Acharya Praveen Gulati, Founding Member, Arya Samaj Greater Houston

Shraddhanjali (April 03, 1950 – Dec 20,2022)

By Ranjana Vadhva Bedi

If a man is like a river

Carving banks, shaping mankind around him,

Or a gentle stream

Inviting you to listen to its music,

He surely ends in the sea

Even amidst the sorrow and loss,

He is surrounded by an ocean of endless love.

So is Acharya Praveen Gulati ji, surrounded by an ocean of endless love by all those whose lives he touched.  One of the principal founding members of the Arya Samaj Greater Houston (ASGH), Praveen ji ‘s atma left his earthly body on 20th December 2022. At the memorial, funeral and cremation rites on December 22nd, attended by over one hundred community members, eulogies by his children and extended family were a remarkable testimonial to a dynamic, selfless man driven to serve Arya Samaj. As a dedicated husband to Rita Ji, and father to Sanjay and Eesha, his love of family was paramount, leading his family, also, into the service of Arya Samaj. Indeed, the Arya Samaj community, and especially the students, became his extended family in his life-long service as Acharya and teacher. An Acharya is a person who teaches the sciences of the Vedas and whose “aacharan”, behavior, is model. He shows a road map for pupils to emulate. Praveen ji modeled righteous living while spreading the word of the Vedas. Management Committee member, Bhushan Verma ji aptly remarked “Acharya Praveen ji was a walking Arya Samaj, who lived and propounded Vaidic values to the Indian diaspora in Houston.”

Arya Samaj is a social reform movement (connecting world-wide humanity to the Vedas, the root of sanatan dharma) which teaches monotheism whilst advocating against gender and caste-based discrimination. Acharya Praveen Ji championed these values forcefully and fearlessly to all those he encountered. Praveen ji was encouraged by his father, Pita ji Desraj Gulati, to join Pita ji Ram Chand Mahajan in performing Vaidic Havans at peoples home. The duo performed these duties pro bono, and forwarded “dakshina”, monies gifted to them in appreciation of their services, to the Arya Samaj. As a young engineer with a full-time job and family, Praveen ji’s devotion to the Vaidic cause was so passionate that he created time and boundless energy in spreading the knowledge of the principles of Arya Samaj wherever he found an audience. His personal charm and gentle demeanor would make the most skeptical intellectual open up to his discourse, the listener invariably making a personal connection with him.

Starting in 1991, he served as the first Acharya of the ASGH. In his duty as an Acharya of such a powerful reform movement, he equaled any formally trained priest of the Arya Samaj, although he was self-taught. It was an astonishing accomplishment, more so because he influenced a whole generation of children, now young professionals. This large group of young women and men became vegetarians, incorporating the Vaidic values into their lives. Foremost in this group are his own 2 children, now shining stars in their own lives. As a young family they travelled to numerous school tennis tournaments, talking and listening to their father about God, life, truth, Vaidic principles and perhaps some jokes as well. His family was witness to his many hours of reading and preparation before any lecture or teaching session. He was a life-long student and an even better teacher/Acharya. His young protégés remember him as personally attentive, never too busy to answer questions, and always interested in their welfare.

Pita ji Mahajan’s vision of a larger and independently situated Arya Samaj was then facilitated by philanthropist Sunil Mehta ji, who offered the Arya Samaj exclusive use of buildings and grounds on his business premises. With a physical home, Praveen ji, worked harder than before on his Sunday pravachans doing justice to his title as an Acharya of Arya Samaj Greater Houston. The responsibility of realizing Ram Chand Mahajan ji’s vision of a larger samaj was then charged to a group consisting of Shekhar Agrawal, Muneesh Gulati, Praveen Gulati, Brij Kathuria, Dev Mahajan, and Sunil Mehta. In 1997, the new building of the ASGH on Schiller Road was completed and had a grand opening. Thus, Arya Samaj Greater Houston, under the judicious guidance of the principal founders, has continued to grow, now with a Montessori & Elementary school (DAVMES), a Dayanand Arya Vaidic Sanskriti School (DAVSS), a Vaidic Sanskriti School-Global (VSS), Arya Yuvak Mandal (AYM), a weekly Sunday satsang and several weekly adult classes (in Sanskrit, Yoga, Ramayana, Geeta, the Vedas).

