the same in America and I think takes away much of the experience that the kids have in India. Also, the costs would be significantly more to have a school in a western country. A big part of the experience I think is being in India in Punjab.

  11. Bikramjit Singh says:

    Obviously there is a difference (U.S & India).

    The kids in India are generally taught and groomed to face local challenges, like wise kids born in U.S must be educated to integrate with the American society.

    For everything one gains, one looses something else !

    Choice is between American way or Indian, staying in a family or boarding. There are Pro’s as well as Con’s.

    “At what Cost” that’s what i want to know ?

    Anyway which way, one has to pay the price whether it’s money or family life !

    Good examples of Sikh Schools in West are -

    http://www.gurunanakschools.org.uk/

    http://www.ggskcollege.co.uk/

    http://www.kps.moonfruit.com/

    http://www.khalsaschool.ca/?p2=customcode/khalsaschool/home.jsp

    Kids can very well experience Punjab or India by attending summer or winter camps.

    Lastly, if one like’s Indian or Punjabi lifestyle so much then why stay in another country, why not settle in Amritsar ?

  12. singh khaalsaa says:

    bikramjit singh ji,

    MPA is one of its kind and it’s one of the elite schools teaching sikhism alongwith genral education, MPA graduates can very well tell you what it is being there and life after, the schools being run by our managements aren’t even close to the harmonious MPA, and if someone would ask i would say it is MIT in Chehrata Sahib, even though i have never been to MPA, all the experiences i read on web do have an effect

  13. Bikramjit Singh says:

    Singh Khalsa ji,

    MPA is an elite as well as a unique Sikh school so is

    http://www.akalacademy.in/

    In fact they welcome kids from all walks of life, Indians and low income class.

    Anyway the point which i want to make is, that best suitable option is to have Sikh Institutions in western countries. This ensures both Spiritual & Temporal learning opportunity with national academic system and local environment. Plus kids get to lead a normal family life close to parents at home.

    Question here is whether U.S Sikhs would support such an endeavour ?

    WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO OPEN MPA, Sikh or Khalsa School in U.S ?

  14. hey! gurmustak singh ji ,
    very nice of you to put this up.You are very lucky i say to have your kid In Amritsar Sahib in the hands of Guru RamDas Ji.
    He is wonderful kid i remember when you last came with him i met him in oneofthe rooms in miri oiri i think it was dharam’s room.
    It is very hard to have your kids gone far far away but again you are right there is so many ways these days to connect to your dear ones and thanks thetechnology masters.
    I Remember when i was taking careof ten junior boys in mpa:) it was very good experience of mine and have become a good memories of my life.All those kids i use to watch as their care takers are mostly graduated last year :) time travels so fast.. waheguru i remember many kids oh boy ! who use to study at mpa are also married and even some ofthemhave kids too.. hehehhelo land here i am still same old andgetting older hardeep.
    well jio i wish you and him best of luck for hs journey to GURU RAM DAS JI’S HOME.
    There will be so much for him to learn and carry on in his life.
    i guess i will see you when yo uwill come visit here.
    And also he is welcome to learn gatka moves i have been practising all summer.
    say my hi! to arjan
    will betalking to you soon
    Hardeep singh

  15. Jagpawan Singh says:

    Gurfateh Virji…

    Im Jagpawan Singh from Indonesia…im in India since last 8 july, i studied in Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa College, Sarhali..Doin DCA (Diploma in Computer Application) which is for 1 year…
    last few days, i came to Miri Piri, but nobody there, coz all of the students are on holz…i planned to take a 1 year coz for gatka, i realy want to learn gatka n improve my tabla skill…So are u coming with Narayan on 20??? so, we can meet n talk…If u still remember me, im da one who ask you 2 come Indonesia in ur articles before…

    Fateh,

    Jagpawan

  16. Amardeep Kaur says:

    WJKK WJKF
    Dear GuruMustuk Veer Ji,
    Congrats and best wishes to Narrayan and your entire family for this opprtunity.
    I was going thru’ all the comments.I totally agree that in order to experience the reality ,the MPA is the best school for the kids .That’s why Siri Singh Sahib suggested this.Sending my prayers your way.Waheguru.
    Amardeep Kaur
    WJKK WJKF

  17. Sarabjeet Singh says:

    Dear Gurmustuk jee and others……

    It is really interesting to read all the comments. These are knowledgable comments and speak volumes of years of life experience most of the commentators have.

