Homage to Shraddhanand

B B Gupta

Swami Shraddhanand Sarswati , also known as ‘ Munshi Ram Vij-(Birth name)’ was born on 22nd February 1856 in a small village of Talwan in the Jalandhar district of the Punjab province, An advocate by profession, he enjoyed a comfortable normal life till he met founder of Arya Samaj, Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati  at Bareli in 1879, where Maharishi ji was invited to deliver his sermons.
Strongly influenced by the knowledge, courage, skills and strong personality of Maharishi ji, Munshi Ram  dedicated his life to the mission and teachings of Maharishi ji. Later on ,following the divine path shown by Maharishi Ji, Munshi Ram became a dedicated Arya Samaj missionary who propagated the teachings of Maharishi throughout his life for the welfare of society.
Swami Shraddhanand Sarswati was of firm view that the only way to achieve the past glory of India is to revive Indian system of education by opening more and more ‘Gurukuls’. Accordingly, in 1902 Swamiji established first “Gurukul” at  village Kangri near Haridwar, which is now a world  known “Gurukul Kangri University Haridwar” imparting education to thousands of children .
On his return from South Africa, Mohan Dass Karamchand  Gandhi visited Gurukul Kangri Haridwar and stayed at the campus. Till that time Swamiji was a Vanprasthi and known as Mahatma Munshi Ram. Appreciating the services of Gandhi Ji to the nation, Mahatma Munshi Ram  called Gandhi Ji as Mahatma. It was there, hereafter, Gandhi Ji took the name of Mahatma Gandhi in public life.
In 1917, Mahatma Munshi Ram took sanyas as “Swami Shraddhanand Saraswati” and left Gurukul Kangri Haridwar. He became member of ‘Hindu Reform Movement’ and ‘Indian Independence Movement’. He was the motivating force behind hundred and thousands of revolutionaries who sacrificed their lives for the motherland. Under Hindu Reform Movement,  first Hindu Shudhi Sabha was established in the year 1923 at Agra  and Swami ji became its first president.
Swamiji was actively associated with Congress Party . In 1919, Congress Session was to be held at Amritsar ,but after the Massacre of Jalianwalan Bagh no one in the congress committee was ready to take the responsibility of managing the Session. Swamiji voluntarily offered his services as president of reception committee and successfully managed the session.
Swami Shraddhanand was also a social reformer, a freedom fighter, a preacher of Vedic studies and a staunch supporter of women education in India. To empower women in the society, he started a Girls school at Jalandhar where he enrolled his own daughters as first two admissions. The school is now known as ‘Kanya Mahavidyalya’. later on, ‘Kanya Gurukul’ was also established at Dehradun.
Swami ji was in favour  of Hindu- Muslim unity. He had an honor of first and only Hindu  Sanyasi, who from the ramparts of Jama Masjid Delhi, addressed a large gathering of Hindus and Muslims. Swami ji started his speech chanting Vedic Mantras and appealed for the unity between both the communities. Swami ji chose very selective words saying- H (?) for Hindus and M (?) for Muslims i.e. We                                    ( ?? ) both should come together for the solidarity of the nation.
On fateful day of 23 Dec. 1926, Swami ji completed last journey of his life.


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