(For a full history of the growth of Arya Samaj Greater Houston please visit

After his earlier years as a personal representative of the Arya Samaj while working to support a family, Acharya Gulati Ji transitioned into a full time Acharya for DAV Sanskriti School in the early 2000s. His scholarly pursuits were obvious in the large collection of books he donated to initiate the library at ASGH. In the following years, he spent considerable time and resources in teaching and creating a following of young people to lead a life based on Vaidic principles. In spite of health challenges that were to follow, Praveen ji’s energy and enthusiasm to teach his students were undiminished.

Although his work required study and thought, his friends and students remember him not as a serious man, but as a jocular man who loved the good things in his life. He was a gardener, loved good quality food and never turned down a cup of tea. Generous by nature, often resulting in an excess of food when he was around, he did not sweat over the small stuff in life. Friends had to be fed and entertained. From young children to students to learned scholars, they were all his friends.  Sanjay Jain ji commented “We were blessed to have the guidance of Acharya Praveen ji, he taught our children the true meaning of ‘Idan na mama’, it’s not mine, it’s for all.” Management Committee members Anil and Anjali Gupta noted “He touched many lives and made a difference in the world. We and our kids are fortunate to have known him.”

Ranjan Kapoor and Rajendra Pandya, close family friends, remarked that Praveen ji was a brother, a father, a spiritual guide, that rarest of persons who gave of himself generously and loved all who met him. They revered him as their Guru. Yet another family friend, Kusum Vyas, observed “He touched the lives of so many people as he made the time to show up for everyone who reached out, with his caring, trustworthy and sound counsel. He simply wanted to reinforce Vaidic Dharma in peoples’ lives and that he surely did”.

Students, remarked on the strong impact “uncle” had on them as an Acharya. They reflected on how as young students in the Arya Samaj DAV Sanskriti school, he instilled Vaidic values in them, which have shaped their life-long behavior:

  • Neeraj Salhotra – Uncle taught me that while doing the right thing is hard, it is always the correct decision because in the end our values should guide us.
  • Bobby Kathuria – One day when I was thirteen, I met Gulati uncle at a private Havan ceremony he was leading. The ceremony followed with a sermon where he talked about the soul and reincarnation as described in the Vedas and Ramayan. I remember how deep his conviction was on the subject and it moved me.  It was the first time I ever pondered the soul of animals.  He encouraged the group to consider becoming vegetarian and shortly after I decided to give it a try. Twenty-five years later I am still a vegetarian.
  • Sanjay Chaudary – Through Uncle’s influence, I have grown to have an unshakeable and strong pride to be Hindu and practice sanatan dharma. This pride has also reinforced in my life: fearlessness, trust in God, and to see our scriptures in all walks of life.
  • Neha Srivastava – “Krinvanto Vishwam Arya” – Make the world noble. Acharya ji encouraged me and my peers to embark on a journey of commitment to service for the betterment of the world around us.
  • Nalin Verma – Gulati uncle taught me all about righteousness when I was a little boy. He taught me that our heart always understands if what we are doing is right or wrong and we should always follow that feeling.

Acharaya ji’s Samaj sewa (service) was made possible by the sacrifice and unwavering support of his selfless wife Rita ji, who supported his efforts to spread the message of Arya Samaj with her nurturing care. As a life partner, she sustained the family and the community he served.

As community members mourn the loss of a stalwart of Arya Samaj Greater Houston, Dev Mahajan ji, founding member, recalled “Acharya Praveen ji was a hard worker, a perfectionist and a great orator. He would spend hours in research to prepare his pravachan. He was a great lover of music, who spent innumerable hours in perfecting the recording of two Bhajan CD’s which he and his brother Muneesh ji gifted to Arya Samaj”. Sushma Mahajan ji recollected “I learnt a lot from Acharya Praveen Ji’s pravachans. He clarified many doubts l had about our sanatan dharma’s teachings”. Bhushan ji in his Shraddhanjali said “May his divangat atma achieve peace and sadgati”. Sanjay Jain, Coordinator of the Managing committee, expressed a similar sentiment “May his departed soul achieve peace and continue its journey to mukti”.

Arya Samaj Greater Houston honors the memory of a true soldier, who followed in the footsteps of Maharishi Swami Dayanand, the founder of Arya Samaj.  ASGH will hold a Celebration of the life of Acharya Praveen ji on January 22nd, 2023 during the satsang from 9:45am – 12:00pm. The weekly satsang is held every Sunday at 14375 Schiller Rd, Houston, TX 77082. Anyone wishing to attend is welcome.