DAYANAND DELVES DEEP IN OUR HEARTS TODAY
DAYANAND DELVES DEEP IN OUR HEARTS TODAY
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Maha Shivratri night rituals were being observed with religious piety in a small temple in Tankara,Saurashtra. Not far from the midnight when devotees had fallen asleep, the streamlet called Demi river meandering besides that small temple became a witness to a Turning Point that eventually restored the honour and prestige of the ritualistic Hindu religion and reintroduced the original Vedic Dharm. A teenager called Moolshankar walked out of the temple protesting against the worship of false gods represented by stone or mortar made idols. The 14-year old lad had seen a rat climb up the idol menacingly and eat the offerings made by devotees. A shocking scene indeed.
The young Moolshankar made up his mind not to toe the line of superstitious beliefs but to go in search of the real Shiva as per the injunction of the Vedic Thought.By then he had memorized the Yajurved and had an inkling into what the Vedic Dharm was all about.
Indeed the transformation of Moolshankar into Swami Dayanand Saraswati, the heralder of the great Indian Religious and Social Ranaissance had begun. Fair enough that he made a mighty impact on the people of the 19th century India and after his untimely demise the Reformation went full steam ahead under the auspices of the Arya Samaj. It is, of course, history. So, the million dollar question now stares at us – born 185 years ago in a backward part of regressive princely India ,Dayanand Saraswati continues to be the face of Arya Samaj with both the Renaissance and the Reformation. Is the Life and Thought of Dayanand relevant today, almost two centuries after his times? Let us examine.
REFORMATION ; RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL
People were so dear to Dayanand’s heart that he could not see their suffering and yet quietly go about his way of a sanyasi or a hermit with a goal called Moksha or liberation of soul from shackles of a cycle of birth,death and rebirth. In fact a suggestion was made to him by a well intentioned follower that the Swami would do better if he concentrated on ways and means of attaining Moksha rather than fritter away his time and energy on social reforms and freeing people from the boa constricter like suffocating grip of the ill informed clergy of different faiths. That would indeed be real liberation of common man from Pope lila or spiritual cum economic exploitation by the greedy priestly class. The Swami made numerous forays into the Papal fiefdom and its equivalent in Islam and Hinduism through his sermons and writings His world famous book Satyarth Prakash or the Light of Truth pointedly focusses on the liberation of the common man.
Has the spiritual cum economic exploitation of commoners by the clergy ended in the present age of Information Technology? One would be wiser by taking a discreet peep into the religious rituals and practices of the urban middle class and the rural rich. It is exploitation galore. Of course, one may notice some improvement among the enlightened men and women who have been liberated by the Dayanand Thought but they can be counted on finger tips. Seeing is believing.
Shrimati Sudha, a teacher in a renowned public school in Noida, was performing daily Havan along with the Faculty and students on the school premises. It was followed by her short sermon on moral values. Questions were invited thereafter. Pat came a question from a secondary school student : M’am, right from time immemorial only male men of religion have been presiding over a religious ritual like Havan. How come, you have broken the tradition?” Apparently the Dark Age was lingering in his mind- a legacy of the ill informed clergy. Well, Smt Sudha quoted Dayanand Saraswati from Satyarth Prakash wherein women have always enjoyed all religious rights and performed duties.Vedic folklore was narrated, Gayatri, Maitreyi, Sita and Savitri were quoted and doubts of women not presiding over a religious ritual dispelled. It is a true story and speaks volumes of relevance of Dayanand Saraswati today.
CONCEPTUAL REFORMS were vigorously advocated by Dayanand Saraswati Let us take the Vedas first. Indeed the Vedas are the fountainhead of Dharm – Vedo Akhilo Dharm Moolam – the Vedas are the roots of our righteous behaviour. Fine with both the Arya Samajists and the non-Arya Samajists. However, a major problem arose when the ill informed ones started a worship of the Vedas in a book form or made an idol of the Vedas to be worshipped ritually. The Ved mantras are to be chanted,recited and meditated upon. These are not to be installed in a closet and just worshipped from a distance. Dayanand Saraswati corrected concept of worship of the Vedas. However, despite the remedy, the malady persists. Just travel to Haridwar, not far from the enlightened capital of India. One will find idols of Vedas ritually being worshipped. The need of the hour is to go against false beliefs and enlighten compatriots by encouraging them to read the Satyarth Prakash of Dayanand Saraswati in a language they are comfortable in.
