Abridged and revised edition of my Ph.D. Thesis. Its theme was on Socio Economic Reform movement of the Nineteenth Century and to make a comparative assessment of the means and methods employed by the two eminent personalities in propagating the cause of social justice and reforms and furthering the cause of Arya Samaj and the liberals of the day. The work spans over Eight Chapters and each chapter dealing separately with the condition of Society before the Emergence of Reform Movements, The efficacy of Swami Dayanand Saraswati and the Establishment, Principles, and Impact of Arya Samaj and how it influences the various reforms ushered by Diwan Bahadur Harbilas Sarda.
The nineteenth century, more so the latter half, was witness to one of the most inspiring social movements not witnessed since the path-breaking Bhakti Movement of medieval times. Dayanand Saraswati sought to break time honoured social barriers with his strong message of societal reforms based on a reappraisal of ancient texts and traditions. His flagship reform movement, the Arya Samaj, sought to break age-old barriers of caste dimensions, social disparities, misrepresentation of traditional religious values and ethos, rigidity of uncompromising viewpoints ultimately yielded results which were obviously aimed at transformation of a stagnant society into a vibrant positive society receptive to new ideas based on revival of traditional values. With the passage of time his number of adherents' multiplied multifold times and his movement got universal acceptance transcending geographical, political and social barriers. One such follower of his faith and ideology was Diwan Bhadhur Harbilas Sarda a multifaceted personality hailing from the historic town of Ajmer. He also, like his proclaimed mentor, was a visionary par-excellence and made his mark as a Judge, Author, Teacher, Historian, Reformer and a Legislator. Needless to add an attempt has been made in the present work to analyse and put in proper perspective how the social ideas of Swami Ji influenced the ideas and achievements of Sarda and how the cause of Arya Samaj was served by these two Manishies in their own work and style respectively. Though there are countless Libraries and published manuscripts on this theme, there is still ample scope to further re-examine the existing literature and in the process unearth new source material, resulting in a fresh approach to the time-honoured theme.
The contrast in the respective styles of the two is evident right from the outset. Whereas Dayanand was keener in propagating his vision of a just society based on social justice and equality, on the other hand Harbilas Sarda was keener in lending legal substance to the vision of Swamiji. Dayanand's (Karam Bhumi) was the whole of India and his appeal transcended all barriers of Indian Society, irrespective of class, creed and race. Harbilas Sarda on the other hand while upholding the same lofty ideals took recourse to the process of introducing legislation. Thus we had two contrasting personalities working for a common goal in their own inimitable style.
A salient feature of the work under review is the exploratory nature of the introductory chapters and importance of Ajmer in their respective overview of the reform movements and the nature of society prevalent in the nineteenth century. Ajmer was not witnessed to a dynasty rule since the time of the redoubtable Chauhans at the close of the twelfth century. Weather it was the Slave Dynasty, the Sultanate interlude, the Mughal hegemony, the Company administration and the Crown rule after 1857- during the entire span, it was centrally administered.
As a consequence it was open to influences of all kinds and divergent natures which were not readily available to the other Rajput kingdoms. Hence a more tolerant and liberal ethos was discernable here which attracted people from all walks of life to migrate here. It was not for nothing that Ajmer was often hailed for as the "Cradle of Composite Culture". The atmosphere suited Swami Ji and Harbilas Sarda.
The various reform movements that were introduced mainly in the nineteenth century fell chiefly under two broad categories - the Reformist Movements and the Revivalist Movements. The only difference between one reform movement and the other lay in the degree to which it relied on tradition or on reason and conscience. Interestingly enough a significant aspect of all the reform movements was their emphasis on both religious and social reforms.
This work contains a highly critical commentary on the early life and upbringing of Dayanand - his search for spiritual knowledge, the perception of a genius yogi, concept of mukti - were all the basis of his search for knowledge. His relations with Swami Virjanandji (his mentor) and under whose benediction he extensively researched the Vedas, which have been put in proper perspective. The comments on "Satyarth Prakash" are very telling. The social reforms as envisaged by Swami Ji were a monumental step in reformist zeal as displayed by the former. At the same time, he was among the first Great Indian stalwarts who popularised the concept 'Swaraj' - the right to self-determination vested in an individual.
The Arya Samaj - its structure, ideology and objectivity which were the corner-stone of the faith has been scrupulously examined from various angles and is presented in a manner hitherto not seen before. As was rightly put forth Arya Samaj discouraged dogma and symbolism and as a consequence encouraged skepticism in beliefs that ran contrary to common sense and logic. It rightly unfurled before the nation of a 'Universal Society'. Dayanand advocated the belief that India could be regenerated by having one religion, one culture, one language and one aim. Towards this end he advocated the Vedic religion at expanse of other faiths. The Samaj truly was and is a monumental mass movement which touches the heart of the common man.
