Biography of Swami Dayanand.


A separate State by name Gujarat has been formed under the Constitution of India. Saurastra is a part of this State also known as Kathaivar. It lies to at a short distance from the North-western coast of the Indian peninsula. Dayananda was born in 1824 A.D [1881 Vikram samvat] in the village Tankara of the Morvi state of Kathaivar.




Dayananda’s forefathers belonged to this State. His father, by name Karasanji Lalaji Tiwari, lived in the magnificent house inJivapur Street. He was a Brahmin, with a sub-caste Audichya. His eldest son, Mulaji became known later on by the illustrious name of Dayananda saraswathi. Mulaji had two brothers- Ballabhaji and another, whose name could not be traced out. One of his sisters died of Cholera. Ballabhaji also left this mortal world two years after his marriage. The eldest sister Prema Bai was married to Mangalaji who became heir to Karsanji

Karsanji the father of Mulaji was a big land lord and was considerably wealthy enough to engage in the business of money-lending. He was a Brahmin of highest order, learned in Vedic lore and held a great respect on this account. He secured the high rank of Jamedar, i.e Revenue collector of the State. He was a worshipper of Shiva and was much noted for his intense devotion and austerity. He was thoroughly orthodox and uncompromising in his religious beliefs and rituals. He was firm and fearless. He could not tolerate even the slightest deviation from the letter of Law ordained in Scriptures. He was man of resolve, strong faith and dour temper. His mother on the other hand was the embodiment of sweetness, gentleness and virtues. She was uneducated, typical Indian lady, but possessed all the qualities of virtuous mother and a remarkable sense of efficient domestic management. Being a lady of generous heart she was endowed with limitless sympathies and unending benevolence. Swami Dayananda thus had the advantage of inheriting a strong will from the father and a benevolent mind from his mother.

Dawn of Knowledge.    


It is on the authority of Dayananda himself that his education commenced when he was five years of age. When he was eight, he was invested with the sacred thread. From this time begins his life as Brahmacharin i.e celibate religious student.

Shiva rathri: –   As the father was an extremely orthodox devotee of Shiva, no wonder, that he intended Mulaji or Mulashankar to grow into a stauch Saivaite. But the fate decreed otherwise.

Shiva was the god of family. Shiva rathri is one such day when every Shiva worshipper is expected to observe fast about 36 hours or even more. Dayananda was fourteen when his father insisted on his keeping the fast in the strictly orthodox way. The mother could not like it but had to agree when the son himself expressed his desire to bow before his father’s will. Who could have foreseen that Dayanand’s  father’s insistence upon his son’s religious virtues at the tender age of fourteen, by keeping fast on the sacred day of Shiva rathri,was to result in so tremendous  a change in the mind of Dayananda as to turn him into a most virulent and successful opponent of  image-worship of his age?

Outside the village, there was a temple of god Shiva where all devotees offered their worship and prayers before the idol of the god Shiva. Every year this fast was observed by the people in full faith and devotion. As the fateful evening set in, the father and son went to the temple situated outside the village where the rule concerning the worship were explained to Mulaji in detail. He had to keep absolute fast and to stay awake for the whole night repeating and chanting the Mantras and various prayers, before the image of Shiva.

The worship commenced with congregational prayer and songs. It was full of emotions and enthusiasm. Men and women from the village joined the mass prayer with heart of full of high aspirations and various desires. The first quarter of the night passed off very well. The entire congregation indicated high fervour and enthusiasm. A gradual dullness appeared to be approaching. The intense fervor began to fade in the second quarter of the night. But the devotees still kept on to the letter of Law. Midnight sleep was too strong to be resisted. The worshippers began to feel that nature was rather too cruel to be ignored. One by one the devotees lay prostrate on the floor, overpowered by the irresistible sleep. Mulaji’s father also could not stand the challenge of nature. He was the first to succumb and the officiating priest followed suit. But Mulaji, the boy of fourteen, had a mind not to waver. He was resolved not to be beaten. Why should a determined heart ever imagine a defeat? He adopted all measures to ward off sleep and wonderfully succeeded. His hard earned victory however was crowned with success, though in quite different way from the one aspired and expected by his father. He continued his vigil as others could not. The enthusiasm of others was skin-deep, that of Mulaji well sealed deep in his heart. Others showed lip-devotion: his was hearty faith.  “What is sleep to deprive me of the boon?” murmured Mulaji. “The more difficult the order, the higher must be the reward!”

He was mid-stream of his struggle, when there suddenly occurred a common and insignificant incident which changed the current of his life. It was quiet in the temple. There was no sound except the occasional noise of snoring. A rat came out of a hole. It crept on the body of Shiva. Having satisfied itself that the image was harmless, it began to enjoy the dainty offerings, placed before by the devotees in token of their love of for the Lord. The mischief of the mouse was too grave. The pure-hearted and simple minded boy of fourteen was amazed and perplexed at this strange sight. He had been told that Lord Shiva was omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient; that the image possessed all glory and power; that it was God Himself and that it had the power of blessing and cursing mankind. What he saw however was quite contrary to these things. The image appeared to him a helpless inanimate object. It was too weak to protect itself from the mischief of the mouse. It set the boy thinking earnestly. The boy had a logical mind. The thought stuck him like a thunderbolt. The helpless of the image of Shiva had shaken his faith. He could no longer homage the image. He desired to get his doubts removed by his father but the father was asleep. He waited for sometime. But it was too heavy a burden to be borne by the young for a long time. He impatiently awakened his father and requested him to remove his doubts.  The father was angry, both at being disturbed and the audacity of the boy. But Mulaji was a boy not to be put off so lightly. He insisted for a reasonable and logical answer. Eventually he got the oft- answer which a considerate and intelligent image worshipper has for this fateful question. He was told that the image was not real god. It only represented him for the purpose of worship and “He being worshipped through it bestows all blessings upon the worshipper.” His father’s explanations could not satisfy him. The father rebuked him for his habit of raising doubts and putting questions. He harshly snubbed him. The boy was silenced but not his soul. Mulaji asked permission to go home and the father reluctantly allowed him to leave with strict warning that he should not break his fast before sun rise.




