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Swami Dayanand Saraswati
Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883)
Founder of Arya Samaj

The Sanskrit word Arya means a person whose actions are noble and Samaj means society. Arya Samaj was founded in 1875 as a Society of Noble Persons in Mumbai, India with the goals of promoting One God, the Vedas and their true teachings, and for the selfless service to the community. Maharshi Swami Dayanand Saraswati was its founding leader. The motto of Arya Samaj is Krinvanto Vishvam Aaryam, meaning make the whole world noble. The purpose of the Arya Samaj is doing good deeds for the world to promote its physical, spiritual and social welfare.

God is the One Supreme Reality and His principal name is Om. The word Om means God who is the Universal Protector and Benefactor. God is Sachidanand—Sat-Chit-Anand that is, the ultimate truth, consciousness and bliss. God is loving, kind and just and bestows upon us appropriate rewards based on our karmas (actions). God has no shape or form, yet He is present everywhere, permeating every part of the universe. God is Eternal, He was never born, thus, will never die. God does not incarnate as a human being, nor has he sent the last messenger or prophet ever to be. God alone is worthy of prayer and worship.

The Vedas are the world’s oldest texts of divine knowledge, promoting rational spirituality, the supremacy of One God and righteous action

The Vedas are not history-centric, that is, based on the teachings of a particular messenger or prophet, but are universal in their message. They encourage us to believe in the Vedic ideals and not have blind faith in unbelievable miracles or superstitions. The Vedas exhort people to lift themselves from passive acceptance of fate and perform virtuous deeds while interacting with others with truth, love and respect.

In 1875, India was not a free country. It had been ruled by the Muslims for about 700-800 years and the British for 100 years. Many superstitious, unjust and corrupt practices had been incorporated into the Hindu society and Hindu priests because of ignorance and/or greed misquoted Vedic scriptures to promote such beliefs. Arya Samaj was started as a reform movement to free Hindu society from such beliefs and practices. With truth as his guiding principle, Maharshi Dayanand, a profound scholar of the Vedas, explained their correct meaning and message in common man’s language, Hindi.

Beginning with Maharshi Dayanand followed by Swami Shraddhanand and others, Arya Samaj members started to spread the true message of the Vedas all over India. They translated all the four Vedas in Hindi (language of most Indians) and made them accessible to all including women and some castes that had been previously denied to read them by orthodox Hindu priests. They reminded Hindus of the profound wisdom of the Vedic Rishis—sages, and seers. They promoted one formless God, spiritual yoga to attain God, virtuous personal conduct and integrity, universal education, as well as judging people by their actions, not the caste they were born in.

Arya Samaj was one of the foremost organizations to champion the cause of independence of India from the British rule. Swami Dayanand was the first person who promoted the word Swarajya—self rule and independence.

Arya Samaj has been a pioneer for education of all. Arya Samaj promotes both Vedic religious and secular education for boys, girls and adults. Scholarly religious education has been promoted by reviving the old Gurukul system of education. Secular education from primary to college level is promoted through DAV (Dayanand Anglo Vedic) institutions. At present, DAV School system manages more than 700 schools, colleges & professional institutions in India.

Arya Samaj, since its inception has fought against social injustices especially toward women including child marriage, treatment of widows and the practice of Sati. Arya Samaj continues to champion the cause of women all over the world and is the only religious institution that has women Vedic priests and who have equal status to men.

From the beginning, Arya Samaj has played an active role in the welfare of the needy. Many orphanages, homes for abused women and widows and homes for the elderly have been established in India and other parts of the world. Arya Samaj is also involved in providing relief during times of famine, drought, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Currently there are Arya Samaj branches all over India and many other countries of the world where every body is welcome irrespective of their sex, caste or religion.