The Siri Singh Sahib Yogi Bhajan founded Miri Piri Academy in 1997. As he explained it, Miri Piri Academy is an educational institution committed to creating an environment that fosters mastery of the mind, elevation of the spirit, and gives the experience of the depth and power of the being. Through applying the lifestyle teachings of Sikh Dharma, the technology and science of Kundalini Yoga, and a rigorous academic program, we create a generation of Human beings who shall live as such and through their service, shape the destiny of this earth.
In the 18 years since our founding we have developed from a pile of bricks in the mud into a beautiful oasis where children from more than 20 countries around the world strive together to master a Cambridge accredited curriculum, train to become KRI certified Kundalini Yoga Teachers and practice Khalsa values in the land where Sikh Dharma was born. We are a very diverse family, with children from 5th to 12th grade coming from many lands, religions, languages and families.
I have been teaching here for more than 15 years. As the Principal it is my responsibility to embody the values and the mission of the school and to inspire every child who comes through our doors to do the same. The Siri Singh Sahib told me to form a personal relationship with each child at the school. Our mission is carried forward in this way, one child at a time, through consistent personal presence from early morning seva at 2:30am through the academic day, physical training, sports, meals and evening meditation at 7:30pm. As the Siri Singh Sahib told us, “If your presence doesn’t work, neither will your word.”
When I look at each child that comes here and see how they grow and mold themselves through this program over the years, I see them satisfying their own soul’s purpose and developing a true sense of belonging and fulfillment. I then look at my own children and I am sure that I want nothing more or different for them. I try to imagine them getting even a fraction of that spirit elsewhere…not a chance. There is NO other option. It is necessary in order for the Siri Singh Sahib’s legacy to survive. It is needed to bring these souls to their highest destiny, to create a web of people around the world who can uplift anyone through their knowledge and their simple presence, to create a community of conscious human beings wherever they may go.
What is the MPA Experience?
MPA is a training ground where we mold the consciousness of the students to be free from fear, the confines of the mind and the restrictions of society and family environments. It is a place where a child can experience their internal strength, where they can learn the daily life habits and be equipped with the tools to be prosperous, healthy, content, wise and impactful leaders of the global community. It is a place where they can have the longing to belong fulfilled once and for all, so that they can bring that sense of belonging out into their lives and guide others to that experience. It is a place where we learn to live as a community that lives FOR each other, to serve and support each other through any challenge, and to develop the seven steps to happiness….commitment, character, dignity, divinity, grace, power to sacrifice..happiness.
Teaching and Learning at MPA – Kirandeep Kaur, Academic Principal
A very fascinating fact about being a part of the Miri Piri Academy family is that everybody learns here…and by ‘everybody,’ I mean literally everyone who walks on campus, whether it is a student, a teacher, a mukhiya jathedar, a support staff, a visitor or an administrator like me. What kind of learning each one of us receives depends entirely on who we are and who we want to become. In that sense, MPA helps each one of us discover our deeper purpose of life and how we can best become connected to it.
Over the past 9 years, I too have embarked on such a journey. I have learned to observe, experiment, solve problems, analyze patterns, express myself creatively, and above all understand the bigger picture. As I strive to make meaning of my life, I have learned that our beliefs and values make us who we are. I have also learned to treat everyone with respect and have tried to see perspective in disagreements, understanding that this is a huge part of being respectful to another human being.
Being part of the MPA family, it is and will continue to be my endeavor to share some of my learning with everyone who connects with me. I hope to engage our children in meaningful conversations, where they feel that their voices are heard and they can hear other people’s voices. I have also learned to express gratitude for all that is bestowed upon me, and it is with that humility that I wish to thank all MPA supporters- parents, family, friends and above all our children.”
