Swami Shraddhanand

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Swami Shraddhanand
Swami shraddhanand.jpg
Born (1856-02-02)February 2, 1856
Talwan Village, Jalandhar, India
Died December 23, 1926(1926-12-23) (aged 70)
Delhi, India

Swami Shraddhanand (1856–1926) was an Indian educationist and an Arya Samaj missionary who propagated the teachings of Swami Dayanand. This included the establishment of educational institutions, like the Gurukul Kangri University, and played a key role on the Sangathan (consolidation) and the Shuddhi (re-conversion) a Hindu reform movement in 1920s.

His death at the hands of a Muslim caused religious strife in India[citation needed].

Early life and education[edit]

He was born on 2 February 1856 in the village of Talwan in the Jalandhar District of the Punjab Province of India. He was the youngest child in the family of Lala Nanak Chand, who was a Police Inspector in the East India Company administered United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh). His given name was Brihaspati, but later he was called Munshi Ram Vij by his father, a name that stayed with him till he took Sanyas in 1917, variously as Lala Munshi Ram and Mahatma Munshi Ram.

His school education began at Varanasi and ended at Lahore. His early education was interrupted because of his father's frequent transfer to Mirzapur, Banda, Mathura and Bareilly. This led to him befriending rich friends involved in activities frowned upon by religion.[citation needed] He adopted atheism after a few incidents, such as when he was prevented from entering the temple while a noble woman was praying. He also was witness to a "compromising" situation involving a church's father with a nun,[2] the attempted rape of a young devotee by pontiffs of the Krishna cult, and the suspicious death of a little girl at the home of a Muslim lawyer. All of these events cemented his atheism. He eventually passed mukhtari exams and began studying to become a lawyer.[2]

Meeting Swami Dayanand[edit]

He first met Swami Dayanand Saraswati when Swami Dayanand visited Bareilly to give lectures. His father was handling arrangements and security at the events, due to the attendance of some prominent personalities and British officers. Munshiram's father asked Munshiram to attend the lectures. Munshiram, who originally went with the intent of spoiling the arrangements, instead claimed to be strongly influenced by Dayanand's courage, skill, and strong personality. After completing the studies Munshiram started his practice as lawyer.[2][3]

Career[edit]

Logo of Gurukul Kangri University, located in Haridwar city.

Schools[edit]

In 1892 Arya Samaj was split into two factions after a controversy over whether to make Vedic education the core curriculum at the DAV College Lahore. He left the organization and formed Punjab Arya Samaj. In 1897, after the assassination of Lala Lekh Ram, he became his successor, and headed the 'Punjab Arya Pratinidhi Sabha', and started its monthly journal, Arya Musafir. [4] In 1902 he established a Gurukul in Kangri near Haridwar. This school is now a recognized University known as Gurukul Kangri University.

Gandhi

In 1915, upon his return from South Africa, M. K. Gandhi stayed at the university campus and met Swami Shraddhanand.

In 1916 Shraddhanand also established gurukul Indraprashtha in Aravali near Faridabad, Haryana.[4]

Activism[edit]

In 1917, Swami Shraddhanand, till now known as Mahatma Munshiram, took sanyas and left Gurukul to become an active member of the Hindu reform movements and the Indian Independence movement.[3] He began working with the Congress, which he invited to hold its session at Amritsar in 1919. This was because of the Jalianwala tragedy, and no one in the Congress Committee agreed to have a session at Amritsar. Shraddhanand presided over the session.

He also joined the nationwide protest against the Rowlatt Act, and that same year he defiantly protested in front of a posse of Gurkha soldiers at the Clock Tower in Chandni Chowk. After his defiance he was allowed to proceed.[3] In the early 1920s he emerged as an important force in the Hindu Sangathan (consolidation) movement, which was a by product of the now revitalized Hindu Maha Sabha.[5]

Swami Shradhanand was the only Hindu Sanyasi who addressed a huge gathering from the minarates of the main Jama Masjid New Delhi, for national solidarity and vedic dharma starting his speech with the recitation of ved mantras.[3]

He wrote on religious issues in both Hindi and Urdu. He published newspapers in the two languages as well. He promoted Hindi in the Devanagri script, helped the poor and promoted the education of women. By 1923, he left the social arena and plunged whole-heartedly into his earlier work of the shuddhi movement (re-conversion to Hinduism), which he turned into an important force within Hinduism.[6]

In late 1923, he became the president of Bhartiya Hindu Shuddhi Sabha, created with an aim to reconvert Muslims, specifically 'Malkana Rajputs' in western United Province. This antagonized the Muslims and brought him into direct confrontation with Muslim clerics and leaders of the time.[4][7]

Assassination[edit]

