To understand the true meaning of this book you must apply the
The four subsidiary means of reasoning:
- Listening or reading most attentively with a calm mind to the lectures of a learned man, and more so if the subjects are a divine Science, because it is the most abstruse and the subtlest of all the sciences.
- Thinking over what one has heard or read in retirement, and in removing doubts if there be any by questioning the speaker. Questions may sometimes be asked even in the middle of a discourse if the speaker and the audience think proper.
- Rationalizing is the next step.
When all doubts are cleared after hearing or reading a discourse and
thinking over it, let the enquirer enter into the superior condition and
see for himself by the help of yoga (self-realization through meditation)
whether it is the same as he had heard and reasoned out or not.
- The result is the correct
knowledge of the nature, properties and characteristics of the desired
Back to contents
Swami Dayanand was born at Tankara (Morvi), a town situated on the bank of the Machhooka Mahanadi, in Kathiawar (Gujrat), in the Vikram era 1881 (1824 A.D.). His original name was Mool Shankar, and his father's Karsanji. He was the head of an eminent Brahman family of the village and was rich, prosperous and influential. Karsanji was in service, holding the position of Jamadar, which office was hereditary in his family. The post of Jamadar was one of great responsibility, being much like a Tehsildarhip, the principal duty of its incumbent was the realization of State revenue. Karsanji had under him a number of sepoys to assist him in the discharge of his duties. The family over which he presided had lands of its own, and the income from these was largely supplemented by the interest on sums regularly lent to the neighbours in need of money.
We are told that Karsanji was man of stern disposition, having no faith in half measures. When he set his heart upon doing a thing, or when duty called upon him to undertake anything, he would set about his task with a will, and would not rest till it was accomplished, or till it was proved that, for some reason or other, it was in spite of the best he could do, impossible of accomplishment. He was a religious man, almost austere in life, and so thoroughly orthodox and uncompromising was he in is views, that slightest departure from the practices and observances which his faith enjoyed, was, in his opinion, unwarranted and deserving or lacked sympathy with his fellow-creatures at large: he had a large share of both; but, when anybody crossed him in anything or criticized his doctrine, he had, for the time being, and perhaps for many days to come, nothing but contempt and hatred for the offender, and thought that he had no title whatever to his love and his good offices.
Dayanand's mother, on the other hand, was, like the mother of Nanak, nothing but a personification of patience, gentleness and sweetness. While her love for her child was unbounded, she had a genuine kindly feeling for all around her, ready to share their sorrows and to participate in their joys on all occasion. She was an ideal Hindu woman, unlettered no doubt, but the soul of simplicity, purity and goodness, a veritable queen of the "home".
From such parents had Dayanand descended, and it was therefore but natural that while he had, on the one hand, the im-
mutable resolves of his father, on the other, he possessed a heart embracing the whole world in its circle of sympathy.
Dayanand was five years old when his education commenced and this is the age at which, according to the Shastras, a child should be put to his letters, by his own parents if possible. He proved and extraordinary apt pupil, passing from one elementary book to another in rapid succession. In his eighth year his Yajnopavita Sanskara was performed, and the investiture with thread of the "twiceborn" was forthwith followed by his initiation into the sandhya and upasna. Karsanji though a Samavedi Brahman, was a follower of Shiva, and as such he taught his son, Rudri, following it by the Samhita. No pains were spared to impress Dayanand with the sacredness and superiority of the Shiva faith, and the importance of keeping of the fasts peculiar to the creed was continually made clear to him. The worship of Shiva, as the supreme, unapproachable deity, was especially insisted upon, and, in order that the deity might be always close by, it was hinted that a clay image of him could serve the purpose just as well as one made of stone or metal: the father's intention being that Dayanand could have a fresh idol as often as he pleased and should worship it daily without fail.
When Dayanand had reached his tenth year, he was fairly regular in his adoration of Shiva, but beyond paying this homage at stated hours, he did not concern himself much with Shivaism. The father, however, was not to be satisfied with this much. He was always for his observing the more rigorous fasts his elders kept, for his hearing the katha and for keeping long and trying vigils at night. The mother might protest that the boy was unequal to the hardship sought to be imposed upon him, that it was physically impossible for him to bear so much strain; yet the father was not to be easily dissuaded from his purpose. With all the allowance he made for his tender years, as result of the loving mother's pleadings no doubt, he would take him frequently into Shiva temples to see what was going on there, and he would never visit a brother in faith but Dayanand was with him, to listen to what the men had to say about the excellence of the Shivaism. Whatever disappointment the father might have experienced on seeing Dayanand not up to the mark in austerity, he must have felt more than compensated for the disagreeable feeling by the progress which Dayanand was making in learning. By the time Dayanand was fourteen years of age, he knew the whole of the Yajur Veda Samhita by heart, some portions of the remaining three Vedas and some minor works on Sanskrit grammar. He understood but little (as also his father) of what he could repeat, but even is oral knowledge was worth much: it was to prove of service later on.
The fast of Shivatri approached, and now that Dayanand was his fourteenth year, there was absolutely no reason, said his father, why he should not keep it. Dayanand was at first reluctant to comply with his father's wishes, but when the katha, setting forth the meritoriousness of the fast, was recited to him, he consented.
The mother strongly protested against her son being subjected to such a trial, saying that if he went without his usual morning breakfast and remained without food for the rest of the day and the night following, he would fall ill; but her expostulations were of no avail. Karsanji was bent upon having his way, and so the fast had to be kept. As the evening set in, the father and son went to large Shiva temple outside the village, where the rules in connection with the worship of the presiding deity of the sacred shrine were duly explained to him. One of the injunctions was that the devotee who kept the fast of Shivratri, must remain awake the whole night, as otherwise the fast would bear no fruit. Dayanand found the temple fairly crowded with worshippers and priests, some in a state of excitement, while others sober, silent and thoughtful. Presently, the worship began with the chanting of hymns, to which many of the laymen present cheerfully joined in the singing.
The first quarter of the night passed off very well, the entire congregation remaining awake and displaying all the fervor and enthusiasm which could be expected of them. In the second quarter, the proceedings became less animating, but the majority continued to keep awake and go one with the rites. As soon, however, as the third quarter came, the devotees seemed to have well nigh exhausted and were unable any further to resist sleep. Nodding of heads was visible all around, and one man after vainly endeavoring to battle with drowsiness and after fruitlessly exhorting his neighbor not to give in so easily, stretched himself, at full length, on the floor and commenced snoring heavily.
Dayanand's father was one of the batches which was the first to fall asleep, nor were the priests long in following his example. Finding that the dread Jamada was "safe," they stole out of the temple and lying down were soon ranging free in the land of dreams, though and lying down were soon ranging free in the land of dreams, though more nervous of them, no doubt, now and then found themselves suddenly deprived of their newly-acquired freedom by the sight of the apparition of their stern village official.
Dayanand was surprised at the scant respect which these worshippers of Shiva seemed to have for the fast by practically going against their professions, but he was determined that nothing should induce him to lose the reward which his leaders had deliberately forfeited. To prevent himself, therefore, from dropping into a slumber, he took to vigorously sprinkling water over his eyes, and to thinking. While thus employed, he saw something that drew him out of his abstraction and riveted his attention on itself.
A mouse creeping out of its hole began to take liberties with the image of Shiva, and make free with the offerings which had come to it from the worshippers. For many moments the boy watched the doings of the little creature, possibly amused a little, but serious thoughts followed, and he mused: "Is this the Mahadeva whom the katha represented as deity with human shape, with a trident in his hand and playing upon the drum - the God who bestows a boon upon one and pronounces a curse upon another, and who is the Lord of the Kailash mountain? This image has not the power to drive away even an insignificant mouse from its presence!"
Dayanand thought long and hard and intently, and this thinking laid
the foundation of that great, all-embracing religious revolution which he subsequently wrought in the land of his birth. Thousands upon thousands of men and women remain awake the whole night of the 13th of Magh, but whoever sees the deity which is the object of his or her adoration or receives the reward which he or she aspires? Shiva, the real, all-pervading and all-powerful beneficent Being who rules the Universe, did, however, answer the prayers of a child, saying, "The boon sought after shall be thine, but here is work for thee to do, and that must be done before thou can reach thy goal.
Study the primeval Veda and enrich thyself with knowledge and wisdom, and, by means of these, bring thy brethren back to the adoration of one and the only true Lord of the creation, tearing them away from the worship of the created inanimate thing." Dayanand's soul heard the words and took in the inspiration in a vague, dreamy, half-conscious fashion, to be realized and worked out in the gradually increasing light and enlightenment of coming years.
The late Sir Sayyad Ahmad, referring to Dayanand's reflections, skeptical in a sense no doubt, but like the intensely dark moments heralding the approach of happy dawn of light and life, turn his face from idolatry and seek out had study those portions of the Vedas which are concerned with the unity of the formless, self-effulgent God and with His other attributes?"
The question, " Is this shapeless stone the Mahadeva?" Again and again. pressed itself upon Dayanand's mind, but no satisfactory answer was forthcoming. At last, finding himself baffled, he awakened his father and requested him to resolve his doubts for him. That gentleman, unceremoniously aroused from a refreshing, half-finished sleep, demanded in a tone of surprise and anger: "Why do you ask such a question?" Dayanand replied: "The mice are running over this image of stone, and taking unwarranted liberties with it. The Mahadeva, of whom the katha spoke, is an animate being, how he can permit mice to run over his body? This idol cannot so much as move its head, much less protect itself from others. It appears to me that it is utterly impossible to reach the living omnipotent Deity through the agency of or through the medium of this image.
Dayanand's father, perceiving his son's earnestness, found himself compelled to answer his question. He said: "The Mahadeva, who lives on the Kailash mountain, is represented by and invoked through this image, for he cannot be seen face to face in this age of Kaliyug. By being imagined as inhabiting an image of stone, metal or wood, etc., and by being worshipped through it, he is as much pleased as though he were actually present in the idol and were himself adored." The parent added, "Your habit of raising objections is anything but praiseworthy. Why this idol is nothing more than an image of God?". Dayanand had to remain content with the answer, but reasoning like this could never set his doubts at rest. The only effect which it produced upon his mind was to shake his faith in idol-worship, to make him look upon the institution as false. And
his resolution was made then and there, that he would never in future worship Mahadeva till he had seen him face to face.
Shortly after the termination of the conversation between father and son, Dayanand craved permission to go home, for he felt tired and hungry. The permission was given (as it could not but be given under the circumstances), and a sepoy was ordered to escort him home. Karsanji, however, thought it his duty to warn Dayanand at parting not to eat anything during the night. But the moment Dayanand reached home, he told his mother that he was hungry and would have something to appease his hunger. The good woman at once brought him some sweets, and while handing them over to him, said: "Did I not tell you that you would not be able to bear the hardships attendant on keeping a fast? But you would have your own way, and you see the consequences. Eat these sweets and don't return to your father now."
