ARYA SAMAJ YESTERDAY TO-DAY AND TO-MORROW
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati appeared as a shining star on the socio-religious firmament of princely India that is Bharat in 1824 at village Tankara, district Rajkot in a family of orthodoxAudichya Brahmins. Although it was a family of landed aristocrats of sorts but the baby-boy’s father, Karsanji Tiwary was entrusted with the job of Keeping land records of a small state named Morvi. He was granted some perks and privileges in lieu and the local peasantry respected him as an official of the state.
Life ambled along in that part of Kathiawar where no news was always good news. There were rarely any skirmishes, leave aside battles, between the neighbouring states and numerical tally of self-administered and self-centred states touched three digits. The name of the region in Gujarati and Hindi is Saurashtra or one hundred principalities. Each one was busy in its own business. So who had the time to indulge in intrigues or muster horsemen to mount a cavalry charge against the neighbouring principality. Thus Peace prevailed before the advent of Gautam Buddha and even after he had ascended to where he belonged.
Saurashtra existed under the suzerainty and overlordship of the British Empire in India and its Chief Executive was the Viceroy and Governor General who functioned from the Imperial capital of New Delhi. The British masters did not meddle with the family faith or personal religion of the native population since they had burnt their fingers badly in the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. In Saurashtra like anywhere else in India, the British Army and the Native troops lived their own life, rather aloofish, not mixing with the local men. Meeting men once in a blue moon might have been permitted but establishing contact with the native women by the British army officers and British Other Ranks was out of the question.
ROLE OF DHARMA
The role of Dharma in the Indian way of life is intermingled with the day to day routine life and inseparable from the theory of Karma and Karmaphal as is sugar in Sherbat. The Dharma and the mundane daily life are inseparable, indivisible and unidentifiable, if separated from each other. Right from the morning till night and thereafter whatever one does or does not do is as per injunctions of the Dharma as taught by the greatest law-giver, Manu Maharaj in the Manusmriti. Manu Maharaj has given TEN principles of Dharma that guide the Hindu gentlemen and ladies in leading a life of Righteousness forsaking Evil and imbibing all that is Noble. Apparently, a Ved mantra guided Manu Maharaj in formulating it. The mantra is:
AUM VISHWANI DEV SAVITUR DURITANI PARASUV
YAD BHADRAM TANNA AASUV.
Rendered into English it means : O Lord Benign, help me banish all that is EVIL, and give me guidance to Imbibe all that is NOBLE. Taking it as a bench mark, we move forward and live life by Tenets of Dharma.
The ten principles of Dharma are:
Dhritih kshama damo steyam shaucham indriya nigrah;
Dhih Vidya Satyam Akrodho Dashkam Dharm Lakshanam.
Manu Maharaj has summarised so succinctly what our path of Righteousness should be. A free translation of the relevant sloka of the Manusmriti gives us TEN moorings around which the boat of life should drop the anchor. Elsewhere the life will not have a smooth flow or it will be swept away by strong currents beyond our control.
The TEN BEACONS are:
Abjuring the desire to Steal.
Cleanliness of Body Mind and Soul.
Control of Indriyas.
Exercising MIND (Mastishk Manthan in Hindi),
Vidya or Knowedge,
TRUTH (Satyamev Jayate Nanretam),
Absence of Anger –
These indeed are the TEN pillars of Dharm that guide our day to day living.
Well, everything was fine and ship-shape until the epic battle of Mahabharat. Thereafter a lot of knowledge was lost with the large scale killings in battle and after Mahabharat, our desh, Bharat sank into a morass. Darkness – PHYSICAL, MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL PREVAILED ALL OVER.
More than half of the population of India was not permitted by the semi-literate Brahmins to read Vedas, what to say of meditating on the Mantras. The women folk were treated by Aryas worse than what the Taliban are doing to them now. Many other sections of the Samaj were left out and counted among the underprivileged and Ignored classes. Many invaders came from Europe and Central Asia and plundered Bharat at will. The Bhartiya Samaj was as bad as lost despite all Vedic knowledge being stored in godowns. The Art of Warfare was lost forever. Research work stopped all over. Books of advanced knowledge were kept sealed for ever as there was none to decipher the Code of Science and Technology. The Vedic Studies suffered more than any other branch of knowledge because there remained none to study and meditate on Mantras. The books of Hymns were worshipped but never read. The Vedic culture had sunk into an abyss as dark as the night ofAmavasya .It was a permanentAmavasya where no light could be seen at the end of the dark tunnel.
