Swami Shraddhanand Ji A selfless social reformer

Arun Kumar Gupta
After the Mahabharata war, due to the heavy loss of lives of scholars and warriors the religion and culture which were initially booming, started to decline. As a result of this, from the 8th century of Christ, the country began to be subservient. At this time in the nineteenth century, the true eternal Vedic religion had become extinct in the country and its place was taken by ignorance, superstition, hypocrisy, evil practices, and anti-Vedic beliefs. People started to deviate from the Vedic path. Swami Dayanand Saraswati Ji died on October 30, 1883, after being poisoned by his opponents due to the work of propagating the Vedas.
Swami Shraddhanand Ji, the disciple of Swami Dayanand Ji, was born on 22 February 1856 in the village of Talwan in Jalandhar, Punjab. Swami Shraddhanand Ji revived Gurukul education based on the teachings and principles of the Vedic edification of Swami Dayanand Ji. He was the founderof Gurukul Kangri in 1902.
In the Gurukul, the scholars were educated about journalism, Indian and world history, religious scriptures, etc. Along with other works, he did many social reforms works like the upliftment of Dalits, fighting against the caste system, and creating a glorious history of India by propagating the Vedic religion. Swami Shraddha Ji’s personality was multi-dimensional. He was a great man who was fond of Vedic religion and culture; ideal God devotee, Veda devotee, patriot, priest of humanity, educationist, social reformer, and preacher of Vedas.
At such a time, on February 12, 1824, Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Ji, the saint from Gujarat’s Tankara and the guru of Swami Shraddhanand, was born. He inspired Swami Shraddhanand Ji to perform unique historical work of purification of heretics. He presented the pure form of Vedic religion and culture and the Gurukul Kangri along with other Gurukul established by him propagates it with Vedic spirit even today. Swami ShraddhanandJi played a special and inspirational role in the upliftment of religion and culture as he possessed the perfect intellect to discriminate between truth and false propaganda.
The teachings in the Gurukul played an important role in the freedom movement of the country by propagating the Vedas including reforms,removal of ignorance, and superstition. He protested the Rowlatt Act in Delhi in the year of 1919. Under his leadership,the movement against the British government was a resounding success. When the procession of the movement, which he had led, came to Chandni Chowk, the British soldiers were ordered to surround the protestors and arrest SwamiShraddhanandJi. He came in front of the soldiers by controlling the crowd and openly challenged them by proclaiming that”If you have the courage, then shoot me in the chest”. Upon witnessing the challenge of Swami Shraddhanand Ji, and honouring his bravery, fearlessness, and courage, the British officer in charge posted there was stunned and ordered the soldiers to lower their guns. Even if other incidents of Swami ShraddhanandJi’s life are left aside, this incident is enough to make him great.
This incident and its happenings spread across Delhi like wildfire and people were inspired by Swami Shraddhanand Ji. Impressed by this, he was invited to address a gathering of Muslims from the Mimbar of Jama Masjid in Delhi on 4th April 1919. After reaching there, Swamiji created a new history, which is another event in the history of the Vedic religion. From the pulpit of Jama Masjid, he recited the Veda Mantra ‘Om Tvam Hi Nah Pita Vaso Tvam Mata ShatkratoBabhuvitah’. Adhatesumnimahe? (He started his address and was cheered by the huge Muslim crowd. After that, no non-Muslim person got the honor of addressing from the pulpit of the Jama Masjid. Eyewitnesses and contemporaries have written that Swami Shraddhanand Ji became the uncrowned king of Delhi because of the Chandni Chowk incident. It is said that Swami Shraddhanand Ji had said in his address from Jama Masjid that in Hindi word ‘Hm’ ‘H’ refers to Hindu and ‘M’ refers to Muslim and this word is a symbol of unity of both communities.
In the history of the country’s independence, the incident of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar on April 13, 1919, on Baisakhi day, is famous, in which thousands of men and women who were holding a peaceful meeting were gunned down without warning. The order to fire was given by Brigadier General Ronald Dyer. About 1500 people were killed and more than 1200 were injured in this shootout. A Congress session was organized in Amritsar toprotest against this atrocity of General Dyer, wherein Swami ShraddhanandJi was the Chief Guest.
Swami ShraddhanandJi gave his welcome speech in Hindi. With this incident, he became a leader of the rank of a national leader of Congress. This incident has been described in detail in the book ‘Swami Shraddhanand- A Unique Personality’ edited by Dr. Vinod Chandra Vidyalankar. Readers should also study this book. From this, the great personality of Swami ShraddhanandJi can be known very well.
Swami ShraddhanandJi proposed the establishment of the BharatiyaShuddhi Sabha, which led to the process of about 2 lakh MalkaneRajputsbeing entered into the Hindu religion. His work is written in golden letters in history. This purification is a Veda propaganda movement, one of the objectives of which was to bring our separated brothers who converted in the past due to various reasons like fear and temptation, to the shelter of divine knowledge of Vedas. Arya samaj solves the religious curiosities of all followers and works toward the advancement of mankind
The only reason is to propagate the truth. The Arya Samaj unites and vigorously promotes the Vedas, the storehouse of true knowledge given by God. The slogan”KrinvantoVishwamAryam”, of the Arya Samaj means that human beings should make the world a noble place with superior qualities, actions, nature, and conduct.
Swami ShraddhanandJi also worked tirelessly towards the task of upliftment of the unprivileged people of society. While in Congress, he felt that the priority and cooperation which was expected and needed by Congress were not being given in his work. Because of this, he changed his course and left Congress. It is also read in history that in Punjab, upper-caste Hindus did not allow Dalits to draw water from their wells. At such places, Swami Shraddhanand and his Arya Samaji associates used to carry water themselves to the homes of Dalit brothers. We feel that the Arya Samaj and its leaders gave the name Dalit to the neglected section of society and started the Dalit movement for their upliftment. Due to the works of Arya Samaj, the use of casteism decreased and Dalit brothers also progressed.
Swami ShraddhanandJi also edited and published the newspaper ‘SadharmaPracharak’. It was a very popular paper in Punjab. Earlier it was published in Urdu, but later on, he started publishing his letter in Hindi. The credit for writing an investigative biography of Swami Dayanand Saraswati Ji also goes to Swami Shraddhanand Ji.
The researcher and editor of Rishi Jeevan, Pandit LekhramJi was a close friend and colleague of Swami Shraddhananad Ji. Both had deep soulful relations and he also wrote the biography of Pt. LekhramJi after he was assassinated.
Swami Shraddhanand Ji was martyred on 23 December 1926. Swami ShraddhanandJi was also a very good writer and was a scholar of languages like English, Urdu, Hindi, etc.All the citizens should read about the noble soul and draw inspiration from him. In the days when Swami ShraddhanandJi used to run Gurukul Kangri, Shri Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi also came there. Gandhiji came to India from South Africa and Swami ShraddhanandJi gave him the title of “Mahatma” Gandhi and didn’tcall him Mr. Gandhi. The first use of the word ‘Mahatma’ in Gandhiji’s name was made by SwamiShraddhanand Ji, which remained associated with Gandhiji’s name till his death.
Without elaborating further, we pay our heartfelt tribute to Swami ShraddhanandJi, the true patriot, savior of the Gurukul education system, social reformer, and Dalit emancipator, who ran the Sudarshan Chakra of purification, on his sacrifice day.
(The writer is the President of Arya Samaj Dayanand Marg, City Chowk, Jammu)