Dayanand ate the sweets and went to bed at about 1 A.M. sleeping soundly for over seven hours. When Karsanji came home and hear how Dayanand had disregarded the parting warning, he was greatly annoyed and took his son to task for disobedience. Dayanand replied that the image in the temple was not identical to the Mahadeva spoken of in the katha, and consequently he did not feel bound to recognize its sanctity. At this, the father could only utter a growl of displeasure, and then kept quiet, hoping to win over his son to his views on some subsequent occasion favorable for the purpose.
But this was not to be. Dayanand has an uncle greatly attached to him. He complained to him of the pressure that his parent was bringing to bear upon him and pleaded his intercession, backing up his appeal by declaring that keeping fasts and attending to the worship of the God interfered adversely with his studies. The uncle interceded, supported by the boy's mother, and the result was that Dayanand ceased to suffer from the galling restraint. Being now, in a manner, his own master, Dayanand threw himself wholeheartedly into his studies, reading, with a Pandit, Nighantu, Nirukta, Purva Mimansa and works on karmkand (ritual). His leisure was now devoted to his books.
The effect of the sad events on Dayanan's mind.
Back to contents
While Dayanand was busy with his books, often revolving in his mind, in the midst of his lessons, the question which the affair in the temple had been instrumental in confronting his mind with, and the accident happened which made the seriousness of the problem still more apparent to him. He was at the close of his sixteenth year when the event in question occurred and no one needs doubt that he was wholly unprepared for the said occurrence.
Dayanand had two brothers and two sisters, all younger than
himself, and for whom he had great affection. One night, while his father, in company with himself and other male members of the family, was attending a nautch-meeting at the house of a friend, a servant came with the news that his eldest daughter, now fourteen years of age, was suddenly taken ill with cholera. Everyone hastened home, the physicians were summoned, and nothing was left undone that promised to afford relief, but all in vain. The condition of the patient grew worse every moment and she expired after four hours of great agony. Weeping and lamentation commenced, the bereaved mother rending the air with her cries. It was a terrible shock to Dayanand. He felt like one utterly unnerved and stupefied. "Ah!" Said he to himself when he was able to reflect, "who can defy death? Not one of the beings, that ever lived who could escape the cold hand of death. I, too, maybe snatched away any time and die. How, then, shall I be able to fulfill my resolve of alleviating human misery, and where shall I find the assurance and means of attaining Mukti, the final beatitude?" It was then that he made a resolve of seeking the way to release himself from the bonds of life and death and go out in search of Truth.
He knows that man's happiness and sufferings are the results of his actions in his previous birth. Those who had led a noble life in accordance with the scriptural injunctions are born in noble families, while others, whose previous life had been spent in perpetrating evil and falsehood, take birth as lower creatures. The saints and virtuous people, perched, as the result of karma, on the highest plane of existence, will think in this fashion, and the average man is apt to misconstrue their words and actions. The fact is, that they do not look upon the world as something discardable: no, the very reverse of it, but the world is not an end to them, but a means of gaining what is higher than the world, what is infinitely more valuable and more glorious. They think as Dayanand thought, in the strain of the Divine verse:-
SAMBHOOTINCHA VINAASHAM CHA YASTADDE DOBHAYAM SAHA.These thoughts which filled Dayanand's mind, he did not express to his parents but confided to his friends.
VINAASHENA MRITYU TEERTVA SAMBHOOTYAA MRITAMASH NUTE - Yajur 40: 14.
"Whoever thoroughly understands the nature of the visible creation and of the imperishable atom from which the visible creation springs at one and some time, the same shall, by virtue of his knowledge of the primal atom, triumph over death, and shall obtain beatitude by virtue of his knowledge of the visible creation and by reason of his virtuous activity in that creation."
The nature of the aspirations which now filled Dyanand's breast was not long in being known to his father and mother. They were alarmed, particularly the latter, and began to devise means for preventing their son from carrying out his purpose. They were not to blame, they were actuated by love - not the enlightened love of the saint but the intense blind love of the world's children. A plan suggested itself for frustrating the boy. It was resolved
that he should be married as early as possible. " Once he is secure in the toils of grihasthashrama (married-life), " said they, "he can never give us the slip." They soon disclosed their intentions to Dayanand, who was so frightened at the idea of marriage that he flew to the friends of the family with an earnest appeal to prevail upon his parents to delay the function. They listened to his prayer, and succeeded in inducing Karsanji to postpone the marriage for a year.Brahmacharya, early marriage and flight.
Back to contents
A year's respite was great thing. The present danger was warded off, and who could say but affairs might take a favorable turn at the expiration of the period? But after all, if Dayanand found that his parents were inexorably resolved upon giving him a wife, he could use his legs and put a distance between himself and the place of his birth. In the absence of immediate danger, he must go on acquiring knowledge, to fit himself for the life which he must come to leave sooner or later. He read on therefore, with all the passionate ordeal of a true student, enlarging his acquaintance with the Sanskrit language and giving in keeping to a most retentive memory a mass of facts which, though calculated to help him to recognize and appreciate, by contrast, all the better the real truths in the fullness of time, even as darkness helps one to recognize and appreciate the worth of life all the better.
The twelve months slipped by quickly enough, the suspicious parents must renew their importunities as regards an early time to approach him on the subject, Dayanand commenced importuning them for increased facilities for the acquisition of knowledge. He said that it was absolutely necessary that he should go to Kashi to prosecute his studies further with an advantage. It was the great seat of Sanskrit learning, and experts in different subjects could nowhere be found in larger numbers.
The request took the parents' breath away, and they told him shortly that they would not accede to it. To weaken their opposition and to ultimately bring them to comply with his wishes, Dayanand spoke to them of the value and excellence of brahmacharya, drawing upon the Shastras and ancient history for quotations and examples to illustrate his meaning. But al would not do. They would not listen to his representations, and informed him that he must be a householder before many days were over!
Dayanand's parents acted after the fashion of other parents in India when they insisted upon his marrying. Indeed, they showed themselves vastly more prudent than the majority of parents in their country do. This majority, as we are well aware, is only too fond of seeing their children married before they are ten or twelve years of age, and some, overpowered by their love
for their offspring, will go so far as to get them bound in the holy bonds of wedlock in their eight-year. Dayanand was now fully twenty years old, and, to judge from what he was when he appeared before the public, he must have been a healthy and powerful youth at this time, or even a year or two earlier. But for all this, it cannot be denied that Dayanand's parents were also short-sighted like many more others in their situation. They could not rise to the height of realizing the greatness of perfect brahmacharya, of conceiving the vast possibilities of the vow. Dayanand looked to the ideals of ages gone by. If not one married in those days till he had completed his twenty-fifth year, and if large numbers never married till they had reached their thirty-sixth or forty-fourth year, he could not understand why the descendants of these men should be hurried into marriage before they had reached even the minimum marriageable age. And, further, why should not an individual be permitted to forego entrance into the grihasthaashrama when, swayed by a natural, intense, overpowering impulse, he would rather be wedded to a life of study and contemplation? The Shastras allowed such a concession in rare cases and were not wholly unacquainted with Brahmacharis and Brahmacharinis of the type in question. It was, however, clear that the young men's parents were fully determined to disregard the rules of brahmacharya in their son's case.
One of the greatest causes of India's greatness, in times of yore, was its adherence to the law of brahmacharya. It secured each individual a perfectly developed body and a well-disciplined mind, cultured in various degrees. The result of this was that every individual was a man, even something of a hero, physically and morally, and serviceable to himself and others, intellectually. India was certainly low in the days of Magesthenese, but even then the land was very loyal to the requirements of brahmacharya and every town and city and village abounded in the right sort of men and women. The present national degradation will never cease until the nation is once more affluent in true Brahmacharis and Brahmacharinis. Where the body and mind are weak, there must be cowardice, physical and moral, and all the innumerable evils which are born of these. Mark what the Upanishat takings its inspirations from the Word Divine say of brahmacharya.
"There are three kinds of brahmacharya, the ordinary brahmacharya, the middling brahmacharya, and the highest brahmacharya. The ordinary brahmacharya is the living of a life of perfect celibacy, devoted to study, up to one's twenty-fourth year. The student must bear in mind that keeping this brahmacharya secures one an exemption from physical and mental ailments and a life of peace and tranquility ranging over seventy or eighty years. The middling brahmacharya is living a life of perfect celibacy up to one's forty-fourth year. This brahmacharya conduces to the fullest development of the physical powers, gives the mind a thorough control over the body and the senses, and makes one a terror to the wicked and the sinful, physically, morally and intellectually. The teacher should impress the value of the forty-four years' brahmacharya upon the student's mind by pointing out its advantages. The highest kind of brahmacharya is the living a life of perfect celibacy, devoted to study up to one's forty-eighth year. Even as the perfection of the alphabet lies in forty-eight letters, even so, does the perfection of brahmacharya consist in forty-eight years. This brahmacharya conduces to the fullest and harmonious development of all the powers of man."
Finding that nothing that he could say would move his parents and that his mother, in particular, was dead against his leaving home, Dayanand, in despair, asked to be permitted to reside at a village a few miles from his own, and where the landed property of the family principally lay. The father thought that Dayanand would not object to taking care of the property, and he proposed that he should take upon himself the work and the responsibility of a superintendent. But Dayanand was disposed to do such a thing. He wanted to reside in the other village because a learned man resided there, and if he was not to be allowed to go to Kashi, he might as well study for some time with this learned man. This request was granted, and Dayanand was thankful that it had not been refused, for, apart from the fact that his removal to the neighboring village would enable him to continue his studies for some time, it would be a distinct relief to him to be away from his parents. They were continually talking of his coming marriage, which was annoying to him, and he knew
that if he ever ventured to intimate that he preferred remaining as he was, he was bound to be severely taken to task for harboring such a foolish (!) idea.
Dayanand commenced his studies with the new Pandit, and the latter was delighted with his progress. One day, in the course of the conversation, Dayanand openly confessed to his teacher that he had no intention whatever of marrying and that he positively disliked being a "householder." The teacher reported Dayanand's words to his father, who had him immediately re-called to his native village, and ordered that preparations for his marriage should be made without delay. Dayanand was at a loss of what to do. He consulted his friends, but they, like his parents, being unable to sympathize with his lofty aspirations, advised him to marry.
After much reflection, he was convinced that his only means of escape from marriage lay in flight. He had already counted upon the possibility of such a contingency, and now it must become a fact. Any hesitation, when affairs had come to such a pass, would be fatal. He must bid farewell to home and friends once and forever - in that lay his salvation. Just as the preparations, which had been pushed on with startling vigor during a whole month, were complete, and when a week or so more would find him married, Dayanand braced himself for a final effort, and so soon as the shades of the evening came on, he stole out of the house, with his mind fully made up never to set foot in it again, if he could help it!
