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Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Swami Dayananda Saraswati
EARLY LIFE
  • Dayanand Saraswati was born on February 12, 1824 in Tankara, Gujarat as Mool Shankar to Karshanji Lalji Tiwari and Yashodabai.
  • His affluent and influential Brahmin family was an ardent follower of Lord Shiva. The family being deeply religious, Mool Shankar was taught religious rituals, piety and purity, importance of fasting from a very early age.
  • He was eight years old, his Yajnopavita Sanskara ceremony was performed, marking his entry into formal education.
  • His father was a follower of Shiva and taught him the ways to impress Shiva. He was also taught the importance of keeping fasts.
  • The deaths of his younger sister and his uncle from cholera caused Dayananda to ponder the meaning of life and death. He began asking questions which worried his parents. He was engaged in his early teens, but he decided marriage was not for him and ran away from home in 1846.
ASCETIC
  • Dayananda Saraswati spent nearly twenty-five years, from 1845 to 1869, as a wandering ascetic, searching for religious truth.
  • He gave up material goods and lived a life of selfdenial, devoting himself to spiritual pursuits in forests, retreats in the Himalayan Mountains, and pilgrimage sites in northern India.
  • During these years he practiced various forms of yoga and became a disciple of a religious teacher named Virajanand Dandeesha. Dayananda Sarasvati promised Virajanand that he would devote his life to restoring the rightful place of the Vedasin the Hindu faith.
ARYA SAMAJ
  • On 7 April, 1875 Dayanand Saraswati formed the Arya Samaj at Bombay. It was a Hindu reforms movement, meaning “society of the nobles”. The ten tenets of the Arya Samaj are as follows:
  1. God is the efficient cause of all true knowledge and all that is known through knowledge.
  2. God is existent, intelligent and blissful. He is formless, omniscient, just, merciful, unborn, endless, unchangeable, beginning-less, unequalled, the support of all, the master of all, omnipresent, immanent, unaging, immortal, fearless, eternal and holy, and the maker of all. He alone is worthy of being worshiped.
  3. One should always be ready to accept truth and to renounce untruth.
  4. All acts should be performed in accordance with Dharma that is, after deliberating what is right and wrong.
  5. The prime object of the Arya Samaj is to do good to the world, that is, to promote physical, spiritual and social good of everyone.
  6. Our conduct towards all should be guided by love, righteousness and justice.
  7. We should dispel Avidya (ignorance) and promote Vidya (knowledge).
  8. No one should be content with promoting his/her good only; on the contrary, one should look for his/her good in promoting the good of all.
  9. One should regard oneself under restriction to follow the rules of society calculated to promote the wellbeing of all, while in following the rules of individual welfare all should be free.
  • 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 Arya Samaj not only sought spiritual reorganisation of the Indian psyche, it also worked towards abolishing various social issues.
  • Primary among these were widow remarriage and women education. The Samaj launched programs to support widow remarriage in the 1880s. Maharishi Dayanand also underlined the importance of educating the girl child and opposed child marriage.
EDUCATIONAL REFORMS
  • Maharishi Dayanand was fully convinced that the lack of knowledge was the main culprit behind the adulteration of Hinduism.
  • 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 Lala Hans Raj as its headmaster.
THOUGHTS
  • Swami Dayanand also made logical, scientific and critical analyses of faiths including Christianity & Islam, as well as of other Indian faiths like Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.
  • As a result, his teachings professed universalism for all the living beings and not for any particular sect, faith, community or nation.
  • Arya Samaj, condemns practices of several different religions and communities, including such practices as idol worship, animal sacrifice, pilgrimages, priest craft, offerings made in temples, the castes, child marriages, meat eating and discrimination against women.
ASSASINATION
  • Due to his radical thinking and approach to the social issues and beliefs Dayanand Saraswati created many enemies around him.
  • In 1883, on the occasion of Diwali, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Jaswant Singh II, had invited Maharishi Dayanand to his palace and sought the Guru’s blessings.
  • Dayanand offended the court dancer when he advised the King to forsake her and pursue a life of Dharma. She conspired with the cook who mixed pieces of glass in the Maharishi’s milk. The Maharishi suffered excruciating pain but forgave the cook involved before he succumbed to death on October 30, 1883, at Ajmer, on the day of Diwali.
 LEGACY AND WORK
  • Today, the Arya Samaj is very active not only in India but also in other parts of the world. The United States, Canada, Trinidad, Mexico, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Malawi, Mauritius, Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia are some of the countries where the Samaj has its branches.
  • Although Maharishi Dayanand and the Arya Samaj were never involved in the Indian Independence Struggle directly, his life and his 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. Shaheed Bhagat Singh was educated at the D.A.V. School in Lahore.
  • Dayananda Saraswati wrote more than 60 works in all, including a 16 volume explanation of the six Vedangas, an incomplete commentary on the Ashtadhyayi (Panini’s grammar), several small tracts on ethics and morality, Vedic rituals and sacraments, and a piece on the analysis of rival doctrines (such as Advaita Vedanta, Islam and Christianity).
  • Some of his major works include the Satyarth Prakash, Satyarth Bhumika, Sanskarvidhi, RigvedadiBhashyaBhumika, Rigved Bhashyam (up to 7/61/2)and Yajurved Bhashyam.