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  • Context (TH): PM Modi was virtually addressing an event organized to mark the 200th birth anniversary of Swami Dayanand Saraswati.

Swami Dayanand Saraswati 's "Arya Samaj" - DailyExcelsior

Early Life

  • Dayanand Saraswati was born on February 12, 1824 in Tankara, Gujarat as Mool Shankar to Karshanji Lalji Tiwari and Yashodabai.
  • He was attracted to the spiritual realm after the death of his sister when he was 14 years old.
  • At age 22, Moolshakar left home in search of true knowledge, spiritual purity and moksha (liberation).
  • He wandered for fifteen years (1845-60) in search of a guru. In 1860, he found his blind guru and mentor Swami Virjanand Saraswati at Mathura.
  • Virjanand Saraswati gave him the name Dayanand and as gurudakshina extracted a promise from Dayanand that he would devote his life to the revival of Hinduism.

Preachings

  • To him Veda was the rock-bed of Hindu culture and infallible, being the inspired one of God. He gave the clarion call “Go Back to Vedas”.
  • His slogan called for a revival of Vedic knowledge and the purity of Vedic religion, not a return to Vedic times.
  • He strongly criticized the Hindu belief in maya (illusion) as the overarching theme of all physical existence.
  • He profusely quoted the Vedas and other religious texts to insist that salvation was not the only motto of a Hindu or Arya, as was believed.
  • To lead a fruitful worldly life, working for a noble cause was important, and he preached that salvation was possible through social service.
  • He opposed Islam and Christianity and advocated for Suddhi movement to reconvert the other sects to the Hindu order.
  • He advocated that God, the soul, and matter (prakriti) were separate and eternal entities.
  • He was against idol worship, caste system, ritualism, fatalism, infanticide, sale of grooms, child marriages, etc. He also stood for the liberation of women and upliftment of the depressed class.
  • He advocated the ideal age for a girl to be between 16 and 24, and for men between 25 and 40.
  • He was the first leader in the field of theology who welcomed the advances of sciences and technology.
  • He believed in the theory of karma and reincarnation.
  • He subscribed to the Vedic notion of chaturvarna system in which a person was identified as a Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, or Shudra according to the occupation he followed.

Contributions

  • Maharshi’s first major authorship was Panchmahayajya Vidhi in 1874 AD.
  • He wrote three books namely:
    1. Satyartha Prakash”,
    2. Veda Bhashya Bhumika” and
    3. Veda Bhashya.
  • He founded Arya Samaj in Mumbai in 1875 to promote social service. Later the headquarters of the Samaj were established at Lahore.
  • The Paropkarini Sabha located in Ajmer was founded by the Swami himself to publish and preach his works and Vedic texts in 1882.
  • He is credited to have first used the term swaraj (self-rule)- “India for Indians” in 1876, which was later picked up by the likes of Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi.

Death and Legacy

  • Dayanand Saraswati died under suspicious circumstances in 1883, after his public criticism of the Maharaja of Jodhpur.
  • Today, Dayanand Saraswati’s legacy carries on through the Arya Samaj centres found across India as well as the Dayanand Anglo-Vedic schools and colleges.
    • The first DAV School was established at Lahore with Mahatma Hansarj as the headmaster.
  • Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, India’s second President, called Dayanand Saraswati “a maker of modern India”. 
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