A brief introduction of Pandit Motilal Shastri
The paternal tradition
Let us start this brief overview of Late Pandit Motilal Shastri by introducing his grandfather Shri Lakshmanram Shastri, who used to give brief lectures on Valmiki Ramayana in the famous Hanuman temple in Chandpole area of Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. He used to run the family from whatever money was earned from those lectures. Later on, he was endowed with two sons. The elder son became famous as Balchandra Shastri and the younger was known as Sukhdev Shastri.
About Pandit Balchandra Shastri
Born in the city of Jaipur in 1854 AD, Balchandra Shastri Ji opened the first printing press of the town in 1903. In those days due to lack of sufficient electricity, most machines in use were operated by hand. In Balchandra Ji’s press also, similar machines were operated which can still be seen kept safely at Manvashram, Jaipur. After the advent of electricity in the town, the same press became famous as “Shri Balchandra Electric Press” rather then its original name of “Shri Balchandra Yantralaya”. But soon later, the name was changed back to its original name and it is still being run in the same name.
The city of Jaipur has always been a holy place for scholars of Sanatan Dharma. The scholarly class of Jaipur was greatly influenced by Balchandra Ji’s ideology and thinking. Before establishing the press, he had already established a society with the name of “Ram Sabha”. In running this society he had a close associate by the name of Mathura Prasad Ji Vakil, who was a learned scholar in both English and Hindi. In one of the gatherings of this society, Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Giridhar Sharma Chaturvedi gave his first speech in front of a large number of people. The topic of the speech was, “Bagman ka naam aur roop”, which translates into “Name and form of God”.
Lot of scholar’s came from various cities to participate in the ‘Ram Sabha’. Most of the debates used to pin the philosophies of Arya Samaj and Sanatana Dharma against each other. Pandit Chandradhar Sharma ‘Guleri’ and Alwar’s Swami Hansswaroop Ji were also among the prominent speakers of the ‘Ram Sabha’.
Along with his colleagues Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Giridhar Sharma Chaturvedi thought of publishing a monthly sanskrit magazine in Jaipur, on the lines of Calcutta’s ‘Vidhyodaya’. Pandit Madhusudhan Ojha’s consent was taken on the same. But to put the idea into action the major obstacle was to decide a regular source of finance. The obstacle was cleared by Sanatan Dharma’s chief propagator of the times, Pandit Balchandra Shastri. He published the magazine free, in his newly established press for one year.
This is how, in 1904 the Sanskrit monthly-magazine named ‘Sanskrit Ratnakar’ got started and it later served the Sanskrit fraternity and earned lot of respect and recognition.
Along with Giridhar Sharma, Shri Suryanarayana Ji Acharya and Bhatta Mathuranath Ji Shastri became chief Editor’s of the monthly publication.
Although the press was initiated by Shri Balchandra Shastri, his devotion to spreading the ideology of Sanatan Dharma continued. The result of this was incessant misuse of the press by the press staff. The staff never left an opportunity to deceive Shastri. There was a well in the frontage of the Press. When the magazine was published, the members of staff used to distribute some of the type and used to throw some type in the well. This fact got uncovered lateron, when his youngest son Pandit Motilal Shastri got the well cleaned. During the cleanup, tonnes of such type came out of the well. Those days, the press was being run under the supervision of Pandit Devinarayana Ji Mainwal.
Pandit Blachandra Shastri had three marriages. The first wife gave birth to a girl named Narani Devi. The second wife died soon after the marriage and did not have any child. The third wife whose name was Rukmini Devi gave birth to three sons and three daughters. The eldest son became famous as Baba Harishchandra Sharma and was one of the main freedom fighters from Jaipur, during India’s struggle for independence against the British. The second son named Radhachandra Ji, died at the young age of 17 years. His youngest son became famous as Pandit Motilal Shastri. The three daughters’ came to be known as Ratnadevi, Heeradevi and Pannadevi respectively. Baba Harish Chandra Ji was born in Vishakha Shukla Triyodashi of V.S. 1940. He was elder to his younger brother Pandit Motilal Shastri by 15 years.
