Swami Shraddhananda Complete Biography Part 2
Arise Of a Leader
Pundit Shyam dass of Amritsar throw a debate on Vedas which Munshiram accepted and handled the debate effectively. This led him to ascend to leadership level. Munshiram started weekly Saddhrmpracharak in Urdu for propagation of Vedic philosophy. He published his first track on varnavyastha. He started morning nagar kirtan (street preaching) and organized Aryasamaj anniversary in which Lala Saindas, Gurudatta, Lala Hansraj and two Swamis were part from Lahore delegation. The successful function put Jullundur Aryasamaj branch on map. The main influence on Munshiram character was that he not only emerged as a leader but also most of his time apart from lawyer practice was devoted to the missionary zeal of Aryasamaj. His engagements kept him away from dark company of friends.
“MY LIFE WAS NO MORE MY OWN. IT NOW BELONGED TO ALL PEOPLE”
Pioneering Women Education
Women education was first bold step taken by Munshiram in field of social enlistment. Once he was reading book at his home when he heard song from his daughter mouth saying Christ is your lord Krishna, Christ is your lord rams. This stroked him and he started thinking that Christian missionary schools were diverting minds of youth to their sects. In 1889 he withdraws his daughter from the Christian school, and decided that the Jullundur aryas should set up girl’s school of their own. In 1889 he started an important series of articles about female education in the second issue of Saddhrmpracharak entitled ADHURA INSAF or half justice in which he pleaded for the education of women on the basis of equal rights of males and females (HIST 1 P-200). His thought was influenced by the revolutionary teaching of SATYARTH PRAKASH in which SWAMI DAYANAND has advocated female education. Indeed Swami Dayanand was first to roar like lion in public platforms for female education giving evidences of women rishis like Gargi and Matraiyi. The opposition was strong, and the going very hard; the first three attempts fell through mostly on account of the lack of pupils. The maximum resistance was by staunch Hindus who thought that it would be a real havoc if females would chant Vedic mantras. Locals protested against both of them and even tried for physical abuse many a times. Even Christian missionaries were indirectly involved as they were losing green pastures of conversion to Aryasamaj. But finally in July 1891, firm foundations were laid and the school was off to a good start. The tribune of 16th march 1892 reported the opening of a refuse fund, and its issue of 6th July of same year reported with praise that about forty girls had been enrolled. Girls were given incentives of cloths and money to attend school. tribune 6 Feb.1895 reported that the school had nearly a hundred pupils in 1895 in march a boarding house was inaugurated, the kanya ashram , and by the end of the same year it had attracted girls not only from Punjab but also from north-west provinces and even from Poona. (Arya dharma p- 215) this showed that some people were now ready to trust the school even with the moral education and protection of their daughters. The Indian social reformer (dated 18 Nov. 1917) commented with high praise that it was the first such institution on India pioneering female education. In June 1896 Devraj and Munshiram finally attained their goal. They inaugurated kanya mahavidyalaya high school for girls. They really transformed it into major institution of female education.
(WOMENHOOD OF OUR COUNTRY ARE IN DEBT OF REVOLIUTIONARY SWAMIS LIKE DAYANAND AND SHRADDHANANDA FOR RIGHTS OF EDUCATION.)
Widow Remarriage Revolution
Our country was eloped in childhood marriage and natural epidemics lead to rising of brigades of child widows who had never even seen the faces of their grooms. SWAMI DAYANAND in SATYARTH PRAKASH first advocated remarriage of widow. Following his message people started widow remarriage but so called staunch Hindus opposed this move. They were ready to keep an innocent girl for whole life either at their home or in Banaras, Mathura to land up in prostitution or sexual exploitation but not ready to remarriage her. In those days female was considered as a curse. Aryasamaj started widow remarriage with missionary zeal. In 1895 one Diwan Sant Ramdas arranged the remarriage of his daughter, who had been married in early childhood, but had been widowed long before that marriage could be consummated. Many orthodox Hindus argued that this remarriage of a widow was against Hindu dharma, and chopra community of akalgarh published a treatise pressing for the total excommunication of the Diwan. Munshiram undertook his defense. He published a pamphlet entitled kshatra dharma palan ka gair mamuli mauka (an unusual opportunity to defend the dharma of the khatris) first he showed that the harsh condemnation was ear from universal among the Hindus. Next he accused the Hindus community of incest, abortion. Adultery, drunkenness and theft committed by high caste Hindus without ever calling upon their head even the faintest threat of sanction from their caste. He supported widow remarriage and supported his claim by texts from Vedas and Manu smriti. Pamphlet closed with a passionate appeal to all Hindus to do all they could to accept remarriage of widows in all cases where the Hindu religion allowed it. Munshiram struggled for his whole life for the upliftment of widows. At last in 1925 he got success in his mission. At a regional widow remarriage conference held in his own town of Jullundur, addressing as chairman of conference, he passed resolution of disapproval of marriage of boys before they were twenty- five years old and of girls before the age of sixteen, such unions were in violation of the shastras. It was also stated that no widower should marry a virgin, nor should a widow marry a bachelor, and that the marriage of virgin widows should be celebrated in exactly the same manner as that of virgin brides. Moreover, children born from the union of widow and widowers should enjoy the same legal rights and privileges as those born in the first marriage. These were indeed revolutionary resolutions, worthy of the radicalism of Swami Dayanand himself. (Leader, 15oct. 1925)
