[Advaita-l] Fwd: {भारतीयविद्वत्परिषत्} Swami Dayanand Saraswati (of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam) leaves his body

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Sep 24 03:41:51 CDT 2015

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Hari Parshad Das <hpd.rgg at gmail.com>
Date: Thursday, September 24, 2015
Subject: {भारतीयविद्वत्परिषत्} Swami Dayanand Saraswati (of Arsha Vidya
Gurukulam) leaves his body
To: भारतीयविद्वत्परिषत् <bvparishat at googlegroups.com>

written by Shri Nandanandana Das (Stephen Knapp):

Namaste. I have just received news that Swami Dayananda Saraswati Ji of
Arsha Vidya Gurukulam has attained Mahasamadhi tonight (according to
Bharatiya time) at his Rishikesh Ashram on the banks of mother Ganga. It
was his desire to leave his body near Ganga Ji.

Those who came in contact with him would readily agree that he was a
teacher par excellence of Vedanta. He established Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in
Saylorsburg, PA in early eighties and made it into a gigantic institution
to distribute knowledge/Gyan of Vedic traditions in a true Gurukul style.

I had known that Swamiji was at his Arsha Vidya Gurukulam on August 25th of
this year, when he left for Bharat in an air ambulance. Though he was on a
stretcher and had to labor to speak, he spoke at a length; his words were
peppered with his usual humor and wit. In that halting message, he had
expressed a desire to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi (himself a
spiritual aspirant) before giving up his body. As soon as Swamiji reached
Bharat, Modiji had a Skype conversation with him. At Modiji's request,
Swamiji agreed to take two more treatments of dialysis and as God would
have wished, on September 11th, Modiji made a trip to Rishikesh and met
Pujya Swamiji. Swamiji blessed Modiji, which is for the good of the nation.

In my personal life, he was at a "thinkers meet" in Hyderabad, India back
in 1999, which was a gathering of many of the important writers on Hinduism
and Vedic culture, primarily those of India, but also a number of us
western writers and scholars were there. Swamiji was a key proponent for
the idea of starting an organization for western writers to work together,
which became the Vedic Friends Association, for bringing western teachers,
writers and students to work cooperatively to help spread Vedic culture to
as many other westerners as possible. We are still working in the Vedic
Friends Association, a small group, but with continued focus to keep our
work of spreading Vedic dharma going.

I remember when some of us westerners were in Guwahati, Assam for a
conference on preserving the traditions of the indigenous tribes in
Northeast India back in the year 2000. I shared the stage with him as one
of the speakers there. Later, we attended a cultural program wherein the
different tribes would perform traditional dances while wearing the
customary outfits. I was sitting near the front in between Swamiji and
Sheshadri, one of the elder RSS men. They were both taking turns explaining
to me what each of the tribal dances meant. I remember thinking I had the
best seat in the house, watching the traditional dances, and these two
great men were explaining everything to me.

At another conference in the northeastern India, I remember he had lunch
with some of us westerners and we would talk and joke about the various
ways that would be effective in spreading Vedic dharma. He always had
ideas, and he was never one to be intimidated by what is now called
"political correctness". He called things as he saw them, and spoke boldly
about the needs of the hour to protect Vedic dharma, especially against the
conversion tactics of some religions in the region. He also seemed to
appreciate that same spirit of boldness that some of us westerners

He knew I was a Krishna bhakta, a disciple of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupada, but, like me, he was quite non-sectarian when it came to
dealing with others on the path of Vedic Dharma. In fact, he formed the
Acharya Sabha, an organization made of the top 200 spiritual leaders of all
the important Vedic organizations across India, composed of all kinds of
lineages and schools of thought. I thought this was one of the best ideas
he had. In that organization they would work together on a common basis to
deal with the challenges to preserve and protect Vedic Dharma, whether it
was from conversion tactics, challenges from the government, and so on.
They meet every year. In fact, I had one Vaishnava Swami friend call me one
time to thank me for letting him attend one annual meeting. I asked how did
I do that. He said that he went to it and said that I was his friend, and
based on my name alone, they let him inside to attend it.

I also remember one of the first conferences the Vedic Friends Association
had at his Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, in which he would let us meet there and
use his facilities for free. Once he was going to speak on meditation, and
he called for me, and would not start his talk until I was there. Once I
sat down near him, only then did he start to speak about the importance of
meditation, how he performed his meditation, and then chanted several
mantras, including the Hare Krishna mantra, as we sat in his upstairs room.

One of the most important memories was nearly 14 years ago when we had
another small conference at his ashrama in Saylorsburg, and my house in
Detroit had just been burglarized, and I had lost my computer and several
other things that were important to me in doing my writing and other
Dharmic work. I mentioned that it may take some time to remain in contact
with everyone at the conference since I no longer have a computer, and it
may take some time for me to get the money to get another one. Within
minutes, he went around the room and did a fundraiser for me and raised
nearly $3000, plus one of the volunteers at the ashrama said he could give
me one of their computers, and Swamiji also made arrangements to send me a
monthly stipend. After that I had a computer, and funds to pick up and
continue my work of writing and so on. He simply liked the work I did and
the intentions I had. That stipend was sent to me every month from his own
organization and kept my rent paid for five years so I could work and write
without that worry. No one had ever shown me that kind of support before.

He was greatly influential, and was well-known all across India. In fact,
he had written and signed a letter of reference for me, stating that I was
a sincere Hindu and should be treated with the respect that I deserve. That
way when I would go to certain temples in India, I could show that letter
to get in, if they were not allowing certain people inside. So one time
when I went to the Meenakshi temple, the priests would not allow me into
the sanctums because of being white-skinned. So I showed the management
that letter from Swamiji, and after they had some discussion about it, they
arranged one of their priests to take us into all of the sanctums and do
pujas, taking us to the head of the long lines of India pilgrims, who were
watching and wondering why I and a friend of mine got to go to the head of
the lines while everyone else had to wait. It was like we were shown
special privileges that even the locals did not receive. I still have that

For these reasons Swami Dayananda Sarasvati will always have a place in my
heart and a special regard from me, and I will always honor what special
attention he gave me, and pray for his well-being.

Jai Sri Krishna,

Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana dasa)

निराशीर्निर्ममो भूत्वा युध्यस्व विगतज्वरः।। (भ.गी.)
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