    I do have a comment, but its slightly different from the one you folks have.

    I am in US for the first time; also this is my first time outside India. Even though i am here for my MBA and i am not a teenager anymore :)… but its kinda different… I am still adjusting and it seems like i am the only Turbaned guy in the entire university (34k students).

    I sometime have to explain where i come from and why i wear a turban. But people are friendly and very interested. It is definately an experience and i am evolving as a human and as a Sikh. Definately a life Experience.

    I am sure Narayan is off to have his share.

    SSN

  18. Hari Singh Khalsa says:

    I agree completely with Bikramjit Singh and find him to actually have an amazing amount of insight for someone who probably doesn’t know too many MPA graduates. Gurumustuk, I believe that the cost of MPA now has risen to such a degree that it could easily be done cheaper here in Española. I also believe that the benefits here are greater than the benefits there. Learning how to live as Khalsa in your eventual country of residence is so extremely important. I know from personally interacting with innumerable MPA graduates, that a shocking number of them loose their Kesh and loose their roop when they no longer have the support and regiment of MPA. Some kids will inspire you when you see them at the school, and then sadden you when you see them a few years down the line. I recently asked one MPA graduate why he cut his hair. He told me that someone in America told him that they really respected him for being able to stand out in a society that contains so much hostility towards the appearance he had. He said that instead of feeling pride in this statement, he felt guilt, because he didn’t feel he represented this. Instead of taking all of the tools he learned at MPA and stepping up to the plate, to ensure that he had the full Khalsa identity, not just the look, he instead choose to abandon the roop which he grew up with. I know from speaking to other confidants of his that he was having trouble getting a girlfriend and that they were counseling him away from altering his roop, insisting that this would not help in his search for a girl. The person I speak of is respectable, he is kind, he is humble and he is serviceful. He exudes the qualities of a Sikh, but he no longer has the roop. I think if he could have spent part of his formative years here in America coming to terms with his identity in relation to the broader American society he probably would have felt pride in his roop instead of guilt and he’d still be out there with the face of the Guru, instead of that person whom you may have seen, but wouldn’t remember.
    I think the time to have a discussion about starting a MPA in the US is now. Gurumustuk, I would also recommend that you don’t send Narayan to India for all of his formative years, but that you intersperse, his years there with time here. Personally I have additional issues with justifying the pollution which is so prevalent in India, when we know that here in Española we have some of the cleanest air in the country. http://lungaction.org/reports/sota07_cities.html#5a

    • Hari Singh, Having actually been a student who went to boarding school in India I have a very different perspective then you. Going to MPA or any school doesn’t guarantee a certain status or accomplishment. So the fact that many people who graduated from schooling in India no longer wear turbans I don’t think is a consequence or their schooling. Each generation of kids that have gone to boarding schools in India has had different challenges. Change is always there.

      I think most of the kids (particularly from our communities) have a better chance of staying a Sikh and deepening themselves spiritually in an environment like MPA in India (than in the USA). I find that the time in boarding school gave me the deep roots, a really great experience of Sikhi, maturity, responsibility, diversity of cultures and the world, as well as a really good root in Punjabi/Indian culture where Sikhi is based.

      As I said in this post, every kid and parent is different and one should do what they feel is best. Every situation is different so there is no one size fits all.

