Hindu Revivalism and Education in North-Central India
I have profound respect for Dayanand Saraswati. I think that he has rendered great service to Hinduism. His bravery was 'unquestioned. But he made his Hinduism narrow. I have read Satyarth Prakash, the Arya Samaj Bible. Friends sent me three copies of it whilst I was residing in the Yarvada Jail. I have not read a more disappointing book from a reformer so great. He has claimed to stand for truth and nothing else. But he has unconsciously misrepresented Jainism, Islam, Christianity and Hinduism itself. One having even a cursory acquaintance with these faiths could easily discover the errors into which the great reformer was betrayed. He has tried to make narrow one of the most tolerant and liberal of the faiths on the face of the earth. And an iconoclast though he was, he has succeeded in enthroning idolatry in the subtlest form. For he has idolised the letter of the Vedas and tried to prove the existence in the Vedas of everything known to science. The Arya Samaj flourishes, in my humble opinion, not because of the inherent merit of the teachings of Satyarth Prakash, but because of the grand and lofty character of the founder.
All political discourses that we can distinguish in Indian public life today can be traced back to India's struggle for independence. The revivalist discourse, which gained considerable political ground in the eighties, can be traced back to the philosophical, religious and social movements that originated in the latter half of the nineteenth century as part of a quest for India's independence from British rule. Search for self-identity was an important part of the vision of an independent India, and revivalist movements played a key role in this search. This role of revivalism proved highly relevant to the development of educationóof its concept and practicesóbecause education had seived as an instrument for the dissemination of a colonial identity. Dissatisfaction with colonial education gave revivalism one of its reason d'etres. Educational enterprise became a favourite sphere of revivalist mobilisation. The interplay of political, religious and peda-
* Central Institute of Education, Delhi University, Delhi.
Social Scientist, Vol. 18, No. 10, October 1990