Swami Virajanand Saraswati was one of the greatest devotees of all times. His whole life was one of incessant toil and struggle against the adverse currents of misfortunes so common in this topsy-turvy world of ours. Without a Virajanand there could have been no Dayanand and without a Dayanand there could have been no revival of Vedic dharma which is so essential for our individual or national salvation. In this country mighty currents of thoughts of the merciful Buddha, of the scholarly Shanker, of the devout Chaitanya flow, but there are, beside these, beautiful fountains erected by the piety of Tukaram or Ramdasa, by the fervor of Nanak and Kabir, by the zeal of a Ramakrishna or a Virajanand to which a wary traveler can repair and drink deep to his entire spiritual consolidation. But here we reach these fountains, we are to tread on the paths of karma and jnana- action and wisdom- and one such path is chalked our for us by the untiring genius of Swami Virajanand. As far as the work of the resuscitation of the study of classical Sanskrit is cornered. Virajanand’s contribution has been undeniably great; and if ever the history of Hindu Protestantism comes to be written, prominence will have to be given, whether we will it or not, to swami dayanand. But when we think of dayanand we cannot but think of Swami Virajanand, his great and worthy guru. When the news of the demise of Virajanand reached Dayanand, he took a deep sigh and exclaimed “alas! Bharatvarsha! Holy Aryavarta, today the glorious sun of Vedic grammar has set.”! How the fierce rays of that sun pierced through darkness and laid open all the hidden treasures of Veda- vidya can only be realized by those men who have wiped the dust of prejudice from their eyes.
The incidents in the life, therefore, of this stainless saint are not without special significance to every lover of Sanskrit literature and arya- dharma. The life has its own grand lessons to teach and unique ideals to present. Again, the romantic carrier of that sannyasin is surrounded by a halo of sanctity, unparalleled in the annals of this country. His work is of far reaching consequences. The seeds of activity sown by him in the heart of dayanand were and are bound to develop themselves into mighty trees yielding delicious fruits to be eaten probably by people coming generations after. Today we see only the plants at this stage of transition their growth necessarily seems to be slow. But plants of slow growth live long, because they take deep roots. The life of this first planter, we repeat, though simple and to all intents and purposes uneventful, is yet interesting enough and deserves a critical study.
EARLY LIFE FULL OF PATHOS
In the land of the five rivers, on the banks of the river beas is situated a village Gangapur by name where to one Narayan Dutt was born in the vikrama samat 1854 a lad who in after years held the key to the scientific of the Vedas and passed it on to a zealous disciple of his. Shri Narayan Dutt was a Saraswata Brahmin and with a view to make his son a great Sanskrit pundit taught him in due course that devavani. In spite of the tender affection bestowed by the parents on the lad and their attempts to make his life a happy one, a sea of troubles seemed to rise before him. What with the evil effect of a dire malady and what with the sad bereavement his cup of miseries was full to the brim. Small knows not how to revere age or sex and that fell disease attacked this lad when he had just attained his fifth and deprived him of his eyesight for ever. Misfortune never comes single, and before he completed his twelfth year his parents died, naturally leaving the orphan to the tender mercies of the survivors. The blind boy would ask his uncle and aunt for bread and receive stone.
He being oppressed by thirst would beg for water and down flowed a torrent of abusive and filthy words from the hard hearts of those guardians. Probably it was the intention of this happy couple to lay in the heart of the nephew the foundations of those virtues which are essential for the would be reformer. Undoubtedly it was here that the renowned ascetic first learned to be patient, persevering and industrious. But at that particular of time his life cup became extremely bitter. His home, if ever could be called so, was presided over by an uncle who surpassed hiranyakasaypa in cruelty. Perhaps he did not stand in need of one as he himself by dint of valour was to become a simha one day of men and save his dharma and literature.
FOREST – LIFE
The twelfth year of his life arrived, but his miseries however, knew, no bounds. The boy being then driven to despair hit upon the plan of running away from the cage in which misfortunes had imprisoned him. One happy day he flew away from it and began to roam about in dense jungles living on roots and fruits and at times brooding over the significance of the gayatri mantra. Forest life did not terrorize him, and why should it? He was a young yogi and knew no fear. Even in that think forest, the hands of the almighty was there to protect him and through him his country’s sacred literature. In the land of shankracharya and kumarilabbhatta, neither dire destitution nor the ire of wild beasts could bring about the ruin of this savior of the Vedas. This forest life he led for about three long years and then with a consolation and courage unknown to an atheist, this devotee proceeded to hirishikesha in the sylvan retreats of which he practiced regular tapasya- penance- for three more years. Then he proceeded to haridwar where Swami Poornanada Saraswati initiated him in the sannyasa ashrama and gave him the happy name of Virajanand Saraswati. Here it was that he studied siddhanta kaumudi- a treatise on Sanskrit grammar. Kankhal was the next village visited by him.
Then in Benaras he studied darshan (philosophy) .apart from studying Sanskrit he also started lectures to students who came to him for learning. The combined duties of the teacher and the taught render concentration of attention on one particular subject extremely difficult but with virajanand the case was quite difficult. The blind sage had a powerful memory to retain anything that was read out of him and was highly endowed with the capacity to communicate knowledge to others. At Gaya he studied Vedanta for a pretty long time.