The Revolt.  

But the brave heart of Mulaji could not see the reason in continuing the fast. He had finished with the image worship and all its rituals. He ran home, broke the fast and went to sleep.

The fateful incident of the Shivarathri created a ray of light in the young heart of Mulaji. He resolved to find out and know the Supreme Reality- God- who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient and all Merciful. He fully realised that the image in the Shiva temple was not the real God.


Reality of Death

One day Mulaji was at a musical symposium with his father. A servant came running to them with sad news that Mulaji’s sister had fallen seriously ill. The father and the son hastened home. She had the attack of Cholera. Physicians were sent for. The best efforts of the experts failed. The patient grew worse and died in a few hours. Mulaji loved his sister very dearly. Everybody shed tears and lamented. But Mulaji’s eyes were fixed at his dear sister’s dead body. He looked like a statute, motionless and unmoved. His eyes were dry and the lips sealed. People thought that he was heartless.   The death of beloved sister set him on an enquiry into the nature of death. It plunged him to meditation on death as distinguished from life. He left the room and threw himself on bed pondering on “what death”said he” and what life is? Is there no escape from death?

The young seeker was again busy with his studies. He was always thinking on the problem of life and death. But soon he was destined to witness what tended still more intensely his desire to solve the perplexing mystery. He was nineteen when his beloved uncle who had all love for him had an attack of the disease which had separated him from his sister. It was virulent type and baffled all attempts of the physicians. When his uncle lay on his death bed he was looking at Mulaji with eyes full of love and tears. Mulaji could not meet the pathetic gaze of his uncle. He burst into tears and his eyes became swollen with weeping. The end came at last and the house again was plunged into mourning.

Mulaji could not understand the reality of human existence. He was gloomy and went about distracted, asking all his elders and younger, the learned pundits and the Sadhus with whom he came into contact, if they could tell him how death was to be conquered. The reply was unanimous that the practice of Yoga leading to communion with God could defeat death. Mulaji meditated over this reply and came to conclusion that in order to learn Yoga, he must leave home. The worldly temptation after all is transient and death is ultimate goal of life. He must seek the path of immortality. He ceased to take pleasures in the gay life. He found delight in being alone. He sat for hours in a secluded corner of his house brooding over the helplessness     of man over death. The nature of aspiration which now filled Mulaji’s heart was not long in becoming known to his father and mother. They were alarmed and began to contrive methods for preventing their son from carrying out his resolve.


Flight from home 


Mulaji’s parents thought of a plan by which they decided on tying the lad down by the ties of marriage. All parents all over the world and in all ages have thought of marriage to be the best remedy to wean the young minds from the ascetic line of thought. The Buddha’s parents and the mother of Shankaracharya tried the same weapon; so did the parents of Nanak. Buddha and Nanak however, were gentler in spirits than Mulaji. They could not resist the will of elders, who subsequently succeeded in their immediate object. But Mulaji resisted the plan tooth and nail and declined to get married. He was at that time a lad of nineteen and by the intervention of friends the marriage was postponed for a year. Mulaji requested his parents to send him toBenareswhere he wanted to prosecute the studies. But the parents had sufficient reasons to suspect the working of their son’s mind and not wishing him to lose for ever, refused to accept the request. He however was sent to a neighbouring village to prosecute his studies with a learned Pundit who resided there. In the course of his studies Mulaji revealed his heart to the teacher and requested to explain to him the ways and means of obtaining Samadhi [i.e. Meditation] so that death could be conquered. He told him frankly that he [Mulaji] would have to renounce the world to explore the remedy by which man could become immortal.

The teacher informed the parents whereupon they recalled him home.

The parents now secretly made all preparations for his marriage. The day was fixed. The preparation went apace. The invitation was issued. There was happiness all around. All hearts were joyous except the little heart of the unlucky bird that was designed to put in a golden cage. Mulaji protested. His studies would be cut short. But none listened to him.

But the bird would not take to the cage. The parents had not fully understood the undying determination of their son. Within a week or so of the day fixed for his marriage, he fled from home. The father, in vain pursued hard, in less than three weeks, Mulaji was stripped of all the valuables he had on his person and the money he had in his pocket. He became mendicant, changed his name assumed ochre coloured clothes, and began to search for real Guru [spiritual preceptor] who could guide him into the way of solving the mystery of life and death so that he might be able to attain immortality.


Becomes a brahmacharin 


Mulaji met a saint named Lala Bhaktha, who gave him the name of Shuddha chaitanya and placed him in the order of Brahmacharins.

Shuddha chaitanya learnt that a fair was going to be held at Siddhapur. He was told that a number of Yogins would assemble there. It was a chance for him to learn the Truth. In the fair he happened to see a Vairagi who was his old acquaintance who persuaded him to return home. But Mulaji was not a boy to change his mind.

After few days, as a result of this meeting, Shuddha chaitanya was face to face with his father. His Sadhu’s garments were forcibly torn off and his Thumba cast away and he was given a new dress. Shuddha chaitanya now again became Mulaji and was kept under strict guard of the police on his way back home. But once again he gave a slip. One night when the guards were found to be fast asleep, he escaped. Before morning he had put several miles between himself and his father when he never saw again.

It was his final separation from home and all that the word implies. He felt a son’s sorrow for his mother who loved him so dearly, but he had before a mission. He left home to make the entire world his home. He was leaving his kindred to give himself up to Humanity and the cause or truth.

From all that we know of him, he never regretted the step h had taken- the step which made it possible for him to serve the people, his country and his God as he could.


