- Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883), was more than just a religious leader.
- The founder of the Hindu reform organisation Arya Samaj, he left a deep impact on the Indian society and the concept of religion
- For his logical, scientific and critical analysis of religious faiths and for bringing a revolution in the notion of divinity, he was given the epithet of Maharishi and is considered as one of the ‘Makers of Modern India’.
His teachings are equally relevant in today’s times.
Establishing the Arya Samaj
- Swami Dayanand established the Arya Samaj on April 7, 1875 in Bombay, with 10 principles that are beautifully based purely on God, soul and nature.
- The organisation brought about immense changes in the religious perceptions of Indians.
- By establishing this community, he enshrined the idea that “all actions should be performed with the prime objective of benefiting mankind“, as opposed to following dogmatic rituals of revering idols and symbols.
- Dayanand Saraswati’s main message was for the Hindus to go back to the roots of their religion, which are the Vedas.
- By doing this, he felt that Hindus would be able to improve the depressive religious, social, political, and economic conditions prevailing in the country at the time.
He preached ‘Universalism‘ and not any specific caste.
Swami Dayanand’s role in politics
- Although he was never really involved in politics directly, his political observations were the source of inspiration for a number of political leaders during India’s struggle for independence.
- For instance, he was the first to give the call for ‘Swarajya‘ as ‘India for Indians‘ in 1876, later taken up by Lokmanya Tilak.
- One of his most influential works is the book Satyarth Prakash, which contributed to the Indian independence movement.
- His followers include Sri Aurobindo, S Radhakrishnan and Baba Ramdev.
Educative reforms by Dayanand Saraswati
- Swami Dayanand Saraswati brought about a complete overhaul of the education system of India by introducing Anglo-Vedic schools to offer students an updated curriculum — imparting both the knowledge of the Vedas and contemporary English education.
Dayanand questioned religion ahead of time
- His logical, scientific and critical analysis of faiths like Christianity and Islam as well as Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism, opened the eyes of many.
- He voiced his opinions against idolatry and the pointless emphasis on empty ritualism, and stood against manmade dictates such as caste by birth and women-exclusion from reading Vedas.
Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s assassination
- Common to the likes of him — due to his strong preachings against fanatic Hinduism — Swami had many enemies
- On September 29, 1883 — Maharaja of Jodhpur Jaswant Singh II, invited Maharishi to his palace to seek his blessings
- Dayanand offended the court dancer when he advised the King to forsake her and suggested her to pursue a life of Dharma
- She conspired with the cook who mixed pieces of glass in the Guru’s milk
- He suffered excruciating pain, but forgave the cook involved in the deed
- After ailing for a month, Maharishi gave in to bad health on the morning October 30, 1883
- The day coincided with Hindu festival of Diwali.
Source: India Today