Valuable lessons After pursuing his own education, Capt Varinderjit Singh Dhillon, realised the importance of educating the next generation of Nihang Sikhs. He now works as a schoolteacher of moral science and Punjabi at Budha Dal Public School in Zirakpur.
“Education is the essence of life. I witnessed a huge change in my personality after I completed my graduation. Now, I want every child in my small Nihang Sikh community to be educated,“ asserts Dhillon, 51, who served in the Indian Army before taking up teaching.
He is close to his community and acts as the community's “chief liaison officer“, at various government offices. “I can easily interact with government officers since I worked for the government in the past and am quite familiar with the processes,“ he explains. “This has only been possible after receiving my formal education,“ he adds. Dhillon graduated from the Army College, Siliguri, after doing his schooling in Anandpur Sahib. He is also the editor of monthly magazine Nihang Singh Sandesh.
Dhillon's daughter is following in her father's footsteps and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Pharmacy. “I would love to send her abroad for further studies. She will be the first member of our family to study overseas,“ says the proud father. Besides teaching and dreaming of educating his kids on foreign shores, Dhillon is also a fitness freak and regularly goes on long walks or jogs. He is fond of sports and spends his spare time watching sports channels or driving his SUV. “My educational background and my fluency in English have made me a star in the Nihang Sikh community,“ he beams.
Singh also performs gatka at various nagar kirtans (neighbourhood kirtan) all over Punjab. “I enjoy training youngsters in shastar vidya as only Nihang Sikhs practice this art. Had it not been for us, this tradition would have vanished. My expertise lies in handling traditional Sikh weapons like malatthi, daang, soti and chakkar,“ he shares. Also a philanthropist, Singh frequently donates money to underprivileged girls for their marriages and he also provides food and shelter to the needy.
Always armed with two kirpan's and a daang, Singh calls himself a true Nihang Sikh. He has never travelled abroad and feels that Punjab -“the land of Gurus“ -is heaven on earth. “I strongly feel that a higher education is enlightening. It has expanded my horizons and increased my understanding of the world,“ says Singh, who contributes to a monthly publication for Nihang Sikhs called Patrika Vihaar.
Singh, who enjoys watching the Discovery channel, is an avid reader who has read almost all of Osho's books. He is also a fan of Punjabi literature, his favourite novel being Marhi Da Diva. “I have received so much respect due to my educational background. I was a good student and worked very hard as I always wanted to achieve something in life,“ he says.
But with Singh's determination, he succeeded anyway. He has written a book in Punjabi called Bajwe Dian Arshi Lehran (a collection of poems and short stories) and is working on his second book, which is a tribute to God. “Education has made me a better human being and has given me a privileged life, which wouldn't have been possible without formal education,“ says Rajpura-based Singh, who spends his spare time meditating.
Singh has three sons, and his eldest son has done his BCA. “Nowadays, there's so much competition and it's difficult to get a job. Kids need to have that edge over others if he or she wants to survive -there is no scope for mediocrity,“ reflects Singh.
Hindustan Times, 6th March 2011