The Prajapati Yagna and the awakening
1. In the late nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century, the Arya Samaj brought about an awakening in the Jats of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Education was propagated, and the mind of the community views turned towards Social, Religious, and Nationalist reforms. In every field there was progress. The Jats opened many Schools, Colleges, and Gurukuls, and the Jat Kisans (farmers) or landowners supported this movement with open hearts and donations. The Arya Samaj expended considerable effort in this. Students of Jat farmers would come to these educational Institutions from far and wide to study, and this awoke in them awareness of the needs of the society and the inspiration to do something about it. Having achieved their education many went to look for jobs, and ended up in Rajputana, Marwar, Malwa etc and there they became the heralds of education and the uplift of society.
2. ACHARYA JAGDEV SINGH SIDDHANTHI AND THE KIRTTAL GURUKUL
In the year 1920 CE, one such Sanskrit Gurukul (School ) was opened in the village of Kirtthal in the province of Uttar Pradesh.( then the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh) In Kirtthal Chaudhary Kunde Singh gave over an Orchard for the school, Chaudhary Amir Singh Lambardar and Muktyar Singh had school classrooms rooms built .The School was put under the mentorship and protection of Chaudhary Arjun Singh, of the village of Kakor, District Baghpat. Chaudhary Arjun Singh was a staunch Arya Samaj supporter, and was also the Pradhan or chief of the Panchayat of the Chaubisi of Chaprauli (the unit of 24 villages of Chaprauli). Initially there were many students, but due to a shortage of resources, and teachers, the numbers went into a decline. In 1929, at the request of the founders of the school, Jagdev Singh Siddhanthi, left his teaching position at Gurukul Matindu,Haryana, and joined the Kirtthal as the Acharya or head. The school was in poor condition and on the verge of closure. There were only five students left, and of these two were Raghuvir Singh, and Dharamvir Singh, nephews of Chaudhary Arjun Singh. Chaudhary Arjun Singh had told them’ it does not matter if your daily food has to sent from some relatives, but you will stay here and not give up on your studies.’ Later Raghuvir Singh Shastri, in his youth, would participate in the Prajapati Yagya at Sikar, and by strength of his exemplary achievement and capability, he would light the path and encourage the Jats towards education.
The first action of Acharya Siddhanthi ji was to change the name of the school from Sanskrit Vidhyalaya (School), to Arya Mahavidyalaya (University) Kirttal. He then worked day and night to build the institution. He went from village to village to obtain students. Good students were invited to join the school. He brought the learned Pandit P. Shanti Swarup from Lahore, and Swami Vidhyanand form Matindu to Kirttal. In three of four years the reputation of the school spread far and wide, and Siddhanthi ji was acknowledged as a Guru in this district. He then received an invitation to attend the Prajapati Yagya at Sikar.
3. SIKAR, DISTRICT SHEKAVATI
In Sikar district, Rajasthan, there were 500 villages of the Jats in one grouping. But in contrast to Haryana and Uttar Pradesh their condition was very backward. The condition was poor and destitute.The Jats and other communities had totally suppressed by the continual atrocities committed by the feudal arrogant Rajput intoxicated with his power.
If anyone spoke up, even just a little, they and their families were attacked physically, maimed and killed; their houses burnt down, their children kidnapped, by the pet thugs of the Rajput Thakur. There was no law; the cries of the victims went unheard. Some Jats went to Shekhawati] from Uttar Pradesh on jobs, and some were sent there by the Jat Mahasabha to promote the Arya Samaj. They went from village to village to attempting to awaken the people. Some also started to teach children in makeshift schools. Shekhawati was in the Thikana (district) of Sikar in the princely state of Jaipur. The Thakur of Sikar was Rao Raja Kalyan Singh. Some reformers met with him, and asked for some facilities and relief for the ordinary people. No resolution was achieved, and the reformers were instead harassed. This upset the Jats of Uttar Pradesh considerably. The Jat Mahasabha discussed the situation. It was decided that effort would be made to awaken to people in this area, in particular the Jats community.
In the entire estate of Sikar, no one could hold an assembly or a gathering or receive permission for the same, if the applicant was a Jat; the refusal was prompt and totally adverse.