Having lived in a dark abyss for many centuries, the suffering people of Aryavart were blessed with the advent of an enlightened soul who was ready to undergo deprivation for the cause of the country. He studied the Vedic grammar at the feet of Guru Virjanand in Mathura, the janmbhoomi of Yogeshwar Shri Krishna. The dedicated disciple, Dayanand Saraswati did not have to look back thereafter.
Swami Dayanand Saraswati, hailed from Tankara village in Kathiawar and spoke Gujarati as his mother tongue. He studied Sanskrit both Vedic and laukik or the current language of the common men of religion. However, a visionary that Dayanand was, he learnt Hindi to write commentaries on the Vedas for the learning of the common man and ordinary housewives. Dayanand Saraswati wrote his magnum opus, Satyarth Prakash, the book of sixteen sanskaras, Sanskar Vidhi and exposition of the method of studying VEDAS, the Rigvedadi Bhashya Bhumika in both Sanskrit and Hindi.
Swami Dayanand Saraswati ushered in a revival of Vedic Studies among the common men and women to uplift the society as such. Indeed he ushered the Renaissance – revival of ancient studies formodernisation of man’s outlook and carved a niche in the annals of Vedic Studies. Dayanand’s admirers and followers found in him a Renaissance Rishi who was ever ready to do more and more to uplift the common man and enable him and her to become an Arya – an ennobled human being.
When the like-minded Aryas assembled at Kakarwadi in Mumbai on a Saturday afternoon on 10th April 1875 to perform a Vedic Havan, make rules in furtherance of achieving a LAKSHYA of ennobling Mankind, the Arya Samaj was born.
It may be of interest to an Arya Samajist of today to know that there were One Hundred members on rolls of the First Arya Samaj that was founded in the presence of Swami Dayanand Saraswati.
Our Renaissance Rishi was a democrat to his fingertips and preferred his name to figure in alphabetical order sans precedence. Notwithstanding fervent appeals made by many newly enrolled members to the Rishivar to accept Presidentship of the Arya Samaj, Kakarwadi, Bombay; the ascetic of erudition chose to be just an ordinary member like 99 others sitting there.
The popularity of the Arya Samaj increased among the masses by leaps and bounds. However, the province that became a citadel of the Arya Samaj movement was the undivided Punjab with capital city Lahore as the epicentre.
Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati himself travelled from Mumbai to Multan in the North, to Calcutta in the East, Rajkot, Kathiawar in the West and Pune in the Deccan Plateau. The Swami was a popular Sanyasi and his name and fame travelled far and wide. He received invitations from far and wide to preach the original Vedic Dharma and take common man on board. In Rajputana, kings and commoners alike received him with open arms and Maharana Sajjan Singh Ji of Mewar changed the education system of his State as per the details given in the Satyarth Prakash and further augmented by the Maharishi himself.
However, it is now a part of history how Swami Dayanand Saraswati was betrayed in the State of Jodhpur and poisoned by those whose livelihood was endangered by the enlightening discourses and personal counselings by the Rishivar to the affected persons who were high and mighty, such as courtesan like Nanhi Bhagatan, Muslim Musahibs like Faizullah Khan and his protégé Doctor Ali MardanKhan. Having suffered from an undiagnosed illness and consequently lack of effective medical treatment, shifting the Swami from place to place when he was in frail health are some of the factors that call for an investigation de novo into his illness and treatment thereof. We may keep the issue alive and take up when the environment is more cordial for a probe. Leaving the legal aspect aside, one may dive deep into the medical aspect of diagnosis, treatment and medication of Swami Dayanand Saraswati in last few months of his life in what was then known as Rajputana; the present day Rajasthan.
It was the Diwali evening. The date was 30th October 1883. Swami Dayanand Saraswati who had been suffering for one month one day for lack of proper medical treatment, composed himself, prayed pronouncing Ved mantras and singing a bhajan, bestowing an Aashirwad look to his disciples. He breathed his last serenely. The 59-year old Sanyasi was in pain but his composure and his trust in the dispensation of justice, the karma Phal that he believed in, really convinced one and all who were present in that hall of the Bhinoy Kothi that the Rishivar’s trust in Ishwar was unshakable by matters mundane such as illness and pre-mature demise.
Swami’s sad demise a century and three decades ago shocked all Arya Samajists all over Bharat but they recovered soon and vowed to carry on the mission of Dayanand and et the masses be benefitted. Among them was Pt Guru Dutt Vidyarthi, formerly an agnostic bordering atheism, who drew sustenance from the last moments of Swami Dayanand Saraswati and became an Arya pracharak par excellence.
