An Introduction and Doctrines of the Arya Samaj

Background –Around the time of foundation of Arya Samaj in 1875, social ills such as child marriage, condition of women and division of society based on caste and needless rituals were extremely prevalent. Vedas and their teaching which are and should have been the basis of all facets of life, had all but disappeared from society. SwamiDayananda, who renounced the world at the age of twenty-two and realized God through meditation. When he saw such a pitiable condition of his country during his visits, he relinquished the blissful experience of meditation and liberation and devoted himself in eradicating the evils from the country. It was Swami Dayananda who first gave the slogan of freedom. It was he, who taught people to feel proud of India’s glorious past. He launched the purification movement to bring the departed Hindus to their original fold. He embraced the so – called untouchables. He protested against the child marriage: introduced the system of widow – marriage; revived the true, eternal Vedic religion. He founded the Arya Samaj so that the yajña of human welfare may continue for ever.

Foundation of Arya Samaj – Maharishi Dayananda founded the Arya Samaj in Mumbai on April 10, 1875 i.e. the fifth date of the bright half of Caitra month in the Vikrama Era 1932. Initially 28 rules were formulated. On June 24, 1877, while starting the 2nd Arya Samaj in Lahore, these rules were reduced the rules to 10, which are the rules of Arya Samaj today. Other 18 were labelled as sub rules.

Meaning of the Arya Samaj – The meaning of the word ‘ Arya ‘ means noble and theSamaj means the group of persons or society. Thus the word ‘ Arya Samaj means the ‘ group of noble persons or a noble society. People of any country or class can be called Arya (noble). The word Arya does not indicate any caste, species or the inhabitants of any particular country.

Goal of the Arya Samaj-Welfare of society by physical, spiritual and social upliftment.

Basic concepts of the Arya Samaj

The Principles of the Arya Samaj can be stated just in one sentence, i.e., whatever is written in the Vedas is the principle of the Arya Samaj. But, unfortunately, even the learned scholars of Sanskrit do not know the Vedas, what to speak of a common man! This does not suffice to say. Therefore, I am narrating here some principles of the Vedas so that even a lay man could make his firm opinion about the Vaidika Dharma and the Arya Samaj.

