Lala Devraj ji ranks foremost among the great men who worked in Punjab for the upliftment of women kept downtrodden for centuries due to dogmas, traditions, societal propriety or religious superstitions. For the womenfolk, his services rendered were so innumerable and expansive that if we consider only this aspect, his name still ranks at the top among the noble men associated with the Arya Samaj.
He was born on 3rd March, 1860 in the famous town of Jalandhar in the Doaba region in the renowned Sondhi clan. His father’s name was Lala Saligram Ji who was an honourable and prosperous person of the town, who after doing government job for sometime started his money lending business. He enjoyed so much success in the business that he did not allow anyone among his progeny to seek government job.
Lala Saligram had four sons and a daughter. The sons were named Balakram, Devraj, Bhagatram and Hans Raj and the daughter was named, Shiv Devi. Sh. Bhagat Ram and Sh. Hansraj later passed Bar-at-law from England. Sh. Hansraj, instead of practicing law served the nation and till the last days of his life continued to be counted among the topmost leaders of the country. Many times he was elected as Member of Parliament form the Swaraj Party and the Congress. Similarly, Bhakat Ram ji earned lot of fame. He was considered the topmost Barrister during his times. The only daughter of Lala Saligram was highly fortunate who later married the famous leader of Arya Samaj, Mahatma Munshi Ram.
Devraj ji was the brother of these successful brothers and sisters. Palsied, and weak right from birth, and being physically less attractive than his siblings, his mother took greater care of him. This resulted in the social and religious life of his mother casting a huge impact on him.
Devraj ji’s initial education took place in the Madrassa of Mian ji. From there, at the age of around of ten or twelve years he took admission in the Mission school. Because in the mentioned school the Hindu dharma was denigrated and Christianity propagated, his father arranged a pandit (Hindu priest) for imparting religious education at home. During student life his companions used to call him “Mr. Liberty” due to his independent nature and he used to add the epithet “Satya Prakash” to his name. In fact, both these nicknames were appropriate for him as he was a lover of truth, along with liberty. For some time he also went to Hoshiarpur to get education but it seems that his education could not continue beyond Matric. A few of his relatives also wanted him to study law but instead of doing some job, or some other business, he started contributing to his father’s money lending business. As per the old custom, his marriage had already been solemnized with a lot of fan fare at the age of eleven. On arrival in Jalandhar, he started actively participating in social work. The first major work done in this respect was the establishment of “Deshunnti Fund”(Country Progress Fund) in 1884. Its aim was to collect funds for the nation’s progress. At a number of places, he collected Hindus, particularly members of his community, and made them resolve to donate on ceremonial occasions and the amount, thus collected, was to be spent on religious activities. Devraj ji was appointed the secretary and he organized this fund in the form of a movement.
In 1861, Devraj ji’s father, Lala Saligram was a Jailor. In 1867 he became a tehsildar, and in 1875 was appointed as an honorary Magistrate. In 1886, he was appointed to the municipal and district board and in 1887 he became President of Local Board. Lala Devraj also got a part of this legacy. In 1890, he became a Zaildar. At this position, he made great contribution during the census of 1890 and 1900, and during the epidemic of cholera and plague in the Jalandhar town and district. In 1913, when his revered father passed away, he was appointed as the honorary Magistrate.
Since early days, he was fond of writing. He started writing a diary in 1887. The same year, he became a correspondent in the Urdu paper, “Tijarat.” In 1884, he started writing articles for “Kesari,” Jalandhar and after some time became its editor. When Lala Munshi Ram ji launched “Sandarbh Pracharak” newspaper, Devraj ji continued to completely support him. With the support of Diwan Badridas, he started the magazine, “Sahayak” in 1877 which closed after being published for one and a half years. Devraj ji also started a magazine in 1897 named, “Panchal Pandita.” In the beginning this magazine also had four pages in English which were later stopped. In 1901, this magazine became solely a Hindi language magazine. Probably this magazine continued to be published till 1906. In 1906, he became the editor of Urdu weekly, “Bharat.” In 1920-1921, magazine “ Bharati” was launched. In 1922, the magazine, “Jal-Vidsakha” was launched as a college magazine. Thus, lala ji was considered a proficient journalist and successful writer of his time.
