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Arya Samaj Mandir - a learning nest of my childhood
Childhood is the best period of one's lifetime provided your parents were economically well-off and there were no serious brushes and brazes in the building blocks of family citadel. Recollecting them will only make you feel more and more refreshing, pleasant and nostalgic.

I wouldn’t disturb the readers with the stories of my personal odyssey. I’m discussing a very serious subject - Arya Samaj. Following lines would explain the link between Arya Samaj and my childhood.

I had a large group of friends with whom I used to play. They were my partners in kanchey, gilli-danda, gand-tari, hockey, cricket, badminton and sling-shots. They were willing to bunk the classes and visit the theaters but none of them shared my love and obsession to attend the lectures of Arya Samaj Gurus. It was strange for a Muslim child attending the Arya Samaj Viyakhyans but my parents accepted it as a part of my over-all development and never asked me to stop. They knew that chasing the butterflies was never my cup of tea.

Almost every month, some Swamiji including the now-almost-forgotten Prakash Veer Shashtriji used to grace the Arya Samaj Mandir. It was a huge beautiful green complex with an air of spirituality. I had always felt some currents flowing inside me whenever I visited that place. Today the façade of that mandir has been converted into a shopping complex and a concrete jungle has been erected where once the banyan, jamun, aam and pilkhan trees used to provide their pleasant shades to the visitors.

Only the old havan-pandal is left as the last vestige of that once glorious oasis of spirituality. I’m not mourning the disappearance of a certain physical edifice but the disappearance of the spirit once that mandir used to symbolize. Under some political pressures and nefarious tactics of parochial thought processes, Arya Samaj seems to have abdicated its platform and surrendered its themes before the all-pervading domination of ideologies it had so vehemently negated.

The sprouting Ashrams based on its anti-thesis all over India bear witness to my statement. A key Vedic teaching is that we should view God as our mother. The most important relation that a child has is the one with the mother. They call God, the cosmic mother Savita who gives birth to the entire universe. Usually relationships are two-way streets. But the relation between mother-child is different. A mother is exceptional in that she gives everything to her child without expecting anything in return.

Similarly, God benevolently makes available all that we need for our overall good such as food, water and air. However, there are some responsibilities incumbent upon us humans in order to be good children. I don’t have to remind the Arya Samaj that responsibility.

According to Vedas, every relationship needs to be nurtured at three levels: knowledge, action and togetherness, which can be transliterated as jnana, karma and upasana. Jnana – Just as we must know our loved ones well, we must also know our duties and responsibilities towards God. Karma – Our actions ought to fulfill these duties and responsibilities. Upasana - We must, exclusively and devotedly, spend time with God. We must be faithful in all three facets of our relationship with God.

The triad of jnana, karma and upasana is called Prasthanatrayi (three-fold journey). Rig Veda mainly deals with the spiritual sciences, shedding light on the nature of both God and the soul. Atharva Veda covers jnana - the wordly knowledge such as the material sciences; family, community and political affairs. Yajur Veda deals with karma and Sama Veda covers upasana. Whenever I pass by the Arya Samaj Mandir, all these memories of Vedas come to mind and I long and look for the same activity.

Unfortunately, except half-closed doors, and few, almost forlorn, keepers, there is hardly any presence of real spiritual life. No more lectures or any discussions about Dyanand Saraswati or ‘Satayarth Prakash’. No echoes of even remote spirituality near my favorite Mandir of childhood. I’m wondering if this soul-provoking and scientific-thought-wing of Hindu religion is accepting the fact that it is left with no role to play?

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