There have been quite a few versions in English of the ‘Satyarth Prakash’ but the present one, translated by Dr. Chiranjiva Bharadwaja, a highly qualified doctor educated in England is regarded as the best. He had spent quite a few years in Mauritius propagating the Vedic Dharma. With his deep understanding of the subject, he made this translation not only quite authentic but easy to understand also. Wherever needed, he has given footnotes and explanations.
This book has gone into several editions. For the past some time, however, it was not available in the market. The present edition is therefore being published. It will benefit the non-Hindi readers in India and abroad in a big way. It has been typeset afresh, printed on quality paper and attractively produced in hardbound cover.
It is an expensive book of over 700 pages. It is, however, being offered at a nominal price on account of a subsidy of Rs. 25,000 from Rajpal Educational Trust, Delhi.
It is a matter of satisfaction that this publication has been very warmly received and the first edition of 5000 copies has been sold out within a short period. Now its second edition is being offered at the nominal price.
This new edition of the English translation of Satyarth Prakash is appearing about more than a century after it was first published. Swami Dayanand was pme pf the greatest social reformers and spiritual leaders of the 19th century. He wrote 66 books of which the Satyarth Prakash is the most important. This book deals with a variety of subjects and it sheds the light of truth on these subjects and dispels darkness. The sweep of Swamiji’s knowledge and his versatility are astounding.
When Swami Dayanand appeared on the scene, the Hindus were a prey to all types of social evils like child marriage, Sati, superstitions, forced widowhood, caste system, polygamy, untouchability, Purda and unequal treatment of women. They worshipped false gods, believed in animal sacrifices as a means of salvation and indulged in meaningless rites and rituals. Swamy Dayanand found that it was their illiteracy which was responsible for the degradation of the Hindus. They were sunk in a slough of despond. India which was once called a golden sparrow had lost its moorings and was groveling in abject poverty.
Swami Dayanand felt that the panacea for all India’s ills was educating the masses. Therefore in Satyarth Prakash he lays particular stress on education. He said that all parents must be educated and they should send their children to school at the age of five. Swamiji’s interest in education can be seen in a letter which he wrote to Shri Madho Lal: “I have heard that you are starting a Sanskrit School (at Danapur) but before you do that, I would like to know what arrangements you have made about teaching of various subjects at the school.” Swamiji was a great visionary and he knew that if India was to be a great country, the teaching of Science must be large in our educational institutions. In a letter to one of his friends, Shri Mool Raj, he said: “We must send some of our men to Germany to learn Science.”
In addition to dealing with education extensively, Satyarth Prakash lays great stress on Brahmacharya which helps body-building and character-building, on the acquisition of right knowledge through the Vedas, on State-craft stipulating that no single individual should have absolute power, on the four stages of man’s life-that of the student, of the householder, Vanaprastha and finally, Sanyas, etc. there is a philosophical vision of the spiritual world and systematic interpretation of the universe. There is an answer to all the questions we can ask about human existence.
Swami Dayanand has been criticized because of his attack on some religions. However, Swami Dayanand made it clear that he had no malice towards any religion and that his sole object was to believe in what is truth. He did not accept the demerits of different religions whether Indian or foreign, nor did he reject what was good in them. He criticized other religions in the same way as he criticized Hinduism. He violently attacked many Hindu sects.
It was to propagate his ideas about social reforms that Swami Dayanand founded an organization known as the Arya Samaj which would work with great zeal in a spirit of selfless service to eradicate the maladies which afflicted Hindu society and to bring out the best in man. The Arya Samaj grew into a mighty movements-perhaps the mightiest among the religio-cultural movements that grew and spread in various parts of the country and what is generally called the Indian Renaissance of the 19th century.
In addition to social reforms of various kinds, the D.A.V educational institutions and the Arya Samaj contributed considerably to free India from the British yoke. It was not only Bhagat Singh but thousands of young boys and girls from DAV Schools and Colleges who came from very comfortable homes and who had not known any hardship in life, who gave their all-their time, their energy, their youth and some of them even their life for a cause that moved the nation’s soul. The British Government inflicted untold sufferings on stalwarts of the Arya Samaj like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bhai Parmanand, Ram Prasad ‘Bismil’ and innumerable other people.
The Satyarth Prakash has even more relevance today than when it was first published. We are being swamped by the forces of moral decay-moral and religious teachings have become a thing of the past in most institutions and value systems have been splintered and crashed. Corruption, dowry deaths, female infanticide, the clash of caste and creed are rampant everywhere. When Swami Dayanand first began addressing the crowds, his lips touched with fire, people climbed up slowly out of the darkness. Now in our own time, we have to climb up once more and the downhill descent has to be arrested and reversed.
