l MEET DAYANAND
WRITER – SWAMI SHRADDHANAND
l was born a new when l ﬁrst saw Swami Dayanand Saraswati. I found some faith arose in me. His luster and brilliance amazed me and arrested attention. They overwhelmed me when I saw Rev. T. J.Scott and other Europeans sitting there with great interest. Swamiji had spoken scarcely for 10 minutes when I began to think. “It is surprising to see a Sanskrit pandit speaking so much of sense that astonishes even an educated man.” The subject was ‘OM’. The memories of that day are ever green in my heart. it was the effect of the Rishi’s inﬂuence that made even an atheist like me feel the pleasure in my soul‘s happiness.
Rishi’s Durbar: – It was announced that the following day’s lecture would be held in the Town Hall. Swamiji said in a clear tone that he would be ready at the appointed time it a conveyance would be made available to him.
My father was all attentive as long as the lectures were on conventional subjects like Namaste, Pope, jainee. Keerani, Korani (Salutation. jainism, Christianity. Mohamadanism). When he began to speak In strong terms against idolatry and the Avataras my interest increased and my father’s interest waned. He discontinued attending Swamiji’s lectures and in his place deputed a policeman to do bandobast duty. It had become a daily duty with me till the 24th August to go to Begum Park every evening after food. From two to three in the evening there was the Rishi’s Durbar and mine was invariably the ﬁrst Namaskar to be offered to him. Questions and answers followed, and I used to enjoy them. After the assembly had dispersed the Acharya would leave the Park. I would at once go straight to the Town Hall in my wagonette. Till after Swami Dayanand had disappeared from my sight I would not return home. I was so immersed in his ﬁgure in happiness.
Discussion: with Scott.—Then discussions took place on the 26th, 27th and 29th August with the Rev. T. I. Scott on Rebirth. Incarnation and Forgiveness for sins without reaping their result. The first two days’ discussions were in writing. On the third day I had pneumonia and was prevented from attending. Afterwards l could not see Swamiji. l was so impressed with one of his acts that it still passes before my eyesight.
Spying the Swamji’s Activities.—l found Swamiji leaving always his abode after answering the calls of nature with a Langoti at about three in the morning and returning only after sun-rise. I was anxious to ﬁnd out his activities and was determined to follow him at once. An editor of a newspaper also accompanied me in my attempt. Punctually at three in the morning the Acharya left his abode and we followed him from behind. After having slowly waited a quarter of a mile he began to walk so swiftly that even a swift-paced young man like myself found it difficult to follow him. Near a junction of three roads we missed him. So our ﬁrst attempt was unsuccessful. On the next night we were awake from 2-30. We wanted to run away at the sight of that Rudramurti (fire-ﬁgure). He was walking swiftly and we were running behind him. The Bania editor was gasping and running after me. After covering a distance of half a mile that Rudramurti halted at a wide open place and walked slowly towards a piple tree. On reaching it he sat underneath for an hour and a half in Samadhi. I was not able to see whether he was doing Pranayam or not. But as soon as he sat down it was Samadhi. After rising he shook his body twice and then made his way to the temporary Ashram.
An Incident.—At a Saturday’s meeting it was announced that the following day’s lecture would begin an hour earlier. The Acharya made it perfectly clear that if the conveyance was to be sent to him an hour earlier he would reach the place of lecture in time. On Sunday afternoon people began to gather two hours earlier. The hall was full but the Acharya was not to be seen. Half an hour had passed after the appointed time and still the noise of the carriage was not to be heard. After three quarters of an hour the majestic ﬁgure of Dayanand was seen. Before prayer he said. “I was ready at the time but the conveyance did not come. Waiting for long. l started walking. Gentlemen it is not my fault. it is the fault of the children’s children not keeping to their promises.” Perhaps this referred to his host.
Swami Dayanandji was then staying as the guest of Seth Lakshmi Narayan. He was-the Treasurer to the Government and was then considered at Bareilly to be a millionaire.
Denunciation —Swamiji was condemning all the absurdities and the impossibilities of the Puranas. Among those present there were the Rev. T. J. Scott, Edward the Commissioner. Reid the Collector, about ﬁfty other Europeans and many others. His speech on the Panch Pandava’s marriage. Draupadi’s polyandry. Tara and Mandodnri touched the Dharmic element in the audience to the quick. They were never tired, as the lecturer was rich in wit and humor. The Europeans who attended were reveling in joy and merriment.
The Acharya said: “So much for Purana leela. New let us go to the Kirani Ieela- Christian leela. By saying how the Virgin’s conception took place. they are polluting the spotless eternal Paramatman, With such sins they are not ashamed themselves. The face of the collector and the commissioner turned at once red and the Acharya continued examining Christianity with the same vigour till the end.