Pandit Balchandra Ji was a very famed Vedic Ritual Scholar of his time. Many rich and famous landlords were his Shihya’s. Even King Jaya Singh of Khetdi, got his Mantropdesha during his Yagyopavita from Blachndra Ji only. The rulers of Uniyara were also Diksha Guru of Balachndra Ji. Balachandra Ji believed that unless India’s Kshatriya class doesn’t become prosperous and powerful, it’s not possible to protect country’s Dharma. For this reason, his focus of propagation remained the Kshatriya class. The magnetism of his personality was such that Jaipur’s famous Kshtriya class used to be present in the necessary daily rituals. He was also editor of the Hindi monthly called ‘Dharma-Martanda’. A copy of the script of the monthly is still kept at the collection of the Sansthan. Pandit Balchandra continued to propagate the Sanatana Dharma and serve the society till his demise at the age of 70 in Shravana Shukla Dvadashi of 1936.
About Lt. Pandit Motilal Ji Shastri
To give a picture of Pandit Motilal Ji’s life would be like showing a lamp to the sun. An individual’s real introduction is his/her Karma and contribution to the society. His 80000 pages of Vedic literature, whose light of knowledge is spreading everywhere today, would be an appropriate overview or introduction.
Pandit Motilal Shastri Ji was born in Nishith Vela of Shravana Shukla Tritiya V.S. 1964 or 1908 A.D. He was separated from his mother at the time of birth itself and given to the lady who used to take care of children of the family. Near Gopinath Ji’s Bagh outside the Mori a gardener used to live by the name of Sonji Baba. His wife had given birth to a girl during the same time but the child could not survive long. Sonji Baba used to take care of drinking water at Balachadra Ji’s house because Balachandra Ji used to drink water from well only and Sonji used to brig the water for him. When Balachandra Ji saw that his wife Rukmini was unable to take care of child Motilal, he handed him over to Sonji for upbringing. Sonji’s wife Gauramai took care of child Motilal like her own with lot of affection and love. Son Baba’s daughter in law Birdi Devi too helped a lot in taking care of the child.
Son Baba died in 1917 A.D. His wife Gauramai died in the year 1924 A.D. and daughter in law Birdi Devi died in the year 1976 at the age of 102 years. Child Motila used to remain ill from the birth itself, and the family had once given all hopes because of his persistent ill health. But it was due to the care of Gauramai that the same ill child turned out to be Vedic Sanskriti’s prominent revivalist.
His birth name was Govindchandra, but because of popular practice in those times children were called by pet names to bless them with long life. Thus he started to be called as “Moti or Motyaji”. His father used to sometimes call him as “Banka”. The same Govindchandra became famous as Motilal Sharma (Shastri). In much self written literature such as articles and columns, he wrote his name as Muktarakta Sharma.
At the age of 12 years he successfully cleared his first examination at Kashi. While studying at Jaipur’s world famous Majaraja Sanskrit College, he completed the “Vyakaran Sahstri” course at the age of 17 years. Shri Chandradutt Ji Ojha taught him Vyakaran in the college. After this he started studying Dharshana from Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Giridhar Sharma Chaturvedi.
Because of his completion of “Shastri” course at young age and love and affection of his teachers Pandit Motilal Ji started feeling overconfident about his credentials and scholarship. He thought that merely one or two Darshana Shastra’s have to be studied and he would easily get the job of Professorship at any university. His teacher of Darshana, Giridhar Ji Maharaj used to take him along on his travels to various places. During the year 1927, Shri Madhusdhan Ojha Ji was in Kashi to take bath in the Ganges. At the same time Motilal Ji was also in Banaras along with Giridhar Ji as representatives of a Brahman Seminar. They were staying in “Man Mandir”, the same place where Ojha Ji was also staying. At the same place Motilal Ji got the chance to listen to Vedic Vigyan related speech of Ojha Ji. After listening to the first speech itself, Motilal Ji’s feeling that “He possessed all knowledge that makes a scholar” got destroyed completely. He decided instantly that, after reaching Jaipur he would worship Ojha Ji and study Veda from him.
The Teacher-Student Dialogue
Soon Shastri Ji searching for Ojha Ji, reached his house in Jaipur. The guards tried to stop him but he did not stop and straight away reached the place where Ojha Ji used to rest after lunch for sometime. After completing Sandhya Karma, Ojha Ji used to clear the doubts of several eager people. This was part of his daily routine. He had just come and sat there, Motilal Shastri totally fearless but with politeness touched his feet and stood in front of him. What happened next was the first dialogue between the Guru and Shishya:
Ojha Ji – Where do you live?
Shastri Ji – Here, in this city of Jaipur.