This cannot be said with certainty that how he got attracted towards the Arya Samaj. It seems that the feelings of nationalism, social upliftment and social service that were deeply inculcated in him since childhood pulled him towards the Arya Samaj. Perhaps due to this reason that after joining the Arya Samaj he changed his name from “ Devraj Satya Prakash” to “ Devraj Swayta Prakash.” In other words, he received enlightenment about Arya Samaj , spontaneously (by himself). The credit for foundation, establishment, and expansion of Arya Samaj in Jalandhar also goes Lala Devraj ji. After receiving the initial light of knowledge regarding the Arya Samaj, he started the system of community prayer at his home which involved outsiders from the town too along with his family members. Similarly, he had formed a club at his home in which his friends often participated. This club acquired the shape of Arya Samaj in 1883. Satsangs were first held in the dharamshala of Murlimal, and later at the lawyer chambers at Kapurthala. The first festival of the Jalandhar Samaj was organized on this site. On 8th January, 1888 the foundation stone of the present Arya Samaj temple at Adda Hoshiarpur was laid. Devraj ji, along with a number of volunteers, himself carried the bricks on his head and helped in the construction of this building. Infact, Lala Devraj ji was the founder, patron, convener, coordinator and, all in all of this Samaj.
During those days the Arya Samaj was taking its initial footsteps in Punjab, and Lahore was its largest center. With his dedication, devotion and hard work, Lala ji established Arya Samaj in Jalandhar as the second center. He started prayers, meditation and self- study in the Arya Samaj and made the local Arya Samaj followers so capable that they could engage in dialogue and discussions with others if the occasion demanded. From the perspective of education, Lahore was the centre of Arya Samaj. From the view point of propaganda, Jalandhar centre had moved ahead. Daily a group Arya Samajis led by Dev Raj ji used to move around in the form of processions in the city singing and chanting bhajans. Canvassing and publicity of Arya Samaj was also done in the markets and during the various festivals. Family Satsangs of Jalandhar were quite popular too. Followers of Arya Samaj under the leadership of Lala ji also used to visit the neighboring localities for the purpose of preaching and propagation.
Dev Raj ji was always obsessed with the growth and expansion of Arya Samaj and was bent upon establishing a school. Not only did he start a “Ved Prachar Fund” but also started Atta Fund and Raddi Fund for raising and collecting money in the name of ‘Chari System.’ Each Arya sewak or follower used to put one handful of wheat-flour daily in the pot placed in the Arya Samaj. Similarly he used to contribute through scrap or waste. Members of Arya Samaj used to collect waste or scrap from their homes and deposited them with the Arya Samaj. The money collected after selling this scrap was employed for running the reading room, library and also for publicity. Slowly the members of Arya Samaj also began Arya Samaj rituals and rights. This move was strongly resented by the members of the community. Lala Ji encouraged, supported everyone. And if the community threatened members with social boycott, he carried along the whole Arya Samaj group to counter them. Such a incident took place after the death of the revered father of one of the members of Arya Samaj, Lala Nagina Mal. Lala ji took a group of Arya Samaj followers there and at the time of ‘Pagri Rasam,’ the pagri or turban was also given by Arya Samaj , Jalandhar. The same story was repeated during the last rites of the mother of Sh. Govind Sahai, patwari of Kapurthala. As soon as Lala ji received the sad news he reached there, along with the members of the city and Cantt. The last rites were performed and sermon was given according to Arya Samaj vedic tradition. In this way, slowly but surely the call of social boycott by the caste-community failed.
Lala ji himself faced lot of protest and difficult in his own home. His revered father did not want him to get involved in the work of Arya Samaj. The situation became so bad that once or twice, he thought of leaving his home. Once, on 20 March, 1887 when he expressed his determination to leave his home by handing over all the keys in his possession, his father was forced to agree to his rendering of services for the Arya Samaj. Again in 1889, his father was instigated by some people and he told Devraj ji to either leave Arya Samaj or his family. For his duty and dharma, Devraj ji renounced his home. On 8th February, 1889, he left home. He first reached Meerut, then Aligarh and from there he visited Allahabad, there he witnessed elections of Vedic ministry of Arya Samaj. From there, on 12th February, he reached Calcutta. He saw Arya Samaj temple and the ‘Aryavrat’ press. He then decided to visit Rangoon and booked a seat for himself in the ship, ‘Nadiyan.’ In the meanwhile, a telegram form Jalandhar proclaiming, “Make Devraj stay” was received, and by evening Ralaram from Jalandhar reached there. In spite of his persuasion, Devraj ji did not agree and without informing him, reached for the ship. The ship had left before he reached. He caught the ship which was two miles ahead by hiring a boat. His ship reached Diamond Harbour on 14th February. At that very moment, Mahshay Nandlal got down from the steamer and showed him a message which read, “Follow the orders and return home.” Profound reverence for his father forced Devraj ji to obey his orders and on 23rd February he returned home. He placed his head at his father’s feet and for all times to come left work of Arya Samaj.