RENUNCIATIONHis pursuit and capture
Back to contents
Dayanand left his father's home in the Jyeshtha of Vikrama Samvat 1903 (1846 A.D.), and he was at this time over twenty-one years of age, a lively youth with intellect stamped on his forehead, but, withall, simple and artless in the extreme. The first night he passed at a village some eight miles from his own, and long before it was dawn, he was speeding along by-ways and unfrequented paths again. When the evening set in, he had done about twenty-five miles, and being too tired to proceed farther, he put up in a temple of Hanuman, in a certain hamlet.
He did well to have avoided the highway, for his father, interpreting his absence only too correctly, had dispatched servants in pursuit, and they were searching for him. Even before he had time to leave the temple, and this he did on the third day after quitting home, he heard from a petty official that a party of horsemen and footsepoys had visited the village to which the temple was attached, looking for a lad named Mool Shanker.
Dayanand thanked Heaven for the narrow escape and resumed his journey. He had gone not far when he fell in with a party of begging mendicants, who engage him in conversation. So wrought upon his simplicity as to prevail upon him to surrender all his ornaments and various other things to their idol. "As long as you don't give up everything of value, you possess, to the image," said they, "so long you need not expect to rise above worldly attachments." Dayanand believed the impostors and parted from them considerably lightened of his valuables.
While pursuing his flight, Dayanand heard here and there from people about Lala Bhagat at Sayle, a town some six miles from Mooli, a well-known station on the Wadhwan-Morvi line. Dayanand turned his steps towards this town, which he duly reached, finding the house of Lala Bhagat, a distinguished saint, crowded with wearers of ochre-colored clothes. Here a Brahmachari conferred upon him the privileges of the order to which he himself belonged, and named him Shuddhachaitanya (pure-minded), making him put on ochre-colored garments and keep a Kamandal (the beggar's gourd) as his constant companion. Following in the footsteps of the Sadhus of the place, Dayanand began to practice austerities. He held idol-worship in abhorrence, but he was still under the influence of superstition in various ways. As an instance of this, he was one
night sitting under a tree and practicing under a tree and practicing yoga, when, all of a sudden, a curious noise, made by some birds roosting on the tree, broke upon his ears. He was alarmed, thinking that the tree was haunted by evil spirits, and getting up in haste joined his group! Leaving Sayle, Dayanand arrived, in his new habiliments, at a town called Koutha Gangada, in the small principality, near Ahmedabad (Gujrat).
The town was alive with the presence of numerous Bairagis, who had managed to entangle a princess in their toils. The worthies, seeing Dayanand habited in reddish-yellow garments, had a derisive laugh, their secret object being to win the new-comer over to their order, Dayanand would not be caught this time, though he suffered himself to be persuaded so far as to part with his stock of silk-dhotis to them and to buy three rupees worth cotton ones instead. Here Dayanand stayed for three months, known to all his neighbors as a Brahmachari.
Ere turning his back upon Koutha Gangada, Dayanand learned that the annual fair at Siddhapur, a Railway station on the bank of the Saraswati, would take place in a few days. Thinking that he might come across some yogi there who could point out to him the way to salvation, Dayanand set off towards the locality. In the way, he encountered a Bairagi whom, on a nearer approach, he recognized to be one perfectly acquainted with his family. When the eyes of the two met, tears rolled their cheeks. On the Bairagi's asking why he saw him dressed in ochre-colored garments, Dayanand told him all.
The Bairagi was at first moved to laughter, but soon assuming a stern and serious tone he told him that he had made a great mistake in taking the step he had. After this the pair separated, each pursuing his different way. On reaching Siddhapur, Dayanand put up in the temple of Nilakanth Mahadeva, already crowded with Dandi Swamis and Brahmacharis (students). The fair came off. Wherever Dayanand hear was a learned and pious man, there he would go and converse with the worthy soul. In his ecstasy, he little dreamed, that something unpleasant was in store for him and that he must soon face it.
The Bairagi, whom Dayanand had met on his way to Siddhapur, had communicated with his parents, telling them, in his letter, where Dayanand could be found. We won't say it was treachery on his par: on the contrary, it may be that he was actuated by the best motives. Perhaps, like many others, he could not understand Dayanand (it was apparent from his parting rebuke to Dayanand that he did not), and he thought he was doing the youth good in informing his parents of his whereabouts. But whatever the real facts, certain it is that it was his communication that once more set the father on the son's trail.
Karsanji came accompanied by several sepoys and went through every part of the fair making inquiries about his missing son. His efforts were at last crowned with success. Entering one morning the temple of Mahadeva, he found himself suddenly face to face with Dayanand. Seeing him dressed in ochre-colored clothes he flew into a passion and, in a voice of thunder, asked: "What means this?" So terror-inspiring was his visage that Dayanand dared not
meet his gaze. He raved and stormed at the youth, calling him the disgrace of his family, the cause of eternal shame to his race, and so on. Dayanand was in mortal fright, and moving from his place, fell at his sire's feet, saying that he had done what he had by evil counsel of others and that he fully intended to return home from Siddhapur.
He humbly craved forgiveness for any offense he might have given and said he was thankful to his father that he had taken so much trouble on his account. This show of contrition and humility failed to appease the anger of Karsanji. Taking hold of his garments, he tore them to pieces and dashing his bowl on the ground smashing it to fragments. Then having dressed him in a new suit of clothes he took him to where he had put up, and said, "Will you kill your mother by running away from home?"
In spite of all that Dayanand had said to set his father's mind at rest, the old man had no faith in his words. He stationed the sepoys upon him, giving them strict orders not to let him go anywhere. Night came and still, Dayanand found himself watched as closely as ever. He was helpless, not knowing what to do, and bitterly thinking of the turn which affairs had taken. For he had, as his father rightly suspected, no mind to go home. It was fright that made him tell an untruth: in his heart of hearts he resolved to regain his freedom as soon as he saw a chance of doing the same.
While he lay in his bed, despondent and musing over his fate, what did he find on stealing a look at the guard but that he had fallen a sleep? "Now or never," said Dayanand, and creeping out of the room he ran with all his might. He had gone about half a mile when he saw a temple with a lofty papal tree growing near it, and shading the building on all sides by its huge branches. He could not but see that the guard would soon awake, and, missing him in his bed, would give an alarm, upon which his father and his attendants would be again after him. Under the inspiration of the moment, Dayanand climbed up the huge tree and hid on a lofty branch just near the top of the building. He had not been settled many minutes in his "retreat" when several horsemen came dashing in the direction of the tree but, though they looked closely in every nook and corner of the temple, they failed to find any trace of their master's son.
The priests of the temple were interrogated, but they could give no information. At last disappointed with their fruitless search, the pursuers turned up back and were soon lost to view. During the time the search lasted, Dayanand had sat closely "packed up" and did not so much as breathe, for fear that his presence might be detected by anyone. The sun at last rose, but Dayanand would not leave his hiding-place yet. He was in fear of the priests, of his father and his men and even of a causal way-fearer whom he might meet in the event of his leaving his retreat before night-fall. He had nothing to eat but he had a lota full of water, and this water he partook when the wanted to refresh himself. When the livelong day had, at last, ended he slipped down the tree, halting at a village some four miles from the temple. Early in the morning, he started off afresh, and passing through Ahamedabad, arrived at Baroda. Here associating with
the Sannyasis and Brahmacharis of the Non-dualistic school he himself became a Vedanti, believe in the identity of God and soul. During his residence here he heard that a meeting of learned Sadhus was shortly going to be held on the bank of the Nerbada, and no sooner did he hear this than he set off towards the place specified, to be present at the conference. Reaching there, he had a talk on the Shastras with Sachchidanand Paramahansa. At this place hearing that a large number of learned Brahmacharis and Sanyasis lived along the bank of the river, Dayanand proceeded in search of the same and met several. With one of these - Paramahansa Parmamand - he resumed his studies, and, in the course of a few months, had gone through Vedantasara, Arya Harimede, Totaka, Arya Harihara, Totaka, Vedantaparibhasha, and similar other works. Wanderings and Study and Initiation into Sanyasa.
Back to contents
As Brahmachari, Dayanand, in conformity with the usual practice, had to cook his meals himself. This greatly interfered with his studies. To be rid of this trouble, he made up his mind to enter the Sanyasa Ashrama. The initiation would be, moreover, useful to him in another way: it would give him a name that would completely hide his identity and would minimize the chances of his being reclaimed by the members of his family. They knew him as Shuddhachaitanya, but when the name had been dropped in favor of a sanyasa name, a great clue to his whereabouts would be lost, and he could then count upon the enjoyment of greater freedom in his movements. With this idea in mind, he requested a Sanyasi named Chidashrama to initiate him into sanyasa. His request was refused on the ground of his extreme youth. The refusal, however, had no discouraging effect upon Dayanand.
He was firmly resolved upon being initiated, and he stayed a year and a half on the bank of the Nerbada, studying and waiting for his chance. In the meantime, a Dandi Swami and a Brahmachari came and halted in a forest near the town of Chanod. The name of the Dandi Swami was Purnanand. A Dakshini Pandit, a friend of Dayanand paid a visit to this learned Sanayasi, along with Dayanand and introduced him to the Sanyasi, and a conversation on Brahmavidya ensued.
Dayanand could not but perceive that the Sanyasi was a man of profound learning, and he moved the Dakshini Pandit to request him to initiate him into the Sanyasa. The Pandit conveyed his wishes to the learned Sanyasi, making a powerful recommendation on his behalf. The young man, he said, was passionately devoted to the study of Brahmavidya and valued it above all things, but, as at present circumstanced, he could not fully satisfy the craving of his soul. for, as a Brahmachari, he has to prepare his food with his own hands and to attend to other similar sundry things, which took away a large portion of his time. In order that his entire time and leisure be at his disposal, to be exclusively devoted to
study and reflection, it was necessary that he should enter the sanyasa and might it not be hoped that the erudite Swami would grant his application? Swami Purnanand's first answer was much the same as that of the Chidashrama Swami. He declared that he could not see his way to initiate one so young, and he added: "I belong to the Maharastra. The young man ought to wait upon some Gujrati Sanyasi and get initiated by him." To this, the Dakshini Pandit replied that when the Sanyasis belonging to the Deccan went so far as to initiate into the sanyasa even men of inferior castes, Swami Purnanand should have no objection whatever in bestowing the privileges of the order upon one who came of a prominent Brahmin family. After much discussion the Swami prevailed upon to entertain the young man's petition, and on the expiration of the third day after the meeting, the important function took place, and Shuddhachaitanya came to be named what we have called him from the very beginning of our sketch - Dayanand (Saraswati).
Dayanand was sanyasi in the twenty-fourth year, but his initiation did not mark, as in most cases if does and ought to, the completion of his education. To all intents and purposes, he was still a Brahmacharyi, and he himself felt that he was such. His initiation had however given him one thing - made him absolutely his own master, and this was a privilege, for which, as we are aware, he intensely longed with the one, sole object that he might drink his fill at the fountain of knowledge.
