Arya Samaj

The Arya Samaj
Dayananda Sarasvati was the founder
Expanded first in the Punjab region

Dayananda’s original name was Moola Sankara. He was born in 1824.
His father was Amba Sankara, a wealthy Brahmin and Jamadar of a town &  was from Kathiware in Western India(Gujarat).

Father wanted son to be religious and gave Hindu education.
At 14 Moola Sankara learned  large pieces of the Vedas and had made some progress in Sanskrit grammar.

Once his father forced Moola Sankara to fast on Sivarathri. Moola Sankara says that the pujaries and others slept. His father too slept. I used water in my eyes to keep awake.

He saw mice run upon the idol.  Then asked can this idol be Mahendra. He asked his father as well.  How can mice run on a god.

When Moola Sankara was tired asked permission from father to go home. Permitted and said do not eat. But mother fed him.

From now on Moola Sankara condemned idolatry.

Another influence was from the Sthankavasi Jains. They believed that idol worship is not essential in the path of soul purification and attainment of Nirvana/Moksha.

When he was 14 the sudden death of his younger sister brought the horror of death to him.  Similarly the death of his uncle from cholera.
He began asking questions about life, death and the afterlife to his parents to which they had no answers.

Moola wanted to get salvation from transmigration.  Hence started to study.
He did not want marriage to impede him in his quest for salvation.

At the age of 21/22 his parents wanted him to marry but he fled home.
During his wandering came across many ascetics who received him into their orders.

He met a sannyasi by name Brahmananda and from him learned ‘identity of soul and god’ i.e. the truth of Vedanta.

In 1848 to avoid pressure of marriage requested an ascetic Paramananda of Sarasvati order to initiate. Although first refused, after persuasion inintiated and named him Dayanand.
Now on he was called Dayananda Sarasvati

Gradually Dayananda lost faith in the teaching of Sankara.

His faith in yoga dwindled after cutting open a dead body floating in a river.teh anatomy was different from that read from books n Yoga.

In 1860 Dayananda came across a blind Brahmin  in Mathura and became his disciple.  His name  was Virajananda and he implicitly believed in the authority of the ancient books(Vedas).  He counted all the modrn Sanskrit works as worthless lies.

Virajananda accepted Dayananda only after he threw all the modern books in the river Jumna.
It is said once Vijrananda struck Dayananda with a a stick and he carried the mark of it all his life.
This man influence Dayananda more than anybody else.
From him Dayananda studied Panini’s grammar and Patanjali’s commentary on it.
Dayananda also studied from him Vedantra Sutras.

Dayananda left his master in 1863 and took to wandering. He spoke in Sanskrit. Continued to worship Shiva and his marks.

During his wandering he recognized Siva as one of the many names of the Supreme(1866).
He spoke against idolatry. For him sacred spots and ceremonial bathing are of no religious value what so ever.
He denounced Bhagavata Purana as immoral.

The method he followed to spread his ideas were:
-Talk to pundits, convince them and they will spread. This was not successful.
-Like Christian education, curriculum was to be confined to early Sanskrit literature. But the pundits did not teach his ideas.
-Appealed to people by lectures and books. This was successful.

The main thrust of his teaching was the right interpretation of the Vedas.
He was of the view that idolatry has no sanction of the Vedas.

In 1872, Dayananda met Sen. After that he began to wear regular clothes and began to speak in Hindi instead of Sanskrit.

In 1874 he came in contact with the Hindu community in Bombay and the young Prarthana Samaj.
It is said that he borrowed many aspects from Brahma Samaj and Prarthana Samaj.

In 1875 Dayananda started Arya Samaj.
In 1877 he visited Lahore and started a Samaj there.
Later Lahore became the headquarter of the Samaj.

In 1878 Arya Samaj and Theosophical society worked together saying that their aims are same.
The union continued until 1881. Later aggrieved and bitter.