Ojha Ji – What work you do?
Shastri Ji – I am not doing anything for now.
Ojha Ji – Who are you?
Shastri Ji – I am a Brahmin.
Ojha Ji – Namaskar, What is your purpose here?
Shastri Ji – Maharaj, I have heard that you give lectures in the evenings. Can I also listen to them?
Ojha Ji – We do not give lectures.
Shastri Ji – Can I study?
Ojha Ji – We teach self written Grantha’s only. Also, all of them are hand written. You will also have to write and study. You will have to leave the studies of Pathshala, whatever we teach you will have to write and orally dictate the next day, at least for 5 years you will have to study continuously, will you be able to do this?
Shastri Ji – I will try Maharaj!
Ojha Ji – Om | Till today, we have not taught anybody orderly. Today you are becoming the first student of this subject; we start the teachings from today itself.
“From today itself” sentence had just finished and Ojha Ji instantly started lecture on ancient Srishti Rahasya in a free flowing manner. The lecture continued for next two hours. In the end, it was told that from the next day from morning 7 AM to 9 AM would be self study of Brahma Vigyan Grantha’s, from 9 AM till 11 AM there would be break for eating etc, from 11 AM till 3 PM the self study grantha’s will have to be written, from 3 PM till 5 PM would be self study of Shathpath Brahman Grantha’s and between 7 PM till 9 PM Purana’s would have to be self studied. The time between 5 PM and 7 PM was given for eating etc. The self studies done between morning and evening will have to be written and shown the next day. This is the brief history of the new birth of Motilal Ji Shastri as the phenomenal Veda Author of our times.
Ojha Ji’s major mission remained development of Grantha’s. Although for namesake Ojha Ji had many students, but none of them carried the ancient learning practices with and followed the self study procedures to the fullest. There is no doubt that although Ojha Ji was always ready to teach according to the principles of Rishi’s, yet his teaching style was ardently tough and controlled by discipline according to which some of the rules were as under:
·The condition of minimum10 years of continuous study will have to be fulfilled.
·The student will not give any other examinations.
·Other than Veda Grantha’s, the student would not keep any other Grantha with him.
·Whatever was taught on a day, will have to be written and orally dictated the next day.
·Student was not allowed to take any kind of notes during the study.
After all of above regulations and free flowing lectures on the arduous subject of Veda Vigyan, how could any body get success?
Pratipada Tithi (Padva), is considered highly revered date among the society of scholars. The same date became the foundation of Shatri Ji’s learning days and the results of which are visible to all of us today. The very next day Shastri Ji left his college studies. His Darshana teacher Pandit Giridhir Sharma sent the following message to Motilal Ji’s father Pandit Balchandra Ji, “The subjects of revered Ojha Ji are very intense. It has been 20 years for me and yet the puzzle has not got solved, thus do not let this brilliant student leave college.” Chaturvedi Ji had experienced that firstly no one can get the knowledge from Ojha Ji while remaining under his strict disciplines. Secondly even if someone gets it, there is no utilization of that knowledge in life. As a result of the message initially his father tried convincing Motilal Ji and seeing his efforts going in vain, with the intention of teaching a lesson, Motilal Ji was separated from the house because a strong ruler like Balachandra Ji could not tolerate anyone going against his orders. Even after separating Motilal Ji his father’s anger did not fade and for giving further punishment he separated Motilal Ji’s wife Triveni Devi and mother SarjuDevi (Wife of Motilal Ji’s elder brother who had adopted Motilal Ji as her own son) along with him.
Shastri Ji was at that time a young man devoid of experience required to live life on his own, leave alone supporting a family. He did not have any money with him nor did he know any means to earn, yet burning within him was the sharp spark of earning wisdom of knowledge. Balchandra Ji and his advisors had imagined that Motilal Ji would never be able to take care of the complete family that the burden would break him and he would succumb to pressure. But their thinking proved to be wrong. The fire to earn knowledge which had ignited in the heart of young Motilal needed sacrifice, and Motilal Ji was ready to do any kind of sacrifice and he did not get demoralized by the sudden difficult situation. Somehow, sending his wife and mother to his maternal home, he started doing a tuition earning himself 5 rupees a month and continued his study.
