Swami Shraddhanand

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Swami Shraddhanand on a 1970 stamp of India

Swami Shraddhanand (22 February 1856 – 23 December 1926), also known as Mahatma Munshi Ram Vij, was an Indian education advocate and an Arya Samaj missionary who propagated the teachings of Dayananda Saraswati. This included the establishment of educational institutions, like the Gurukul Kangri University, and played a key role on the Sangathan (consolidation) and the Shuddhi (re-conversion), a Hindu reform movement in the 1920s.

Quotes[edit]

  • The original resolution condemned the Moplas wholesale for the killing of Hindus and burning of Hindu homes and the forcible conversion to Islam. The Hindu members themselves proposed amendments till it was reduced to condemning only certain individuals who had been guilty of the above crimes. But some of the Moslem leaders could not bear this even. Maulana Fakir and other Maulanas, of course, opposed the resolution and there was no wonder. But I was surprised, an out-and-out Nationalist like Maulana Hasrat Mohani opposed the resolution on the ground that the Mopla country no longer remained Dar-ul-Aman but became Dar-ul-Harab and they suspected the Hindus of collusion with the British enemies of the Moplas. Therefore, the Moplas were right in presenting the Quran or sword to the Hindus. And if the Hindus became Mussalmans to save themselves from death, it was a voluntary change of faith and not forcible conversion—Well, even the harmless resolution condemning some of the Moplas was not unanimously passed but had to be accepted by a majority of votes only.
    • Swami Shraddhanand in the Liberator of 26 August 1926. Shraddanand, Swami (26 August 1926). "The Liberator".
  • " There was another prominent fact to which I drew the attention of Mahatma Gandhi. Both of us went together one night to the Khilafat Conference at Nagpur. The Ayats (verses) of the Quran recited by the Maulanas on that occasion, contained frequent references to Jihad and killing of the Kaffirs.But when I drew his attention to this phase of the Khilafat movement, Mahatmaji smiled and said, ' They are alluding to the British Bureaucracy '. In reply I said that it was all subversive of the idea of non-violence and when the reversion of feeling came the Mahomedan Maulanas would not refrain from using these verses against the Hindus. "
    • July 1926, The Liberator. Quoted from B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)

Hindu Sangathan[edit]

  • But when the Muhammedan invaders ... conquered the disorganised Hindu hosts, and Hindu young women began to become a prey to the lust of some of the conquerors, the custom of early marriage and the unnatural purdah were introduced by the degenerate Hindus of northern India as refuge against the inroads of Muslim Ghazis in Hindu homes.
    • Hindu Sangathan p. 95, quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2014). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p.377
  • While Muhammadans multiply like anything, the numbers of the Hindus are dwindling periodical­l­y.
    • Hindu Sangathan, Saviour of the Dying Race (Delhi 1926)
  • When Muhammad Quasim came to the temple whose tower had been thrown down, he found 700 beautiful females under the protection of Buddha "who were of course, made slaves." The temple was probably a Buddhist female Vihara.
  • Shams-ud-din Altamash reduced the Hindu fort of Bhilsa, in 1231, A. D., and destroyed a magnificent temple dedicated to Mahakali. The images of Vikramaditya and Mahakali, which adorned the temple, were conveyed to Delhi and “broken at the door of the” great mosque.
  • The Aryan social polity was based upon instructions laid down in the Vedas ; and the Divine knowledge of the Vedas was believed by the Aryans to have existed from the beginning of the world. Says Sir William Jones, the earliest Vedic Scholar among the English...... "We cannot refuse to the Vedas the honour of an antiquity the most distant."