And there is a silver lining in the clouds. Since Swami Dayanand believed that education of the masses was necessary for the resurgence of the motherland, after his death, the DAV Society made a tryst with destiny with regard to the spread of education in India on a massive scale. The first DAV School was opened in Lahore on Ist June, 1885. We have covered a long distance since then and we have now nearly 700 Schools and Colleges and technical institutes of all types. These Schools and Colleges are in all parts of India and in the long trail of its advancing movement, the DAV Society has built clusters of happy Schools and Colleges which are among the best, even in the far distant corners of the country.
Right upto the last days of his life, Swami Dayanand travelled throughout the country from one place to another, inspiring and arousing the people and leading them to the noble path of righteousness. The vitality of the Arya Samaj lies in its spirit of service, self-sacrifice, self-discipline and renunciation. It should be the concern of all of us to see that these characteristics are not weakened and that the influence of Arya Samaj continues to spread and grow.
At the time when the first edition of this book, called Satyarth Prakash, was published and before that, I spoke Sanskrit and made use of the same in reading and writing, while my mother-tongue was Gujerati. For this reason I had a poor knowledge of the language (i.e. Arya Bhasha) in which this book is written. Consequently, the language of the edition was very defective. Now that I have acquired fair practice in speaking and writing the Bhasha, I have corrected the language in accordance with the rules of grammar and brought out this second edition. Emendations in words, idioms and the construction of sentences have been made here and there because it was found absolutely necessary to do so. It was difficult to improve the literary style without making these changes. But no alteration has been made in the subject matter, though some new matter has been added. The book has been carefully revised, and misprints, which had crept into the first edition, have been carefully corrected.
This book is divided into 14 chapters. Out of these the first ten constitute the first Part, while the remaining four form the second Part. But the last two chapters and “A Statement of My Beliefs” were, because of some reason, left out in the first edition and have been incorporated into this edition.
Chapter I is an exposition of Om and other names of God.
Chapter II treats of the Upbringing of Children.
Chapter III treats of Brahmacharya, the duties and qualifications of scholars and teachers, good and bad books and the scheme of studies.
Chapter IV treats of Marriage and Married Life.
Chapter V treats of Vanaprastha (the Order of Asceticism) and of Sanyas Ashrama (the Order of Renunciation).
Chapter VI treats of Raj Dharma (The Science of Government).
Chapter VII treats of the Veda and God.
Chapter VIII treats of the Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution of the Universe.
Chapter IX treats of Knowledge and Ignorance, and Emancipation and Bondage.
Chapter X treats of Conduct-desirable and undesirable-and of Diet, permissible and forbidden.
Chapter XI contains a criticism of the various religions and sects prevailing in India.
Chapter XII treats of the Charvaka, Buddhist and Jain religions.
Chapter XIII treats of Christianity.
Chapter XIV treats of Mohammedanism.
At the end of the book I have given a summary of the teachings of the eternal Vedic religion which we profess.
My chief aim in writing this book is to unfold Truth. I have expounded truth as truth and falsehood as falsehood. The exposition of falsehood in place of truth and of truth in place of falsehood does not constitute the unfolding of truth.
To speak of, write about, and believe in a thing as it is, constitutes truth. He that is prejudiced, tries to prove that even his falsehood is truth, while the truth of his religious opponent is falsehood. He cannot, therefore, know what the true religion is. Hence, it is the bounden duty of truthful and learned men to unfold this right nature of truth and falsehood before all men in their writings and speeches and then to leave them free to judge what promotes their welfare and what is prejudicial to their interests, and to embrace what is true and reject what is false. This will lead to the happiness of the people at large. Though the human soul possesses the capacity for ascertaining truth, yet through self-interest, obstinacy, block-headedness, ignorance and the like, it is led to renounce truth and incline towards untruth. I have freed myself from these influences while writing this book. It is not my object to hurt anyone’s susceptibilities or to injure anyone. On the other hand, my aim is to further the advancement and well-being of mankind, to help all men in the ascertainment of what is right, and to enable them to accept truth and reject falsehood. In my opinion there is no other way of elevating the human race.
All errors or omissions, typographical or otherwise, on being pointed out to me, will be rectified, but no heed will be paid to anything that is said or written through prejudice with the object of unnecessarily criticizing this book. Of course, any suggestions made by persons actuated with the spirit of furthering the welfare of humanity, on being found good, will be most acceptable. There are undoubtedly many learned men among the followers of every religion. Should they free themselves from prejudice, accept the universal truth-that is, those truths that are to be found alike in all religions and are of universal application -, reject all things in which the various religions differ and treat each other lovingly, it will be greatly to the advantage of the world, for it cannot be denied that differences among the learned create bed blood among the ignorant masses. This leads to the multiplication of all sorts of sorrows and sufferings and destroys human happiness. This evil, which is so dear to the heart of the selfish, has hurled mankind into the deepest depths of misery. Whoever tries to do anything with the object of benefitting mankind, is opposed by the selfish people and various kinds of obstacles are placed in his way. But finding solace in the belief that ultimately truth must conquer and not falsehood, and that it is the path of rectitude alone that men of learning and piety have always trodden, truth-teachers never become indifferent to the promotion of public good and never give up the promulgation of truth.
