● Pioneer of Indian Renaissance: SWAMI DAYANANDA SARASWATI ● ------------------------------
● Pioneer of Indian Renaissance: SWAMI DAYANANDA SARASWATI ●
by: Swami (Dr) Satya Prakash Saraswati
(All India Radio, New Delhi, March 30, 1979)
Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of the Arya Samaj movement, is one of the giant personalities who contributed to Indian renaissance during the closing half of the Nineteenth Century. Only four years back in 1975, the country celebrated the centenary of the foundation of the two great organizations, the Arya Samaj and the Theosophical Society. During the last five years or so, the Arya Samaj has been celebrating the Centenary of its several activities. The Satyartha Prakash, the magnum opus of the great reformer created great impacts on the society not only in the country but abroad also, where Indians have settled. The Arya Samaj movement in its own way has made an attempt to consolidate the Hindus and to revive the Indian culture in islands and peninsulas from the West India to the Cape Province in the South Africa.
● Dayananda's Creative Period:
Swami Dayananda, born 1824 at Tankara, a small place in Kathiawar, left his home in the early part of his life, at an age of 22, while the arrangements were brisk for his marriage, and for a large number of years, up to 1860, he literally walked from place to place, from temples to monasteries, from hills to forests, from villages to large cities, along the banks of rivers for the satisfaction of his spiritual urge, and this gave him a unique opportunity of studying the conditions of his country and her people, demoralized to the core on account of personal strifes, internal conflicts and outside impacts. For long, he was in search of true Yogic preceptors and genuine Yogic practices. It did not take him long to see the hollowness of so many things which were going on in the name of theology. People were poor, naked and starving, and the social morality was at the lowest ebb. This made his heart bleat from within. In spite of the highest theistic philosophy and great cultural traditions, the country has lost her dynamism.
Rich in experiences, but without enlightenment, Dayananda arrived at Mathura in November 1860 as a mature man of thirty-six in the search of a perfect guru, a preceptor, who would show him a way to moksha, the final release from the bondage. And surprisingly, the guru he got was a blind saint, Virajananda, a great grammarian. Dayananda sat at his feet, and within a period of less than three years, he found something which radically changed the direction of his life, so much so that when the disciple parted from his great preceptor, he did so with an explicit promise to work for the emancipation of the country. Virajananda himself wanted to revolutionize the country's system of education in the light of the glory of India's past which he called the Arsha period, the period of aryan rishis.
● Dayananda Works for consolidation:
Dayananda started his mission work from the early months of 1867, just ten years after the Indian Mutiny. He chose Haridwar as the venue of work. This was a year of massive congregation; thousands of people from all parts of the country were on a sacred visit to this city. Dayananda chose this occasion to give shock to the Hindu masses, that what they practiced in the name of religion had no sanction in their oldest traditional books, the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Six Systems of Indian Philosophy and the Code of Manu, the Dharma Shastra. Dayananda wanted to integrate the entire Hindu community on the basis of the oldest texts. Raja Ram Mohan Roy and his followers remained contented with the Upanishads as the source literature of spirituality. Dayananda went a step further; he wanted people to go back to the original Vedas which are accepted as the supreme authority by the Upanishads and Shastra both.
Dayananda wanted all persons working for the rejuvenation or renaissance to join hands together in their supreme efforts. He invited leaders to come and meet on a common platform. In the fields of theology he wanted people to rise above petty differences of the sectarian nature and work out the greatest common multiple (the GCM) or the highest common factor (the HCF), and adopt principles on which everybody agrees upon. Dayananda was fully, confident of the fact that a country which had such a distinguished past in the fields of knowledge and culture should not suffer from the inferiority complex as a result of the outrages of the Western culture.
