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कृण्वन्तो विश्वमार्यम्

GAYATRI MAH YAJNA AT MHOW

AUM
GAYATRI MAHAYAJNA AT MHOW
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
The sylvan surroundings of the Mahu township, hospitality of its residents and the military cantonment as well as the religious fervour generated by the Vedas attract a large number of men, women and children from far and near. The biannual weeklong Gayatri Mahayajna organised by the Arya Samaj, Mahu and many like-minded individuals and groups of the central Indian plateau in the closing week of 2009 was indeed warm hearted and eco-friendly. The Vedic festival lifted the spirits of many men and women who needed it at that point of time. The chanting of Ved mantras by the brahmacharinis of the Panini Kanya Gurukul, Varanasi under the benign guidance of Acharya Nandita Chaturveda and lovely yajnashala with pleasing fragrance emanating from yajna kunds made the place Vedamaya. It was a sight to see the tribals and the village folks mingling with townsmen and women to be a part and parcel of the Vedic confluence of cultures. The primitive and the ultra modern rubbed shoulders with each other to derive the best out of the Gyan Ganga flowing uninterruptedly. Janah yen tarit tat teertham –where the mass-multitude is sublimated in thought and deed, that indeed is the place of pilgrimage.

A PEEP INTO HISTORY

Military Headquartes of War- the British rulers had named the place MHOW. The East India Company of England was founded for trade and commerce with India but in due course of time the traders became rulers of India. They made Mhow their focal point for military conquests in Central India and succeeded in subduing the gallant Maratha rulers like Scindias of Gwalior, Holkars of Indore, Bhosles of Nagpur and many more chieftains by their superior weapons, well trained cavalry and infantry, fine generalship and not forgetting palace intrigues bordering dishonesty. The military cantonment of Mhow had a growth of civilian population in the form of traders, tailors, tinkers, shoe makers and cooks –cum – masalchis who rose to acquire an identity for self and the place, independent of the British culture. The Mahu village grew into Mhow cantonment through which passed every young officer of the Indian Army, specially the infantry officers. The Infantry School, the College of Combat and now the Army War College are great institutions that the nation can be proud of
The jungles around have all types of trees, not excluding the sandalwood trees. The PWD dak bungalow where I billeted for four days as a Vedic preacher in the closing nights of 2009 boasts of sandalwood trees that I saw and admired. The four ferocious dogs reared on state expenses guard them against the nocturnal attacks of sandalwood thieves. It is a see-saw battle between the two. The cook of the rest house showed me remnants of what once was a full grown sandalwood tree. Who knows where it was sold and who made how much money. Nevertheless, Nature in its pristine glory is still in evidence in and around Mhow beckoning retired generals, colonels, judges and police officers to settle down there in the evening of life. I found them healthy and happy as well as nostalgic of the roles that they had played once upon a time. They still bask in the reflected glory of their deeds that no one else cares to remember now. Never mind, that is the way of the world.

BACK TO THE VEDAS

Back to the Vedas – that was the clarion call given by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati in the last quarter of the 19th century. It reverberates on the hills and in the dales of central India and the leadership is provided by the Aryas of Mhow. The driving force behind a revivalist movement of Vedic Dharm and passing the baton to the new generation is a youngish looking middle-aged man named Prakash Arya. An advocate by profession, he has passed on the black gown to his son and has himself donned the saffron uttariya to carry on the mission of Dayanand Saraswati. With another son in the Indian Army, Prakash Arya has launched a two-pronged attack on the ills of the motherland from the Vedic platform so that Bharat becomes a leader in the comity of nations once again. The vast congregation of men and women who come to listen and take home what a myriad of Vedic scholars offer during the week-long jamboree through singing of religious choruses, sermons and yajnas augurs well for the future of the mission.The Vedic Yajnas are always a success, irrespective of time and place. It is now in keeping with the current philosophy of life that whatever one does should be ecology friendly. The Havan, common name for a yajna, is proven by professors of chemistry to be eco-friendly. Havans done on a mass scale induces rains and eliminates insects and bacteria harmful to human beings. In today’s world when most men and women suffer from one ailment or the other, Havan promotes a disease-free environment and the mantras chanted while making offerings of fragrant herbs mixed with purified butter motivate men and women to adopt a way of life wherein ahaar, vichar and vyavhar ( food, thoughts and behaviour) go hand in hand. The week-long yajnas performed by the residents and guests, captains and commoners motivated one and all to adopt a way of life that promotes health and happiness. Indeed that is the Vedic way of carrying the self and the society together where the individuals and the groups think alike and sing in unison. The Gayatri Mah Yajna is performed at Mhow with that aim and its periodicity is once in two years. Beauty lies in the beholder’s eyes and I, as an onlooker, found the concept and its execution beautiful.