The kind of hard work Motilal Ji did under the strict disciplines of Ojha Ji is an astounding incident. Just taking three hours of rest in a day the pilgrimage of knowledge of this student continued till the last moments of Ojha Ji’s life. Even after such hard work Ojha Ji used to even disprove the rest of three hours. In his words, “How can a person with conscious have the time to sleep, when in front of him such limitless treasure of knowledge is in a state of disarray?” He himself used to rest only once in fifteen days on the tithi of Pratipada, then how could he tolerate daily rest of three hours of hid student?
The great pursuer of the Tattva’s of Vedic Vigyan, Pandit Madhusudhan Ojha Ji Maharaj left his material abode in the age of 73 on the Bhadpadra Shukla Purnima of V.S. 1996, but not before preparing a great messenger of Veda Vigyan.
Before his death, Ojha Ji gave the following instructions to Motilal Ji, “Our life is not certain now. We are sad because we could not see our literature flowering during our life, because still we have to do a lot in relation to Anveshan itself. Thus this burden is now put on you only.”
No wonder this duo focused on their objective acquired amazing achievements – Ojha Ji producing 280 books and the student Motilal Ji left behind 80 thousand pages on Vedic-science literature for posterity.
With great devotion and respect for his teacher, Motilal ji attained deep insight into Vedic Knowledge to become the greatest commentator and profounder of the Vedic Literature in Hindi. Commenting on the vast ocean of knowledge that Ojha Ji possessed, Shastri Ji once said, “I feel it is my duty to state that to whatever I have said in my commentaries I was simply a medium. Whatver I could retain after listening to my teacher Ojha Ji, I have tried to present that only”. How much the teacer was proud and pleased is discernible in this couplet of Ojha Ji:
“Maa gyaanam sampadetasya, ooteela rakshansthiti,
Taam laati-ya samadatte, sa Motilal uchyate.”
(One, who is capable of becoming the safe storehouse of the treasure of knowledge, is called Motilal.)
Motilal Ji imbibed only a part of his teacher’s vast knowledge and yet in his short life wrote 80,000 pages on various aspects of Vedic Sciences. This knowledge though old is new and has answers to modern questions about the cosmos. Motilal Ji presented them before the world in Hindi and delivered lectures on the subject in various cities including Calcutta, Bombay, Kashi (Varanasi) and Hyderabad. He not only gave lectures but also revolutionized the thoughts of many contemporary intellectuals. It was precisely for this reason that commenting on the works of Ojha Ji and Shastri Ji, well known scholar Vasudev Sharan Agrawal said, “Madhusudhan Ojha’s knowledge of Vedic science in fact expanded in Motilal Shastri to a remarkable extent. Had there been a supreme council of our academia on the lines of Vedic ‘Panchal Parishad’, its great member-scholars would have understood the real worth of this unique literary happening and would have taken it to the world. ….We can call this literature as the encyclopedia of the intense and complex definitions of the Vedic Science. Such an amazing explanation of the subject is unparallel.”
For spreading the knowledge of Vedic Science Shastri Ji decided to make Calcutta as his centre. Ghanshyam Das Birla and Jugal Kishore Birla suggested that the rich of Calcutta could extend help if his literature got positive opninion from the cholars of Benaras. Shastri ji along with his friend Dr. Vasudev Sharan Agrawal went to Benaras in 1938 where at the instance of Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya a series of his lectures was organized. Dr.Bhagwan Das too gave hid consent. However Shastri Ji wrote, “I did not think it proper to achieve something for the old cultural treasure by giving such a test as it reflected once helplessness. Therefore, though a certificate from Dr.Bhagwan Das was achieved, but I never returned to Ghanshyam Das Birla. And I think I did a good thing.”
He thought and promptly returned and made Jaipur the centre of his pursuit of knowledge by setting up ‘Manavashram’ in 1943. His activities included writing books, lectures and study.
In this context, he had all praise for Bombay based businessman Kurilal Seksaria: “Barring assistance from him I have said good bye to seeking assistance from anywhere”. Subsequently, in 195 he set up ‘Rajasthan Vedic Tatva Shodh Sansthan’. Its chief patron was the first president of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad while Dr. Vasudev Sharan Agrawal was its secretary. Shastri Ji himself was its chairman.