The chairman of the Jat Mahasabha was a follower of the [Arya Samaj], (a reform movement of Hinduism) and it was decided that a great Yagya (prayer ceremony), would be organized, and that venue would be used to make an introduction to the community. A Yagya was a religious function, and therefore permission was granted. In 1934 it was decided to hold the ceremony at the time of Sharad, per the Hindu calendar,(which usually falls in the month of September), and Yagya was called the Prajapati Yagya (Prayer ceremony for the Lord of Universe).Volunteers went to all the households in all the villages in the region and collected material that would be needed. They collected
Ghee, Flour, Gur, and invited all the householders to participate. Hundreds of can of Ghee and hundreds of sacks of flour were collected. Kunwar Hukam Singh Rahees Angai (Mathura) was made Yagyapati or Chairman of the Yagya. He had been Chairman of the Arya Prathinidhi Sabha, Uttar Pradesh province and All Arya Prathinidhi Sabha, Delhi,
for many years. Acharya Shri Jagdev Siddhanthi received an invitation for this Yagya at his Gurukul at Kirttal, In that invitation was he requested to attend the Yagya and bring twenty Brahmcharis and disciples with him.
When the trains carrying the groups of the Yajaks (organizers of the Yagya), reached Sikar railway Station, they were greeted with growing crowds. Seth Jamnalal Bajaj, who was a staunch supporter of Mahatma Gandhi, was also present at the railway station to greet the Yajaks. In the open sandy land near the railway station hundreds of thousands of men and women from every corner, every village in Rajasthan had set up camp with their families, bullock carts and camel carts. Seeing this vast preparation and gathering the local Rajput community, and the Brahmin community was not only astonished but panicky, and became determined to stop the Yagya. All kinds of tricks were attempted. The Pundits were determined to show the Yajaks as low people. The program was scheduled for one whole week. The main aim of this event was to present to, the Jats and others of Shekhawati, the picture of advanced level of the cultural and education development, and the progressiveness of the Jat society in U.P. and elsewhere, so that the Jats of Shekhawati could be inspired to have a desire for education and upliftment. Jagdev Siddhanthi, per his plan, placed his honor student Raghuvir Singh, at the eastern entrance, as the one learned in the Yagya. Raghuvir Singh was sixteen years old at the time. He spoke fluent Sanskrit, and could recite all the Shastras and Mimamnsas from memory. On the Western entrance he placed Pundit Shanti Swarup, the guru from Gurukul Kirttal, who was a renowned Sanskrit Scholar… The function of these two was to greet the coming pundits in Sanskrit only, to speak to them in Sanskrit, and to give those directions. All the renowned gurus and students of the Sanskrit schools of Jaipur, Sikar, Ajmer, and Jodhpur etc came in small groups. They would first encounter the youth Raghuvir Singh. The students of the Puranic schools were less versed in the speaking of Sanskrit and compared the students of the Arya Samaj schools. In the first day itself, the news like wildfire, that among the people, who came from Meerut, to perform the Yagya, was a young boy who was speaking Sanskrit fluently and rapidly. People started to come from far and wide to listen to Raghuvir Singh. Along with the Yagya ceremony, Bhajans, and updeshs (sermons) were carried on. The leaders and scholars gave their lectures and held seminars. Sir Chotu Ram, the acclaimed leader of the common man, had made his debut and mark on the political firmament. He made a speech. Many prominent persons were present: Thakur Desraj of Jadhina, the renowned Historian of Jat History, who was devoted his full efforts to the upliftment of the people and the cause of the Jat Sabha(assembly); Advocate , Thakur Jhamman Singh who had been chairman of the Jat Sabha for many years; Richpal Singh Phogat, (of Dhamera Kirat,Distt Bulandshahr) who was an honorary Magistrate and a minister with the Jat Sabha ; Kunwar Ratan Singh of Mandhona, District Bulandshahr, who was involved and very active in the affairs of Bulandshahr and Bharatpur; Chaudhary Moolchand , who was chair for many years of the All India Jat Mahasabha, and the founder of the Jat Boarding House, Nagaur; Rai Sahib Chaudhary Hari ram Singh of Kurmalli, Dist Muzzafarnagar, who was a famous orator; Thakur Sansar Singh one of the founders of the Haridwar Girls Gurukul, Pandit Moolchand Shastri, Pandit Shanti Swarup etc. People were enamored with their inspiring speeches.
