MAHATMA HANS RAJ.
A GREAT ARYA SAMAJIST
19th April 1864 to15th Nov. 1938.
Hans Raj was born in a small town, Bajwara, in district Hoshiarpur on April 1864.He lost his father before he was 12 and had to be looked after and educated by his elder brother who drew a meager salary of Rs. 40 per month. The family moved to Lahore where Hans Raj joined a missionary school. He was incensed by the slighting references to Hindu pantheism, worship of idols and caste prejudices by a Christian teacher. But while he was still a student Hans Raj had fallen under the spell of the teaching of Swami Dayanand
Sarswati, and his stirring appeal to rejuvenate Aryan Hinduism by going back to the Vedas which believed in one God, “OM” rejected idol worship and the caste system. Young Hansraj volunteered his services to the Arya Samaj, and was appointed the Headmaster of the Dayanand Anglo-Vedic High School in Lahore. Under the leadership of Hans Raj, this school not only blossomed into a college, but it also became one of the outstanding educational institutions of Lahore. (It is believed that “OM” carved in Sanskrit may still be there)
As Arya Samaj took deeper roots in Punjab because largely due to a band of devotees like Lala Lajpat Rai, Pandit Guru Dutt Vidyarthi and Lala Sain Das. Hans Raj who could have easily got a job in government service decided to accept the headmastership of a non-existent school with no pay. Under the leadership of Hansraj ji’s and his comrades-in-arms who had opened relief camps, notwithstanding adverse circumstances succeeded in reconverting to the Vedic dharma more than 2500 Kerala Hindus who had been forcibly made Muslims in the Mopla rebellion. Hansraj ji, even before he earned the loving and respectful prefix `Mahatma’ was a perfect motivator of men par excellence. He would achieve the unachievable through perfect teamwork. Every member of the team carried on his duties assigned by Hansraj ji as if it was a struggle for his own survival.
The influence of the Arya Samaj was widespread in Lahore, and it played a significant role in shaping the outlook of the middle classes of the city. From the DAV days, right from its inception on the first of June in 1886 in the Arya Samaj Lahore, Hansraj ji had learnt to treat his staff and students as his own kith and kin. Boys of DAV school and later of the DAV College were treated like his own sons, irrespective of caste, creed or colour. No wonder Sir Shahabuddin, Speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly of undivided India and an ex-DAV School student spoke thus on the demise of Mahatma Hansraj ji:
father died, I became fatherless,
When my mother died, I became motherless,
Today on the death of Lala Hansraj, I am
Reduced to the state of an ORPHAN.’’
Hans Raj did by leading the country from the darkness of ignorance to the enlightenment of knowledge. He devoted his whole life serving the DAV institutions and also served as president of Arya Samaj Lahore and Arya Pratinidhi Sabha Punjab. Because of his services, sacrifice and simplicity people called him as Mahatma. Without doubt the largest non-governmental educational organization in the world is the chain of Dayanand Arya Vedic schools and colleges spread over the length and breadth of the country.
Mahatma Hansraj preached well. He practiced what he preached. ``Sandhya’’ (Vedic prayer), ``Swadhyaya’’ (self study), ``Samaj Satsang’’ (weekly religious session of the Arya Samaj), ``Swadesh,’’ (loyalty to the motherland) and ``Sewa’’ (service of man) were the five precepts he lived by. He would exercise his body through morning walks and take an occasional break by retreating to the hills. Mahatma Hansraj had unflinching faith in the Vedic Dharm as propounded by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. He lived a full life, served the DAV institution for 25 years without accepting a paisa as pay and devoted another 25 years to the service of mankind. Indeed Lala Hansraj was a Mahatma par excellence who motivated men to touch the sky with glory.
The end came on November 14, 1938 and his sons, daughters, grandchildren and innumerable friends were around him.