Motilal Ji was simplicity personified. It was his simplicity that amazed the great industrialist of the day Jugal Kishore Birla when Shastri Ji methim in connection with publication of his literature in Calcutta. He could not resist the temptation of commenting on his appearance. Birla observed, “Pandit Ji! Excuse me if I say that from your appearance and attire you don’t even look like a literate person, what to talk of a scholar. Only yesterday, I read an editorial on you in the Aaj of Benaras. This has mentioned your lectures in the presence of respected Malviya Ji. What I find is that from your attire it is difficult to imagine your scholarship.”
Such was Pandit Motilal Shastri who had studied Vedic literature for 11 years under Ojha Ji and understood the definitions Brahma Vijnana (Srishthi Vijyana) that are the foundation of the Vedic literature.
According to Dr. Vasudev Sharan Agrawal, “Pandit Motilal Ji Shatri was the astounding student of Vidhyavachaspati Pandit Madhusudhan Ji Ojha who was a thinker on Veda’s for more than half a century. While regularly studying Veda Shastra under Ojha Ji for around 15 years, Motilal Ji understood the basic Brahma Vigyan related definitions from Ojha Ji which forms the core basis of Vedic Literature. The literary meaning of Vedic Mantra’s is often available, but the explanation of Vedic vocabulary and definitions is not visible. Within past 125 years, western scholars have worked a lot in this field, but from the point of view of Vedic Srishti Vidhya, their explanations do not lead us anywhere, because in their own words, Mantra’s or symbols are unclear. E.J. Thomas rightly said, ‘The path of our explanations is blocked and any kind of perspective is not able to get consensus. After observing the works of German scholars like Ludwig, Kegi, Mishal, Goldner, Oldenberg and French scholars like Bergej, Regno Henry it is evident that the direction of Vedic Studies is not healthy. We are well aware here in the west that this problem is not solved. Based on language science and the natural form of Devatas, lot of explanations have been made but they have proved out to be mere mirage in the desert, still many English speaking people are running after them.’
We can understand the above statement of Thomas by taking example of Indra. By considering Indra as Megha or by explaining the nature of Agni Tattva by equating it with physical fire is a mirage. Dr. Ananda Kumara Swami had once termed Vedic Tattva Vidhya as the key to the Tattwa Vidhya’s of all other countries and thus had termed it has ‘Sanatan-Tattvagyan’. According to him the meaning of Veda is not only the explanation of Indian spiritual science, it is the explanation of World’s spiritual science. Pandit Madhusudhan Ji Ojha and his student Pandit Motilal Ji have become the medium of Understanding this ‘Sanatan Tattvagyan’ and the actual meanings of Srishti Vidhya. The explanations given in their books and literature explore sciences which present various perspectives of understanding the cosmic processes, present a definite direction amongst the mirage. Along side Srishti Tattva they also help understand about human life and body structure in scientific manner. Many inaccessible and lost clues to ancient geography and history have been unraveled in these explanations.
The great Devata of Srishti is ‘Prana’, from which all of the Veda get their form. The introduction of Agni, Wayu and Aditya is the introduction of ‘Prana-Vidhya’ and Motilal Ji’s literature incorporates detail explanations of this Vidhya. In learning such Vidhya, the biggest hurdle is the complexity of Vedic definitions. Pandit Motilal Ji has unraveled the actual definitions and shown the way for us to expand our knowledge in the right direction. All along his life he wrote this, did this and this alone remains the importance of his work, not only from the view point of Hindu and Hindustan, but from the point of view of humanity and entire world, from the international point of view.”
Shastri Ji has presented infinite directions of research in Vedic Srishti Vidhya. With the help and contribution of Kapoor Chandra Kulish, the founder of Rajasthan Patrika, and life long efforts of Motilal Ji’s grandson Pradyumna Kumar Sharma, more than half of Motilal Ji’s literature has been published. For this effort, Rajasthan Vedic Tattwa Shodh Sansthan will always be indebted to them.
Pandit Motilal Ji Shastri gave a 5 day lecture in the President’s House which happened from 14 December 1956 to 18 December 1956. This seminar was one of its kinds and was organized by India’s first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad. This lecture is published and available with the name “Vyakhyan Panchak”.
Incessant hard work, led to the deterioration of his physical strength much too early in life and at the age of 52 years, on September 20, 1960 Shastri Ji left his material abode.
With his demise, the tradition of Vedic Vigyan which got reestablished with Pandit Madhusudhan Ojha after passing through the hands of Vedic Scholars like Yaska, Audumbarayana, Gargya, Shaunaka, Sayanacharya and Mahidhar has got upset.