In the course of the new trip which Dayanand had undertaken, he came to hear of one Swami Yoganand, and adept in Yogavidya. He went to him and commenced with him the study of the highest branch of metaphysics. When he had gone through some elementary works on the subject, he proceeded to Cinor, where he came across a Brahman named Krishna Shastri, who was well-versed in Sanskrit grammar. With this Shastri he rest for some time and then left for another town, where he studied the Vedas with a certain Pandit.
Here after some time, he met two Yogis, named Jwalanand Puri and Shivanand Giri. Associating with them he resumed the practice of yoga, and he would often hold discussions with them on the science of yoga. Eventually, the two Yogis left for Ahmedabad, telling Dayanand that if he would learn something more of their science, he should follow them shortly to the place they were bound for. After the expiration of a month, Dayanand left for Ahmedabad and rejoined the Yogis. They were true to the great mysteries of Yogavidya. Dayanand fully availed himself of their instructions, and he always thought of the two Yogis with a feeling of profound gratitude.
At Ahmedabad, Dayanand hear that the Koh Abu was the abode of many distinguished Yogis, and he set off thither. On reaching the top of the mountain he found that the report was not unfounded. Many Rajyogis dwelt there, and he waited upon them. These Yogis, Dayanand declares, had a deeper insight into their science than even the first two Yogis, from whom he parted
at Ahmedabad. He stayed with them and learned many more valuable secrets. Thus wandering about, Dayanand met many more Yogis and Pandits, deriving considerable benefit from their company and improving himself physically, intellectually, and morally. He made a point of staying wherever a truly learned man was found, and of studying with him in the capacity of a humble student. He was thirty years old when he visited the Kumbha Fair of Haridwar. (1912 V.E.). As long as the fair lasted, Dayanand remained in the wood surrounding the Chandi Hill, practicing yoga, and on the termination of the fair he went to Rishikesh, where he had interviews with many Yogis and mahatmas and learned more of practical yoga from them.The Tantras, animal food, and visit to Rishikesh and Shrinagar.
Back to contents
Ere long Dayanand withdrew from the society of his teachers at Rishikesh, and passed some days in solitude, dividing his time between study and contemplation.
One day, in a solitary ramble, he came across a Brahmachari and two Sadhus natives of the hills, and joining them, the party left for Tehri a famous seat of learning. While staying here one of his new acquaintances sent him an invitation to dine at his house. At the appointed hour a servant waited upon Dayanand, who, accompanied by a Brahmachari, repaired to the house of his would-be host. On arriving there, he saw a Pandit was cutting up meat, and that a few steps farther on, several Brahmans were engaged in cooking the same article. Heaps of bones lay beside them, and head of several animals ready cooked. The sight greatly disgusted Dayanand, and thought the master of the house extended to him a cordial welcome and pressed him to enter the best room in the house, he found himself compelled to return to his dwelling at once. "Don't let me disturb you," said he, "but go on with your work," and uttering these few words he came back to his cottage and felt at case.
Before many minutes, however, had gone by, a freshman waited upon him, and informed him that everything was ready and that his presence alone was wanting. "Every variety of meat-dish," explained the messenger, "will be served to your holiness, it has been prepared expressly for yourself, and the master hopes it will please you," Dayanand replied that the very sight of meat made him sick, to eat the same was out of the question, and that if the man's master must have him share his hospitality, he could send him some flour and vegetables, and his own Brahmachari would do the cooking. The disappointed host had to comply.
Shortly after this, Dayanand asked the two Pandits for a loan of the books whose praises they so warmly sang, and the Pandits willingly agreed to lend him the entire lot. Dayanand, however, chose those only which go under the name of the "Tantras". No sooner had he opened one of these than he was astounded at the nature of its contents. They were so obscene, so utterly subversive of the moral and social relations which have ever existed and
ought to exist between one member and another of a family and between one member and another of society at large, that no one, not absolutely and hopelessly depraved and debased, could help recoiling at the bare contemplation of what they taught. And one book was as bad as the others, teaching little else than what will vitiate and degrade, what will demoralize. Things, many and various, have brought about the fall-off India, but nothing has perhaps contributed more to prostrate the Indian community morally and intellectually than the Tantras. Alas! That such literature should have ever come to exist in the land of the saints and sages. Dayanand's soul sickened as he turned over the leaves, and at last, he threw them away with loathing. During the rest of his life, he never thought or spoke of these but his heart was filled with indignation at the villainy of those who had brought them into existence.
From there Dayanand set off towards Sri Nagar, and, on reaching there, put in a temple on the Kedarghat. Here had occasional discussions with the Pandits, and whenever he found one of these too warm an admirer of orthodoxy, he would quote from the Tantras and so completely seal his lips. Of the Sadhus whom Dayanand met at this place, Ganga Giri pleased him the most. Dayanand came to have great esteem and regard for him and stayed with him for two months. As soon as the autumn set in, he, in company with the two hill-sadhus and his Brahmachari, left for some other locality and visiting Prayag (Allahabad) and other places arrived at the tomb of Agastya Muni, thence proceeding to a hill named Shivpuri.
This is the place where some people (the Jains) believe salvation is attainable while one is yet living. Dayanand passed the dour months of winter here and then separating himself from his companions, bent his steps towards Kedarghat alone. Passing through the Guptakashi, Gourikund and Bhim ganga, he reached the temple of Triyugunarayana. He did not seem to like the palace at all, and consequently returned to Kedarghat without delay.
When he had seen sufficient of the inhabitants of this place, he thought he would visit the neighboring hills. These hills are covered with perpetual snow, but the fact did not daunt Dayanand. He had heard that these were the abode of mahatmas, and he must seek them but in defiance of every inconvenience and danger. He went and commenced making his inquires. But not useful information was forthcoming. The people interrogated would either deny all knowledge of the existence of men Dayanand was after or would tell such stories regarding them as no man with a grain of common sense would believe. Dayanand did not know what to do. After fruitlessly wandering for twenty days exposed to the piercing, intense cold of the mountains, he retraced his steps to Kedarghat.
His recent excursion in the hills, though attended with much suffering, had created in Dayanand a great liking for the free and bracing mountain air, and one day he ascended the Tunganath Hill. The temple on the summit he found crowded with priests and crammed with idols, and not much pleased with sight, he prepared to descend the same day. He saw before him two paths, one
leading to the west, and the other to the south. He took the one leading to a jungle, and before he and gone far, he found himself in the midst of thick wood. Sharp stones and huge boulders lay strewn everywhere, and the streams and rivulets were wholly destitute of water. Laying hold of the grass and of the dried-up bushes, Dayanand made a shift to reach the bank of a stream, and mounting the ridge of a hill ran his eye in every direction. Nothing but inaccessible steeps and jungle were to be seen.
The sun was near setting, and Dayanand could not see how he would manage to pass the night in such a dreary place without food and water. At last, he resolved to seek some habitation. His progress was slow, and the thorny bushes through which he had to pass tore his garments to shreds and drew blood from his body. He, however, went on limping along with wounded legs and lace-rated feet, and, after undergoing many hardships, lighted on the highway.
He had to grope his way in the darkness, and in time, the signs of habitation appeared. It was an insignificant, uninviting hamlet, and Dayanand set off towards Okhimath to which it led. Here he passed the night, and as soon as it was morning, proceeded to Guptakashi. Desirous of exploring Okhimath at leisure, he returned to it again and found that almost all the caves were inhabited by imposters. Here a great Mahant wanted to make Dayanand his disciple, offering him wealth and assuring him that he should succeed him to the gaddi.
Dayanand rejected his offer, saying that if he wanted wealth he should not have left home and separated himself from his parents and friends. At the same time he told him that even the event of his settling down with him, he could not gain the object for the accomplishment of which he had severed his connection with the world. The Mahant urged Dayanand to stay with him for some time, he refused, returning to Joshimath the very next day. Eventually, he met many learned Sanyasis and Yogis here, and he took further lessons from them in connection with practical yoga.Love of Science. Difference between great and common men.
Back to contents
Parting company with the mahatmas of Joshimath, Dayanand set off towards Badarinarayan, and on arriving there visited the great temple. It afforded him great pleasure to discover, in the person of Rawalje, the Mahant of the temple, a man deeply reads in the Shastras, and he conversed with him for several days on the subject of the "Vedas and the Darshanas."
Dayanand was informed by the Mahant that learned Yogis, adept in the science of yoga, were not to be met in the neighborhood of Badarinarayan. The information was extremely disappointing, but as such men now and then came to visit the temple (so his host assured him), he determined to look out for these, and in the meantime to explore the neighboring hills, to make certain if these were wholly destitute of the presence of Sadhus and Sanyasis of the right type. Early one morning he left Badarinaryan, and,
proceeding along the foot of the hills, arrived at the margin of a stream called Alakananda, and following the direction of its current struck into a wood. At this time, the entire mountain was wrapped in a covering of snow, and it was with the greatest difficulty that he reached the source of the stream. He places appeared to walled in by lofty hills on every side, and no path was visible which might be followed. Dayanand was in great distress. He was very lightly clad, and the cold was so intense that he could hardly stand it. He had nothing with him so subsist upon, and his exertions had so sharpened his appetite that, as a last resource, he began to eat ice. But such food was anything but satisfying and Dayanand had to give up on with his repast. "Let me see if I can cross the stream," said he; "I might find a way out of the difficulty on reaching the other side." In pursuance of this resolve, he descended into the stream, but it was not a joke to cross it.
The water was shallow in some places, but very deep in others, and pieces of ice with sharp, piercing edges were whirled down the current in hundreds every minute. And the bed of the stream was strewn with stones, some lying fault, with surfaces extremely slippery, and others planted upright with points that would penetrate the flesh like a sharp piece of iron. The attempt was made and when Dayanand reached the other side, his feet were wounded and bleeding and utterly benumbed with cold, and he felt like one in a state of stupefaction. For many moments he sat all but forgetful of himself and of what was going on around him, but there was danger in continuing as he was, and with a vigorous effort he roused himself from his torpor. Finding that his legs and feet refuse to work, he tightly wrapped both in his torn garments and essayed to move forward, but the attempt was unsuccessful. "Oh! That some fellow-creature would come to help me." He exclaimed; "if I stay longer where I am, I should certainly perish without realizing the dream of life - the accomplishment of the object for which I left home."
While he was looking wistfully in every direction to see if he could see someone who might be of service to him in his trouble, his eye lighted on two-hill-men advancing towards him. They made their obeisance to him and offered to take him to their huts. Dayanand, while begging to be excused from accepting their kind offer, told them what had brought him in that dreary region. Upon this, the hill-men offered to lead him to a place named Sadpat Tirath, which offer he thankfully accepted. The next instant he had to refuse it. "I am perfectly exhausted," said he, " and at this moment can't move a step. You have better leave me to my fate." The two hill-men sadly bade him farewell and were long lost to sight. In time, Dayanand, by the grace of God, came to feel better and resumed his wandering, and passing through Vasudhara, a Tirath, and skirting Managram, he reached Badarinarayan at about 8 P.M. His prolonged absence had made the good and learned Mahant very uneasy, and as soon as the latter saw him, he felt that load had been taken off his heart. At supper, Dayanand ate sparingly and then retired to rest. With the appearance of the morning, he told to leave his host and proceeded towards Rampur. On the way, he stopped with a Yogi and passed the night at his cottage. This man, according to
Dayanand was deeply learned in Sanskrit literature, and his words had a most encouraging effect upon him. As soon as the day broke, Dayanand set forward, and traveling through jungles and over hills, he arrived at Rampur, putting up at the house of Ramgiri.