It is my firm belief that everything calculated to the advancement of knowledge and righteousness is like poison to begin with, but like nectar in the end. I have kept all this in view while writing this book. Let all those who read or hear it being read keep an open mind, enter into the spirit of the author and form an independent opinion.
I have incorporated into this book whatever is true in all religions and in harmony with their highest teachings but have refuted whatever is false in them. I have exposed to the view of men –learned or otherwise –all evil practices whether resorted to secretly or openly. This will help my readers to discuss religious questions in a spirit of love and embrace the one true religion. Though I was born in Aryavarta and still live in it, yet just as I do not defend the evil doctrines and practices of the religions prevailing in my own country – on the other hand, expose them properly – in like manner I deal with alien religions. I treat the foreigners in the same way as I treat my own countrymen in recognition of our common humanity. It behoves all the rest to act likewise. Had I taken the side of one of the prevailing religions of India, I would have but followed the example of sectarians who extol, defend and preach their own religion and decry, refute and check the progress of other creeds. In my opinion, however, such things are beneath the dignity of man.
Should a man act like an animal, which is strong, oppresses the weak and even puts them to death, he is more an animal than a man. He alone can rightly be called a man who being strong protects the weak. He that injures others in order to gain his selfish ends, can only be called a big animal.
In the first eleven chapters I have chiefly dealt with the religions of the people of Aryavarta. I believe in the religion that has been expounded in the first to tenth chapters as it is in harmony with the Vedic teachings, but we disbelieve in the false teachings of the Puranas (which are of recent origin, the Tantras and the books like these which I have condemned in the 11th chapter.
In the twelfth chapter I have discussed the Charvaka faith as well as the Jain and Budhist religions. I have set forth their points of agreement and of difference with one other. The reader should consult that chapter for further intormation on the subject. In our criticism of the Buddhist religion I have quoted the most ancient and authentic books of the Buddhists, such as Dipavansha, Bauddhamata Sangrah and Sarvadarshana Sangraha, etc.
The Dhundia sect does not believe in the Avayavas. There are many other books besides the above that are believed in by the Jains. Their religion is discussed in detail in the twelfth chapter. There are millions of repetitions in the Jain books. It should be borne in mind that some of the Jains are in the habit of disavowing books that fall into the hands of non-Jains or are published. They are not at all justified in doing so since books that are believed in by some, though repudiated by others, cannot be said to be unauthentic. Of course, a book that is not believed in by any Jain nr has even been, is unauthentic, but there is not a single book (referred to by us in our criticism) which is not believed in by some Jains at least; hence our criticism of a Jain book will hold good for him who though they really believe in as good, repudiate it in public controversy. The Jains hide their books from non-Jains and do not let others see them, because they are full of absurdities to such an extent that no Jain could ever answer any objections urged against them. The best answer, however, that one could give to an objection raised against a false belief is to give it up.
In the thirteenth chapter I have discussed Christianity. Its followers believe the Bible to be their Holy Book. For further information, the reader is requested to consult the said chapter. Mohammedanism has been dealt with in the fourteenth chapter. Its followers hold the Quran to be their sacred book. The reader is advised to consult this chapter for detailed information on the subject. Then I have given a brief summary of the teachings of the Vedic religion. Whosoever will read this book with a biased mind will fail to understand what the author’s aim (in writing this book is,
There are four elements necessary to convey a complete sense of a passage, viz., (1) Akanksha, (2) Yogyata, (3) Asatti and (4)Tatparya :
Akansha consists in entering into the spirit of the speaker or the author.
Yogyata in the fitness or compatibility of sense. For instance, when it is said “water irrigates”, there is nothing absurd in the mutual connection between the objects signified by the words.
Asatti consists regarding or speaking words in proper sequence, i.e, without detaching them from their context.
Tatparya is to give the same meaning to the words of a writer or a speaker which he intended to convey.
There are many people who, through bigotry and wrong-headeness, misconstrue the meaning of the author The sectarians are the greatest sinners in this respect because their intellect is wrapped by bigotry. Just as I have studied the Jain and Buddhist scriptures, the Puranas, the Bible and the Quran with an unbiased mind and have accepted what is good in them and rejected what is false, and endeavour for the betterment of all mankind, it behoves all good men to do likewise. I have very briefly pointed out the defects of these religions. The perusal of this book will help men to sift truth from falsehood and to embrace the former and renounce the latter. It does not become the wise to mislead people. The ignorant are sure to misinterpret what I say, but if the wise will realize what my aim is in writing this book, I shall consider my labour amply rewarded. I place this work before all men in the hope that they will embrace the truth and make my labour fruitful. I consider it the first and the foremost duty of every man to proclaim the truth without fear or favour. May the Omniscient, Omnipresent, Supreme Spirit who is the true personification of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss, through His grace diffuse this spirit and give it permanency.
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