A Hindu religious leader who founded the Arya Samaj, a Hindu reform movement of the Vedic tradition. Arya Samaj is an Indian religious movement that promotes values and practices based on the infallibility of the Vedas.
Swami Dayanand’s greatest asset was his mastery over the Sanskrit language and the Vedas. He felt that the myriad social and religious evils which had crept into the Hindu society over the centuries were due to the lack of true knowledge of the Vedas. Therefore, he challenged the Hindu society on the issues of idolatry and women education.
Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s creations, the Arya Samaj in 1875, Its main aim was to propagate the true knowledge of the Vedas and discard all evils that had crept into the Hindu society later in its name. He opposed untouchability. He was similarly opposed to polytheism, avataravada, and ritualism. His slogan was ‘go back to the Vedas’ whose authority he accepted. He unequivocally condemns practices of different religions and communities that are noted to be prevalent, such as idol worship, animal sacrifice, pilgrimages, priestcraft, offerings made in temples, the castes, child marriages, meat eating and discrimination against women on the grounds that all these lacked Hinduism of that time. The Arya Samaj discourages dogma and symbolism and encourages skepticism in beliefs that run contrary to common sense and logic. Swami Dayananda Saraswati advocated the doctrine of Karma and Reincarnation.
He emphasized the Vedic ideals of brahmacharya and devotion to God. Among Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s contribution are his promoting of the equal rights for women, such as the right to education and reading of Indian scriptures, and his intuitive commentary on the Vedas from Vedic Sanskrit in Sanskrit as well as Hindi so that common man might be able to read them. Swami Dayananda Saraswati was first to give the word of Swadeshi long before Mahatma Gandhi.
Dayanand Saraswati is noted to have thoroughly studied about religions other than Hinduism, such as Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Sikhism, and others. Swami Dayanand Saraswati positively made a revolution in the socio-political fabric not only of the Indians but of the whole of mankind.
For the first time in the history of India, the Vedas were printed in India under his patronage. Personally, his most important work was Satyartha Prakasha (The Light of Truth). In 1883, Swami Dayanand left his body after an eventful life. His followers started a
Dayanand Anglo-Vedic (DAV) School and College in Lahore (now in Pakistan) in 1886. This DAV movement has carried forward his work since then and now has over 750
institutions under one umbrella.
As a result of the works of these two pioneers and other equally well-known personalities and organizations like Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Radhakanta Deb, the Theosophical Society , nd the Arya Samaj, a large number of people in eastern and north-eastern India were substantially awakened and many of the social evils were banned with the help of the Britishers.