Search after truth     


For  full fifteen years[ from 1845-1860 A.D], young Mulaji wandered, North, South, East and  West, all most all over undivided India in pursuit of knowledge of Truth. During these wanderings he tapped the highest and purest source of Knowledge. He wandered from place to place in search of Scholars, men of wisdom and penance of great religious merits. Whenever he came across a man spiritual attainments and high scholarship, he stopped and sat at his feet. He studied philosophy, the Vedas, Astronomy and all other works on various branches of learning in Sanskrit, with different teachers. It was during these years that he learnt the theory and practice of Yoga. There was hardly a place of Hindu pilgrimage throughoutIndiawhich he did not visit. Famous centres of learning were also visited by him again and again. In search of spiritual teachers and Yogins he penetrated into the innermost recesses ofHimalayas, the Vindhyas and the Aravalis, the three important mountain ranges in our country. He crossed and crossed the valleys of the holiest of Indian rivers, the Ganga, the Yamuna and theNarmada, and climbed the highest accessible peaks of the hills, which are the sources of these rivers. Mulaji loved nature and drank deeply from inexhaustible sources.


Practiced austerity.    


It was in these surroundings of pure ozone and sublime beauty that he practiced Yoga. It was there in direct contact with nature that he lifted his thoughts to God, contemplated and meditated on the deepest problems of life and death and spent hours, days and months in trance, enjoying the supreme bliss and highest containment. It was there that he made the acquaintance of the best, the noblest and purest saints and Yogins who led a life of uninterrupted meditation and discipline, having subdued their senses to their intellect, their intellect to their souls. For days and months he ate nothing and spoke nothing and passed his time in constant meditation. Many a time he followed the rivers, particularly Ganga andNarmada, up to their sources, braved every danger and disciplined him to a life of hardship and privation.

Initiated to Sanyas.


For sometime after his flight from home he passed as a Brahmacharin but within few years, he was formally initiated to Sanyas by Swami Purnananda and was given the name of Dayananda.


His thirst for knowledge.


Dayananda was not a man who accepted knowledge easily from any authority. He could accept only what was verified or demonstrated. An incident which happened during this period of his life may serve as an illustration. Once while wandering in thevalleyofGanga, he saw a corpse floating in the river. At that time he had some books with him, stesting, by actual observation, the accuracy of the facts cited in these books. He got hold of the body, cut it open and examined it. Thereupon he found what was taught in these books was not true. So he threw away these books along with the dead body.


Okhi math. 


Secondly, never for a moment did he falter or look away from the ideal which he had set before himself. One day when he could get nothing to eat for days together and was starving, he entered the premises of the well know Okhi Math. Being a handsome young man of good physique and prepossessing appearance, intelligent, well-read, clever and well-versed in scriptures, he attracted the admiration of the Mahanth who wished to make him his disciple and who offered to nominate him as his successor.

“Come, come, O young sanyasi,” said the Mahanth, “live with us. Become any discipline and partake of all the wealth we have. This rich estate will be yours after me. Live a life of comforts and enjoyments.”

The prospect was indeed alluring. Dayanan had been on borderland of life and death due to long starvation. The Mahanth made a good use of his words and wealth. But the starvation could not dampen his enthusiasm for search after truth and knowledge. He calmly but boldly replied,” O Kind Mahanth My father had more riches than you can give me. But I have scorned the worldly possession and comforts. You little think of the pleasure than I am after and the treasure that I have come out in search of”


“What is your object then?”  Said the Mahanth surprisingly.

“Genuine Yoga and supreme bliss” came reply


The Mahanth looked at the calm and dignified face of Dayanand when the pang of starvation was writ large on his face.

Such instances are many. He refused every where saying that his goal was different and that he was not seeking wealth and power.


Search for a true Guru.             

During this period he met crowds of Sadhus and Pundits. Some attracted him while others repelled him. He met a few of whom he entertained highest respect and whose feet he sat for long in a spirit of perfect reverence and true homage, but he did not come across a person who came up to his ideal of Guru. In his wandering through the beautiful and noble land of his [land of the loftiest, the purest ethics, and noblest traditions,landofVedasand the Upanishads.landofKapila, vyasa, thelandofRamand Krishna,landofShankaraand Kumarila] he found everything upside down. Even the repositories of the sacred lore of Aryans, the representatives of Manu and yagnavalkya, were steeped in ignorance and superstition. He found that in the land of eternal sunshine, physical, intellectual and spiritual, everything was shrouded in the pitch darkness of ignorance. Even the best, the purest and the loftiest among them were only moonlike. The Sun had set in, perhaps never to rise again. It made his heart bleed to observe that a land once distinguished for the freshness and vigour of intellect. Dayanand was a born rebel and therefore could not accept what was not genuine. He wished to conquer death by conquering ignorance and superstition. His heart was gloomy but bold. He wanted to have a Guru or guide. He searched every corner of theHimalayaswith eternal snows and cloud masked summits. He had conversed with Ganga and Alakananda; he had penetrated the deep, dense forests; he had passed countless sleepless nights in deep anxiety of securing spiritual solace in the caves of snowy mountains; he had enjoyed the embraces of the harshest of primeval rock and caresses of the swiftest streams: all these friends of his youth and companions of his wander years had told him not to seek the peace of repose of an inactive life. They had inspired him with increasing activity. These wanderings had added to the purity, loftiness and strength to his soul.


At the feet of Virajananda

                                                    Dayananda was told at last that the blind monk Virajanand  ofMathura was the man to satisfy his thirst of Knowledge. He had drunk deep into the holy books. He could lead him on the path of truth.

Swami Virajanand was a Sanyasin of the order to which Dayananda belonged. Dayananda had left his home because his parents loved him too much and wished to save him from life of poverty, to which he was determined to dedicate himself in the pursuit of truth of what they considered to be only a fantasy; he had left his come at the comparatively advanced age of 21, by his own choice, to the great sorrow and disappointment of his parents. Poor Virjananda, on the other hand, was a child of only eleven when circumstances turned him adrift on the world without any one to care for him. He had lost his parents and was an orphan. His brothers were kind to him but the biting tongue and the cruel temper of one brother’s wife proved to be too strong for the child of eleven. What added to the sadness of his orphan hood was the fact that he was totally blind, having lost his sight at the age of five due to virulent attack of small pox. He was too courageous, however, in spite of his blindness and his orphan hood, to submit to the tyranny of his brother’s wife. He left his brother’s home with a heart of sorrow. The death of his parents had deprived him of his ties and associations which make home so attractive and sweet. All that was left to him now was his own soul, his own mind, and his will to make the best of them by his own exertions. On leaving his brother’s house he went to Haridwar, on the bank of river Ganga, one of the most beautiful spots ofNorth India. This is one of the most sacred places and a favourite resort of Sadhus, Sanyasins, and pundits. Virajananda came to Haridwar never to return to home. In a few years he learnt all that the best and the most learned in Haridwar could teach him. He was an apt pupil and was gifted with a wonderful memory, to whose power his blindness had added considerably. The reputation and esteem which he gained by his scholarship and character were too high as to induce a sanyasin of high ability and profound austerity to admit him into the highest order of the class, in spite of his blindness. Later in life Virajananda migrated toMathura, another holy place famous as the birth place of Lord Krishna, one of the greatest and wisest of Aryan heroes who have been accorded the status of divinity. It was here that Dayananda met him.

