Swami Shraddhanand

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Swami Shraddhanand
File:Swami shraddhanand.jpg
Born (1856-02-22)22 February 1856
Talwan Village, Jalandhar, India
Died 23 December 1926(1926-12-23) (aged 70)
Delhi, India

Swami Shraddhanand (1856–1926), also known as Mahatma Munshi Ram Vij, was an Indian educationist[clarification needed] and an Arya Samaj missionary who propagated the teachings of Dayananda Saraswati. 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 the 1920s.

Early life and education[edit]

He was born on 22 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 United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh), then administered by the Honourable East India Company. His given name was Brihaspati Vij, 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 Vij and Mahatma Munshi Ram.

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,[1] 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.[1]

Meeting Dayanand[edit]

He first met Dayanand Saraswati when 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 attend the lectures at his father's request. He originally went with the intent of spoiling the arrangements, then claimed to be strongly influenced by Dayanand's courage, skill, and strong personality. After completing his studies Munshiram started his practice as lawyer.[1][2]

Career[edit]

File:Mahatma Munshi Ram or Swami Shraddhanand Arya Samaj.jpg
Mahatma Munshi Ram or Swami Shraddhanand in early days

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 the Punjab Arya Samaj. The Arya Samaj was divided between the Gurukul Section and the DAV Section. Shraddhanand headed for Gurukuls. In 1897, when Lala Lekh Ram was assassinated, Shraddhanand succeeded him. He headed the 'Punjab Arya Pratinidhi Sabha', and started its monthly journal, Arya Musafir.[3] In 1902 he established a Gurukul in Kangri, India near Haridwar. This school is now recognized as Gurukul Kangri University.

Gandhi's visit: In 1915, upon his return from South Africa, M. K. Gandhi along with the pandit Madan Mohan Malviya visited the Gurukul Kangri and stayed at the campus. Till that time Swamiji was a Vanprasthi and known as Mahatma Munshi Ram. When Gandhi addressed Munshi Ram as Mahatma, appreciating the services of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to the nation, Mahatma Munshi Ram also called Gandhi as Mahatma in that meeting in the Gurukul. It was there, hereafter, Gandhi took the name of Mahatma Gandhi in public life.[citation needed] In 1917, Mahatma Munshi Ram took sanyas as "Swami Shradhanand Saraswati".

Shraddhanand established gurukul Indraprashtha in Aravali near Faridabad, Haryana.[3]

Activism[edit]

In 1917, Shraddhanand left Gurukul to become an active member of the Hindu reform movements and the Indian Independence movement.[2] He began working with the Congress, which he invited to hold its session at Amritsar in 1919. This was because of the Jalianwala massacre, 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. The same year he protested in front of a posse of Gurkha soldiers at the Clock Tower in Chandni Chowk, then was allowed to proceed.[2] In the early 1920s he emerged as an important force in the Hindu Sangathan (consolidation) movement, which was a by product of the now revitalised Hindu Maha Sabha.[4]

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.[2]

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.[5]

In late 1923, he became the president of Bhartiya Hindu Shuddhi Sabha, created with an aim of reconverting Muslims, specifically 'Malkana Rajputs' in the western United Province. This brought him into direct confrontation with Muslim clerics and leaders of the time.[3][6]

Assassination[edit]

File:Delhi Town Hall.jpg
Statue of Swami Shraddhanand in front of Delhi Town Hall

On 23 December 1926 he was assassinated by a Muslim fanatic named Abdul Rashid,[7] who entered his home at Naya Bazar, Delhi, by posing as a visitor.[8][unreliable source?] Upon his death, Gandhi moved a condolence motion at the Guwahati session of the Congress on 25 December 1926.[9] An excerpt from the speech in relevant part reads "In the language of the Gita therefore 'happy the warrior who achieves such a blessed death.' ... I cannot therefore mourn over his death. He and his are to be envied. For though Shraddhanandji is dead, he is yet living. He is living in a truer sense than when he moved in our midst in his giant body ....."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 of 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 after independence, replacing a statue of Queen Victoria.[12] This location in Old Delhi is termed ghantaghar because the old clock tower stood here until the 1950s.[13]

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. His granddaughter Satyavati was a prominent opponent of the British rule in India.[14]

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, (2 October 1919) – Collected Works, by Gandhi. Published by Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India, 1958. v.16. 'Page 203.
  • An article on Swami Shraddhanand in "The Legacy of The Punjab" by R M Chopra, 1997, Punjabee Bradree, Calcutta,

