MAHASHAY VISHWANATH REFLECTED OLD WORLD CHARM
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Vishwanath Ji was uprooted from his home and hearth at the age of 27. He was born in Lahore in 1920, brought up in an Arya Samajist home, imbibed the old world charm in company of poets and men of letters who worshipped the Muse irrespective of the Faith their families professed. And yet he lost everything that he had stood for, for the last quarter of a century plus. He saw his literary real crumble like a house of cards, friends turned foes, worshippers of the poetic culture turned killers overnight. The young man who had inherited the profession of publication from his late lamented father, Mahashay Rajpal Ji, a martyr for the cause of freedom of expression, of which right to publish was an integral and unalienable part, burnt the midnight oil to rank among the first and the foremost. Alas! Partition of India at the behest of vested interests raised a unbreakable wall against which our young man’s hopes were dashed.
SHOW MUST GO ON
Young Vishwanath, all of six, had seen his father, Shaheed Rajpal Ji breathe his last after being stabbed by an illiterate Muslim, coached and trained by bigoted Mullahs. By exercising the right of freedom to publish and actually letting a booklet based on Truth see the daylight, Rajpal Ji was dragged to various courts of Lahore but was eventually acquitted with honour by the Punjab High Court. Vishwanath Ji had stood by his father and even penned his thoughts on how lonely his dad had been in fighting the legal case for years.
Vishwanath Ji had inherited the grit and determination of his fighter-father and in his young mind was sown the seed of “ rebellion against oppression” and he let the seed germinate and blossom into a banyan tree. For him to become an independent publisher was the best course of action, that is karma of the rightful order. What better stage there could be to carry on the Mission of Truth than the Arya Samaj. He chose just that. As a matter of fact he had inherited that too from his father too in ample measure.
CITADEL OF ARYA SAMAJ
Lahore was the citadel of the Arya Samaj and Dayanand Anglo Vedic school and college. On the sad demise of Swami Dayanand Saraswati at Ajmer on the Diwali evening in 1883, the Aryas of Punjab made a decision to open educational institutions charged with the mission of Dayanand to carry forward his principles and practices to groom the youth for future. Indeed a correct decision it was. The DAV School and later DAV College did see many young men pass out of its portals who were second to none in patriotism, scholastic and administrative achievements and what have you. Vishwanath Ji was one of them who turned out to be a shining star in the firmament.
Linguistics was his forte. He was equally at home in English, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi. A voracious reader, a prolific writer, Vishwanath Ji was fond of attending poetic symposia both in Hindi and Urdu. He would compose, recompose until he was fully satisfied with his own finished product. Generally speaking, the audience applauded him and boosted his morale on stage. Just before our motherland was vivisected and that factory of Islamic terror called Pakistan was born, the poetic symposia in Lahore were sometimes overladen with lines that eulogized communal philosophy in political and literary writings and speeches but Vishwanath Ji kept aloof. He was an Arya patriot and fought for the causes that were so dear to Swami Dayanand Saraswati but he had no rancor for men of other religions who did not see eye to eye with the philosophy of Swami Dayanand Saraswati.
I recall an incident in connection with presentation of Merit Awards to writers of eminence on rolls of the DAV Colleges in Delhi and elsewhere. He had written to me to compere the function being held in honour of Shaheed Rajpal Ji. I immediately accepted the offer and prepared my notes of compering accordingly. Just at the eleventh hour, as the honoured guests were being seated on the dais, he walked over to me and said” Please see that you do not overplay your criticism of the assassin and his co-religionists who had assassinated my father”. I just smiled. Mahashay Vishwanath Ji was a changed man. He had mellowed a lot and did not want to associate with rabble rousers. The time for VAJRA PRAHAR ON OPPONENTS OF VEDIC DHARMA WAS OVER. The era for winning them over with love and compassion has begun. The perception had undergone a discernible change.
Arya Samaj was his First Love and he stuck to his Vedic guns till he breathed his last. I always addressed him as Mahashay Vishwanath. He did not resent and I carried on with this form of address for years. He was almost fourteen years senior to me in age but never let it be reflected in our interaction. A chat or a discussion on a Vedic topic or on a political subject always ended up without any conclusion. But never did he raise his voice to denote disapproval of a point, an issue or the manner of delivery. Having lived in Lahore in the pre-partition days when the Indian youth was sucked in by the freedom movement, he just could not afford to remain untouched by the political TSUNAMI against the British Raj. As far as I know Vishwanath Ji was not a part of the Satyagrah movement but he did admire Mahatma Gandhi. Indeed that was a point of disagreement between him and me because I had several reasons to blame Gandhiji for all the troubles that the Hindus had suffered. We may keep the issue in reserve for another day used to be our finale on the issue.
Vishwanath Ji was an enthusiastic Ved pracharak too in his youth in the rural areas of undivided Punjab. After alighting the railway train at Multan, he hired an Ekka on a sharing basis to go to a remote village where an Arya Samaj activity had been organized. As they entered the interior of the backward rural area, came melodious singing sound of Punjabi women and the song was in Hindi promoting spinning wheel as harbinger of SWATANTRATA. Vishwanath Ji was very pleasantly surprised to hear a Hindi song in a backward area where even Punjabi was not correctly spoken. Of course, he gave the credit for this awakening to Gandhiji. On hearing this anecdote, I had little option but to go in for a pucca Maun Vrat.
EDITING NO JOKE
Vishwanath Ji was a born editor. He took to editing as fish takes to water. When He and his brothers shifted their book shop and publishing outfit to Delhi from Lahore, teething troubles were experienced. He and other members of the family took it in the normal stride of life. With hard work, customer care, literary drives, launching Pocket Book edition with his brother Dina Nath and many such steps produced positive results. Rajpal and Sons made a name for themselves and were back in business in the right way.
Arya Samaj, DAV School and College, Lahore left many indelible impressions on the personality of Vishwanath Ji. His love of Hindi always remained undiluted. Even as a student of the DAV School, Lahore he had opted for Hindi and Sanskrit. This held him in good stead in later life. When he wished to please the Muse, it was Hindi language that he chose to write poems in. ANTARA is a book containing his new poems in Hindi.
He mentioned to me that it was opposition of the Arya Samaj to casteism that prevented him and his brothers from adding the caste name as a suffix. Just VISHWANATH. That was it. Commendable indeed. We loved him for that. Today we miss him more than ever before. His departure from this world is forever. When his soul enters a new body, he will have another opportunity to complete the mission that remained unfulfilled in this life.
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