The second half of the work is dedicated to the teachings, writings and legislative activities of the 'Soul of Ajmer' Diwan Bahadur Harbilas Sarda who self confessedly admitted his inspiration from the teachings of Dayanand. Right from early times Sarda imbibed within himself a love for books from his father who was the librarian of the library of Government College, Ajmer. He was one of the pioneers who was active in Arya Samaj activities in Ajmer, was elected President of the Arya Samaj in Ajmer and also formed the "Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Rajputana". Sarda Ji was truly a multi-faceted personality who left his imprint in the sands of time for generations to seek inspiration from. He adorned the chair of Municipal Commissioner, Ajmer and served as Senior Judge of the Chief Court, Jodhpur, and member of the Legislative Assembly. His role and contribution in arranging to hold "Dayanand Birth Centenary" and in bringing out the "Commemorative Volume" on the occasion, won him the admiration of the nation.
Reforms initiated and carried out by Harbilas Sarda were many and touched every aspect of the society. Sarda had observed that the nineteenth century was the dividing line between the Medieval and the Modern period when the nation wrested to emerge out of dark age to age of ray of hope. Sarda, by virtue of his vast background of accumulated knowledge, embarked on a crusade culminating in a show of social reform legislations which shook the foundation of the society middle with many ills and evils. One of the earliest measures to which Sarda lent his services was to the Gandhi-sponsored Hindu Temple Entry Bill which would have permitted the entry of Harijans into the Temples. But because of lack of response from the Viceroy the Bill fell through. Another evil attacked Sarda was the issue of Child Marriages (Anti child Marriage Restraint Bill) The Bill was passed in the name of "Age of Consent Act". Another Bill introduced by Sarda was Hindu Widows Right of Inheritance Bill.
Sarda's genius was not restricted to social reform movement but he also excelled in the field of education and history and became one of the foremost historian of his generation. He compiled more than 16 well researched works on various themes of Indian History. He researched the various Rjaput Rulers like Emperor Visaldeva, Rana Hammir, Kumarpal, Rana Kumbha, Rana Sanga and Prithiviraj Chauhan. In addition path-breaking works like Hindu Superiority, Arya Samaj Semi Centenary Commemoration Volume, Dayanad Commemoration Volume, Ajmer Historical and Descriptive, Speeches and Writings etc. were also authored by him.
Harbilas Sarda drew his inspiration from the teachings of Dayanand but struck out independently and carved a niche for himself among the masses. It was thus that both had their respective roadmap and blueprint for the development of the nation but at the same time their aim remained one collective whole. Both displayed a rare scientific temple in their humanitarian approach to the ills of the society.
Dr. Ankush Arora has brought a rare sense of commitment to the work undertaken by him. He has researched extensively and forged a rare analytical dimension to the work entailing the works and deeds of two intellectual giants of the nation. His language used is grammatically correct and idiomatic. The Bibliography is extensive and all embracing.
"Civilizations have arisen in other of the work 1 in ancient anarmodern times; wonder fid-ideas have Been carried forward from one race to another. But mark. you, myftien4 it has Been always with the blast of war trumpets and the march of embattled cohorts. Each. idea had to be soaked an a deluge of blood. Each word of power had to be followed by the groans of millions, By the wails of orphans, By the tears of widows. This, many other nations have taught; but India for thousands of years peacefully existed. Here activity prevailed when even Greece did not exist... Even earlier, when History has no record, and tradition dares not peer into the gloom of that intense past, even from until now, ideas after ideas have marched out from her, but every word has been spoken with a blessing behind it and peace before it. We, of all nations of the world, have never been a conquering race, and that blessing is on our head, and therefore we live….!
It is impossible not to be astonished by India. Nowhere on Earth does humanity present itself in such a dizzying, creative burst of cultures and religions, races and tongues. Every aspect of the country presents itself on a massive, exaggerated scale, worthy in comparison only to the superlative mountains that overshadow it. Perhaps the only thing more difficult than to be indifferent to India would be to describe or understand India completely.
India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. It has achieved all-round socioeconomic progress during the last 67 years of its Independence. India has become self-sufficient in agricultural production and is now one of the top industrialized countries in the world and one of the few nations to have gone into outer space to conquer nature for the benefit of the people.
India's history and culture is dynamic, spanning back to the beginning of human civilization. It begins with a mysterious culture along the Indus River and in farming communities in the southern lands of India. The history of India is punctuated by constant integration of migrating people with the diverse cultures that surround India. Available evidence suggests that the use of iron, copper and other metals was widely prevalent in the Indian sub-continent at a fairly early period, which is indicative of the progress that this part of the world had made. By the end of the fourth millennium BC, India had emerged as a region of highly developed civilization.
