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Swami Shraddhananda – Arya Samaj Leader

Swami Shraddhananda was an Arya Samaj leader. Munshi Ram, as Swami Shraddhananda was first called, was born in 1857 CE at Talvan near Jalandhar, Punjab. He was the youngest of seven children of Nanak Canda, who was an ardent reader of Ramacharitamanasa. Young Munshi Ram also came under the influence of Bhakta Buddhu.

Munshi Ram had his education in Varanasi and Prayagraj. He had a well-built body as a result of regular physical exercises and was therefore an adept wrestler. After graduating in law, he joined the Bar at Lahore. As an advocate, he took an active part in religious and social work and was very popular and known as an honest, patriotic, and intelligent worker among the members of his profession. In 1885 CE, he happened  to listen to a speech in Lahore of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, founder of Arya Samaj. His life changed after a discussion with Maharishi Dayanand. His patriotic and religious instincts were aroused and he devoted himself to social upliftment and religious revival.

Munshi Ram started Sat Dharma Pracharak, an Urdu weekly aimed at spreading his progressive ideas about religion and social work. To promote women’s education, he started Jalandhar Kanya Shala in 1890 CE. He was supporter of Hindu widow remarriage. He established a chain of Dayanand Anglo-Vedic (DAV) Colleges and through them tried to revolutionize Hindu society and build up an organization of strong-minded and strong-bodied men and women. In 1902, he established Gurukul Kangri Vidyalaya at Haridwar, which was recognized as a University in 1917 CE. Later he renounced the world and became a sannyasi wearing the saffron robe. He assumed the name Shraddhananda.

In 1919 CE, Swami Shraddhananda took part in Mahatma Gandhis’s Non-Cooperation Movement (Satyagraha). He was an active supporter of cow protection and reconversion of Muslims forcibly converted earlier to Islam (Shuddhi Movement).

He died as a martyr on December 23, 1926, when he was assassinated on his sick bed in Delhi by a Muslim youth who had sought an interview with him.