In the words of our teachers:
“I am very thankful to my Guru and God for providing me an opportunity to serve at MPA. Throughout the journey of my teaching here, I realize that I am not merely teaching but I am learning something new every day from the children. It is entirely a different teaching experience, which is helping me to grow spiritually, mentally and physically. It gives me an immense feeling of contentment to see that every day MPA is progressing ahead with new challenges and with strong determination.” Mamta Menon- Mathematics
“My journey at MPA began nine years ago on a bright sunny day as I walked through the center section of the building. The inspirational and positive vibration captivated my attention and since then there was no looking back. Working at MPA has imparted stirring and stimulating experiences and it keeps broadening my horizons. The warmth of the MPA family has greatly impacted my life. I have been learning, teaching and growing day by day.
MPA is like my second home. Each day brings new challenges and opportunities to teach and learn new skills. The school has offered numerous opportunities to grow professionally, personally and socially. The harmonious and healthy tone of the school has nourished my body, mind and soul. I feel more enduring, spirited and optimistic. The beautiful and scenic landscape of the school is a gift of serenity. I feel blessed to be the part of this esteemed institution and wish to keep offering my contribution for the growth and prosperity of MPA.” Gagandeep Kaur, English
“Miri Piri Academy. The name itself reminds us of the Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, the sixth Guru. This is something that has made this place very special for me. The “Dream Job” for me always had been to be in such a workplace where “Work is Worship” becomes a reality and I am happy to say that this is happening here. I enjoy sharing my knowledge with my students in the form of Sakhis (Guru stories) something I love the most! I teach Gurmat to all the grades, which not only covers the Sakhis but also includes the study of other religions.
As per my understanding, Sri Singh Sahib Ji always wanted MPA to prepare the future leaders, teachers and healers of the world. I feel this is the reason why he brought us close to Miri (temporal) and Piri (spiritual). A balance between these two would make a man a “complete being,” so in my classes I try to bring this up and share the traditional form of Sikhism in connection to the present modern times or contemporary problems so that it helps them to understand how the Guru’s teachings can provide a solution to current social problems and the Khalsa can play a major role in bringing peace and prosperity into the world.
This is the little role I play at MPA and will be happy to see this adding something to the big goals set up by the Sri Singh Sahib Ji. I pray the Guru blesses us all with many more great moments and may all live in the realization of His presence within us. Lastly I pray the Guru blesses us all to make ourselves and our students integrated beings with a balanced life of Miri and Piri.” Avneet Kaur, Gurmat
Leading With Love
A day in the life of a Mukhya Jethadar, as we call our students caretakers, requires commitment, discipline, patience, strength, character, intuition and above all, love! They participate in all of the activities of the residential program along with our students. They have to be present at all times during formation, check that everyone gets there on time and is wearing their uniform correctly for each occasion, or their private bana in an appropriate way. They do room inspection everyday, they join and encourage the students in their personal meditations, they guide them in Sadhana, physical training, Kundalini yoga, games, running, and sports. They write monthly reports to each child’s parent. They go to town leaves, Golden Temple trips, Parkarma Seva, field trips and travel with them on the breaks. They take care of the students in case they get sick at night when the nurses are not on campus.
But it is not only that they participate in the student life activities, they also make it their personal business to get to know everything that’s going on with the students. They work closely with Jugat Guru Singh, Amrit Singh and Kirandeep Kaur to be a fundamental part of each student´s growth and development. They care, they counsel and they encourage each child to be their best.
Gurprakash Singh has been working at MPA for 5 years and he was a student for nine years. In the past he was a teacher and assisted Jugat Guru to run the Spiritual Life program. This year he is one of the Mukhya Jethadhars and still teaches them Gatka, Kundalini Yoga and Meditation. He leads Physical Training, plays basketball with them and trains the different basketball teams. In his words:
You can tell what the students need pretty easily after being around them for so long. I work with the formula of the Siri Singh Sahib: poke, provoke, confront and elevate. Every discipline comes with this already because you want to uplift them, show them their weaknesses through the challenge and make them conscious of it.
Everything depends on what they do. You hold the space and stay in tune with them. The amount of time you spend with the students allows you to read what they are going through and everyday you have to check from one human being to the other. Aside from the program what we do comes out of real care. We show them love. It is one complete life, nothing is separated. It all blends together and that by itself increases the effect of the discipline.
