Shri S.N. Agnihotri Ji (Spiritually known as ‘Bhagwan Devatma’, 1850-1929 A.D.), an alumnus of 1868 batch of Thomason Civil Engineering (TCE) College, presently IIT Roorkee. He also served as Assistant Surveying Master and Head Surveying Master at this college. He completed His education with great credit and the then Principal, A.M. Lang wrote in His character certificate, ‘‘He promises to become a man of the mark’’.
In November 1873, Bhagwan Devatma proceeded to Lahore to join government service. Following His yearnings for knowledge, higher truths and service to humanity, at the age of thirty-two years, He resigned from His high ranking service. Then, on 20 December1882, He took up His life-vow in a historical meeting at Lahore, which was composed by Himself, as follows:
“May the truth, goodness and beauty, Be my foremost aim represent,
And in the service of the world, May my life be fully spent,’’
Devatma was a new incomparable genius in the field of religion. He had unique gifts of spiritual excellence in His inheritance of love for truth and goodness and hatred for evil and untruth. This developed in Him a new light to scientifically study the Nature and destiny of human personality under the perspective of evolution. He voyaged through untrodden pathways all alone to bless mankind with new light and vision on the problems of moral and spiritual life.
He founded a science–grounded religion ‘Satya Dharma’ and established a society known as ‘Dev Samaj’ in 1887 with the aim to cultivate higher feelings in mankind. He also emphasized on women education and founded various educational institutions for them. He was an eminent Luminary, venerable Scholar, evolutionary Philosopher, great Orator, unique spiritual Scientist, great Saviour of groaning humanity and acclaimed Social Reformer.
As a mark of great respect to His unique personality with due approval of the Senate, Devatma’s photograph was installed in the Central Library, IIT Roorkee in October 1975, which has now been displayed in the Periodical Section, MGC Library. His literature is also available in religion section (Class No. 294.556) at the first floor of the library. A brief account about His life may be viewed in K.V. Mittal’s book ‘History of Thomason College of Civil Engineering’, 1996 edition, page 266[a]
Satya Dharam Bodh Mission, 236/1, 22 Civil Lines, Roorkee,has humbly instituted in IIT Roorkee‘Bhagwan Devatma Memorial Award for Excellence in Social Service’.