The thought of staging a Ram Lila was indeed an anathema to Dayanand Saraswati. He regrded Maryada Purshottam as a great man worth emulating. If one makes Ram and Sita dance on stage in an objectionable manner, respect for the greatest of the great will dwindle in the mind of common man. It will thus weaken the nation to be preyed upon by our adversaries. Let us guard our flanks and respect our great men and women. Moreover Shri Ram was a great personality and we may also become great like him. On the other hand if Shri Ram is deified and put on a high pedestal like a super divine , his personality goes beyond the reach of commoners. Thus the nation is bereft of a great man whose life should be emulated. In this field too, Dayanand Saraswati’s Thought must be actively propagated today by well intentioned patriots.
A superstitious belief makes a pygmy of a man. It stymies a nation. Dayanand saraswati attacked superstitious beliefs with full force. Let us open the first chapter of the Satyarth Prakash. Dayanand Saraswati spells one hundred names of the Almighty as given in the Vedic literature..One of these is SANAISCARA (Shanishchara , Saturday,if rendered into English) and the word coupled with many mistaken beliefs is indeed a bugbear. The peddlers of Pauranic Hindu Dharm always make a quick buck on a Saturday at the crossroads by displaying a horror effect idol of Shani Dev and ask the unwary housewife to give some money to propitiate the angry god. What a travesty of Truth. A pure Vedic word denoting the Almighty is twisted and distorted to make monetary gains for the dishonest seller of false gods. It is at this juncture in our metropolis that the campaign of Dayanand Saraswati is to be carried forward with gusto. Let us see what the great Reformer wrote in his tretise, The Light of Truth :
“The word Sanaiscara comes from the root” cara”to move and to eat …
Yah sanaiscarati sa sanaiscarah “.
God is called Sanaiscara because He reaches or gains access to all with ease and possesses great fortitude. “ (The English translation is done by Pt Ganga Prasad Upadhyay, the renowned Vedic scholar and famous Arya Samajist of yesteryears). It is thus seen that the frightening image of the Lord of Saturday is a post-Vedic development to line pockets of unscrupulous elements. Not handling iron or a weapon on a Saturday is just a superstitious belief to be discarded soon – the earlier the better. Just imagine – what will happen if Pakistan chooses to launch an attack on a Saturday? Will the Indian Army refuse to handle guns made of iron and steel because some moron has promoted worship of a false god. So, let us be as relentless in our attack on false gods and their golden throne and crown as was the case in the days of Dayanand Saraswati.
THE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
Modernization is a great concept. Be it military or civil, be it religious ritual or pedagogy, we must modernise to survive in this era of cut-throat competition. However, in the race to make millions,TRUTH has been the first casualty. Telling a lie for even minor gains has become so fashionable. Men,women and children do not think twice before didhing out a falsehood. Consequently, the human society as a whole is suffering. It is very difficult to sift chaff from the grain, the Truth from the Untruth. No less a seat of Justice than the Supreme Court of India lamented the other day that the system of criminal justice in India has collapsed because of absence of Truth and cumbersome proccedure. What a fall,my countrymen? There was the Vedic era when the human society prided in upholding the Truth or the Dharma. SATYAMEV JAYATE NANRITAM – the Truth is the Winner and Not the Untruth. The credo of the Supreme Court of India is :YATO DHARMSTATO JAYAH – where there is Righteousness, there is Victory. Unfortunately, the Truth has now been confined to books of religion alone. Will the human society survive on Falsehood, one may ask. Certainly Not is the unequivocal answer. With a view to saving the human society from catastrophe, let us once again take recourse to TRUTH.
