Category Archives: Swami Shraddhananda
Congress and Gandhi Ji’s Silence on Moplah Riots
Mr. Gandhi has been very punctilious in the matter of condemning any and every act of violence and has forced the Congress, much against its will to condemn it. But Mr. Gandhi has never protested against such murders. Not only have the Musalmans not condemned these outrages but even Mr. Gandhi has never called upon the leading Muslims to condemn them. He has kept silent over them. Such an attitude can be explained only on the ground that Mr. Gandhi was anxious to preserve Hindu-Muslim unity and did not mind the murders of a few Hindus, if it could be achieved by sacrificing their lives.
This attitude to excuse the Muslims any wrong, lest it should injure the cause of unity, is well illustrated by what Mr. Gandhi had to say in the matter of the Moplah riots.
The blood-curdling atrocities committed by the Moplah in Malabar against the Hindus were indescribable. All over Southern India, a wave of horrified feeling had spread among the Hindus of every shade of opinion, which was intensified when certain Khilafat leaders were so misguided as to pass resolutions of “congratulations to the Moplah on the brave fight they were conducting for the sake of religion.” Any person could have said that this was too heavy a price for Hindu-Muslim unity. But Mr. Gandhi was so much obsessed by the necessity of establishing Hindu-Muslim unity that he was prepared to make light of the doings of the Moplahs and the Khilafats who were congratulating them. He spoke of the Moplahs as the “brave God-fearing Moplahs who were fighting for what they consider as religion and in a manner which they consider as religious.” Speaking of the Muslim silence over the Moplah atrocities Mr. Gandhi told the Hindus:
“The Hindus must have the courage and the faith to feel that they can protect their religion in spite of such fanatical eruptions. A verbal disapproval by the Musalmans of Moplah madness is no test of Musalmans friendship. The Musalmans must naturally feel the shame and humiliation of the Moplah conduct about forcible conversions and looting, and they must work away so silently and effectively that such a thing might become impossible even on the part of the most fanatical among them. My belief is that the Hindus as a body have received the Moplah madness with equanimity and that the cultured Musalmans are sincerely sorry of the Moplahs perversion of the teaching of the Prophet.”
The Resolution passed by the Working Committee of the Congress on 16th January 1922 on the Moplah atrocities shows how careful the Congress was not to hurt the feelings of the Musalmans.
“The Working Committee places on record its sense of deep regret over the deeds of violence done by Moplahs in certain areas of Malabar, these deeds being evidence of the fact that there are still people in India who have not understood the message of the Congress and the Central Khilafat Committee, and calls upon every Congress and Khilafat worker to spread the said message of non-violence even under the gravest provocation throughout the length and breadth of India.
“Whilst, however, condemning violence on the part of the Moplahs, the working Committee desires it to be known that the evidence in its possession shows that provocation beyond endurance was given to the Moplahs and that the reports published by and on behalf of the Government have given a one-sided and highly exaggerated account of the wrongs done by the Moplahs and an understatement of the needless destruction of life resorted to by the Government in the name of peace and order.
“The Working Committee regrets to find that there have been instances of so-called forcible conversion by some fanatics among Moplahs, but warms the public against believing in the Government and inspired versions. The Report before the Committee says:
“‘The families, which have been forcibly converted into Mohammedanism, lived in the neighborhood of Manjeri. It is clear that conversions were forced upon Hindus by a fanatic gang which was always opposed to the Khilafat and Non-co-operation Movement and there were only three cases so far as our information goes.”
In the Liberator of 26th August 1926 the Swami Ji says:
“The first warning was sounded when the question of condemning the Moplahs for their atrocities on Hindus came up in the Subjects Committee. The original resolution condemned the Moplahs wholesale for the killing of Hindus and burning of Hindu homes and the forcible conversion to Islam. The Hindu members themselves proposed amendments till it was reduced to condemning only certain individuals who had been guilty of the above crimes. But some of the Muslim leaders could not bear this even. Maulana Fakir and other Maulanas, of course, opposed the resolution and there was no wonder. But I was surprised, an out-and-out Nationalist like Maulana Hasrat Mohani opposed the resolution on the ground that the Moplah country no longer remained Dar-ul-Aman but became Dar-ul-Harab and they suspected the Hindus of collusion with the British enemies of the Moplahs. Therefore, the Moplahs were right in presenting the Quran or sword to the Hindus. And if the Hindus became Musalmans to save themselves from death, it was a voluntary change of faith and not forcible conversion—Well, even the harmless resolution condemning some of the Moplahs was not unanimously passed but had to be accepted by a majority of votes only. There were other indications also, showing that the Musalmans considered the Congress to be existing on their sufferance and if there was the least attempt to ignore their idiosyncrasies the superficial unity would be scrapped asunder.”
This inhuman defending of the barbaric Moplah atrocities prompted Annie Besant to comment bitterly as MALABAR AGONY in new India 29 nov.1921 as From that date [August 1] onwards thousands of the forbidden war-knives were secretly made and hidden away, and on August 20, the rebellion broke out; Khilafat flags were hoisted on police stations and Government offices. …The misery is beyond description. Girl wives, pretty and sweet, with eyes half blind with weeping, distraught with terror; women who have seen their husbands hacked to pieces before their eye, in the way “Moplahs consider religious”, old women tottering, whose faces become written with anguish and who cry at a gentle touch and a kind look, waking out of a stupor of misery only to weep, men who have lost all, hopeless, crushed, desperate.
… I have walked among thousands of them in refugee camps, and sometimes heavy eyes would lift as a cloth was laid gently on the bare shoulder, and a faint watery smile of surprise would make the face even more piteous than the stupor. Eyes full of appeal, of agonized despair, of hopeless entreaty of helpless anguish, thousands of them camp after camp. …
Two Pulayas, lowest of the submerged classes were captured with others and were given the choice between Islam and Death. These, the outcaste of Hinduism, the untouchables, so loved the Hinduism which had been so unkind a step-mother to them that they chose to die Hindus rather than to live Muslim. May the God of both, Muslim and Hindus send His messengers to these heroic souls, and give them rebirth into the Faith for which they died.
Madhvan Nair, secretary Calicut district congress committee had recorded the following in his report:
Can you conceive of a more ghastly and inhuman crime than the murder of babies and pregnant women? … A pregnant woman carrying 7 months was cut through the abdomen by a rebel and she was seen lying dead with on the way with the dead child projecting out … Another baby of six months was snatched away from the breast of the mother and cut into two pieces. … Are these rebels’ human beings or monsters?
Maulana Modini called the looting and killing of Hindus ‘military necessity’ while the high priest of Khilafat movement itself the then Congress High Command applauded Moplahs for fighting devotedly for their religious cause in a way ‘they consider religious’.: Men who consider it “religious” to murder, rape, loot, to kill women and little children, cutting down whole families, have to be put under restraint in any civilized society.
One of the favorite myths of the pseudo-secularist is that Moplah atrocity was actually a rebellion against land-owners who ‘happened to be ‘ Hindus. As demonstrated by the large number of swords and knives ornamentally decorated in their handles show how much money and careful planning had gone into these atrocities against Hindus. Annie Beasant’s report also shatters the myth that Moplah massacre in which by all moderate counts more than 5000 Hindus perished and many families dishonored and converted through sword and rapine, was not against just the ‘high-caste Hindus’ all Hindus -just because they were Hindus , were killed; infants were slaughtered before their mothers because they were born of Hindu parents.
