Udaipurites can be rightly proud that it was during his stay in Navlakha Mahal in Gulab Bagh, Udaipur that Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati wrote his great work Satyarth Prakash.
On the invitation of Maharana Sajjan Singh the Maharishi arrived in Udaipur on 10 August 1882 and stayed here for over six months. The visit had a special purpose. The Maharshi thought that one ruler can reform the whole society. Though the whole country was under foreign rule, the Kshetriya rulers of Rajputana and other states had faith in their own religion and culture By arousing their sense of self-respect, feeling of patriotism, and duty towards the public, they could play an important role in the all-round development of the nation. The Maharishi accepted the Maharana and a disciple who was asked to follow a fixed routine that included getting up early, walk or horse riding as exercise, daily ‘Yagna’, official work, lunch, rest, official work, evening worship, recreation, going to bed, etc.
There was a sea change in the life of the Maharana who listened to his lectures every day. The public was deeply affected by the teachings. The Maharishi believed that ‘Yagna’ helped in environment protection and reducing pollution. He inspired the Maharana to perform a big ‘havan’ near Neelkanth Mahadev’s Mandir.
Maharishi’s mother tongue was Gujarati and he knew Sanskrit well. However, he wrote Satyarath Prakash in Hindi as he wanted to promote it as a national language. When the publication of Mewar Gazette was started it was named Sajjankeerti Sudhakar. The highest executive was named ‘Mehadraaj Sabha’. Inspired by Maharishi Samrathdan Charan set up Rajasthan Press in Ajmer and started Rajasthan Samachar weekly in Hindi that became a daily later on. It is considered to be the first Hindi daily newspaper of Rajasthan. Writers of history of Hindi literature consider Satyarath Prakash as a work that started the tradition of Hindi prose writing. Before this, the language of Hindi prose was greatly influenced by Brij and Awadhi language. He propagated the use of the Ayurved system and advised people to use cloth made in the country. He emphasized the need for protection of cows as a means of economic development. His keen interest in education impelled him to develop a curriculum for govt. schools that were implemented in Mewar by the order of the Maharana.
Satyarath Prakash is a compendium of the divine wisdom given in the Vedas that has been presented in a simple and logical manner by the Maharishi. It provides solutions to the personal, family, social, national, and spiritual problems that one faces in life. It is a manual for the greater good of humanity at large. Translated in over twenty different languages of the world, the book has a sale of over thirty lac copies.
During his stay in Udaipur, the Maharishi had discussions about several topics related to religion and philosophy with Maulvi Abdul Rehman, a judge in Udaipur court for about a week. The discussions were published in the form of a book Udaipur Shastrarth.
The great social reformer Govind Guru also used to come to listen to the lectures of the Maharishi. He disseminated the teaching among the illiterate Bhil masses in simple language.
After independence, Navalakha Mahal was taken over by the state govt. and excise and sales tax departments were shifted to it. However, on completion of hundred years of writing of Satyarath Prakash, the Mahal was handed over to Arya Samaj Trust.
Arya Varta Chitra Deergha showcases oil paintings depicting important events in the life of the Maharishi and other noble persons with the description in Hindi and English. A moving glass Satyarath Prakash ‘stambh’ has also been set up that has the main teachings of the book. There is also a huge ‘Yagnashala’ that has walls with ‘Mantras’ related to ‘Yagna’.
With its spiritual ambiance, Navalakha Mahal has become a holy place and a big attraction for tourists also.