After his education, as ordained I his
master, Swamy Dayananda undertook to travel to preach Vedic Knowledge among people. He
went places like Agra, Ajmer, Jaipur, Gwalior Meerut, Hardwar and Kanpur. There he
discussed the scriptures and the meaning with the pundits and scored resounding victory
over their Wherever he went, he told the people "Idol worship is not mentioned in the
Vedas. The rational mind cannot accept idol worship. God is everywhere God has no shape or
form." Without Supporting or opposing any particular religion he pointed out the
shortcomings of every one of them. He bitterly criticized the harmful and wicked customs
that have come down through the centuries. He explained the greatness of the religion
preached in the Vedas and gave a clarion call to all People to unite under its banner.
So Dayananda sought to awaken people to their heritage. In the course " of his
travels he came to Kashi (Benares) on 22nd October 1869. He took part in debates with the
greatest scholars in Kashi. The meeting was attended by fifty to sixty thousand people. At
the appointed hour, the president of the gathering, Maharaja Eshwari Prasad Narayan Singh
of Kashi, took the chairn. On one side was Swamy Dayananda all alone; on the other side
were twentyseven distinguished scholars Of Kashi.
The debate on the interpretation of the scriptures began. The question was whether the
Vedas approved image worship. The scholars had to admit defeat in the face of Swamy
Dayananda's arguments. Just then, a scholar Madhawacharya by name came up with two sheets
of paper and asked a question. Dayananda picked up the sheets and began to read. A few
minutes must have passed. Suddenly the Maharaja of Kashi declared, "Swamy Dayananda
has not been able to answer the questions posed by the pundits." So saying he clapped
his hands. The scholars of Kashi shouted, "Dayananda has no answer. Great victory to
the Kashi pundits! Defeat to Dayananda!" Rowdies began to throw stones, slippers,
cowdung and such things at Dayananda. Some of them hit Dayananda and he was wounded. Blood
dropped from some of the wounds. Dayanandaji, who had attained a state of perfect
serenity, endured everything and remained as if nothing had happened. But the chief
pundits of Kashi Taracharan Tarkaratna, Bala Shastri and others said, "Really what
Swamy Dayananda says is perfectly true. But we do not have the moral courage to go against
the prevailing customs and traditions. So we have chosen to oppose him." So they said
honestly in public.
The Maharaja of Kashi deeply regretted having taken sides in the debate on the
scriptures. With great respect he invited Swamy Dayananda to his palace and begged him to
excuse him (the Maharaja) for his improper behaviour.
So, from the point of view of both scholarship and morality, it was Swamy Dayananda who
won a great victory in a true sense, in the debates about the correct explanation of
It was Swamy Dayananda's keen desire to unite all people under the banner of a single
religion. And he always worked hard for this end.