After he was discharged from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, we visited him to know his health and to express our solidarity and support. The monk, we know as Swami Agnivesh told us: “These attacks made me stronger towards my conviction to serve people who are deprived and marginalized. I believe that I will try my best to stand firm and strong against communal and disruptive forces even from the death bed.”
During my many meetings with him, I always found him smiling, hopeful and positive for future. He always affected me whenever I listened his thoughts.
I personally experienced that he never shouted, never became angry even when we cross questioned him, interrupted him or disagreed with him on any earlier meetings over multiple issues of talks, instead he welcomed our arguments and tried to put his own with all logic.
Through his ideas and actions, he helped us to believe that ideas are not to get victory or defeat in arguments, instead to inform, reform and transform thoughts and actions of society for the betterment.
In this meeting, Agnivesh was as calm as he always been. The same patience, smile, soft but sound and determined voice while speaking. This was despite the fact that his left side ribs has still much pain and it is not allowing him for much movement. But he remained on his old ideas of disallowing allopathic treatment till the extent it can be.
When we asked, he told that he believe that body has its own healing process and hence he is not taking medicine, instead giving time to body to take care its own in the natural way. He is on fast these days to provide his body all focus upon healing.
But what is more important is that his body has received wounds and pain after he got attacked recently by right wingers mob in Pakur district of Jharkhand, but his spirit is unaffected.
While he is a follower of Arya Samaj and a monk, he doesn’t only provide quotes from Vedas, Upnishads, Satyarth Prakash or Holy Quran but he associates it with the constitutional provisions, internationally recognized laws and human rights and with the ‘common sense’.
He described that while being in Pakur recently, he was with local tribal groups to meet them on issues of land acquisition when persons allegedly from BJP’s BhartiyaJantaYuvaMorcha and ABVP started protest against him.
As usual, he told them to come and talk, but instead the right wing mob attacked him brutally. Now, Swami Agnivesh tell that he got saved by people from being lynched with this mob. The mob chanted ‘Jai Shree Ram’ while it attacked and abused this saffron dressed Arya Samaji monk Swami Agnivesh.
He says that those who are chanting ‘Jai shree Ram’ and attacking others, beating people cannot be termed as Hindus as these people are fake Hindus who are trying to spread the Hindutva as their political agenda and making common Hindus fool on the name of Lord Rama. They use these slogans as they think that their crime will get shelter with these.
He says that even Lord Rama would never allow them to attack upon me, an 80-year-old monk who respect Rama, Krishna, Mohammad, Nanak, Kabir, Dayananad, Jesus everyone. He says that he has never learnt to hate with people or community or religion anywhere.
He is a reformer. In his achievements are his ground struggles for bonded laboures since decades. While being well qualified in commerce and law and despite being a teacher at famous St. Xavier College in Kolkata, this rebel monk left the golden carrier to join ground struggle of laboures and farmers.
With the time his struggle and contribution to society has been recognized across the world through various awards conferred to him including Right to Livelihood Award (Alternative Noble Prize). He has been President of World Council of Arya Samaj for a decade and has been Chairperson of UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary forms of slavery. His efforts resulted in the Commission of Sati (prevention) Act, 1987.
He says that any reformer who tried to stand against wrong has faced wreath of wrong doers. Be it Kabir or Ambedkar or even founder of Arya Samaj, MaharshiDayanand, they all faced attacks and criticism but their ultimate contribution is some transformation in society.
We have seen the time when Sati tradition was accepted in society and its reformers faced criticism of society, but now its abolition is what made our society progressive. Same is true for untouchability.
On allegations that he sometimes criticize religions, he replied immediately with all courage that he never criticize spirit of religion, but he doesn’t accept the orthodox customs and propaganda.
He says that he welcome everyone who disagrees with him to talk on these things but violence is not the right way. Dialogue is the solution of all disagreement. He believes that with the time, there are so many things in all religions like Hinduism, Islam, Christianity that need to be countered and society need to get rid of from these.
He also says that actual work of any person who respects religions or God is to serve people who are deprived, downtrodden, marginalized and who are facing discriminatory status in society.
He is the monk who along with Vedic chants, also give quotes from articles defined in constitution of India and he focus upon Article 51A of constitution where it is under fundamental duties to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.
He hopes that people of this land, which is a great civilization will stand together to protect its glory, culture and future from those who are doing business of religion and setting it in political agenda.
Author is founder of Mission Bhartiyam, a youth organization working for peace and communal harmony