A brief summary of the India program

The boarding schools I went to were GNFC school in Mussoorie and GRD Academy in Dehra Dun. At first GNFC was the school all the parents collectively sent us to, until about 1989. It was a traditional Sikh boarding school that had a British influence, and had separate campuses for boys and girls. The majority of the students were Indian Sikhs, with some Thai Namtari Sikhs, and us American 3HO Sikhs. The majority of faculty and staff were Indian, and there were about a half-dozen American “guides” with us (incuding the notorious Nanak Dev Singh), and out of those, three were actual teachers and the rest were sort of just assigned to watch over us. One of the guides was made head-nurse by GNFC, and became in charge of the infirmary.

Then there arose a conflict between the 3HO organizers of the India “program” (they were called Sikh Dharma Foreign Education or SDFE) and GNFC. The rumor I got was that SDFE was stiffing GNFC on the bills, and GNFC gave us the boot. SDFE told us however that GNFC was scamming us. I’m really not sure what the real story was, but in 1989 SDFE began constructing its own school in Dehra Dun, called GRD Academy, and was to be structured a lot closer to Yogi Bhajan’s idea of a proper school, and was also co-ed. From then on it became a quest of theirs to form a school in their own ideals (or as they said “to have a school of our own”).

GRD Academy was funded by a man named Raja Singh who was a rich sikh from Delhi. The school was constructed from the ground up, and we attended class and lived in the dorms all during construction. Food supply was often short, and class was often haphazardly organized. Some of the “guides” who were with us at GNFC stayed along for GRD and played more important roles in the shaping of the school, and many more young adults were brought in from the US, some of whom had attended GNFC and graduated from there. Our Principal, Mr. Waryam, was recruited from GNFC as well. He was a nasty drunk.

There were two guides with US Military backgrounds, and they were brought in to teach us military style drills, something that Yogi Bhajan was particularly fond of at the time. For some reason, the Indian students at GRD were exempt from the military training. The 3HO children were to remain at GRD only for a couple of years, and I really don’t know why it didn’t work out, because I was back home by then, attending a new experiment for 3HO youth, the New Mexico Military Institute, which also did not last much more than three years. Also in the time of the last years of GNFC and GRD, a state-side school in Albuquerque, NM was founded, called Amritsar Academy, and where Nanak Dev ended up after leaving GNFC in 1986, which also shut down sometime in the early nineties,.

When Punjab became more peaceful and opened up to visitors, SDFE took on the task of moving all the 3HO children to another new, privately owned, and purely 3HO school environment, and that is what Miri Piri Academy is today. MPA is owned by Sikh Dharma-3HO. I never attended MPA, and never visited either. It appears to be more focused on Sikhism and Sikh Culture, and less focused on academics. I know that it still operates the same way that SDFE organized sending guides over: very low pay, in exchange for room and board. They recruit individuals with no knowledge about childcare, or experience with teaching. They plunk these people in positions of authority over many children, and have no business being there. Some teachers or guides at MPA simply graduated from GNFC, GRD or MPA, and went straight into these positions, with no training or higher education, and certainly no education about childhood development or education. I’m unaware of the statistics for graduates of MPA who pursue higher education. My guess is that it’s relatively similar to my own generation. The majority of youth who pursue higher education ultimately gain critical thinking skills and independent thought, and pursue their own lives outside the realm of 3HO.

We were beat and slapped by the Indian teachers and guides at GNFC, and were also made to do lots of bizarre corporal punishments, that had lots to do with awkward positioning and endurance. At GRD, the beating was not non-existent, however was rare. The corporal punishment remained about the same as GNFC, and was often inflicted by the guides, and the Indian teachers at GRD rarely ordered punishments. Amritsar Academy had it’s own “seva” style, or “karma-yoga” type discipline. I don’t know first-hand what the disciplinary style of the staff and teachers is at MPA, and I’m not comfortable talking about the various rumors that circulate, because I have no way of verifying them. Please comment below if you have a first-hand account.

12 Replies to “A brief summary of the India program”

  1. I have honestly conveyed my feelings. I did not ask you to closet your feelings to protect anyone. I made no claim that 3HO is a utopia. I simply offered my perspective. Since this was an online discussion about india kids experiences, I honestly wrote mine down.

    I don't see how it reflects collective insecurities?? If anything I am being honest.

    Post what you like. You did not do me a big favor.. Find the haters to support your opinion. I don't think you are opening up any closet doors that weren't already open. I guess the only thing to say is get over it and "live your life".

  2. I'm glad for your honesty, however your honesty is a reflection of these issues. Your perspective is simply the perspective of someone entrenched in a dogma, and it's unoriginal. Too bad. Because you had the opportunity to get out while you were in college, a place where one hopefully goes to develop critical thinking skills and original ideas.

    Guess higher education didn't take. I imagine you spent your college years telling yourself and the world of your exotic upbringing and your specialness. Look: It's not exotic, it's not special, there are no "tools". 3HO is a de-facto Cult. You can use all the language and cognitive dissonance that makes it possible for you to stay, but the fact remains.

    I understand how difficult is is to learn that the society you were raised in is a Cult. We believed that what our parents were doing and the choices they were making were in our best interest. But the truth is they were in love with a bigoted, selfish pervert who ruled over their everyday lives, and amassed great wealth from their hard work and devotion. The choices they made were out of love for him, not us. It's a hard reality to swallow.

  3. I am a parent of one of these students. I can believe how nobody do anything about this school. I decided not to send them this scholar year, now in home, they are having the chance to tell me time after time in how many ways they were bullied physically , verbally and mentally by students and staff members, when a student bullied another student in any way (they saw a 7 years old boy chest beaten by older students, this little boy wouldn't say anything because if he told a staff member it would make things worst) staff members would not do anything about it, on the contrary, staff member sometimes would do the same but in a subtle way This school in India is an institution from USA . What can parents do?

  4. Bullshit, I went to MPA for 6 years and the abuse definitely still occurred. It might be slightly better than before but not acceptable by any means. And while more kids are going to college its not a good rate whatsoever. I know many kids who have deep seated emotional trauma and distress.

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