Teachings of Arya Samaj

Shuddhi Movement + Philanthropic work

The nature of scriptural authority in Hinduism is different from Islam and Christianity in the sense these two world religions claimed more or less exclusive divine authority for their books, the Veda never put up any such claim. Hinduism thus suffered from the universal character of their scriptures. D was aware of this disadvantage and was moved by the evalengical spirit of Christianity & Islam to create a similar militancy in Hinduism itself. He therefore, moved to give the Vedas the same degree of supernatural authority, which was claimed by the Koran and Bible.

By doing so D made a departure from the line of ancient Hindu fathers, But, by doing so he rendered an immense service to the new nationalist movement in India. He saw these world religions making deep inroads into India and realized that unless action was taken, India would in course of time ceased to be the land of the Hindus. Impressed was D by the credal universalism of Christianity and Islam that he wanted to seek it for his own religion. Thus, it seems was the logic behind statement on the Infallibility of the Vedas upon he wanted to build Hindu society and Hindu nation. Satyarth-Prakash clearly proves this interpretation of Dayanand’s thought.

The process of reconverting Hindus who had embraced Islam was known as Shuddhi, was accompanied by a Sanghathan movement, which was launched to unify the Hindus and organize them in self-defence. Literally speaking Shuddhi means purification but when used by the Arya Samajists, it means reconversion. The Samaj being a Vedic church received a considerable success in reconverting Hindus.

But this provoked the Muslims. How could the Arya Samaj break their 1200-year-old monopoly? It led to the murder of Lala Ram Chandra in Kashmir in 1923. This was followed by the foul murder of Swami Shraddhananada. The Swami was the founder of the Gurukul at Kangri, a unique educational institution, respected by the Hindus and Muslims during the Non-Cooperation Movement. He was also arrested during the Khilafat movement.

After his release he found that Muslims were harassing Hindus, converting them. He launched the Shuddhi movement. Because of his saintly character, courage and moving oration more than 18,000 Muslims returned to Hindu fold in some parts of U.P. alone. They also succeeded in reconverting a number of Hindus who had been forcibly converted to Islam during the Moplah rebellion in Kerala in 1920.  The Muslims were upset, oddly though some Hindu Congress leaders joined the Muslim chorus in denouncing the Swami. The Swami narrated one more incident in his journal Liberator “As regards the removal of untouchability, it has been authoritatively ruled several times that is the duty of Hindus to expiate for their past sins and non-Hindus must have nothing to do with it. But the Muslims and Christian Congressmen have openly revolted against this dictum. Even such an unbiased leader such as Shri Yakub Hassan, openly called upon Muslims the duty of converting all the untouchables in India to Islam”.

India’s first President Dr Rajendra Prasad exposed the double standards adopted by the critics of the Swami. “It is difficult to understand how Christians and Muslims can object to the Shuddhi movement on its merits. The Hindus must have the same rights as propagating as others have”.

On 23/12/1926, when the Swami, after a serious attack of pneumonia, was lying in his bed, a Muslim by the name Abdul Rashid came to see him, asked for a glass of water and when the attendant went in, took out his revolver and shot at the Swami four times. When Rashid was caught and charge sheeted the Muslims collected a large fund for his defence. Says The Times of India of 30/11/1927 “It is reported that for earning merit for the soul of Abdul Rashid, the murderer of the Swami, in the next world, the students and professors of the famous theological college of Deoband finished complete recitations of the Koran and had planned to finish a daily lakh and a quarter recitations of Koranic verses”.

Quoting Pattabhi Sitaramayya at the Gauhati Congress session of 1926 “Gandhi expounded what true religion was and explained the causes that led to the murder. Now you will perhaps understand why I have called Abdul Rashid a brother and I repeat it. I do not regard him as guilty of Swami’s murder. Guilty indeed are those who excited feelings of hatred against one another”.

Those who seek to promote Hindu-Muslim unity, always by unilateral concessions, found fault with the Samaj for its propaganda activities. In order to ventilate their grievances and establish their rights, the International Aryan League convened an Indian Aryan Congress at Delhi in 1927.

But its greatest success was in improving the lot of the depressed classes, thereby, preventing them from getting converted. It did so by allowing the depressed classes the privilege of wearing the sacred thread, educating them to higher ideals with a view to putting them on the same social level as other Hindus. In a nutshell would say that the Samaj has done excellent work on taking the depressed classes into the Hindu fold during that period esp. in North India.

Outside Christian circles, the Samaj was the first purely Indian association to organize Orphanages and Widow'’ homes. The first Hindu orphanage was established at Ferozepur in Punjab, there are several others in North India.

Between 1877 and 1910 there were about ten famines of which atleast five were intense and widespread. Famines were due to the failure of the rains, but are in reality due to the inability of the Indian farmer and laborer to purchase food at an enhanced price. India produced enough food for her needs but even in a famine year, foodstuffs were exported from India every year. In 1899-900, millions of tons were exported. So also in 1877-78, 16,000,000 cwt of rice were exported from Calcutta port alone. A single year’s failure of rainfall results in an abnormal rise in prices and throws millions of employment.

The AS was the first non-Christian private agency, which started a non-official movement for the relief of distress caused by famine. It was called the Hindu Orphan Relief Movement, started in Feb 1897, for people hit by the 1896 famine. The famine was in Punjab, Rajputana, and parts of Gujarat. Lala Dewan Chand Chaddha traveled to Jodhpur spent a month in the famine relief camps there. Arya Samajis spread far and wide. Valuable work was done by the Hissar Arya Samaj. They traveled to Mumbai to collect money from fellow Hindus. In Kathiwar as elsewhere children were adopted. Their efforts made the Hindus united and brought the educated classes in touch with the masses for the first time. The missionaries were angry at the work done by the Samajis and there was no love lost between the two. It is not necessary to share more instances of good work done. An indirect fall out of the effort was a revival of the tradition of humanitarian work, an example to be followed in the future. At the time of the earthquake in the Kangra Valley in 1904 it organized relief on a large scale and earned kudos from the people and the govt.

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