No doubt, Brahmo Samaj played a significant role in the social and religious movement. But Brahmo Samaj was a defensive movement.
It could never make aggressive attack on Christianity and other religions. Perhaps the chief reason of it was that the leader of Brahmo Samaj, Raja Rammohan Roy was himself influenced by English education, and the English administrative system, hence he did not launch an open attack on the western education and western culture.
This shortcoming was made good by Swami Dayananda Saraswati and his Arya Samaj. He made direct attack on western education and culture and played a prominent role in making the tree of Hinduism flowering once again.
The early name of Swami Dayananda Saraswati was Mool Slianker. He was born in 1824 A. D. at Tankara, a small town in Gujrat State in the family of a conservative Brahmin. When he was hardly 14 years of age, his father took him to the temple of Lord Shiva.
The festival of Shivaratri was being celebrated in the temple. When all the people slept in (he night after the function was over, Mool Shanker saw that a mouse had climbed on the Shiva Linga and was eating the offerings. At once an idea flashed in his mind that he could not be God who failed to defend himself, so he went home from the temple.
He put several questions to his father but he could not be satisfied with the answers given by his father. He began to oppose idol worship and inspired the people to attain salvation through Yoga.
This incident brought a significant change in. the life of Mool Shanker and he started opposition of traditional Hindu religion.
But his father endeavoured to involve him in the family life and there was only one way to do it. Hence he wanted to marry him in order to put restrictions on his independent tendency.
He was not willing to marry, hence he fled home in 1845 A.D. and by the I860 A.D. he wandered here and there like a Brahmachari Saint.
In 1861 A.D. when he was in Mathura, he met with Swarai Brijanand. He was so much influenced by his personality that he became his disciple. In the service of the Guru Mool Shankar studied the ancient religious literature and various mythological books.
Later, on the instruction of the Guru, Dayananda Saraswati started fighting against the conservative Hindu religion and wrong traditions. Really no disciple had over obeyed his teachers so faithfully as Dayananda Saraswati had.
During his travels, Dayananda Saraswati also came in contact with Brahmo Samaj and Prarthana Samaj but as a result of his sternness, the Brahmo Samaj was not prepared to accept the supremacy of the Vedas and transmigration of soul. Hence he founded Arya Samaj 10th April, 1875 A.D. in Bombay and passed the rest of his life in establishing Arya Samaj branches at different places.
During his life time Swaini Dayananda Saraswati also wrote three famous books. He condembed the conservative Hinduism and opposed' the traditional Hindu religion. The following are the famous books of Swaini Dayananda Saraswati.
1. Satyarth Prakash:
In this book he has described the principles and rules of Hindu Society and condembed its ritualism and dogmatism.
2. Ved Bhashya Bhumika: In this book he has written critical notes book he has written critical nots to the Vedas.
3. Ved Bhashya:
In this book he has written critical notes on a large part of Yajurveda.
Though these books Swami Dayananda Saraswati wanted to prove that the vedic religion was the most superior and the Vedas were the basis of knowledge. He succeeded in his Mission.
Besides being a religious reformer Swami Dayananda Saraswati was also a great politician. In his famous book, "Satyarth Prakash, he has said that Swaraj is better than the foreign rule under each and every condition. He passed the last days of his life in Rajasthan and various Rajas and landlords became his disciples whom he also taught lessons in politics.
Principles of Arya Samaj:
1. God is formless, omnipotent, beneficial; immortal, fearless and the maker of-the universe and he is worthy of worship.
2. The Vedas are the store house of knowledge and it is the foremost duty of the Aryas to study them.
3. An individual should always remain ready to accept the truth in place of untruth.
4. All the religious rites should be performed through Havans and Yajnas.
5. The chief aim of the Arya Samaj is to do well by the world.
6. Every individual should be honoured according to his virtues.
7. Arya Samaj should focus on the expansion of education and abolition of illiteracy.
8. Even though satisfied, a man should always make efforts for progress.
9. An individual should not believe in idol worship and Avtarvad.
10. He should believe in karma and rebirth.
On the basis of the above principles Swami Dayananda Saraswati brought about the following reforms in Hinduism and Society through his Arya Samaj. "
Swami Dayananda Saraswati neither knew the English language nor had been influenced by western culture; hence there was a true symbol of Hinduism.
So he was anxious about reforming the Indian Society. He was strongly opposed of caste system because there was no mention of caste system in the Vedas, and the stray references to chatter varna system which are available in the Rigveda were also based on the theory of Karma He was fully against the supremacy of the Brahmins. He also wanted to provide equal rights to the untouchables.
He believed in the female education and endeavoured to provide equal rights to them, visa-vis men but he did not like co-education. He vehemently opposed polygamy, pardah system and child marriage but under certain circumstances he supported the widower marriage.
Purification (Shuddhi) system of Arya Samaj was his notable achievement. Through this system lie reconverted so many persons to the fold of Hinduism who had been converted to Islam forcibly. Although people opposed Arya Samaj on account of the introduction of conversion system. Swami Dayananda did not bother for it.
Actually, he was the person who made direct attack against Islam and Christianity and infused courage in the people of India. So that Hinduism went on growing.
Besides the social life, Arya Samaj also carried on various reforms in the religious sphere of the people. The followers of Arya Samaj were completely against Idol worship, caste system', ritualism, fatalism, infanticide sale of the grooms etc.
They also did not believe in the Shradh ceremony which was performed by the Hindu after the death of their ancestors. On account of his deep faith in the Vedas, Swami Dayananda, also placed stress on Havan, Yajanas and good actions.
He condemned worship of various gods and goddesses and emphasises the worship of one God. He was a great supporter of Brahmacharya and considered it a most suitable path for the achievement of salvation. He also condemned the imaginative pictures of hell and heaven prevalent in the Hindu mythology.
He also declared the thinking about getting all pleasures of life in the other world. Utopian dream. He stressed that vedic religion was the only true religion which could lead a man to the path of salvation. He severely condemned and criticized the conservative concepts which were in vogue in the Hindu religion and society.
He was not against any religion but he made open attacks on the rituals, narrow mindednessand untrue behaviour. Keeping in mind the supremacy of the Vedas and the Hindus, he opposed Islam and Christianity.
One of the prominent scholars has remarked. The young Arya Samajs openly declared that they were waiting for the day when they would settle their accounts both with Muslims and the Britishers."
Swami Dayananda laid great stress on the establishment of the branches of Arya Samaj and the educational institutions. The Gurukuls, Girl's Gunikuls and D. A, V. Colleges were the most significant achievements of the Arya Samaj.
All the modem subjects' arc taught in these educational institutions but special stress was laid on his study of the Vedas and Sanskrit language.
The thoughts of Swami Dayananda spread in the academic centres. It added to the progress and development in the filed of education, religion and society. In fact the efforts of Swami Dayananda freed the people from the clutches of the western education of Macaulay.
The aim of Swami Dayananda was not only confined to establishing religion contrary to the principles of Islam or Christianity but he also wanted to bring about a political awakening in India. It is said that "political independence was one of the first objectives of Dayananda. Indeed, he was the first man to use the term Swaraj.
He was the first to insist 011 people using only Swadeshi things manufactured in India and to discard the foreign things. He was the first to recognise Hindu as the national language of India. "Thus, it is quite evident that Swaini Dayananda was the great maker of Indian society, religion and nation.
He gave a new life to the Hindu religion and infused new power and vigour in it. This had never been done by any of the previous thinkers.