How age-old ‘Guru-Shishya’ tradition elevated Indian sports

If Achrekar revolutionised Indian cricket by mentoring youngsters like Tendulkar, there were many who did the same for other disciplines. A tribute to them all.

The guru-shishya parampara is one of the most precious gifts of Indian civilisation to the world. Its footprints can be seen in all the spheres of life. The tradition symbolises a succession of teachers and disciples in traditional Vedic culture and religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. On the auspicious Teachers’ Day, let’s have a look at the impact of this ancient traditional rite on Indian sports.

 Wrestling in India will always remain indebted to Guru Hanuman. Born as Vijay Pal, he reformed Birla Mills Vyayamshala. This pious place for many is now called Guru Hanuman Akhara. Guru Ji won Draonacharya Award in 1987. But his imprint on the sport can still be seen. Satpal, Kartar Singh, Premnath, Sudesh, Jagminder, Subhash, Bhagat Singh Rajiv Tomar, and many more were mentored and shaped by him. He is the tallest among all sporting Gurus of the nation. Satpal, a disciple of Guru Hanuman, also had Sushil, Yogeshwar Dutt, Bajrang Punia, Amit Dahia, Anil Maan, Rakesh Kumar, Sumit, and Amit Dhankad while, Master Chandgiram mentored Satyavan, Jagroop, Kripa Shankar, Jagdish, Sonika, Suresh Kumar Budh Singh, Neha Rathi, and Shokinder Tomar. Similarly, Capt. Chandroop produced international level wrestlers like Rohtas, Dharmveer, Ashok Garg, Omvir, and Ramesh.

Legendary wrestling coach Guru Hanuman.

 Cricket is the most popular game in the nation. Who can forget the contribution of Ramakant Achrekar? The Dronacharya Awardee taught skills to many youngsters in Shivaji Park of Dadar in Mumbai. The most notable one is Sachin Tendulkar who became the ‘God of Cricket’. Ajit Agarkar, Chandrakant Pandit, Praveen Amre, Vinod Kambli, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Ramesh Powar, Sameer Dighe, and Amol Muzumdar also learned skills from the legendary coach

Hockey coach Baldev Singh

Tarak Sinha set up Sonnet Club in Delhi. He started on a shoestring budget. Later motivated, Sinha Ji shifted his base to Ajmal Khan Park. One after the other, he trained many notable sportsmen. Surinder Khanna, Manoj Prabhakar, Raman Lamba, Ajay Sharma, Sanjeev Sharma, Atul Wassan, Anjum Chopra, Ashish Nehra, Aakash Chopra, and Rishabh Pant are some of them. He received the Dronachrya award in 2018 for his services.

Baldev Singh’s name immediately gets a respectable mention in the list of coaches. He is credited to give 80 odd players to Hockey who played for the nation. 8 of them went on to become skippers of the side. Sandeep Singh, Rani Rampal, Didar Singh, Jasjeet Kaur, Ritu Rani, and Navjot Kaur are some of them.

Nevertheless, if one person has revolutionised a sport in India single-handedly then he is Pullela Gopichand. As a player, he won the All England Badminton title in 2001. After retirement, he mortgaged his own house to set up Pullela Gopichand Academy. Soon, Hyderabad emerged as a hot spot in the game of shuttle. The academy produced prominent names like Saina Nehwal, P V Sindhu, Sai Praneeth, P Kashyap, Kidambi Srikanth Kidambi, Guru Sai Datt, etc. The tectonic plates quietly moved in ways no one ever thought possible. Now the talent is emerging from towns like Dhar owing to the efforts of Gopichand.

Moreover, many Indian pugilists can never repay the pieces of advice of Jagdish Singh. He founded the Bhiwani Boxing club in 2003 which soon became a factory of talent. Some of his illustrious students are Vijender Singh, Akhil Kumar, Dinesh Kumar, Vikas Krishnan, and Kavita Chahal. Singh taught ring intelligence to many budding boxers, particularly from North-East. Mary Kom, L Sarita, Dingko Singh, and many others learned the art of fighting in the ring of his academy.

 Cyrus Poncha is credited to coach several squash players such as Joshna Chinappa, Dipika Pallikal, and Saurav Ghoshal, etc. Desh Prem Azad lived up to the reputation of his name. He guided Kapil Dev, Chetan Sharma, Yograj Singh, and Ashok Malhotra among many students. Gurcharan Singh coached Maninder Singh, Surinder Khanna, Ajay Jadeja, Kirti Azad, Vivek Razdan, Gursharan Singh, Rahul Sanghvi, and Murali Kartik. The legendary cricket coach was conferred with the Dronacharya award in 1987. Ilyas Babar of Gulbarga trained plenty of talents in Athletics. B Satyanarayana, B.S. Barua, Sriram Singh, Tarlok Singh, Charles Borromeo, Bagicha Singh, and Geeta Zutshi carved a niche for themselves at the big stage.

Moreover, the name of R.D. Singh is taken in the highest regard. He became the first Dronacharya awardee for para-sports. He guided Devendra Jhajharia, Jagseer Singh, Sandeep Mann, Deepa Malik, and many more talents.