  19. Bikramjit Singh says:

    Waheguru ji ka khalsa
    Waheguru ji ki fateh

    Hari Singh Khalsa ji,

    You are right.
    Frankly, don’t know anyone from or associated with MPA.
    If i had known anyone of the Board of Trustee’s then would have put forth these thoughts.

    Expansion of MPA in Espanola would have open door’s & brought a new dimension to the diverse local community as well as 3HO.

    Waheguru ji ka khalsa
    Waheguru ji ki fateh

  20. Hari Singh Khalsa says:

    Gurumustuk,

    It sounds to me like you also support the idea of expanding MPA to include an Española campus. Like you said, there’s no one size fits all. But there are some unarguable truths such as pollution which we know is not good for our kids.

    I’ve been thinking for a while about how good it would be to conduct some polling to really understand the effect schooling in India has had on the now, adult graduated population. From my experience informally questioning people who have lost their connection with Sikhi, going to school in India was one of the main components. I haven’t asked those that have remained in Guru’s roop whether this was influenced by their years in India. I can only assume that it was, but I also know that most of the people that maintained their connection with Sikhi had some of their schooling in America.

    I’m not trying to undermine or criticize your decision to send Narayan to India, nor do I want you to have regrets as this very sensitive times. What I do want is for us to do whatever is for the greater good. From what I’ve seen and who I’ve talked to, I think if we had qualitative numbers on the effects of schooling in India (especially exclusive Indian schooling), the results would shock our community (and not in a good way). If they did show that the results of sending kids to school in India matched with the results expected, then I would be happy for our community and I’d likely send my own future children to India (whereas now, I believe I’d give them the choice to go only when they’re in high school). I would definitely lament the fact that many in our community would be saddened by the results that I predict, but if my predictions are correct, I think we all have an interest in working to better the situation, including discussing having a school in the US. I don’t see myself to be a pessimist and I don’t mean to spread negativity all over the India school experience, when it’s clear that there are a lot of positives that come from it. I merely based my predictions base on what I’ve seen and heard from people who went to school in India.

  21. Hari Singh, when the Siri Singh Sahib first told us to go to school in India it wasn’t just about a school. It was about the whole experience that a kid gets in Indian culture. Sure, one could have a school here in America, but that is not the experience he was going for. Having gone through school in India and seeing the other kids who have I understand why it is in India and not here.

    So while it might be beneficial to have a school here in the USA, I don’t think it would have nearly the same impact as in India.

    In terms of MPA now in India, we should be supporting it and molding it to grow and become even better.

  22. Hari Singh Khalsa says:

    It’s curious that you mentioned that the Siri Singh Sahib, wanted the kids to go to school in India. I’ve talked to people who’ve told me that he never said it had to be in India, and that he wasn’t opposed to starting a school here. I’m wondering what, if anything of the SSS’s views on the location of the school has been documented.
    I definitely support MPA and I’ve only ever encouraged people to look into it, I’ve never discouraged people from it. In fact today I sent a message to one of the staff there, with some suggestions. He noticed some of the same things that I noticed which could stand to be changed, and I suggested ways it might be done. So I’m all for improving the school there, but I still think we should have a school here as well.

  23. karamjit kaur says:

    wahaguru ji ka khalsa, wahaguru ji ke fateh.

    I live in the uk with my 2 boys age 10 and 7. i wanted to send them to india to study for about 2 years, i like the sound of the miri piri academy. the reason for me to send them to india is of there behaviour here and the way they are becoming. wanted to know am i making the right decision on sending the kids on these reasons. its such a big step and so far. just want them to have good values. any good advice plz

  24. sirinder kaur says:

    Im not a sikh, but understand the value of giving your children a "spiritual" education. Have Sikh Dharma thought of starting a school here in the states? It would not only benefit Sikh Dharma but other sikhs in the U.S. who 1) can not afford Miri Piri 2) dont want to send oversees and 3) want to be in a community of sikhs here in the states.