SWAMI SHRADDHANAND MOTIVATED COMPATRIOTS THROUGH JOURNALISM
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
(The writer of this article is well known orator and teacher of the Vedas and related spritual sciences and is honored to do commentry on 26th Jan. Republic day celebration parade for more than 3 decades.Apart from Hindi, English, Sanskrit he is also a scholar of Mandarin language which is one of the World tougest Language. This article is a message to all the readers about importance of Mass Media Propagation of Vedic Philosophy and also an attempt to preserve History of Aryasamaj)
Swami Shraddhanand took to journalism as a fish takes to water. Of course, it was much before he donned the ochre robe of a Sanyasi or a hermit who renounces the world, worldly attachments and transcends to a new realm where the whole world is his family. A Sanskrit couplet brings it out lucidly:
Ayam Nij Paroveti, Ganana laghu Chetsam,
This object is mine and that object is his; this kind of Maths is done by petty-minded people;
The liberal minded men regard the whole world as their own family.
The students of Sanskrit language and literature know that one has to be as broad-minded as is humanly possible. It means: be a votary of Liberal philosophy of life. This school of thought promotes freedom of thought and expression and gives one freedom to play with new ideas too.
Munshi Ram was the name of the great man before he entered the fourth stage of life as ordained in the Vedic view of life. Munshi Ram Ji had become a widower at the age of 35 when his devoted wife, Shiv Devi, expired leaving two sons and two daughters in her widower -husband’s care. Munshi Ram Ji did discharge his paternal duties well. But he did not let his family duties interfere with the duties towards the Arya Samaj or the Gurukul, his writing or his Ved prachar. All his activities were well planned and executed meticulously. He did not ask for nor was granted the freedom to roam about as an ordinary journalist enjoys. In any case he was not a full time journalist and as such had to attend to many other duties too. Yet he made a mark as a journalist and it goes to his credit.
THE SWITH OVER
Urdu was the lingua franca of the Punjab of those days. The correspondence of the common man as well as of the courts of law used to be in Urdu. The Arya Samaj carried the word of the Vedas and the Satyarth Prakash in Urdu. Munshi Ram Ji started his career in journalism in Urdu. He started a weeky paper Saddharm Pracharak and gave vent to his feelings and the Principles of the Arya Samaj in his columns. The weekly had a wide circulation and was read by people of all walks of life. The Arya Samaj, however, promoted Hindi in the Devnagari script and the detractors did not miss the chance of criticising Munshi Ram Ji for promoting Urdu instead of Hindi. Swami Dayanand Saraswati was a Gujarati and that language was his mother tongue. Sanskrit was the medium of his education. But Swami Dayanand Saraswati realised that if any language could be the lingua franca of entire Bharat, it would be Hindi. So, he wrote his magnum opus, Satyarth Prakash in Hindi. Mahatma Munshi Ram took the firm decision and changed the language of Saddharm Pracharak from Urdu toHindi. He suffered a financial loss but stuck to principles. Hereafter all his editorials and lead articles were in Hindi in the Devnagari script. He was a man of principles and did not budge an inch from it.
The Arya Samaj had promoted Hindi journalism from Day One. Within 3 years of its founding, a Hindi monthly, was published from Shahjahanpur in the United Provinces. It was named as Arya Darpan and carried the news and views of the Arya world. In 1878 another monthly paper, Bharat Sudasha Pravartak was published from Farrukkabad and promoted the Hindi language enthusiastically. Arya Samaj Ajmer started publishing in 1882 DeshHitaishi and next year Kanpur launched Ved Prakash. Prayag started a magazine Bharat Bhagini in 1888 exclusively for women and it gained recognition from readers of the fair sex. The Paropkarini Sabha launched the first edition of the Paropkari in 1889 with the aim of encouraging reforms in the Hindu samaj. Thereafter, the local Arya Samaj in many a place followed suit. It was remarkable that Hindi was the language of every Arya weeky or monthly despite Urdu holding sway as a language of transaction of official work in govt offices.
With the wind blowing in favour of Hindi in all Arya Samajes, how could Munshi Ram Ji, a staunch follower of the Vedic principles as propounded by the Arya Samaj swim against the current. The first edition of the Hindi Saddharm Pracharak was published from Jalandhar on 1 Mar 1907 as a weekly. On 1,2,3,4 and 6 May 1908, Saddharm Pracharak started its publication from Gurukul Kangri, Haridwar.
Mahatma MunshiRam and later Swami Shraddhanand had his epicentre of Aryan activities from Gurukul Kangri, Haridwar. It was but natural that the new magazines that he planned to publish woud seethe light of the day at Kangri in Haridwar.
