Swami Dayanand Saraswati

Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati (February 12, 1824 – October 31, 1883) was an important Hindu religious scholar, reformer and the founder of the Arya Samaj, a Hindu reform movement, founded in 1875. He was the first man who gave the call for Swarajya – "India for Indians" in 1876 which was later furthered by Lokmanya Tilak. Denouncing idolatry and ritualistic worship prevalent in Hinduism at the time, he worked towards reviving Vedic ideologies, subsequently philosopher and President of India, S. Radhakrishnan, later called him one of "makers of Modern India" as did Sri Aurobindo. Dayananda was born on February 12 in 1824, in the village of Tankara near Morvi (Morbi) in the Kathiawar region (present Rajkot district), of the princely state of Gujarat, into a affluent and devout Brahmin family of Krishna Lal Tiwari and Yashodabai. Since he was born under Mul Nakshatra, he was named Dayananda Mulshankar and led a very comfortable early life, studying Sanskrit, the Vedas and other religious books so as to prepare himself for a future as a Hindu priest. One of his notable disciples was Shyamji Krishna Varma who founded India House in London and guided other revolutionaries. Others Who were influenced and followed him were Madam Cama, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Lala Hardyal, Madan Lal Dhingra, Bhagat Singh and others. His other disciples were Swami Shraddhanand, Lala Lajpat Rai. His book Satyarth Prakash contributed to the Indian independence movementis one of his great contributions. He was a sanyasi (ascetic) from his boyhood, and a scholar, who believed in the infallible authority of the Vedas. Dayananda advocated the doctrine of karma, skepticism in dogma, and emphasized the ideals of brahmacharya (celibacy and devotion to God). The Theosophical Society and the Arya Samaj were united from 1878 to 1882, when the former adopted the name Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaj. Among Maharishi Dayananda's contributions are his promoting of the equal rights of women – such as the right to education and reading of Indian scriptures – and his translation of the Vedas from Sanskrit to Hindi so that the common person may be able to read the Vedas. According to Indian History, in 1883 Dayananda was invited by the Maharaja of Jodhpur, to stay at his palace. The Maharaja was eager to become his disciple and learn his teachings. One day Dayananda went to the Maharaja's rest room and saw him with a dance girl. Maharaja loved this nautch girl. Dayananda boldly asked the Maharaja to forsake the girl & all unethical acts and follow Dharma like a true Aryan. Dayananda's suggestion offended the dance girl and she decided to take revenge.[citation needed] She bribed Dayananda's cook to poison him. At bedtime, the cook brought him a glass of milk containing poison & powdered glass. Dayananda drank the milk and went to sleep only to wake up later with a burning sensation. He immediately realized that he had been poisoned and attempted to purge his digestive system of the poisonous substance, but it was too late. The poison had already entered his blood stream. Dayananda was bedridden and suffered excruciating pain. Many doctors came to treat him but all was in vain. His body was covered all over with large bleeding sores. On seeing Dayananda's suffering the cook was overcome with unbearable guilt and remorse. He confessed his crime to Dayananda. On deathbed, Dayananda forgave him and gave him a bag of money and told him to flee the kingdom lest he be found out and executed by the Maharaja's men.

Work done:

Dayananda set about the difficult task with dedication despite attempts on his life. He traveled the country challenging religious scholars and priests of the day to discussions and won repeatedly on the strength of his arguments. He believed that Hinduism had been corrupted by divergence from the founding principles of the Vedas and misled by the priesthood for the priests' self-aggrandizement. Hindu priests discouraged common folk from reading Vedic scriptures and encouraged rituals (such as bathing in the Ganges and feeding of priests on anniversaries) which Dayananda pronounced as superstitions or self-serving. Far from borrowing concepts from other religions, as Raja Ram Mohan Roy had done, Swami Dayananda was quite critical of Islam and Christianity and also of the other Indian faiths like Jainism, Buddhism and Idol Worshiping in Hinduism- as may be seen in his book Satyartha Prakash. He was against what he considered to be the corruption of the pure faith in his own country. Unlike many other reform movements within Hinduism, the Arya Samaj's appeal was addressed not only to the educated few in India, but to the world as a whole as evidenced in the 6th principle of the Arya Samaj. Arya Samaj allows and encourages converts to Hinduism. Swami Dayananda's creation, the Arya Samaj, is a unique contribution in Hinduism. The Arya Samaj unequivocally condemns idol worship, animal sacrifice, ancestor worship, pilgrimages, priest craft, offerings made in temples, the caste system, untouchability, child marriages and discrimination against women on the grounds that all these lacked Vedic sanction. The Arya Samaj discourages dogma and symbolism and encourages skepticism in beliefs that run contrary to common sense and logic. To many people, the Arya Samaj aims to be a "universal society" based on the authority of the Vedas.


Posted By : Vinod Jindal on Dec 16, 2010


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