From: Sathsi Bhatnagar < >


The title, Satyarth-Prakash of the magnum opus of Swami Dayanand (1824 – 1883) is the most intriguing part of the voluminous book (5”x8” 1200 pages, 1975 centenary edition, Ramlal Kapur Trust). For years, I wondered about it and broached it with Swami Deekshanand Saraswati (1918-2003), whom I addressed as (Swami) MamaJi – during my visits to India. However, for lack of my knowledge of the Vedas then and for whatever reasons, Swami MamaJi did not examine the title. He studied Dayanand’s works ardently, but did not delve into Dayanand’s mind – in the social and political conditions of the Hindus in India of the 19th century. After 1192 (defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan), the Hindus were gradually pulverized that they were absolutely cut off from their history and heritage. Eventually, they started admiring foreign cultures. Unfortunately, it has not changed a bit after India’s independence in 1947.

Let me jump into the crux of the title. There are three main syllables in the title- namely, Satya – meaning, Truth; Artha – means Meaning; Prakash – meaning, Light (of/from a source). Therefore, the meaning of Satyarth-Prakash means – the Light of the Meaning of Truth. That does not even sound good to the ears.

Mostly, good names are given to people. In my life of 80 plus, I have not encountered even a single person with this name,Satyarth-Prakash. However, similar names are Satpal, Satyapal, Satparkash, Satyaprakash – all implying men who live by truth or are a light of truth etc. By the way, similar names are there for girls too – like, Satya, Satyawati, Satyabhama etc.

Where am I coming from? The titles are very important to me – especially that I have given them to nearly 1500 reflections and ten books so far. Hours have been spent on the title of each book. If that is true for me, then I am confident Swami Dayanand must have pondered over Satyarth-Prakash for a long time. It is also possible that he was driven to write this great work after being fully convinced of the essence of this title from his political and social experiences in India.

Once I figured out the justification of this title, I described Satyarth-Prakash as a lion of a book in a recent email and Swami Dayanand as a Lion King of Hindu renaissance at a time when Hindus in  the heartland of India had totally resigned themselves to be ruled by foreign Muslim and Christian powers. Unfortunately, at least 60 % of the present Hindus continue to believe that Hindus are better off when ruled by the non-Hindus politically, ideologically and socially. Such Hindus are leading India’s communist, socialist and Janta parties – above all, the grand old Congress Party.

The point is the pain, agony and anger that must have been simmering in the head and heart of young Mool Shanker as Dayanand was known before his initiation into the sanyasi (ascetic) order of Hinduism. In 1857, he was 33 years old when he witnessed that the Hindus in the English army and in the armies of the princely states of Patiala and Nabha, in particular, were killing the Hindus who were up in arms against the Hindus’ self rule and growing influence of the English in India. On the other hand, the Hindus were manipulated by the Muslims as they wanted to continue ruling over the Hindus after defeating the English. Dayanand decided to reconstruct the Hindus mindset first – a revolutionary idea.

In a nutshell, Dayanand, after finishing his studentship with Swami Vrajanand, embarked upon this mission and traversed India – visited major states and met the Hindu leaders. The most shocking thing that he discovered was that the so-called Hindu Vedic scholars were bought off by the English scholars in the succession of Maxmuller and Monier. It was the genius of Dayanand that he saw this conspiracy of giving false interpretations of someVedic mantras that suited the socio- political agenda of the British rule. He repudiated these scholars in debates. Dayanand’s works especially on the Rigveda was all about the correct meanings and interpretations of the Vedas – based on Vedic grammar and prosody. Therefore, ‘the light of the true meanings of the Vedas’, is compacted into Satyarth-Prakash. I was not surprised that great Vedic scholar Yudhshtar Mimansak missed this meaning (page 27) like did Swami Mamaji, as they never included political angles in their studies. However, I am an humanistic historian too.

Two days ago, this reflection started revolving in my mind when I was invited to give one of the serial talks on the Satyarth-Prakash. This is the first of its kind project ever made by anyone outside India. At the outset, I declined the invitation for being engrossed upto my head and shoulder in my own writings, but the subconscious mind kept me engaged.

In conclusion, the way Dayanand caught the custodians of Hindu heritage turned traitors, is a very bold detective story. There are several major and minor plots. In the shastrarths (meaning – debates on the interpretation of the Vedic mantras), Dayanand defeated them publicly. Subsequently, numerous physical attacks were made on his life, but he survived all but the last. He had transformed his body into teflon-like strength with years of practice of Hatha yoga. I have added this line as the International Yog Day is going to be celebrated in Las Vegas on June 21, 2021 in a public park. Long live the Satyarth-Prakash!

Satish C. Bhatnagar

June 08, 2021

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