Swami Dayananda Saraswati was a Sannyasi, and a Sannyasi ideally owns no material possessions. However, in the course of evolving into a reform figure of all-India importance, Sannyasi Dayananda moved away from owning just a loin cloth and a few utensils which were his meager possessions in 1867 and those other early years. Now, in 1880, he became a famous lecturer and reformer commanding maximum attention from his listeners, he was fully dressed in decent clothes, and he was traveling long distances by train from city to city. He was now accompanied by a staff of scribes handling correspondence, composing book drafts, and consulting multiple reference books, and also by a maintenance staff taking care of his dietary and other needs. He had now become a man of property, owning a library of rare and priceless manuscripts, book drafts awaiting publication, enough money for sustenance, items of clothing, and other personal belongings. The last piece of property he acquired was his printing press. Of course, he also possessed another kind of wealth – his ideas and his message, which he was going to relinquish as inheritance for the masses of India and of the world. He also had his physical body, strong at one time but now weakened by digestive disorders caused by multiple acts of poisoning. He knew that he was going to die in about three years and his wish was that his dead body not be buried in a sitting posture, as was the practice among orthodox Puranic Sannyasis, but be cremated like ordinary Hindus. He never wanted his body’s ashes to be immersed in the Ganges but scattered on farmers’ fields so that land production could be increased.
DR SATISH PRAKASH