Arya Samaj and Swami Dayanand Saraswati (January 2022)
Arya Samaj and Swami Dayanand Saraswati
Today, no one argues that the Vedas are the most ancient books of truthful knowledge known to humankind. But, for various reasons, this common knowledge was not so common for quite a long period of time. If one is asked to pick an institution [going as far as the last thousand years] that not only promoted but also made the restoration of the value and place of Vedas as its core objective, the name of Arya Samaj comes at the top. Arya Samaj, which literally means a Society of Nobles, was founded by Swami Dayanand Saraswati in 1875. Here, the word Arya or Noble does not mean a title or elitist status; it rather means a model citizen. To be called an Arya, one needs to live a model lifestyle based on moral values and duties. In this regard, the Arya Samaj identified ten principles that one needs to follow. This year, we will review those ten principles, understand the subtleties, contextualize them in today’s world, and, finally, strive to make them part of our core values and existence. Before embarking on that journey, let’s first understand about Arya Samaj and its founder. That is the topic of assignment for this month.
Before starting, let’s clarify a point that sometimes confuses those who are not born or brought up in India: i.e., Arya Samaj is not a separate religion. With the Arya Samaj, Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s goal was to spread Universal Brotherhood through the knowledge and values captured in the Vedas. After receiving education under a well-known scholar Virjananad, Swami Dayanand Saraswati promised to devote his entire life for the cause of bringing back the rightful place of the Vedas in the world.
Swamiji founded the Arya Samaj to promote the Vedas, bring the spiritual truth and true knowledge to everyone, and dispel ignorance from mind and society. He wanted to take the world to its roots and restore the lost awareness about the Vedic scriptures and lifestyle. At that time, Indian society was going downhill because of widespread ignorance. The greed of a few corrupt people was promoting a completely wrong interpretation of the Vedas. Superstitions and wrong practices were rampant in the name of religion. With the Arya Samaj, Swami ji wanted to free the society from its mental weakness and inaptitude.
Carrying out social reforms was (read it “is”) among the top priorities of the Arya Samaj. Female education, availing widows with homes/jobs, inter caste marriages, and widow remarriage were among the key fruitful initiatives and reforms Arya Samaj brought to the society.
Arya Samaj focuses on character building, rather than dogmatic rituals. A character that promotes understanding among and upliftment of the people all over the world. For this reason, Swami ji gave the Arya Samaj a motto “Krinvantu Vishwam Aryam”, which means to make the world a noble place.
While Swamiji died fighting for this cause, he made the world a much better place. It is now our prime responsibility to continuously work on the goal and mission for which he founded the Arya Samaj.
I hope this article provided you a little better understanding and appreciation of the Arya Samaj and its founder, Swami Dayanand Saraswati. I am looking forward to hearing our Hawan Group kids’ views about them.