This Sadhu commanded great respect in Rampur by virtue of his pure character - a commodity which one's worst enemies will seldom fail to appreciate. He was an eccentric man, passing sleepless nights, and often talking to himself in loud and lusty tones. One not in the secret would think that he was talking with somebody in his room, for he always seemed to address a second person. Often he would commence screaming and if anyone rushed to his rescue on such occasions, he would, on entering the Sadhu's room, find that there was nobody there but himself.
Dayanand sought an explanation of this singular conduct, but his disciples could give him none except that such was their preceptor's habit. Dayanand sought a private interview with the Sadhu himself and learned that he was engaged in accomplishing the siddhis of Yoga-vidya. His conversation, however, led Dayanand to the conclusion that his knowledge of the science and practice of yoga was imperfect. Leaving Rampur, Dayanand turned his face towards Kashipur, and from there went to Daronasagar, where he passed the entire winter.
during his residence here, it, one day, came into his mind that seeking the heights of the Himalayas he should destroy himself.; but with reflection better, counsels prevailed. It was a cowardly act, he confessed to himself, a true manly soul ought to fight to the end, acquire all he can of knowledge and wisdom and then resignedly wait for the call.
The most vigorous and elevated natures are not wholly above the weakness of giving away to despair, but, unlike average humanity, they will not surrender themselves to it body and soul; they will get over the fit and will re-enter upon their wonted energy and with a renewal of their determination either to reach the goal or to perish nobly in the attempt. Syanand felt, in the light of Shastric teaching and in the glow of the light within, the heritage of past karma, that he was to try, in faith, and not to be impatient for the fruit: God would grant the fruit in His own good time, if he was true to himself and to his mission.
From Daronasagar, Dayanand pressed on to Moradabad, and visiting Sambhal and Barhmukstestar reached the banks of the Ganges. One day, as he sat near the water's edge, thinking he espied, all of a sudden, a corpse being carried down by the rapid current. Dayanand had with him, along with other books some works on physiology and anatomy, and he had often given time to the study of these. But his knowledge was mere book-knowledge, untested and unverified by actual observation and experiment.
The sight of the corpse reminded him that here was his opportunity, and he forthwith plunged into the river and dragged the body to shore. Taking out a sharp knife from his pocket, he cut open the body near the heart which he tore and began to examine it closely. He found that the description of the heart, as
given in his books, was totally wrong. After that, he cut open the head and the neck, and, as formerly, discovered that his books did not describe their anatomy correctly. He was disgusted with the spurious composition, tore them to pieces and flung them into the river along with the corpse. The incident shows Dayanand's love of knowledge and research. To the Sanyasi the touch of even some living men is pollution, and they will on no account bring any part of their body into contact with a corpse. Dayanand deliberately and of his own accord handled a corpse, proving thereby that true knowledge is worth more the mere sentiment and that true men of science will have it in spite of sentiment.The source of Nerbuda and his encounter with a bear.
Back to contents
Dayanand stayed for a short time on the bank of the Ganges, and then left for Furukhabad. Before the nest year (V.E. 1913 or A.D. 1856) had quite run its course, Dayanand had visited many places lying between Allahabad and Kanpur. Subsequently proceeding to a place in the vicinity of Benaras, he put up, on reaching his destination, in the temple of Vindhyachaleshvarji, where he spent one whole month. Then going to Benaras proper, he stayed there for twelve days in a cave. Here he came across many individuals profoundly versed in Sanskrit literature. Chandalgarh was the next place he visited. Here he put up in the temple of Durgakouhar, and applied himself whole-heartedly to the study of Yoga-vidya and to the practice of its teaching.
In the Chaitra of 1856, Dayanand set off in search of the source of the Nerbada, having heard that the tract around was the abode of learned Sanyasis and Yogis. Proceeding along the bank of the stream, he found himself in a great jungle, not wholly destitute of huts at irregular intervals. Stopping in one of those he drank some milk and then resumed his journey. He had advanced about a mile-and-a-half when he found himself in wood still drearier, abounding in plum trees and prickly shrubs, and choked with tall grass which completely hid the path from view. While making his way through these, he suddenly found himself confronted by a huge big black bear.
The ferocious animal reared itself on its hind legs, and with a terrible roar advanced towards him. For one instant Dayanand stood rooted to the spot, but the next he was calm as ever and taking up a stick bit the bear on the nose. The blow was dealt with a tremendous force and proved effective. The animal ran away shrieking with pain. The men in the huts, hearing the noise, hurried out with clubs and hunting dogs, and finding a Sanyansi in trouble (as they thought), offered him help and service, adding that the jungle was the abode of numerous, bears tigers, elephants, etc., and advising him to cut short his journey.
Dayanand declined their assistance with thanks and informed them that he was bent upon proceeding forward and taking his chance. The villagers at parting presented him with a stout club, saying that it would be of great use to him in his dangerous trip. Dayanand accepted it, but the next moment he threw it away and fearlessly advanced on his track. For hours he traveled on. At last the sun went down and everything was enveloped in gloom. No light indicating habitation could be seen anywhere. Now and then he stumbled against trees rooted out by elephants. To add to his distress, he soon found his passage blocked by a still more awful and almost penetrable jungle. Nothing but thorny hedges and prickly pears were visible on all sides. To turn back was out of the question.
Dayanand crept into it on his knees, and, following a zig-zag track, at last, emerged into open space. He felt utterly exhausted with the effort. His clothes were torn to threads, and his body was wounded in twenty places and bleeding profusely. It was, however, no time and no place to make a halt. The darkness was gathering apace overhead, and it was no longer easy to distinguished objects even at short distances. Dayanand moved forward as best he could, and have steered clear of many dangers through continuous masses of rank vegetation, lighted on some straggling huts girt round with heaps of cattle-dung. A stream of clear, transparent water flowed not far from the huts, and the sheep and goats were still grazing on its bank. Dayanand saw a neat cottage standing under a tree and wished very much to go into it and rest, but then it would inconvenience its inmates, and to inconvenience them he did not like. So he climbed up the tree and passed the night on it. As soon as
it was dawn, he alighted from the tree and, going to the margin of the stream, washed his wounded feet and other parts of the body, and then prepared to engage in upaasana. Before, however, he could sufficiently compose his mind for his devotions, he heard a noise resembling that of the roar of a wild beast, but it was nothing but the sound of a tom-tom. A party of villagers, composed of men and women, was advancing towards him with a large number of cows and sheep, on its way, no doubt to some temple to celebrate a religious festival.
When the procession was sufficiently near to where Dayanand sat, it came to a halt at the sight of a stranger in such an isolated locality, and an old man detaching himself from the rest came forward and asked Dayanand where he had come from. Dayanand replied that he had come from Benaras and that he was proceeding towards the source of the Nerbada river. On hearing this answer the party departed, and Dayanand became absorbed in contemplation.
About half an hour after this, a man, who appeared to be a person of consequence, followed by two servants, came and sat down near Dayanand. He invited Dayanand to go home with him, but Dayanand begged to be excused, saying that he was alright where he was. When in answer to his inquiries, he made known to the chief what he was after, the old man was pleased and ordered his servants to stay with him and show him every attention.
Learning that he Sanyasi abstained (at present) from the use of solid food), he had a large bowl filled with milk brought to him. Dayanand partook of the refreshing drink, and with the setting of the night retired to rest. To guard against the attacks of the wild beasts, the chief had a fire lit around the stranger, and Dayanand slept soundly till morning, under the watchful eye of the assiduous chief's servitors.
On getting up, he performed his ablutions and then did his sandhya, after which he proceeded on his way, eventually reaching his destination. For three whole years, he wandered along the banks of the Nerbada, and it was during these wanderings that he came to hear of the great Sanyasi Virjanand at Mathura. Something whispered into his ear that this was the man he had been looking for in vain for so many years, and towards Mathura, accordingly, did Dayanand bend his steps.
A sketch of Swami Virjanand
Back to contents
Virjanand belonged to that part of India which has, from times immemorial, been pre-eminently the birth-place of the saints and the sages, which has produced, in the course of the ages and centuries untold, some of the most distinguished thinkers and teachers and representatives of heroic and chivalric impulse and instinct, with whose names the annals of Aryan antiquity are familiar. He belonged to Punjab, being a native of Kartarpur, a small town situated on the Beas, one of the two rivers which enclose the extensive tract known as Duaba Bist Jullundur. Long before Virjanand was born, no less than two centuries before that an event took place, Kartarpur had come to be associated with the
last years and the death of one of the greatest benefactors of his mother-land in her days of suffering and sorrow. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, the reviver of that pure theism which the primeval Scripture of mankind inculcates, passed the closing decade of his life in this place.
Virjanand was born in 1854 V.E. (A.D. 1797) at a time when the Maharaja Ranjit Singh sat on the throne of Punjab, and when the Sikh empire was in the zenith of its glory. He was Brahman by birth, his father's name being Nararyan Dutta. He was hardly more than five or six years of age when he had an attack of small-pox, which left him blind for life. The parents were totally unprepared for the misfortune which had overtaken their younger and favorite child, and their grief was unbounded. But the inevitable had to be accepted.
As will almost always happen in such cases, the helpless condition fo the boy only contributed to intensifying the parents' consciousness of the claims which he had on their tenderness and care, and he became a greater pet with them than ever. The father, who had already taught him something more than his letters and who had abundant proof that he was a child of remarkable intelligence, eager to learn, came to the conclusion, after much thought and reflection, the best course for him to adopt in regard to his blind son's interests, both temporal and spiritual, was to continue his education. The resolution was carried out, but Virjanand was not to reap the fruit thereof long. He was destined to face another calamity in the near future, and the calamity came, leaving him an orphan at the age of eleven.
By the death of his parents, Virjanand was thrown on the mercy of his elder brother and his wife. The elder brother might not be naturally unkind, but he was weak-minded and entirely guided by his wife, who was cruel to the extreme, hating her brother-in-law with all the hate of a woman. She was always tormenting the poor boy, flinging the most cutting taunts at him, and boldly hinting that he would be better out of the house than in it.
Virjanand would often reply, which rendered her still more savage, and she would beat him unmercifully. At last the crisis came. Convinced that his sister-in-law was bent upon getting rid of him and that his brother also, led and intimated by his despotic spouse, was arrayed against him, deliberately conniving at her faults of omission and commission, he parted company with his father's home and cast himself adrift on the wide world.