ARYA SAMAJ ALL OVER TODAY
Nepal to Netherlands; Timbuktu to Honolulu- an Arya may travel to far off lands and yet he will find other Aryas there to join and do Vedic Havan. It is indeed an achievement that we must continue to expand for the benefit of our posterity. Of course, many a time the procedure of doing a Dainik Havan in Fiji and in Honolulu differed in minor points but that too must be rectified under the authority and seal of the Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha. It is the duty of the Apex body of Aryas to sit in coordination with the Paropkarini Sabha, founded by Maharishi Dayanand himself before his demise to ensure, inter alia, uniformity of text of the treatises penned by him but their proof reading was not of the desirable level.
The Arya Samajes and other Vedic Sansthans like the Arsh Kanya Gurukuls, the Arya Anathalayas, Arya educational institutions like the Dayanand Anglo-Vedic Schools and Colleges opened in large numbers. So did the Gurukuls, mostly in rural areas that catered to the requirements of wards of the peasant class. Thus the language skills and interest in Science and Technoogy could be seen developing at a faster rate than among the rural institutions of the Arya Samaj.
In the 20th century, the Arya Samaj spread its Vedic theology, as propounded and interpreted by Swami Dayanand Saraswati, far and wide. The notable growth was in foreign countries where people of Indian origin, especially those of the Hindu community had settled down. The island nations like Mauritius, Fiji, British Guyana, now Trinidad and Tobago did exceedingly well in not only accepting the Indians professing the Vedic Dharm for settling down and earning a living off farms but also preach and propagate the same. Thus there was a crying requirement for establishing Arya Samajes in the Island Nation and the Vedic Dharmis of the previous generations met that requirement. Consequently, there was an ever-growing demand for the Vedic literature that a number of our publishers met the demand for Aarsh Sahitya. The Vedic Press(Vaidik Mudranalaya) also rose up to the expectations and contributed a number of basic books written by Maharishi Dayanand himself like Satyarth Prakash, SanskarVidhi and Rigvedadi Bhashya Bhumika.
Swami Dayanand Saraswati was in great demand personally for stepping out for Ved prachar. On his sad demise on 30th October 1883, the responsibility of carrying on the Dayanand Mission of Vedprachar fell on the young shoulders of various Arya Pratinidhi Sabhas, mainly of the Punjab, located in Lahore. They acquitted themselves very well. Most of the contributors of money and material for propagating the Vedic Dharma belonged to the lower and upper middle class families. Doling out a large sum for the Ved Prachar meant that they had to cut expenditure on some other essential items of purchase required to run the household. But they did not mind cutting expenses on fun and frolic and diverting it to the opening of new Arya Samajes, educating neo-converts to the Vedic Dharm and even on the Vedic wedding of nubile girs of neo-Aryas in penury. The Aryas committed to doing the Ved prachar bore additional burden monetarily and otherwise but never lost their cheer and mirth.
As the night fell, new Arya Samaj buildings were lighted. Spirited young men performed Bhangra and proved to the word that the Aryas would neither be down nor out once the question of expenditure on the Ved prachar was juxtaposed against proposed expenses on clothes and jewellery for the newly wedded Bahus of the household.
The openings of new Arya Samajes was going great guns when the political activities of eminent Arya Samajists ike Lala lajpat Rai, Bhai Parmanand brought the whole Arya Samaj under the scanner of the British government in India. SATYAMEV JAYATE NANRITAM – the Truth Triumphs, not the Falsehood; so says the Upanishad and it was proved right in the case of the Arya Samaj too. The suspicion that the British govt in India had harboured mistakenly was blown away sooner than later and the work and service rendered by the Arya Samaj to the deprived sections of the society during famine and earthquake earned name and fame for itself.
Gurukul Kangri, Haridwar founded by Mahatma Munshi Ram, later known as Swami Shraddhanand, with an all out effort of dedicated Aryas who wished to revert to the ancient Vedic Gurukul system, had attracted appreciative attention of both the foreigners and Indians. Initially dubbed as a factory that made bombs and harboured an underground arsenal of killing-weapons, the great Gurukul was given a certificate by the British Prime Minister, Sir Ramsay McDonald as the fitting answer the ancient Vedic system of education gave to the British system of education introduced in India after Lord Macaulay’s infamous Minute of 1835. The British Prime Minister added that many Indian politicians had criticised Macaulay but it was only Mahatma Munshi Ram who had given a pragmatic solution to the problem of education veering the whole system towards the ancient culture of Bharat and giving students a bend of mind that would be SWADESJI through and through..