An important task of Lala ji’s life was the establishment of Kanya Maha Vidhalaya. He dedicated his entire life to the upliftment of women. This college was first established on December 26, 1886 as a girl’s institute which closed after sometime due to non availability of the female wards. Another attempt was made in 1889. A sub-committee was formed for framing the rules, and collection of funds but it could not do anything concrete other than just doing some theoretical planning. On 5th July, 1891, a third attempt was made. This time a school was started with eight girl students, in 12 feet by 10 feet room hired on rent. Time was such that female education was considered a sin or taboo, and a girl holding a book or ‘akhsardeepika’ was considered a criminal act and even her betrothal was called off on this pretext. Those making efforts for the education of females were dubbed as enemies of religion and nation and were socially boycotted. During such a difficult time, Lala Devraj ji after freeing himself from involvement in all other activities devoted all his energy to the construction of the school. He himself used to encourage girls to step out of their homes and he held discussions with their parents pointing out the benefits of female education and also made all arrangements for the education of girls. The result of these strenuous efforts and profound devotion shown by Devraj ji during that period was that the sapling planted by him in the form of a girls school went on to become a great tree. In the beginning, the pathshala or school in Jalandhar was till primary level. There was no tradition of females getting education beyond this level. On 15th April, 1892 Lala Devraj and Lala Munshi Ram ji gave a proposal to convert ‘Kanya Pathshala’ into a ‘Kanya Mahavidhyalaya.’ A sub-committee was formed and it was told to frame the outline of the whole project which was sent for the analysis of the national leaders in different parts of the country. On 3rd May, 1893 the mentioned proposal was passed with certain amendments. There were certain protests also when an appeal was made to raise funds, but on 14th June, 1896, the ‘Kanya Pathsala’ acquired the form of ‘ Kanya Mahavidhayala.’ Before this, On 14th January, 1896 the Managing committee of ‘Kanya Mahavidhyalaya’ got itself registered as the ‘ Kanya Mahavidhyalaya Mukhiya Sabha.’ An ashram or hostel was also constructed along with the vidhalaya where girl students from other places could stay. On 18th October, 1898 a ‘Andh vidhalaya’ or a school for the blind and during March, 1909 a ‘vidhwa bhawan’ or a hostel for the widows were opened along with this vidhalaya. Besides this, arrangements for classes for married and aged women were made and this continued till 1904-05.
During 1909-1910, at a distance of approximately two miles from the town, an 18 acre plot was purchased. For the construction of the building an appeal for an amount of three lakh was made. ‘Mandir Sub-committee’ was formed and the work started for the collection of funds and construction of the campus. A few buildings were constructed in 1913-14 and all institutions of the Mahavidhyalaya were sent there. For junior classes, the school kept running in the old building. The vision of public welfare and humanity, with which the foundation of the ‘Mahavidhyalaya’ was laid, soon began to be realized. Girls from different parts of the country started reaching there to get education. Following its example, schools or pathshalas for females started opening in the whole region. According to a report, till 1918, 104 ‘pathshalas or schools’ in the region were following the syllabus of Mahavidhyalaya.
There were nine classes in the Mahavidhyalaya till 1903-04. Tenth class was added in 1904. In 1909-10, college level education began. The college had its own indigenous system of education. According to this system, ‘Samya’ for primary, ‘Shikshita’ for middle, ‘Dikshita’ for high school and ‘Snatika’ for college were the degrees awarded. Besides the other formal subjects, Ved path and singing, dharma shiksha or religious education, sewing and knitting and Pakshastra were taught as special subjects in the college. An examination based on “Satyarth Prakash” was also held regularly. This system continued till 1932. In 1932, a system of Matric, Rattan, Bhushan, Prabakar and Pragya examinations was started. An arrangement of imparting education till graduation (B.A) level was made in 1937, and during October, 1937 the golden jubilee of the Mahavidhyalaya was celebrated.
