Jayanti special-Swami Dayanand Saraswati voiced support for women, education to all -Puri
Kanwar Inder Singh/ February 15,2023
Swami Dayanand Saraswati was born as Mool Shankar Tiwari on 12th February, 1824 in Tankara, Gujrat in a Brahmin family. His parents Lalji Tiwari and Yashodhabai were orthodox Brahmins. Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Jayanti is celebrated across India to remember and revere the Hindu ascetic and renowned scholar Swami Dayanand Saraswati. According to Hindu Calendar, the Jayanti falls on 15th February in 2023.
He spent 25 years as a wandering ascetic to seek a deeper perspective in life and its meaning. He was an Indian philosopher, social reformer and founder of the Arya Smaj. He was the first to give the call for ‘Swaraj’ as ‘India for Indians’ in 1876. He worked towards reviving Vedic ideologies and impugned the idolatry and ritualistic worship. He believed in the invincible authority of the Vedas. Swami Dayanand imparted importance to the doctrine of ‘Karma’ and ‘Reincarnation’.
Lalji Tiwari, the father of Dayanand was a follower of ‘Shiva’ and taught him the ways to worship ‘Shiva’. Dayanand practised various forms of ‘Yoga’, gave up material goods and lived a life of self-denial. He devoted himself to spiritual pursuits in forests, the Himalayan Mountains and pilgrimage sites. He became a disciple of religious teacher known as Virajanand Dandeesha who believed that Hinduism had lost its roots. Dayanand ensured Virajanand that he would devote his life to restore the true place of the Vedas in the Hindu Culture.
Maharishi Dayanand preached that all human beings are equally capable to achieve anything. All the creatures are the creation of the Supreme Lord. He also laid emphasis that the Four Vedas – ‘Rigveda’, ‘Yajurveda’, ‘Samveda’ and ‘Atharvaveda’ are the true sources of religion. The Vedas are the perfectly preserved knowledge. He stated that ‘Vedas’ promote Science to find out the Ultimate Truth. He also laid emphasis on the first ten main ‘Upnishads’ which speak about the intellectual part of the Vedas. He also favoured the acceptance of six ‘Vedanga’ texts for the true analysis of the Vedas. He also advocated all the six Darshan Shastras like Samkhya, Vaisheshika, Nyaya, Yog Sutras of Patanjali, Purva Mimamsa Sutras and Vedanta Sutras. However, he did not favour eighteen ‘Puranas’ and the eighteen ‘Upapuranas’ as these conform to idol worship, rituals and practices which are against the Vedas. He praised the Sage Ved Vyasa who studied the Vedas in depth. Maharishi Dayanand founded his teachings on the concept of Vedas which are:
- There are three entities called The Supreme Lord, the individual souls and the Nature.
- Nature is the fundamental cause of the Creation and it is eternal. The cycle of creation and dissolution has no beginning and no end.
- The souls are subtler than the Nature itself but these take birth.
- The Supreme Lord is One and His name is ‘Om’. He is the cause of Universe. The Supreme Lord is Omnipresent and Infinite. The Supreme Lord is formless and cannot be worshipped through idols.
- Dayanand stated that the names Agni, Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Prajapati, Vishva are the varied hues of the Supreme Lord.
- Maharishi Dayanand could easily reconcile the idea of ‘Saguna’ and ‘Nirguna’ notions of the Supreme Lord.
Maharishi Dayanand opposed caste system, ‘Sati’ practice, idol worship and child marriage. These are the evils of society and should be abolished. In his book ‘Satyarth Prakash’, he relates to passages from ‘Vedas’ which spearhead and accelerate his claims. To propagate his mission, he founded the Arya Smaj to inspire the people to follow the principles of ‘Aryas’ or nobles. His aim was to educate the nation and follow the Vedic way of life. He championed for the equal rights to women, education of all children without any bias of gender. He enshrined the idea that all actions should be performed with the prime objective of benefitting mankind.
Dayanand condemned practices which he thought to be superstitious like sorcery and astrology. He made a distinction between ‘Jyotish Shaastra’ and astrology.
He left this world on 30th October, 1883 while chanting mantras. His ashes were scattered at Ajmer in ‘Rishi Udyan’ according to his wishes. ‘Navlakha Mahal’ at Udaipur is associated with him where he wrote the second edition of ‘Satyarth Prakash’.
Maharishi Dayanand University in Rohtak, Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati University in Ajmer, DAV University in Jalandhar are named after him. There are over 800 schools and colleges under DAV College Managing Committee.
Dayanand Saraswati had a deep influence on Subhash Chandra Bose, Lala Lajpat Rai, Madam Cama, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Madan Lal Dhingra, Ram Prasad Bismil, Swami Shraddhanand, Mahatma Hansraj and many others.
Dayanand wrote more than sixty works which include ‘Bhagawat Khandan’, ‘Rigved Bhashyam’, ‘Yajurved Bhashyam’, ‘Vedang Prakash’ (16 Books) but ‘Satyarth Prakash’ has won much applause. He was hailed as the ‘Maker of Modern India’ by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan and Sri Aurobindo. Two of his famous quotes are:
“The greatest musical instrument given to a human being is the voice.”
“He is good and wise who always speaks the truth, acts on the dictates of virtue and tries to make others good and happy.”
Note: This article is dedicated to Smt. Alka Puri wife of Dr. Ajit Singh Puri and mother of Jaswant Singh Puri.
(The views expressed are personal)