Indeed the nation is proud of all the Vedalankars and Vidyalankars who not only were shining stars on the firmament of Journalism but also made sacrifices as freedom fighters to free Bharat from the clutches of the foreign rule.
DAV or the Dayanand Anglo-Vedic schools and Colleges proudly produced scholars, administrators who were great men of learning. The young men and women, products of the DAV institutions, defended the motherland from attacks of cruel Pakistanis in the Kargil war of 1999 and some of our young men made the supreme sacrifice. One of the parents from Himachal Pradesh mentioned to the President of the DAV College Management Committee when the latter went to condole the brave son’s glorious deed in battle that the spirit of Patriotism was instilled in his son by the DAV College and his son would choose no other way but that of making an offering of his life at the Yajna of defending the motherland. The DAV has inherited this love for the Dharma from Swami Dayanand Saraswati and Mahatma Hansraj Ji. It is the spirit of devotion and dedication to the cause of education and preparing the youth for selfless service to the motherland that brought a good name to the DAV movement. What started just as one school, the DAV School Lahore has now blossomed into Seven Hundred plus educational institutions attracting students from far and wide. From simple school the DAV has risen to the dizzy heights of Engineering Colleges and Technical Centres imparting a high level of education. Commendable indeed!
Indeed it would be in order to make a mention of the great men of the Arya Samaj who became martyrs defending the Vedic way of life and the culture they received as a tradition handed down from generation to generation. The illustrious founder of the Arya Samaj, Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati was the first to sacrifice his life for the Vedic Dharma when he was poisoned by the wily conspirators who did not wish the great Sanyasi carry on with the Reformation movement of the Hindu rank and file.
Pundit Lekh Ram was the next in the line of great martyrs. He was prepared to make any sacrifice to bring in men and women of other faiths to the Vedic Dharm. At the same time he did his best to prevent his co-religionists from crossing over the Lakshman Rekha to embrace other foreign faiths. The parting words of Pt Lekh Ram Ji are meaningful even today. He had said “ Tehrir aur taqrir kabhi bandnahin honi chahiye.”It means never stop writing on our Dharma or delivering sermons about it. Those pracharaks who follow Pt lekh Ram’s advice reap a good harvest.
Swami Shraddhanand Sanyasi, founder of Gurukul Kangri and a great Pracharak himself had the courage and perseverance to convert thousands of Muslim Malkana Rajputs in the Agra-Mathura-Bharatpur belt to the Vedic Dharm. Swami Shraddhanand Ji had the full support of Maharana Mewar, Pt Madan Mohan Malviya and other great Hindu leaders in this novel venture of his. Of course, GandhiJi, who rarely supported the Arya Samaj or a Hindu cause was upset that an Arya Sanyasi was disturbing the religious equation in the fertile belt. Gandhi Ji forgot that it was the same Sanyasi who was invited by the Muslim leaders to the Jama Masjid, Delhi to deliver a sermon from the pulpit against the British. Swami Shraddhanand had chanted a Vedic hymn and ended his speech with Aum ShantihShantih Shantih..The time, however, now required the Hindu community to swell its numbers to browbeat its opponents who were out to swallow the Hindu community.
Mahashay Rajpal Ji, a publisher and a bookseller, was a dedicated supporter of the Arya Samaj. He was a great believer in the right to exercise the freedom of what to publish and what not to publish. This freedom vested in the publisher as per his belief. He had his own shop and showroom of books in Lahore. In those days of turmoil in the Punjab, the Muslim community had the audacity to publish two books deriding the Hindus in general and the Aryas in particular. “Krishna, teri GITA Jalani padegi”was an out and out lie showing Yogeshwar Shri Krishna in bad light. “19vin sadi kaMaharishi” was the second book brought out by Muslims of Lahore painting Swami Dayanand’s personae with a tarred brush that no civilised citizen would have liked to read. The leaders and rank and file of the Arya Samaj deliberated and decided that the Muslim mischief makers had to be paid in the same coins.
Pundit Chamupati,M.A., an Arya leader and scholar, consequently wrote a book “RANGILA RASOOL”bringing out the seamy side of life’s history of Prophet Mohammad of Islam. It was based on real aspects of Muhammad’s life. The Muslims protested and the govt filed a case against the publisher, Mahashay Rajpal who was eventually acquitted with honour by the Punjab High Court, Lahore. Everything written in that book was supported by the Islamic history.