  1. Traitavāda. According to this, there are three eternal entities, viz, the God, the Soul and the Nature. They are never born nor do they die.
  • The God – God is Existent, Conscious and Blissful. He is one, not many. He is without a form, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Justice doing. He is pervaded in every particle. His proto – type cannot be made. He does not incarnate. He gives fruits to the individuals according to their deeds. He creates, protects and destroys the universe. He has unrestrained power. He is the substratum of all, without any transformation, without decay,immortal,fearless, eternal and pure.
  • The Jiva – Individual Soul jiva is eternal. It is never born nor does it die. It is conscious, innumerable in number. It has a little knowledge and power. It adopts body. It is free to act but is dependent in its reward.
  • The Prakrti(Nature) –The equanimous condition of sattva, rajas and tamas is called the Nature. It is eternal and unconscious. It remains in this condition at the time of absolute dissolution. After this, when it is activated by the observational power of God, then the gross creation takes place.
  1. Scriptures:The Arya Samaj considers the Rigveda,Yajurveda,Sāmaveda and Atharvaveda as the creation of God,self-testimony and the books of true knowledge. At the time of creation, the knowledge i.e. Veda – was revealed to the sages named as Agni,Vayu,Adityā and Angirā. Of all the ancient literature now existent in the world, the Vedas are the oldest.Apart from the Vedas, the Arya Samaj considers the following literature also as authentic as far as it follows the Vedas. But these books, come in the category of testimony on the basis of others. These are – the branches of the Vedas i.e. Upaveda,Vedāngas,Upānga,Brāhmaṇas,Prātiśākhyas,Āranyakas,Upanisad,Smrtis,Sūtras,Rāmāyana, Gita etc.
  2. liberation and bondage. Liberation is the name given to the condition when one is freed from all kinds of miseries and bondages. To remain trapped into miseries is bondage.
  3. Punarjanma or Re birth,e., the cycle of birth and death. When the individual soul (jiva) relinquishes one body and adopts another, it is called as āvāgamana i.e. the cycle of coming and going.Jiva is neither born nor is dead. It only changes its body depending on its deeds. As a result of good deeds it acquires the body of human being and as a result of bad deeds it acquires the body of animals,birds,insects, mosses etc.
  4. Varna Vyavastha and the stages of life orĀśramas. The Varnas are classified on the basis of the individual qualities and deeds in order to ensure livelihood to everybody according to his talents, so that the society may progress well in a systematised way. This classification is perfectly scientific. The four Varnas are – BrähmanaKsatriya, Vaiſya and Südra.These are based on the avocation and not on the birth. The Varna is changed with the change of the profession.Similarly, there are four aśramas. The life – span of a man is divided into four parts,i.e.,Brahmacarya,Grhastha,Vänaprastha and Samnyāsa.
  5. Samskāras or sacraments – The Samskāra purifies the body, mind and the soul. The AryaSamaj accepts sixteen Samskāras three before the birth,viz.(1)Garbhādhāna(2)Pumsavana and (3)Simantonnayana. Six are during the childhood,viz.-(1)Jātakarma(2)Nāmakarana(3)Niskramana(4) Anna – Prāśana(5)Mundana and (6)Karnavedha. Two sarskāras are at the time of the beginning of education- (1)Upanayana and (2)Vedārambha. Two samskäras are at the time of formally concluding the ucation,viz- (1)Samăvartana and (2)Marriage. Three Samskaras are in the later half of life- (1)Vānaprastha,(2)Samnayāsa and (3)Antyești(funeralrites)
    1. Yajña (duties) is a system. It is of three kinds:


    • NaityikaYajña(daily) These are obligatory and are performed every day. These are – brahmayajña(Sandhyā)   ,devayajña(agnihotra), pitryajña,balivaiśvadevayajña and atithiyajña. Every household should compulsorily do them.
    • NaimittikaYajña(special occasion) The Yajñas performed to avert the natural calamities such as excess of rain and drought etc.
    • KāmyaYajña (for a specific mission or desire)The Yajña performed for the fulfilment of certain desires, such as putrestiYajña (theyajña done to get the son).
  1. Law of action or Karma. No man can live even for a moment without doing work. Every individual is free in the domain of the work, but the ultimate reward depends on the work done. The good deeds will result into pleasure and the bad deeds into misery. The acts committed are bound to bring their results and there is no excuse in any case.
  2. Food, what is worthy of eating and what is not worthy of eating,i.e., what should be eaten and what should not be. The Arya Samaj advocates that only the sātvika food should be eaten and not the tāmasika.
  3. Equality in society: The Arya Samaj treats every human being as equal without discrimination as high or low; touchable or untouchable.
  4. What happens after death or the concept of Hell and Heaven: There are no places on the earth called Hell and Heaven. To live in happiness after achieving all means of pleasure is called Heaven and to live in sorrows, and miseries of life is called Hell.

Views of Dr. Andrew Jackson Davis, an American Philosopher on the AryaSamaj and its Founder – He described Swami ji and the Arya Samaj movement as a fire, that was spreading all around a fire, that was universal; the fire of infinite love,meant to destroy all hate, and purify life, not only in India, but the whole world. He believed that this fire of love and respect for all will be larger than any empire. He expressed that this will bring love and respect in the society. He expressed that with this movement the Hindus and Muslims and other religions will come together.

Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati

A Pioneer Messenger of Absolute Revolution

Birth and Childhood – Maharishi Dayananda was born in a traditional northern Brahmana family at village Tankārā in Maurvi state now the Rajkot a district of Gujarat on FALGUNA KRISHNA DASHAMI, MOOLA NAKSHATRA, SATURDAY, VIKRAMA SAMVAT 1881 (12 February, 1825). His father’s name was Shri Karsanji Lal jiTiwari. He was the Revenue Collector in Tankārā. His mother’s name was Amrta Ben. He was named asMool Shankar but he was lovingly called as Moolji. His another name was DayāRāma. At the age of five his education began at his home. His upanayana ceremony was performed at the age of eight. At the age of 14, Mool Shankarobserved the fast of Śiva Ratri at the instance of his father. He went to the Śiva temple in the village with his father to have a glimpse of Lord Śiva. In the later half of the night all others slept while the child Mool Shankarkept himself awake by sprinkling water on his eyes with the desire to have glimpses of Lord Śiva. Suddenly, an event took place: Some rats started mischief on the Śivalinga and started nibbling the eatables that were offered in worship at the Sivalinga. Mool Shankarimmediately woke up his father to enquire whether it was the real Siva about whom he had been speaking so highly. “He is unable to protect even himself from the rats, then how can he protect the world?” At the outset his father became angry but later calmed down and told the child that it was his idol, the real Siva is not visible in the Kaliyuga. The child was not satisfied and took his meals after returning home in the night itself. This incident created turmoil in his mind and his faith in the idol worship was shattered for ever. When he was 15, his sister died. All the members of his family were weeping but there was not a single tear in the eyes of Mool Shankar. After three years his uncle died. SwamiDayananda has decribed this incident in his own words as follows-“My uncle called me when he was dying. When he saw me near him, tears fell from his eyes. I also started weeping and my eyes were swollen. Ihad never wept so bitterly before this. A feeling came in my mind that I shall also die like my uncle, as this feeling became strong, I started asking my friends and learned people as to the way of becoming immortal. When they suggested to me to practise yoga, an idea came in my mind to leave the house.”

Renunciation of Home – These three incidents created a feeling of detachment in Mool Shankar. He kept on pondering upon the way to find the real Siva and attain immortality. Sensing the feeling of detachment in Mool Shankar, when his father thought of tying him in the nuptial knot, he left home in 1846 and started wandering in the garb of brahmacāri naming himself as ‘Suddhachaitanya (pure consciousness).” One day, in a fair of village Sidhapura, his father caught hold of him and captivated him in his house. However, finding an opportunity he again ran away and wandered in search of yogis in monasteries, temples, mountains, caves, forests and parks facing tremendous amount of discomforts.

Asceticism and Practice of Yoga– In 1847, he was initiated into asceticism by Swami Pūrņānanda Sarasvati and he became “SwamiDayananda Sarasvati.” SwamiPurņanand also introduced him to SwamiVirajānanda. One day he met with two Yogis-Jvālāpurī and SivānandaGiri who taught him how to practise Yoga. Swamiji, has written – “Mujheinasādhuon ne nihälakaradiya” (these saints benefited me beyond limit.)” Thus by 1855, Swamijī, while practising Yoga, visited every nook and corner of the country and surveyed the condition of the countrymen.

Participation in the First War of Independence – In 1855, he went to the fair of Kumbha in Haradvāra. From there he went to those places in the northern India where the seeds of freedom struggle were being sown. In 1856 he went to Kānpur, the city of NänāSāhib. This time he came in contact with Swami VirajānandaDandi, who was actively participating in the freedom struggle. In 1857, when this struggle fizzled out, SwamiDayananda went to some unknown destination. From 1857 to 1860, nothing is mentioned of him anywhere. Swamiji himself for unspecified reasons has not mentioned anything about this period even in his autobiography.

In the Service of Guru-From 14 November 1860 to April 1863, Swamiji studied scriptures in Mathurā in the close proximity of Guru Virajānanda. On completion of his studies when he went to hisGuru with a ‘clove’ to offer as daksinā, SwamiVirajānada told him -“The world is sleeping in the slumber of ignorance. Wake it up! Make the Sun of the Veda resplendent again and thus make the world happy.” This is the greatest dakşinā for me.” Dayānand gladly accepted the direction of the preceptor and devoted restof his life in the propagation of the Vedas and upliftment of the country.

