Swami Shradhanand Ji

He was born in 1854, in Talwan, district Jallandhar. His childhood name was Munshiraam. Since most of his education was in Kashi and Benares, he was a staunch believer in idol worship and of course Puranik. He used to go to Vishva-nath Shiva Temple on a daily basis before any meal of the day. An incidence happened when the queen of Rivaa went to visit the temple; no one else was allowed to go. He thought what kind of God is there where the access is denied. You can almost compare this incident to how Swami Ji reacted to when he noted that God was defenseless on the night of Shivaratri. Munshiraam’s early life was full of luxury as his father was on the good side of British rulers and was in the police force. Something made his father send Munshiraam to a speech by Swami ji when he came to Bareli in 1879. This completely transformed Munshiraam Ji. He gave up all his bad habits and became a stanch disciple of Swami Ji. In 1881, Munshiraam Ji came to Lahore to study law and met leaders of various religious groups including Brahmasamaj. However he was not fully satisfied until he met the local leaders of arya samaj. He read Satyaarth Prakash multiple times. He was a coworker, co-attendee and co-leader of the Arya Samaj with Mahatma Hansraaj ji, Pundit Lekhraam, and Gurudatt Vidhyaarthi. Munshiraam Ji practiced law in Jallandhar. He also became the chief of Arya Samaj of Jallandhar, where he held satsangs, gave lectures, and was involved in shaastraarth, or dialogues. He was fearless and did not hesitate to make his point clear.

A thought came to his mind about establishing a Gurukul system of education and bring Vedic learning to its original glory. He got this approved by Arya Pratinidhi Sabha Punjab. He took a vow that unless he had collected a certain amount of money, he would not come back in his hometown and in a short time he was successful in his resolve. In 1902, the construction of this gurukul was started in Kaangaadi village near Haridwaar. This small institution eventually was granted a full university status in 1962 by university grant commission. Somewhere along the line, the British got suspicious of this seat of learning and since Mahatma Munshiraam Ji wanted no harm done to this institution he invited the Viceroy and Governor and made them aware of the truth that this was simply an institution of learning and had no politics intertwined in the system. Somewhere along the line, Munshiraam Ji took sanyaas and became Swami Shradhaanand Ji. When Gandhi Ji was touring India after his service in South Africa, he went to visit Swami Shradhaanand Ji. Swami Ji greeted Gandhi Ji, and said “Mahatma, please sit down.” Upon hearing this, Swami Ji was told by Gandhi Ji that “I am not the real Mahatma; you are.”

While leading a march in Delhi, on March 30, 1919, in Chaandani Chowk, the police were fully armed, pointed guns at Shradhaanand Ji, with the intention of shooting. But the commitment and glow on his face and fearless voice was so intense, that the police had no courage to fire at him. After Jaliyaa Walaa Bhaag massacre, he was the first one who was able to arrange public meetings in such a difficult atmosphere. He wanted freedom for India, but without any division. A talk of divisiveness such as in the lecture by Maulana Mohammed Ali was very painful and unacceptable to him. He wanted doors of Hindu Dharma wide open for reconversion back to Hindu dharma. Upliftment of so-called untouchables was one of his priorities. All of these resolves and actions or swami ji turned hard core Muslims against him. It must be noted that he was the only Hindu ever to recite Veda mantras in the beginning of his lecture in Jaama Mazjid and ending the talk with ‘Om Shanti Shanti Shanti”. While he was ill, he was killed on December 23, 1926 by a Muslim extremist. This day is commemorated in Delhi and other parts of the nations and world as Swami Shradhaanand Balidaan Divas.