This place is my blood and I have seen it change and evolve. When I was a young student myself, the culture was to avoid all spirituality. Doing yoga and meditation was not cool. The main thing MPA has cultivated for the last ten years is that we have miraculously made the students realize that it is the best they can do for themselves and they get to do all these kriyas and meditate on a regular basis. That is mainly because of the effort and commitment of Jugat Guru and Amrit Singh, who have been working here for years and along with their job responsibilities, they teach without stopping. That’s inspiring for me.
To be their real friend is not just about making them feel good. Here I have been redefining my concept of what a real friendship is and I jump out and tell them about what is not working as a true friend will do. Everything I teach them is from my experience because that is the only way they get to feel that I am real.
The most important advice that the Siri Singh Sahib personally gave to Jugat Guru is to have a one on one relationship with every student. At some point in time you have to personally reach each one of the students and that is absolutely incredible because they all have a story to share and so much to give you. From day to day you always think about the ones you need to connect with more, and that pushes you to go through the day always thinking about someone else’s need rather than your own personal needs.
What I love the most about my work is to witness the strong presence that every graduate from MPA has after years of doing things that changed them. They all have that grit. And also to see how the whole experience gives you meaningful friendships that last for a lifetime.
Himmat Singh was a student here for 6 years. This is his first year working as a Mukhya Jethadar and he is thrilled to be here. He takes good care of the students. He trains them for soccer and he receives everyone who needs it at his room, where he also organizes pizza parties to watch different games and holds group meditations. In his words:
Being an MJ requires playing at least two roles in the life of the students. One role is to keep them on track and inspire them and push them; the other role is to relate to them, have fun with them and connect with them.
Overseeing these teenage boys I see that it is common that they have a constant challenge with calming their monkey minds, and part of my job as a disciplinarian is to remind them of that. To help them to stay present, focus their mind, give their respect and attention to everyone around them.
The students constantly inspire me. The way they keep up and the way that they grow and progress on their own. I love to be a part of MPA as I came to study here for several years. Now with this experience, which involves a lot more responsibility, I constantly work on myself to grow and excel and be of service to all of them.
Siri Radha Kaur is from New York and this is her first year working at MPA as a Mukhya Jethadhar. This is what she shared:
“Working at MPA is challenging for sure. Being here forces me to become aware of and overcome my own limitations. The external circumstances that face me just mirror back to me what I have going on inside. And this can be painful at times but also a huge blessing.
Balancing discipline and emotional support is the most important thing to master as a staff member at MPA. Being compassionate and understanding that each child comes here with their own unique challenges to overcome is actually where the discipline comes in. They are not always aware of it, but the children want to be challenged to push beyond their own limitations. But they are children so they need guidance, and that’s where we come in.
Being a friend and giving guidance to the students comes when they understand that I am here to help and serve them. Having that relationship means that I take the time to give them what they need, even if it means being met with resistance sometimes. But serving their highest good is what creates a mutual respect that then creates a friendship.
MPA prepares the students to develop the grit that is necessary for life and all its challenges. Coming here is an invaluable experience that they will carry with them the rest of their life. Nowhere else on earth is there a school that takes children through what they need in order to develop the confidence, stamina and strength to excel in anything they do. It’s not an intellectual process but an experiential one and MPA gives children that experience.”
Chanandev Kaur is originally from Mexico where she worked at IKYTA for the past four years organizing White Tantric Yoga, among other events. This is her first year working at MPA as a Mukhya Jethadhar. This is what she shared about her experience:
“I feel how this work is shaping me. I have to be able to hold the space for the students, putting aside my own emotional process. I think it is key to have a strong commitment to my personal practice. As we are so involved in the life of the students and we are present in all the activities in the program, we also get the chance to develop ourselves through meditation and the practice of Kundalini Yoga. It is becoming more clear to me what I need to work on for myself, so this job opportunity allows me to grow in ways I wouldn’t be able to back home. It is very challenging, but constantly gives me the necessary knowledge of how to improve myself.
