SATYARTH PRAKASH A CATALYST OF VEDIC RENAISSANCE
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
France and Flanders of 1914. The First World War between Germany, Turkey and nations under their influence were on one side; England, France, their allies and colonies were in the opposite camp. Indeed the result was known to both the belligerent camps even before the battles were fought and lost by the German soldiers and their friendly nations.
SATYARTH PRAKASH OR THE LIGHT OF TRUTH, a magnum opus of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, that had made godmen, false prophets, magicians masquerading as Mahants of many a centre of religion run for their money made a debut in the battle fields of France and Flanders among the Indian soldiers who hailed from the North India.
Satyarth Prakash was distributed by some soldiers free of cost. One copy in the Urdu language was offered to my grand uncle and he accepted it with thanks. On cessation of hostilities and signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the bayonets were put back in scabbards, swords were sheathed and bullets returned to bandoliers. The newly introduced Tanks of the Allied powers were recalled to factories for additional trials The short service commissioned officers were given the option to go home or join one of the para-military forces, jawans and enlisted men made a beeline to their pre-war professions.
My grand uncle, R.L. Sawant returned to his parent department with that prized copy of the Satyarth Prakash in his towed luggage.
The book brought Renaissance in the life of our rural oriented family. Learning Vedic Thought was the new craze. The outward changes were brought about and the whole family, including women folk, were overjoyed in being consulted by men folk while decisions of far reaching importance were being made. The prefix “Munshi”before the surname, Sawant, was replaced by the new-fangled name, Mahashay. Many men and women liked it and loved to wear it on their sleeves. Rituals that smacked of some superstitious beliefs were given a go bye. The SANSKARS, sixteen of them, prescribed by Swami Dayanand Saraswati were now observed with a zeal and gusto unknown heretofore. Every effort was made to distance the Sawants from the traditional rituals and
old superstitions. The neo-Aryas of the younger generation were more enthusiastic than the original Aryas of the pre-historic age. Be that as it may, a complete make over of the Sawant family and many more families of that ilk was undergone willingly, painlessly and with aplomb. One had to see it to believe that the wave of the Vedic Renaissance was around. Believe you me, one single book of 730 odd pages had done it. Named the Satyarth Prakash or Light of the Truth, the book was a masterpiece of the Vedic Philosophy of Life and also dealt with sundry subjects like Education, Marriages, Extinction of life that is Death, Rebirth, Death again and the cycle that has to be broken or sublimated in order to attain MOKSHA or liberation from that cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
THE BOOK THAT WAS
Not many men and women are aware of the fact that Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati wrote the book with the same name twice. His enemies in the realm of religion went out of their way to ensure that what came out of the printing press was not the same thing as what had been fed to the machines.
1875 – an important year indeed in the history of the Arya Samaj. That year the Arya Samaj was founded at Kakadwadi in Bombay, now Mumbai. The same year the First Edition of the Satyarth Prakash was published and lapped by the common man. Despite the printer’s devil, the book came as a welcome relief to Hindu men and women who were under attack from the Christian padre and the Muslim mullah. Preachers of the India-oriented faiths were not at all kind to the Aryas and a war of words at short notice always sprang up to the delight of the imported Padre and the Fez cap wearing bearded Mullah or the English speaking padre who spared no opportunity to make a swipe at the sexy stories of the Bhagwat Puran. Preaching the new concept eulogised in the Vedas was a hard nut to crack. Nevertheless the life went along at a place and a pace that hurt none but did not please everyone.
The First Edition of the Satyarth Prakash written in 1874 but published in 1875 contained grave errors. The 13th chapter dealing with the Christianity and the 14th chapter dealing with the anomalies of Islam were left out of the Satyarth Prakash by the printers.
Some whispers suggested that it was so devised so that the Christians and the Muslims are not annoyed. Swami Dayanand Saraswati noticed these grave errors and did not let them pass as Printer’s Devil. The great Sanyasi used to sit or stand in the centre, with the script writers squatting around and penning down what the Rishivar dictated. Some of these pundits who were paid daily, surreptitiously interpolated and wrote on their own what the SANYASI had not dictated at all. At one place, the paid writers wrote sentences supporting meat eating. This had to be deleted before the 1883 edition of the Satyarth Prakash saw light of the day. There were a number of spelling mistakes too that could not be corrected before the First Edition was put on the shelf for sale.
Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati was a bold man. He did not want to let the erroneous edition remain in the market for sale. He recalled all of them. He withdrew the Edition from the booksellers in toto to be revised and published afresh. The Swami did that before his sad demise in 1883. He himself corrected all the mistakes but the corrected edition could be marketed only after his death on 30th October 1883.
Prof JTF Jordens of the University of Australia, a prolific writer on Dayanand Saraswati and Swami Shraddhanand Saraswati was pained at the interpolations and condemned the wrong-doers. He wrote that the First Edition was not available in the book market now.
Thus the mischief mongers had limited access to the First Edition and the extent of the damage to the reputation of Swami Ji was thus contained. Let us leave it at that and explore other avenues where praise for the Second Edition is available. Let us examine that Edition that was published after the demise of Swami Dayanand Saraswati.
THE PRESENT EDITION
Taking the second edition of the Satyarth Prakash as it is, one finds that the order of chapters and their contents have been left undisturbed. The spelling mistakes have been, by and large, attended to.
There are no glaring mistakes and the Satyarth Prakash, Fifth Edition, is acceptable to the Aryan word. The chapters criticizing Christianity and Islam have been made an indivisible part of the book .When Swami Dayanand Saraswati included some material, good or bad, who are we to delete the same. In the eye of a good Arya Samajist, an attempt in that direction will indeed be an exercise in futility. It must be abandoned forthwith.