  • The question naturally arises—What is the first step to be taken in our advance towards Hindu Sangathan ? In my tour throughout India I have seen educated Hindus reluctant to mix with each other. It is only on rare occassions that they meet to discuss common social problems. The reason is that they have no common meeting place. Their sectarian temples have not sufficient space where even a hundred or two could sit together. In Delhi, besides the Jama and Fatehpuri mosques which can accomodate big audiences consisting of 25 to 30 thousands of Muhammadans, there are several old mosques which can serve as meeting places for thousands. But for Hindus, the only enclosed meeting place is Lakshmi Narayana’s Dharmsala which can hardly accomodate some 8 hundred, with this difference that while the Muhammadan meeting are free from all noise, the hubbub of voices from travellers in the Dharamshala hardly allows the speakers to be distinctly heard. The first step which I propose is to build one Hindu Rashtra Mandir at least in every city and important town, with a compound which could contain an audience of 25 thousands and a hall in which Katha from Bhagavad Gita, the Upnishads and the great epics of Ramayana and Mahabharat could be daily recited. The Rashtra Mandir will be in charge of the local Hindu Sabha which will manage to have Akharas for wrestling and gatka etc. plays in the same compound. While the sectarian Hindu temples are dominated by their own individual deities, the Catholic Hindu Mandir should be devoted to the worship of the three mother-spirits (ekr`'kfDr) the Gau-mata, the Saraswati-mata and the Bhumi-mata. Let some living cows be there to represent plenty, let 'Savitri' (xk;=h eU=e~) be inscribed over the gate of the hall to remind every Hindu of his duty to expel all ignorance and let a life-like map of Mother— Bharat be constructed in a prominent place, giving all its characterestics in vivid colours so that every child of the Matri-Bhumi may daily bow before the Mother and renew his pledge to restore her to the ancient pinnacle of glory from which she has fallen !
  • If a beginning, on lines proposed by me in all humility and love, is made with faith, I hope that all the necessary reforms will follow, as night is followed by the day, and the progeny of the ancient Aryans will once more step forward to give salvation to humanity.

About Shraddhanand[edit]

  • It is a notorious fact that many prominent Hindus who had offended the religious susceptibilities of the Muslims either by their writings or by their part in the Shudhi movement have been murdered by some fanatic Musalmans. First to suffer was Swami Shradhanand, who was shot by Abdul Rashid on 23rd December 1926 when he was lying in his sick bed.
    • B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946), p. 146.
  • What is not understandable is the attitude of Mr. Gandhi. Mr. Gandhi has been very punctilious in the manner of condemning any and every act of violence and has forced the Congress, much against its will, to condemn it. But Mr. Gandhi has never protested against such murders. Not only have the Musalmans not condemned these outrages, but even Mr. Gandhi has never called upon the leading Muslims to condemn them. He has kept silent over them. Such an attitude can be explained only on the ground that Mr. Gandhi was anxious to preserve Hindu-Moslem unity and did not mind the murder of a few Hindus, if it could be achieved by sacrificing their lives.
    • Ambedkar, Pakistan or the Partition of India, p. 177.
  • The book Hindu Sangathan, Saviour of the Dying Race (1926) by Swami Shraddhananda... was a true milestone in the development of Hindu revivalism.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2014). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p. 375
  • The reason why Swami Shraddhananda is rarely given due attention in studies of Hindu nationalism is that by his courageous commitment to reform and equality, this pioneer contradicted the negative stereotype so starkly that our experts prefer to keep him out of view.
    • Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism". I.272
  • This was the practical application of Swami Shraddhananda’s book ‘Hindu Sangathan’, Saviour of the Dying Race (1924). If one book can make you understand modern Hindu activism in general, of which Hindu Nationalism and a fortiori the RSS is only one current, it is that one, far more than Bunch of Thoughts.
    • Elst, K. Guha's Golwalkar, 2016. [1]
  • [Gandhi] was harsh on the polemical but non-violent Swami Shraddhananda, and kind to the Swami’s murderer, about whom he stated in public: ‘Abdul Rashid is my brother.’...
    Note also how Gandhi clean forgot his earlier closeness to Swami Shraddhananda. It was Shraddhananda to whom he had sent his two sons to be looked after and educated at Gurukula Kangri near Haridwar, when he was in South Africa. It was Shraddhananda whom he had met at the Gurukul soon after his return to India. And it was Shraddhananda (not Tagore, as is often claimed) who was the first to decorate him with the honorific of ‘Mahatma’, which he wore throughout his life. The least he should have done was to renounce the title bestowed on him by the Swami when he felt so estranged with the latter as to embrace his murderer as brother.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.
