Dr Jasbir Singh Sarna
Khalsa College, Amritsar, a leading institution in North India, is the hub of religious, cultural, political, social and progressive movement in the Sikh homeland. The founders of this college were inspired by the lofty ideals of the Sikh Gurus. He has gone through a long and colorful period of struggle to achieve his current status as a source of dynamic and enlightened leadership for the people. The main objective of its founders was to achieve excellence of mind and body through intellectual work and the spirit of Chardikala.
The nerve center of Sikhs for the fulfillment of their religious, social, cultural and political aspirations, its history is the living chronicle of the Sikh renaissance, while remaining the core of educational and cultural excellence. For more than a century, Khalsa College has not only influenced the destiny of the Sikh nation, but has become a breeding ground for Sikh traditions and literature.
By 1885 the Singh Sabha had become a mass movement. Its main objective was to spread literacy among Sikhs, for the publication of Sikh literature, for the opening of orphanages and educational institutions for boys and girls. The first and main institution devised by the Singh Sabha movement, and in particular by Sunder Singh Majithia, was to establish a Khalsa College. At that time, there were two views regarding its location. One favored Lahore and the other insisted on Amritsar. Sunder Singh Majithia favored Amritsar. About 101 acres of land was purchased near Kot Said Mahmood, now known as Kot Khalsa. The foundation was laid by the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, Sir James B. Lyall, on March 5, 1892. It was registered as a corporation under Act XXI of 1860, on April 4, 1892. The board of administration of Khalsa College consists of 100 members and the executive committee has 30 members. Dr. William H. Rattigan became its first Chairman of the Board and S. Attar Singh as Vice Chairman on April 3, 1893.
During the establishment of the College, all sections of Sikhs, from princes to peasants, came forward. All Sikh farmers contributed six pies per rupee on all land revenue paid by them. The current magnificent building truly came into being through input from the masses. The architectural structure of the Khalsa College building is one of the most remarkable in the country. The layout was drawn by S. Ram Singh, of Mayo School of Arts, Lahore. The engineer was S. Dharam Singh. Adjacent to Khalsa College are staff quarters, hostels for boys and girls namely JAV Hostel, Nabha Hostel, Fairdkot, Hargobind and Jind.
S. Sohan Singh, a young boy of 13 years old was admitted as the first student of this College. Admission is open to all students of all faiths i.e. Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, etc. In this way, Khalsa College remains secular.
On April 9, 1990, Lord Curzon, Viceroy and Governor General of India visited the College. The first five principals of the College were English, including O. Ratigan, JC Oman, GVCole. Wadhen (1913 1924) proved to be a living legend for students. In 1928, Sirdar Kishan Singh, a well-known mathematician of his time, was appointed as the first Sikh headmaster. Bhai Jodh Singh became director in 1936. After that, S. Inder Singh, Dr. Harwant Singh, S. Bishan Singh Samundari, S. Sham Singh Kapoor, S. Gurbux Singh Shergil, Dr. SS Dhillon, Dr. NSSoch, were directors, the the last named is now Vice Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University. Dr. SS Randhawa and now Dr. Mahal Singh is currently the director. Among the former staff members were prof. Kishan Singh, Pr Gopal Rao, Pr Narayan Singh, Pr Teja Singh, Pr Oman, Pr Panicliffe, Dr Puranic, Pr Sahib Singh, Dr Roshan lal Ahuja. Principal Sant Singh Sekhon, Prof. Diwan Singh, Prof. Karnail Singh Thind, Prof. Gurdial Singh Phull, Prof. Waryam Singh, Prof. Kartar Singh have all left an indelible mark on the College and on the educational map of Punjab.
The Sikh History Research Department was established at Khalsa College in 1930 under the guidance of Bhai Vir Singh. The first leader was the historian S. Karam Singh. Others were S. Jagat Singh, Dr. Ganda Singh (1931-1950) collected hundreds of priceless books, manuscripts, art and photos for this department. Dr. Kirpal Singh’s contribution to its complete reorganization is well known to scholars. There are some 570 manuscripts, including 287 in Punjabi, 248 in Persian, 32 in Urdu and 3 in Sanskrit, all relating to Sikhs and the history of Punjab. The special library had 4,726 books, 288 portraits, paintings and photographs. weapons and artifacts. The department has published over a dozen books. Historical scholars from abroad and across the country regularly visit this department to view manuscripts and rare books for research purposes.
In sports, Khalsa College has achieved notable successes including hockey, track and field, shot put, discus throw and wrestling. The players have achieved great feats in national and international games.
In 1905, for the enhancement of Sikh religious and Sikh heritage, a pulpit of divinity was established. Bhai Jodh Singh was the first responsible. Later, this department was served with distinction by Prof. Sahib Singh, Taran Singh, Prakash Singh, Dr. Suba Singh, Dr. Inderjit Singh Googani. A splendid Gurdwara on campus bears witness to the dedication of dozens of teachers and thousands of students. The late Giani Diwan Singh Ragi served for decades singing Gurbani in moving ragas.
The badge of Khalsa College depicts university students as lions emerging from the divine light of Harimander Sahib, holding aloft the Khalsa symbol with an eternal meaning of Chardikala and faith in the pious slogan of ‘Akal Sahai’ aimed at achieve excellence in education, thought and service to others.
Before 1947, there were only two agricultural colleges, one at Lyallpur and the second at Khalsa College. The latter played a leading role in the green revolution in Punjab. Thousands of graduates, Agri. officers, professors of university level. Agri. Inspectors and scientists remain the torchbearers of Khalsa College. World famous agricultural scientists like Dr. Khem Singh Gill and Dr. NS Randhawa are well known.
The British government had offered to convert Khalsa College into a Sikh university on the condition that the College community ceremonially receive the Prince of Wales. But the fraternity of the College, bearing in mind national aspirations and feelings, refused. The British government immediately withdrew its offer. The main personalities who revolted against British rule and later engaged in the struggle for freedom, playing a notable role in the politics of India, were Master Tara Singh, Partap Singh Kairon, Sohan Singh Josh, Giani Shankar Singh, S. Niranjan Singh Talib, Teja Singh Sutantar, Achar Singh Cheena, etc.
In the post-1947 when the University of Punjab had been broken up and the new East Punjab University had yet to be established, many postgraduate classes from the university and the government. The College of Agriculture was housed at Khalsa College.
Till date, Khalsa College has produced thousands of high-ranking military officers, among whom the best known is Air Chief Marshal Arjun Singh. The College has produced a large number of top scholars, eminent scientists, civil servants and public figures, eminent writers, historians and Olympians.
Today, Khalsa College in Amritsar has grown significantly. More than a dozen educational institutions are affiliated with it. Their number continues to increase. This college has not only produced historians, thinkers, scholars, poets, writers, etc. famous, but also military generals, decision makers, scientists, politicians, sportsmen, etc. famous people who have made a name for themselves at home and abroad. Khalsa College, Amritsar has had great historical significance.
It is perhaps the only college in the Indian subcontinent that offers facilities for education from kindergarten to doctoral level in all academic disciplines.