God, however, will care for His own, and, in obedience to the promptings of a happy impulse, Virjanand, though no more than twelve years old yet, set off towards Haridwar. It was a painful journey, extending over weeks and months and exposing the boy to numberless hardships, but at last, it was accomplished. After halting at various places for periods varying in duration, he found himself, in his fifteenth year, at Rishikesh. There he commenced a life of study, more specifically of contemplation. Going to the
bank of the river he would sit there for hours together, repeating that noblest of the Veda-mantras - the gayatri - and meditating on the nature and attributes of the Divinity of which it so comprehensively speaks. For three years did he thus employ himself, being hunger and thirst and inclemency of the weather, and utterly regardless of the dangers which beset a place like Rishikesh in those days. Verily the fiercest denizens of the forest become as lambs when brought into contact with the true worshippers of the Lord.
At any rate, such worshippers fear naught but the Lord, and they will be loyal to Him under the most trying circumstances. Having reached is the eighteenth year, Virjanand returned to Haridwar, to be initiated there into Sanyasa, in response to the summons he thought he had received in a vision he saw in his former place of residence. He sought out a worthy Sanyasni named Paramanand, who, according to his wishes, admitted him to his order, bestowing upon him the name with which we are already familiar, namely, Virjanand (Saraswati). Virjanand now applied himself to his studies with renewed vigor, and had, in a short time, made sufficient progress to be able to compose original verses in Sanskrit. He had real esteem for the Brahman who helped him in his studies at Haridwar.
After a few years spent exclusively in his own improvement, Virjanand began to take in pupils himself, and was pleased to discover that he was a complete master of the Madhyakaumudi, and could teach it with ease. But an occasion now and then arose when a wider and more comprehensive knowledge of Sanskrit grammar was demanded than that which an acquaintance with the Madhayakaumudi, however thorough, places at one's disposal. To make up his deficiency, Virjanand removed to Kahkhal and went through the Siddhantkaumudi with a competent man, teaching it at the same time to his own pupils. As soon as he had finished the book, he left Kankhal and following the course of the Ganges, arrived in time at Kashi.
Here he stayed for over a year, studying and mastering Manorama, Shekhara, Nyayamimansa, and works treating of Vedantic philosophy, astonishing, all around him with his intellectual acumen and the depth of his learning, and gaining from the appellation of Prajnachakshus Swami or the Swami "with eyes of understanding"." On completing his twenty-second year, Virjanand bade farewell to Benaras and proceeded to Gaya. On the way he was set upon by robbers, but before these miscreants could do him any personal injury or strip him of what little he had with him in the shape of money, a Sardar, attracted by the tumult, appeared on the scene and made the fellows take to their heels.
A few moments were sufficient for the nobleman to appreciate the worth of the Sadhu to whom he had been of service, and he kept him in his tent for full five days, showing him every attention and profiting by his teaching. On the sixth day, Virjanand resumes his journey and reached his destination without meeting with any further adventures of an unpleasant character. At Gaya he continued to live for a considerable period of time studying the Vedanta Shastra (of Vyasa) and other kindred works and then left for Calcutta. How long he stayed at this place
is not known, but certain it is that, on his return from the great city, he resided for some time at the town of Swaron.
It was while Swami Virjanand was stationed at Swaron, that he made the acquaintance of the Maharaja Vinay Singh of Alwar. More correctly, it was the Maharaja (king) that fell in with the Swami and made his acquaintance. While the latter was one morning standing in the Ganges, reciting the Vishnu Stotra of the great Shankara, the Maharaja, who had come to bathe in the river and was actually having a wash at the time, felt as if fascinated by the rich and thrilling tones in which the song was being poured forth. As the melody died away, much to the regret to the listeners in the neighborhood and the Swami came out of the stream, the Maharaja approached the Sadhu of marvelous voice and, entering into conversation with him, was struck with his erudition and with the loftiness and purity of his ideas.
The request was not long in coming that the Swami would accompany His Highness into his dominions, but, to the surprise of the Maharaja, it was refused: "You are a Raja, and I am a recluse," said the Swami; "how can I live with one of your station and surroundings?" The Maharaja, instead of taking the refusal in ill part and turning away, became more determined than ever to have his desire realized, and one day going into the garden where Virjanand was putting up, pressed his request with so much humility and earnestness, that Virjanand at last yielded, but not till His Highness had agreed to the condition that he should read with the Swami for three hours daily and that if he missed but a single lesson, unless under circumstances beyond his control, the Swami was at liberty to at once leave his court.
Having reached Alwar, the Maharaja assigned the Swami a palatial building to reside in, and commenced his studies. He proved a very good pupil, taking his lesson regularly and treating Virjanand with all the respect due from a disciple to his preceptor. The courtiers remarking their master's faith in the Swami and perceiving that he was really a man of sterling worth and deep learning - one who could only influence his associates for the better, became his sincere admires and availed themselves of his counsel, and company as of them as they could.
Not so the illiterate and selfish Brahmans around the person of the prince! They scented in the new-comer an enemy who would spare no pains to weaken the hold of superstition on the Maharaja's mind and to thus render him less liable to be led astray by them. Virjanand heard of their machinations, but caring neither for prince nor peasant but in the prince and peasant's own interests, he was, perfectly indifferent as to what they thought of him and as to what plots they formed against him.
Virjanand had been teaching he Maharaja three years, when one day, His Highness, forgetting that it was time for his lesson, joined a party of pleasure and spent several hours in enjoyment. The result was, that it was extremely late when he put in an appearance at the house of his preceptor, whom he found in a temper. "You have broken your promise, Maharaja," said he, "but I will not, and I now think myself absolved from my engagement."
His Highness expressed regret at his conduct and promised better behavior in the future, but it was in vain. Virjanand set off from Alwar for Bharatpur without so much as informing the prince that he was going. Possibly, he was convinced that the Maharaja found study no longer pleasant, and this being the case, there was no reason why he should not be strictly uncompromising in adhering to the condition of his engagement in his dealings with His Highness.
Having arrived at Bharatpur, Swami Virjanand stayed there, at the request of Maharaja Balwant Singh, the ruler thereof, for six months, and, when taking his leave of the Maharaja, he prepared to depart to Mursan, a small town, the Maharaja presented him with four hundred rupees in cash and a shawl. At Mursan, the Swami stopped for some time with a wealthy reis named Teekam Singh, and then returned to Swaron, where he fell dangerously ill, the physicians actually going so far as to give him up. But the Supreme Healer came to his assistance, for a nobler mission was yet in store for him, and he must live for many years yet to accomplish it!
It is not known how long Swami Virjanand stayed at Swaron after he had recovered his health, or what places he visited after he had left Swaron the second time; but what is positively certain is, that late in the year 1893, V.E., (A.D. 1836) he arrived at Mathura, and taking up his quarters in a temple resume his work of teaching. As one day after another passed away, the liking of the Swami for Mathura grew stronger and stronger, and finally, he became resolved to permanently settle down in the place. Accordingly, he rented a suitable building, and, reorganizing his classes, formally opened a school.
His fame, as a pre-eminently competent and successful teacher, spread in the city and in its vicinity, and he was ever ready to measure his strength against all who should dispute his learning. Only a single instance would suffice. Rangacharya, the famous leader of the Vaishnovites, came on a visit to Mathura, and his guru, Krishna Shastri, also soon followed him, from the Deccan. The pupils of Virjanand and those of Krishna Shastri met, and a discussion took place between the parties as to the nature of the smasa (combination) in AJATUKTI.
The disciples of Virjanand held that it was shashtitatpursha (Genitive Determinative Compound), while those of Krishna Shastri contended that it was saptamitatpurusha (Locative Determinative Compound). Neither of the two parties would yield, and each referred the question to their guru for a decision. Virjanand assured his disciples that they were in the right while Krishna Shastri told him that truth was on their side. The result of this was, that a discussion was arranged between the teachers, Seth Radha Krishna being assigned the position of Madhayastha, or of one who was to declare, on the termination of the debate, as to which of the two parties had been victorious. The condition of the Shastrartha was, that the party who should come to be defeated should lose two hundred rupees to the other, the Seth supplementing the amount due to the winner by an additional hundred from his own pocket. The news of the approaching discussion spread throughout the city, and the people
flocked, in crowds, to the place where it was to be held. The vidyarthis on both sides took their seats, the presidential seat was duly occupied, and the representative youths from each group stood up to have tilting before the principal combatants should arrive and the shastrartha proper should commence.
Several vidyarthis of Virjanand had express orders to come and inform him at once when the Shastri arrived so that he might be on the spot without delay: but the worthy Shastri never put in an appearance, and the Swami waited for report of his arrival in vain. The Seth being rather partially inclined towards the Shastri and probably well aware how trying it would be to the Shastri to make good his position in an encounter with the prajnachakshus Swami, finally giving it as his judgment that Virjanand has been worsted in the struggle. The bulk of the huge gathering was astonished at such a verdict.
When Krishna Shastri had failed to make his appearance and when no shastrartha had taken place between him and Virjanand , how could the Seth, injustice, declare that Virjanand had been routed? Full of indignation at the conduct of the Seth, the Swami says the Collector, Mr. Alexander, and requested him either to get a Shastrartha held between Krishna Shastri and himself, or, in the absence thereof, to compel the Seth to make the total sum of five hundred rupees to him (Virjanand).
Mr. Alexander counseled the Swami not to bother his head about the money, for the Seth was rich and powerful and could, if necessary, spend thousands to vex and harass him even though he was in the right. In the meantime, the Seth had not been idle. He goes to the Pandits of Agra and Benaras to certify, in writing, that Virjanand had been defeated by the Shastri, and was, of course, the winner of the sum staked on the issue of the encounter.
Virjanand deeply felt this gross injustice, and he wrote to and called upon the Pandits of Benaras (Pandit Kaka Ram Shastri, Gaur Swami, Kahsi Nath Shastri, etc.), to solemnly declare as to who was in the right. These pandits confessed that the right lay on his side, but added: "We have already signed Seth's paper, and we can do no more?" Pitying these selfish men, the Swami went to Agra, but the reply of the Pandits of that place was the same as that of their brethren of Mathura, and he returned from his fruitless trip utterly disappointed.
To make his assurance doubly sure, he commenced an investigation of the question which had given rise to the shastrartha that never came off, and, while yet busied with his books, he heard one day, early in the morning, a Dakshini Pandit repeating the Panini. He listened attentively, and as the Brahman's recitation progressed, the conviction forced itself on his mind that Krishna Shastri was wrong and that he was in the right. From that day, Swami Virjanand transferred his allegiance entirely to the works of the Rishis, and began to instruct his disciples too in the same.