This can be easily understood that lakhs of rupees would have been spent on the construction of such a great institute. For this purpose, Lala Devraj ji toured Calcutta, Quetta, Karachi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Mujafarnagar and other places to raise and accumulate funds. He also went to Burma for this holy task and toured the major cities and towns of that country to accumulate funds for the institute. In this way, he dedicated fifty years of his life to the establishment and expansion of the Mahavidhyalaya. In fact, Kanya Mahavidhyala was not a mere institution for him but ambission of his life. He sacrificed all the ambitions and desires of his life for this mission. He wanted to create a social revolution among the womenfolk through this institution. He definitely proved to be the torchbearer in the renaissance and reawakening of the female gender. In the words of Pt. Satya Dev Vidyaalankar, “You were a great institute for the female class in the form of a human.” On 27th November, 1905, when the director of education department , Punjab, Mr. W Well , Faic visited Kanya Mahavidhyalaya for inspection he had written that Lala Devraj ji was one in millions and what he had done for female education was beyond praise. Similarly, Lt. Governor of Punjab, Micheal O Dyer during his visit for inspection wrote, “Jalandhar is no historical place but Kanya Mahavidhyalaya has made it famous all over the country. In the sphere of female education, Mahavidhyalaya is doing a praiseworthy and exemplary work.”
On 17th April, 1935, Lala ji passed away due to a sudden cardiac arrest. The whole nation mourned his death. Kanya Mahavidhyalaya, in its present grand state is a kind of holy memorial for Lalaji and it would continue to immortalize his name for generations to come.
Source: “Uttar-Paschim Bharat main Stri-Shakti-Jagran ka Moort Roop Kanya Mahavidyalaya” written by Sh. Shadhi Ram Joshi, Former Principal, Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Jalandhar
Translated By: Mr.Vineet Mehta, Associate Prof., and Ms. Ambika, Assistant Prof., Dept. of English, Doaba College, Jalandhar
This author has the vivid memories of his study period of Jalandhar city and the early teaching period. One of them, in the bamboo market, is the memory of a religious satsang in your palanquin courtyard in which Muslims and Christian scholars used to express their views. That satsang was an all-religion-satsang prior to 1940s. Your grand son Shri Devendra Bahari told that in those days of their school, the day of the Sunday was a day for them to wear cleanliness for satsang. Maulana Mohammad Ali ‘azer’, a venerable old Jalandhar man, who was well-known National, Khaddar-Posh Muslim, along with being a famous poet of Urdu, and who taught for a long time in Doaba school and Kanya Mahayaya, drawing etc. he used to say about you, “You are Sahib Zuk” (Literay Institutions).
You were among those few close friends of Lala Devraj Ji who used to come to school in the evening regularly and took part in the work and advice of the organization.
You were also among the founders of Doaba School. For many years before going to court, you used to take a one-and-a half period in school.
In Jalandhar, you were brother like friend of Rai Bahadur Badridas. In that era, before building the cells of ‘Civil Lines’, the bamboo market area near District Jail was the residence of principal lawyers of Jalandhar. Rai Bahadur Badri Das also used to reside here before moving to Lahore, you also resided here and many other lawyers of the city used to stay there.
Acharya Kumari Lajjawati ji tells that once the school was preparing for ‘Garba’ dance for the annual festival, you saw it and said, “It is dancing, shall we make girls dance on stage?”Keeping in mind your emotion, the ‘item’ of the festival was left. Lala Devraj ji,who appreciated Garba dance very much told Acharya ji, “The feelings of all the comrades should be kept in mind.” It is evident from this instance that how the operators of the organization together used to work while taking care of the thoughts and feelings of each other.
Your grandson Shri Devendra Bahri tells, “We never heard our grandfather speaking angrily or loudly. He used to be always calm.” Even in the last illness, you did not utter a word of pain. You tolerated hardship with great patience.
