A powerful religious and social reform movement in northern Indian was started by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. Born in AD 1824 at Gujarat, he was named Mul Shankara b his parents.
Swami Dayanand Saraswati
A powerful religious and social reform movement in northern Indian was started by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. Born in AD 1824 at Gujarat, he was named Mul Shankara b his parents. He left home at an early age and wandered across the country in search of knowledge and answers to his spiritual questions.
Dayanand Saraswati believed in the existence of only One Supreme Reality which should be worshipped in spirit not form. He said the all knowledge was contained in the Vedas and the social problems of India could be solved but studying the Vedas. His philosophy was- “Go back to the Vedas”. He also started the Shuddhi Movement to reconvert those Hindus who had been converted to other religions.
Dayanand Saraswati attacked decadent socio-religious customs and practices. He opposed child marriage and encouraged widow remarriage. He was in favour of education of women. He also strongly attacked caste distinctions which perpetuated social inequalities.
In AD 1875, Dayanand Saraswati founded the Arya Samaj at Bombay. His teachings were spread to the masses through this organization. Anyone could join it but had to follow the ‘Ten Principles’, of which the first and the most important one was the study of the Vedas. Use of Hindi and the publication of his teachings in the form of a book- Satyarth Prakash made his philosophy popular among the common people. In course of time, the Arya Samaj became a powerful social, political and religious force in North India, especially in the states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.
The good work of Dayanand Saraswati was carried on by his followers. Lala Hansraj set up the Dayanand Anglo-Vedic School at Lahore. Soon, this school developed into a famous college. Children were taught in English and Hindi by modern methods. Some disciple founded the Gurukul at Hardwar. A number of DAV educational institutions were established to provide modern education. Thus, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries AD, the Arya Samaj became an important organization for religious and social reforms.