The Arya Samaj undertook the task of reforming Hindu relgion in north India. It was foudned in 1875 by Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1824-83).

Swami Dayanand believed that selfish and ignorant priests had perverted Hindu religion with he said of the Puranas which, he said were full of false teachings. For his own inspiration Swami Dayanand went to the Vedas which he regarded as infallible being the inspired word of God, and as the fount of all knowledge. He rejected such later religious thought as conflicted with the Vedas.

This total dependence on the Vedas and their infallibility gave his teaching an orthodox colouring, for infallibility meant that human reasons was not to be the final deciding factor. However, his approach had a rationally aspect, because the Vedas, though revealed, were to be rationaist interpreted by himself and others, who were human beings. Thus individual reason was the decisive factor.

The Arya Samajists were vigorous advocates of social reform and worked actively to improve the condition of women, and to spread education among them. They fought untoucability and the rigidities of the hereditary caste system. They were thus advocates of social equality and promoted social solidarity and consolidation, they also inculcated a spirit of self-respect and self-reliance among the people.


This promoted nationalism. At the same time, one of the Arya Samaj’s objectives was to prevent the conversion of Hindus to other religions. This led it to start a crusade against other religions. This crusade became a contributory factor in the growth of communalism in India in, the 20th century.

While the Arya Samaj’s reformist work tended to remove social ills and to unite people,, its religious work tended, though perhaps unconsciously, to divide the growing national unity among Hindus, Muslims, Paris, Sikhs and Christians. It was not seen Cleary that in India national unity had to be secular and above religion so that it would embrace the people of all religions.