The Muslims decided to kill Mahashay Rajpal because he had been set free for telling the truth. One afternoon when he was resting in his bookshop, a Muslim entered with a long knife and thrust it into Rajpal Ji’s abdomen. Other Arya Samajists sitting in another room came to the scene and caught hold of the killer until the police arrived. Mahashay Rajpal Ji became a martyr for the cause of Truth and for freedom to publish.
The Nizam of Hyderabad had ordered the Hindus not to renovate their temples. He had put some restrictions on the entry of Ved pracharaks into the Hyderabad State. The Arya Samaj had launched an agitation for freedom to worship and for right to maintain and repair your temples. Many young Aryas sacrificed their lives in the Nizam’s jails. Having made so many sacrifices, the Arya Samaj won its right of worship and maintenance of places of worship.
FUTURE STRATEGY OF ARYAS
With a view to holding sway over the world around, it is essential for the leadership of the Arya Samaj to ensure that there is a continuity of “Thought and Action” and coordination withthe rank and file of ignored sectionsof the society in the Arya Samaj at the national and international levels. The Baton of command and control of the organisational issues should be passed on smoothly from the gray-hair generation to the graying hair generation. The Arya Samaj must have a continual infow of new blood at the philosophical level as well as the organisational level. It is a fairly good proportion of youth that mingles with the old generation that provides both strength for Change and a base for continuity of the Tradition. The day this inflow of young blood and their healthy interaction with the older generation slows down or gradually comes to the figure ZERO, that day spells the Beginning of the End. It happened in some mofussil towns and even in some moribund localities of metropolitan cities; and the Arya Samaj of that locality breathed its last. Sad indeed!
A major danger lurking in the dark corners and alleys that forebodes a lock out of the Arya Samaj concerned is dispute over the property painstakingly created by the outgoing generation. Unfortunately, the sameproperty and schools created and founded so ainstakingly become a bone of contention as some fake Arya Samajists wish to take over the Arya Samaj for owning the property created as a matter of charity or DAAN and acquire proprietory rights in perpetuity for self and their coterie. Indeed it is a major cause of the decline and fall of an august movement of the 19th-20th centuries that has almost become a dud in many zones in the 21st century.
A dedicated Arya Samajist feels ashamed of the acts and omissions of fake Aryas when they just rent out the Arya Samaj Bhawan for non-religious activities of the Vedic Dharm and even to people who have nothing in common with the VedicDharm just for the sake of making money. Once a reputed centre of Vedic Dharm that pulsated with debates and declamation contests of the Veda related themes, the place has acquired a dubious distinction of being referred to by the locals as the “Barat Ghar”. The building gathers dust and walls have cobwebs as the caretaker turns up only when there is a wedding and he too gets his palm greased. What a pity!
Thus the Arya Samaj has to guard itself against its own members who are more interested in making money than in observing the TEN PRINCIPLES of the Arya Samaj. Their love of lucre must be nipped in the bud before they sell the Arya Samaj property and the legal case reaches the portals of a court of law.
In his last WILL and Testament drawn at Maharana’s Udaipur in early 1883, before Swami Dayanand Saraswati set out on his last and final journey of Reformation of the Maharajas, it is clearly mentioned that Aryas and Arya Samajes must not join legal battles but settle their disputes amicably with the help of other Aryas. How sad that the great Guru’s advice is observed in breach and the court cases are mounting high like snow on hills in winter.
Another major reason for the Arya Samaj movement going downhill is lack of Initiative to preach and propagate the Vedic Dharma as it is our duty to do so. Converting other people from their Faith to the Vedic Dharm is almost at a standstill. A new push must be given so that the Arya Samaj is active in augmenting the tally of Aryas at the global level now and forever. Let us tighten our belts and convert men and women of other religions to the Vedic Dharm so that our aggressive policies stem the tide of their nefarious activities like the Love-Jihad. The Shuddhi Andolan will keep Aryas busy and will not let idle man’s brain become devil’s workshop. The legal cases filed in courts of law by one Arya against another Arya to grab the immoveable property of the Arya Samaj will decline considerably.
Writing and publishing books on the Vedic subjects will be of use to all Aryas. Let us listen to and obey the parting advice rendered by Pundit Lekh Ram in death bed ”Never stop writing and delivering sermons”. We Aryas must emulate our great Guru and founder of the Arya Samaj, Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati in carrying on with the Vedic mission, writing, speaking and travelling far and wide for ennobling all human beings : KRINVANTO VISHWAMARYAM.
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