Swami Ji in Jail with Akali Sikhs
In august, 1922 a trouble erupted in Amritsar over the ownership of a plot of land attached to the gurudwara at guru-ka-bagh. The Sikhs considered it as part of their sacred property and continued to cut wood from it. This led to police interference, charges, convictions, and imprisonment. The Alkali Sikhs organized a passive resistance campaign. Groups of Sikhs would go openly to guru-ka-bagh, and into the land guarded by police. They were systematically stopped, mercilessly beaten, and arrested. On call of alkalis Swami ji arrived at Amritsar on 10th September with Ajmal khan and Pt. Pyarelal Sharma. Madan Mohan Malviya and Lala Lajpat Rai were already there. Swami Ji addressed the meeting saying people of Delhi, Muslim, Hindus and even Christians were behind them, and that a telegram from the Alkali committee was sufficient to join the struggle. He blessed the satyagrahis and wished that they should in that religious struggle proceed to victory with the same non-violent spirit. When swami ji about to leave he was arrested and brought to Amritsar jail. Swami Ji was pushed in a small overflowing jail. Conditions were far from satisfactory and the old and sick Swami tried his best to make representations to the jail authorities for some improvement, but with little success. Swami Ji in 22nd sept. Court was sentenced one year simple imprisonment under section 117 and four months under section 143, to be served concurrently.
Swami ji was shifted to mianvali jail and was only released on 26th Dec 1922. The old sick swami with minutiae of food and of toilet provisions painstakingly recounted his experience in book Bandi Ghar ke Vichitra Anubhav (strange experiences in jail). Can any other be a better example than this for Hindu Sikhs unity.
Dissatisfied from the congress swami ji was attracted to Hindu Mahasabha on call of pt Madan Mohan Malviya, Ghanshyam Das Birla etc. his eyebrows were raised on meeting colonel U. Mukherji in Calcutta who said that the problem of slow but steady decrease in numbers of the Hindu population will lead to decline of Indo-Aryan race in next 420 years from earth. (Hindu Sangthan by Swami Sharddhananda p-14-15).
The 2 April 1923 leader took up the idea of Hindu Sangthan and its proposed conference in Banaras. Swami Ji in his usual fashion announced a three point resolution for Hindu Sangthan –
- With a view to do justice to the so-called depressed classes in the Hindu community and to assimilate them, as part of an organic whole in the great body of the Aryan fraternity , this conference of Hindus of all sects holds-
- That the lower among the depressed classes be allowed to draw water from common public wells.
- That water be served to them at drinking posts freely as is done to the highest among the Hindus.
- That all members of the classes be allowed to sit on the same carpet in public meetings and other ceremonies with the higher classes and
- That their children (male or female) be allowed to enter freely and, at teaching time, to sit in the same form with other Hindu and non-Hindu children in government, national and denominational institutions
- All neo-Muslims be taken back and treated as Hindus.
- In view of the fact that an overwhelming majority of Indian Muslims and Christians are the descendants of Hindu converts and in view of the catholicity of the ancient Vedic dharma which absorbed non-Aryans into the community – this conference resolves that non-Hindus converted by any sect of the Hindus according to the purification (prayashchit) rite prescribed by the representative boby of that sect be considered Hindus to all intents and purposes by the whole Hindu community (Leader 8 august 1923).
Swami Ji dreamed of vast Hindu Sangthan and powerful movement in future for saving Aryan race. The anti- attitude of congress and non-corporation of orthodox Hindus lead to non- achievement of success of this mission. Our country history of 1947 is best proof that if Hindu Sangthan movement had reached success would their have been any partition or bloodshed and killing of lakhs of Hindus all over country.
Suddhi of The Malkanas Saving The Dying Race
Malkanas Rajputs scattered around Mathura, Farrukhabad were nominally Muslims, but their cultural and rituals were all Hindu practices. There were attempts to restore relations between Malkanas and Hindu Rajputs. On 13 Feb 1923 in Agra swami ji established Bhartiya Hindu Suddhi Sabha of which he was elected president and Lala Hansraj as vice president.
Swami Jis appeal for Suddhi appeared in leader dated 23 Feb. 1923 as –
The great arya nation is said at the present moment to be a dying race, not only because its numbers are dwindling but because it is completely disorganized. Individually man to man second to no nation on the earth in intellect and physique, possessing a code of morality unapproachable by any other race of humanity, it is still helpless on account of its divisions and selfishness. Lakhs upon lakhs of the best in the race have been obliged to profess Mohammedanism and thousands have been enticed away to accept Christianity without the least effort on the neo-Muslim Brahmans, Vaishyas, Rajputs and Jats have for more than two centuries and more been casting yearning glances and kept their Hindu faith and prejudices intact in the hope of being taken back in the bosom of their brotherhood.
A mere chance opened Hindu eyes, The Rajputs Mahasabha announced with a flourish of trumpets that four and a half lakhs Muslim Rajputs were ready for becoming Hindus. After having made this misleading announcement the Rajputs Sabha went to sleep. I call the announcement misleading because an overwhelming majority of them had never become Muslims in faith and practice. The Hindus went to sleep, but the Muslims being a living force were roused to action and scores of their preachers are at work for whose maintenance and propaganda work money is flowing like water. This after all roused the Hindu community also and there is now a cry from all sides for absorbing out strayed brethren in the bosom of the Vedic church, a new Sabha has been organized under the name of the Bhartiya Hindu Suddhi Sabha with the object of reclaiming those who are willing to come back to its fold.
Swami Ji in next 2 months marched from village to village claiming thirty thousand Suddhis by the year end. Naturally they became main target of Muslim agitation against Suddhi, a public meeting in Bombay was organized on 18th march 1923 by jamiat-ul-ulama condemning swami ji. Sensational posters appeared in many cities, and rumors spread that Muslims in dress of Hindu sadhus were going about frightening the Malkanas and heaping insults on the swami. Some aryas were afraid of an attack on their leader, and proposed to arrange a bodyguard for the threatened swami. But he refused with the words “param pita (the father on high) is my protection”. In moradabd Swami ji barred from making public speeches and many in other places his addresses were answered by Muslim counter meetings. (Leader 21-26 march, 1923)
Various leaders gave their personal opinion on Suddhi but none of them supported swami ji and Hindu Sangthan movement
Pt Motilal Nehru said in leader 8th April, 1923 that I would have been glad if the movement had not been started at this juncture when feelings are strained between Hindu and Muslims in the Punjab.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad pointed that individuals had been harassed by Suddhi workers; the swami ji firmly denied their allegations in leader 5th, 6th may 1923.
Jawaharlal Nehru in leader 13th may.1923 said that it would have been better for this question not to have been taken up then, and he expressed the wish that all outsiders left the Malkanas in peace for a while and permitted them to work along their own lines.