For me to keep a balance between discipline and emotional support is very important and I have to keep in mind what is my role at school. I am working at all times for the well being of the girls and I am here to serve them in a sweet and loving way. At the same time I have to establish healthy boundaries, as I need to report if their room is not neat, if they are late to formation, etc. I think I have learned to recognize that the girls need space and that they need to be listened to. I have to build up upon their trust so they know that I am open to be there for them and take care of their needs.
I feel truly fulfilled to see how all the girls are growing, all the changes they go through and how they are transforming themselves for the best. It is a work of much internal struggle, courage and commitment.”
Ajooni Singh, Executive Chef “I consider this job as a gift from the Siri Singh Sahib Yogi Bhajan as in the past I worked several years for him as his personal cook. Now, because of him, I am here with my beautiful wife Prem Kaur and our wonderful daughter Adesh. For me it is an absolute blessing to be able to serve the students of Miri Piri Academy. To find new ways to surprise them and make them feel at home with the food we lovingly prepare day after day with dedication and a lot of hard work from everyone who works at the kitchen. The meals are prepared in a really nice atmosphere, sometimes we chant mantras and it is like an active meditation to perform all the different tasks. Prem and I have been focused on beautifying the space and take good care of our workers. For us the most important thing is that the children feel happy and satisfied after they leave the dining hall.”
In Their Own Words – Our Students
“I have always known that I was going to attend Miri Piri Academy. I knew that it was a special place. I had seen people close to me come home every year and they all had a certain presence and attitude. I never thought maybe I don’t want to go to a boarding school half way across the world. I wanted to go to the school and have that presence. What I didn’t know is the work that it takes to gain that presence and light that they all seemed to have. What being at the school does for us isn’t found anywhere else. Every time I don’t want to wake up for PT, or miss home, I remember that light and presence which everyone gains just from being here.” Sarib Jot Kaur Khalsa, USA
“This is my 6th year here at MPA. My brother used to come here and that is why I felt inspired to come. From all my time here I have learned to give a 100% at all times, to always do my best and to face any challenge in my life. I have developed my skills for Gatka, which is my favorite thing ever! I feel awesome because it is a great sport and it is also a spiritual practice for warriors, it gives me strength, keeps me calm, and it centers me. Life here is different, it keeps you away from all the distractions and therefore it keeps me more concentrated. Here I can experience myself in a way that I could not if I was back at home. You create a bond with all your friends here that makes you feel like they are a brother or a sister to you. It is very meaningful.” Guru Partap Singh Khalsa, Netherlands
“My life at MPA is completely different from my life in Germany. This is my first year at MPA. I heard about the school one week before the other German students would fly to India and made my decision in one day after I had my first experience with Kundalini Yoga at the Yoga Festival in France. I am very thankful that my dad did his best to make everything possible in just a couple of days. After I was done organizing and packing everything, I was finally sitting in the airplane. There were a lot of thoughts and I started to realize that I’m on the way to India, a place far, far away from my home, my family, friends and all the things which are important to me which I have to leave behind me for one year. Now I call MPA my home. It is like you have a really big family with a lot of brothers and sisters and your friends are always by your side when you need them. I am so happy to have new and different experiences here.” Mieke Runge, Germany
“Sat Nam. I am a student of 11th Grade and I am from South India. Miri Piri Academy is a school to create the leaders of the future. I didn’t know about the 3HO Community, Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini Yoga, and the school until I found out from one of my friends from Hyderabad. It was a complete surprise for me. This school gave me the correct way to live my life. My favorite part of the day is when we practice Martial Arts. The meaning of “Miri” is “warrior” and “Piri” is “Saint”. We practice to be warriors-saints. After coming here I realized the importance of friendship and family. At MPA we are like an international family.” Simarjeet Singh, India
