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Explained: Who was Swami Shraddhanand, who fell to bullets in December 1926

Swami Shraddhanand was assassinated by a man called Abdul Rashid.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 28, 2019 9:33:22 am
Explained: Who was Swami Shraddhanand, who fell to bullets in December 1926 The meeting with Swami Dayanand was a turning point in Shradhhanand’s life. (Source: Arya Samaj website)

On December 23, 1926, Arya Samaj missionary Swami Shraddhanand was assassinated by a man called Abdul Rashid.

According to the Arya Samaj website, Rashid came to Shraddhanand’s house on this day and asked to meet him to discuss “some problems of Islamic religion.” It adds: “The visitor then asked for a glass of water, and while Dharm Singh (Shraddhanand’s attendant) was taking his glass away, he rushed up to the swami ji and fired two bullets point-black into his chest.”

Who was Swami Shraddhanand?

Shraddhanand was born on February 22, 1856 at village Talwan in Jalandhar district in Punjab province. Sometime in the early 1880s, he came into contact with Swami Dayanand, the founder of the Arya Samaj.

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As per the Arya Samaj website, the meeting with Dayanand was a turning point in Mushiram’s — as Shradhhanand was known — life. “Propagation of the Vedic Dharm was his mission and he never deviated from this path,” it says.

Shraddhanand wrote a book called “Hindu Sangathan”. In the book’s introduction, he has written, “In the following pages an attempt has been made to describe the history of the Hindu decline and to trace the causes which led to its present deplorable downfall. As a corollary an attempt has been made to show the way to the nation’s emancipation.”

He goes on to write that from 1923 onwards, he “threw myself heart and soul into the movement of protection of my people and the time has come for me to give to the thinking portion of my countrymen the result of my cogitation and experience.”

Furthermore, he called untouchability a “curse” and a “blot” on the reputations of the Hindus. “Those who enslave and trample under their feet almost one third of their own kith and kin, have no right to complain of the tyranny of the foreigner.”

Jawaharlal Nehru on Shraddhanand

About Shraddhanand’s assassination, Jawaharlal Nehru has written in his autobiography, “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 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!”

He added, “Nearly eight years earlier, an Arya Samajist leader, had stood in the pulpit of the great Jama Masjid of Delhi and preached to a mighty gathering of Muslims and Hindus of unity and India’s freedom. 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.”

What is Arya Samaj?

Arya Samaj is a Hindu reform movement that was founded by Dayanand Saraswati in 1875 in Bombay. The movement believes in the infallible authority of the Vedas.

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According to the website of Arya Samaj Houston, the central objectives of Arya Samaj is to, “eradicate Ignorance (Agyan), Indigence or Poverty (Abhav) and Injustice (Anayay) from this earth. This mission is enshrined in the ten Niyams or Principles.”

The website says that contrary to the misconception, Arya Samaj is not a religion or a new sect in the Hindu religion.

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