  • From Swami Shraddhanand’s point of view what has happened may be called a blessed event. He had been ill. I had not been aware of it, but a friend told me that it would be a miracle if Swamiji survived . . . you see, he (Shraddhanand) was a brave man . . . he had no fear of death for he had faith in God . . . there is nothing to be wondered at that he was killed . . . Today it is a Mussalman who has murdered a Hindu. We should not be surprised if a Hindu killed a Mussalman. God forbid that this should happen but what else can one expect when we cannot control our tongue or our pen? I must, however, say that if any Hindu imitated this act he would only bring disgrace to Hinduism . . . Let us pray to God that we may understand the real meaning of this assassination . . . Let the Hindus remain peaceful and refrain from seeking revenge for this murder. Let them not think that the two communities are now enemies of each other and that unity is no longer possible. If they do, they will be committing a crime and bringing disgrace upon their religions.1
  • Brother Abdul Rashid was shown in. I purposely call him brother, and if we are true Hindus you will understand why I call him so. Swamiji asked his servant to admit Abdul Rashid, because God had willed to show there through the greatness of Swamiji and the glory of Hinduism . . . The murder has been possible because the two communities look upon each other with feelings of hatred and enmity . . . Let every Mussalman also understand that Swami Shraddhanandji was no enemy of Islam, that his was a pure and unsullied life, and that he has left for us all the lesson of peace written in his blood . .
    You will all be accepting this resolution standing while, at this moment perhaps, there are Hindu-Muslim disturbances going on in Delhi. But I tell you that, if every one of you understands and lays to his heart the lesson that Swami Shraddhanandji has left for us, it is again possible to win swaraj in no time. I am a mad man, you will say, accustomed to giving rash promises. Well, I tell you I am not mad, I am still as much in earnest about my programme as I was in 1920, but those who made pledges in 1920 broke them and made swaraj impossible then. We are all children of the same Father—whom the Hindu and the Mussalman and the Christian know by different names . . .
    Now you will, perhaps, understand why I have called Abdul Rashid a brother, and I repeat it, I do not even regard him as guilty of Swami’s murder. Guilty, indeed, are all those who excited feelings of hatred against one another. For us Hindus, the Gita enjoins on us the lesson of equality; we are to cherish the same feelings towards a learned Brahmin as towards a Chandal, a dog, a cow and an elephant. This is no occasion for mourning or tears; it is an occasion that should burn in our hearts the lesson of bravery. Bravery is not the exclusive quality of the Kshatriyas. It may be their special privilege. But, in our battle for swaraj, bravery is essential as much for the Brahmin and the Vaisya and the Sudra as for the Kshatriya. Let us not therefore shed tears of sorrow, but chasten our hearts and steel them with some of the fire and faith that were Shraddhanandji’s.2
  • I wish to plead for Abdul Rashid. I do not know who he is. It does not matter to me what prompted the deed. The fault is ours. The newspaper man has become a walking plague. He spreads the contagion of lies and calumnies. He exhausts the foul vocabulary of his dialect, and injects his virus into the unsuspecting, and often receptive minds of his readers. Leaders ‘intoxicated with the exuberance of their own language’ have not known to put a curb upon their tongues or pens. Secret and insidious propaganda has done its dark and horrible work, unchecked and unabashed. It is, therefore, we the educated and the semi-educated class that are responsible for the hot fever, which possessed Abdul Rashid. It is unnecessary to discriminate and apportion the blame between the rival parties. Where both are to blame, who can arbitrate with golden scales and fix the exact ratio of blame? It is no part of self-defence to tell lies or exaggerate . . . Swamiji was great enough to warrant the hope that his blood may wash us of our guilt, cleanse our hearts and cement these two mighty divisions of the human family.3