Virajananda was a great Yogin. He took pride in ancient Vedic teaching. He scorned image worship. He could not tolerate superstitions and intellectual darkness prevailing in Hindu Society. His soul was full of purity and greatness of past. By ceaseless labour and constant concentration of mind, he had acquired mastery of Sanskrit language and literature and of all the intellectual treasure therein. Three ruling chiefs of Rajasthan, at different times became his pupils. One of them continued his studies for full three years, but when one day he absented himself without information, the swami left him without notice and returned toMathura.

This was the master with whom Dayananda completed his education and who charged him with the duty of inaugurating a Misson to purge Hinduism of all the evils that had found admittance into it.

Dayananda had been studying for over thirty years already and what now he required was only finishing touch at the hands of greater soul. For two years and half he served the blind monk, showed him the highest respect and love, and learnt all the Virajananda had to teach.

Devotion to teacher.    

                                        Virajananda was a man of hot temper and sometimes treated his pupil very harshly. Once he actually inflicted corporeal punishment on swami Dayananda. Yet the latter was quite submissive and calm. The guru once found a small heap of dirt in the corner of a room which had been cleaned by the pupil Dayananda. The anger of the teacher knew no bound. Mercilessly he beat Dayananda with a stick in his hand. The pupil accepted punishment with reverence and at the end implored his teacher to pardon him and said “My body is very hard, while your hands are too soft and delicate. I am sorry for the trouble that I had given to your tender hands. Please forgive me” Saying this pupil bowed his head and shed tears at the feet of his guru.

The anger and the wrath of the teacher could not dampen the spirit of the seeker of truth. He duly finished the course prescribed for him. Then Virajananda told him that he had nothing more for him, and that he must enter the world as an independent teacher.


`Guru dakshina    


The day of leave –taking has been a memorable occasion both for teacher and the taught inIndiafrom times immemorial. Education was entirely free in ancientIndia. Both princes and the poor sat together in earning knowledge.Krishnaand Sudhama, Drona and Drupad studied in the same Gurukul without distinction. It was on the parting day that he pupils had to offer according to their means, something to the benevolent teacher. This practice is called Guru dakshina.

It was on that day that Dandi Virajananda demanded the customary fee called Dakshina[ reward] . Virajananda knew that Dayananda had nothing of worldly value to offer him nor did he himself care for any such gift. What he asked of his pupil was a pledge to devote his life to the dissemination of truth, to the waging of incessant warfare against the falsehoods of the prevailing Hinduism and to establish the right method of education, as in the vogue in pre-Buddhist era.

The pledge Dayananda gave willingly and with solemn joy. And never any human pledge kept more loyally and faithfully.


Fight for truth.

“As heaven and earth are not afraid and never sustain loss or harm

Even so O My vital Force, fear not thou” {1}

“As the day and night are not afraid, nor even sustain loss or harm

Even so O My Vital Force, fear not thou” [2]


“As the Sun and the Moon are fearless, nor even sustain loss or harm

Even so O My Vital Force, fear not thou”   [3]


As priestly and princely powers fear none nor even sustain loss or fear

Even so O My Vital Force, fear not thou   [4]


As the past and future neither fear, nor even suffer

Even so O My Vital Force, fear not thou   [5]       Rig-Veda II-15-1-6]

Beginning of  Public life.


The first few years of Dayananda’s public life was more or less years of preparation for the stupendous struggle to which he had pledged himself. In these years he visited some of the most prominent towns ofIndiabut most of his time was spent on the banks ofGangaand its vicinity. Wherever he went, he preached and taught. Everywhere his outspoken views, his bold utterances, his novel exposition of the Aryan culture and religion and his profound learning attracted hundreds and thousands of his countrymen to his discourses. He was unrivalled in the Vedic interpretation and scientific exposition of the scriptural truth. Many came to cross swords with him but stayed to admire and follow. He issued challenges, far and wide, and held numerous discussions with high and low, students and scholars Sadhus and pundits. He spoke in Sanskrit, since this language is of the learned and also because the language of upperIndianot being his mother tongues he felt certain amount of diffidence in using the latter for discussion and discourse. Wherever he went he caused a commotion in the society. The Hindu theologians with their myriad followers, whose deepest and most vital interests were so adversely touched by his teachings, were up in arms. They not only abused and threatened him, but even more than one occasion conspired to kill him. During the first five years no fewer than four to five attempts were made on his life. Yet there was a charm about his life, his ways and his manners, which secured for him friends and protectors. He never stooped to prosecute his persecutors.


Not came to imprison people.


The great swamy was at Anupshahar. A Brahmin presented him with a betel leaf. The swamy could not disappoint a poor Brahmin and accepted the same. He chewed the betel leaf and after a while the swami discovered the mischief as the betel contained poison. The Brahmin in order to know the result kept sitting there. Dayananda did not speak a word and quietly hastened toGangaand performed Nouli kriya a devise of Yogis to get rid of the toxins and wash the intestines. The poison was soon washed out by this action. But a crime like murder will be out. Syed Mohamed, the Tahasildar of the town, who was his admirer, arrested the Brahmin ands sent him to the lock up. Being satisfied at the action taken against the offender, the kind Tahasildar came and told the Swami what he had done. But the swamy appeared to be distressed and asked the Tahasildar to set him free. He said “I have come to liberate the humanity from the bondage and not to imprison them”. The officer was astonished at this reply and set the offending Brahmin free.