● Dayananda and the New Age:
Dayananda while working for the Indian renaissance came in contact with Indian Princes also. He was not at all happy that India should be governed by people who do not belong to this country. The achievement of freedom from the foreign domination was in no way an easy task. The 1857 movement must have convinced him of the realities of the situation: the very infra-structure of the society and the social traditions needed revolution to attain and then sustain freedom. Dayananda had clearly a vision to see that science and technology on the one hand and democratic principles on the other were bringing out a new social order in the West, and that this would terribly react with the caste-ridden order in India. Dayananda instinctively responded to all these new ideas, and he had the sagacity to link all of them with the distant past Indian traditions. He was very much convinced of the fact that India's future did not lie in the imported ideas from the West, but her salvation lay in her deep-rooted traditions, carefully purged out of the dogmas and superstitions of the mediaeval days. He gave to the Arya Samaj a democratic constitution. The ten principles of the Arya Samaj are based on the eternal natural dharma of man, the high moral ethics and a high social conduct.
As we have said, Dayananda was always interested in creating a common platform of work, with only one condition: the adherence to sincerity and truth. He wanted people to sit together, discuss and accept the basic principles of discipline. And side by side, if necessary, he would stand alone to protest against fraudulence, bigotry and superstitions. After the Mutiny of 1857, Lord Canning organized a magnificent Durbar of Indian Princes at Agra. On this occasion, Dayananda's revered teacher, Swami Virajananda, made frantic efforts through Maharaja Ram Singh to convene a Universal Council of Hinduism (the Sarvabhauma Sabha) but nothing came out of this effort. Dayananda also very much wanted to avail the occasion of a similar Durbar at Delhi, organized by Lord Lytton in 1877. Many of the leaders of the Hindu community were present at Delhi including Babu Kesab Candra Sen and Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.
● Dawn of a New Era:
Swami Dayananda was an open book, – a straight-forward man without duplicity or diplomacy. He was out-spoken in matters of truth, a man of courage, and as such he was so often misunderstood. But he was open-minded too. When he went to Calcutta in December 1872, he enjoyed the hospitality of the Tagore family, and got first hand information of the work which was going on in Bengal. From there, he came back imbibed with new ideas. Justice Mahadeva Ranade of Poona was another great national figure and in the midst of this galaxy, very soon Dayananda became an all-India figure. By his erudition and scholarship, he became an international figure in the field of the Vedic studies. He never studied a Western language, much less the Western literature. He was through and through an indigenous person, and yet a man of great vision. He sent one of his illustrious disciples Shyamaji Krishna Verma, to European countries, who later on became one of the pioneering fighters of India's freedom movement abroad. Dadabhoy Navaroji got his ideas of svarajya from Dayanand's Satyarth Prakash. Dayananda took to social reforms, protested against the child marriages; he pointed out the evils of the caste system and the casteism, worked for the emancipation of the untouchables, he became an advocate of the woman education. It has been rightly observed that Dayananda's personality was not one easily captured in a simple formula for it had many complimentary facets. He was a man with great inner depth, yet totally involved in the present and always working for a better future. Dayananda was the first leader in the field of theology who welcomed the advances of science and technology. To him, the Vedas as the source book contain the seed of science, and to him, the Vedas advocate the philosophy of dynamic realism. Why should one go for science? For three reasons: One, for India, it had been her oldest tradition to advance science; secondly, its study and adoption would help us in the fight against poverty; and thirdly, the study of science would uproot superstitions. A superstition is more damaging to a nation than an atom bomb. But Dayananda gave a caution too. The science should be based on a theistic outlook and should be used for the good of the society and be handled by those persons who cherish the good of all. To Dayananda, as to the rishis of the past, there could be no conflict between science and theism or between science and religion.
● Arya Samaj Abroad:
Dayananda passed away in 1883 at an early age of 59 as a martyr to the cause of truth for which he courageously lived. After his death, his work has been taken up by the Arya Samaj, with hundreds of branches in India and abroad. The first Arya Samaj established in Rangoon was in 1898, in Bangkok in 1920, Singapore 1927, Fiji 1904, Mauritius 1902, in Pietermarizburg, South Africa 1908, Guyana 1924, Surinam 1911, Trinidad 1904, Kenya 1903, Zanzibar 1907, Uganda and Tanzania 1908 and so on. Whilst Dayananda worked for renaissance along with many other stalwarts, the work is not yet finished. India still needs a shock-treatment after her thirty-five years of freedom.
(Source: "Dayananda and His Mission", Published by: Paropkarini Sabha - Ajmer)
[Presented here by: Bhavesh Merja, 28.7.16]