On 31st march the Maharaja of Darbhangha, learned Pundits of Banaras from Bharat Dharma Mahamandal gave their approval to the reclamation of Malkanas Rajputs.(leader 5th April , 1923)
Undoubtly the Suddhi step pioneered by Swami Dayanand ji and adopted by Aryasamaj under guidance of Swami Sharddhananda Ji saved millions of Hindus not even from being lost but also opened doors closed from centuries for entry of countless brothers who were lost with the cruel passage of time.
Mahatma Gandhi and Aryasamaj
On 29th may 1925 Gandhi Ji stated in young India under article Hindu – Muslim tension: Its cause and cure against Swami Sharddhananda “Swami Sharddhananda Ji is also disturbed. His speeches, I know, are often irritating. But even he wants Hindu Muslim unity. Unfortunately, he believes in the possibility of bringing every Muslim into Aryan fold. Just as perhaps most Muslims think that every non-Muslim will someday become a convert to Islam. Sharddhananda Ji is intrepid and brave. Single-handed he turned a wilderness into a magnificent boarding college on the banks of the sacred Ganges. He has faith in himself and his mission but he is hasty and easily ruffled. He inherits the traditions of the Aryasamaj”
Then he remarked on swami Dayanand and Satyarth Prakash –
I have profound respect for Dayanand Saraswati. I think that he has rendered great service to Hinduism. His bravery was unquestioned. But he made his Hinduism narrow. I have read Satyarth Prakash, the Aryasamaj bible. Friends sent me three copies of it was residing in the yarvada jail. I have disappointing book from a reformer so great. He has claimed to stand for truth and nothing else. But unconsciously misrepresented Jainism, Islam and Hinduism itself. One having even a cursory acquaintance with these faiths could easily discover the error into which the great reformer was betrayed. He has tried to make narrow one of the most tolerant and liberal of the faiths on the face of the earth. And an iconoclast though he was, he has succeeded in enthroning idolatry in the subtlest form. For he has idolized the letter of the Vedas and tried to prove the existence in the Vedas of everything known to science. The Aryasamaj flourishes, in my humble opinion, not because of the inherent merit of the teachings of Satyarth Prakash, but because of the grand and lofty character of the founder. (Mahatma Gandhi (1924), collected works 24:145)
“Is it to be contended that a book that has passed so many editions and has been translated in most of the languages of the world has been now found to contain matter which promotes feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of his majesty’s subjects”
“So the question for me is not one of the merits or demerits of Satyarth Prakash but the more fundamental one of not interfering with freedom of writing and expression” (M.k.Gandhi Sind bans Satyarth Prakash Harijan nov3, 1946)
He continued on Aryasamaj as –
“Wherever you find Aryasamajists, there is life and energy. But having the narrow outlook and a pugnacious habit, they either quarrel with people of other denominations or failing that, with one another. Sharddhananda Ji has a fair share of that spirit. But in spite of all these drawbacks, I do not regard him as past praying for. It is possible that this sketch of the Aryasamaj and the Swami Ji will anger them. Needless to say, I mean no offence. I love the Samajists, for I have many co-workers among them. And I learnt to love the Swami Ji, even while I was in South Africa. And though I know him better now, I love him no less. It is my love that has spoken” (Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi vol 24 p-136-154)
The samaj did not see Gandhi jis words as an expression of love, it took enormous offence. Protest meeting were held across the country, letters of protest poured into the papers, and wires were sent to the mahatma. But he did not relent, or withdraw anything, or express regret about any of what he called deliberate accusations.
When swami Ji was asked if he would reply to Gandhi’s article he said that –
“ .. He did not think any reply was needed from him. His own statement was Mahatma Gandhi’s best refutation. It was full of contradictions, and itself explained the reason why he had fallen foul of the Aryasamaj. The Aryasamaj could not in any way be injured by his writings. If the aryasamajists were true to themselves neither the attacks of Mahatma Gandhi nor of any other individual could put a stop to the activities of the samaj” (Leader 13 June, 1924)
Even after swami jis sacrifice Gandhi Ji remained biased for Aryasamaj and the father of the nation was not able wide his feelings on swami Sharddhananda. He responded to Hindu Mahasabha on appeal of memorial for swami Sharddhananda as “for my part I still remain unconvinced about the need of Suddhi movement, taking suddhi in the sense it is generally understood. Suddhi of sinners is a perpetual inward performance. Suddhi of those who can be identified neither as Hindus nor as Muslims or who have been recently declared do not know even the meaning of conversion and who want to be known definitely as Hindus is not conversion but prayaschitta or penance. The third aspect of suddhi is conversion properly so called. And I question its use in this age of growing toleration and enlightment. I am against conversion whether it is known as suddhi by Hindus, tabligh by Muslims or conversion by Christians. Conversion is a heart-process known only to and by god”
(Ref: collected works of Mahatma Gandhi 32:515)
Aryasamaj and Hindu Muslim Differences
Most of historians and leaders in their works blame Aryasamaj activities like Suddhi, literary works as a cause of communal tensions in early part of 20th century. This Is result of half baked stories with real facts hidden, mindset of authors and up to a point anti stand of congress and mahatma Gandhi against Aryasamaj.
Since its establishment of Aryasamaj and army of Swami Dayanand saved thousands of Hindus from conversion which was always and hidden agenda of Muslims as well as Christians. The Aryasamaj came into scene as it opposed this radical approach stand by others. Better to say its role was as soldiers of Hinduism with mission to save the dying race. The narrow minded sects were not able to bear this and started negative propaganda against Aryasamaj as they considered Aryasamaj as their biggest opponent in tabligh (conversion) mission.
Swami Ji and Abdul Badri
Swami Ji exposed scam by Abdul Badri in third section of second edition of his book. Abdul Badri promoted killing of Muslim apostates. He declared about lawfulness of killing an apostate (khatre ka ghanta p74) Abdul Badri had also stated that he did not believe that any religion except Islam had the right to convert, and that Muslims could collaborate with anybody, except those who were intent on making Muslims into apostates. Abdul Badri had made cutting statement on swami ji as “are the deeds of Sharddhananda the deeds of the Hindus? As far as we have come to know from the Hindus, he is not a representative of the Hindus, neither is he connected with a large organization. He calls himself an arya, whose number even now is very small…it is a society without religion…it is our duty to reflect seriously about crushing that little organization that wishes to destroy Hindu – Muslim unity by the Suddhi movement and about engaging the help of the other Hindu castes in this holy work (khatre ka ghanta p 81-82) ”
Swami Ji also opened Muslim conspiracy in Urdu tej of 12th sept Painting conspiracy on a broad historical canvas. Islam inherited its blind faith which has wrought more havoc on mankind than all the wars waged by kings, from Judaism, founded on the very principle of aggression. He exposed history of Sunnis of massacre and looting and their open support even today of killing of apostate with an example of recent killing in Kabul by stoning to death. Swami Ji also exposed scam of khojas. By preaching the doctrine that the Aga khan was the living avatar, they gradually enticed Hindus into Islam; by making these unsuspecting Hindus bhagata of their leader they surreptitiously submerged them into Islam. (Kulyat sanyasi p-297-440)
Swami Ji in 1924 even published book name history of the assains, story of von hammer’s work on Islam and Christian aggression against mankind. Swami ji also correlated the sudden attacks by Muslims apart from by print media by riots. Baqar-id disturbances in Delhi in July were followed by destruction of Hindu temples in Amethi, Sambhal and Gulbarga in august and most pain stacking was riots of Kohat in which Hindu population have to fled completely for safety.(R.C. Majumdar – struggle for freedom p- 428) A unity conference was proposed in Delhi with Mohammad Ali, Ajmal khan and swami ji as its initiators. Motilal Nehru took the chair. Mahatma Gandhi was on fast. The conference passed resolution condemning all acts of impropriety and called for goodwill and cooperation but although Gandhi ji ended his fast it had been a futile exercise without real effect. The real cause of Muslim radicalism was morale boost by Gandhi ji on name of khilafat which was followed by Moplah riots, killing of Hindus in riots in various parts of India especially Aryasamaj Suddhi workers followed by sacrifice of great swami ji himself. Fanatic Muslim leaders have dreamed of converting the whole country into islamistan from Hindustan. They were not successful at that time due to endless efforts by swami Sharddhananda and Aryasamaj but at last they got partial success in 1947 by dividing country into two halves.
