President of Delhi Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, Dharampal Arya belongs to a generation which has a great responsibility on its shoulders. The generation before him was totally committed to Arya Samaj the Hindu reformist movement founded by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. The greatest challenge before Arya and others in his age group is to ensure that the values, beliefs and principles mentioned in the Vedas reach the Generation X (influenced by MTV, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp) — so that they too abstain from idol worship and remain committed to the values promoted by Swami Dayanand in the holy book Satyarth Prakash (“the light of truth”). Excerpts from an interview with Ankit Mahajan
At the time when you joined the Arya Samaj, the generation before you were quite committed. But is the generation after you as committed or is the commitment towards Arya Samaj and its ideals getting diluted among today’s youth?
The future of Arya Samaj is very bright. Would you like know why? Well, that’s because the computer savvy new generation is not ready to say or accept anything that is illogical. You may try to pressurize them as much as you can, but they will not accept something that does not satisfy their quest or hunger for the reason and seem rational or logical. For a brief moment, this might give the impression of dilution of values but because the founding principles behind Arya Samaj are deeply rooted in reason, logic and fulfilment of the quest for knowledge.
Another point that I wish to make is that our youth today is totally disillusioned by the inappropriate behaviour and misdemeanour of the Godmen or religious leaders that has been reported in the media in the last 5-10 years. Apart from them, there are a few people who haven’t been exposed yet. All this has hurt the youth very badly.
I would like to make a clear-cut distinction between Arya Samaj as an institute and Arya Samaj as a thought. If you compare the two, you may say that Arya Samaj as an institute is not what it used to be and is weaker than what it used to be earlier. I am prepared to accept this but this does not mean that Arya Samaj is getting extinct. Today’s youth may be sceptic of the term Arya Samaj but definitely not averse to its ideologies, thoughts and values. Today’s youth are is quite motivated. But then if you say that this needs to be enhanced I would say that you can always climb up from good to better and best — there is no limit for further improvement.
What steps are you taking to satiate the mindset of the youth with your ideology and logic?
This change in perception is not something that can crop up because of the efforts of a single individual unless there is a collective effort by everyone who think and behave accordingly. It has been observed that people prefer to take the easiest way out in most situations. Arya Samaj does not encourage the easiest way. By the easiest way, I mean going to a temple, donating some money, bowing your head before the diety and expect to be pardoned for ever misdeed and fullfil a heartfelt wish. Alternatively, I may go to a Mzaar, drape it with a sheet of cloth and light a few incense sticks to seek forgiveness for all my lifelong sins. Arya Samaj does not believe in this facade. Arya Samaj’s logic is that you have to pay for whatever good or bad deeds done by you. Let me explain this, in the sense that if you have done 80 good and 20 bad deeds—this does not mean that you will get 80-20 = 60 reward points. As per Arya Samaj’s ideology, there is no correlation between the two. You will get seperately get the rewards or punishment for the 80 good and 20 bad deeds. Arya Samaj makes this quite clear and there is no ambiguity behind this belief. In other words, I cannot give a false commitment to anyone at an individual or institutional level that if you come here regularly all your sins will be forgiven.
Since how many years have you been associated with Arya Samaj?
I belong to an Arya Samaj family by birth. Till a few years back, I was Secretary of a small institute and now since the last four years, I am President of Delhi State Arya Samaj.
How many people have actually read the Vedas, Satyarth Prakash and other important books associated with Arya Samaj—leave alone implement them in their lives?
I do not have any data available with me to how many people have read these books. This is also because there are many publications promoting Arya Samaj’s ideology or literature all over the country. There is no data available about the combined reach or impact. But this is a continuous process. Even according to Arya Samaj’s motto, “Krinvanto Vishwam Aaryam” the process of making Arya (noble) or perfect people is a continuous process. If you stop the process after making an Arya – it would be like feeding a hungry person and forgetting him for the next 15-20 hours. During this period, the man may feel hungry again. Feeding someone can be a temporary solution for a few days or weeks but the best way to improve his life is not to give him two chapattis but help him get a job. Arya Samaj can satisfy your intellectual hunger- with logic and proof.
If you look at history there was a time when widow remarriage was being frowned upon and anyone who dared to marry a widow was excommunicated. There were hardly any schools – even for boys leave alone girls. The few schools here and there – were for upper caste Brahmins and Englishmen’s children. Arya Samaj started the campaign for widow remarriage and education for all – irrespective of gender, caste or community. Today the 125-year-old DAV movement associated with the Arya Samaj is a key player in the domain of education next to the government’s own department of education.