SWAMI SHRADDHANAND: A SPLENDID PERSONALITY

By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM Swami Shraddhanand bared his chest to bayonets of army soldiers officered by the British and dared them to fire on him before shooting the common men agitating against the British oppression. The episode of dare devilry was a page from the real life of the Arya ascetic in ochre clothes leading a demonstration against the Rowlatt Act in Chandni Chowk in front of the town hall, Delhi. It was a deliberate act of defiance of the mighty British empire where the sun did not set but the Man of God never cowered before men of might. He was made of sterner stuff physically, mentally and spiritually.

EPITOME OF MORAL COURAGE
Shraddhanand Sanyasi, as he called himself after entering the fourth ashram, was born in Talwan village, Jullunder district of the Punjab on 22 February 1856, a little over a year before the first war of independence began to drive out the East India Company that was ruling India. Of course, the sepoy mutiny, as the British historians termed it, had no impact on the erstwhile kingdom of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, as an average Punjabi was happy with the rule of law brought in by the Company administrators headed by Chief Commissioner Lawrence. Even the father of our Arya sanyasi, Lala Nanak Chand joined the East India Company¶s police force in the United Provinces and earned a name as a Kotwal of Benares and Bareilley where he had made arrangements for the smooth religious congregations and discourses of Swami Dayanand Saraswati who changed the course of life of the errant Munshi Ram (pre-sanyas name of Swami Shraddhanand). The vicissitudes of life of young Munshi Ram make his personality a subject of study for the youth all over the world. Gibbon the historian wrote ³The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire´ but in the case of Munshi Ram, it was the Fall and Rise of a Man from waywardness to becoming a Mahatma and a Sanyasi Martyr. Munshi Ram, being the youngest child of an influential police officer had his way everywhere. He got what he wanted to have from his doting father and loving mother who was affectionate to a fault. No wonder he was a spoilt brat who spent more time in gratifying himself with worldly pleasures than devoting time to scholastic pursuits. The Epicurean philosophy of life ± eat, drink and make merry ± led him to a wasted youth. He had, however, the courage to confess it in his short autobiography, Kalyan Marg Ka Pathik. Reading is believing. Swami Dayanand Saraswati was the catalyst for a 360 degree change in life of the young man who had gone astray. It was no one else but his own father who had encouraged young Munshi Ram to attend the Vedic discourses of Swami Dayanand Saraswati that were making waves in Bareilley both among the Indian and the English communities. Munshi Ram, 23, was impressed but not convinced. He continued to be an agnostic. The great founder of the Arya Samaj finally told Munshi Ram that he would become a Believer in God when God would so inspire him. Nevertheless, the short encounter of three days or so left such a deep impression on Munshi Ram that eventually he became an Arya Samajist, a believer in the Vedic education and the founder of the illustrious Gurukul Kangri. Munshi Ram had the courage to say good bye to his friends who