In March 1926 Swami Ji performed a Suddhi in Delhi that shook the Muslim community. A Muslim lady from Karachi, Asghari begum, arrived in the capital and asked Swami Ji to be converted to Aryan faith. She had read a lot about Hinduism, and had decided to undergo Suddhi and became a member of the Aryasamaj. Against will of her husband she had secretly left her home and made her way to Delhi with her children. The ceremony was duly performed; she was given the new name Shanty Devi, and with her children was put up in the arya widow’s home. Months later her husband tracked her down in Delhi, and he attempted to persuade his wife to change her mind. When this proved unsuccessful, he instituted on 2 sept. a law case against swami ji, shanty Devi, Swami Jis son Indra and Swami Jis son in law Dr Sukhdeo, for conspiracy in the abduction of his wife and children case was finally decided by the court on 4th December with clear acquittal of all the accused.(leader 2 oct. 1926)
During these months Muslim community was in a ferment of indignant animosity over the incident. Some Muslim papers were violent in their condemnation of the swami, especially Hasan Nizami in his Darwesh. For months Indra was extremely concerned about the safety of his father, who stubbornly insisted on ignoring all threats and continued to take evening walks in the surrounding Muslim quarter. (PITA p-291)
In December from his trip to Banaras swami ji got very ill. He was diagnosed as bronchial pneumonia patient by Dr Sukhdeo and Dr Ansari. Swami Ji very weak and he realized that death has hovered close. Swami Ji said “this body is no longer capable of service. My wish is that I be reborn in India so that I can serve her again” (PITA p-638)
On 23rd dec. Indra and others had paid their usual visit to swami ji around midday, and they left him to have some rest. Around 4 p.m. a Muslim called Abdul Rashid came to the house and asked to see the swami in order to discuss some problems of Islamic religion. Dharm Singh, Swami Jis personal attendant was inclined to refuse him access, but the visitor insisted. When the Swami called his attendant, and was told of the visitor, he invited him in and explained that he could not help him right away, but would be happy to do so later. The visitor then asked for a glass of water, and while Dharm Singh was taking his glass away, he rushed up to the swami ji and fired two bullets point-black into his chest. Dharm Singh came running and was shot in the thigh. The commotion brought Dharmpal, the swami’s secretary running. He overpowered the assassin and held him till the police arrived. (PITA p.283)Indra arrived within minutes, but the swami had died instantly. As he looked upon his father’s face, peaceful in death, Indra thought of these words the swami had uttered not long before. “Yet it is a source of contentment to me that I am singled out as the one worthy of wearing the crown of martyrdom” (BIO –p.598)
25TH dec, 1926 witnessed the last journey of the great swami whose whole life was dedicated for the Vedic dharma. The crowd was uncontrollable through the streets of Delhi and his last riots were performed by Indra.
MESSAGE FROM THE LIFE OF GREAT SWAMI SHRADDHANANDA JI
Ram, Krishna, Dayanand were born great souls while life of swami Sharddhananda ji proves us that even if one is born in darkness of ignorance bit with the grace of almighty god one can transform his life and shine like the sun of knowledge. Swami Sharddhananda life is most ideal example for us to learn and follow.
Swami Sharddhananda and Untouchability
Our country history is full of leaders who are from dalit background and have devoted their life for dalit upliftment but we found rare personalities like Swami Dayanand Saraswati and Swami Sharddhananda ji who were not from dalit background but worked for whole life for dalit upliftment from the platform of Aryasamaj. Swami Dayanand reputed work Satyarth Prakash was first to declare equal rights for lower castes, the right for education, right for reciting Vedic mantras, right for interdinning, right for marriage, right to fetch water from common wells. According to Swami Dayanand ji any caste or Varna was purely based on characteristics not on the basis of birth. Aryasamaj from its beginning propagated this Vedic teaching of Swami Dayanand.
Since his joining politics swami ji was continuously motivating Indian national congress to deal with the problem of untouchability at national level with extensive measures. In his chairman address of Amritsar congress (1919) he strongly expressed his feelings as “Is it not true that so many among you who make the loudest noises about the acquisition of political rights, are not able to overcome their feeling of revulsion for those sixty millions of India who are suffering injustice, your brothers whom you regard as untouchable ? How many are there who take these wretched brothers of theirs to their heart?…give deep thought…and consider how your sixty million brothers-broken fragments of your own hearts which you have cut off and thrown away- how these millions of children of mother India can well become the anchor of the ship of a foreign government. I make this one appeal to all of you, brothers and sisters. Purify your hearts with the water of the love of the motherland in this national temple, and promise that these millions will not remain for you untouchables, but become brothers and sisters. Their sons and daughters will study in our schools, their men and women will participate in our societies, in our fight for independence they will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us, and all of us will join hands to realize the fulfillment of our national goal” (Quotations from original Hindi texts of the swami’s Amritsar conference address obtained from Gandhi memorial museum, Delhi)
Swami Ji difference with Gandhi Ji increased with the passage of time when he draw attention of the congress towards the harassment of Christian chamars by police in environs of Delhi who had accepted Suddhi and returned back to Hinduism by Aryasamaj. In April 1919 he published a booklet of eighty pages entitled ‘jati ke dinon ko mat tyago’ (do not abandon the poor of our nation). Books first seventy pages dealt with the methods used by Christian missionaries in India. Nearly half of the book was taken up by translations from an article in the theosophist about the nefarious activities of Portuguese missionaries and the inquisition, followed by an indictment of protestant missionary work, in particular that of the Delhi Cambridge mission. Thus nearly ninety percent of the pamphlet was aimed at demonstrating missionaries had always used unfair, immortal and underhand mean. The last ten pages deled with constructive point. Since the untouchables were becoming Christians for other than religious reasons, the way to prevent those happenings was by educating their children, by protecting them from the police, and by helping them to achieve social uplift. Since the orthodox would not take up that task, it had become a duty of the aryas to be a crucial one because the greatest danger of the conversion of the untouchables to Christianity was that they became denationalized and supporters of the raj. The swami wrote “if the seven crores of untouchables of India, exasperated by the attitude of the twice born, become Christian , then our orthodox leaders, supporters of independence, will not be able to do anything, except be very sorry.” (Jati ke dinon ko mat tyago. P-72)
In 1920 Calcutta congress session Swami Ji proposed three-point program with special section on the untouchables, but congress declared consideration of this inopportune.(shraddha 13 august,14,17 sept. 1920). Swami Ji writes in liberator that “even Mahatma Gandhi had not realized its importance and was taken up with his resolution of non-violent non-cooperation resolution had been passed by the khilafat committee and Mahatma Ji threatened to sponsor it outside the congress, if it was not passed there. I thought it to be a misfortune if Mahatma Ji would be obliged to sever his connection with the oldest political movement in India” (INCON-p 121)
Swami Ji was surprised on hearing Maulana Shaukat Ali’s doings in Calcutta session in hearing of more than 50 persons, while the merits of non-violence were being discussed. Maulana said “Mahatma Gandhi is a shrewd bania. You do not understand his real object. By putting you under discipline, he is preparing you for guerilla warfare. He is not such an out-an-out non-violencist as you all suppose” (INCO P-122) Swami Ji forwarded his message to Gandhi Ji secretary that his motives were being misrepresented by his trusted colleagues. The next year 1921 Nagpur session Swami Ji again noticed the same pranks being played by the big Ali brothers. In Delhi the Aryasamaj had been working for the depressed classes, and the swami tried to get the local congress to allow them access to the wells. But it was in vain………..