Hypocrisy Destroying Flag-In 1867 he hoisted, in the Kumbha fair at Haradvāra, the hypocrisy-destroying flag. This event marked the beginning of the forthcoming revolutionary movement launched by Swamiji for the new awakening and reforms in India. In the same year Guru Virajānandaji died. This greatly hurt Swami ji. He launched a historical debate on religions at Kāshi in 1869. In 1872 he went to Calcutta and came in contact with BabuKeśavaCandra Sen and other went to his Guru leaders of Brahma Samaj.

Foundation of AryaSamaj – On April 10, 1875, (5th day of bright half of chaitra month in the Vikrama Era 1932), he founded the Arya Samaj at Mumbai and formulated 28 rules. In June 1875, the SatyārthaPrakāśa was published from Väräņasi. On June 24, 1877 the Arya Samaj of Lahora was founded. It was here that the rules of the Arya Samaj were modified and ten rules and sub-rules of Arya Samaj were formulated. Swami ji formed the Paropakāriņi Sabha (Council for the welfare of others) on Februry 26, 1883.

Administering of Poison-Swamiji was poisoned many a times, but he survived by vomitting out the poison through the process of Yoga. In the last, on Sept. 29, 1883 his cook gave him poison along with powdered glass mixed in milk at the time when he was retiring to bed. Swamiji slept after having taken the milk. While he was asleep, the poison spread in whole of his body. The poison could have been remedied, but this time it was a deep conspiracy. The physician Dr. Ali Mardāna who attended on Swami jialso became a party to the conspiracy. The physician gave him the substance known as kelomala-26 grains in quantity whereas the normal dose of this substance is 3-4 grains. On being asked, he said that Swami ji was hale and hearty and the small quantity could not have an effect on him. This aggravated the malady of Swami ji. Thus the improper treatment added fuel to the fire.

Liberation – The poison was oozing out of the whole body. On the day of Amāvasyā of Kārtika, Tuesday, Vikram Era 1940, accordingly on 30th October 1883 on the day of Dipāvali, Swami ji sent for a barber and got his hair cut. At 4’O clock in the after moon he asked to give two shawls and Rs. 200 to Pt. Bhimasena and Ätmänanda. Sitting on his bed, he talked to the people present there and at 5.30 ordered all the doors to be opened. He asked his followers to stand towards his back. He then enquired about the date, pakşa and month. Pandyä Mohan Lal Viśnu Lal informed that, it was Amāvasyā of Kārtikakrsnapakşa, Tuesday of Vikram Era 1940. Hearing this, Swami ji looked towards the ceiling and window, and then recited the Veda mantras and offered prayer in Sanskrit to the God. Chanting the Gäyatri mantra he silently went into samādhi. Then he opened his eyes and said, “O! Gracious, Almighty God! Your desire is this. Let your desire be fulfilled. Oh! you have acted wonderfully.” Having uttered these words, he pronounced ‘Om’ and let his prānas go out through the divine hole (brahma-randhra). In the last moments of Swamiji, Gurudatta, an athiest was also beside him. When he saw this yogi gladly embracing death, he became believer of God. The last rites of Swami ji were performed in Ajmer (Rajasthan). After the last rites, his bones and the ashes were buried in a garden of the king of Sähapurā in Ajmer.

Contributions of Maharishi Dayananda – The contributions of Maharishi Dayananda to the country can be truly evaluated only by becoming aware of the contemporary political, cultural, social, economic and religious background prevailing at the time.

Political Condition – When Swami Dayananda stepped into the field of his action, the nation was slave. The slavery of hundreds of years had shattered the self-respect of the country. The economic conditions were still more apalling. Neither was there sufficient food to cat nor sufficient clothes to wear nor houses to live. The country had to face consecutive famines and epidemics as a result of which lakhs of people had fallen prey to death.