Popularity and personality.

In orthodox circles he became famous in a very short time. High and low, rich and poor, from the princes of the highest states down to the coolie, all classes of people flocked to him, listened to him and showered respect and admiration. In many places, the public discussions were presided over by British officers of the highest rank of the districts, this being the most effective way of preserving order, preventing rioting and violence. For the first time since the days of Acharya shankar, there had a risen a teacher of the highest order,  a man worthy of mantle of  a prophet, a man who at least gave a promise of being Acharya and who shone among other teachers as Sun among the moon and stars.

It was indeed true that he was very learned but few could venture to face in controversy; yet what surprised and at the same time attracted audience to him were his boldness, his courage, his defiance of conventions of theological controversy and his attacks on popular beliefs and practices. Never before had they seen and heard such a man.  In a part of the country, hundreds of miles from his native province, the language of which he could not use with freedom and effect, to whose people he was a stranger, with no friends to fall back upon or to protect him in need, he went straight to his work and attacked some of the most cherished beliefs of the population with a scathing vehemence that itself, apart from the force of his arguments, struck terror in his opponents. He had dropped in their midst a bolt from the blue and threatened havoc to the beliefs they had held so unquestioningly. The worst or perhaps the best of it was that he spoke with so much authority and directness, with so much erudition and confidence, and with so much cogency of reasoning and force of logic, that the very first onslaught brought the opponents to his knees. The expounders of popular religions and the depositors of Hindu Faith were struck with suddenness and rapidity of lightning. The attack was so sudden and furious that fortress after fortress fell without the assailant being made to feel any the worse of his exploits. He swept the country, with something of the mighty sheet of water descending the hills and carrying everything before it.


Importance of Kashi                    

The orthodox appealed to Kashi, the Rome of Hinduism. That was their last resort and hope and they had no doubt that there the invader would meet foes worthy of steel and would be routed. Dayanand too well knew that unless he subdued Kashi and won a decisive battle there, all his victories so far achieved would be useless.


Kashi Shastrartha[1869]  


So, before the sixth year of his public career was over, he reached Kashi and in his humble way, sat under the shades of a tree started preaching and expressing his views on religion, philosophy and grammar. Soon after this a public discussion was arranged. It was attended by thousands of people. One the one side were 300 leading Hindu Pundits and Sanyasis and on the other side Dayanand alone, with but a few of admirers. The meeting was presided over by no less a person than the Maharaja of Benares. At the closure of the discussion both claimed victory; but what really happened may be gathered from the following account which was published in a Christian Missionary Journal written by a European Christian missionary.


An account by a Christian Missionary.

“A Hindu reformer


“The fame of the reformer was lately put the whole city of Benaresin commotion seems to have gone abroad. Some account, therefore, of him and his views, and the public disputation held with him, from one who was present at the disputation, and met and conversed with the reformer several times before and after the event, will perhaps not  to be uninteresting to the readers of the intelligencer.

The name of the reformer is Dayananda saraswathi. He is a native of some village in Gujarath; the name of the place he will not disclose to any one, from fear that his father who declares him mad, will come and take him forcibly away, as he already once did on a previous occasion. He is fine looking man, large but well proportioned; his face especially expressive of much intelligence. His outward appearance is that of a sanyasi or religious beggar: almost entirely naked and besmeared with the sacred Bhasma [ashes of cow dung].  He speaks Sanskrit fluently, though not in very polished style, and in a few instances not quite correctly. He is good reasoned and pretty pretty fair in controversy, at least so far that he generally allows his opponent to state his case without interruption: but extremely authoritative   in all his positions…… he devoted himself entirely to the study of Vedas from the eleventh year and thus he is more practically conversant with them than most if not all the pundits of Benares who generally knew them only at second hand or even less. At any rate, and this is the most remarkable feature distinguishing from other pundits, he is an independent student of Vedas and free from trammels of traditional interpretation. The standard commentary of the famous Sayanacharya is held little account by him. It can be no wonder, therefore, that his Vedic studies, conducted in the spirit, led him to the conviction that almost the whole of the [comparatively] modern Hinduism is in entire and irreconcilable contradiction with the Vedas and the Hinduism of Vedic times, about 2000 years ago. Being an active character, he is determined not to keep his conviction to himself, but to impart it to his countrymen, and try to replace Hindu Society exactly into the same state as it was about 2000 years ago….. Al least this is the fond dream of the reformer. But history never travels back in this manner……Hence the reform must fail but he may prepare the reform in way for another reform. He may possibly convince the Hindus that their modern Hinduism is altogether in opposition to Vedas—a fact of which most of them are ignorant and few who know or suspect it find it convenient to shut their eyes to it…….. They cannot go back to Vedic state that is dead and gone, and will never revive. Something more or less new must follow. We will hope it may be Christianity but whatever it may be, anything seems better than the present intellectually and morally monstrous idolatry and Caste……”