Quotes[edit]

  • The original resolution condemned the Moplas wholesale for the killing of Hindus and burning of Hindu homes and the forcible conversion to Islam. The Hindu members themselves proposed amendments till it was reduced to condemning only certain individuals who had been guilty of the above crimes. But some of the Moslem leaders could not bear this even. Maulana Fakir and other Maulanas, of course, opposed the resolution and there was no wonder. But I was surprised, an out-and-out Nationalist like Maulana Hasrat Mohani opposed the resolution on the ground that the Mopla country no longer remained Dar-ul-Aman but became Dar-ul-Harab and they suspected the Hindus of collusion with the British enemies of the Moplas. Therefore, the Moplas were right in presenting the Quran or sword to the Hindus. And if the Hindus became Mussalmans to save themselves from death, it was a voluntary change of faith and not forcible conversion—Well, even the harmless resolution condemning some of the Moplas was not unanimously passed but had to be accepted by a majority of votes only.
    • Swami Shraddhanand in the Liberator of 26 August 1926. Shraddanand, Swami (26 August 1926). "The Liberator". 

About Shraddhanand[edit]

  • The first great achievement of the Tablighi Jamaat was the cold-blooded murder of Swami Shraddhananda. The swami had been lionized by Muslims when he supported the Khilafat agitation during the first Non-Cooperation movement (1921-22). “But as he was closely associated with the šuddhi movement… a section of Muslims cherished bitter hatred against him. On 23 December 1926, when the Swami after a serious attack of pneumonia was lying in his bed, a Muslim entered into his room on false pretext and stabbed him with a dagger.”
    • R. C. Majumdar (ed.), The History And Culture of the Indian People, Volume XI, Struggle For Freedom, Second Edition, Bombay, 1978, pp. 435-36. Quoted in: Sita Ram Goel: Time for Stock Tacking, App. 1
  • The same Abdul Bari spoke in a different tone in September 1923. Professor Francis Robinson reports: “Abdul Bari, the erstwhile apostle of Hindu-Muslim unity, came to the fore again. Now he spoke the language of the zealot. He urged the Muslims to sacrifice cows without regard to Hindu feelings, and declared: ‘If the commandments of the Shariat are to be trampled under foot then it will be the same to us whether the decision is arrived on the plains of Delhi or on the hilltops of Simla. We are determined to non-cooperate with every enemy of Islam, be he in Anatolia or Arabia or at Agra or Benares.” The immediate provocation for Abdul Bari’s outburst was the Shuddhi Movement started by Swami Shraddhananda in the summer of 1923. Swamiji in turn had been led to pursue this path in response to a book, Fãtimî Dãwat-i-Islãm, by Hasan Nizami... Swamiji had written a pamphlet, The Hour of Danger, in which he had warned Hindu society to be on its guard against mischievous Muslim machinations. According to his biographer, J.T.F. Jordens, “In his pamphlet the Swami went on to show how Nizami in his own introduction referred to his consultations with many Muslim leaders, including the Agha Khan, and how all had agreed that the publication of his work should remain a carefully kept secret, within the Muslim community. The single purpose of the pamphlet was to describe all the means, fair and foul, by which Hindus could be induced to become Muslims.... The Swami felt that he had uncovered a giant conspiracy. His pamphlet consisted practically entirely of quotations from Nizami’s work, showing how all Muslims should be involved in the fight for the spread of Islam: how pirs, fakirs, politicians, peasants, zamindars, hakims, etc. could be used and what their allotted task should be. It also stressed the need for secrecy and for an extensive spy network.’
    Abdul Bari clean forgot that Swami Shraddhananda had unconditionally supported the Khilafat agitation under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. It was Swamiji who had bared his breast in Chandni Chowk on March 30, 1919, and dared the British soldiers to try their bullets on him. It was Swamiji whom the Muslims of Delhi had invited to address them from the mimbar of the Jama Masjid on March 31, 1919. Abdul Bari should have denounced Hasan Nizami who had hatched a plot against the Hindus without any provocation whatsoever on the part of the latter. But the self-righteous Mullah and the authoritative interpreter of the Shariat, had done just the opposite. He had joined his voice with that of the other Mullahs in egging upon a Muslim fanatic to murder Swami Shraddhananda. The Mullahs of Deoband had offered special prayers for the soul of the assassin.
    • Sita Ram Goel, Muslim Separitism - Causes and Consequences with reference to J.T.F. Jordens, Swami Shradhananda: His Life and Causes, New Delhi, 1981, and Francis Robinson, Separatism Among Indian Muslims, Delhi, 1975


