Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati was a seer, a saint, a philosopher and a man of action who made decisions. Indeed it is a rare combination. He was a believer in the theory and practice of Karma and Karmaphal. The deep rooted belief in the Vedic concept of Karma transformrd the philosopher into a doer, a sanyasi into a religious and social reformer to his finger tips. He never hesitated into becoming an activist for the cause of the common man. He made decisions and faithfully implemented them for the good of Mankind. The Rishivar had the courage of conviction and stood by the Vedic principles, come rain come shine. A man of principles and yet open to suggestions made by the known and the unknown.Above all Dayanand Saraswati had the unique moral courage to reverse his decisions when the cause of common man suffered. When the situation demanded that a change be made for the common cause, he did not hesitate to abandon his favourite projects. Indeed it was a rare phenomenon then and it is a rare phenomenon now. Some leaders and pseudo-godmen continue to push forward their pilot projects even if these are detrimental to the interests of common man. Rishi Dayanand was made of sterner stuff and could, actually he did, reverse some decisions in the interest of society at large.IRREVERSIBLE DECISIONSYoung Moolshankar, as the Rishi was known in his adolescent years, made a decisive decision against worshipping idols when he found rats scrambling over the Shiva lingam on the night of Mahashivratri to find a feed from offerings made by devotees. The teenager walked out of that small temple by the river Demi and in due course of time made up his mind never to return to idolatrous faith. It was indeed irreversible and no power on earth could shake his belief in the Vedic concept of Nirakar Parmatma. In pursuance of his new found belief that was diametrically opposite of his parental faith, he decided to find the real Guru. Never mind forsaking comports of his house, a decision was made to go in search of the real Shiva, that is God Almighty. When pressed by parents to tie the knot and enter Grahasth Ashram , he left the parental home for good at the age of 22. Never mind roaming in the wilderness and being cheated by tricksters who posed as godmen but the great Quest must go on - that was his line of thinking He never regretted his decision.Later in life, he made the common man happier by freeing him from the clutches of false gods and equally false godmen. No inducement, what to say of threats, not even the proposal of Maharana of Mewar to make him the Mahant of the Eklinga temple could sway him from his chosen Vedic path. As a firebrand sanyasi,later in life, what he gave to the society in the form of religious and social reforms, no man on earth had ever given before.. It was indeed an irreversible decision that Dayanand made when he found himself transformed into a sanyasi straight from a brahmachari. The great QUEST was eventually fruitful in Mathura at the feet of Guru Virjanand. The decisive decision had paid dividends. When the Maharishi’s reputation as a great seer and sanyasi was well established, he was given both threats and inducements to forsake the real Vedic path but his decisive decision to stand by the TRUTH was unshakable. No wonder when the Ten Commandments of the Arya Samaj were codified in 1877 in Lahore in the presence of the Rishi an extra-ordinary emphasis was laid on Truth and it found a mention in as many as five commandments. Swami Dayanand’s decision to promote Truth and nothing but Truth was not only decisive but also Irreversible.By being decisive, the greatest contribution that Dayanand Saraswati made was to make the Vedas available to one and all, through his Hindi commentary or Ved Bhashya. In his bold and irreversible decision to make the Vedic Dharm all encompassing, he opened the floodgates of Vedic knowledge for the high and low, the rich and poor.Both in theory and practice he opened the portals of the Arya Samaj to followers of other faiths who expressed a wish to convert to the Vedic Dharm. The Swami himself converted a Muslim in Dehra Dun and another in Lucknow to the Vedic fold. VEDAS FOR ALL- WITHOUT ANY DISTINCTION OF CASTE,CREED,REGION OR RELIGION- - AH! It was an EL DORADO right at our door. Mankind shall ever remain indebted to Dayanand – the seer,sanyasi, philosopher and reformer; all rolled into one. He could do so because of his decisiveness.Reformation and Modernization went hand in hand in the campaigns of Dayanand Saraswati. To his utter dismay he found that the Dharmacharyas and purohits who were ordained to lead common men and women on the path of righteousness were themselves playing the role of predators. They had forsaken the noble role of protectors. Consequently, the Hindu society was an easy prey to misguided missionaries of foreign faiths. The Swami once again took a vow to found an organisation to hlp the innocents and illiterates find the path of ancestral faith to attain salvation. The decision was irreversible and the newly founded organisation, the Arya Samaj, found many adherents. The intellectuals and commoners were equally attracted to the Arya Samaj. The Maharishi paid special attention to orphans and destitutes and himself opened an Anathalaya at Ferozepur in the Punjab to protect the hapless from maulvis and missionaries. The said orphanage is a flourishing institution today.Modernization was the key to forsaking archaic religious and social practices. Of course, it did not mean denigrating everything that was our valuable inheritance. The Swami gave the clarion call " BACK TO THE VEDAS’ The import of the call was – let the divine revelation, the Vedas, chart the path of righteousness. Let us accept the tenets of the Ved samhita and forsake everything that may fall in the category of being anti-Vedic. It was just the litmus test that the decadent society needed. It was a decisive step taken by Dayanand Saraswati – never to be reversed. Pushing forward on the path of modernization the Rishivar bought a printing press and located it in Prayagraj to print,publish and disseminate Vedic literature for the reading of men and women in large numbers. A great modern decision, an irreversible one, and the printing press exists even now at Ajmer. It is the celebrated Vaidik Yantralaya. Taking a leaf out of the Rishi’s life, the Arya Samaj should modernize its methods of Ved prachar. With a view to attracting the children, adolescents