Dayananda called the Hindus to their ancient faith.
i.e. back to the Vedas.
He stirred the Hindus to vehemently oppose Christianity and Islam.
In 1882 he formed Gaurakshini Sabha or cow protecting Association.
During this time he published a book Gokarunanidhi.
His main aim was to rouse Hindu feeling against Christians and Muslims on account of the killing of cows and oxen and to present a master petition to government that the practice might be prohibited.

Dayananda was called by some as a ‘political schemer.’

Dayananda was of the view that there is only one god and god should be worshipped spiritually.
The four Vedas are God’s knowledge.
They contain all religious truth and also all science, at least in germ.
They are the eternal utterances of God.
There is no polytheism in the Vedas. Different names are epithets of the true God.
Idolatry is irrational.
Sacrifice and food offerings are silly superstitions.
The brahmanas have lesser authority.
Rishis’s writings can be considered if they do not contradict with the Vedas.
The Vedas teach transmigration.
Forgiveness is forever impossible.
Salvation is emancipation from transmigration.

The Samaj advocated that all castes should study the Vedas.
Condom all modern Hindu literature
Salvation by continued well doing
The released soule are not absorbed in God
The doctrine of avatara not acceptable.
He condemned ancestor worship.
For him pilgrimage is superstitious
Fire sacrifice of Vedas need to be retained as they purify the air.

His main works are:
Satyaartha Prakash:  in Hindi about marriage, children, education, ascetic orders, etc. This book shows crude ethical system. Individual is encouraged to kill those whom he regards as monstrously evil. King should burn the adulterer alive on red hot iron bedstead. Adulteress should be devoured alive by dogs in the presence of many men and women. Child marriage should be prohibited.
Virgin widows and widowers can remarry.
Widows and widowers who had lived with spouses are not to marry again but to follow Niyoga i.e. negatively, simply sexual relationships without marriage. The book criticized Jains, Sikhs, Islam, and Christianity.

Veda Bhashya: commentary on the Vedas  in Sanskrit. Incomplete. Rigvedadi Bhashya Bhmika: introduction to his Vedic commentary. It is partly in Sanskrit and partly in Hindi. Very controversial.

Dayananda had appreciation for western science and inventions .
For him child marriage and caste are folly.

Dayananda had no modern education
Nor had he sufficient English knowledge.
Not even regular Hindu learning apart from the blind teacher.
Thus he used violent interpretation of the Vedas.

Dayananda died in 1883 at the age of 59.
His death affected the growth of the Samaj.
In 1887, in memory of him “Dayananda Anglo-Vedic College “ was opened in Lahore for modern English education.

In 1892 Arya community was divided into two
One was called college or cultural party. It was progressive, emphasized modern education, freedom in diet and declared that Arya Samaj is the one true universal religion.
The other was vegetarian or Mahatma party. It advocated ancient Hindu education. It called Arya Samaj pure Hinduism but not universal religion.

In general:
Arya Samaj has missionaries , tract society, Stri Samaj or Women’s Arya Samaj, Arya Kumar Sabha or Young Men’s Arya Association
The Samaj is doing a good deal of education service
It stresses on foundation for true love for India.
It helped unite the Hindus under one banner.

 Negatively,  much was spoken about caste but too little was done.
Did not emphasis the importance of the Upanishads.
Did not recognize the Gita.
It is the church militant in the bosom of Hinduism.

Arya Samaj is remembered for the following things
Shuddhi: purification ceremony for non Hindus to join Hinduism. Under this the untouchables were invited with sacred thread. It is used for reconversion.

Sanghatan: Union for self defense. “No Hindu should take lying down, the insults hurled against his religion by the preachers of other religion.”
The Hindus should cultivate a militant spirit and go and meet the enemy and attack him in his stronghold. It has introduced  into Hindu society a tone of manliness and a sense of self-respect which it lost during the centuries of Muslim rule.

Arya Samaj played important role during partition and in the activities of reconversion


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