    • Gandhi.Young India, excerpted from Gandhi, The Collected Works, Vol. 37, p. 457. Young India essay dated 30 December 1926
  • The expected has happened. Swami Shraddhanandji passed a day or two at the Satyagraha Ashram at Sabarmati, now about six months ago, and told me, in the course of his conversations that he often received letters threatening his life. Where is the refoimer who has not a price put upon his head ? Swamiji was a reformer, he was a man of action not of words. His was a living belief. He had suffered for it. He was bravery personified. He never quailed before danger. He was a warrior. And a warrior loves to die, not on a sick-bed, but on the battlefield. God had willed for him a martyr’s death and so, though he was still on the sick-bed, he died at the hands of an assassin. In the language of the Gita, therefore, ‘happy the warrior who achieves such a blessed death.’ Death is at any time blessed, but it is twice blessed for a warrior who dies for his cause, i.e. truth. Death is no fiend, he is the truest of friends. He delivers us from agony. He helps us against ourselves. He ever gives us new chances, new hopes. He is like sleep a sweet restorer. Yet it is customary to mourn when a friend dies. The custom has no operation when the death is that of a martyr. I cannot, therefore, mourn over his death. He and his are to be envied. For though Shraddhanandji is dead, he is yet living. He is living in a truer sense than when he moved about in our midst in his giant body. The family in which he was born, the nation to which he belonged are to be congratulated upon so glorious a death as this. He lived a hero. He has died a hero.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, Young India — December 30, 1926, as quoted in Inside Congress (1946), p. 6.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, A Gandhi Anthology - Book 1, [2]. Mahatma Gandhi, Congress session in Guwahati, 1926
  • I cannot close the reminiscences of the life of a great reformer without recalling his last visit to the Satyagraha Ashram only a few months ago. Let me assure my Musalman friends that he was no hater of Musalmans,. He undoubtedly distrusted many Musalmans. But he bore them no ill-will. He thought that Hindus were cowed down and he wanted them to be brave and be able to defend themselves and their honour. In this connection he told me that he was much misunderstood and that he was absolutely innocent of many things that were said against him. He told me he had several threatening letters. He was warned by friends not to travel alone. But this man of faith said, "What protection shall I seek but of God ? Not a blade: of grass perishes without His will. I know therefore that nothing can happen to me so long He wishes me to serve through this body."
  • If you hold dear the memory of Swami Shraddhanandji, you would help in purging the atmosphere of mutual hatred and calumny, you would help in boycotting papers which foment hatred and spread misrepresentation. I am sure that India would lose nothing if 90 per cent of the papers were to cease today. ... Now you will, perhaps, understand why I have called Abdul Rashid a brother, and I repeat it, I do not even regard him as guilty of Swamiji's murder. Guilty, indeed, are all those who excited feelings of hatred against one another. For us Hindus, the Gita enjoins on us the lesson of equality; we are to cherish the same feelings towards a learned Brahmin as towards a Chandala, a dog, a cow or an elephant.
  • [Gandhi] was harsh on the polemical but non-violent Swami Shraddhananda, and kind to the Swami’s murderer, about whom he stated in public: ‘Abdul Rashid is my brother.’
    • Mahatma Gandhi, Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.
  • The Arya Samaj was the first Hindu movement to take up a bold stand in this context. Maharshi Dayanand himself had showed up Muhammad for the sort of man he was. Soon after, however, the Arya Samaj was silenced effectively by a series of murders, notably that of Pandit Lekhram and Swami Shraddhananda. The British were inclined to permit fair criticism, particularly that which was based on Islamic sources. But they could not prevent Muslim assassins from taking the law in their own hands.
