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KHALSA PRACHARAK VIDYALA, TARN TARAN

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KHALSA PRACHARAK VIDYALA, TARN TARAN, an institution established in 1906 by the Khalsa Diwan Majha. From its inception in 1904, the setting up of centres in the rural areas to conduct worship services and reform programmes among villagers had constituted a vital part of the DTwan`s mission. The new organizational structure in turn required preparation of specialists who, well versed in Sikh theology, history and Iwian, could meet the needs of the masses.

Following lengthy discussions and detailed planning, a committee comprising Sardar Sant Singh of Rasulpur, Risaldar Basant Singh of Naushahra Pannuari, Bhai Nihal Singh of Kairori, Baba Dial Singh of Kairori, Bhai Ishar Singh of Dholiari, and Bhai Mohan Singh Vaid of Tarn Taran, was formed to establish a school, the Khalsa Pracharak Vidyala, at Tarn Taran, to train Sikh preachers. The Vidyala opened on 6 November 1906 and began instruction of young men in Buriga Bahoru attached to Sri Darbar Sahib, Tarn Taran.

Although members of the advisory committee gave considerable part of their time to administering the institution and raising funds for it, Bhai Ishar Singh devoted his lifetime to it and became its headmaster and manager. Bhai Mohan Singh Vaid was the secretary and honorary lecturer in medicine.The curriculum included a two year course on Sikh religion, comparative study of religious history of the Punjab and Sikhs, elementary knowledge of medicine (hikmat), Braj Bhasha, kathd or exposition of the Sikh texts, and kirtan or recitation with music.

Khalsa Diwan Majha also moved its headquarters from Kairori to Tarn Taran early in 1907 and the school came under its direct supervision. A year later, the Diwan amalgamated itself with the Chief Khalsa Diwan, and the Vidyala became part of the network of educational institutions that was developing in the Punjab under the aegis of the central body.The expanding role of the Vidyala in Sikh affairs soon necessitated purchase of separate facilities for training students. Land was secured at the present site, on the outskirts of Tarn Taran, and then a sustained effort was made to secure funds for the construction of a suitable building.

The Chief Khalsa Diwan generated some funds, as did special appeals at annual sessions of the Sikh Educational Conference. The bulk of the building costs, however, came from local donations and especially those collected by Master Ishar Singh on numerous trips through South-East Asia. The rdgis and pracharaks trained in the Vidyala soon earned respect for themselves and for their alma mater, as evidenced by the incessant pressure on the school to provide touring groups for virtually every religious occasion.

During the last century or so the Vidyala has continued to expand and to incorporate new programmes. Classes for Giani and Budhiman examinations have been added to the old curriculum. Free lodging is given to young Sikhs studying to become rdgis and granthis. In 1973, the Sri Guru Har Krishan Public School became part of the institution, thus combining religious education with preparation of the Sikh youth for many aspects of modern life. A local committee manages the two institutions under the auspices of the Chief Khalsa Diwan. Jas.

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