Statue of Swami Shraddhanand in front of Delhi Town Hall

On 23 December 1926 he was assassinated by a Muslim fanatic named Abdul Rashid[dead link], who entered his home at Naya Bazar, Delhi, by posing as a visitor.[8] Upon his death, Gandhiji moved a condolence motion at the Guwahati session of the Congress on December 25, 1926.[9] An excerpt from the speech in relevant part reads "I have called Abdul Rashid a brother and I repeat it. I do not even regard him as guilty of Swamiji's murder. Guilty indeed are all those who excited feelings of hatred against one another." [10]

Today, the 'Swami Shraddhanand Kaksha' at the Archeological Museum at the Gurukul Kangri University in Haridwar houses a photographic journey of his life.[11]

A statue of him was placed in front of Delhi Town Hall.

Personal life[edit]

Shraddhanad and his wife Shiwa Devi had two sons and two daughters. His wife died when Shraddhanad was only 35 years old.

Bibliography[edit]

  • The Arya Samaj and Its Detractors: A Vindication, Rama Deva. Published by s.n, 1910.
  • Hindu Sangathan: Saviour of the Dying Race, Published by s.n., 1924.
  • Inside Congress, by Swami Shraddhanand, Compiled by Purushottama Rāmacandra Lele. Published by Phoenix Publications, 1946.
  • Kalyan Marg Ke Pathik (Autobiography:Hindi), New Delhi. n.d.
  • Autobiography (English Translation), Edited by M. R. Jambunathan. Published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1961

Further reading[edit]

  • Swami Shraddhanand, by Satyadev Vidyalankar, ed. by Indra Vidyavachaspati. Delhi, 1933.
  • Swami Shraddhanand (Lala Munshi Ram), by Aryapathik Lekh Ram. Jallandhar. 2020 Vik.
  • Swami Shraddhanand, by K.N. Kapur. Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, Jallandhar, 1978.
  • Swami Shraddhanand: His Life and Causes, by J. T. F. Jordens. Published by Oxford University Press, 1981.
  • Section Two:Swami Shraddhanand . Modern Indian Political Thought, by Vishwanath Prasad Varma. Published by Lakshmi Narain Agarwal, 1961. Page 447.
  • Chapt XI: Swami Shraddhanand. Advanced Study in the History of Modern India : 1920-1947. by G. S. Chhabra. Published by Sterling Publishers, 1971. Page 211
  • Pen-portraits and Tributes by Gandhiji: '(Sketches of eminent men and women by Mahatma Gandhi)', by Gandhi, U. S. Mohan Rao. Published by National Book Trust, India, 1969. Page 133
  • Swami Shraddhanand - Indian freedom fighters: struggle for independence. Anmol Publishers, 1996. ISBN 81-7488-268-5.
  • Telegram to Swami Shraddhanand, (October 2, 1919) - Collected Works, by Gandhi. Published by Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India, 1958. v.16. 'Page 203.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kumbh Mela 1915 The Story of My Experiments with Truth/Part V/Lakshman Jhula.
  2. ^ a b c Autobiography http://www.vedpedia.com
  3. ^ a b c d Some Indian Personalities of the Time: Swami Shraddhanand Advanced Study in the History of Modern India, by G.S. Chhatra. Lotus Press. 2007. ISBN 81-89093-08-8.Page 227.
  4. ^ a b c Controversy Hindu-Muslim Relations in British India: A Study of Controversy, Conflict, and Communal Movements in Northern India 1923-1928, by G. R. Thursby. Published by BRILL, 1975. ISBN 90-04-04380-2. Page 15.
  5. ^ Shraddhanand Hindu Nationalism: Origins, Ideologies and Modern Myths, by Chetan Bhatt. Published by Berg Publishers, 2001. ISBN 1-85973-348-4. Page 62.
  6. ^ Shuddhi Movement in India: A Study of Its Socio-political Dimensions, by R. K. Ghai. Published by Commonwealth Publishers, 1990. Page 43.
  7. ^ Socio-Religious Reform Movements in British India: Socio-Religious Reform Movements in British India, Volume Iii-1, by Kenneth W. Jones. Published by Cambridge University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-521-24986-4. Page 194.
  8. ^ December 23rd is the Shardanand Balidhan Divas Arya Samaj.
  9. ^ Indian National Congress: A Descriptive Bibliography of India's Struggle for Freedom, by Jagdish Saran Sharma. Published by S. Chand, 1959. Page 502.
  10. ^ http://www.mahatma.org.in/mahatma/books/showbook.jsp?id=17&link=bg&book=bg0013&lang=en&cat=books
  11. ^ Archaeological Museum Gurukul Kangri University

External links[edit]