SPECTACULAR RISE FROM LALA TO MAHATMA
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Service before Self – that indeed was the motto of young Hansraj from the beginning to the end of his life. Born in a village in the Punjab province of undivided India, young Hansraj was a focussed individual. Pursuit of learning was dear to his heart and he never faltered in his mission from a village primary university to the level of graduation in the Punjab University, Lahore. Deprivation never was an obstacle in his forward movement to be an enlightened man.
The spirit of sacrifice was in his blood. When he graduated with honours despite little help from men who mattered, the family and friends looked forward to his becoming a high official in the British Administration but that was not to be. Something in his heart and mind inspired him to return to the social set up what he had received in the form of education at a higher level. Young Hansraj was made of sterner stuff and worldly riches were no allurement to him.
Simple living, hard working and high thinking were guiding him to make his own destiny and be of use to the society instead of caring for the self alone. Motivated by Aryas of the time in the capital city of the Punjab that was overwhelmed by the revolutionary religious thought emanating from the Vedas, propagated by the whirlwind touring lectures of Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati, young Hansraj joined Arya Samaj, Lahore. It was indeed a turning point in his life that made his destiny take a turn for the better.
When the great seer Dayanand Saraswati expired in 1883 at a comparatively young age of 59 at Ajmer, the Lahore Aryas decided to commemorate his life, learning and teaching by founding an institution to carry on propagating his Vedic mission among the masses. What better means of taking the Vedic Thought to the common man there could be than establishing an educational institution.
The decision was made. It was, however, impaired by lack of financial backing. Most of the members of the Arya Samaj came from middle class of the society and could contribute only what their means permitted. Indeed the sum of money collected through voluntary donations was not enough to meet all requirements and appoint a Head Master too. Lahore had established educational institutions where Head Masters were well paid and carried an aura around them. Will the fledgling Arya Samaj school remain headless? How will it beckon bright boys to its portals without a focal point from where an enlightened educationist would send motivational signals?
Came forward an inspired young man, a fresh graduate from the Punjab University, Hansraj, and publicly announced that he was ready to step in and would draw no Salary for his services. Indeed His inspired announcement in turn inspired others of the educational mission. Hansraj’s offer was accepted with thanks and gratitude. The solid backing behind Hansraj was that of his elder brother, Lala Mulraj who made a life long commitment of sharing his salary as a bank employee with his younger brother, Lala Hansraj.
STEPPING STONES TO SUCCESS
Determination to carry on with the assignment and reach the point of success employing all energy at command without flinching – that was a solid stepping stone to success. Lala Hansraj never had an inclination to keep up with the Jonses and was always motivated by his inherent desire to live a simple life, put in hard work and never deviate from the goal. Consequently lack of riches in personal life never bothered him a bit. The story goes that he wore a bit torn pair of shoes and did not plan to buy a new pair of branded shoes. When friends pointe this lacuna out in good humour, his reply was that what he had on his feet was a satsangi joota. Whenever he took the pair off before attending a religious assembly, he focussed his attention on the mantra path or a bhajan because he knew his torn shoes would not be stolen.
Lala Hansraj spontaneously established a perfect rapport with the students of the DAV School, Lahore by spending time with them, listening to their concerns and addressing them. He would always attend and actively participate in the samuhik sandhya with the hostel students in the evenings when he was in Lahore. His accessibility to his students made him popular among the new generation. It resulted in almost a total lack of disciplinary cases among the DAV School students. Of course, it was a miracle.
Lala Hansraj impressed one and all with his selflessness. Everything that he had in his possession was really not his but belonged to the DAV School. He devoted all his time to ensure that the educational venture of the Arya Samaj in the field of education was a success. It, however, did not mean that he was tied down to his office. No never. Whenever there was a calamity in any part of the country, Lala Hansraj was there with his team. He rendered yeoman’s service to the grief stricken Hindu families of Mallapuram area in the Travancore State where the Muslim hoodlums were on the warpath. He reconverted the families forcibly made Muslims back to the Vedic Dharma. He had the solid backing of other Aryas of the Punjab in this noble mission.
Earthquakes in Quetta, Bihar in 1934 and later in Rajasthan found Lala Hansraj at the scene of action. He had the knack of collecting voluntary donations to provide much needed edibles to the stricken families in the affected areas. Thus Lala Hansraj kept the flag of the Arya Samaj flying in remote areas by going to the areas where help was required. Of course, it entailed doing hard work at odd hours without taking meals at the regular time thus affecting his health as he was ageing. Never nind Self, what matters is Service to the society – that high thinking was always translated into action by the great man. The ground realities were there for everyone to see.
The High Thinking of Lala Hansraj and his ability to translate it into action really earned him the title of MAHATMA. He came to be known as Mahatma Hansraj.
The DAV institutions have multiplied many fold, thanks to the blessings of the great Founder, Mahatma Hansraj. Taking a peep into the future, we should encourage the new generation of the DAV institutions to emulate the great qualities of head and heart of Mahatma Hansraj. If the august DAV College Management Committee goes ahead with the mission of inculcating the human values that were dear to Mahatma Hansraj, among some of our students in schools and colleges, our aim of ennobling the human beings well be achieved. We will say with pride KRINVANTO VISHWAMARYAM ; Let us ennoble Mankind!
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