Harish Chandra disappeared mysteriously while on a professional trip to Europe.enjoyed their cup of wine and a nudge at the nautch girls. influences of parents and in some cases grandparents played a major role in making the personality of the new generation. that indeed was an important name in Munshi Ram¶s life. It put its paws inside the room through the broken glass panes and the paws landed on the cot. being a busy police officer. she implored her husband. Man is a social being and his personality is shaped and chiselled by members of his immediate family. dailies that shaped public opinion. One night a tiger came visiting while Munshi Ram was asleep. Thus he could never obtain a bachelor¶s degree and this lacuna kept on hanging on his head like the sword of Democles. his social company and indeed the education that he receives. she cleaned him. what he missed here. comforted him and ensured that he ate nutritive diet to tend to family and profession. Another man would beat a hasty retreat but not Munshi Ram who continued to sleep there on following nights until it was time to return home. He did not look back and never regretted his decision to jettison the old baggage and acquire a new one comprising the Vedas. is a goldmine of information on the life and times of the great educationist. She bore him four children. two daughters and two sons before bidding good bye. Munshi Ram. The tiger could not pull the paw out and remained groaning until morning when Munshi Ram helped it out and it disappeared into the jungle with a low growl. In a joint family of yore. He passed his entrance examination in three attempts. freedom fighter and a pioneer of Hindi news journalism. His book on Swami Shraddhanand. Once while on a professional visit to Suket principality in Himachal as a Mukhtar. . HIS FAMILY LIFE No man is an island. Shiv Devi. Munshi Ram was no exception to it. It needs no underscoring that the schooling of Munshi Ram suffered a big blow. This was the last wish of Swami Shraddhanand and his son. his colleagues. He edited the Tej and Arjun. She was extremely devoted to her husband and stood by him through thick and thin. Unfortunately. A widower at the age of 35. he opted to sleep in a well ventilated room in a rather secluded haveli with broken window panes. he did not marry again and groomed his children well. when he came home drunk and vomited. The sons. Pt Indra Vidyavachaspati also wrote the history of the Arya Samaj in Hindi in two volumes. had little time to oversee the educational progress of his youngest son. Never mind. Lala Nanak Chand. the Satyarth Prakash and what have you. Just before breathing her last. He made a solemn promise to bring up the children well and kept his word. Indra fulfilled it. he compensated in the realm of religion. Indra Vidyavachaspati became a renowned journalist and made a name in Hindi news publishing. His physical courage was an outcome of his moral courage. to marry again but not to neglect her four children. Harish Chandra and Indra were the first two graduates from Gurukul Kangri and the daughters raised their own families post marriage. His sermons from the pulpit of the Arya Samaj were listened to and admired. Mahatma Munshi Ram was indeed shocked but did not let depression have the better of him. The Arya Samaj and the Gurukul were of utmost importance to the Mahatma. In the traumatic phase of his life. Munshi Ram was a lover of Nature. MERE PITA. His undue interest in novels of Sir Walter Scott prevented him from delving deep into the books of the prescribed subjects.

he would not rest until his return. He said that the DAV was like his own child and his love for the Gurukul was akin to that of a lover for his beloved. His words were greeted with thunderous applause and the unity of the two streams was hailed as a precursor of many great events to take place in the field of Ved prachar. Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam. Indeed he had his own immediate family but he paid attention to his duties as a Sanyasi for whom the whole world is his family. Udaar Charitanam Tu Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam. The cooperation was perfect and the teething troubles were got over with ease. collected Rs 40. Munshi Ram Ji was at the forefront and had the support of Pt Gurudatt. it was the courage of conviction of Mahatma Munshi Ram that the Gurukul Kangri sailed through to success. The Gurukul commenced functioning in Gujaranwala in 1900. A dedicated Arya Samajist. Munshi Ram was . not happy with the location. region and religion were mere words meaning nothing. The promoter of the concept. He wished to have the Gurukul in sylvan surroundings in the lap of Nature beside a river as the ancient Vedic gurukuls were. However. As the Acharya and Adhishthata he ensured a perfect amalgam of the ancient and modern without sacrificing the basic values of Vedic thought.000 and only then crossed the threshold of his house in Jullunder. Munshi Ram ji would get concerned if a Brahmachari fell ill and would visit him every now and then until he recovered. the doyen of progressive Aryas visited the Gurukul to express solidarity between the College and the Gurukul streams of the Arya Samaj. An Arya sanyasi transcends these boundaries that limit the scope of thinking. Lala Lajpat Rai.Swami Shraddhanand was a great believer in the Vedic philosophy. It was estimated that an amount of Rs 30. But some Aryas committed to bring in Vedic education where the Anglo element was subservient to Vedic thought. With his dedication to the cause so sacred and dear to his heart. Accordingly a sum of Rs 8. the Punjab Aryas got over it and took positive steps to continue the Vedic mission of the founder through proper education of the new generations. He had achieved the impossible. It was a dream come true.000 would be needed to launch a Gurukul that would be fully residential and educate sons of Aryas and others through the Hindi medium. Munshi Ram Ji roamed all over to spread the idea of ancient education system. Of course. Indeed some gurus parted company when lanterns were introduced in place of earthen lamps or periods were allotted for teaching subjects like Science and English but the Acharya did not compromise on principles. Munshi Aman Singh.000 had been collected in Lahore and with the free services rendered by selfless men like Hnsraj Ji and other fresh graduates. The trials and tribulations of a new system of education in a new location in a deep jungle with Guru-shishya relationship yet to develop and logistics problems galore staring in the face. If one was away from the Gurukul for some time swimming across the Ganga. however. . For Shraddhanand Sanyasi . the DAV School started functioning in Lahore from 1st June 1886. creed.the philosophy of life was defined by this mantra : Ayam Nij Parovati Garana Laghu Chetsam. donated the entire village of Kangri situated on the banks of river Ganga in a thick wooded area near Haridwar. The Gurukul was relocated there lock stock and barrel in 1902. GURUKUL KANGRI The sad and tragic demise of Dayanand Saraswati Swami on 30 October 1883 at Ajmer had given a rude shock to all Arya Samajists all over. the narrow boundaries of caste. planned to commence Gurukuls as they were in days of yore.