Besides Saddharm Pracharak, Shraddha, Satyavadi, the Gurukul Magazine, Vedic Magazine and Gurukul Samachar were also published from time to time. The other magazines that made a debut from time to time and lived in the sun for varying periods were:
Vaidik Sandesh, AlankarandGurukulSamachar, Gurukul ( weekly), Gurukul monthly, gurukulPatrika, The Vedic Path, Prahlad, Shatpath, Arya Bhatt(Hindi) and Arya Bhatt(English) for Science faculty and students.
The Editorials written by Munshi Ram Ji and later as Swami Shraddhanand were topica, to the point and incisive He as the Editor stuck to the path of Truth and was never scared of the wide powers that the British govt wielded. Swami Shraddhanand had made a name for himself as an editor who loved to stick to Truth, come rain come shine.
Education was a subject so dear to his heart and mind. The Gurukul education that he started at Kangri was path breaking .From the junior to the senior classes the Swami stuck to Hindi as the medium of education and attained success. Some British educationists who had a close look at the ground-breaking Gurukul education were impressed.
The press writings of Swami Shraddhanand attracted attention of both the British educationists and the Indian educationists. They made it a point to visit Gurukul Kangri and meet Swami Shraddhanand, the educationist and the journalist. One British luminary wrote to pt. Madan Mohan Malviya commenting on the English language as the medium of education in the Hindu University and contrasting it with the Hindi medium in Gurukul Kangri. He said that Swami Shraddhanand ‘s Gurukul on the banks of the Ganga at Haridwar is infusing Vedic culture among the students. Pray, you in Varanasi on the banks of the same Ganga are asking your students to drink the water of river Thames. Why?
Mahatma Munshi Ram Ji also emphasised the need to educate girls and even grown up women so that no woman puts her thumb impression instead of her signature. If mothers are educated, children are bound to be better citizens and also will be patriots. In his numerous articles on education in general Munshi Ram Ji laid an emphasis on girls’education. He sent his own two daughters, Ved Kumari and Shashikala to schools. He also motivated his Arya Samaj members to collect donations and open girls schools. The Arya Kanya Mahavidyalaya or Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Jalandhar is a fruit of untiring efforts of Aryas of Punjab, especially Jalandhar. Munshi Ram’s writings on the subject in various newspapers also caused mass awakening and produced positive results.
SOCIAL AND POLITICAL AWAKENING
Right from the Lahore days when Munshi Ram Ji had enrolled as a member of the Arya Samaj, Anarkali( also known as Bengali Tola), Lahore, he was keen on effecting social reforms in the Hindu society. The condition of the Hindu widows, especially from Bengal, was heart rending. Munshi Ram Ji spent time and energy to study the problem and write in depth on this malaise. He was perturbed by the maltreatment of the Hindu widows by male members and, therefore, in his editorials and other articles he pleaded for remarriage of widows and widowers. He also advocated like Swami Dayanand the reintroduction of the practice of NIYOG to strengthen the Aryans but cautioned people to go about it in a sensible way. The oversexed men may misuse Niyog as an opening for their heightened sexual activity and that must not be permitted to happen.
Eradication of Untouchability and prohibition of child marriage were twin issues that affected the rural population of the Hindu community. Of course, the Arya Samaj has been in the forefront on these issues and claim credit for removing them to some extent. Swami Shraddhanand caused awakening on both the issues and took them up in his newspapers and magazines too. He made it a point to broach them in large gatherings of the Shuddhi movement when Muslim families were reconverted to the Vedic Dharm and welcomed back in the fold of their ancestors.
Swami Shraddhanand’swritings on the Shuddhi movement and on reconverting Malkana Rajputs tothe Vedic Dharm was welcomed by Pundit Madan Mohan Malviya, Maharana of Udaipur and other Rajput rulers who even shared their HUKKA with the neo converts to the Vedic Dharm but Gandhi Ji was a bit unhappy about it. Never mind, we give credit to the journalistic writings and speeches of Swami Shraddhanand who motivated the launch and sustenance of the Shuddhi movement inthe Matura- Agra Malkana Rajput area of the then United Provinces.
Swami Shraddhanand believed in the Hindu-Muslim unity but not at the cost of Hindu community. In his lead articles,he opposed the Congress policy of appeasement of Muslims as that policy of Gandhi Ji was weakening the nation.Swami ji had , at the invitation of prominent Muslims, ascended the pulpit of the Jama Masjid, delhi and addressed the congregation beginning with the Ved mantra and ending with Aum Shantih. He emphasised the need of unity to gain independence from a foreign power. What an irony, a Muslim bigot shot Swami ji dead in 1923,jst four years after the path breaking speech in the Jama Masjid.
Indeed it was the power of pen of Swami Shraddhanand that motivated millions of men and women to follow him through thick and thin. Swami Ji moved like a pied piper and people followed him wherever he went. His speech coupled with his journalistic writings did wonders to the movements of Vedic Dharm, Gurukul Shiksha, Social Awakening and Political Upheavals that produced positive results for Bharat and Bharatvasis.