Swami Dayanand Saraswati acceeded to the request of common men and helped in founding the Arya Samaj in Mumbai on 10 April 1875. In 1877 the Arya Samaj was established in the Punjab with epicentre at Lahore. The Ten Principles on which the edifice of Aryas rested were codified in the presence of the Swami. It is indeed interesting to note that Five of the Ten Principles of the Arya Samaj lay an emphasis on TRUTH. Dayanand Saraswati knew it so well that only the Arya Samaj could give a lead in re-establishing the Realm of Truth. He gave it a mighty push. It is regrettable that our human society is slipping back into the realm of Untruth again. With a view to saving the Mankind from myriad ills that untruth entails it is of paramount importance that we all be a part of promoters of the Dayanand Thought on Truth too. There lies our salvation, that is the MOKSHA.
Of course, the battle between the Truth and the Untruth will keep on raging as heretofore. Ram and Ravan, Krishna and Kans have existed in one form or the other. As good human beings we must join forces with Ram and Krishna to defeat Ravan and Kans. The path of cohesion is the right path to achieve the august aim. Without unity among the forces of Good, the forces of Evil will gain the upperhand. Let us join Dayanand Saraswati in his ideas and give a good fill up to the vacuum created by loss of Vedic values in the pursuit of day to day life.
LIFE AND LITERATURE
We occasionally have Men of Letters Meet. Both Indian and foreign friends interested in contemporary and resurgent India gather for the informal chat where neither bouquets are given nor brickbats hurled. Thus it is always a win-win situation as like Islamic terrorists here too one has nothing to lose. Nothing is possessed. Anyway, returning to relevance of Dayanand Saraswati today, may I mention that we must read critically the non-theological writings of Dayanand Saraswati. He may be credited with writing in Hindi in the 19th century and thus becoming a fore-runner of writers of Hindi prose. Dayanand’s matter-of-fact style where no words or precious space was wasted in bestowing honorific but non-existent titles on recepients of his letters. Simple and effective Hindi prose that was the carrier of his ideas was widely read by the Christian missionaries too. Among them was a leading light of UP Doab Father Scott. Other clergymen read Dayanand Saraswati more with the intention of finding fault and criticizing his religious beliefs. Of course,what Dayanand Saraswati wrote was to counter-balance the propaganda of Christian missionaries.
Literature reflects life. Vice-versa is equally true. Dayanand’s literature reflected life as it was in the parts of India that he traversed, the people that he met and projecting Vedic Thought in the Hindi medium.Dayanand’s short autobiography that was serialised by the Theosophists from Adyar,Madras Presidency, also reflected in the Updesh Manjari,translated from Marathi and the Ved Bhashya that made available in simple Hindi the golden treasury of Vedas that had been kept locked in closets of a few Brahmin families. Thus Dayanand enriched the Hindi literature tremendously – sometimes deliberately and at times not so consciously. Nevertheless, Dayanand Saraswati carved a niche for himself and also for other writer-Aryas in the history of Hindi literature. I shall make a mention of the three letters that Dayanand Saraswati wrote to His Highness Maharajah Jaswant Singh Ji expressing his deep anguish at the failure of his mission in motivating the Ruler to govern his subjects and care for them like his own children. The Swami poured his heart out and thus became a pioneer in the art of letter writing much before other modern stalwarts.
The graduates of Gurukuls founded by the Arya Samaj,specially the one at Kangri,haridwar carried on the tradition of creating both pure literature and religious literature. An assessment of Swami Shraddhanand and his Times reveals that the Aryas,followers of Dayanand Saraswati,while being facile with the pen, made heavy inroads into print journalism. Of course,the electronic journalism is a later development. I must make a mention of an Arya Martyr,Mahashay Rajpal of Lahore who too wielded a facile pen besides being a publisher in his own right. Thus the torch of knowledge in the domain of literature including journalism was being passed on from Dayanand Saraswati , the litterateur to Shraddhanand Sanyasi and other luminaries graduating as Vidyalankars and Vedalankars from Kangri. A healthy feature indeed.,
The Indian Nation stands indebted to Dayanand Saraswati for his great and effective push forward to both the Renaissance and the Reformation. The mantle was well shouldered by the succeeding generations. The Baton must be passed on to those who do not sport grey hair and have taken up residence beyond the shores of Bharat. Thus the concept of propagating the Vedic Dharm,as interpreted by Dayanand Saraswati, will be truly GLOBAL.
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