“My name is Zhuizu and my spiritual name is Hari Manet Kaur. This is my second year at MPA. I love this school because there is Kundalini Yoga. My best memory is last year’s Yoga Competition. All the students in my house were practicing so hard and everyone was super excited! They chose me to do plank pose and I did really good. I got the first place for intermediates. I love to see myself improving day by day. All the practice of kriyas and meditations help me a lot.” Hari Manet Kaur, China
“Miri Piri Academy is a family. It’s where you meet many different people from many parts of the world and in the end you feel that they are almost all your brothers and sisters. Of course it’s not that fast or that easy. It takes time and fights and lots of patience; but that’s what brings us close. Even if we come to a point when we think that we hate each other, we still have to see each other every day, and in the end you have to learn how to live with that person even if you don’t like it. You have to learn to respect and accept the other person. You have to learn how to develop your tolerance and compassion, because having so many different cultures, traditions, and ways of thinking in one place is not always easy. MPA definitely pushes us. It brings up things that you maybe wouldn’t see if you were at home and you have to deal with them. Sometimes it looks like too much, but we are to learn to be better human beings, to grow up and be graceful and beautiful, and that’s another one of the reasons why I love it here.” Siri Vias Kaur, Brazil
“Sat Nam. I am Dev Suroop Kaur from Italy. I am in 11th Grade and this is my first year at MPA. In just these 5 months that I have been here, MPA has helped me a lot to develop my personality and to be conscious about myself. Since the beginning I feel so different. Before coming here I had so many doubts about myself, about the way I look, how to deal with relationships, what my talents are, if I am good enough for others. I would always ended up comparing myself to others and feeling insecure. But here the environment where we live is totally different. Instead of judging you, everybody is compassionate and helps you in the way that they can. In this way I felt less pressure and free to be who I actually am, with better confidence in myself and with other people. It gives me the opportunity to collaborate to create something good for everyone and not compete and step on each other.
A big part of this school are sports. Before coming to MPA I was such a lazy person and I would just do archery twice a week. It is not even an active sport. But here I just feel so inspired to play sports and I love it! Also the spiritual side of MPA is something that I love. Being just 30 minutes away from the Golden Temple is something so special for me. Meditating there is much easier and every time I go, I feel more centered within myself. Meditating every day with the school is really inspiring as well. I am so grateful to be here growing to be a better person and sharing with friends who will last a lifetime.” Dev Suroop Kaur, Italy
“Satnam. My name is Alexey and I’m from Russia.This is my second year here and I am in 8th Grade. Before coming to MPA I was just a normal student in a normal school. Then one day I got sick. My friend’s mother came to see me at our house. She told me that her daughter was studying at MPA and she said lets call her on Skype. We called her and Lisa said that the school was really awesome. My mother and I decided to go to India to check out the school. We went to Amritsar for one week during the time of vacation and after seeing the school, I told my mother: “I will go to MPA and I will study there.” Before coming I was playing video games and eating a lot more. I was studying but I didn’t put much effort. Everything changed when I came to MPA. I started playing sports and I do much more exercise with yoga and martial arts. I feel so inspired by being here.” Alexey Shevtsov Alexeevich, Russia
“I’m from Peru in South America. I’m 16 years old and this is my first year at the school. Before coming to MPA I was the typical teenager of the Western world, partying, video games, McDonald’s…I didn’t have an idea about what spirituality was or kundalini yoga, maybe just because I was not interested or I didn’t know about it. But life has prepared something different for me. It made me come to MPA and when that happened, my whole perspective on the world and people around me totally changed. I realized that we are where we are for a reason, because we have something special to do in this life. I understood that we are everything and we are not everything at the same time, and that we are part and we are one with the creator, with the universe. I learned how to live a healthy life based on being vegetarian, doing Kundalini yoga Kriya and pranayama, daily exercise, etc.
Now I’m following the Kundalini Yoga teacher training program as part of the 11th Grade curricula and I’m really excited because I will be a yoga teacher soon! That is a great opportunity that MPA gives to their students, together with the weekly trips to Harmandir Sahib, Seva experience, learning Sikh Dharma and the chance to be a part of a big family. It has totally changed my life. I can only say thank you. Thank you MPA.” Gianfranco Gamboni, Peru