Dayananda Saraswati and his contribution towards Arya Movement!
Swami Dyananda Saraswati was born in 1824 in a conservative Brahmin family. His father was a worshipper of Siva. Dayananda on the advice of his father got the Vedas by heart.
Gradually there came a change in his mind. When he thought of the idols, doubts came to his mind if it was correct to think of God in that form.
In his young age when he stood before the image of Siva to worship in the night of Sivaratri a question rose within himself “Is it possible that his idol who according to all accounts walks about, eats, sleeps, drinks, holds and trident in his hand beats the drum and can pronounce curse on men can be the great deity, the Mahadeva the Supreme Being.”
He could not believe that the idol was God. In search of these answers, he became a Sanyasi at the age of 21 and wondered here and there to get the true knowledge about the God. Finally he came to believe that the Vedas contained the supreme truth. In the Vedas, the God has been described as a formless one, the omnipotent Creator who revealed himself in nature. Aryas in the ancient time got the divine knowledge from the Vedas only. That spiritual insight brought them nearer to reality.
The Vedic society was a perfect society based on equality of men and there was no caste system even though the society was divided into four natural sections according to their profession such as worship, war, agriculture and trade and social service. During the Vedic time there was no untouchability and the women were enjoying respect and freedom in the society. Dayananda could realise that the later Hindu religion went wrong and lost the values of life. It accommodated many false beliefs which created divisions among men breaking the rope of social unity.
Dayananda Saraswati established the Arya Samaj in 1875 in Bombay with a view to awaken the national feeling. Arya Samaj became a powerful organisation to help spread education and to bring social reforms especially in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh considering the Vedic religion and the Indian society as the most natural and the best Dayananda wanted to revive the lost ideals of India. He thus raised the slogan “Back to the Vedas”.
The purpose was to teach the Indians about absolute faith in God and the Vedas. He described Vedas as the scriptures of true knowledge and said “It is the first duty of the Aryas to read the Vedas carefully and to understand them.”
The Arya Samaj rejected the authority of the Brahmins and denounced the practice of image worship. Dayananda condemned Superstitions. Arya Samaj pleaded for four castes according to work in the Vedic society. It criticized the conception of countless sub-castes which had destroyed the Indian unity. Dayananda advocated for equal rights for men, and women. He tried to bring the untouchables to the rank of the caste Hindu.
In the field of education, Arya Samaj did commendable work .It established Gurukulas Or educational institutions in 1902, according to Vedic ideals. In the Gurukula Asramas. emphasis was laid on the development of body, mind and character of the pupils. Different subjects of sciences and arts were taught in Sanskrit, Hindi and other regional languages.
Dayananda died in 1883 but the Arya Samaj continued to work in full vigour. Arya Samaj rationalized Hindurism and brought a sense of pride among the Hindus. By Liberalizing the society with new outlook the samaj encouraged a sense of social unity which further resulted in national unity. Through the idea of equality of all irrespective of caste, creed, community, or sex, the samaj developed a sense of movement in 1905-10, the British Government charged the Arya Samaj of mobilizing the mass movement and looked upon as a threat to the British sovereignty.