DEMISE OF DAYANAND DEMANDS DELVING DEEP
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
“However, it is now a part of history how Swami Dayanand Saraswati was betrayed in the State of Jodhpur and poisoned by those whose livelihood was endangered by the enlightening discourses and personal counselings by the Rishivar to the affected persons who were high and mighty, such as courtesan like Nanhi Bhagatan, Muslim Musahibs like Faizullah Khan and his protégé Doctor Ali Mardan Khan. Having suffered from an undiagnosed illness and consequently lack of effective medical treatment, shifting the Swami from place to place when he was in frail health are some of the factors that call for an investigation de novo into his illness and treatment thereof. We may keep the issue alive and take up when the environment is more cordial for a probe. Leaving the legal aspect aside, one may dive deep into the medical aspect of diagnosis, treatment and medication of Swami Dayanand Saraswati in last few months of his life in what was then known as Rajputana; the present day Rajasthan.
It was the Diwali evening. The date was 30th October 1883. Swami Dayanand Saraswati who had been suffering for one month one day for lack of proper medical treatment, composed himself, prayed pronouncing Ved mantras and singing a bhajan, bestowing an Aashirwad look to his disciples. He
breathed his last serenely. The 59-year old Sanyasi was in pain but his composure and his trust in the dispensation of justice, the karma Phal that he believed in, really convinced one and all who were present in that hall of the Bhinoy Kothi that the Rishivar’s trust in Ishwar was unshakable by matters mundane such as illness and pre-mature demise.
Swami’s sad demise a century and three decades ago shocked all Arya Samajists all over Bharat but they recovered soon and vowed to carry on the mission of Dayanand and let the masses be benefitted. Among them was Pt Guru Dutt Vidyarthi, formerly an agnostic bordering atheism, who drew sustenance from the last moments of Swami Dayanand Saraswati and became an Arya pracharak par excellence.”
I have quoted the above lines from my own earlier writing based on books,tracts published by renowned Arya Samajists from time to time. Of course, there are other versions of the story of sad demise of Dayanand Saraswati, the great socio-religious reformer, inspired original writer of Ved Bhashya in both Sanskrit and Hindi and founder of the Arya Samaj. A student of history doing research on the life and times of Dayanand Saraswati cannot ignore the folklore that has grown around the life of the Rishivar. Nevertheless, it is the duty of a disciple of Dayanand to ensure that the grain is separated from the chaff and facts in original form are presented to readers.
RESEARCH IS NEED OF THE HOUR
The story of demise of Dayanand Saraswati has been continually told by the previous generation to the succeeding generation both by word of mouth and in black and white. Change, if any, may be in narration of minor details and the substantive form has remained unaltered. I am now nearing the 80th year of my life and have been hearing the same story year after year since I was a toddler. Many a time both the narrator and the listener were emotionally moved and tears rolled down our cheeks. Even today in the year 2012 when I am typing the narrative on my computer, my eyes are in the repeat mode and parting company with tears.
It is amazing that the same story of sad demise of Dayanand Saraswati as told by Devendra Nath Mukhopadhyay, the first researcher and writer of the Rishivar’s biography continued in the Hindi version by Ghasiram Ji and written in original by the tireless collector of facts and interviews, Pundit Lekh Ram Ji, Arya Musafir without any substantial change in fact or form. The original historians banked upon what they heard and recorded after interviewing the people who had met and talked to Swami Dayanand Saraswati or other gentlemen who were close to the doyen among martyrs, the first one to lay down his life at the altar of the Vedic Dharm. Perhaps this kind of interview was the only reliable form of collecting, collating and disseminating information of importance. The degree of reliability was acceptable by men of letters and historians. Moreover, the researchers and recorders belonged to the middle class of the social order and found their access to the Royalty of Jodhpur barred by the intermediary court officials. Rajputana being a citadel of feudal system, the class distinction between the Royalty, the courtiers and commoners was well pronounced and meticulously observed. No wonder the Maharaja of Jodhpur took too long to pay his first courtesy call on Swami Dayanand Saraswati.