Swami Ji reached Delhi on 17th august, 1921 and found that the question of removal of untouchability was becoming very acute. He called a few of chief chaudharies and asked the full story. They gave the following story- “The secretary of the Delhi congress committee called the chaudharies of the chamars and requested them to give to the congress as many as four-Anna paying members as they could. The reply of the elders was that unless their grievance as regards the taking of water from the public wells was removed, they could not induce their brethren to join the congress. The secretary was a choleric man of hasty temper and said they wanted Swarajya at once but the grievance of the chamars could wait and would be removed by and by. One of the young men got up and said-our trouble from which we are suffering for centuries must wait solution, but the laddu of Swarajya must go into your mouth at once! We shall see how you obtain Swarajya immediately!!”
He wrote to Gandhi Ji after Nagpur session in sept. 1921-
“I wired from Lahore that I would apply for financial aid through the Delhi provincial congress committee but on reaching the deli I found that the uplift of the depressed classes through the congress was difficult. The Delhi and Agra chamars simply demand that they be allowed to draw water from wells used by the Hindus and Mohammedans and that water be not served to them through bamboos and leaves. Even that appears impossible for the congress committee to accomplish. Not only this; a Muslim trader of sadar went to the length of saying that even if Hindus allowed (these man) to draw water from common wells, the Muslims would forcibly restrain them from drawing water because they (the chamars) ate carrion. I know that there are thousands of these chamars who do not either drink wine or eat flesh of any kind and few of them who eat carrion are being weaned by the aryasamajists from that filthy habit. But I ask – do Hindu and Muslim meat eaters devour flesh of living cattle? Do they not eat the flesh of the cattle when they are dead?
At Nagpur you laid down that one of the conditions for obtaining Swarajya within 12 months was to give their rights to the depressed classes and without waiting for the accomplishment of their uplift, you have decreed that if there is a complete boycott of foreign cloth up till 30th September, Swarajya will be an accomplished fact on the 1st of October. The extension of the use of Swadeshi cloth is absolutely necessary but as long as six and half crores of our suppressed classes are taking refuge with the British bureaucracy so long will the extension of Swadeshi be impossible”. (INCO.P-134,135)
Swami Ji in his letter dated June 30th 1922 wrote to general secretary of all India congress committee that the following demands of the depressed classes ought to be complied with at once namely that –
- They are allowed to sit on the same carpet with citizens of other classes
- They get the right to draw water from common wells and
- Their children get admission into national schools and colleges and are to mix freely with students drawn from the so-called higher castes.
Swami Ji went to the Lucknow A.I.C.C. meeting of June 1922 especially to push a plan of action for the removal of untouchability. His proposal to appoint a sub-committee on untouchability was accepted, but some parts of it were amended. The sum of two lakhs of rupees was first substituted for the original five lakhs proposed and then even that was watered down by substituting the phrase ‘as much as could be spared’. But misunderstandings kept cropping orally, but when he started preparatory work and asked for some money, he was informed that the working committee had appointed until a report had been received from the sub-committee. It was all a sorry mess, letters came and went, nothing was being done, and the swami resigned in disgust. His postscript to the whole story as follows- The subcommittee did no business in placing the annual report of the congress before its session at Gaya; the secretary simply remarked that no work could be done by the sub-committee as no substitute for Swami Sharddhananda could be found. (INCO.P-181) Swami Sharddhananda did not receive any support from the congress and Mahatma Gandhi for eradicating the sin of untouchability. Instead of that he received the message from cocanada session of congress in which Maulana Mohammad Ali the president of that session proposed to divide the so-called untouchables in equal halves between Hindus and the Muslims. (INCO.p-188)
Swami Ji and South India
Swami Ji first tour to south India was between 27 April to 5th June visiting Bangalore, Cochin, Mangalore, Calicut and madras. The main theme of his lecture was untouchability. In Poona he pleaded with the Hindus to abolish immediately the untouchability and raise the depressed classes to the status of kshatriyas or protectors of the Hindu religion (leader, 5 may 1924) he presided Andhra untouchable’s conference at Bangalore and went on to observe Vaikom Satyagraha. He made it clear that he could not personally take part in the struggle as he was not a member of congress. He argued against Gandhi’s directive that the struggle should be kept local, and suggested that a deputation be sent to the Mahatma to see if he could at least allow the committee to receive outside help. If the congress gave up the struggle, he said, it should be continued independently. He offered help and money and even, in that case, to take up the struggle under the auspices of the Hindu sabha. (Leader -12 may 1924)
Aryasamajists working in the area had converted some depressed class members. At first these were allowed to use the roads previously closed to them, but then the authorities, under orthodox pressure, announced that conversion to the Aryasamaj did not take the convert out of the depressed classes,. The Swami and Pt. Rishi ram issued a manifesto of protest, “it means that a member of the depressed classes cannot have his social disabilities removed unless he forsakes the Hindu society and religion.” The manifesto invited the whole of Hindu society and in particular Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya as head of Hindu Mahasabha to take action. (Leader 11, 12 may 1924)
Distressed by the condition of the Hindus of south India he wired Mahatma Gandhi “Kindly propose that every Hindu member of the all India congress committee who can afford should engage at least one servant from among the untouchables for personal service, those not conforming to this rule to vacate office. If even this is impossible then leave the question of the removal of untouchability for the Hindu Mahasabha” (leader 27 June 1924)
Palghat Court Verdict
On 13th Nov. 1925 name of Aryasamaj and swami ji published in all major newspapers of south India. On the opening day of car festival the divisional magistrate promulgated an order prohibiting aryasamaj converts from entering the orthodox Hindu streets. This led to a public protest meeting, which passed among others the following resolution. That “this meeting begs to express its unqualified condemnation of the utterly illegal procedure and policy of religious interference adopted by the madras government in extending its order of prohibition to the aryasamaj converts from the depressed classes while such converts to Christianity and Mohammedanism are not so prohibited ” (leader 19.nov,1924)
The leader of 21st Nov., 1925 condemned the intolerant and wholly short sighted attitude of the orthodox Hindus and praised Swami Sharddhananda for taking up their cause and valiantly leading the movement.