The date of arrival in BenaresI do not know. It must have been in the beginning of October. I was absent then. I first saw him after my return in November. I went to see him in company with the Prince of Bharathpur and one or two pundits. The excitement then was at its height. The whole of Brahminic and educated population of Benaresseemed to flock to him. In the verandah of a small house at the end of a large garden near the monkey tank, he was holding daily levees from early in the morning till late in the evening, for a continuous stream of people who came, eager to see and listen to dispute with the novel reformer.  It does not appear, however that the heads of the orthodox party or the pundits of the great dispute ever visited him, unless they did it secretly. The intensity of the excitement at last induced the Raja of Benares, in concert with his court Pundits and other men of influence, to take some notice of the reformer and to arrange a public disputation between him and the orthodox party, in order to allay the excitement by a defeat of the reformer………. but I fear there was a determination from the beginning that they would win the day by any means, whether foul or fair. The disputation took place on the 17th November [] in the place where the reformer had taken his abode. It lasted from about 3 to 7 o’clock P.M.  The Raja himself was present and president. Even the great Vedantist, the head it seems of the orthodox party, Vishuddananda Gaur Swami, who is said to have never left his dwellings before—of course an exaggeration—condescended to emerge for once from his place of meditation on the bank of river Ganges to assist with his learning the failing wits of the defenders of orthodoxy and to give additional authority to the anticipated defeat of the reformer—a clear proof that the reformer was thought to be formidable enemy. All the most reputed pundits were there and a large concourse of other people, learned and unlearned but all of respectable class. A detachment of policemen also  were present who guarded the entrance to the garden against the dense crowd outside which in vain strove to get admittance; but they were also intended, I suspect, to protect the lonely reformer in case of act of violence should be attempted against him by his enraged adversaries. But nothing of the kind occurred; all went off quietly, except that at the last, when the assembly broke up, the orthodox party loudly jeered the poor reformer in token of their ill gotten victory. But whether gotten ill or well, their victory had certainly the result they desired. The change was remarkable in the state of things before and after the disputation. As quickly as the excitement had arisen before, so quickly it subsided afterwards. Whereas, before multitude flocked to see him, those who came afterwards might be counted easily. The reformer himself was practically excommunicated and any one who would visit him after his refutation was threatened with the same measure. Immediately after the disputation a written defence was sent by the reformer to his opponents but I believe no notice was taken of it. Then an account of his doctrines were prepared by the reformer and printed about a month afterwards.  At the same time a public challenge to his opponents to answer his pamphlets was issued by him but again no notice was taken of it by the orthodox party. The reformer still remained till towards the end of January. Then he left Benares to visit the Mela atAllahabad, and to try to influence the multitude assembled there…..


“The reformer is not unacquainted with Christianity. He has read the Gospel, though I do not think very carefully. I had some conversation with him about it. But at present his mind is too much occupied with his own plan of reformation to give any serious thought to the investigation of the claim of another religion.” [A.F.R.H—From the Christian Intelligence;CalcuttaMarch 1870, p.79]


Controversy in the Press


For a long time, a heated controversy was kept up in the Press, both Indian and Anglo-Indian about the disputation. The matter was so important  and of such great interest from the public  point of view, that even the  Pioneer, the leading semi-official Anglo-Indian  paper of Allahabad, opened its columns to the correspondence on the subject. The events were discussed throughoutIndiaand aroused enormous interest.


Views of the Hindu patriot.


It would be matter of great interest for readers if we cite here from the “Hindu Patriot”[ a contemporary Journal] dt 17th January 1870


“ the stronghold of Hindu Idolatry and bigotry, which according  to Hindu Mythology stands on the trident of Shiva  and is therefore, not liable to the influence of earth quakes, has lately been shaken to its foundations by the appearance of a sage from Gujarat. The name of this great personage is Dayanand saraswathi. He has come with the avowed object of giving a death blow to the Hindu system of worship. He considers the Vedas to be the only books worthy of regard, and styles the Puranas as cunningly devised fables, the inventions of some shrewd Brahmins in a later period of subservience of their selfish motives. The Vedas, says he, entirely ignore Idol-worship and he challenges the Pundits and great men ofBenaresto meet him in argument. Sometime ago, the Maharaja of Ramnagar held a meeting in which he invited the great Pundits and elite ofBenares. Curious and protracted logomachies took place between Dayananda Saraswathi and the Pundits but the latter, notwithstanding their boasted learning met with signal discomfiture. Finding it impossible to overcome the great man with regular discussion, the Pundits resorted to the sinister course to sub serve their purpose. They made over to the stage an extract from the Puranas that favoured Idolatry, saying it is a text from Vedas. The latter was pondering over it, when the host of Pundits, headed by the Maharaja [ofBenares] himself clapped their hands, signifying the defeat of great pundit in the religious warfare. Though mortified greatly at the unmanly conduct and bad treatment of Maharaja, Dayanand had not lost the courage. He is still waging the religious contest with more earnest than ever. Though not alone, he stands undaunted in the midst of host of opponents. He held the shield of Truth to protect him, and his banner of victory waved in the air. The pundit has lately published a pamphlet, entitled “the Sathya Dharma Vichara” containing particulars of the religious contest above alluded to and has issued a circular calling on the Pundits of Benares to show the part of the Vedas which sanction Idol-worship. No one has ventured to make his appearance”


Mission of Dayananda


From this date may be counted the effective beginning of Dayananda’s mission for a reformed Aryan church, free from cant, from superstition and from popular error, and worthy of intelligence, genius and culture of that historic people.


In Calcutta.


From Benares, Dayananda continued to march eastward and reachedCalcutta, the then Capitol of India. The Brahma Samaj accorded him a hearty welcome and some of its leading members conferred with him with a view of winning his cooperation for their movements but the Swami could not give up his faith in the infallibility of Vedas and the doctrine of transmigration of Souls, the two cardinal principles which distinguish the Aryasamaj from Brahmasamaj. His visit toCalcuttahowever, brought him into the direct contact and intimate touch with the leaders of English educated community. Here he learned their points of view and benefited thereby. For instance, Babu Keshava Chandra sen, the reputed leader of Brahmasamaj suggested him the necessity of carrying his propaganda in the language of the people- a practical suggestion that was readily and gratefully accepted by the Swami. It was into operation at once. This single step made a mighty change in favour of his mission since it brought him into the direct contact with the bulk of his countrymen—both educated and uneducated—who did not know Sanskrit  and could not understand the concepts thru translation and interpreters. InCalcuttahe made acquaintance of Maharshi Devendranath Tagore.

Babu Keshava Chandra sen’s first meeting with the great Swami will not to be devoid of interest to the readers.

The Babu came and did not disclose his identity. There was a free talk between the two great reformers when all of a sudden, the babu fly the query.

“By the way have you ever met Keshava Chandra?”

“Yes and talked to him also”

“But he was out on all these days?”

“I have seen him nevertheless”


“I find him talking in your presence”

“How have you been able to recognise me?”

“Your noble presence discloses your identity”


The Babu finally remarked

“How sad that a Vedic Scholar like you should not know English, otherwise, I should have been very lucky in having you for a companion during my contemplated visit toEngland.”