The lofty ideas and putting them into action needed a team of dedicated volunteer-workers. Mahu township produced from its rank and file a good group of men, women and children who worked tirelessly for many days and nights submerging self with the society to make the Mah Yajna a grand success. Among them there was no distinction of high and low, caste or creed or stratum of social order that they belonged to. I came across retired Chief Justice of a High Court Shri V.D.Gyani, President of the organising committee and his lady wife, a social activist in her own right, Shankarlal Soni, Secretary of the organising body who had stitched a suit for me more than four decades ago, Radhey Shyam Biyani, incharge of programmes who organised my air travel to and fro, Ramlal Prajapati who did the difficult job of liaising with the media, both print and electronic and Pratima Narad, a Cantonment Board councillor and a leader of the Rani Jhansi brigade of Arya Samaj, not forgetting Dixit Ji, a former DG Police who is a keen singer of bhajans from the Gayatri Yajna Platform- and I interacted with them as a guest speaker and as an ordinary listener sitting with hoi polloi far from the polo players platform. Sadanand Kelkar was ever keen as a volunteer to run errands for me and other visitors, Dinesh Aggarwal sat at the steering of his Omni van driving guests in and out of the Azad Maidan, to and fro from the airport and railway station and never showed a sign of tiredness. I cannot but remember a group of young boys who study in the Arya Samaj school and reside in its hostel that is run as a philanthropic work for the victims of natural disasters and man-made calamities. The group of students always wore a smile while they did sundry jobs and it proved that leaders as well as rank and file of the Arya Samaj did the assigned jobs with a missionary zeal.

ASSESSMENT OF ACHIEVEMENTS

Gayatri Maha Yajna Samiti comprises volunteers of the Arya Samaj and also from the rest of the Hindu Samaj. It is indeed a good idea to carry the entire samaj together. Thus it attracts volunteers and donors from all sections of the society. Among the faithful men of dharma who throng the yajnashala or the pandal of discourses there were many men and women who subscribed to different faiths but sat together to derive the maximum benefit from the Vedic thought and translate that into action in the day-to-day life. The discourses ranged from the definition of Dharma to patriotic topics like “India- where is the country heading to” and its exponent was Dr S.D. Singh, Police Commissioner of Pune, to “topics like “Nation needs to follow Shri Ram and Yogeshwar Krishna” a talk by Som Dev Shastri of Mumbai, a talk on Is Nation withering Away in the name of Religion by Dr Vagish Sharma of Etah and finally “My Dharma towards Society and the Nation” by Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM. The series of talks was well taken by the audience who wished to have more of it on an annual basis. Of course, the exercise costs a lot of money and a suggestion was put forward that only two speakers may be fielded for the annual grand show and it would mean some saving of expenses on their travel, board and lodging.

A committee of specialists may make a questionnaire to be filled by members of audience selected at random to assess their reaction to the entire function. It would be genuinely found out what the individuals gained and whether they would like to continue their active association with this kind of thought and action. Men, women and adolescents from various walks of life should be chosen to answer the questionnaire that would form the basis of a study of achievements and ways and means of improving the same. It would, however, not be proper to assess whether the entire ceremony is cost effective. In a matter of Dharma and in an exercise to cleanse the social system, cost effective element would be difficult to find. In any case, it should never be dubbed as an exercise in futility as some agnostics and atheists tend to term it. Dharma is a way of life and if even a small minority has benefitted by the Maha Yajna in making an improvement in its style of living, in achieving health and happiness, an impartial observer would say that the Aim is Achieved. May Param Pita Parmatma give the Gayatri Yajna Samiti members firmness of Will, strong determination and means to maintain high Morale to continue with the brilliant performance to preach and practise the Vedic Dharma for the Happiness of one and all in our society and country. May Bharat be Mahan!

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Sawantg.chitranjan@gmail.com