Six months after the Swami had been so shabbily dealt with, Lakshamana Jyotishi (astrologer), a disciple of Krishna Shastri, fell dangerously ill. The astrologer thought it was the Dandi Swami's curse that was at the bottom of his illness, and, being under such an impression, he sent a request to Seth Ram Krishna to see the
Swami and, by making him a reparation, to secure his forgiveness. The Seth duly waited upon the Swami and made known to him the Jyotishi's request, adding that he was willing to offer the Swami double the amount he had lost if he would but grant the forgiveness sought for. Swami Virjanand, in reply, bade the Joytishi and told to disabuse their minds of the impression they were under for man could do nothing and everything rested with God. "You have nothing to apprehend from me," added he; "indeed, I would go so far as to give a thousand rupees from my own pocket to save Jyothishi." The Jyothishi died on the following day. Virjanand had uttered words of truth, for God alone can save.
In the beginning of Samvat 1918, 1861 A.D. a grand Durbar was held at Agra, in which almost all the leading Native Princes took part. Maharaja Ram Singh of Jeyapur was one of those who attended and hearing that a Dandi Swami of no uncommon type was present in the city, requested him to pay him a visit. When the Swami came, the Maharaja rose to advance as for as the door to receive him and conducting him to his own singhasan seated him thereon. After the two had talked a little, the Maharaja expressed a wish to learn Vyakarana (grammar) from the Swami. The Swami replied; " I should be only too happy to accede to your Highness's wishes, provided you would bind yourself to study with me for three hours daily. Works like the Ashtadhyayi are hard reading, and need sustained application.
On second thoughts, His Highness decided not to read Panini or any other similar book. It would as the Swami had kindly considerable time daily to be finally mastered, and His Highness doubted if he could stand the strain or regularly spare the time. "If you would kindly prepare an easy book to your own grammar," said the Maharaja, " I should be glad to learn it." Of course, the could not do it, for that would be an insult to the Rishis, and there was an end of the matter.
At parting the Maharaja presented the Swami with two hundred rupees, two gold mohars, and shawl, but he Swami refused to accept the gift, saying that it was not from interested motives that he had accepted the Maharaja's invitation. The Maharaja did not think it prudent to insist, but after six months sent the things back to the Swami from his own dominions, assigning him further an allowance of rupees fifteen monthly. Another prince allowed the Swami four annas ad ay and on the income thus accruing the Swami principally lived.
Swami Virjanand was a distinguished figure at Mathura, being looked upon, and rightly, as one of the greatest Sanskrit scholars of his time in India and a person of real sterling worth in every respect. whenever any stranger of consequence visited Mathura, he was sure, he is a Native or a European, to call upon the Swami and have a talk with him on the advocacy of what he thought right, won him the respect of all but the selfish. If a European or a Native misquoted the Scripture, or did not take care, or was
unable, to be correct in his pronunciation of Vedic words, he was snubbed there and then. And as we have seen, the Swami was ever ready to vindicate his views when anyone took exception to them and nothing gave him so much pleasure as a public discussion with the supporters of the false orthodoxy of modern times.
The books which, among many others, he held in the greatest abhorrence, were the Puranas. His contempt for these was so absolute that he would sleep with the Bhagwat placed under one of the legs of the couch. And he was not much to blame for his attitude towards the Puranas. Apart from the fact that they are childish and unscientific productions, they are in any place, as immoral as the Tantras, and hence can produce no effect on the reader's mind.
Is it possible that any moral can tolerate the supremely disgusting and insufferable stuff to be found, for instance, the Linga Purana? The feats of the Linga, though heroic (!) indeed, are a record of shame, a tale of utter indecency and obscenity. Do such books teach religion? If the reply be in the affirmative, then we say that they teach a religion which can only debase the people.
Further, a scholar like Swami Virjanand could not but feel that it is the Puranas that have been chiefly instrumental in holding up the true Vedic religion. To the ridicule and contempt of a large portion of mankind. For it is they that evolved a jarring and inharmonious multiplicity out of a perfect, all-embracing Unity.
In a spirit of rivalry and swayed by selfish motives, they relegated the Supreme Being, of whom the Veda speaks, to the background, and set up each of the various names and from under which He appears in the Scripture, as an independent and absolute Deity. Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Devi, and so on, are no longer names of the same all-wise, all-powerful and all-pervading Lord, but figure in the pages of the Puranas as separate and distinct personalities perpetually at war with each other and fiercely disputing or ignoring each other's claim to the sovereignty of the universe..
And thus, thanks to the Puranas, idolatry had sprung up where the worship of the one and only God originally existed, the many false gods have come to usurp the place which rightfully belongs, has always belonged, and shall ever belong, to the Paramaatma alone. No genuine follower of the Vedas can help to resent the perfidious concoctions of the authors of the Puranas, and of Swami Virjanand nothing less could have been expected.
An anecdote is told of the Swami, which shows how he felt towards the misleading modern compositions. Mr. Priestly, the officiating Collector, and a really worthy European, calling upon the Swami one day, asked if he could do him any service. The Swami replied that the greatest service the collector could do to him was to get hold of every copy of the Kaumud existing in the land and have it thrown into the Jamuna. Such is the value which the jeweler will always place on all false brilliants!
Swami Virjanand was of medium height, sparely built, and fair in complexion. He lived principally on milk and fruits. He would often put some saunf (aniseed) into his milk before drinking
it. Once, through mistake, he swallowed arsenic, in sufficient quantity to kill a man. Prompt measures were taken as soon as the mistake was discovered. By having water, in copious quantities, but slowly and in the form of a thin stream, poured on his head, by lacing the body in a particular position, and by the force of will-power on the internal apparatus he was at last fortunate to escape the great danger that threatened his life.
Swami Virjanand died of colic pains in Samvat 1925, 1868 A.D. at the age of seventy-one. It is said that two years before his demise, he had foretold his disciples that he should die on a certain day and of such a disease. He left this property worth Rs. 525 to Pandit Jugal Kishore, one of his pupils. When Swami Dayanand heard of his teacher's death, he exclaimed: "Verily, the sun of Vykarana has set!"
Virjanand's entire life passed in teaching, but the only man who came up to his ideal of a pupil, whose heartbeat in response to his own, who promised to realized the aspirations of the Blind Swami's great soul, was Dayanaand.At Mathura -studies under Swami Virjanand.
Back to contents
Dayanand reached Mathura in any part of the year 1916, V.E (1859), and put up in the temple of Lakshmi Narayan. the accounts he had heard of Virjanand's learning proved only too correct, and he immediately sallied forth in quest of his dwelling, which he was not long in finding. For there was scarcely anyone in Mathura who was unacquainted with the name of the Dandi Swami, who had not heard of his vast learning, and who did not know that the stern old Sanyasi always lived with his doors shut. Dayanand knocked at the door, and the question came in sharp tones from within, "Who is there?"
"A Sanyasi, Dayanand by name," was the reply.
"Do you know anything about Sanskrit grammar?"
Yes, I have studied Saraswata, etc."
At this reply the door opened, and Dayanand went in. Virjanand examined Dayanand, and, on the termination, told him that there was a vast difference between the true Aryan Literature and the books composed by common mortals, and as for himself, he had absolutely no respect for the latter and never taught them. Dayanand could not disabuse his mind of the idea he had clung to for years, in a moment, but he arguments of the Swami prevailed, and he eventually consented to have nothing to do with the works which had the stamp of true science and true wisdom on them.
He even went so far as to throw in the Yamuna his old stock, so that Vrijanand might be pleased, and admit him as his pupil. But, though all this was satisfactory enough, the fact could not be lost sight of that Dayanand was a Sanyasi, and Virjanand could not see how a Sanyasi could afford to carry on his studies with him. "I am not in the habit of teaching Sanyasis," said he; "but if I take you in as a pupil, how will you manage to live?" Dayanand replied that he would find himself food somehow or other, no matter if it was the coarsest possible: all that he cared for was knowledge, and that, hoped, Virjanand would not refuse him. Finding him persistent in his entreaties, Virjanand at last granted Dayanand's prayer, and having raised a subscription of thirty-one rupees got him a copy of the Mahabhashya to commence his studies with.
Shortly after Dayanand had come and taken up his abode at Mathura, a severe famine spread in the land, and even the well-to-do
become sparing of their gifts to the suppliants. The hospitality extended to the vidyarthis began to be more or less withheld, and they were often hard to put to it for a meal. Dayanand behaved manfully in this period of trial, living on the roasted gram, or on dry bread made of the same article, from day-to-day. These came to him from the house of Durga khatri, Dakawala.
Nothing less can be expected of a true Sanyasi, or of a true Brahmachari. In whatever character Dayanand may be regarded, he proved himself fully worthy of it. An austere life is an essential condition of true brahmacharya, and a Sanyasi that is not perfectly contented with whatever the householder gives him in the shape of victuals, belies the traditions of the order to which he belongs.
In course of time, a certain Pandit Amar Lal, a man of philanthropic mind and of unbounded charities, struck with the virtues of Dayanand, took upon himself to supply him with food and with books. He made a point of taking him daily home and of seeing him take his meals in his presence.
If ever he had the invitation to dine at a friend's house: he would never obey the call until he had first fed his guest at his own house. Dayanand was deeply beholden to this generous man, and his gratitude lasted till death. It is said that the Pandit feasted no-less than one hundred twenty-five Brahmans daily at his dwelling! Another person, to whom Dayanand was indebted for pecuniary help, was one Hardev, who used to give him two rupees monthly for "milk."
A money-changer, named Govardhan Das, also assisted him according to his means, defraying his expenses on oil, which came up to four annas a month.
Dayanand's life at Mathura was a life of incessant toil. He read day and night, spending hours in thought and contemplation, and frequently holding discussions with his fellow-students on various subjects of importance. In his moments of leisure, he would speak to those around him on the value of Brahmacharya, and exhort them, the Brahmans to particular, to be regular in the performance of their sandhya and their agnihotra. His extreme thirst for knowledge, his quick and clear perception of the nature of things, his lucid and convincing expositions of Shastric teaching, and, above all, his righteous ways made him a favorite with the vidyarthi community, and his company was sought after by them, one and all.
Dayanand's reverence for Virjanand increased daily. He loved and served him with his whole heart, performing most cheerfully the humblest offices to please him and to make him more comfortable. He would sweep the floor, and bring pitcher after pitcher of water from the Yamuna, so that the dirt might be effectually washed out of the house, and his preceptor has his daily bath liberally.
Virjanand was often cross with his foremost pupil, and, in his anger, would order him to be driven out of the house; but Dayanand would not mind his roughness and would re-gain his favor by his humility and his attentions. Whenever he found that his own entreaties were of no avail, he would get some influential man to intercede for him with his teacher, and the
desired forgiveness was eventually obtained. Swami Virjanand, it is said, would frequently inflict corporal punishment upon Dayanand.
One day he dealt him such a blow with hs stick as to seriously injure his hand. The only reply which Dayanand made to his guru was to address him as follows: "Most holy Sir, you should not give yourself so much trouble on my account. My body is hard as iron and cannot be hurt much with your stick. Your own delicate hands might suffer by the exertion, and that would give me real pain."
The mark of the blow remained on Dayanand's hand as long he lived, and whenever he looked at it, the remembrance of the debt of immense and endless gratitude, which he was under to his guru, would make his whole being thrilled with emotion.