Shri Devendra narrated an incident of your faith towards the institutions of Arya Samaj. When some of your grandsons started studying at the Government School then the officials of Doaba College of Arya Samaj complained to you regarding this. With your permission, those boys were admitted to Doaba School. After the death of Lala Devraj ji in 1935, for a few years you also remained the president of the school’s managing committee.
You died in 1944.
*Source: “Uttar-Paschim Bharat main Stri-Shakti-Jagran ka Moort Roop Kanya Mahavidyalaya” written by Sh. Shadhi Ram Joshi, Former Principal, Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Jalandhar
*Translated By: Ms. Ambika, Assistant Prof., Dept. of English, Doaba College, Jalandhar
The characteristics of a wise person which have been described in Bhagwad Gita, a person of stable mind, fixed motion and non double-mindedness, we could see those characteristics in the founder of the institution, right hand of Lala Devraj ji, almost since the beginning of the institution a colleague and companion, Rai Bahadur Badridas, in a large amount in a clear form. Such a peace and stability could be seen in the way you used to move, in the way of your work, such a measure was seen, behind your every word, behind your every move, steady wisdom seemed to be standing like a lamp. Your calm and grand pose was a sign of your grave personality. Your daughter, Mrs. Vimala Sondhi, tells-
“When you returned home after arguing in the court for even eight hours, there was no wave of unrest in your body language. On the lies of someone, when someone hid his mistake, you used to say so peacefully, “Oh brother, why do you deceive yourself?” If you were asked to do any wrong thing, then without saying much, once you say ‘no’, you used to stay firm, even if anything was kept being said. You were never angry. So if you used to say anything a bit, then we used to be careful and think.”
Four-five years after the establishment of the institution, in 1896, in the beginning of your profession of advocacy, Lala Devraj ji pulled you into his service. Until the College remained in the city, you would normally see hostel management. Often in the evening, after the daily work of advocacy, you used to come to the hostel on a bicycle and do the necessary work of its office. There were no clerks at that time. When English education was started for girls in 1905-6, before going to Court, you started to come for teaching English in the first period of college. About the respect and feelings of students for you, Acharya Kumari Lajjwati tells-
“We used to call Lala Devraj ji elder uncle and you younger uncle. Elder uncle showered his motherly affection on us, even played with us, wrote poems for us, to entertain the heart of a sad student, and used to work smoothly in meeting the guests in the institution and the guardians of girls. To supervise the institution, to determine the class curriculum, to see the cleaning of the ashram, all the work to do for the organization used to be done by younger uncle. One day, we were talking among the small girls, which one of the uncle we liked more. By nature, elder uncle’s affection for us made him our mother. One of us said, “The younger uncle is our intellectual uncle, and in this way, she expressed the fundamental difference between the two uncles. In the elder uncle ji, the heart was the cardinal and in the younger uncle ji, the intellectual was the leader. If you ever used to call us, then we started thinking that maybe our room would not be clean or there would be some mistake from us.”
Your time saved from the work of your advocacy was either for reading good books or for college. Neither were you interested in the club nor in the game. Yes, you have always had a hobby of travel. After the evening work in the city hostel, you used to take a few students to take some distance to visit. When the college came out of the city, you would often come to college, in Bagghi. But while returning, most likely, you sent the bagghi away empty only, and yourself would walk far enough to sit in it. This writer was also very impressed by looking at you as you went from the college to the pedestal, wearing a turban and a closed neck long coat and a stick in hand. A sort of dignity, depth, and decency dripped from your personality.
After coming into the form of a staff of the school after her education, Acharya says about the contact with you and what effect you had on her-
“After doing the correspondence work in the office of the organization, you would leave some work to me. I learnt a lot from you. I got inspiration for reading good books of English from you. You taught me specially ‘Gitanjali’of great poet Tagore and Herbert Spencer’s famous book ‘Education’. I learnt to conduct office work from you. You used to always try to improve the education level of the college, making lists of good books for the reading of staff and girl students. Once seeing that there is no daily newspaper in the institution, after getting information of one or two Hindi newspapers published from Uttar Pradesh, sent a donation to ‘Today’ newspaper, and at the cost of almost zero in Hindi newspapers, in that era, we started to get daily Hindi newspaper to read.”