Cultural Condition – Due to the foreign conspiracy, the Indian culture was being defiled. The education of the Veda, the foundation of the Indian culture, was lost in oblivion. The Englishmen had indulged into the wishful propaganda of declaring the Vedas as the songs of shepherds. The profiles of the great personages, such as, Räma, Krsna, Šiva etc. were stained by finding faults with their characters. In such a condition, the Indian youths were left with no alternative but to change their religion.

Social Condition – The society was divided on account of the practice of untouchability. A large group of people were humiliated by branding them as ‘untouchables’. The women had no right to education. They were tortured in the society. The child-marriage was in vogue. The widows were not allowed to re-marry. That is why, their life was even worse than that of animals.

Religious Condition-Several spurious and in genuine books had taken the place of Vedas, the base of Dharma. Instead of worshipping God, people had arbitrarily started worshipping several gods and goddesses. In the name of religion, the poor girls were forced to become devadāsi (maids of God) and the religious places had become the dens of corruption. The untouchables were not allowed to go there. The animals were sacrificed in temples and liquor and goats were offered on the idols of arbitrarily conceived gods and goddesses. This tradition is still perpetuating. It is not possible here to give full details of the corruption rampant in the name of religion. It can be guessed by the simple statement that there was no sin which was not done in the name of religion. Having born at such a time, MaharishiDayananda himself saw the condition of the country by touring all around. Relinquishing the pleasure of the meditation acquired through practice of Yoga, and the desire of liberation he devoted himself to the cause of the upliftment of the country. He started highlighting these problems very boldly in his speeches and writings. According to Swami Dayananda the cause of political slavery was the social downfall and the cause of social downfall was the elopement of the Vedic dharma. Thus, according to Swami ji, the revival of the Vedic religion was related to social and political upliftment. The social reforms would come by the revival of the Vedic religion and this would pave the way for political freedom. That is why he strived hard simultaneously for the religious and social reforms and political freedom.

Religious Reforms–Swami ji did not initiate any new religion. He stressed on what had been said in the Vedas. He eradicated the blind faithandrigid practices. In the Vedas, God has been statedas omnipresent, unborn, without having any beginning or end. In chapter 32 of the Yajurveda, it has been said, “ne tasyapratimāsti”,i.e. no idol similar to God can be made, He is imbibed in every particle and He has no form. Therefore, instead of worshipping the idol, he laid the stress on worshipping the only God. Criticising all the schools of religions, he established the importance of the Vedic religion. He protested against the evil practices of animal-sacrifice, devdāsis (Maids of God) indecency etc., all in the name of religion.

Social Reforms-Swamiji brought several social reforms e.g. he protested against the practice of child marriage; advocated for the widow-marriage; eradicated untouchability; established equality between men and women; protested against the caste system; supported the theory of four classes viz. Brahmaņa, Ksatriya, Vaiśya and Sūdra on the basis of their aptitude, deeds and nature. According to him the class of a man is changed with the change in the aptitude and avocation. If a Šūdra becomes scholar by getting education, then he is a Brahmaņa and conversely, an illiterate Brähmaņa is a Šūdra. He gave a revolutionary plan to purify and bring back to the Hindu fold those persons who had, due to any reason, adopted other religion. His ideas about the education were very pragmatic. He was not against the Science of the West and the English language, but he considered the Vedic culture as essentials for the upliftment of the nation. With this aim in view, he planned the Gurukula system of education based on the teachings of the Vedas.