  • The end of that year 1926 was darkened by a great tragedy, which sent a thrill of horror all over India. It showed to what depths communal passion could reduce our people. Swami Shraddhanand was assassinated by a fanatic as he lay in bed. What a death for a man who had bared his chest to the bayonets of the Gurkhas and marclied to meet their fire ! Nearly eight years earlier he, an Arya Samajist leader, had st(X)d in the pulpit of the great Jame Masjid of Delhi and preached to a mighty gathering of Muslims and Hindus of unity and India’s freedom. And that great multitude had greeted him with loud cries of Hindu-Musalman-ki-jai, and outside in the streets they had jointly sealed that cry with their blood. And now he lay dead, killed by a fellow- countryman, who thought, no doubt, that he was doing a meritorious deed, which would lead him to paradise. Always I have admired sheer physical courage, the courage to face physical suffering in a good cause, even unto death. Most of us, I suppose, admire it. Swami Shraddhanand had an amazing amount of that fearless- ness. His tall and stately figure, wrapped in a, sanyasin’s robe, perfectly erect in spite of advanced years, eyes flashing, sometimes a shadow of irritation or anger at the weakness of others passing over his face — how I remember that vivid picture, and how often it has come back to me !
    • Nehru, from Jawaharla Nehru's Autobiography [1]
  • I cannot close the reminiscences of the life of a great reformer without recalling his last visit to the Satya- graha Ashram only a few months ago. Let me assure my Musalman friends that he was no hater of Musalmans,. He undoubtedly distrusted many Musalmans. But he bore them no ill-will. He thought that Hindus were cowed down and he wanted them to be brave and be able to defend themselves and their honour. In this connection he told me that he was much misunderstood and that he was absolutely innocent of many things that were said against him. He told me he had several threatening letters. He was warned by friends not to travel alone. But this man of faith said, '‘What protection shall I seek but of God ? Not a blade: of grass perishes without His will. I know therefore that nothing can happen to me so long He wishes me to serve through this body.”
    • Mahatma Gandhi, Young India — January 6, 1927 [2]
  • In the language of the Gita therefore 'happy the warrior who achieves such a blessed death.' ... I cannot therefore mourn over his death. He and his are to be envied. For though Shraddhanandji is dead, he is yet living. He is living in a truer sense than when he moved in our midst in his giant body ....."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."
    • Mahatma Gandhi, A Gandhi Anthology - Book 1, [3]
  • The first great achievement of the Tablighi Jamaat was the cold-blooded murder of Swami Shraddhananda. The swami had been lionized by Muslims when he supported the Khilafat agitation during the first Non-Cooperation movement (1921-22). “But as he was closely associated with the šuddhi movement… a section of Muslims cherished bitter hatred against him. On 23 December 1926, when the Swami after a serious attack of pneumonia was lying in his bed, a Muslim entered into his room on false pretext and stabbed him with a dagger.”
    • R. C. Majumdar (ed.), The History And Culture of the Indian People, Volume XI, Struggle For Freedom, Second Edition, Bombay, 1978, pp. 435-36. Quoted in: Sita Ram Goel: Time for Stock Tacking, App. 1
  • The same Abdul Bari spoke in a different tone in September 1923. Professor Francis Robinson reports: “Abdul Bari, the erstwhile apostle of Hindu-Muslim unity, came to the fore again. Now he spoke the language of the zealot. He urged the Muslims to sacrifice cows without regard to Hindu feelings, and declared: ‘If the commandments of the Shariat are to be trampled under foot then it will be the same to us whether the decision is arrived on the plains of Delhi or on the hilltops of Simla. We are determined to non-cooperate with every enemy of Islam, be he in Anatolia or Arabia or at Agra or Benares.” The immediate provocation for Abdul Bari’s outburst was the Shuddhi Movement started by Swami Shraddhananda in the summer of 1923. Swamiji in turn had been led to pursue this path in response to a book, Fãtimî Dãwat-i-Islãm, by Hasan Nizami... Swamiji had written a pamphlet, The Hour of Danger, in which he had warned Hindu society to be on its guard against mischievous Muslim machinations. According to his biographer, J.T.F. Jordens, “In his pamphlet the Swami went on to show how Nizami in his own introduction referred to his consultations with many Muslim leaders, including the Agha Khan, and how all had agreed that the publication of his work should remain a carefully kept secret, within the Muslim community. The single purpose of the pamphlet was to describe all the means, fair and foul, by which Hindus could be induced to become Muslims.... The Swami felt that he had uncovered a giant conspiracy. His pamphlet consisted practically entirely of quotations from Nizami’s work, showing how all Muslims should be involved in the fight for the spread of Islam: how pirs, fakirs, politicians, peasants, zamindars, hakims, etc. could be used and what their allotted task should be. It also stressed the need for secrecy and for an extensive spy network.’
    Abdul Bari clean forgot that Swami Shraddhananda had unconditionally supported the Khilafat agitation under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. It was Swamiji who had bared his breast in Chandni Chowk on March 30, 1919, and dared the British soldiers to try their bullets on him. It was Swamiji whom the Muslims of Delhi had invited to address them from the mimbar of the Jama Masjid on March 31, 1919. Abdul Bari should have denounced Hasan Nizami who had hatched a plot against the Hindus without any provocation whatsoever on the part of the latter. But the self-righteous Mullah and the authoritative interpreter of the Shariat, had done just the opposite. He had joined his voice with that of the other Mullahs in egging upon a Muslim fanatic to murder Swami Shraddhananda. The Mullahs of Deoband had offered special prayers for the soul of the assassin.
    • Sita Ram Goel, Muslim Separitism - Causes and Consequences with reference to J.T.F. Jordens, Swami Shradhananda: His Life and Causes, New Delhi, 1981, and Francis Robinson, Separatism Among Indian Muslims, Delhi, 1975
  • The Urdu pamphlet Daî Islâm by Khwaja Hasan Nizami came into his hands. He immediately wrote in answer a pamphlet, the title of which clearly expressed his violent reaction: ‘The Hour of Danger: Hindus, be on your guard! The order has been given to attack and destroy the fortress of your religion in the hidden dead of night!’ (…) The Swami found out that the pamphlet was in fact only the introduction to a larger volume called Fâtamî Dawat-i-Islâm, which had been published as early as 1920, years before the shuddhi of the Malkanas started. In this the Swami saw proof that the Muslim reaction of the day was not merely against the shuddhi and sangathan movements, but rather was part of a sinister plot hatched years earlier. In his pamphlet the Swami went on to show how Nizami in his own introduction referred to his consultations with many Muslim leaders, including the Aga Khan, and how all had agreed that the publication of his work should remain a carefully kept secret within the Muslim community. The single purpose of the pamphlet was to describe all the means, fair and foul, by which Hindus could be induced to become Muslims. (…) In the conclusion of his own booklet, the Swami suggested some ways in which the Muslim threat could be countered. The openness and ethics of his methods stood in strong contrast with Nizami’s tactics.”
    • Prof. J.T.F. Jordens, "Swami Shraddhananda, His Life and Causes" (OUP, Delhi 1981). (p.140-141)

