War of Independence:
MAHARISHI DAYANAND : POWER POINT OF INSPIRATION
The Indian historians list Meerutt as the focal point where the First war of Independence commenced and the point of time was June 1857. Generally speaking we talk of the armed battles fought between the then British rulers and the Indian soldiers and subjects and end the matter there. There is, however, a need to fathom the depth more and find out what role did our scriptures and Dharm Gurus play besides the weapon system. Let us proceed on the assumption that the human body acts or refrains from acting as per the guidance of the mind and the soul. Indeed the soul has to have a power point of inspiration that motivates it for doing a KARMA.
While writing the history of the Indian National Congress Shri Pattabhi Sitaramaiyya has explicitly mentioned that in the ongoing war of independence, there was a large number of believers in Vedic Dharm among the freedom fighters. The organisational name of their collective body is the ARYA SAMAJ. At this point let us recall the glory of those Aryas who fought in the front line against the British albeit through peaceful means. The galaxy of freedom fighters comprises stalwarts like Mahatma Munshi Ram who on entering the Sanyas ashram came to be known as Swami Shraddhanand, Lala Lajpat Rai, the Lion of Punjab who was exiled by the British government, Bhai Parmanand, Lala Har Dayal and Sardar Bhagat Singh – these are the patriots whom our nation will always recall with pride. Allow me to mention for the benefit of the new generation that initially among the Arya members of the Arya Samaj Lahore, the number of Sikh members was not negligible. I have written the above mentioned names because these are the august personalities and dedicated Arya Samajists who were inspired by the personality and writings of Sanyasi-reformer Maharishi Dayanand to plunge into the battle against the British rulers and gain Independence.
MAHARISHI DAYANAND’S THOUGHT ON INDEPENDENCE
Among the books written by Maharishi Dayanand, SATYARTH PRAKASH is the magnum opus. It was in 1874 that the Maharishi brought out the First Edition of his august treatise for the guidance of Mankind. Since some major mistakes had crept in, the Maharishi himself prepared an amended edition in 1883 at Maharana’s Udaipur before his tragic demise later at Ajmer. When Maharishi Dayanand was preaching and propagating the Vedic Dharm, the British were the supreme power and overlords not only in India but in most parts of the world. Queen Victoria, Empress of India was on the throne of England and her motherly image as a reigning sovereign was in every heart and mind in towns and villages of India. It was a common belief that there could not be a better rule than that of the British government. The pro-British elements among Indians drummed this point day in and day out so that no one could even think of asking for independence, leave alone fighting for it. Those who still persisted with a cry for freedom were punished and chastised to such an extent that the concept of independence vanished from their thought and action.
Maharishi Dayanand , as a Sanyasi and religious cum social reformer took it as his Duty to free the motherland, Bharat, from the yokes of foreign slavery. A high calibre psychologist like the Rishivar knew that he had to be a Crusader for letting common man have freedom of thought. The Rishi wanted to fight the propaganda war of the foreign forces and counteract the fictitious belief of “motherly love of the reigning queen” with his speeches and writings instilling in Indian minds love of independence .No rule, howsoever benevolent could be a substitute for self-rule, so said the Maharishi and the classes as well as the masses followed him like a pied piper. He enshrined his Thought on Freedom in the Satyarth Prakash. In the eighth chapter of the great book, the Maharishi wrote:
“Say what you will, the indigenous native rule is by far the best. A foreign government, perfectly free from religious prejudices, impartial towards all – the natives and the foreigners – kind, beneficent and just to the natives like their parents though it may be, can never render the people perfectly happy.” ( English version from Satyarth Prakash (Light of Truth) translated by Dr Chiranjiva Bharadwaja.)
In the 19th century the British government in India termed the above Idea as revolutionary. It was called Mutiny and treason against the British Empire. Indeed it was the self confidence and high morale of a fearless Sanyasi like Maharishi Dayanand who could bear the brunt of an angry administration that was running an empire. With a view to having an organization to carry on the flame of freedom and be an exponent of the Vedic Dharm for mankind, Maharishi Dayanand, on a suggestion of his devotees, agreed to formation of the Arya Samaj. To take care of the orphans, he opened orphanages and for promoting learning of the Sanskrit language, he opened Sanskrit pathshalas.. The Arya members of these organisations were led through the pages of Satyarth Praksh with an emphasis on waging a war of independence at the intellectual level and later on the battle field. It was but natural for the new generation of Indians to be influenced by Maharishi’s ideas. Lala Lajpat Rai while opposing the anti-people projects of the British administration in India always gratefully acknowledged the source of his inspiration as Maharishi Dayanand and called him as his Dharm Pita. (The English word GODFATHER is no patch on this).He boycotted the arrival of Simon Commission and while leading a protest procession bore the blows of police lathis and canes and suffered grievous injuries that caused his death. An eminent Arya of his stature made the supreme sacrifice at the altar of freedom. The story of lala Lajpat Rai’s life and death has been inspiring Indians generation after generation.
ARYA GURUKULAS IN FREEDOM MOVEMENT
Taking a cue from the Dayanand Thought on freedom from foreign rule, mahatma Munshiram opened the Gurukul Kangri near Haridwar where an emphasis was laid on freedom of thought and expression.To achieve this aim it was necessary to have the Gurukul education divorced from Macaulay’s Minute and let the Vedic system of education hold the sway. The brahmacharis were true to their ideals and along with developing their own personality always thought of the motherland. Many of them even participated in the freedom movement and contributed to the independence funds by saving their ration money.
The British administration in India sent secret reports of the CID to Lucknow and New Delhi saying that the Gurukul was a centre of revolutionaries where they made bombs and trained students to do or die for the motherland. Sir James Meston, Governor of the then United Provinces and later Sir Ramsay Mcdonald, Leader of the Opposition in the British House of Commons visited the Gurukul Kangri to see for themselves what the real situation was. The British leaders were impressed that Munshiram Ji had come out with an alternative to the Macaulay introduced education. As Administrator he impressed upon the distinguished visitors that each brahmachari was a bomb of new ideas that dispelled doubts and exposed superstitions. Later many graduates of the Gurukul holding degrees of Vedalankar and vidyalankar proceeded to the South to oppose the oppressive rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad that went against the interests of the Arya Samaj and rest of the Hindu society. Notwithstanding cruel treatment meted out to them by the Nizam’s officials, the Arya satyagrahis succeeded in their aim and had the bans on propagation of Vedic Dharm and renovation of temples rescinded.
The Flame of Freedom lighted by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati from 1874 onwards is burning bright today too. Many a young man in India and of the Indian diaspora abroad has been influenced by it. Let us take the last war fought against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in Kargil in 1999. Capt Saurav kalia of the Indian Army was taken prisoner by the enemy and done to death in a cruel manner. But the young officer neither made a plea for mercy nor divulge any military secrets to the enemy. His father attributed this courage and patriotism to the education imparted in the Dayanand School, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh and influence of Vedic Thought of Maharishi Dayanand.
Lieutenant Manoj Pande, a young officer just passed out of the Indian Military Academy displayed raw courage, devotion to duty and bravery of extra-ordinary nature in exterminating the Pakistan soldiers and recapturing Khalubar peak in the Kargil area. He made the supreme sacrifice to defend Bharat – his motherland. He was cremated as per the Sanskar Vidhi of Maharishi. His parents said that he was greatly influenced by the Dayanand Thought in his personal conduct and military adventure. The President of India awarded lt Manoj Pade Param Vir Chakra, the highest gallantry medal.
Defence of the nation is a National Duty, so writes the Maharishi in the sixth chapter of Satyarth Prakash. All citizens have to shoulder this responsibility. It is not only the gun that counts in battle but the man behind the gun counts more. The shastra combined with shastra should form our comprehensive military training to transform a raw recruit into a brave and battle-efficient Jawan of Bharat. Herein come the revolutionary ideas of Dayanand on Defence that would guide and inspire us, Indians, generation after generation to be brave, sacrificing and above all be PATRIOTIC.
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