Political Reforms-Swami Dayananda made an announcement of Indian freedom for the first time in his SatyārthaPrakāśa. Congress was not even born by that time. Seventy to ninety percent of the participants in Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha movement belonged to the Arya Samaj. This conclusion was given by the committee of Moti Lal Nehru and MaulänāHasarataMuhani appointed by the Congress. (See Satya Nirmaya-appendix by JñänaCandra). Not only the participants of the Satyāgrah movement but other prominent leaders of revolutionary movements such as LälāLājpataRäi, SardāraBhagata Singh, RâmaPrasādaBismila, CandraSekarAzāda, ThākurRośana Singh etc. belonged to the Arya Samaj. The entire family of SardāraBhagata Singh belonged to the Arya Samaj.

The contributions and beneficence of Swami Dayananda cannot be written here in this small article. This great man made innumerable contributions as stated by a poet:

Ginejäyemmumakinahaimsaharāke jarre1,

Samudraki katarem2? Falaka3kesitāre;

Magara e DayänandaSwamiehasāmtere,


  1. The particles of a desert, 2. Waves, 3. Sky.

Ten Principles of the Arya Samaj

  1. The Primordial Root of all true knowledge and of objects made known by true knowledge is the Supreme God.


  1. सब सत्य विद्या और जो पदार्थ विद्या से जाने जाते हैं, उन सबका आदि मूल परमेश्वर है।


  1. God is the personification of Existence, Intelligence and Bliss. He is Formless, Almighty, Just, Benevolent, Unborn, Endless, Unchangeable, Beginning less, Incomparable, Support of All, Lord of All, All pervading, immanent. Undecaying, Imperishable, Fearless, Eternal, Holy and Maker of the Universe. To Him – alone is worship due.


  1. ईश्वर सच्चिदानन्द – स्वरूप, निराकार, सर्वशक्तिमान्, न्यायकारी, दयालु, अजन्मा, अनन्त, निर्विकार, अनादि, अनुपम, सर्वाधार, सर्वेश्वर, सर्वव्यापक, सर्वान्तर्यामी, अजर, अमर, अभय, नित्य, पवित्र और सृष्टिकर्त्ता है, उसी की उपासना करनी योग्य है।


  1. The Veda is the Scripture of all true knowledge. It is the paramount duty of every Ārya to learn and teach the Veda, to hear it, being read and to read it out to others.


  1. वेद सब सत्य विद्याओं का पुस्तक है।वेद का पढऩा – पढ़ाना और सुनना – सुनाना सब आर्यों का परम धर्म है।


  1. We should be ever ready to embrace truth and forsake untruth.


  1. सत्य के ग्रहण करने और असत्य के छोडऩे में सर्वदा उद्यत रहना चाहिये।


  1. All acts should be done in accordance with Dharma after deliberating over what is right and what is wrong.


  1. सब काम धर्मानुसार अर्थात् सत्य और असत्य को विचार करके करने चाहियें।


  1. The prime object of the ĀryaSamāja is to do good to the world, that is, to promote its physical, spiritual and social well-being of all.


  1. संसार का उपकार करना इस समाज का मुख्य उद्देश्य है, अर्थात् शारीरिक, आत्मिक और सामाजिक उन्नति करना।


  1. Our conduct towards all should be guided by love, righteousness and justice.


  1. सबसे प्रीति – पूर्वक धर्मानुसार यथायोग्य वर्तना चाहिये।


  1. We should dispel ignorance (avidyā) and promote knowledge (vidyā).


  1. अविद्या का नाश और विद्या की वृद्धि करनी चाहिये।


  1. No one should be content with promoting only his own good; on the contrary, he should look for his good in promoting the good of all.


  1. प्रत्येक को अपनी ही उन्नति में सन्तुष्ट न रहना चाहिए, किन्तु सब की उन्नति में अपनी उन्नति समझनी चाहिये।


  1. All men should subordinate themselves to the laws of society calculated to promote the well-being of all; they should feel free in regard to the laws promoting individual well-being.


  1. सब मनुष्यों को सामाजिक सर्व – हितकारी नियम पालने में परतन्त्र रहना चाहिये, और प्रत्येक हितकारी नियम में सब स्वतन्त्र रहें।