Swami Ji in response started a new weekly name liberator in English for special purpose of communicating his views to the intelligentsia of south India where the evil of untouchability existed in most objectionable and inhuman form (leader 5, April 1925) Its aim was strongly stated by swami ji- The uplift of the untouchables and their assimilation in the Hindu polity is the very plinth on which alone the edifice of free India can be constructed. Therefore, the liberator will make the cause of the so-called untouchables its main concern. This doctrine of untouchability is the gangrene of Hindu polity. Diehard vanity, deep- rooted prejudice, degenerating ignorance and doping superstition are the germs that feed this gangrene. Each one of these has to be attacked for getting rid of this gangrene. (Leader 4, April 1926)
Thus we reach an inference that the later part of swami ji life was devoted entirely for the upliftment of the depressed Hindus.
The Khilafat and Mahatma Gandhi
Swami Ji has seen the difference in attitudes of Muslims during 1920-1922 on khilafat movement. Swami Ji got a clue from changes that this movement will change the focus of Swarajya to Islamic radicalism among Muslims and he was very much right in his views.
In khilafat conference at Nagpur the ayats (verses) of the Quran recited by Maulanas on that occasion contained frequent references to jihad against and the killing of kafirs. But when Swami Ji drew Gandhijis attention to this phase of the khilafat movement he smiled and said-“they are alluding to the British bureaucracy.” in reply swami Ji said that it was all submersive of the idea of non-violence and when revulsion of feeling came, the Mohammedan Maulanas would not refrain from using these verses against the Hindus.(INCO.P-123)
Mohammad Ali telegram to sultan of Kabul was deemed a very unwise move by swami Ji. In this telegram he had urged sultan to not to make peace with the British government. (INCO.P-126)
Later In khilafat The Musalmans were not in a mood to listen to the advice of Mr. Gandhi. They refused to worship the principle of non-violence. They were not prepared to wait for Swaraj. They were in a hurry to find the most expeditious means of helping Turkey and saving the Khilafat. And the Muslims in their impatience did exactly what the Hindus feared they would do; namely, invite the Afghans to invade India. How far the Khilafatists had proceeded in their negotiations with the Amir of Afghanistan it is not possible to know. But that such a project was entertained by them is beyond
Wooing Of the Muslims At Any Cost
For a long time the congress had been engaged in wooing the Muslims to their side. The Congress was very anxious to bridge the gulf between itself and the Muslim League. The ways and means adopted in 1916 for bringing about this consummation and which resulted in the Lucknow Pact signed between the Congress and the Muslim League have been graphically told by Swami Sharddhananda in his impressions of the Congress Session held in that year at Lucknow. Swami Ji in Liberator, 22nd April 1926 writes “On sitting on the dais (Lucknow Congress platform) the first thing that I noticed was that the number of Moslem delegates was proportionately fourfold of what it was at Lahore in 1893. The majority of Moslem delegates had donned gold, silver and silk embroidered chogas (flowing robes) over their ordinary coarse suits of wearing apparel. It was rumored that these ‘chogas’ had been put by Hindu moneyed men for Congress Tamasha. Of some 433 Moslem delegates only some 30 had come from outside, the rest belonging to Lucknow City. And of these majorities was admitted free to delegate seats, board and lodging. Sir Saiyad Ahmad’s anti-Congress League had tried in a public meeting to dissuade Moslems from joining the Congress as delegates. As a countermove the Congress people lighted the whole Congress camp some four nights before the session began and advertised that that night would be free. The result was that all the “Chandul Khanas” of Lucknow were emptied and a huge audience of some thirty thousand Hindus and Moslems was addressed from half a dozen platforms. It was then that the Moslem delegates were elected or selected. All this was admitted by the Lucknow Congress organizers to me in private.
“A show was being made of the Moslem delegates. Moslem delegate gets up to second a resolution in Urdu. He begins: ‘Hozarat, I am a Mohammedan delegate.’ Some Hindu delegate gets up and a call for three cheers for Mohammedan delegates and the response is so enthusiastic as to be beyond description.”
To those Hindus who wanted to give their support on the condition that the Muslims give up cow killing, Mr. Gandhi in young India 10th December 1919. said “I submit that the Hindus may not open the Goraksha (cow protection) question here. The test of friendship is assistance in adversity, and that too, unconditional assistance. Co-operation that needs consideration is a commercial contract and not friendship. Conditional co-operation is like adulterated cement which does not bind. It is the duty of the Hindus, if they see the justice of the Mohammedan cause to render co-operation. If the Mohammedans feel themselves bound in honor to spare the Hindu’s feelings and to stop cow killing, they may do so, no matter whether the Hindus co-operate with them or not. Though therefore, I yield to no Hindu in my worship of the cow, I do not want to make the stopping of cow killing a condition precedent to co-operation. Unconditional co-operation means the protection of the cow.”
Soft Corner for Muslims
In 1921 Gandhi ji decided boycott of English cloths. He decided mass burning of foreign cloths. When swami ji came to know about this he wired to Gandhi ji saying to not to generate hatred against foreigners and to allow the discarded cloths to be distributed among the starving and the naked poor of India. (INCO. P-139). C.R.Das, Nehru and others made a bonfire of cloth worth thousands while the khilafat Muslims got permission from Gandhi ji to send foreign cloth for use of their Turkish brethren. This again was a great shock to swami ji. While Gandhi ji stood adamant and did not have the least regard for Hindu feeling when a question of principle was involved, for the Muslim dereliction of duty there always a very soft corner in his heart. Swami ji said that “I could not, for the life of me, understand the ethics of depriving our own poor millions of the means of covering their nudity, and sending the selfsame cloths to a distant land” (INCO P-141)
The Patiala Case
On 11th and 12th Oct. 1909 the Patiala police rounded up 75 Aryasamaj members and imprisoned them in a camp to be tried for sedition by a special tribunal. This action by Maharaja of Patiala shocked whole of Aryasamaj. Those who were weak hearted left the membership of Aryasamaj. Many reputed lawyers refused to handle the case. Munshiram took out his lawyer’s license from his drawer, where it had lain for years, and taken up the defense of the accused. (Inside congress p-38)
On 18th Jan. a petition was presented to the Maharaja by the lawyers for the defense, in which the accused affirmed they were never seditious, apologized for any actions that may have given such an impression, and promised to be careful in the future. Even a suggestion came from govt. of India to end this trial as it was becoming more and more embarrassing. On 17th February the Maharaja finally declared in answer to the petition as “it was never meant to infer that every member of the Aryasamaj in India or that society was seditious… I am willing to accept this apology and the assurance given and order that the trial of the accused be stopped and proceedings against them withdrawn”. (Vindication p-231). Although it was a considerable victory for the defense but the last sting of order was that all the accused that were in the employ of the state were summarily dismissed, and also banished from the state. All Indian newspapers condemned Maharaja of detention of aryas for four months on mere suspicion only. Munshiram not only saved Aryasamaj organization in this hour of trial but he also saw it as great opportunity to revitalize the institution.