    • Goel, Sita Ram (editor) (1998). Freedom of expression: Secular theocracy versus liberal democracy. [3] Ch. 6
  • A new type of wisdom, though within the four walls of Islamic fanaticism and day-dreaming, dawned upon Khwaja Hasan Nizami in the early years of the 20th century. He was no ordinary pen-pusher or paid mullah in some suburban mosque. On the contrary, he was a highly placed ‘divine’ in the hierarchy of Nizamuddin Auliya’s prestigious silsilã, and widely honoured in the Muslim world. He published in 1920 a big book, Fãtami Dãwat-i-Islam, in which he advocated all means, fair and foul, by which Hindus were to be converted to Islam. He advised the mullahs to concentrate on Hindu ‘untouchables’, and convert them en masse so that Muslims could achieve parity of population with the Hindus. He disclosed in the introduction to his book that he had consulted many Muslim leaders including the Agha Khan regarding the soundness of his scheme, and that all of them had agreed with the caution that the scheme should be kept a closely guarded secret. Unfortunately for the Khwaja, the scheme came to the notice of Swami Shraddhananda who exposed it, fought it tooth and nail, and frustrated it completely by means of his Shuddhi Movement....
    Abdul Bari clean forgot that Swami Shraddhananda had unconditionally supported the Khilafat agitation under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. It was Swamiji who had bared his breast in Chandni Chowk on March 30, 1919, and dared the British soldiers to try their bullets on him. It was Swamiji whom the Muslims of Delhi had invited to address them from the mimbar of the Jama Masjid on March 31, 1919. Abdul Bari should have denounced Hasan Nizami who had hatched a plot against the Hindus without any provocation whatsoever on the part of the latter. But the self-righteous Mullah and the authoritative interpreter of the Shariat, had done just the opposite. He had joined his voice with that of the other Mullahs in egging upon a Muslim fanatic to murder Swami Shraddhananda. The Mullahs of Deoband had offered special prayers for the soul of the assassin.
  • The Urdu pamphlet Daî Islâm by Khwaja Hasan Nizami came into his hands. He immediately wrote in answer a pamphlet, the title of which clearly expressed his violent reaction: ‘The Hour of Danger: Hindus, be on your guard! The order has been given to attack and destroy the fortress of your religion in the hidden dead of night!’ (…) The Swami found out that the pamphlet was in fact only the introduction to a larger volume called Fâtamî Dawat-i-Islâm, which had been published as early as 1920, years before the shuddhi of the Malkanas started. In this the Swami saw proof that the Muslim reaction of the day was not merely against the shuddhi and sangathan movements, but rather was part of a sinister plot hatched years earlier. In his pamphlet the Swami went on to show how Nizami in his own introduction referred to his consultations with many Muslim leaders, including the Aga Khan, and how all had agreed that the publication of his work should remain a carefully kept secret within the Muslim community. The single purpose of the pamphlet was to describe all the means, fair and foul, by which Hindus could be induced to become Muslims. (…) In the conclusion of his own booklet, the Swami suggested some ways in which the Muslim threat could be countered. The openness and ethics of his methods stood in strong contrast with Nizami’s tactics.”
    • Prof. J.T.F. Jordens, "Swami Shraddhananda, His Life and Causes" (OUP, Delhi 1981). (p.140-141)
  • Swamiji had written a pamphlet, The Hour of Danger, in which he had warned Hindu society to be on its guard against mischievous Muslim machinations. According to his biographer, J.T.F. Jordens, “In his pamphlet the Swami went on to show how Nizami in his own introduction referred to his consultations with many Muslim leaders, including the Agha Khan, and how all had agreed that the publication of his work should remain a carefully kept secret, within the Muslim community. The single purpose of the pamphlet was to describe all the means, fair and foul, by which Hindus could be induced to become Muslims.... The Swami felt that he had uncovered a giant conspiracy. His pamphlet consisted practically entirely of quotations from Nizami’s work, showing how all Muslims should be involved in the fight for the spread of Islam: how pirs, fakirs, politicians, peasants, zamindars, hakims, etc. could be used and what their allotted task should be. It also stressed the need for secrecy and for an extensive spy network.’
