Maharshi Dayananda's Claims for the Vedas
Maharshi Dayananda's Claims for the Vedas
The ideals and aims of Dayananda are the ideals and aims of the Arya Samaj.
- Lala Lajpat Rai
It is often said by way of reproach that Dayananda made extravagant and absurd claims for the Vedas in trying to show that in them was to be found every scientific truth. This is not the proper place for the examining these claims in detail, but it may be said here that:
(1) Dayananda does claim, and rightly, that in matters of religion and in the domain of spirit the Western mind has not reached either the depths or the heights commanded by the ancient Indian mind; and in such matters it has still much to learn from the ancient Indian sages.
(2) In matters social the Indian solutions arrived at in ancient times are as good, as sound and as effective, at least, as are those arrived at in the West by the best modern thought.
(3) In the domain of philosophy India has nothing to learn from the West. The best of European thought does not yet come up to the level of the best of Hindu thought. The most modern Western thought is apparently still groping in the dark and trying to scale the heights reached by Indians centuries ago.
(4) In the realm of physical science, the Europeans are far in advance of the ancient Indians, though it may fairly and justly be claimed that most of the fundamental truths on which the superstructure of European science is raised, were known to the Indians. For example, it was known to the Indians that the earth was round and that the earth, the sun, the moon and the stars were in motion; they had made great progress in military science; they were the inventors of algebra, of decimals, and so on. For centuries the Hindus have believed that plants were essentially as much to be regarded as living things as were animals; and it stands to their credit that the latest discovery in the same line of research - that every particle of matter has life - has been discovered and demonstrated by one of their descendants, namely, Professor J. C. Bose, of Calcutta. That the Hindus were well acquainted with anatomy and surgery, and were also chemists of no mean ability, has been amply proved and ungrudgingly admitted by European scholars.
Dayananda's claims, therefore, rest upon a substantial foundation. His object was not to give the Hindus matter and occasion for boasting, but to lift them from that slough of despondence into which they had fallen, and to provide leverage for the removal of the great burden that lay on their minds. He wanted to inspire them with justifiable pride, and with confidence in the enormous value of their heritage, so that they might consider it well worth the sacrifices which they might be called upon to make for the preservation of that heritage and for becoming worthy to possess it. Dayananda dreamed of a regenerated India, as spiritual, as wise, as noble, as learned, as chivalrous, and as great in every way as in its most glorious past, if not more so, and he wanted his countrymen to proceed to the realization of that ideal with confidence and fervour. He had no objection to their learning from the West whatever the West might be able to teach them, but with the desire only of rendering it again to the West with double interest, if possible. He wanted them to aspire to a role of honour in the comity of nations; to become once more the teachers of Humanity and the upholders of towering and magnificent ideals before mankind. He wanted them to achieve all this in the spirit of their past, in a spirit of devotion to truth for its own sake, of altruism, and of humility. This ambitious programme he thought could not be realized by mere imitation, by mere dependence on the West, by despising their ancestors and by aping exotic manners and habits. Not on such shifting foundations, but on the primal rock of self- respect and self-help did he desire them to build up their future nationalism, and to rear it thereon in the true spirit of Swajati and Swadharma. Yet, in spite of the greatness of the end, he countenanced no unworthy means for its attainment. He wanted the Hindus to win the whole world - but by righteousness and Dharma only. He warned them against the indulgences, the Bhoga doctrines of the West, and he protested vigorously against their drifting with the current as being unworthy of the blood of their vigorous and enterprising ancestors.
Time will show whether Dayananda was right or wrong in his ideas, but indications are not lacking to indicate that his countrymen are appreciating and imbibing his spirit. His followers do not, nor did he, care very much for the verdict of the foreigner. It is not in his nature to nurse spite or hatred. The difficulty with him, in fact, is not that he is too adamant, too dour, or too inflexible, but that he is, on the contrary, rather too soft, too pliable, and at times too kind and selfless, even to the degree of sacrificing the best interests of his nation and his country on the altar of chivalrous generosity.
The ideals and aims of Dayananda are the ideals and aims of the Arya Samaj, and to what we have said above about the former nothing more need be added.
[Source: A History of the Arya Samaj, pp.110-112, edition 1967, Presented by: Bhavesh Merja]