The conduct of truth was the basis of your life. Even in advocacy you did not take false cases. You were so punctual that seeing you come and go for your daily fixed tasks, the viewer could adjust his watch. From your astral vision, you used to recognize the lies or defects of anybody, but till the evidence was received, you used to give benefit of doubt. Once your five hundred rupees were stolen in the house. Everyone suspected a servant. You also had doubts. The servant was interrogated. But you said, “I or somebody did not see him taking out the rupees. How can I consider him as a culprit?” When you were asked to remove that servant at least, then you said, “It is not my job to take or remove the servant of the house, but the work of ‘Shanti’ (daughter-in-law).”
You did not keep special servants for yourself. After bathing you used to dry your towel yourself. You used to stitch any broken button yourself.
Charity was a special quality of your nature. But when giving you used to be careful that your name should not be mentioned anywhere. More than once, this writer also went to you to ask for some social work then you donated very humbly. In the college, the dining-hall, the prayer hall and the scientific laboratories were constructed with your donation. According to Acharya ji, this donation of the college, will be above one lakh rupees of that time. In the beginning of the making of Doaba College, you gave twenty-five thousand rupees in the beginning, which is about three and a half lakhs today.
You had deep faith in Indian culture and Arya Samaj. According that age, the mediums of your studies were Urdu and Persian. You were also good scholar of Persian language. By retiring from the advocacy work, during Jalandhar’s residence, you studied Sanskrit as a regular student and got qualified in this language. You had read the principal texts of Sanskrit, in some original from and in some translations. At the time of illness, your time went into this spiritual study.
Before the illness, you used to come to college in the evening sometimes and see the management. Sometimes you used to address the girls too.
In politics, you were ‘moderate’. In the beginning of your life, you contributed very much to the government ‘cooperative’ scheme. For this you got the title of ‘Rai Bahadur’.
In the prestigious Puri family of Sultanpur town of Kapurthala, in the Kapurthala Princeton, by taking birth around 1872 and getting education with the main languages of that era, Urdu and Persian, you did M.Sc. in ‘Physics’ and later LLB. Passing LLB around, in 1896, started advocating in Jalandhar. As has been said before, Lala Devraj ji attracted you in his work. By 1922, advocating in Jalandhar, you went to Lahore for the advocacy of the High Court and stayed there till about a year before partition. You used to be counted in Lahore’s top lawyers. Due to two major lawsuits, you became very popular. You won the lawsuit of Lahore’s Shaheed-Ganj, and you did not even got some compensation for it. On behaf of the Muslims, the lawsuit was filed in England’s ‘Prevee Council’, then Mr Jannah was a lawyer on his behalf, who at that time lived in England. Because of the World War you could not go to England for the prosecution of the case, then you sent the tips of your side to the ‘Privy Council’ in writing. Based on those tips you won the lawsuit.
The second big case by which you were felicitated was the INA. You were assistant lawyer with the famous lawyer of the country, Bhula Bhai Desai. In that lawsuit, your legal qualifications set for the legality and there was a victory in the trial. In 1946 you became free from the work of advocacy and returned to your first place Jalandhar from Lahore and spent your life of a few years less than hundred here. You remained the president of many business corporations. You also remained the president of the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha for a long time. After the death of Lala Devraj Ji in 1935, you became the Chairperson of the College of Management of Kanya Mahavidayay and continued this responsibility till your death.
You have been counted among the special talents of Punjab, especially Doaba. Like many Hindu and Muslim families of Jalandhar city, you were also a symbol of the old religious and communal reapproachment and goodwill of the city. During the eruption of communal fire in the time of partition, you gave your heroic evidence of this great-leniency. The current place of ‘Milap’ letter in Jalandhar was the residence of a Muslim family in the city. In order to save itself from the horrific flames, that family took refuge in the adjacent house of yours. Knowing this, the Madandh people surrounded the house and demanded that the family be handed over to them. In order not to do so, they threatened to set your house on fire. According to your wisdom, you calmly said in the strong words, “Who has come into my shelter, I can not give them. If you want you can set the house on fire.” Even in the atmosphere of that insanity, the effect of your personality in the city was also there. People came forward and the mob did not have the courage to implement their threat. Later you delivered that family to Lahore in your car and placed it in the same bungalow where you lived in the time of your Lahore residence.
There is another story of your fearlessness in that era. Even before the partition, in the days of your Lahore-residence, the atmosphere of that city was spoiled. Some youths who were protecting the Hindu public were captured and were being prosecuted. Even after coming to Jalandhar from Lahore, you used to go to Lahore for the advocacy of these laws, during the communal turbulence, and continued financial support to the families of these young people.