The encounters with the government proved Munshiram as the real defender of his faith with characteristic passion and enthusiasm. Overall it leads to elevation of Munshiram as strong leader of Aryasamaj at national level.
Munshiram Transformation into Swami Sharddhananda
On 12th April 1917, Munshiram took sanyas in the presence of 20,000 witnesses. The ancient ceremony symbolized the final severance of the bonds of the old life. He performed his own funeral rites and shed the garments characteristic of mahatma Munshiram. The outward indication of the entrance into new state of life was the shaving of head and beard, the assumption of the ochre robe, and the acceptance of a new name. Munshiram expressed himself in his biography (p-451-452) on sanyas “it is faith (shraddha) that was the inspiration of the life I have led so far. Faith has always been the revered goddess of my life. Today also it is faith that has driven me to enter the state of sanyas. That is why, invoking as witness this sacrificial fire, I name Sharddhananda, so that I may succeed in filling my future life too with that same faith”
Normally the candidate named another sanyasi as his guru, who then conducted part of the ceremony, Munshiram declared god to be his guru, and performed all rites himself. He cut of all his ties with family, professional career, power structure of Aryasamaj, personal property. As sanyasi he was totally free individual not answerable to any demands of the social or ritual power structures of Hinduism.
Swami Sharddhananda and Mahatma Gandhi
C.F. Andrews visit to gurukul and friendship with swami Ji brought him contact with Rabindranath Tagore and especially Mahatma Gandhi. When in 1913-1914 Gandhi asked Gokhale to collect funds to support South Africa Satyagraha, the gurukul has responded admirably, by foregoing some extra food and doing manual work at dam construction site students collected 1500 rupees for the fund. Gandhi wrote a personal letter of thanks to Munshiram, telling him how C.F. Andrews description of the gurukul and its principal made him want to visit him soon. When the pupils of the phoenix ashram came to India, they spent several months at the gurukul, and in April 1915 Mahatma Gandhi himself arrived of his first visit. He said, ‘I am worthy of teaching anybody, but I yearn to learn myself from anyone who is a servant of his country. (BIO p-368-373)
Swami Sharddhananda In Politics
Until 1919 swami ji has remained completely aloof from active politics unto that time. He did not have faith in political games. He considered them to be mere show. But when Gandhi ji entered the arena of politics with an approach to politics that included self-denial, the swami was deeply attracted .In response to Gandhi ji Rowlett bill protest (4 March, 1919) his joining of politics was instantaneous, and was sealed in his conversation with the mahatma the following day (Mere pita p-199).Overnight with his son Indra and Dr Ansari he addressed his first mass meeting followed by Bombay, Baroda, Surat, Broach and Ahmadabad.
On 30th march in Delhi a peaceful hartal turned into violent riots near railway station and chandni chowk leading to death of five persons and fourteen injured. Swami Ji arrived at both places after shooting and a peaceful public meeting was held as papal park. Swami Ji followed by large crowd were walking back home along chandni chowk. On the way group of Manipuri soldiers approached from the opposite direction. Accidentally a shot was fired, and the crowd moved in apprehension and indignation. The swami advanced towards the soldiers who were perplexed and scared by the threatening mass of people. Apparently their officers were not present and they also had difficulty understanding Hindi. They pointed their rifles at the swami, who bared his chest and invited them to fire. Luckily a European officer arrived on the scene and defused the situation. This incident firmly established the swami in people’s mind as an intrepid leader. It also planted in the swami’s mind the firm belief that he was able to control the crowd even in its ugliest mood. He wrote that the crowd could contain itself no longer and was about to rush, when a wave of my hand and a short appeal to their vow stopped them ( INCO p-60). This day was considered as “The Day of Delhi Martyrs”
History in Making
On April 4, 1919 prayers were to be offered at the Jama Masjid for the victims. Muslim dignitaries went to fetch the swami, brought him to the mosque, and requested him to preach to the congregation from the pulpit. It was an unbelievable and never to be repeated scene. A Hindu sanyasi in his ochre robes preaching from the very pulpit of the greatest mosque in India. Even the greatest follower of Hindu Muslim unity mahatma Gandhi did not have opportunity of addressing from Jama Masjid pulpit. It was followed by addressing from Fatehpuri Masjid on 6th April, 1919.
His theme of martyrdom in his famous speech at the Jama Masjid and Fatehpuri Masjid was same. Starting with famous Vedic Mantra “OM VISHWANI DEV” he said “O god of the Hindus and Mohammedans. The innocent blood of Hindus and Mohammedans should not flow in vain…grant us patience and perseverance so that we may not be deterred by the sight of the blood of the innocent, but may offer thanks to thee that the innocent were granted power to sacrifice their lives. Their sacrifice has saved the world from bloodshed. Whatever has happened, in that lies thy secret. Grant us power that we may not be afraid of worldly strength; that we may regard military power as worthless and may recognize the piety of the martyrs. May we be prepared to sacrifice ourselves for the freedom and progress of our country. Grant power unto us Asiatics. Give to thirty-two crores of asiatics the strength of sixty-four crores that we may oppose the power of all materialists and bring forth the reign of peace and tranquility.” (Government of India file, political b, may 1919.nos 268-273)
His speech from Masjid had national repercussions. For full twenty days it appeared that Ramraj had set in…Goondas had ceased to exist; every Hindu woman was treated like his own mother, sister or daughter by every Muslim and vice versa. (INCO p-65, 67) Baring his chest to the soldiers and sermons at Jama Masjid, both events had that apocalyptic aura, which aroused in him the faith and commitment of a savior of the people.
Holding Amritsar Session
After the massacre of jallianwala bagh of Amritsar (1919) there was tension in whole Punjab. Congress committee yearly session was earlier planned in Amritsar but due to tension in Amritsar venue it was decided to be shifted to other place. Swami Ji went to Allahabad in congress working committee meeting. He strongly argued that yearly venue of session should not be shifted and should remain in Amritsar. A committee comprising Swami ji, Motilal Nehru and Madan Mohan Malviya ji was appointed to inquiry into Punjab occurrences. (P.Sitaramayya, the history of the Indian national congress 1885-1935 p- 293) Swami Ji tour to Punjab witnessed at close hand the misery and heart break that the excesses of the martial law regime had brought to his homeland. His reluctant decision to accept the office of chairman of the reception committee for the 1919 Amritsar session was partly caused by that experience, but the other reasons that prompted his acceptance clarify his attitude to politics at that time. He himself spelt out these reasons in his opening address at the congress session, “I am not standing on this platform today on account of a political movement, but for the fulfillment of a different type of duty.” the first reason why he was there was that he had been urged to take up this task by the imprisoned Punjabi leaders, and had been implored to do so by the wives of the political prisoners. The second reason he called my ashram and its duties, explaining it thus, up to today this Indian national congress has been carrying out normal political work, but today it has to climb to the summit of religion.
(Quotations from original Hindi texts of the swami’s Amritsar conference address obtained from Gandhi memorial museum, Delhi) This conviction of the religious dimension of the movement had been strengthened by the advice Gandhi ji had given him in a letter saying “my conviction is that as long as we do not enter into the political field with dharmic aims, so long will we be unable to succeed in the pure and true amelioration of India. If you become the chairman of the reception committee, you will be able to introduce dharmic feelings within the congress” (INCO p-103)
Thus we understand that it was a religious crusade that propelled the swami ji to political platform.