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Autobiography http://www.vedpedia.com
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 G.S. Chhatra. Some Indian Personalities of the Time: Swami Shraddhanand Advanced Study in the History of Modern India Lotus Press. 2007. ISBN 81-89093-08-8 p. 227.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 G. R. Thursby. Controversy Hindu-Muslim Relations in British India: A Study of Controversy, Conflict, and Communal Movements in Northern India 1923–1928, BRILL, 1975. ISBN 90-04-04380-2. p. 15.
  4. Chetan Bhatt. Shraddhanand Hindu Nationalism: Origins, Ideologies and Modern Myths Berg Publishers, 2001. ISBN 1-85973-348-4. p. 62
  5. R. K. Ghai. Shuddhi Movement in India: A Study of Its Socio-political Dimensions, Commonwealth Publishers, 1990. p. 43.
  6. Kenneth W. Jones. Socio-Religious Reform Movements in British India: Socio-Religious Reform Movements in British India, Volume III-1 Cambridge University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-521-24986-4. p. 194
  7. Joseph Lelyveld. Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India, Knopf, 2011, pp. 171-172
  8. December 23rd is the Shardanand Balidhan Divas Arya Samaj.
  9. Jagdish Saran Sharma. Indian National Congress: A Descriptive Bibliography of India's Struggle for Freedom, S. Chand, 1959. p. 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
  12. "Stories in stone", The Hindu, October 20, 2014
  13. Clock Tower Chandni Chowk, Delhi, early 1900s
  14. Women in Modern India, Volume 4, Geraldine Forbes, Geraldine Hancock Forbes,Cambridge University Press, Apr 28, 1999, p 148

External links[edit]