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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

D.A.V. School Lahore

Dear Amitji,

“Indeed all spirituality is fascinating .. as is divinity .. the writings the beliefs the followings all make for great and intense analysis … many have undertaken this work and have come about with theories that mesmerise and reach proportions that are difficult to believe .. but they do .. many have answers many do not .. many have believers many do not .. and they have their own reasons for it ..” (DAY - 3067)

Sir, In India many families are great believers in some guru or god-man or the other. Every second day there’s a grand procession and a yatra happening somewhere with thousands of devotees thronging for darshan of a god-man. TV is the god-man's biggest ally. The religious channels have been a god sent for  getting them entry into each and every household. Even mainstream channels have more than a fair share of god-man content. You no longer can ignore them as you invariably run into them every time you flick TV channels. Most of the god-men are quite captivating, with their flowing beards and forceful voices. Stories that had their foundation in magic and ‘chamatkars’ always appeal to people. The stories are remarkably simple and straightforward that really could improve people's lives. Some of these god-men also teach exercises and relaxation techniques that are very effective. The god-men seem to have mastered the art of making a miracle mixture of religion and reality that promises to take care of real life worries like stress, loss and failure. It is, therefore, no surprise that the number of followers of these god-men just keeps rising. They have full faith that only a certain guru or god-man can tell them the right path or fix their lives. They must have experienced some good from that faith or waiting for that good to happen. You may disagree with them, but for them it is a matter of faith.

Sir, there is one such spiritual leader whom I started to know from the first day I entered my school at the age of 4-years. The school was Dayanand Anglo Vedic Middle School in Lahore, famous as D.A.V. school, established under Arya Samaj institutions. As I went up the stairs of studies from class one  to the 10th, the last on the school ladder, I had come to know much about Arya Samaj and its founder Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati, in Ved Path period of our classes throughout ten years of schooling. Besides, my father being the Vice-Headmaster in DAV High School, along with his other job as the Chief Representative of Oxford University Press, London in India, many of his Aryasamaj friends frequently visited our house and out of town friends even stayed with us , specially during one-week annual festival of Arya Samaj at our school, thereby providing ample opportunity to know about the institute and its founder.

The educational thrust of this vital worldwide religious organization goes back to 1886 when followers of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, the founder of the Arya Samaj, established the first Dayanand Anglo Vedic (DAV) school in Lahore, now in Pakistan. Maharshi's dream was to eradicate ignorance and illiteracy by building institutions offering a modern education based upon the eternal knowledge in the Vedas. From one school in 1886, the DAV now operates 500 educational institutions in India, including schools, colleges and specialized centers. The Arya Samaj has achieved its success by single-mindedly following his example in pursuing only one strategy - setting up institutions for educating children and adults with knowledge rooted in the Vedas, while also meeting the demand for a high quality, modern education. Maharshi himself incorporated the format of successful Christian institutions into his schools, yet within each, he used the traditional Vedic gurukula system for teaching Vedic Dharma.

Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati (1824-83) was born in Gujarat in a rich  family, but left home at age 20 in search of a guru. He met Swami Virajananda, a blind guru and great Vedic scholar, who taught him the Vedas and initiated him as a sannyasi. Feeling that Hinduism at that time was corrupt, Swami Dayananda founded the Arya Samaj (Noble Society) in 1875 to reform Hinduism by reviving the original religion of India which he called Vedic Dharma. He put great emphasis on performance of the homa or fire ceremony to worship the one God, while opposing idol worship, polytheism and animal sacrifices. He also opposed  polygamy, sati, oppression of women and child marriages. He was against gambling and consumption of alcohol and drugs, and he promoted vegetarianism and protection of cows. Maharshi Dayanand was among the first to raise his voice against British domination and is often credited with building the foundation upon which others later won India's independence. Subsequently the philosopher and President of India, S. Radhakrishnan, called him one of the "makers of Modern India," as did Sri Aurobindo.

Dayananda's Vedic message was to emphasize respect and reverence for other human beings, supported by the Vedic notion of the divine nature of the individual–divine because the body was the temple where the human essence (soul or "atma") had the possibility to interface with the creator ("Paramatma"). In the ten principles of the Arya Samaj, he enshrined the idea that "All actions should be performed with the prime objective of benefiting mankind", as opposed to following dogmatic rituals or revering idols and symbols. The first five principles speak of Truth and the other five of a society with nobility, civics, co-living and disciplined life. In his own life, he interpreted moksha to be a lower calling (due to its benefit to one individual) than the calling to emancipate others. Dayananda's "back to the Vedas" message influenced many thinkers and philosophers the world over.

In 1883,Dayananda was invited by the Maharaja of Jodhpur to stay at his palace. The Maharaja was eager to become his disciple and learn his teachings. One day Dayananda went to the Maharaja's rest room and saw him with a dance-girl named Nanhi Jaan. Dayananda boldly asked the Maharaja to forsake the girl and all unethical acts and follow dharma like a true Aryan. Dayananda's suggestion offended the dance-girl and she decided to take revenge. She bribed Dayananda's cook and asked him to mix poison in his milk and give it to Dayanand. Dayananda drank the milk and went to sleep. Dayananda was bedridden and suffered excruciating pain. On seeing Dayananda's suffering the cook, overcome with unbearable guilt and remorse,  confessed his crime to Dayananda. On his deathbed, Dayananda forgave him. He died on the morning of 30 October 1883 at 6:00 am, chanting mantras.

With regards and best wishes

Tilak Rishi


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