    • J.T.F. Jordens quoted from Sita Ram Goel, Muslim Separitism - Causes and Consequences ISBN 9788185990262 citing J.T.F. Jordens, Swami Shradhananda: His Life and Causes, New Delhi, 1981,
  • “Some of his writings about the Muslims expressed harsh and provocative judgments. But (….) they were invariably written in response to writings or pronouncements of Muslims which either vehemently attacked Hinduism, the Arya Samaj, and the Swami himself, or which supported methods such as (…) the killing of apostates, and the use of devious and unfair means of propaganda.” He himself “never advocated unfair, underhand or violent methods”.
    • Prof. J.T.F. Jordens, (Jordens 1981: 174-175) quoted from Elst, Koenraad. Hindu Dharma and the Culture Wars. (2019). New Delhi : Rupa.
  • J.T.F. Jordens in Swami Shraddhananda insists that there was also no causal relation between Gandhi’s attack and the murder, which was apparently triggered by the Swami’s acquittal in a court case for alleged abduction brought by a Muslim whose wife and children had run away from his home and sought conversion from the Swami...
    • J.T.F. Jordens, cited in Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.
  • The first great achievement of the Tablighi Jamaat was the cold-blooded murder of Swami Shraddhananda. The swami had been lionized by Muslims when he supported the Khilafat agitation during the first Non-Cooperation movement (1921-22). “But as he was closely associated with the šuddhi movement… a section of Muslims cherished bitter hatred against him. On 23 December 1926, when the Swami after a serious attack of pneumonia was lying in his bed, a Muslim entered into his room on false pretext and stabbed him with a dagger.”
    • R. C. Majumdar (ed.), The History And Culture of the Indian People, Volume XI, Struggle For Freedom, Second Edition, Bombay, 1978, pp. 435-36. Quoted in: Sita Ram Goel: Time for Stock Tacking, App. 1
  • The end of that year 1926 was darkened by a great tragedy, which sent a thrill of horror all over India. It showed to what depths communal passion could reduce our people. Swami Shraddhanand was assassinated by a fanatic as he lay in bed. What a death for a man who had bared his chest to the bayonets of the Gurkhas and marched to meet their fire! Nearly eight years earlier he, an Arya Samajist leader, had stood in the pulpit of the great Jame Masjid of Delhi and preached to a mighty gathering of Muslims and Hindus of unity and India’s freedom. And that great multitude had greeted him with loud cries of Hindu-Musalman-ki-jai, and outside in the streets they had jointly sealed that cry with their blood. And now he lay dead, killed by a fellow-countryman, who thought, no doubt, that he was doing a meritorious deed, which would lead him to paradise. Always I have admired sheer physical courage, the courage to face physical suffering in a good cause, even unto death. Most of us, I suppose, admire it. Swami Shraddhanand had an amazing amount of that fearlessness. His tall and stately figure, wrapped in a, sanyasin’s robe, perfectly erect in spite of advanced years, eyes flashing, sometimes a shadow of irritation or anger at the weakness of others passing over his face — how I remember that vivid picture, and how often it has come back to me!
  • [Asymmetry was the principle as in the case of Islam;] conversion was held to be and acted upon as something that was an essential principle of Christianity; but when a person like Swami Shraddhananda argued in favour of taking back into the Hindu fold the converts who wanted to return, they were condemned as persons who were inventing a practice for which there was no warrant in Hinduism.”
    • Niyogi report. Madhya Pradesh (India), Goel, S. R., Niyogi, M. B. (1998). RIFT IN THE LUTE, in Vindicated by time: The Niyogi Committee report on Christian missionary activities. ISBN 9789385485121
  • The Times of India of 30th November 1927 carried the news item: ‘‘It is reported that for earning merit for the soul of Abdul Rashid, the murderer of Swami Shraddhananda, in the next world, the students and professors of the famous theological collage of Deoband finished five complete recitations of the Koran and had planned to finish a daily lakh and a quarter recitations of Koranic verses. Their prayer was ‘God Almighty may give the marhoom (i.e., Rashid) a place in the a ala-e-illeeyeen (the summit of the seventh heaven).‘‘

See also[edit]

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