Arya Samaj and Swami Dayanand Saraswati
On April 10th, 1875, Arya Samaj was formally registered in Bombay. Arya Samaj, as the name signifies, is a Samaj (Organisation or Society) of the Aryas (people who are noble).
Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of the Arya Samaj, was one of the makers of modern India. With an indigenous orientation, he wanted to bring a new social, religious, economic and political order in India. Taking inspiration from the Vedas, he criticized evil practices like idolatry, caste system, untouchability etc. as prevailed in the then Indian society. Swami Dayanada, through the Arya Samaj, tried to reform the Hindu society and religion.
The Arya Samaj emphasized on the liberation of the Hindu society. Dayananda claimed that only Vedas were the repositories of true knowledge and the only religion was the religion of the Vedas. The principles of economics, politics, social sciences, humanities can be found in the Vedas. His clarion call “Go Back to the Vedas” created consciousness among the people. He rejected other scriptures and ‘Puranas’. He strongly opposed idol worship, ritualism, practice of animal-sacrifice, the concept of polytheism, the idea of heaven and hell and fatalism.
The Arya Samaj simplified Hinduism and made Hindus conscious of their glorious heritage and superior value of Vedic knowledge. It said that the Hindus should not look towards Christianity, Islam or western culture for guidance.