Unfortunately.´ Swami Shraddhanand had launched the Shuddhi movement to welcome back in the Hindu fold those Malkana Rajputs of Agra-Mathura region who had been forced by the then Muslim rulers to convert to Islam but now voluntarily wished to return to their ancestral faith. It may be explained at this juncture that the great sanyasi was not a Muslim hater. When invited to address the session of the All-India National Party at Guwahati in Assam. Swami Shraddhanand was down with pneumonia and had become weak. A positive aspect of these high profile visits to the Gurukul was the turning away of the needle of suspicion to the alumni being trained as violent revolutionaries to drive away the British by force3. Gandhi Ji commended the role of Gurukul Brahmcharis in working as coolies to earn and save money to be donated to the Satyagrah movement in South Africa. lived and died for. then leader of opposition in Commons and later Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was so impressed with Mahatma Munshi Ram that he cited his personality as a living model for sculpting or painting an image of Jesus Christ. to the sacred cause. the Muslims hardened their attitude towards the reformer. He lauded the idea of imparting Vedic education in Hindi medium as a befitting reply to Lord Macaulay¶s English education for Indian children. One Asgari Begum of Karachi travelled to Delhi to meet the august sanyasi and be converted to the Vedic dharm along with her children. In the last few days of his life. Indeed the fire of freedom was ignited in every heart of Guru and shishya alike when they read the Satyarth Prakash of Dayanand Saraswati where he had placed self rule above the best kind of foreign rule. He added an important sentence that Indra Ji had written in his own hand : ³On Hindu-Muslim unity depends future wellbeing of India. Not at all. Indeed Mahatma Munshi Ram nursed the Gurukul with all love and affection and donated just about all his worldly possessions. Pt Indra Vidyavachaspati has written explicitly that many of Swami Shraddhanand¶s friends were votaries of Islam.Gandhi Ji made a specific mention of Mahatma Munshi Ram writing him a letter in Hindi to invite to the Gurukul and addressing him as Bhai Ji. One may recall that it was the same sanyasi who was invited by the Muslim citizenry to the Jama Masjid to address them from the pulpit and he had commenced . not forgetting his two sons enrolled among the first batch of Brahmcharis. Shraddhanand Ji had the full support of Maharana of Mewar and Pt Madan Moha Malviya of the Congress party. Swami Shraddhanand requested to be excused owing to indifferent health. Her former husband had filed a case against the asctic but lost the legal battle. She was renamed Shanti Devi. however. The seedling planted by him grew to be a banyan tree in due course of time to make the Arya Samaj proud of it. THE SHUDDHI MOVEMENT A piece of writing on Shraddhanand Sanyasi would be incomplete without a mention of the Shuddhi movement that he promoted. Ramsay Mcdonald. encouraged. His personal physician whom he trusted immensely till the end was Dr Ansari. The Shuddhi movement was a success.Mahatma Gandhi visited Gurukul Kangri more than once and loved the peace and calm there away from the hustle and bustle of Haridwar. reservations on this issue. Gandhi Ji had.

One Abdul Rashid was despatched with a revolver to assassinate the great leader of men of all faiths. Now that the same sanyasi wished the Hindus to be strong numerically. the congregation had responded with Aamin. The Vedic mission of Swami Dayanand Saraswati was carried on by Swami Shraddhanand with success. A conspiracy was hatched by elements who did not wish to see Hindus gain strength. the Muslim community leaders like Shaukat Ali and Mohd ALI PICKED HOLES IN HIS PROGRAMMES. The criminal did it and was tried by a court of law and was hanged by the neck till death. May the mission go on and achieve success day after day with the help of new generations.his address with recitation of a mantra from the Rigved. . physically and morally. When he ended the exhortation with Aum Shantih.

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