New Dream Of Gurukul
Munshiram felt many a time that the education pattern of the D.A.V. schools will not produce a truly national adult, who was prepared to structure his life according to that Vedic ideal, and devote his formative years to its study. The main thrust of the instruction was therefore to be the study of the Vedas and of all the linguistic and historical disciplines necessary for that study. Situation of present schools in midtowns subjects pupils to all kinds of pernicious influences, both moral and physical. The gurukul situated among forests with teachers as in loco parentis taking responsibility for physical, intellectual and moral growth of their pupils. The syllabus included Sanskrit as its main curriculum supported with subjects like English, science, math and history. Munshiram first in may 1900 opened its small branch in Gujranwala but was not satisfied by its location. He was donated land for gurukul by Munsi Amar Singh near village Kankhal; Haridwar. Finally on 2 March, 1901 Munshiram opened his dream gurukul. It was first two bighas of open space in the midst of thick jungle, two rows of thatched huts, a small cabin, and cattle shed. That was the beginning. Fifteen years later on 12th April 917 when Munshiram entered sanyas the gurukul was a large complex of brick buildings housing a school with 276 pupils, university section with sixty four students, and staff of thirty five teachers. There were ample classrooms, dormitories, a library, science laboratories, a hospital, workshops, an agricultural institute, a guest house etc. at that time other gurukul branches were also opened in Multan, Kurukshetra, Indraprastha, and Rohtak. It was later followed by hundreds of gurukuls all over country both for boys and girls. Gurukul system of education was a revolutionary step in field of education. It was education based on Vedic knowledge with ancient pride of our country filled in the veins of all students. Gurukul did not accept any government grant, started any government syllabus and gave any government recognized degree. It was self dependent in its every aspect in British ruled India. C.F.Andrews was so influenced by the gurukul atmosphere that he wrote about his impressions in the modern review of March as “here was the India that I has known and loved- the India of my dreams only in decay, but ever fresh and young with the spring time of immortal youth…here in the gurukul was the new India.” (Ref- gispert-sauch, ed., god’s word among men, Delhi, 1973, p. 75)
Savior of Aryasamaj and the Guruku
l Arrest and Deportation of Lala Lajpat Rai fell like a bombshell among aryas. Britishers assumed activities of Aryasamaj as a plot to overthrow the government. Munshiram immediately took up defense of Aryasamaj. He produced constant stream of articles from the punjabee newspaper of 12 June 1907 to large works like the Aryasamaj and politics, a vindication in 1910. He proved that Aryasamaj was a purely religious body, not a political one, and that it had no connections with any political grouping. He said that Dayanand’s writings had no reference to politics. He said he had no sympathy whatsoever with any political group or action which the government may have considered seditious. But at the same time Munshiram publicize the way government and army officers were unjustly harassing the aryas. He even mentioned such list of harassment of aryas in his book the vindication. On 23 august 1907 he suggested that Lord Minto should send for some leaders of the samaj and talk freely with them. So, that his Excellency may come to know who are the real enemies of the government and how the government can protect itself against them (SVNUP 1907 P-443). He advocated that Aryasamaj should not send a deputation like beggars to Britishers. When Munshiram was called by Sir John Hewitt he asked him to issue a proclamation declaring that no person shall be declared disloyal simply because he is an aryasamajist. (SVNUP 1908 P-959). He appealed lord Minto not to give credence to malicious informants. (SVNUP 1908 P-945).he even defended Lajpat Rai in the punjabee of 12th June 1907 “we believe that these gentlemen were advocates of constitutional agitation only, and that sedition had no place in their minds”. When the others remained silent, he repeated that fearless expression of his opinion of Lajpat Rai innocence in civil and military gazette of June 1907 and in his Lahore speech of Nov. 1908. (Vindication p-78). Even gurukul kangri was considered as centre of sedition. Munshiram invited British officials to the gurukul. In 1913 Sir James Meston, Governor of U.P. visited the gurukul. C.F.Andrews visited the gurukul in 1913 and praised it as real India. Friendship sprang between him and Munshiram. C.F.Andrews was close to Viceroy Lord Harding. His relations helped to create good atmosphere between gurukul and the government. Other eminent personalities to visit gurukul were Ramsay MacDonald and finally Viceroy Lord Chelmsford in Oct. 1916. In April 1915 gurukul attended Mahatma Gandhi as its special guest.