India is a land of infinite diversity and yet some of the earliest researches into human Unity have been conducted on the Indian soil.5 The earliest documentary evidence of this pursuit of unity in diversity is to be found in the Vedas, the most ancient literary documents of the Indo-European family. The Vedas pre-suppose the existence of the Pre-Aryans, no longer a mere historical hypothesis, but visualized today through the marvelous archeological finds of the Indus Valley Civilization. It was the genius of the Vedic Aryans to have assimilated the Non- Aryan elements into a supreme Aryan synthesis in the Vedic Age.
Escalation and Development of Ajmer :-
The region of Ajmer occupied a strategic position in Rajasthan, Geographically; it was said that one who controlled Ajmer could control the whole of Malwa, Rajputana and Gujarat. Situated as it was in a Valley surrounded by the high hills of the Aravalli range, Ajmer the heart of Rajasthan, served as a watch tower over the neighboring states of Mewar and Marwar during the medieval period of the Indian history. The High hills around the city had witnessed many political revolutions that had more than once altered the course of Indian history. Besides its superb strategic position, Ajmer laid long one of the high-ways of commerce between the fertile Genetics plain and Gujarat which served as an emporium of commerce throughout the Middle Ages. It was on account of this dual importance that from the end of the 12th century down to the beginning of 19th century, Ajmer was cynosure of all eyes but also adorned the brow of the victor in the race for political supremacy, so much so that the history of Ajmer was in one sense, an epitome of the History of India.
Ajmer is a historical region in Central Rajasthan, a central part of the big Chauhan Empire in 11th and 12th Century." The region includes a present day Ajmer district and is bounded on the west by Marwar, on the northeast by Dhundhar, on the southeast by Hadoti, and on the south by Mewar regions. The independent history of the region is closely connected to Chauhans, who ruled this part from 11th till 14th centuries. Chauhan clan was one of the four main Rajput dynasties (Agnivanshis/ Agnikul), the Chauhans later asserted their independence from the Pratiharas.
In 551 A.D. (Vikram Samvat 605) Chauhan ruler Vasudeva founded the city of Ajmer. However, it was only after 1113 A.D. that it was the Sakhambri king Ajaya Raja or Ajay Pal who recognized by the city of Ajayameru combination of two names (Ajay & Meru - the hilly region) and subsequently called Ajmer.
Ajaymeru, one of the historical and intellectual hubs of India, was glorified by Ajayraj Chauhan and it was made his capital as well as the seat of learning. Even during his reign this strategically important town ship took a developed shape and soon it became a center of Vaishnavism, Shavism and Jainism." Many Scholars, Philosophers and Saints started coming over here, about whom we read in Prithviraj Vijay Mahakavya of Jaynak Kashmiri in the court of Prithiviraj III.
Beside the above, Ajmer also emerged as a great township with architectural and technical center. Ajayraj built the famous Ajaymeru Fortress on the Kokla Hill which was a unique and almost an invincible fort. Many Vaishnavite and Shavite Temples were also built in all the four directions of the Capital city of Chauhan's, and Jain temples were built within the township.
All these temples evolved as the famous center of learning of their respective philosophies and Mythologies. This he did in critical circumstances as during his reign he was busy in fighting against the Turks and the other neighboring rulers. His son Arnoraj just after defeating the Turks on the outskirts of the city where the present Anasagar Lake was built made the city prosperous. He built the famous Anasagar Lake, various Gardens and Ghats around it. As a Shavite he also built the Ajgandeshwar Mahadev Temple in the valley of Ajaypal Hills. The scattered ruins which we still see on the sight speaks that the temple was unique architectural piece. In Pushkar he built the famous Varah Temple of sixteen stories to appease the Vaishnavite. He also built the Atmateshwar Mahadev Temple, as he was a staunch Shavite, he also built many Ghats and converted it into a beautiful religious pilgrimage place.
After the Murder of Arnoraj, at the hands of his son Jagdev, there became a Vacuum of good ruler, but soon Jagdev was ousted and his younger brother Vighraraj IV took over as the ruler of Sapadlaksha. He defeated the Turks, the ruler of Gujarat, Kumarpal and the Rulers of Nadol, Jalore and Malwa. He also acquired the Bada Nakas of Haryana. He unfurled the Chauhan's flag on Delhi and made the Tomars of Delhi his subordinate, along the Yamuna River, including Haryana and Delhi, his Shivalik Inscription gives its evidence.
Besides being a man of Sword, he was also a Penman and Builder. He founded the Saraswati Kanthagar or Sanskrit College (temple of learning) in the vincity of the modern Inderkot which is now called the Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra Mosque (i.e. second Turkish Mosque of northern India.) He built the famous Visalsar Lake (presently the Bisalsar Lake) and the Gokarneshwar Temple at Bisalpur near Deoli in Tonic District. The township of Bisalpur was also founded by him.
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