DEFENDING THE BOOK
•Since 1883, the book in question has been coming under attack off and on. On the one hand the Muslim diehard and on the other hand filing court cases to ban the book in perpetuity has borne no result for them. Attempts to launch a series of violent episodes against the bookseller, M/S Rajpal and Sons came to a naught. A horse may be brought to water but it cannot be forced to drink it. The advocates of other religions have filed legal cases against the publishers and promoters of the English edition of the Satyarth Prakash. One is glad to note that the riff-raffs who did this to gain cheap publicity have failed miserably. Now there is no case pending against the Arya Samaj or the Satyarth Prakash in any court of law.
ATTACK IS BEST FORM OF DEFENSE
Before the advent of the Arya Samaj and the aggressive spirit inculcated into the Aryas through the reading, research and meditation on the principles of Defence enunciated in the sixth chapter of the Satyarth Prakash that puts forth Raj Dharm for both Raja and Praja, an average Hindu was always on the defensive and bore the verbal attack of followers of other religions rather meekly. This emboldened them beyond imagination and a shieldless Hindu cowered. However, the battle situation underwent a dramatic change with the publication of the Satyarth Prakash First Edition in 1875 followed by a more comprehensive edition containing 14 chapters unlike the First Edition that had only 12 chapters. The 1883 edition taught not only the Arya Samajists but also he-men of the dormant Hindu Samaj how to defend self, the family and the Hindu Dharma from the brutal onslaught of proselytizing religions like Islam and Christianity.
The Arya Samaj, emboldened by the teachings of the Satyarth Prakash and personal example set by Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati launched the Shuddhi movement and welcomed converts from other faiths with open arms. The recorded history bears witness to the fact that the writer of the Satyarth Prakash, Dayanand Saraswati Swami had motivated two Muslim men in Dehra Dun and Lucknow to convert to the Vedic Dharm which they did. Indeed in later years it was Shraddhanand Sanyasi, founder of the Gurukul Kangri, who brought back to the Vedic Dharma thousands of Muslim Malkana Rajputs and changed the scenario of religious conversions completely. The Aryas led the remaining Hindu community to develop a bold approach to life and launch attacks on those who were known predators in the human society.
The Hindus in general, led by the Arya Samajists, could now walk erect holding their heads high. And, pray, why not? All human beings have a right to live with honour and pay back the attacker in the same coins It is quite understandable that the new bold attitude to living life by votaries of the Vedic Dharma gave a jolt to the non-Hindus. I shall dismiss the complaints of non-Hindus by saying that the Thought and Action generated by the writings of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati in the Satyarth Prakash were the need of the hour. The magnum opus of the Aryas gave them and the rest of the Hindu samaj a place of honour under the firmament. They learnt how to be physically fit, mentally alert and spiritually robust to face any adverse situation, repulse any attack and assimilate any men and women of other faiths into the Vedic Dharma.
I have no reason to complain if the non-Hindus launched court cases galore against the Satyarth Prakash. They thought that if the source of moral strength of the Hindus was eliminated legally, their new-found freedom of Dharma would die a pre-mature death. How mistaken they were who seek sustenance from Heaven Four and Heaven Seven, that is Christians and Muslims respectively, because the make-believe world does not preserve, protect and defend the humanity living in the real world of today. Some pacifists among the Hindus are of the opinion that we should live and let live. Fine. But how far removed they are from the hard realities of the 21st century The leaders of the Muslim community in India, especially in Kerala have launched a movement called Love-Jihad. Their game plan is to entice the Hindu girls in their impressionable period of life, forcibly convert them to Islam and marry the Islamic way for form’s sake. Abandon them later or sell them into the flesh trade. No less a person than Justice Shankaran Nair, a sitting judge of the Kerala High Court, drew the attention of the government to these nefarious activities and ordered the Police to investigate such cases and arrest the men indulging in marital fraud. It is here that the Satyarth Prakash is needed to be taught and the girls must be enlightened about the Vedic way of life and also how lowly life women who convert to Islam live. Pastors, priests, bishops and arch-bishops are on the war path of conversion in India that is Bharat. Their aim is to have as large a flock of Christians as possible to make the Shephard as happy as possible. At whose cost will their flock increase?
Obviousy at the cost of the Hindu community. Therefore, the Aryas who read the Satyarth Prakash and follow the advice of the Rishivar in preserving, protecting and defending the Vedic Dharm believers from numerous attacks in all types of sweetened schemes must now become Pro-Active. Let us not wait for the proselytizing priests to go into remote hamlets, villages, tribal habitats and then launch a counter offensive to ward off their nefarious schemes. It is the duty of Dayanand’s disciples to remain alert all the time and not let a situation arise where we lose our brethren and sisters to the flock of Christ.
Here again, it is the Satyarth Prakash that will come to our rescue to counter the false propaganda of Christian priests and not let our kith and kin go astray. In the grim situation today when the Hindu society is under surreptitious attack through stealth agencies that the Satyarth Prakash is needed by both the Purohit and plain Aryas. We must possess a personal copy each of the Satyarth Prakash printed and published in a language that we are comfortable in.
Likewise, it is our religious obligation to freely give away copies of the Satyarth Prakash to people who cannot afford to buy themselves. Some copies of the Satyarth Prakash in English or Hindi or any other relevant language may be given away to students graduating from colleges. Even if ten per cent graduates read the Satyarth Prakash, our aim will be achieved. Let us make a beginning in this regard sometime somewhere. Let that sometime be NOW. If we make a beginning now, we will reach the destination and achieve our aim sooner than later. Indeed, Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati’s Satyarth Prakash has been the catalyst for the Vedic Renaissance and the entire Mankind has been the beneficiary.
Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Source: World Hindu News (WHN)