Differences with the Mahatma
With the passage of time in political scenario differences between swami ji and mahatma Gandhi appeared on various issues. May it be the difference on participation in hunter commission or about Montague reforms. Swami ji was dissatisfied by no cooperation movement, burning of foreign cloths, bardoli satyagraha, monopoly of Gandhian methods of working, decision without consulting committee etc. etc. These were minor issues but the main difference was on the issue of the untouchability and the Hindu Muslim relations.
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.
Good persons are born Good ,this saying applies almost on all of the great personalities of this world. very few among the great ones are like Swami Shraddhananda whose initial days of life were in complete darkness like a sun covered by the clouds while as the clouds of ignorance shattered his life shined like a sun to set a perfect example for those who are still in darkness and wants to get inspiration from the great onces.
This is a series of article on Swami Shraddhananda for the readers to know about his great life , his great works and his beliefs.
He was born on 22 February 1856 in the village of Talwan in the Jalandhar District of the Punjab Province of India.
Age Of Darkness
Munshiram (Swami Shraddhanand) youth was full of ups and downs. His father Shri. Nanakchand was gifted police inspector post as rewards of his service to Britishers in 1857 revolt against freedom fighters. The police job was honoring but family was engaged in constant moves between Benaras, Mirzapur, Banda, Mathura and Bareilly. This disturbed the studies of Munshiram and instead of pursuing good in studies he landed up in company of rich friends who engaged him in cruel clenches of lust, alcohol, bhang, pan, meat eating, gambling etc. the young mind was easily influenced by his environment “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”, was his motto. At last he passed mukhtari exams and started his law practice to become a well known lawyer. This was a period when the son of a pious father landed up in atheism. Munshiram used to visit every night to a temple. One day the police prevented him and other devotees from entering the temple. A noble lady was doing her prayer, and nobody was allowed inside until she finished. Munshiram was terribly upset, started thinking seriously about temple and idol worship. He was assailed by grave doubts. At this stage he met a catholic priest. Under his influence he started going to church, and decided to prepare himself for baptism. This plan however came to an abrupt end. One day he went to visit The Father, but he was not in his room. Munshiram, on looking inside, saw to his horror another father in what seemed to him a compromising situation with a nun. After this his feet’s never turned to the church in his life. (AUTO P-34-35) When his father nanakchand was posted in Banaras a girl died at home of a Muslim lawyer, as there was a suspicion of murder, the remains of the girl was held by the police for a post mortem examination. Another Muslim lawyer trained at Aligarh College and with help of Sir Syed Ahmed khan’s influence managed to have the investigation stopped. Case was transferred to Allahabad and his father was duly acquitted. This lead to his father’s transfer to Ballia. This experience leads Munshiram to turn away from Islam. (AUTO P-21) Munshiram joined his father for a while in Mathura. Here he had a close experience of corrupt Hinduism. He saw the disgusting gluttony of the chaube Brahmins to whom his devout father donated a feast, and during a visit to the temples of gosains, he witnessed the attempted rape of a young female devotee by one of these sensuous pontiffs of the Krishna cult (AUTO P-43) As the atheism grew in him as his life drowned in alcohol. His lot of time was wasted in friends circle, reading novels, playing chess neglecting his studies.
Encounter With The Revolutionary Yogi
At this grave moment the light of hopes arrived in form of Swami Dayanand visit to Bareilly. His father was in charge of police arrangements for his lectures and public debate with Rev. Scott. He asked Munshiram to visit and attend his lectures. Munshiram went with his friends in order to spoil the arrangements but when he saw Rev. Scott and other eminent personalities attending his lectures he was deeply impressed. He was impressed by his strong personality and his skill in controversy. He even secretly shadowed the swami on his regular early morning walk and watched him in meditation. Perhaps he was hoping to find a chink in his armour. He admired the fearlessness of dayanand, who shrugged aside veiled threats that he would prevented from lecturing if he attacked Christianity, and dared to harshly condemn a high official for keeping a courtesan. He reports that he had two private discussions with the swami on the subject of the existence of god. He confessed to the swami that he could not counter his logic, but that his arguments nevertheless had not given him real faith in god’s reality. The swami smiled and answered, “Look, you asked questions, I gave answers that were a matter of logic. When did I promise that I would make you believe in god? Your faith in god will only come when the lord himself makes you a believer.” (AUTO P-51-54)
Wife Shivadevi Contribution
Munshiram rewarded in his autobiography contribution of his wife in the period of darkness with deep respect. Once evening he drinks heavily with his friends and while he was vilely drunk, he found himself within the establishment of prostitutes. Somehow he got out, stumbled home and was helped by an old servant inside, where he collapsed in a drunken stupor. His young wife sat with him through that night, without food, cleaning and comforting her husband. When he finally emerged from his alcoholic daze, he realized the callousness of his behavior in contrast with the spontaneous and natural dedication of his wife. The next day, when an enormous bill arrived from the liquor shop, Shivadevi simply offered her bridal ornaments, the most precious possession of a Hindu wife, in payment. Munshiram was shamed once more into another attempt of ordering his pitiful life. (AUTO P-55)
Last Night Of Darkness
Once in Jullundur Munshiram went for drinking with his friends. On that particular night one of his friends was too paralyzed to get by himself. Munshiram somehow dragged him to home. Once they had arrived, they got on the bottle again until finally Munshiram sent his companion to bed. Shortly afterwards he heard a shriek, and found his friend was about to rape a young girl of the house. Munshiram got the girl safely sway, and felt suddenly blindingly sober. He looked at himself in utter disgust, and resolutely broke the last bottle in front of him, never to touch alcohol again in his life. (AUTO P-63)
Almighty god was making him now a believer.
Excess Of God Grace Overpowered Him
After completing his law studies Munshiram started practicing as a lawyer in Jullundur. He also joined Aryasamaj and was influenced by Lala Devraj personality. One of his first religious decisions was his total abjuration of meat eating. From childhood meat had been part of his diet, as was the case with many of his friends. The decision was a sudden one, brought on by the gruesome sight of a butcher boy’s basket full of meat, after the reading of the chapter on diet in the SATYARTH PRAKASH. That evening Munshiram stunned his dinner companions by throwing his plate of food, which included some meat, against the wall in a typical gesture of defiance and finality. In fact, he admitted that it was for lack of real courage that he had to make this gesture so dramatically. He felt he did not have the strength of character to say farewell to meat in a quiet and composed fashion.
From Atheism To Theism
Munshiram apart from practicing as a lawyer engaged slowly in work of local Aryasamaj. He soon visited Lahore aryasamaj and was deeply influenced by the young scientist pt. Gurudatt Vedic legacy. The aryasamaj was in its infancy and local Hindus started agitating against it. In 1886 a panchyat of learned Brahmins was called to declare aryas of Jullundur as outcaste. However the four prominent Brahmins involved happened to be very vulnerable as upholders of dharma, they either had a concubine, were known gamblers, or secret consumers of liquor and meat. Devraj and Munshiram visited one of them and made clear that if they participated in the panchyat, their conduct would be publicly exposed, on the day of the meeting the pundits judged it safer to stay away and the threat to samaj collapsed.