The Swamiji at once retorted,

“It is no less sad that a learned reformer like the Babuji should try to revive a culture which he knew so little and should talk to his people in a language of which they know so little”


The above mentioned interchange of words between the great two had a meaning of its own.


In Bombay.


After spending another two years in the dissemination of his doctrines, Dayananda proceeded toBombaywhere eventually his mission was to take place in an organised shape.


Founding of Aryasamaj


The idea of forming a Society which would promote the Vedic Dharma took shape inBombay. It was named as Aryasamaj.

The first Aryasamaj was established inBombayon April, 30 1875. Here for the first time the rules and principles of the Aryasamaj were formulated.

Here again atPoona, Dayananda came into close contact with the educated, liberal minded members of Hindu community. I.e. the products of English education system.


At Lahore


But the next step in the evolution of the Aryasamaj was taken two years later atLahore, the then capital of unitedPunjab. Here the institution took its final shape which it maintains till date. The principles were finally revised and the Constitution reframed. All the Aryasamaj inIndiaor abroad adhere to these principles. Following are the ten principles.


The ten principles of Aryasamaj.

  1. God is the primary cause of all true knowledge and of everything known by its means.
  2. God is absolute Truth [sat] absolute knowledge [chit] and all Bliss [Anand]. He is  incorporeal, Almighty, just, Merciful, Unborn, Infinite, Unchangeable, Beginning less, Incomparable, the Support of all, All- pervading, Omniscient, Inward Controller, of all. Undecaying, Imperishable, Immortal, Fearless, Eternal, Holy, and the Creator of the Universe. To Him alone is the worship due.
  3. The Vedas are the books of true knowledge. It is the paramount duty of every Arya to read or hear them read; to teach and read them to others.
  4. One should always be ready to accept the Truth and to reject the Untruth.
  5. All actions must conform to Dharma. I.e. should be performed after thorough discrimination between the right and wrong.
  6. The primary object of Aryasamaj is to do well to the whole world, i.e., to promote physical, spiritual, and social good and every sentient being.
  7. All ought to be treated with love, justice, and with due regard to their merits.
  8. Ignorance [avidya] must be dispelled and knowledge [Vidya] diffused.
  9. No one should be contended with his good alone, but every one should regard his or her prosperity in the common good of all.
  10. Personal good should be subordinated to the good of Society. But  in strictly personal affairs  every one may act with freedom




The remaining part of his life- from1877 to 1883 was spent by Swami in preaching, teaching, and writing books including the Veda Bhashya, notable among them is [1] Satyarth prakash, [2] Rigvedadi Bhashya bhoomika and [3] Sanskar Vidhi. Besides this he wrote Bhashya for complete Yajurveda. Number of small books has also been written. It is said that 35 books [approx] were written by Swamiji in all.


Influence of his work done before his death.


These six years in the life of Dayananda were full of ceaseless, multitude activities. He moved from one part of the country to the other without taking a few days’ rest anywhere.  In the Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, andGujarathe met with greatest success. In these provinces a network of Aryasamajs were established before his death.

Some of the noblest and highest in the land accepted his faith and became his disciples. For instance, the Maharana of Udaipur, the most ancient and the most respected of the Hindu provinces, whose family has wielded royal sceptre in an unbroken succession for over thousands of years. Never in this family bowed their knees before the powerful Muslim rulers. Even the great Akbar was unable to subdue them, but succeeded in making temporary alliance with the Head of the State.

Maharaja Sajjan Singh studied law and Hindu jurisprudence with this great Swami and the company of the latter had for a time very chastening effect on otherwise dissolute prince.

What marvellous change did the company of the great reformer bring about in the life of the Maharana, could be inferred to the following remarks of Pandeya Mohanlal Vishan lal.


“The Maharaja thru the Upadesh of Swami was completely regenerated man. When Dayananda was about to leave his State, His Highness presented  him with an address written in his own  hand saying “ your stay here for eight months has been matter of great joy and source of inspiration to me. I can never pay the debt I owe to you for the instruction I have been receiving at your hands. I would request you to stay longer but I cannot arrogate to myself the privilege of monopolising you—a great teacher is intended to do good to humanity. I however, hope that you will come again and make me happy”

A similar address containing the same request at the end was also presented to him by the Raja of Shahapura

During his stay at shahapura, the Swami received invitation from devoted disciple, the Raja of Masuda. Dayananda accepted the invitation but postponed his visit for the present as he had a mind to visitJodhpurfirst. When Raja Nahir Shah of Shahapur was apprised of Swami’s intention to visit the State of Jodhpur, he tried to dissuade from the intended visit in the following words.

“The Raja of the State feels pleasure in the enjoyment of the worldly desires. They love to surround themselves with all sorts of sensual enjoyments including women and wine. They do not tolerate any reform in this matter. Pl take care to be little mild and tactful in your denunciations of evils in the State you are going to”


A fearless reply


The dauntless Dayananda replied calmly,

“I do not attempt to hew down thorny trees with a nail cutter. I use the effective weapon”.

The Prince again requested the beloved Swami

“It is unsafe for you to go toJodhpuron sacred mission. The people there are mean, uncultured and rude. You will preach at the cost of your precious life. They may not like what you say”

The Swamiji smilingly but firmly said “they might as well use my fingers for candles and yet do not deter me from the performance of my duty”




Not only the prince of Shahapur but the admirers  at Ajmer also tried to dissuade the Swamiji but Dayananda being a fearless  Sanyasi  resolved to visit the dreaded State- all the stranger and on 29th May 1983 he was at Jodhpur. Rao Raja Jawan Singh received him on behalf of the Maharaja Jaswant Singh, who on account of throat trouble could not be present in person at the reception of Swami. The Swami was accommodated in the bunglow of Faizulla Khan.


Jaswant Singh in his audience.


The Ved prachar work was started in right earnest. Lectures were delivered daily before the enormously huge gatherings. The audience went on increasing by leaps and bounds. The whole city echoed with his sweet sayings. It attracted the Head of the State, and he paid a visit to have a Darshan of the charming Swami. Out of reverence which Maharaja Jaswant Singh had in his mind for the great sage, he hesitated to occupy the chair which was offered to him. The Swami writes in a letter dated 30th June, that His Highness frequently visited him and the members of royal family did attend his sermons.


