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Swami Dayanand Saraswati |

Swami Dayanand Saraswati

In Context

∙ The Prime Minister virtually addressed the 200th birth anniversary celebrations of Swami Dayanand Saraswati.

Who was Swami Dayanand Saraswati?

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

∙ He was a social reformer who founded Arya Samaj in 1875 to counter then prevalent social inequities.  

Religious and Social Reforms

∙ Rejection of Idolatry and Ritualism: He opposed idol worship and ritualistic practices that he believed deviated from the true teachings of the Vedas.

∙ He promoted the worship of a formless, attributeless God.

∙ Shuddhi Movement: The Shuddhi Movement was introduced to bring back the individuals to Hinduism who were either voluntarily or involuntarily converted to other religions like Islam or Christianity. 

∙ Back to Vedas: He highlighted the social reformer’s role in awakening India from the shackles of ignorance and superstition, leading a movement to rediscover the essence of Vedic knowledge. 

∙ Women’s Rights: Dayanand Saraswati advocated for the rights and empowerment of women.

∙ 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 opposed practices such as child marriage and sati, considering them detrimental to society and contrary to Vedic principles.

Educational Reforms

∙ He set up a number of Gurukuls to teach his followers the knowledge of the Vedas and for them to spread the knowledge further. 

∙ Inspired by his beliefs, teachings and ideas, his disciples established the Dayanand Anglo Vedic College Trust and Management Society, after his death in 1883. 

∙ The first DAV High School was established at Lahore on June 1, 1886 with Mahatma Hans Raj as its headmaster. 

Arya Samaj

∙ Dayanand Saraswati formed the Arya Samaj at Bombay in 1875.

∙ It was a Hindu reforms movement, meaning “society of the nobles”. 

∙ The purpose of the Samaj was to move the Hindu religion away from the fictitious beliefs. 

∙ ‘Krinvanto Vishwam Aryam” was the motto of the Samaj, which means, “Make this world noble”. 

∙ The Samaj directs its members to condemn ritualistic practices like idol worship, pilgrimage and bathing in holy rivers, animal sacrifice, offering in temples, sponsoring priesthood etc. 

∙ The Samaj launched programs to support widow remarriage in the 1880s.

Literary Work

∙ The philosophy of Dayananda Saraswati can be known from his three famous contributions namely “Satyartha Prakash”, “Veda Bhashya Bhumika” and “Veda Bhashya Bhumika” and Veda Bhashya. 

∙ Further the journal “Arya Patrika’ edited by him also reflects his thoughts. 

Legacy

∙ The Arya Samaj is very active not only in India but also in other parts of the world. 

∙ Maharishi Dayanand’s life and teachings had considerable influence in several important personalities like 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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