The following day the Commissioner sent for “Mr. Lakshminarayan and said, “Make the Swami understand that he should not so play with ﬁre. We Christians are civilised and do not get infuriated at the heat of discussion. But if orthodox Hindus and Muslims get heated your Swami’s lecture shall be stopped.” Having promised to convey this message to Swamiji the Treasurer returned. But he wanted this to be conveyed to Swamiji by someone else, himself not being bold enough to do that.
The Avatar-When l found none stood up. I volunteered and informed Swamiji that the cashier was anxious to speak to Swamiji something about a matter for which the Commissioner had sent for him. Poor man the cashier was helpless. He was either scratching his head or hanging down his head. After five minutes of surprise. Swamiji said, “You are not accustomed to do work at the appointed time. You do not realize the value of time. My time is precious. Speak out your mind.” Then the cashier, in stammering tones. said with great difficulty, “Maharajah, what if you are not so violent in your language? It is no good displeasing the Englishmen. it is better—” so on and so forth. Swamiji at once Joined him, “Why are you so nervous? You have wasted even this time. Perhaps the Saheb would have given you to understand that I am harsh and my lectures would be stopped. Either may happen. Why bother? l am not a man-eater to kill you. Why not you tell me plainly what he said ? Why did you waste so much time?'” At this a faithful Pauranic Hindu onlooker said, “Look at the Avatar! He reads others‘minds.”
Dayanandij’s Answer-—how can that day’s lecture be forgotten? I have heard the best of speeches. but the one which fell from Acharya‘s mouth in simple words so thrilled the audience that I can ﬁnd no equal to it. That day’s lecture was on Atma Swaroopa, and all Europeans of the place except Rev. T.J. Scott were present. Having prefaced his day’s discourse on the might of truth. Swamiji proceeded; “People ask us not to speak the truth less the Collector would get angry, the Commissioner would get displeased and the Governor’s wrath would descend upon us. Even kings and rulers may get displeased. Why should we desist from truth? ‘Then he explained the unique feature of an Alma alter quoting a sloka which means this: “Weapons cannot pierce him, fires cannot burn him, waters cannot drench him and winds cannot move him.
“Then he continued in a roaring voice. “Body is ephemeral and it is waste to do Adharma in protecting it. Whoever wishes to do contrary to this puts an end to his soul.” Casting a glance all around Swamiji exclaimed in a stentorian voice, “Show me the hero who can destroy my soul. So long as you are not able to get one such hero in this world I am not even inclined to think whether l can dodge truth.”The whole audience was calmed into silence and the falling of at pin could be heard then.
Dayanandji meets Mr Scott.-—After the lecture, Rishi Dayanand enquired about the Rev. T. J. Scott and said. “Sincere Scott is not to be seen today”. The missionary was so regular in attendance and was so kind towards Swamiji that he liked him. Someone informed the Rishi that there was a lecture of the reverend gentleman in a chapel close by. On getting down the steps. The Rishi said. “Proceed. let us see the sincere Scott‘s church.” Followed by three to four hundred men. Swamiji went towards the church. The lecture was just then over and the congregation had not even dispersed, The Rev. Mr. Scott seeing Swamiji received him at the gate. Took him to the pulpit and requested him to speak. Swamiji spoke in harsh terms about human worship for about twenty minutes.
The Cashier Redeemed.—-Now about Swamiji‘s other activities. Having known that the cashier had connections with an ill-famed woman. Swamiji asked him his caste. The cashier replied. “What am I to tell you. Who judges one‘s caste from his character, conduct and disposition?” Swamiji said that as there was Varna, he could tell his caste by birth. He said he was a Kathri, Then the Swamiji asked as in what caste a son of a Kathri by a public woman would belong to. The cashier hung down his head in shame. Swamiji said, “I am not criticising any particular individual. I am speaking the truth”. Afterwards the cashier separated from her and sent her away. One small incident and I shall close this.
Discussion on God‘s Existence. — Apart from his being a great Vedic scholar. Rishi Dayanand was an erudite logician. As I was it conﬁrmed atheist l spoke to Rishi Dayanand against the necessity of God’s existence. Within ﬁve minutes’ talk I was silenced. Then I said “Swamiji, your logic is irresistible and, you have no doubt silenced me but you have not shown me the necessity for the existence of God.”My second attempt to question him shared the same fate. After great Preparation I again approached him a third time. Even then my arguments were completely shattered. Then l said. “You are famous for your analytical powers and you have silenced me but you have not shown me the necessity for the existence of‘God.” Laughing at this the Rishi said. “Your questions and my answers are pure and simple mental feats. When can l promise to give you faith in the existence of God? You will have faith when the Almighty is pleased to make you faithful”. I remember his having quoted this: “Not by speech, not byknowledge, not by hearing can He be seen. He manifests to those to whom He is pleased to manifest Himself.”