A  rebuke.


But it is alleged that Maharaja Jaswant Singh was a debauch. He was under the influence of an infamous concubine named Nanhijan who was also called Nanhi Bhagatin.  She swayed supreme in the administration, and corruption was order of the day. Under the holy influence of Sage, the Maharaja showed signs of Change and the Swami became the regular visitor to the palace.

One day it so happened that the Swami entered the Palace at an unexpected hour [ as the Swami wanted to benefit the king  more closely] when Nanhijan was with Raja. Having come to know the arrival of Swami at this juncture, the king was at his wits end. He rashly ordered the removal of woman. In hot haste the palanquin could not be kept balanced by the carriers; the prince himself gave his hand to keep it steady. Dayananda witnessed this and he fearlessly rebuked the King. “A lion in the company of a bitch. Such association result in the birth of dogs. To what lowest depths have the Vedic traditions been degraded?”

The Swamiji retraced his steps.

The Maharaja was remorseful.

To the misfortune of both, but to the great misfortune of the country, the Swami took exception to the Maharaja living with a concubine, a Muslim woman.




Nanhi Jan could not stand the rebuke and especially the reverence of the Prince to the Sage which she found to be of no good to her in future. She was not prepared to loose the high position she held. The reform of Maharaja meant a ruin for her. She contrived to eliminate Swamiji by administering a subtle poison in his food.

It was 20th September. The great sage as usual took milk from Dhul Mishra –his cook-who was also called Jagannatha and went to bed. At midnight he felt acute pain in his stomach. Vomiting had done him no good. He at once detected foul play. The morning saw him still worse. The poison was so subtle that it could not be washed away by Nauli kriya. In the morning he sent for his cook, Jagannatha.


Merciful to the murderer


As Jagannatha was sent unexpectedly he came with a throbbing heart.

The Swamiji asked him

“Did you tamper with my evening meal?

“No Sir, I know nothing about it”

“Don’t deny what is apparent. O  Man, speak the truth. You are in a danger now” said the Swamy calmly and sternly,

“I am sorry, kindly pardon me. I was fool enough to poison your milk”

With these words, Jagannatha fell prostrate at the feet of the kind sage.

The merciful Swamy Dayanand had much affection for Dhaul Mishra, the cook who served him so lovingly. He had taught him the Sandhya prayer and the method of Pranayama.  Jagannatha too was very devoted to him. But the allurement of few thousand silver coins turned him treacherous beast and he played with the life of benevolent master. The great sage even at this point of life and death had all the mercy for this deluded dreadful creature. He affectionately and smilingly said

“My life, I don’t mind. O Jagannatha, my mission is still unfinished. Little you know what harm you have done to the motherland. But I have nothing to blame you, it was His will.

Swamiji got up and offered him some money to the lamenting Jagannatha saying,

“Jagannatha, you love money. Here it is. Make use of it. Flee before the mischief sees the light of the day. Fly toNepal, otherwise you will have to face the danger. Lose not a moment. Let nobody know what you have done.

Jagannatha was no more in the morning.

The Maharaja of course, had no hand in the criminal conspiracy and was genuinely stricken with grief when informed of the Swami’s malady. He did everything to provide the best medical aid for him. But there was no relief.

Some Scholars  have sufficient reason to believe that the Muslim Doctor Ali Mardan Khan who was a third rate hospital assistant and under whose care and treatment the Swamiji was left by the State Govt had some hand in the conspiracy secretly—the fact which was unknown to the State and Swami. He administered his patient poisonous medicines in extraordinary doses, i.e. four times excessive. Dayananda himself and another doctor Suraj mal who treated him earlier and remained with Swamiji inJodhpursuspected some foul play in the treatment of Dr Ali Mardan khan.


Outside the State.

The malady of the Sage remained a sealed book to the people outside the State till 12th October. On this day a disciple of the sage who was also a member of Ajmer Aryasamaj read a news item in the Rajput Gazzete. It moved the Aryasamaj world and L. jethmal ran toJodhpur. Here he sent Telegrams to all Aryasamajs.


The sad hours


How gloomy it was to find the precious life of the great sage being put under the treatment of a third class physician whose sincerity was an object of doubt and suspicion?


At Ajmer.


The Swamiji was moved in a precarious condition toMountAbu. The doctors did their best but of no avail. Then he was shifted toAjmer. But to the dismay of doctors there was no relief and the Swami was at his death bed now.

The shades of evening were closing fast. The Swami got himself shaved and desired Swami Atmananda and Gopal giri to be called for.

“What is your wish?’

“Only that you should recover”

“No, what is left in this mortal frame now?”

Then the Swami asked all the present to stand behind him. Guudatta, the well-known agonistic was amongst them. The Swami was in meditation. A strange light – the glow of vicinity to God—shone on his face. Then he opened his eyes and repeated Gayathri Mantra 3 times and again closed his eyes. Suddenly Swamiji opened his eyes again and said “Lord! Thy will be done”

It was the dark night of Divali[ 30th October 1883] when the entire  country was busy celebrating  the festival of Lights. A diving light at this time left this mortal home to embrace the Supreme Lord.

The Last Conversion 


This sad event took place on the 30th of Oct 1883. Those who were present by the side of his death bed were unanimous in testifying to the fact that he was perfectly calm at the time of his death, the exact time of which he had told several hours before. Gurudatta, the agnostic was no longer an agnostic now. He was henceforth a believer in Guru. And he lived and died in preaching Vedic Dharma according to his Guru’s concept.



We may conclude our appreciation of his peerless Scholarship and his unimaginable dynamic knowledge of Vedic lore endowed with mystic insight in the following Sanskrit verse.


Dayanandasaraswathya  paaram vethi Saraswathi|

Saraswathya param paraam  Dayananda saraswathi||



Dated 27.11.09

Bangalore                                                                                                           Paramanand

P.hd, P.E.S




About Fan of Agniveer

I am a fan of Agniveer

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