FROM PALACE TO FOREST
To a genuine Yogi wealth has no attraction whatsoever. To him residence either in a palace or a forest makes no difference at all. To those who live below the smoke and stir of this dim spot, which man call earth and who with low-thoughted care, confined and pestered in this finfold. Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being; the joys of a palace are fascinating and the horrors of a forest life are terrorizing. But to those who like Swami Virajanand take a vow of poverty and are bent upon keeping up to any word they utter the pleasure of the world can be no temptation.
Once Swami Virajanand was standing in the waters of the Ganges and repeating some Sanskrit verses in praise of god in a loud voice. Maharaja of Alwar Vinay Singh heard him. Sanskrit mantras captivated raja so much that he approached him with a request to accompany to alwar as a guest. The blind monk replied “thou art a king and a bhogee. I am a beggar and a yogi. These two opposites cannot live in harmony” .at the urgent and earnest request of raja swami virajanand agreed to accompany him if raja vinay singh would agree to study Sanskrit three hours a day , failing which he would leave raja immediately. Raja was always punctual at his study but one day he absented himself without taking prior permission.
The choleric tutor was all wrath, the raja was unable to pacify him and instantaneously virajanand leaving all his books and money there left the hospitable palace and resumed his peregrinations.
It was in year 1893 of vikrama era that he proceeded to Mathura and having hired a building opened a Sanskrit school in which he started teaching Sanskrit grammar. At that time a debate took place between him and a well known Sanskrit pundit name Krishna Shastree on grammar. It was to be decided whether a sutra of Panini, ajadyukti was a genitive tatpurusha compound or a locative tatpurusha compound. Swami Virajanand held that it was a genitive tatpurusha. It is also said that Swami Virajanand was made to suffer defeat and all possible fraudulent means were adopted to achieve that end. However one thing was certain that swami ji lost all faith in commentaries of Sanskrit grammar published by selfish men and began gradually to devote his attention to the study of Panini astadhyayi.
Swami Virajanand in Mathura found the key to understand the hidden treasures in Vedas. According to him study of Panini Astadhyayi was so essential that for a correct scientific interpretation of the Vedas .without a systemic study of Shadangas – Shiksha, Kalpa, Vyakarana, Nirukta, Nighantu and Jyotisha Vedic interpretation is impossible. Once he infuse the spirit of the study of Rishi Kritagranthas , the clouds of mysticism and element worship hanging on the Vedas were all dispelled. Only it needed a Dayanand to imbibe this spirit and create a might revolution in the world of religions. The blind, weak, ill monk Virajanand started waiting for the true disciple who could hold these keys to bust the cloud of ignorance over Vedas. The worthy guru whom physical disabilities incapacitated the understanding of any great work commands the earnest disciple to move heaven and earth to popularize the study of Vedas and no disciple has so faithfully carried out the mandate of his guru as Dayanand.
Swami Dayanand who was wandering for years in search of truth found the keys to Vedas while studying under swami virajanand. His thirst for truth was satisfied only in class
THE BEAUTIES OF THE VEDIC DHARMA
The key to the scientific interpretation of the Vedas was lost and the credit of having found it out belongs to Swami Virajanand. Having come in possession of that key Dayanand unlocked the hidden treasures for the benefit of mankind. It was this patriot- sage who preached that the religion of the Vedas was not and is not one of the worship of stocks and stones but of monotheism pure and simple. He studied the other smrities and shastras and came to the right conclusion that both as a system of theology or sociology vedism were grand and sublime. The most scientific division of the four varnas- Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra. Of the four ashrams – Brahmcharya, Grihastha, Vanaprasta, Sannyasa and of sixteen sanskaras and five yajnas struck Dayanand as most sublime and worthy of revival. But all this he could not possible have done if there were no Swami Virajanand. So we emphatically declare that the credit of showing the beauties of the Vedic dharma is in a large measure due to Swami Virajanand. The study of classical Sanskrit conducted on scientific lines is as it was the Rosetta- stone which enables mankind to decipher the Vedic hieroglyphics, the discovery of which fell to the happy lot of the otherwise unhappy Swami Virajanand
SWAMI VIRAJANAND, THE MAN
Swami Virajanand was a man of indomitable courage and fiery enthusiasm. His love for the Vedic literature was only equaled by his earnest desire to serve his country and religion. By patience and perseverance alone he overcame mountains of difficulties. His plain living and high thinking entitle him to be called as a rishi. His solicitude for the welfare of the pupils who sat at his feet to drink deep the fountains of immortal Sanskrit lore was the outcome of the love he bore to education without which he thought no human being can claim to that title. A perusal of the voluminous commentaries of the Vedas of swami dayanand will convince any one of the greats service which he and his guru have rendered to the cause of Sanskrit and Vedism. A genuine yogi, a profound scholar, a true devotee and an inveterate for of sham and a real descendant of the mighty seers of yore he shook off the mortal coil in the year 1925 of the vikrama era and entered those religions of bliss from the “bourn of which no traveler is said to return.” As long as we have any love for Sanskrit and the Vedas, we cannot afford to forget the yeoman service swami virajanand rendered to the cause of Hindu nationality.
Collected by Dr. Vivek Arya