Biography of Swami Dayanand

Written by Paramanand

Contributed by Vasudev Rao Ji

A separate State by name Gujarath 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 in Jivapur 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 to Benares where 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 throughout India which 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  of Himalayas, 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 the Narmada, 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 and Narmada, 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 the valley of Ganga, 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,  land of Vedas and the Upanishads. land of Kapila, vyasa, the land of  Ram and Krishna, land of Shankara and 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 the Himalayas with 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   of Mathura 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 of North 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 to Mathura, 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 to Mathura.

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 in India from times immemorial. Education was entirely  free in ancient India. Both princes and the poor sat together in earning  knowledge. Krishna and 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 of India  but most of his time was spent on the banks of Ganga and 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 upper India not 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 to Ganga and 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 Benares in 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 Benares I 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 Benares seemed 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 at Allahabad, 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;  Calcutta March 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 throughout India and 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 of Benares to meet him in argument. Sometime ago,  the Maharaja of Ramnagar held a meeting in which he invited the great  Pundits and elite of Benares. 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 [of Benares] 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 reached Calcutta,  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 to Calcutta however, 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. In Calcutta he 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 to England.”

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 to Bombay where 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 in Bombay. It was named as Aryasamaj.

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

Here again at Poona, 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 at Lahore, the then capital of united Punjab. Here the institution  took its final shape which it maintains till date. The principles were  finally revised and the Constitution reframed. All the Aryasamaj in  India or 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  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, and Gujarat he 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 visit Jodhpur  first. 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 to Jodhpur on 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”

At Jodhpur

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 to Nepal, 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 in Jodhpur suspected 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 12thOctober. 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 to Jodhpur.  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 to Mount Abu. The doctors  did their best but of no avail. Then he was shifted to Ajmer. 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||


About Fan of Agniveer

I am a fan of Agniveer

Posted on May 21, 2012, in Vedas. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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