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Swami Dayanand Saraswati

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • The Prime Minister delivered a virtual address commemorating the 200th birth anniversary celebrations of Swami Dayanand Saraswati.
About Dayanand Saraswati

·       Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati was born on February 12, 1824, in Tankara, Gujarat, India.

·       Dayanand Saraswati founded Arya Samaj in 1875 as a response to the prevalent social and religious issues of his time.

·       Arya Samaj translates to “Society of Nobles” and was established with the aim of reforming Hindu society and revitalizing Vedic teachings.

 Social Reforms

·       Rejection of Idolatry and Ritualism: Dayanand Saraswati vehemently opposed idol worship and ritualistic practices that he believed had crept into Hinduism over time. He emphasized returning to the pure teachings of the Vedas and advocated for the worship of a formless, attributeless God.

·       Shuddhi Movement: Dayanand Saraswati initiated the Shuddhi Movement, which aimed to bring back individuals who had converted to other religions, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, back into the Hindu fold.

·       Back to Vedas: He emphasized the importance of understanding and following the Vedas, considering them the ultimate source of knowledge and guidance. He believed that the revival of Vedic teachings was crucial for the social and spiritual upliftment of society.

·       Women’s Rights: Dayanand Saraswati was a staunch advocate for women’s rights and empowerment. He encouraged women to receive education and participate in social and religious activities on an equal footing with men.

·       Opposition to Child Marriage and Sati: He strongly opposed practices such as child marriage and sati (the practice of a widow immolating herself on her husband’s funeral pyre), viewing them as harmful to society and against Vedic principles.

Educational Reforms

·       Dayanand Saraswati established Gurukuls (traditional schools) to impart Vedic education to his followers. These Gurukuls served as centres for learning and disseminating Vedic knowledge.

·       His disciples established the Dayanand Anglo Vedic (DAV) College Trust and Management Society to further promote education based on his teachings. The first DAV High School was founded in Lahore on June 1, 1886, with Mahatma Hans Raj as its headmaster.

Arya Samaj

·       Arya Samaj was founded by Dayanand Saraswati in Bombay in 1875. It was established as a Hindu reform movement aimed at purifying Hinduism and promoting Vedic principles.

·       The motto of Arya Samaj, “Krinvanto Vishwam Aryam,” translates to “Make this world noble,” reflecting its mission to create a just and virtuous society.

·       Arya Samaj condemned ritualistic practices such as idol worship, pilgrimage, animal sacrifice, and offering in temples. It emphasized the importance of personal righteousness and moral conduct.

·       The Samaj actively supported widow remarriage and campaigned against social evils prevalent in society.

Literary Work

·       Dayanand Saraswati’s philosophical ideas and teachings are reflected in his literary works. Three of his notable contributions are:

1) “Satyartha Prakash” (The Light of Truth): A comprehensive exposition of his philosophy and beliefs.

2) “Veda Bhashya Bhumika” and “Veda Bhashya”: Commentaries on the Vedas elucidating their true meanings and significance.

3) He also edited the journal “Arya Patrika,” which served as a platform for disseminating his thoughts and ideas.

Legacy

·       Arya Samaj continues to be active not only in India but also in other parts of the world, promoting Vedic teachings and social reforms.

·       The life and teachings of Dayanand Saraswati have had a significant impact on several prominent personalities, including freedom fighters, social reformers, and nationalist leaders. Some of these include Lala Lajpat Rai, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Madam Cama, Ram Prasad Bismil, Mahadev Govind Ranade, Madan Lal Dhingra, and Subhash Chandra Bose.

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