One day, in the evening gathering, some Puranic Brahmins taunted Siddhanthi ji that his students were simply parroting in Sanskrit. They were accused of simply having learnt their shlokas (verses) and dissertations, which anyone could do. They said’ we will acknowledge your student Raghuvir Singh, if we gave him topic of our choice, and he can speak even a few words on that. Raghuvir Singh accepted the challenge, and the topic given to him’ Athma’. The entire gathering of Puranic Brahmins was astounded by the extended discourse given by Raghuvir Singh. The people in the audience went wild in their appreciation, but the biased Rajputs present, were irritated. At the end of the Yagya, Raghuvir Singh made another discourse in Sanskrit, which was translated simultaneously into Hindi by Chaudhary Hariram Singh, which laid a stamp of confirmation on his scholarship. When the Yagya program ended, the Yagyapati was to be taken in procession seated on an elephant. The Thakur of Sikar had allocated two elephants for this purpose, but the leaders of the Rajput community were unable to tolerate this. They collected in the palace of Raja Rao, and told him they would tolerate a procession of the elephants with a Jat riding it. Raja Rao was convinced to stop the procession and orders were issued accordingly.
In those days the Chief of Police of the Jaipur state was an Englishman named Young. He had lived in then United Princes (modern Uttar Pradesh) and was very popular with the people. Thakur Jhamman Singh, Chaudhary Hariram Singh, and Chaudhary Richpal Singh, knew him personally, and they went to Jaipur to seek his assistance. Mr. Young knew about the Yagya at Sikar, but he had been told that only three or four hundred people were present. The leaders told him that there were three or four hundred thousand people present, and could he go and see for himself. Mr. Young flew to Sikar in an aero plane, and flew over, circled and inspected, the vast gathering many times. He moved in to the Guest House of the Raja of Sikar, and invited both parties for talks. The Rajputs were not ready to bend. In the meantime of their Pundits raise a new issue, and stated that there was no such term as `Yagyapati’ in the Vedas, and therefore the question of a procession of the Yagyapati did not arise. Mr. Young asked the Yagya
organizers for a response. Raghuvir Singh was asked this question, and he gave a discourse of the place of Yagyapati in the Vedas, and opening the books of the Vedas, marked innumerable places in the Vedas, where the term `Yagyapati’ appeared and put that in front of Mr. Young. The Puranic Pundits were stunned. Mr. Young then said to Rao raja” Now what do you have to say? These people are trying to spread learning and knowledge in this backward region, and you are opposing them? See their students, how much of a grip and authority they have over their subject!
The biased Rajputs refused to budge. They threatened to shoot guns at the procession. The people were however so enthused, that they were ready to face the bullets, and to make the greatest sacrifice, and determined to see the procession take place. The Jat leaders however, showed great presence of mind, and a compromise was reached that the procession would take place, but no Jat would sit on the elephant. Some Pandit with a book of the Veda would sit instead. One more obstacle was raised that in the Arya Samaj followers there was no birth born caste brahmin. In the Jats group there was only one caste born Brahmin, Pandit Khemchand Mandawar of Rajasthan, who was also a staunch Arya Samaj follower. His name was only agreed to after he had to pay two amounts 500 Rupees each as two individual bonds as surety that he was a born into the Brahmin caste. As Pandit Khemchand sat
upon the elephant with his Veda book, one small child of Thakur Desraj was quietly seated with him in his lap.
The procession started but the gates to the city of Sikar were closed by those in opposition. Sikar was surrounded all around with very high walls. The gates being closed the Procession had to return from outside. The citizens of Sikar still saw the procession, as they climbed on to the rooftops, the trees and the walls, and saw this vast procession.
There was a tremendous benefit of this Yagya. It sparked a renaissance, and acted like water on parched land. It
revived the spirit of the people. The struggle continued and grew took on more vigor. The Jats of Shekhavati’s mind was now turned to education, and the reestablishment of their ancient structures. The Jats and other communities, who had been suppressed for centuries, obtained the inspiration and will to establish schools and colleges and educate their children.
After more struggles, Zamindari or feudal estates would be abolished, in a free India. In the decades to come this would show in the increasing prosperity of the people of the region. The brilliant Raghuvir Singh would go onto become the Vice Chancellor of Gurukul Kangri Mahavidyalaya (University), Haridwar. He also becomes a great leader of the Arya Samaj and a much respected member of the community for his contributions in education
and social reform.