Generally, the time of death is the time of the test of man’s character. The natural tolerance shown in any hard-line disease, especially in the last disease of life, comes from the meditation of man’s lifetime. At the end of life, reaching the age of about 100 years, you stayed in bed for years, at home and in hospital. Even in a very troubled state, you did not utter pessimistic words. If asked by someone, you said, “Bhai, one has to face the work of karma.” Even in that stage, you did not change your jovial nature and always tried to reduce the burden of the mind of the person who came for the change of mood. When you were informed about the arrival of Deewan Anand Kumar for your mood revival, some time before your death, then you got ready to welcome him by wearing a dress as per the old traditional custom. Acharya Ji was also present at that place. During the conversation, when your daughter-in-law got up to bring tea, you joked about tea Acharya ji’s interest in tea, “Please, bring two cups. Lajjawati does not like tea.”
Diwan Sahib was very impressed by your joyous behavior in such a state of tribulation. Regarding their longevity and prolonged illness, you used to laugh at those who came to meet you, “It seems that my wife has lost somewhere in the court of God.”
Even in such a state of physical infirmity, your brain and your memory remained in good condition. Run under your guidance, the Kundan-Vidya Mandir of Ludhiana, school officials, came to seek legal opinion of some old fights related to the school, then you directed them very well.
In the last days, the people of the house told you to go home from the hospital, then you said, “Now my end is not far away. There is all kind of arrangement here. It’s okay to stay here.”
Thus, in the last days according to the life-style of your state-of-the-know, you maintained that position and you came to a close in peace by reaching the ideal of ‘Jeevam Sharad: Shatam’ of the Vedas. By the introduction of the stability and tolerance even in the unhealthy condition, that you had always introduced in the state of health, you succeeded in your life.
*Source: “Uttar-Paschim Bharat main Stri-Shakti-Jagran ka Moort Roop Kanya Mahavidyalaya” written by Sh. Shadhi Ram Joshi, Former Principal, Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Jalandhar
*Translated By: Ms. Ambika, Assistant Prof., Dept. of English, Doaba College, Jalandhar
Great revolutionary, freedom fighter, fearless journalist, scholarly academician and a renowned Arya leader, Sh. Virendra ji was born on 15 February, 1911 in the Wazirabad province of Pakistan to Mata Chanan Devi and Mahashaya Krishan, a famous journalist and a powerful writer.
Right from his childhood, Sh. Virendra was influenced by revolutionary ideas, and in his heart of hearts had made up his mind to free Mother India from the clutches of slavery. After passing matriculation in 1927, he took admission in F.C College in Lahore. There he came in contact with nationalist student leaders like Avinash Chandra Bali and Durgadas Khanna. Right from his young age, Virendra ji was a powerful orator.
Lala Lajpat Rai was martyred on 17 November, 1928 as a result of the injuries suffered during the lathi charge by the British soldiers while he was leading a procession against the Simon Commission. Then the Revolutionary Party firmly resolved to take revenge of the murder of Lala ji, as a consequence of which police officer, Saunders was assassinated on 17 September, 1928. Young Virendra was arrested on suspicion and during rigorous imprisonment at the young age of seventeen he was made to undergo severe torture and torments.
This process of arrest and imprisonment that begin in 1928 did not stop till the attainment of freedom of Mother India. In 1929, Virendra ji was arrested on the charge of attempting to blow up the cavalcade of the Viceroy, and in 1930, he was arrested on the charge on firing on Punjab governor, Geoffrey D Morenty. But in 1931, Sh. Virendra was again arrested under a strange act under which a person could be arrested without a trail and put behind bars. During this period of imprisonment, Virendra ji took the B.A exams and later completed his studies till M.A.
On 23 March, 1931 when three great sons of mother India, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were martyred by hanging till death, Sh. Virendra ji was imprisoned in the same Central Jail. Before his hanging Bhagat Singh had presented his pen to Sh. Virendra ji. In 1932, Sh. Virendra ji was arrested for the sixth time.
