Mahatma Hans Raj
There were two camps in Arya Samaj. One believed in pure gurukul education while the other one believed in the integration of Vedic principles and practices along with modern day teachings. Swami Shraddhananda ji belong to the gurukul camp, and Mahatma Hans Raj belonged to the “modern” camp. Mahatma Hans Raj ji was responsible for stating what we have today as the largest educational system – second only to India’s government schools – known as the DAV school system. Mahatma Hans Raj was born on April 19th, 1864 in the village Bajvada district Hoshiyarpur Punjab. His father died when Mahatma ji was twelve. His older brother – Bhai Lala Mulkh Raj – was now breadwinner of the family. His older brother gave up his education and worked in the post office, earning a small salary of just 60 rupees per month. With this meager salary, he put his younger brother through high school and college. In 1877, while Swami ji was touring and lecturing in the state of Punjab, Hans Raj ji became familiar with his teachings. When Hans Raj ji was only in ninth grade, he challenged his Christian teacher when he criticized Vedic civilization. We hope and wish that Arya Samaj produces such youths who can question the inappropriate comments made about Hindu dharma by their peers and even teachers in India as well as in the rest of the world. Hans Raj ji was a contemporary of Lala Lajpat Rai and Pandit Guru Datta. Lala ji became a member of Arya Samaj Lahore and the editor in chief of the Arya Samaj newspaper. Upon the death of Swami ji in 1883, a meeting of Arya Samaj Lahore was called as a tribute to his life and legacy. It was decided that the best way to commemorate Swami ji’s contribution was to set up a university where Hindi, Sanskrit, and Vedic teachings be taught along with modern education including science and English. This institution was called Dayanand Anglo Vedic College – henceforth leading to the development of the DAV school system. He worked for the development and maintenance of the DAV system without salary for his entire life. His elder brother gave him half of his meager salary, which was enough to meet his and his family’s day-to-day needs. There is one story that needs to be told about his honesty. One evening, he was sitting, writing something using a quill and ink (kalam & davaat). There was another kalam & davaat on the table which were rather ugly and old. A person came and told him that such a bad writing instrument was against the prestige of a principal. He replied, “The old one is mine, so I use it for my personal work. I cannot use the college material for my personal writing.” Such was the height of his character. When his son Balraj was arrested by the British, he told him that if he truly was innocent, the government would free him. Mahatma ji provided service to victims of famine and earthquakes. When he was the chair person of an Arya Samaj meeting in Delhi, he talked about the upliftment of untouchables, re-conversion to Hindu dharma, and unity among Hindus. He died at the age of 74 in 1938.