Dayanand Saraswati’s role in Independence of India

Arun Kumar Gupta
“Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati, born in the year 1824 in Tankara village of Kathiawar district of Gujarat province, holds a position of veneration along with the other great freedom warriors who fought for India’s independence. At the time when he was born, there was a cloud of ignorance in India. Avidya, darkness, and superstitions had taken the place of religion, Vedic knowledge was disappearing, and the respect of women was getting tarnished. The country of India was caught in the chains of slavery by the British and the self-respect of the people of India was coming to an end and they were beginning to face oppression.
Maharishi Dayanand’s heart used to be very distressed to see such a sad and adverse state of affairs pertaining to the situation in India. In this context, he believed that he is ready to die for the land and free it from the British empire as he considered it to be the supreme duty of all the citizens of our country. Hence, Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati Ji himself along with lakhs of his disciples participated vigorously in the first freedom struggle of 1857 and played a pivotal and active role in this movement to free Mother Bharati from the shackles of slavery. Even in those critical times, many of his disciples willfully revolted against the British oppressors and sacrificed themselves, drawing inspiration and guidance from Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Ji.
There is hardly any other sannyasi before Maharishi Dayanand and among the contemporary sannyasis who have prepared such a huge army of freedom warriors in the interest of the national revolution. Aryaveer Shyam Ji Krishnavarma was sent to England by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Ji, and he was the first Indian, who contacted the revolutionaries against the British rule, later Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his army also got the benefits from him. While living there, Veer Savarkar, Madanlal Dhingra, Hardayal M.A. Madam Cama, and Udham Singh continued to inspire and lead the revolutionaries to accelerate the movement. Bhagat Singh and his father Sardar Kishan Singh, uncle Ajit Singh and his grandfather Sardar Arjun Singh were disciples of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Ji. Apart from this, Lala Lajpat Rai, Pt. Ram Prasad Bismil, Swami Shraddhanand, Pt. Lekhram, Pt. Guru Dutt Vidyarthi, Sister Ramrakhi, Bhai Parmanand, etc.; all the prominent revolutionaries were the followers of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Ji, who from time to time freed Mother Bharati from the shackles of subjugation of British rule. They kept sacrificing their lives to get freedom. This has been extensively documented via the testimonies of these freedom warriors. Some of their quotes are “Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati is my guru. He taught us how to think, speak and take actions independently for the welfare of our motherland”. – Lala Lajpat Rai; “I greet Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati with folded hands for his work towards the establishment of truth and unity of our country in the modern era” – Rabindranath Tagore; “The foundation of Indian – independence was laid by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati” – Sardar Vallabhai Patel. These are just a glimpse of the far-fetched impact Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Ji had on the independence movement and the admiration that the leaders of that struggle had for him.
Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati was a great advocate of the boycott of foreign goods and promoted the use of indigenous goods which is nowadays called “Make in India” by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is also worth mentioning here that about 70 years before Mahatma Gandhi’s Salt Movement (1930), Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Ji blew the trumpet of freedom and strongly opposed the tax on salt. In the initial parts of his book “Satyarth Prakash,” he mentioned in depth, his opinions on the atrocities of the British empire and how to overcome them when at the time it was frowned upon to even utter the words such as independence, Swaraj, etc. Even in that adverse situation, Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Ji not only wrote hundreds of books about freedom, Swarajya, Swadeshi, etc. but he had awakened and inspired the spirit of freedom amongst all Indians. He presented how important and necessary independence is for India. He writes in the eighth chapter of his book Satyarth Prakash – No matter how much one loves the rule of the foreigners, eventually, the indigenous state is the best as the state of foreigners will never grant us grace, justice, and mercy.“Similarly, Veer Savarkar, greatly influenced by the ideas of Rishi Dayanand and Arya Samaj, also dedicated his life. Arya Samaj scholar Shyamji Krishna Varma, Bhai Parmanand, etc. and hundreds of revolutionaries kept the flame of the freedom movement lit even after going abroad and finally dedicated their lives happily at the feet of Mother Bharati. Along with this, after the Gurukul education system was established by Arya Samaj and Gurukul Kangri established by Swami Shraddhanand, hundreds of educational institutions were established across the country for public awareness of independence and attainment of independence. D.A.V (Dayanand Anglo Vedic) schools established by the Arya Samaj and Brahmacharis of Gurukulas jumped into the freedom movement. Sitaramayya had said that Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Ji did great work for the nation years before Gandhi. He first told the Indians the path of Swaraj. He was the builder of modern and independent India. Similarly, Bal Gangadhar Tilak had also said that the sage awakened India sleeping in deep sleep. He was the first messenger of Swarajya and worshiper of humanity.
Referring to these two historical facts, a poet has said the truth, “You had shown the way to the country that was bound by chains, and you had lit the shaman, which could not be extinguished even by time. You used to sow the seeds of Dawn in the courtyard of the darkness.” Similarly, Sardar Bhagat Singh had said about Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Ji that “He was the announcer of independence and the source of inspiration for millions of revolutionaries, that all of us brothers got an opportunity to study in Maharishi Dayanand’s Vedic DAV School. Arya Samaj had the biggest hand in the formation of our (revolutionary) thoughts and mental progress. We are indebted to Arya Samaj for this.
In this way, while mentioning the contribution of Arya Samaj in the freedom movement of India, many thinkers, and writers including Mahatma Gandhi, and Congress historian Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, believed that Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Ji was instrumental in creating the vision of an Independent India which initiated the freedom movement of India. On studying the history of the Indian freedom struggle, this statement is proven true. As many of the soldiers of Arya Samaj fought for freedom, hardly any other organization had done the same for our country’s independence.“All these examples give a clear understanding of the deep understanding, farsightedness and wide contribution of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Ji.
Giving a similar expression, former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee said that if Arya Samaj had not been there, what would have happened to India, is too frightening to imagine. Congress was not even aware of the three things that Arya Samaj had started. The first proclamation of Swaraj was made by Swami Dayanand Saraswati Ji and it was Arya Samaj, who initiated the work of bringing back the train which had derailed from the values of Indian society. If there was no Arya Samaj, India would not have been India.
Thus a detailed look at the writings, statements, and works of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Ji shows a clear explanation of his contribution and role in the nation’s independence and nation-building made before and after the freedom movement.
There is understanding. On the occasion of the 75th year of independence, while we are remembering and saluting the contribution of hundreds of brave heroes and sacrificers who liberated Mother India, we must never forget the sacrifices made by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Ji, Arya Samaj, and his followers. So, on this auspicious occasion, let us dedicate our respect and gratitude towards him and all our freedom warriors.
(The writer is retired Assistant Vice President of Jammu and Kashmir Bank.)