THE day dawned in Lahore on 1st June 1886. A special day in the realm of real education in India. The first ever Dayanand Anglo-Vedic School was founded. The DAV movement had begun. A 22-year-old graduate, Hansraj, fresh from the College had volunteered to become the headmaster without accepting a salary. This saga of sacrifice remains unparalleled in the annals of educational realm. His British peers in other schools had mocked at his inexperience. But lauded his dedication. Hans Raj Ji kept the Vedic flag flying from day one to the day he demitted office after a quarter of a century.
Commemoration of contribution of Swami Dayanand Sarswati to unlocking of the Vedic knowledge from the closets and cloisters of seminaries and making it unavailable to common man gave birth to the DAV movement. What better tribute to the Renaissance Rishi who had breathed his last in 1883, could there be. The credit for jump starting the mighty movement of DAV educational institution goes to the Aryas of Punjab. A significant achievement indeed! So much was achieved out of so little, so few strived for the welfare of so many that the singular amalgam of the East and West culminated in the Arya Samaj Lahore and made an imprint on mankind.
The Anglo-Vedic seed sown in the fertile soil of the undivided Punjab by Aryas who were spurred by the noble thoughts, writings and discourses of Swami Dayanand Saraswati in the days gone by, germinated well. Blossoming into a Banyan tree, the DAV movement spread all over the country. Each branch transformed itself into a tree as they say in Latin "QUOT RAMI TOT ARBORS".
The DAV movement was going great guns from its inception on 1st June 1886 to midnight of 14-15 August 1947 when India was partitioned and our beloved Lahore was lost. The DAV College, Lahore was converted by Pakistan into Islamia College, Lahore over a period of time. Only the word AUM in the Devnagri script survives, so they say. Nevertheless, the Vedic thought survived. The Aryan Heritage of the Arya Samaj survived the near death blow dealt to the DAV movement by partition of India. Resilience of the leaders of the Arya Samaj and the DAV institutions did wonders to raise the morale.
The DAV educational institutions have risen from the ashes like the Phoenix. They are a living reality in the 21st century India from the north to the south and east to the west. The nerve center, the DAV College Managing Committee is located in New Delhi. The oldest DAV school, Lahore is relocated in Chandigarh and the famous DAV College, Lahore is relocated in Ambala. Indeed, there are many more new DAVs in India that are shining bright stars in the firmament of the century plus two-decade-old movement that had commenced in Lahore.
The DAV philosophy of education pays equal attention to the personality development of boys and girls. There is no gender bias at all. In fact an important segment of the DAV movement comprises colleges for women. The trailblazer is the Hansraj Mahila Vidyalaya, Jullandhar that was founded by Mahatma Hansraj himself at Lahore in 1927. Uprooted by partition of the country, it was restarted in 1948 in the Arya Samaj bhavan, Julandhar with only 80 students on roll. The multi facility Mahila Mahavidyalayahas has now over 4000 girl students on its rolls. Of them 539 are hostellers. Hundreds of them have excelled in the academic and ancillary activities alike. This institution is one of the prestigious colleges of the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.