Dayanand read with Swami Virjanand for two years and-a-half, and during this period he had mastered Ashtadhyayi, Mahabhashya, the Vedanta Sturas, and many other works. And when his course of education was finished, and he thought it was time for him to leave, he, in conformity with the sages of olden times, approached his guru and, laying half a seer of cloves before him, asked permission to depart.
Virjanand gave him his blessings and called upon him to produce, after the fashion of the students of yore, suitable dakshina (present) marking the termination of his course of education. Dayanand made answer that he had nothing that he could venture to offer to his most revered guru. "Do you think I would ask you for anything you have not got?" was the rejoinder. Being silenced by the loving rebuke. Dayanand said: "Most holy Sir, I am ready to lay at your feet whatever you thing I have really got in my possession."
"Dear son, you have got it, and that is true knowledge. If you would pay me my dakshina, give this knowledge to thy mother-land. The Vedas have long ceased to be taught in Bhraartavarsha (India), go and teach them; teach the true Shastras, and dispel, by their light, the darkness which the false creeds have spread. Remember that while works by common men are utterly misleading as to the nature and attributes of the one true God, and slander the great Rishis and Munis, those by the ancient teachers are free from such a blemish. This is the test which will enable you to differentiate the true, ancient teaching from the writings of ordinary men."
Dayanand bowed his head in acquiescence, assuring his guru that he would do his best to accomplish the task assigned to him, upon which the guru once more gave him his blessing and permitted him to depart. How far Dayanand kept his word and how far he succeeded in redeeming that word, is known to the world. Few men have labored as Dayanand did. His self-sacrifice and his patriotism were of the highest possible type, almost who can but say that they might once more prove the making of India? Verily, they will!
Five-year review of past studies.
Back to contents
Dayanand's life, as we are well aware, had, for years been the life of a Brahamchari and a Sanyasi combined, and anything but lacking in the vanaparastha stage. He had from his childhood onwards been passionately found of study, profoundly meditative and wholly indifferent to the comforts and attractions of the world. We may, in the contemplation of his personality, before, in obedience to a welcome summons from a great teacher, he appeared on the arena of great reforms, recognize in him almost exclusively the Brahmachari, but what of that? His was an ideal brahmacharya of the ancient type, identical with and embracing both the Vanaprastha and the sanyasa.
He devoted long periods to reflection and self-subjugation, and he was formally initiated into the sanyasa, and was thus Vanaprastha and the in one. But we maintain that even if he had not gone through the forms, even if he had not put on ochre-colored garments and sought the forest and the cave, he would still be a true Vanaprasthi and a true Sanyasi, for it is the spirit which imparts life and reality to all distinctions, titles and appellations. Henceforward, we shall know him as Swami Dayanand Saraswati.
Virjanand's great pupil entered upon the work which he might take in hand as of right; but it was not much that he accomplished during the first five years (Samvaat 1920 -25), A.D. 1863 - 68 the greater part of this period being applied to a revision and review of his past acquisitions. The strongest man when preparing for a leap would go back several steps to be able to put the success his entire energy into the exertion awaiting him, and so it is with the preacher and the teacher.
However able and gifted these may be, they must take stock of all their resources before they burst upon the public, to brave and to bend it to their will and to thus accomplish the great mission of their life. Whatever little we know of the work of Swami Dayanand during the five years specified, may be described in the compass of a few chapters.
Soon after parting with his teacher, the Swami visited Agra. Here he put up in Lala Gulla Mal Aggarwal's garden, giving himself up to his books and preferring retirement. One day, a wealthy Sanyasi, named Kailas Parvat, came and halted in this very garden and commenced a katha. The Gita is no easy book, and it was no surprise if an average Sadhu, acquainted but imperfectly with the Shastras, should break down when expounding a particularly difficult verse.
Kailas Parvat, in due course coming to one of the difficult couplets, failed to explain it to the satisfaction of his audience. Someone among the gathering humbly requested Swami Dayanand, who happened to stay there at the time, to interpret the verse. The Swami complied, and his exposition was so learned and beautiful that the listeners were charmed. Kailas Parvat joined in the applause, praising the Swami's superior learning and advising those desirous of study to come to him for their lesson. The counsel was gladly followed by the individuals to
whom it was given, and several of them commenced coming to Swami Dayanand for instruction.
At the request of the people, the Swami began here a katha of the Panchdashi. But he had not gone through many pages when he came across a passage which said that God himself is subject to the power of maya (delusion!) Hastily throwing down the book the Swami informed the congregation that he should no longer have anything to do with such mischievous and misleading stuff.
It was the composition of a common man, and he could not, in defiance of the express orders of his guru, teach a book prejudicial to the works of the Rishi's. the Swami got the Sandhay (the Arya Prayer-book) first published at Agra, and the publication pleased his admirers so much that a gentleman named Rup Lal had thirty thousand copies of it distributed.
During his residence at this place Dayanand was in constant correspondence with Swami Virjanand, who remove the doubts that arose in his mind from time to time. He sometimes waited upon him in person, to have answers in full.
In Samvat 1921 (1864 A.D.), after about two years of residence at Agra, Dayanand set off towards Dhaulpur in search of the Vedas, and from here he repaired to Lashkar Gwaliar. Early in 1865 A.D. the Maharaja had the saptah or seven-days katha of the Bhagwat set up. No less than four hundred Pandits were to take part in and conduct the rites connected with katha. Hearing of this, the Swami, who was then on the Abu Hills, came down with four or five vidyarthis, and began to fearlessly expose the absurdities and the immoral teaching of the book.
The Maharaja was not long in being informed of the Swami's arrival. He once ordered some of his men to wait upon him and ascertain his opinion as regards the desirability or otherwise of the katha which the state Pandits had commenced.
The Swami's reply was that such a thing, as the result would show, could be productive of nothing but pain and suffering. "If His Highness is sincerely desirous of doing something meritorious," added the Swami, "he should have the Bhagwat discontinued in favor of "Gayatri-recitation." When the reply was communicated to the Maharaja, he burst out laughing, remarking playfully that it was not for him to contradict a Sanyasi like the Swami; but as for himself, he could not revoke his order, as the preparations in connection with the katha were complete.
The katha came to an end, but, strange to relate, the very night the reading terminated and the royal drums beat to announce the joyful event, the Maharani was prematurely confined to give birth to a still-born child. And only a month or two after cholera of a virulent type broke out in the city, carrying away thousands, including the Maharaja's son, Of course, the Swami was no believer in miracles. When he spoke unfavorably of the Bhagwat, he did so because the book is really an execrable production and an outrage upon the glory of the Supreme, who alone should be worshipped and adored. Honoring and reading such books can do no good to anyone either in this world or for the next. If a series of misfortunes befell the Maharaja,
they were not effects of the Swami's prophecy. The Swami must have spoken of the veil of reading the Bhagwat, in like terms, in many other places, and it may be presumed that the announcement did not lead to anything like the disastrous consequences which followed his declaration in the Gwaliar State. Enlightened men will always be careful how they connect as cause and effect events not linked together by any such relation, events which are mere accidents and nothing else.
The Swami repeatedly sent challenges to Ramacharya, Gopalcharya and others for a shastrarth, but no one came forward for a discussion.
Leaving Lashkar Gwaliar, Swami Dayanand proceeded to Karoli, and thence having passed onto the capital of the Jeypur State, in company with three Brahmans, put up in a garden. There or four shastrarths were held here, on a minor scale, and in each of these, his deep learning and acute reasoning exported admiration from all present. In one of the discussions, held in the presence of Vyas Baksshi Ram, in a State Mandir, the Raj Pandits went so far as to deny that the Mahabhashya was an authoritative Vyakarna! When the Swami called upon them to put the same in writing, they looked foolish and said nothing.
At the request of Thakur Ranjit Singh of Achrol, conveyed through Thakur Hamir Singh of Bekaneer, the Swami visited the former and the two conversed on dharmic subjects. The Swami's words produced the desired effect on the Thakur's mind. He gave up idolatry, and going daily to the residence-place of the Swami, would hear him explain the Manu Smriti and the Upanishads. The katha was attended by many other people besides.
The expositions of the Swami were so clear and so conviction-carrying that his listeners could not fail to be influenced for the better.
Witness are not wanting, even so late as now, are not wanting, even so late as now, whose sense of gratitude compels them to depose that they were real gainers by the Swami's presence in their midst. If they were addicted to drinking, it was that noble individual whose comments on the words of the Rishis weaned them from their evil habit. If they were loose in morals and were wont to set the dictates of virtue at defiance, it was he who taught them to behave better. And so on. Every man who had occasion to come in contact with the Swami, felt all the better for having been in his company.
The Swami, though a believer in one God and teaching Him alone, had still the symbols of Shaivism on his person. He converted thousands of people to his own purer form of Shaivism, distributing rudraksas (necklaces or rosaries) to al his admirers. It was he who initiated the Maharaja Ram Singh into the creed.
In Samvat 1922 (March, 1866 A.D.) Swami Dayanand left Jeypur for Pushkar, where a great fair was going to be shortly held. Having reached this place, he put in the Brahma Mandir, and, inviting discussions, commenced a vigorous refutation of idol-worship. Many Brahmans took up the challenge but were invariably worsted in the struggle. Seeing how utterly unable they were
to cope with the Sanyasi, they, in their despair, waited upon a learned man named Baikuth Shastri, and solicited his help. The Shastri promised to hold a Shastrarth with the Swami at his own quarters, but failing, for some reason or other, to keep his appointment, the Swami himself repaired to his abode, and the contemplated discussion came off in the presence of four hundred Brahmans.
The Shastri spoke in favor of the Bhagwat, and the Swami against the teaching of that book. So scathing was the Swami's criticism on what the Shastri had no alternative but to take shelter, like average Pandits, in mere "word-controversy." But here also he found in his antagonist more than his match.
As a last resource, the Shastri conducted the Swami to his guru, who, on hearing the arguments of both parties, gave his verdict in the Swami's favor. Baikunth Shastri bowed to his master's superior judgment and had the frankness to acknowledge in public that Dayanand was in the right.
It would appear that during his continuance at Pushkar, the Swami had ceased to be even a nominal adherent of Shaivism. He advised the people to cast off the great symbol of Shaivism - the necklace and to have nothing to do with the creed. As a result of this, Baikunth Shastri was deluged with complaints against the Swami, but that good man replied that he failed to see why he should meddle with the Sanyasi's doing. "But, said he in conclusion, "whatever" the worth of Dayanand's teaching, he will never succeed in his mission till he has gained some prince as his disciple."<<< Prev---------------------Next >>>
Back to contents of book
"The man who resolves, to stick to the truth at
all costs, steadily rises in virtues. When his virtues raise his reputation
and prestige, he becomes all the more a devotee of truth. This devotion to
truth becomes an unerring source of power and greatness." Swami Dayanand
Back to top of Page