After his release, he started taking interest in “Pratap,” the newspaper run by his father. Through “Pratap,” the Congress and the revolutionaries got one more channel to raise their voice but the British regime could not tolerate this so, Virendra ji was again arrested for the seventh time. On entering the field of journalism, Sh. Virendra ji embraced the ideal that a journalist is the custodian of the public’s inner conscience.
Virendra ji was arrested in 1939 for the eighth time for delivering a fiery speech aimed at instigating the Indians against the British regime during the war that broke out between England and Germany.
During the Second World War, the British regime imposed censorship on “Pratap,” irked by the series of columns titled; “Jung ke Rang” started by Mahashaya Krishan, the revered father of Sh. Virendra. This was taken as an attack on the freedom of Press by Sh. Virendra ji and as a protest the publication of the newspaper was suspended and information regarding this was sent to Pandit Nehru. Pandit ji came to Lahore and appeared as an advocate for “Pratap”. The censorship was lifted after 45 days.
At last, India gained freedom on 15th August, 1947. After partition Sh. Virendra ji shifted to Jalandhar from Lahore. After independence, Sh. Virendra ji was appointed as Director of Public Relations Department in Shimla. But the journalist inside him could not reconcile himself to this. So, after resigning from his post he took up the responsibility as the editor of “Pratap” in Jalandhar.
As a visionary, conscientious journalist, whenever, Sh. Virendra ji made any in-depth analytical comments about the political scenario, he proved to be absolutely correct. All the top leaders, whether from the ruling party or the opposition, frequently met him to discuss and deliberate on various social issues. He was considered such a person with a clean image whose opinion was highly valued by all political parties and groups.
The revolutionary pen of Sh. Virendra ji was mightier than the sword which never wavered. When Punjab suffered militancy for more than a decade, his writings were constantly aimed at providing succor to the pain of suffering populace. He fearlessly followed his convictions though he was repeatedly issued threats to life. On 26th June, 1983, a bomb blast took place at Pratap Bhawan, Jalandhar and two people were killed. But no threat could break his firm resolve.
On 31 December 1993 this great son of mother India left for his heavenly abode. Whenever the country will recall the great revolutionaries who contributed towards freeing Mother India from the clutches of slavery, Sh. Virendra ji will be remembered with great reverence. His inspiring contribution to journalism, education, social work and service towards the nation will continue to inspire generations.
Born on 7 th February 1946 in Lahore , Sh.Chander Mohan is the son of famous freedom fighter and renowned editor Shri Virendra Ji. Shri Virendra Ji was a colleague of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and was imprisoned in the same Central Jail on the day Bhagat Singh was hanged.
On completion of his MA in English from Punjab University Chandigarh in 1966, Sh. Chander Mohan briefly joined UNI as a trainee. In December of that year he went on a journalism scholarship to Prague in then Czechoslovakia. After completion of six months course he returned home to join Vir Pratap newspaper. He later became its editor till the closure of the newspaper in April, 2017.
During this period other than editing and running the newspaper he also did a War Correspondent ‘s Course with the Ministry of Defence and was part of a Group Study Team sent by Rotary Club to Tennessee USA. He is widely travelled inside and outside the country.
On 16 th January 1994 he took over as the President of Arya Shiksha Mandal, the prestigious body that runs famous institutions like Kanya Maha Vidyalya, Doaba College, Devraj Senior Secondary School , Jalandhar Model School and Sanskriti KMV School. All the institutions are situated in Jalandhar.
He has been the President of these institutions since then and under his stewardship all the institutions are progressing very well. KMV, Jalandhar being the first women’s institution of North India has been declared a Heritage Institution. KMV, Jalandhar has also become the first women college in Punjab to become “An Autonomous Institution”. Both KMV and Doaba College have been highly graded by national institutions like National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and Department of Bio Technology (DBT). Doaba College, Jalandhar has been accorded the coveted status of “College with Potential for Excellence(CPE)” by University Grants Commission(UGC), New Delhi.
Arya Shiksha Mandal is now giving education to about 10000 students. While giving quality education so that the students can compete with the best in the world, it is kept in mind that undue burden should not be put on the students or their parents. Social and national responsibility is always kept in mind.
Though he has retired from active journalism Chander Mohan writes a regular weekly column and maintains a blog. His articles appear regularly in Punjab Kesari Delhi as also Times of India blogs. He has also written for other newspapers including The Dawn of Karachi. He is regular on Twitter.