Times have changed now. Interaction between the high and the low is no taboo now. It is time a Research Team is constituted and it stays put in Jodhpur for some time to delve deep into the relationship between Swami Dayanand Saraswati, the court officials, especially the Muslim courtiers, the courtesan, Nanhi Bhagtan alias Nanhi Jan to determine the circumstances leading to now pronounced and now subdued interaction between the Ascetic and the Durbar.The face off between a nephew of court minister Faizullah Khan and the Vedic reformer Sanyasi during a preaching session is well recorded. However, the lead ends there and does not throw light on the nexus between the court dancer and the Muslim courtiers leading to a murderous conspiracy. One wonders if there is any recorded version of the court dancer’s palanquin being helped to depart post haste from the Durbar on Swami’s sudden appearance on the scene.
Rishivar had written three letters to His Highness about proper way of running the court and behavior of Rajputs vis-à-vis prostitutes but only two are availacle and recorded in a book form entitled Maharishi Dayanand’s letters and advertisements published by Ramlal Kapoor Trust of Amritsar. It is worth trying to find out why the third letter is missing and if there is more to it than meets the eye.
Another angle is that the time gap of a century plus between then and now will be a virtual obstruction in the research work. Further, the vested interests comprising descendants of the affected people might block the path of research like the China wall. Never mind that because when you take up a good cause, obstructionists are bound to come in play. As we say; when you perform a yajna, the Rakshasas are sure to put in an appearance to spoil the show. We have to face them and remove the Durit and imbibe the Bhadra.
The most important aspect of our intended research will be the medical angle leading to the sad demise of Dayanand Saraswati. An experienced physician who is well versed in the medico-legal cases cannot but be an important member of the research team.
It is a part of recorded history that Swami Dayanand Saraswati remained ill, initially mildly but later severely to the point of fainting and losing consciousness and continued to be in that deteriorating medical condition for one month one day before breathing his last at Ajmer. The sad episode stands described right in the first couple of paragraphs of this article. What appears to be a criminal neglect of the doctor, Ali Mardan Khan that he gave strong doses of medicines leading to open bleeding soars on Swamiji’s body. They were so painful and he was being moved from place to place under uncomfortable conditions. Since there was no railway line to Jodhpur, Swamiji was moved in a cart and then by train from Pali to Abu Road. Who was the doctor who advised this move? It was not Dr Lakshman Singh. Of course, meanwhile he was posted at Ajmer and desired to handle the case himself. Civil Surgeon Newman too was consulted but it was a case of too little and too late. The medical handling of Swamiji’s case by Dr Ali Mardan Khan, a protégé of courtier Faizullah Khan of Jodhpur was nothing short of criminal negligence and a fit case for re-examination in medico-legal term. I quite know that a dead man is beyond the reach of long arm of the law but an endeavour to reach the Truth will satisfy the Arya Samaj people and record correct story of the sad demise in the annals of the Arya Samaj. Thus a competent research team is the crying need of the hour and those who wish to follow the path of Truth cannot shirk their responsibility now.
BRIDGING TIME GAP
There are researches going on on the lives and times of great poets, dramatists and prose writers in English literature. The dedicated scholars spend a lifetime in looking for new facts and sometimes draw a blank. At times a research scholar has to remain contented with partial success only. Yet the State funding is done for carrying on the research work. The Harvard University promotes original research and publishing of the Thesis to the extent of linking it to pay raise and promotion. Thus the Mantra for research is : PUBLISH OR PERISH.
In the Arya Samaj there is a crying need for original research and here is an opportunity that presents itself to be grabbed by the leadership.
As of now no other organization is better equipped than the Arya Pradeshik Pratinidhi Sabha and the DAV College Management Committee to undertake an assignment of this nature. The Pradhan and the Adhyaksh is young and energetic and he may be bold enough to steer the project in uncharted sea. A decision may be made and the time is now.
Rewriting the history of demise of Dayanand Saraswati to bring out the Truth is the sacred duty of the Arya Samajists who have taken a pledge to carry the mission of Dayanand Saraswati forward. Let us redeem our pledge. The time to redeem the pledge is now.
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