and youth, the Aryas should take recourse to making and exhibiting cartoon and animation films on the stalwarts. The new generation will sit glued to these films and seeds thus sown will germinate.REVERSIBLE DECISIONSWith a view to highlighting the courage of conviction and the moral courage that Dayanand Saraswati possessed, let us list some instances where he made decisions in good faith but reversed them later to promote common man’s interests. Sometimes he did so because outcome of his decisions had become counter-productive. In some cases the new institutions were far from the goal and were deviating from the laid down path.Sanskrit language always fascinated the Maharishi. He wanted the common man to learn Sanskrit and fathom the depth of both the Dharm and the literature. One could delve deep into the Aarsh granths of the Rishis ONLY IF ONE HAD THE KNOWLEDGE OF SANSKRIT language. The Swami , therefore, chose to open Sanskrit Pathshalas. He did so with aplomb. He collected funds for them. He employed learned teachers and gave subsidies to students to enroll. However, on a close rexamination he found that the teachers stuck to old ways of teaching, were superstitious and kept the great grammarian of yore, Panini at bay. With ponga panthi pundits around, the very aim of opening Sanskrit pathshalas was defeated. Swami Dayanand Saraswati took a hard decision and reversed his earlier decision of opening many Sanskrit Pathshalas. He closed the existing Sanskrit pathshalas too as both money and effort were going down the drain He had the courage of conviction to bring down curtains on an episode that failed to achieve the aim.Swami Dayanand Saraswati once again gave a proof of his moral courage when he severed the relationship between the Arya Samaj and the Theosophical Society. When the reputation of scholarship and all embracing reforms of the Sanyasi crossed the Indian shores and travelled far and wide, some opportunists too wanted to ride the bandwagon of the Arya samaj for selfish gains. Two foreigners, Colonel H.S.OLCOTT and Madam Blavatsky wished to make hay while the sun was shining. They wrote letters from the United States of America eulogizing the Vedic learning and social reforms of Pundit Dayanand Saraswati Swami (as they put it) AND EXPRESSED A WISH THAT THE Theosophical SOCIETY become a part of the ARYA SAMAJ. They promised to promote the principles of Arya Samaj abroad across the seven seas where they were well entrenched and in return the Arya Samaj could give them a helping hand in getting established in India. Of course, they pledged that there would be nothing in their charter that would go against the grain of the Vedic principles as enunciated by the Rishivar. Everything looked ship shape and the Rishivar gave the green light to this arrangement. The much married lady of Russian origin, much divorced too, and her male companion, an ex-army officer, were welcomed with open arms by the Aryas wherever they went . The honeymoon was,however, over soon. These foreign Theosophists used the Aryas as crutches to move forward and jettisoned the Vedic principles at the drop of a hat. Madam Blavatsky even expressed her faith in the existence of ghosts and spirits and showed films to that effect in Shimla- thus forsaking belief in the Nirakar Parmeshwar and principles so dear to the Arya Samaj. This was blasphemy. The news travelled far and wide.A long correspondence ensued between Swami Dayanand and Colonel Olcott. There was much bickering by the foreigners that led the Aryas to nowhere. Ultimately Swami Dayanand decided to reverse his earlier decision of bringing the two organisations together. He made this announcement in the annual function of the Arya Samaj, Bombay in 1882. The chapter of foreign collaboration was closed for good.The Maharishi reposed faith in the goodness of all human beings. He wished the good work of propagation of the Vedas to be carried on after his demise. So he wrote a Will in Meerutt establishing the Paropkarini Sabha. The aim was good. However, much to his chagrin he found that some names of such people who were not free from blemish, had been included as trustees. Among them was Munshi Indramani round whose defence in legal battles the Aryas had rallied but he let them down. The legal case against Muslims was eventually won but Munshi Indramani embezzled money donated by Aryas to fight legal cases. The Maharishi had no option but to ex-communicate him from the Arya samaj and drop his name from the list of trustees of the Paropkarini Sabha. Moreover, some members of the Paropkarini sabha could best be described as sleeping partners who showed no sign of waking up. Yhe Maharishi could not allow the Paropkarini Sabha lie dormant in his lifetime as things could go from bad to worse after his demise.Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati thus wrote a new WILL and Last Testament at Maharana’s Udaipur in 1883 forming a new Paropkarini Sabha. Thus the earlier decision taken at Meerutt was reversed at Udaipur for the greatest good of the greatest number. The Sabha is presently located at Ajmer and has been working as per the Sweekar Patra of 1883. But for the moral courage of the Rishivar, it would not have been possible.EMULATING MAHARISHIWell, we have gone through some of the anecdotes from the life and deed of Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati where we learnt how he made decisive decisions and if and when the situation so required he had the moral courage to reverse his own decisions for the greater good of the greater number. So far so good. Where do we go from here. Indeed it is the common man who should benefit by learning lessons from the life of the Rishivar. The pages of history are turned over and over again to learn lessons. It is the Aryas who have to benefit most and inculcate the decision making trait in their character. It is the moral courage that they must imbibe and it will see them through thick and thin. The life of the founder of the Arya Samaj is a beacon light for those mariners who are stranded in the dark on uncharted seas and it helps them navigate to a port of safety, peace and tranquility. May Param Pita Parmatma help us, common men and women, to maintain this connectivity with our beacon light, Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, so that we banish the Evil and imbibe the Noble following the Ved mantra – DURITANI PARASUVA …BHADRAM AASUVA.
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM