Monday, December 26, 2011


By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM

Swami Shraddhanand was at the pinnacle of achievements in the realm of spiritualism, social service, Vedic education, national cohesion, Shuddhi or homecoming of Aryas( Hindus) who had been forcibly converted to Islam and above things mundane the Unity of people of India to attain Swaraj or political independence from the British paramount power when like a Kshatriya he attained martyrdom. His mission of carrying the wisdom of Vedas far and wide did not remain unfulfilled. His disciples in large numbers who graduated from Gurukul Kangri, Haridwar did shine like bright stars in the firmament of Hindi journalism, research in the Vedic studies and above all in keeping the flag of OM flying.
The singular achievement of Swami Shraddhanand that attracted attention of saints and statesmen, educationists and scientists alike is the Gurukul Kangri, Haridwar. The august institution took off as an experiment in imparting education in Vedic studies and sciences in Hindi medium in rented rooms at Gujaranwala town in the Punjab, now in the alien land of Pakistan, in the year 1900. Lala Munshiram, as Swami Shraddhanand was known then, had his heart and soul in a Gurukul located in sylvan surroundings away from the hum and drum of urban society. His dream came true when Munshi Aman Singh donated his entire Kangri village on the banks of the Ganga river plus a lot of agricultural land to sustain the Gurukul. The new institution moved from Gujaranwala to Haridwar lock, stock and barrel. The new experiment began here and achieved a roaring success.
The Gurukul became the flag ship of Shraddhanand’s fleet. Its name and fame spread far and wide. Came Governor of the then United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, preceded by Collector and Commissioner to see for themselves what the giant-like man with a cool head and fearless mien was up to. Reports of sleuths had indicated that revolutionary activities against the Raj were afoot. Sir Ramsay Mcdonald, leader of Opposition in the House of Commons and later the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, came calling. They were all so impressed that they wished more experiments of this nature were undertaken to counter the adverse effect of Macaulay’s Minute.
Mr Ramsay Mcdonald saw in Munshi Ram Ji an image of Christ or St Peter who had a motivational hold on the new generation of Brahmcharis and the Acharyas of yester years too. When the White Hall of London was so favourably disposed towards the Gurukul, the Viceroy’s Hose in New Delhi just towed the line.
Notwithstanding the teething troubles, Mushi Ram, the Acharya had a deep sense of satisfaction when the first batch of Brahmcharis, including his two sons- Harish Chandra and Indra, graduated. In his Dikshant or the convocation address the Acharya drew their attention to the dream of Swami Dayanand Saraswati in rejuvenation the Aryavart through the youth well versed in the Vedas. The Acharya exhorted the fresh graduates to carry on the mission of Dayanand and stick to the Ten Principles of the Arya SamaJ.
The Gurukul has been carrying on from generation to generation and has crossed the Century mark. The well wishers of the Gurukul and votaries of the Arya Samaj have appreciated the progress with a deep sense of achievement.
Swami Shraddhanand was a crusader for Swaraj through and through. It was rather reluctantly that he joined a political party, the Indian National Congress, because he thought that it might interfere in his Spiritual and Educational experiments for the greater good of the greater number. And yet he was in the forefront leading a crowd of protesters in Delhi against the British government’s high handedness. When an armed detachment of Manipuri soldiers under the British officers’command wanted to disperse the freedom fighters by using force of bayonets, it was our Shraddhanand Sanyasi in his ochre robes who stepped forward undaunted by bayonets and bullets, bared his chest and asked the soldiers to fire at him first before opening fire on the protesters. Wisdom dawned on the British officers and they ordered soldiers to unfix bayonets and fall back. A possibility of an ugly situation was averted. The protesting masses comprising Hindus and Muslims applauded the Arya Sanyasi.
On 4th April 1919 a large crowd of Muslims assembled in the Jama Masjid, Delhi to mourn the dead freedom fighters in police firing elsewhere in Delhi The prominent leaders came to Swami Shraddhanand to invite him to address the mourners in the mosque. The Arya Sanyasi began his address with a Ved mantra and concluded with AUM SHANTIH SHANTIH. The congregation responded with AMEEN.
Long ago under the oppressive rule of Sultans and the Mughals like Aurangzeb, Many thousand Malkana Rajputs had been forcibly converted to Islam. Now, influenced by the Vedic preachings of Swami Shraddhanand the Muslim Malkana Rajputs voluntarily wished to return home to the Vedic Dharm. The Arya Sanyasi agreed. Maharana of Mewar also encouraged the home coming and agreed to share puffs at the Hookah with the returnees Pundit Madan Mohan Malviya aso gave an active encouragement. Thousands of Muslim Malkana Rajputs were reconverted to the Vedic Dharm and warmly welcomed by all present. It is said that Gandhi Ji was among the few prominent Hindu politicians who demurred. He did not matter to the movement of Shuddhi.
One Asghari Begum of Karachi along with her children came to Delhi on her own and requested Swami Ji to reconvert her to the Vedic Dharm. The Swami, undaunted by a hostie Musim crowd of goons did convert Asghari Begum and named her Shanti Devi. Court cases were filed by wily politicians and Muslim riff-raffs but they all had to bite the dust. Reconversion to the Vedic fold stood confirmed. The Muslim population sought to seek revenge and assassinate the valiant Arya Sanyasi.
On 23rd December 1926 Swami Shraddhanand came from an election tour and was laid up with high fever due to pneumonia. His secretary and sewak were with him at the Naya Bazar, now Shraddhanand Bazar, residence. A bigot with a sinister intention came over and wished to be converted from Islam to the Vedic Dharm. He was refused permission by the Secretary to meet Swami Ji as the latter was unwell. When Swami ji heard that he wished to forsake Islam and be ordained as a Vedic Dharmi, Swami Ji told his secretary to let him come in. After a few minutes chat, the new comer asked for a glass of water. As the Secretary went out of the room to arrange for water, the new comer whipped out a revolver and fired two shots at Swami Shraddhanand at point blank range and the great Arya Sanyasi succumbed to shots. The secretary returned running and the assassin fired a third shot that hit the secretary but he grabbed the killer and held on to him until the police arrived. That killer was brought to trial, found guilty and hanged by the neck till death.
Swami Shraddhanand ived as a Karmayogi and died doing his karma. The entire nationwas shocked. Lakhs of men and women turned out to attend the funeral and had a mixed feeing of grief and anger.
Swami Shraddhanand is no more with us but his mission of education through Gurukulas and the Shuddhi are going on unchecked. Swami Ji’s disciples and disciples’ disciples on whose shoulders mantle of Vedic responsibility fell are at it doing the job with dignity.
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